You don’t have to change just because you’re 30, or 40, or 50.
Many people do reflect on their lives as they reach milestones. Some like to coast. Some go through a midlife crisis. For others, their family or their kids start taking precedence over all else.
There’s nothing wrong with any of it.
But I felt the need to change.
I wasn’t necessarily looking to transform myself wholesale. But I knew there were aspects of my personality and skillset that had yet to find expression.
I’ve had the privilege of diving deep, not just into music, but also into personal development, leadership, entrepreneurship, productivity, publicity, digital marketing, and social media. I can sing, play most instruments with strings and frets, write songs and lyrics, produce, and mix music. I can draw, paint, design graphics, and make websites. I am also fluent in Japanese, and I love food, comedy, fishing, escape rooms, and skateboarding (although I cannot skate at all).
It doesn’t usually come up in conversation because I like to practice, as Dale Carnegie termed it, “conversational generosity.” I listen to people. If I started talking about myself, there would always be more layers to peel back. It could be hours, days, weeks before I ran out.
But exploring the outer reaches of who I am, led me to the point of reassessing. And I realized how much “square peg in a round hole” thinking I’d done to that point. Not that a change in direction would ensure success. But a change in direction could be enjoyable, needed even.
There are things I value. One of my greatest values is freedom.
I’d thought of business as my ticket to freedom. But there are many roads leading to that destination. And I began to think, “Maybe there’s a road better suited to me.” Again, a seismic change may not be required. But change is required nonetheless.
When I say “tricks,” though, I really mean “basics” or “essentials.” The only reason I say “tricks” is because this is what a lot of artists miss.
Look, communication happens every day. If you want to let the world know that you exist, you’ve either got to a) speak up, or b) type something up and share it. No one knows what’s going on inside your head.
A human being is like an egg. We have a rich, inner world that no one sees unless we choose to share it, and we have an outer shell, the only part that people ever see. There’s no communication in thinking (inner world). There’s only communication in speaking or writing (outer shell). That’s foundational.
Call to Actions That Don’t Work
And so, the language we use is critical. Let’s start with call to actions.
The most overused call to actions (by musicians) include:
- Check this out / check us out
- Come to our show
- Please support independent music
I’m sure you can think of a few others. And these sometimes have a way of turning into desperate pleas (“if you don’t support us, we can’t make more music!”).
Musicians work so hard at being different from everything and everyone else with their music, but all this creativity goes clear out the window when they’re in marketing mode.
There’s no pattern interrupt in the call to actions listed above. No one is going to take notice of these. These are dead horses and they’ve been beaten.
These might work for big artists or established brands, because they already have a strong relationship with their audience. But they tend not to work for independent artists because they often come across as desperate attempts to get people to do something they might not even want to do. No context means no engagement.
And it’s funny – when you look closely at most of our communication, it’s coming from a space of convincing / commanding. Now that you know that it would be wise to be in discovery of communication that occurs as an opportunity to others.
The most teachable moment, I think, is when it comes to sending emails (because these principles can apply to our communication in general). I’m telling you right now, most people do it wrong. I get at least a dozen emails per day, and most of them are not oriented around the right frame of mind.
Now, squeaky wheel gets the grease, so please understand that it’s still better to send emails than not. But we can also level up our communication and get a better response rate, and all it takes is a few simple tweaks.
Let’s start at the top.
First, address the email to a real person. In other words, use their name!
As Dale Carnegie says in How to Win Friends and Influence People, the most magical word in any language is someone’s name.
If you can’t find a name, fine, don’t take wild guesses. But if a little bit of extra research can help you dig up their name, then do it. Do it every time!
Second, share a genuine, honest, authentic compliment with the person you’re sending the email to. It’s obvious when it’s not authentic, so fair warning. The point here is to let the receiver know that you are engaged with them, and not just pay lip service to that fact.
Third, be clear on the value proposition. Want to have your music reviewed, or be on a podcast, or get booked for a gig?
These things all benefit you, right? But they don’t necessarily benefit the person you’re asking.
The point is that you can create that. You can create a scenario where both you and the recipient benefit from the opportunity. That’s what opportunity means. There’s something in it for both people. If there’s no opportunity occurring on the other end of your communication, you can expect to hear radio silence, or at best, a lukewarm response.
Fourth tip, and a word to the wise – keep your emails short!
You can bet that industry professionals are busy. I’m busy, music reviewers are busy, podcasters are busy, radio stations are busy.
When I see a wall of text in emails, I either skim them fast or delete them completely. It’s too much.
The temptation is to over-explain, and when you do that, there’s a better chance your communication won’t land with the receiver. Keep it short and sweet, and when you receive a response, or are presented with additional questions to answer, then you can launch into more detail.
You don’t drop your life story on someone you just met, and if that’s something you do, it might explain why your dating life sucks.
Finally, be generous in saying “thank you.” Thank the receiver for doing a service for musicians. Thank them for their time and effort. Thank them for their content. Whatever you see to thank them for, acknowledge them for adding value to you.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.