I’m proud to announce a brand-new resource for all my favorite human beings out there – independent artists, creatives, creators, executives, and entrepreneurs – it’s called the Productivity, Performance & Profits Blackbook.
Over the years, I’ve published 44 songs, seven books, dozens of eBooks, thousands of blog posts and articles, hundreds of podcast episodes, and hundreds of videos too. And somehow, I still have time left over for web and graphic design, artist coaching, book reading, and intensive leadership programs.
Nowadays, I easily write 15,000 to 20,000 words per week and I’m nowhere near done.
(And I’m not even all that old yet! At least, that’s what I like to tell myself…)
How the hell?!
Exactly. That’s what people ask me when they learn that keeping up with even half my schedule would feel like Navy SEALs training to them (in no way am I comparing myself to a Navy SEAL, just so we’re clear… 😉).
Well, I can tell you right now it didn’t happen in a vacuum. I used systems, mental models, processes, procedures, protocols, checklists, tools, automation, virtual assistants… virtually anything and everything I could get my hands on to squeeze the most out of my days, weeks, months, and years.
Not everything I’ve tried has worked let alone stuck. But that’s exactly what you should expect from anyone who’s created a resource like this – they have real world, applied knowledge and skill in setting themselves up to be as productive as they can possibly be. And they’ve personally produced a body of work that demonstrates their claims.
I’m not here to tell you how awesome I am or how much I can get done in a day, though. This new resource was created for you.
Over the years, I’ve written and shared extensively on the topics of productivity, performance, and profits. And to make this as high value a resource as it can possibly be, I’ve personally hand selected, reviewed, and edited all the content found in this must-have resource.
Wait… Isn’t This Supposed to be a “Blackbook?”
Right, by definition, blackbooks are supposed to contain everything one has ever created on a topic.
Trust me when I say, though, that you’re not missing anything. Some of the content I’ve published on the topic isn’t even that good, and I don’t even follow the methodologies espoused anymore.
If it’s value adding and has the potential to help you, I left it in. If it was just word salad masquerading as advice, I left it out.
There’s an initial burst of excitement at the beginning, a huge dip in the middle, and another rise in energy towards the end.
In talking with creatives, I have noticed that some feel hollow platitudes and chasing happiness will carry them through the hard middle and over the finish line. Try it. Let me know how it goes.
But passion and suffering aren’t separate. They are mutually inclusive. In studying the etymology of the word “passion,” you will discover that it means to “suffer for.”
How you handle the hard middle is up to you. Your attitude is well within your control. But there’s no doubt that the daily grind can begin to weigh on you if you let it. There is no such thing as “a thousand yesterdays,” and there is no accurate perception of time, and yet it’s perfectly human to let it affect you (“I have been working on this for so long!”).
And depending on the scale of the project, the middle won’t just last for a few days. It could be weeks, months, years. It will seem easy when you’re at the top of the reverse bell curve, but will you have the endurance to finish the race when those miles continue to stretch out ahead of you?
In the middle, the key will always be to return to your “why.” You might be exhausted, and the finish line may appear a long way off. But if you can remember why you started the project in the first place, and why it was so important to you to begin with, you can make a more accurate assessment of whether it’s worth it.
Your “why” is what matters, to you, and to others.
With that, here’s what I got up to this week:
David Andrew Wiebe
I publish daily to inspire creatives and creators just like you.
So, I did exactly what he said to test its viability. Music Career Tips Weekly was born.
I created a landing page and linked it up in the menu over at Music Entrepreneur HQ (which generates a lot of traffic).
This must have made an impression with my audience, because before long, I had a couple of subscribers. I knew what that meant.
I would need to start delivering on the promise of the newsletter by creating content for my subscribers.
The List Started Growing Every Week
Although growth wasn’t ultra-fast, it wasn’t half bad. I saw about 10 new subscribers per week.
And, as I started delivering the content, I kept an eye on the open and click rates, which were surprisingly good.
So, I figured I had something worth pursuing further, even knowing I wouldn’t be making any money from the newsletter until I hit critical mass. I chose to be patient with that process.
Plus, I began to see that it was a solid way to build a relationship with new, top of funnel visitors who didn’t know a thing about me or Music Entrepreneur HQ.
So, I Kept Going
The newsletter was called Music Career Tips Weekly, so as you might have guessed, I was delivering new content every week.
Some weeks, I was exceedingly busy (especially with the launch of The Music Entrepreneur Code).
One week, I had a pressure headache that made writing a real annoyance.
Nevertheless, I didn’t miss a week. I kept showing up for my subscribers.
And, the content I delivered was damn good if I must say so myself.
I even got multiple “thank you” notes from my subscribers along the way.
But After 18 Weeks, I Had to Call it Quits
Open and click rates started declining after the 15th issue. I also wasn’t seeing as many new subscribers, so growth was slowing. That was demotivating.
The fact that it coincided with the launch of The Music Entrepreneur Code didn’t help. My focus and energies were shifting in that direction.
You May Also Enjoy…
The Music Entrepreneur Code
Modesty aside, my latest book is kick-ass. And, you need it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just getting started in your music career and need some serious direction, or you’re a seasoned pro making six-figures. The landing page bears this out. So, go and get the best-selling Kindle or paperback on Amazon, or the special PDF version with bonuses on Music Entrepreneur HQ.
I wanted to give the initiative a fair chance, so I kept going for a few more weeks.
Unfortunately, engagement did not reach its former glory. So, I decided to call it quits.
I’m Not a Quitter
“You quit? Why!?”
I’m sure some of you are asking that question as you read this.
After all, perseverance is a virtue, yes?
Someone even emailed me this quote via James Allen:
There are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance is not. Gifts, powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realized.
I agree with the quote, and I like James Allen’s works, but in this case it kind of makes me look like the bad guy.
If you only saw the sheer volume of things I haven’t quit on for the better part of 10 years (like my podcast), you’d probably rethink your stance.
A challenge requires your active focus, participation, and problem-solving skills. If a challenge is what you’re dealing with, rethinking the problem and coming at it from a new vantage point can get you results.
If you didn’t have the time, but it was still worth doing, you’d find a way. If you ran out of topical ideas, you’d let your audience know and return with something better the following week. Or, if you stumbled across a question you couldn’t answer, you’d ask around for a solution.
But I wasn’t encountering anything of the sort. I knew I had launched headlong into a long, uphill climb when engagement dropped.
An uphill climb is not a challenge, though it often masquerades as one. It’s the very definition of a project requiring endless hustle and grind to make work.
“Work your face off,” say the loud-mouthed “experts.” And, I say you’ve got to work smarter, not just harder.
One Grind Session at a Time
The newsletter format was set in stone (people like things they can count on every week, like TV shows), and it was working early on, so there was no reason to change it.
I was showing up with some of my best work every single week. As much as possible, I was choosing topics I knew my audience would enjoy and relate to.
Perhaps with a vat full of patience and effort, I’d be able to keep growing the list and drive up engagement rates. One grind session at a time.
But there was no telling how long that would take. And, the tactics I was using to grow the list were no longer working, suggesting I’d need to rethink that bit too. I even made a video while looking for new ways to promote the newsletter:
With several initiatives already on my plate, producing results, it just didn’t make sense to dedicate all this mind space to growing another.
This year, I’m keeping the winners and cutting the losers. And, I’m not going to be spending a lot of time staring in the rear-view mirror.
Newsletters Don’t Work?
This is a bit of a tangent, I suppose, but it’s worth touching on, if only briefly.
If you happen to read the Glen Allsopp article already mentioned, you’ll likely see for yourself that newsletters can be a very viable business model, and failing that, relationship building tool.
I happen to agree with this. I’ve seen some popular local artists who were sending their audience newsletters instead of singularly focused call to actions, and I’m sure this negatively affected their ability to reach their various goals.
But I wouldn’t be too quick to make that judgment call for all businesses.
Author Dan Kennedy, in fact, talks quite extensively about the use of newsletters in his books, even if they aren’t always used to monetize audiences.
So, I get that newsletters aren’t always what audiences are looking for, but as Kennedy contends, they can be leveraged as competitive advantages.
Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. – Victor Kiam
Getting back to Music Career Tips Weekly, the 18 weeks I invested into the project didn’t go to waste (this is where perseverance should apply – I haven’t given up!).
I learned quite a bit from this initiative, and I plan to take those lessons and apply them to another newsletter project in the future (trust me, I’m going to make this work one way or another).
Further, I decided to take all the content and turn it into an eBook.
I had already thought about offering back issues for a small fee. I hadn’t originally thought about compiling the content and putting it all into an eBook, but given the self-contained nature of the newsletter, it felt right.
So, This is What Happened Next
In the latest episode of my podcast, I announced the release of 170 Music Career Tips to Help You Grow Your Following, Promote Your Music & Increase Your Income.
By the way, I’m looking for people like you (that’s right, people just like you) to become patrons of my podcast. The podcast inspires much of the content I write here, too, so basically you would be supporting the ongoing creation of boss edutainment just like this. If you think it’s worthwhile, you can support me on Patreon.
And, it wasn’t just about creating a product. It was also about the relationships I had built with fellow musicians for 18 weeks.
The content was important. The memories are what gave it weight.
Introducing the 170 Music Career Tips eBook
I did not form a strategy for this launch. I merely wanted to give my subscribers (and anyone else who might be interested in the content) a way to keep growing in their careers and preserve the memories.
So, I’m not going to be cryptic here in any way. Let me lay it all out for you, blow by blow.
Since I was delivering 10 tips to subscribers of Music Career Tips Weekly every single week, I ended up with 170 music career tips. That’s where the number comes from.
I see it as a value creation cycle. I generally have a new product every three months, but in the meantime, I pump out numerous fresh videos, podcast episodes and blog posts anyone can access and benefit from for free.
So, when it comes time to launch, it’s an opportunity to complete that value cycle. The completion comes in the form of sales.
Having said that, I chose to price this eBook a little differently. I priced it at $17 (basically, $1 for every 10 tips).
Again, I just want the people who want this to have 170 Music Career Tips.
Because I have a launch schedule for 2020 already, I probably won’t be doing any major promotion for this eBook. But it was at least worth the space I’ve dedicated to it here (which is significant to say the least).
Are You Ready to Complete the Value Cycle? Buy 170 Music Career Tips
If you made it this far into the blog post, it’s obviously for a reason.
No matter how you got here, spirit led you, and it wants you to notice this post. It wants you to benefit from it.
The ultimate way to benefit from this content is to act on it. And, you can easily act on it by buying the eBook. It’s the next logical step.
I realize not everyone reading this is going to choose themselves, which makes me a little sad. Not because of the money, but because of the difference I know it can make.
If you’re being stopped by something now, I guarantee you’ve been stopped by something before, and if you leave here taking the same action you’ve always taken (no action), you’re just going to repeat the process all over again.
Don’t you consider yourself an action-taker? Don’t you think of yourself as someone in pursuit of their dreams? Do you believe you can achieve whatever you’ve set out to do?
You’ve got to validate this for yourself. Even if no one else knows, you will know whether you’ve acted on your goals, dreams and desires.
This eBook is my love letter to all musicians in pursuit of something greater. It’s for every musician who knows they’ve got more in them and don’t want to die with their best song in them.
As with any project of this scale, it’s hard to recall the exact sequence of events and timeline for each, but I will do my best to re-tell how this book came to be, why it took so long to complete, and what I learned from working on it.
Many years ago (I don’t remember when), I was reading an article on an online marketer’s website (I don’t remember who). He had written an eBook on why everyone should write their own eBook, and I found him convincing. I would like to say that this is what got me started, but it wasn’t. It did plant a seed though.
Then, I heard an episode on Internet Business Mastery (I’ve been a long-time lurker/subscriber), in which a guest (I don’t remember who; sorry) talked about how most people set out to write a book in their lifetime, but never get around to doing it. I found it inspiring.
Again, I would like to say that that this is what got me going on my book, but it wasn’t. It was another important piece to the puzzle though.
Then, in 2011, I finally got started on my book.
But the first half of 2011 was an extremely difficult time for me. I was experiencing some financial challenges, and I was also living with a roommate from hell. I did everything to try to stay afloat, and I even rented out the garage. I almost rented out the only remaining bedroom too, but the prospective renter was overeager and didn’t take the time to get to know the household before trying to move in. That wasn’t going to work.
I had five part-time jobs at the time, and I even took on a job as a custodian at a church temporarily. There’s a lot I could say about that experience, but without getting into it, I think you can see how desperate I was feeling.
The second half of 2011 was bliss by comparison. I learned that I could refinance my mortgage (I honestly knew nothing about that), and if nothing else, that would prolong my stay at the house. After refinancing, I was able to put some money back into my pocket, and even took a one-week working vacation, followed by a one-week honest-to-God holiday.
On tour with Jonathan Ferguson in summer 2011.
Additionally, I was introduced to a powerful self-development program that ended up changing my life, a couple of businesses (which I opted to join), and I even came up with an inspired business idea of my own.
I’m sure I could go into depth about each of those things, how I ended up meeting people that had a similar vision, how I ended up investing in a music industry startup and more. But that’s a little beside the point.
So, in the midst of all that excitement, I finally got to work on my first book.
My First Attempt
Because of all the new information I was taking in, my new book was fast becoming an amalgam of success, business and personal development principles combined with music career tips. The book I ended up with certainly gets into all those things, but I had to scrap the first iteration because it just didn’t sit well with me.
I realized that nobody would want the complete encyclopedia of music career and success principles, and even if they did, I wasn’t talking about my experience as much I was reiterating what other authors and speakers were teaching.
I believe that’s how I came to realize that what I needed to do was share my own experiences. That way, it would feel more authentic to who I was. Instead of recapping what other experts were saying, I could draw from my own career experiences and knowledge.
In the fall of 2012, I sold my house. Refinancing my loan bought me some time, but it was too little too late. There’s no way I would have been able to keep my house.
Unfortunately, this is usually what happens after a windfall. We end up in exactly the same financial situation we were only one to two years later.
The house I used to live in.
Having moved out of my house and into a basement suite, I felt an immense sense of peace and relief. I was sharper and more clearheaded than I had ever been.
Shortly thereafter, I began working on a new manuscript. I didn’t necessarily have a goal in terms of length or topics, but the content started taking shape.
Fleshing it Out
Eventually, I got to the point where I thought that I had a good manuscript, so I sent it off to my friend James Moore over at Independent Music Promotions. I wanted to see if he would be willing to write a foreword for me.
James was happy to write a foreword, but he gave me some much needed feedback on my book. He told me that the content was good, but that I should be offering more actionable advice. I should be talking about tools and resources that I liked. It hadn’t even occurred to me, and had I let my pride get in the way, I would have dismissed his feedback altogether.
Since I was learning a lot about leadership in my business training, I knew that leaders were those willing to go the extra mile. I decided to follow James’ advice, and I kept working on the book.
James Moore from Independent Music Promotions.
Somewhere in the midst of that, I read David Hooper’s Six-Figure Musician, which gave me the inspiration to use lists in my book (i.e. 15 Principles of Entrepreneurship). As result, I decided to end all primary chapters with either a list or a “how-to” section.
2014 had arrived, and the book still wasn’t done.
But I finally made the decision. I decided to work on it every single day until it was complete.
To be perfectly honest, though, this was a commitment I broke and re-made multiple times as I was getting the manuscript ready for editing.
To get to that point as fast as I possibly could, I chose to write 1,000 words per day. By that time, I knew that I wanted every primary chapter to have 5,000 words or more, so I kept repeating 1,000-word days until I saw that every chapter was at the length I wanted it to be.
Editing happened at various stages and was also done by multiple individuals including myself. I’m not the type of person to speed through the first draft and go back to edit it later. I tend to write, read, re-read, edit, and then repeat that entire process over and over.
This doesn’t mean that I get it all right the first time around; far from it! Any time I added or changed something in the book, I would then go back and comb through the entire thing to make sure it all made sense in context.
Anyway, some of the initial feedback for this book came from the previously mentioned James Moore, as well as my friend Sharon. James may have been the one that helped me bring this project to a new level, but it was Sharon that helped me to re-think my introduction, which was initially a little on the tentative side. I think the introduction I ended up with better reflects my intention as well as the content found within the book.
Then, when I was much closer to completion, I enlisted the help of Maveen Kaura from Discover Your Life Today. He had some helpful suggestions for me, and he pointed out some troubling grammar. Originally, the chapters on blogging and copywriting were consolidated, and it was Maveen that pushed me to separate the chapters, forcing me encouraging me to write another 3,000 words or so.
Then, my friend Adam Meachem also offered to edit the book. I took him up on his offer, and he did a once-over on my behalf. To my delight, he had no suggestions on a content level. He just spotted a few spelling or grammatical errors.
Guitarist and musician Adam Meachem.
Time and time again, as I was writing this book, I ended up submitting to the wisdom of others. I took some artistic liberty, but for the most part, I chose to listen and to take the feedback to heart. I know I’m repeating myself, but I would not have elevated to this level without the help I received.
Advance Praise, Cover Design & Distribution
My next step was to start soliciting quotes from industry connections. My book was essentially ready to be distributed, but without some social proof, I wasn’t convinced that others would buy it.
I had worked hard to grow my blog and podcast audience while I was in the process of working on my book, but it wasn’t easy, and I was only able to increase my following incrementally over time.
I knew I didn’t have a massive and engaged email list that was going to buy my book the moment it came out.
Regardless, the quotes I got were positive and encouraging. James Moore, Maveen Kaura, Dayne Shuda from Country Music Life, Sean Harley [Tucker] from The Spark & The Art, Tom Jeffries from Safe-Xchange, Jonathan Ferguson from Long Jon Lev, Adam Meachem, Corey Koehler from Musicgoat, and Keith A. Link from Sessionville all gave me glowing testimonials that instilled in me the belief I had something of value to offer. Thank you.
Some of the quotes I managed to gather. You can read them here.
Having collected the advance praise, I made a landing page, and I decided to include the quotes in the first page of the book as well. I knew that it would inspire buyers to dig in and learn something.
Now I also had to think about the cover design. I tried reaching out to skilled designers and asked them if they would be willing to help, but this didn’t go anywhere. I had identified flat vector artists from websites and blogs that I liked, and I wanted to enlist their help, but alas, they either didn’t get back to me or were not available to work on extracurricular designs.
Although I tend to do most of my own graphic design work, it was proving hard for me to come up with a design I could be proud of.
Then, one day, as I was strolling through Chapters with Jonathan (Ferguson), I came across a book with a cover design that I liked. To my surprise, it featured almost the exact color scheme I was working with. When I saw it, I said, “now that’s something I think I could work with.”
Ultimately, the cover design is nothing fancy by any means, but I think the font choice, the spacing and the color scheme are eye-catching (not to mention Greg Parke‘s photo in the background).
In some ways, I feel like gathering advance praise, creating a cover design and distributing The New Music Industry was the longest part of the process, if only because I had to work on these things in the nooks and crannies of my busy schedule.
But my friends (in particular, Jonathan and Joanna Drummond) kept asking me when my book was coming out, so with all of my material in hand, I finally signed up for a BookBaby account and had them distribute my eBook to all major online book sellers.
The release itself was somewhat anti-climactic. It was mostly a waiting game, as I continued to log in to my BookBaby account on daily to check if my book had been released yet. They told me my book would be available for sale within two to three weeks on most sites, so that’s what I kept telling people when asked.
Little did I know that I was checking the wrong sources. What I should have done is search for my book on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, because my eBook was up for sale much sooner than expected. I don’t think it took more than a couple of days to distribute (Book Baby delivered my book to all sites between June 18 and 22). Amazon has the release date as June 21, 2015, so that’s what I’m going with.
The New Music Industry eBook on Kobo at #3 in its category.
I’ve been steadily marketing the book ever since. The book has sold well over 300 copies and it continues to sell to this day.
This is where I originally talked about what my next steps were. As I write this (in January 2020), it’s almost been five years since the launch of the eBook, and four years since the launch of physical copies.
Since publishing the book, I:
Went onto organize a book launch party at Koi in Calgary.
Rework and update The New Music Industry and relaunch it as The New Music Industry 2.0.
Lessons I Learned from Working on This Project
I certainly had a few missteps along the way, but for the most part, The New Music Industry was a success.
Of course, I’m still going to be taking some important lessons with me.
I imagine there are some things I won’t even discover until later, but for now, here’s what I can say for sure.
Lesson #1 – Your book will come together faster if you outline it first.
This is one of the reasons the book took as long as it did. I had a bit of an on-and-off relationship with it, and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it some days.
Either way, it wasn’t until I started putting together the table of contents that I had a clear direction for the content.
There’s probably a lot more that I could have talked about in the book, but I chose not to, because I wanted to stay within my field of expertise. That way, I would stay true to the purpose and intent of the book.
Lesson #2 – You can’t link to other music, book and app stores within your eBook.
I imagine this doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re only planning on releasing your eBook on one platform, but if you’re distributing it across multiple sites, you can’t have links to competing sites in there.
Since I had a lot of links in my book, I had to rethink my approach. Ultimately, the best suggestion came from my co-worker at Mount Royal University, Al Williams. He suggested that I create a separate page on my website with a list of all of the links that were to be included in the book. That way, people reading the book would be directed to my website.
Lesson #3 – Be open to the criticism, feedback and suggestions.
If you allow others to help you on this journey, your book will be better off for it. If not for the many people that helped me – so many of whom I’ve already mentioned – this book would not be what it is today. Everyone encouraged me to bring my game to a new level.
Frequently Asked Questions
Interestingly enough, most of these questions have come up in real life conversations. If you have any questions of your own, you’re more than welcome to leave them in the comments. Most of what I publish on this website, by the way, comes from your questions.
Would you write another book like this?
I have yet to publish another book in the 60,000 word range but I am working on one. It’s called Flashes of Elation: Navigating the World as a Sensitive, Creative Soul.
I have a lot on my plate and I’m doing my best to prioritize. If all goes well, Flashes will see a release in 2020, but there’s a good chance it won’t come out until 2021.
How much does the book cost?
It depends on the seller, whether you’re buying the eBook or paperback, and whether you’re paying in CAD or USD.
Here’s a basic overview:
On Amazon Kindle: $15.93 CAD or $12.84 USD.
On Kobo: $16.47. I think that’s CAD, and I’m not sure what it costs in USD.
On Barnes & Noble: $10.99. I assume that’s USD.
Other: it varies.
Just so you know, I only have so much control over the price, and because I wanted the book distributed to Kobo, I had to set the minimum price at $12.99 USD. I don’t have any plans of changing the price, but there might be the occasional promotion that you can take advantage of in the future.
How long is the book?
A little over 66,000 words, which apparently translates into 144 pages on Amazon Kindle (176 pages on Barnes & Noble). Sorry, I can’t give you an exact page count because it depends on the format, but I think you get the general idea.
There are many people without whom this project simply wouldn’t be what it ultimately became. I would love to thank everyone that had a hand in helping me make this book a reality. If you helped in any way and supported me on this journey, you know who you are. Thank you.
If you would like to learn more about this release, please click on the banner below. You’ll be able to check out my personal note to you as well as the many glowing testimonials I received from friends and colleagues. And, if you would be so kind, please consider leaving a review for my eBook on Amazon. This is the main way it gets seen by more people.
The Leading Musician Coach
Hey! I’m author, entrepreneur, and musician David Andrew Wiebe. Learn more >