Are You Building Structures for Your Future Music Career Success?

Are You Building Structures for Your Future Music Career Success?

First times can be kind of weird and awkward, right? Sometimes even scary. Whether it’s your first kiss, first mango, first time skydiving…

You’re going to have a lot of firsts as an artist. And if you’re reading this, you’ve probably gone through a few already.

First time at the studio. First release. First gig. First interview. And so on.

And it’s easy to put a lot of pressure on those situations. Like you must get it right even though you’ve never done it before.

But what works is Kaizen, which is a Japanese term meaning “taking something that didn’t work, improving on it, and making it better.”

See, even if you’ve done all your research and homework, you’re still going to make mistakes. Or take on too much. Or underestimate how much work it’s going to be.

There were mistakes with my first album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments, such as the fact that the website address printed in the liner notes was the wrong one (because we’d assumed we’d be able to get that domain name even though we hadn’t checked!).

Now, if you go to the Shipwrecked… page on my website, you’re going to see a example of a template. I call it the “music super page.” It contains everything to do with the release, including track list, description, liner notes, lyrics, videos, reviews, and even influences. It’s a template, and it might not be perfect, but we can keep improving on it.

A lot of people just fly by the seat of their pants and make things up as they go. And unless all the stars align, that approach just doesn’t work. Not to mention, it negatively affects your productivity trying to reinvent the wheel every single time.

You should think of your “firsts” as an experiment. No judgment, no criticism. You’re doing something new and different, and you’re not sure what the results are going to be. So, no need to be down on yourself when things don’t go down how you think they will. You’re blazing a trail.

You should think of your “firsts” as an experiment. Click To Tweet

From there, you can start building your templates and swipe files.

I have templates for all my books. It just makes it so much easier to get started on my next book or update an older book when I can jump into a pre-built template, add my content, and change or improve elements as need be. Kaizen.

You could also call these systems, though it’s a boring term comparatively.

As with previous insights, this has a lot to do with accurate thinking, identifying what works, and repeating what works. So, don’t start from scratch. That’s a rule. Once you’ve done your firsts, take them and improve upon them. That will help you create more momentum in your work.

Don’t start from scratch. That’s a rule. Click To Tweet

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.

16 Years Later & Still Going Strong…

16 Years Later & Still Going Strong…

They said not to blog.

Writing a book is a waste of time.

They said not to make music.

The odds of becoming a successful musician are less than getting hit by lightning.

They said not to podcast.

They said, “forget about becoming a YouTube star.”

They told you not to build a business.

Throw away your hollow dreams of passive and recurring revenue. Pat Flynn and James Schramko have no idea what they’re talking about, and they are the very purveyors of snake oil.

Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek is a sham. Even Ferriss clearly works more than four hours per week.

Give up. You’re not special. There’s no way you can make it.

“If I couldn’t do it, there’s no way you could.”

That’s what my friends were saying behind my back. Only a few short years ago.

In 2005 and 2006, I recorded and launched my first solo album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments.

In 2007, I started blogging. One post helped me generate upwards of 800 visits per day.

In 2008, I formed a band called Angels Breaking Silence. It didn’t last more than a year and a half, but at our peak, we were touring churches, skateparks, festivals, universities, and more.

In 2009, I started podcasting. I’ve gotten as many as 3,000+ downloads in a month.

I also started making YouTube videos the same year. My little video on Sim City has gotten more than 89,600 views to date.

In 2011, I created, produced, and performed Back on Solid Ground for 11 consecutive days at the Calgary Fringe Festival.

In 2012, I briefly become the co-host of Inside Home Recording, a popular home music producer podcast.

I also started blogging professionally, and contributed to multiple music releases as a guitarist, producer, and engineer.

In 2013, I started working for Ghost Blog Writers, ghostwriting for a variety of individuals and companies, including Entrepreneur and HuffPost contributors.

In 2014, I launched my first audio course, How to Set Up Your Music Career Like a Business.

In 2015, I launched my first book, The New Music Industry.

I also became a staff writer for Music Industry How To the same year.

In 2016, I started working entirely from home. I was no longer tied to a physical workspace.

I also launched multiple singles the same year.

In 2017, I helped a local jazz artist crowdfund $15,000+ for an album.

In 2018, 2019, and 2020, I launched several more books.

And that’s just scratching the surface. There are so many other accomplishments. So many other stories to tell. So many funny, weird, and memorable experiences. So many highs and lows.

It’s been at least 16 years since I started down the path of building my life around my creativity and passions.

It’s been 16 years and I’m still going.

What were you told not to do? What did others discourage you from trying? Who didn’t demonstrate any belief in your big dreams?

Maybe you were meant to go and do those things after all.

For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.

Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?

Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?

So, what should your first release be? A single, EP, or album?


I love this question because it points to something you probably aren’t thinking about just yet…

I wasn’t even thinking about it when I came out with my first solo album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments (but I wish I had been!).

Okay, that’s probably enough buildup. Let’s start digging into this incredibly important question.

First, a bit of Background on My First Release

When I put together Shipwrecked… I didn’t even know about music distributors like CD Baby.

Of course, when I found out what they could do for me, I got excited.

“What? They automatically push my music everywhere? Gimme!”

No strategy.

I’m not saying it was a bad move. Music platforms weren’t quite as saturated back then, so I certainly reaped the benefits of being a part of the internet power wave.

But if I had thought a little more strategically about this whole process, I know I would have approached it a little differently.

Because long-term, it probably would have meant more engagement, more sales, more streams, more newsletter subscribers and more opportunities in general.

First Steps First

Okay, so the “prevailing” wisdom is don’t start with an album, start with a single. I don’t agree.

This is partially right, but only partially.

There’s a reason I tell artists to start with an album, and this video sums it up quite nicely (but don’t worry, I offer a more detailed explanation below):

So, yes, you should release a single before you release anything else…

But you should also have your album ready to go on the back end.

See Things from THEIR Perspective

So, I’ve booked hundreds of my own shows as a solo artist…

And have organized, hosted, and emcee’d hundreds more.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I understand both sides.

I know what it’s like being the artist trying to get the gig…

And I know what it’s like being the organizer booking the artist.

So, speaking on behalf of venue owners, reviewers, and publicists everywhere:

I can’t get a good sense of your artistic identity from just one song!

What does that mean?

It means:

  • Getting reviews for your music will prove just that much harder (because reviewers have NO IDEA what to compare it to!).
  • Getting booked for gigs will prove an uphill battle (because venue owners want to hear set lists, not songs).
  • Getting more streams on platforms like Spotify will be a challenge (because listeners can’t binge listen).
  • And more…

I understand that starting with a single seems like wisdom. But it actually costs you more in the long run.

A Single is Like a Movie Trailer

So, despite what I’ve just said, a single (or even a sample) is a great way to grab people’s attention

When one of my favorite bands, DramaGods, had a new release on the way, they had a sample up on their website, and that got me excited.

I couldn’t wait for the release to come out, and when it finally did, I instantly bought it and proceeded to listen to it tirelessly.

I even wrote a review for it (which you can find by clicking the link found above).

That’s the power of a single. It builds excitement. It’s a great teaser. It’s like a movie trailer.

The power of a single is that it builds excitement. Click To Tweet

Here’s a Strategy Worth Implementing

So, why not use your single to do exactly that? Build some excitement.

For instance, you could release your single about a month in advance of releasing your full album.

That gives you PLENTY of time to build excitement for the full release.

It almost seems braindead when I talk about it like this, doesn’t it?

But you want to follow it up with a full album. THAT’s the point.

Because your album can easily be turned into so many other products you can monetize.

And it basically solves all the problems mentioned earlier:

  • Getting reviews for your music is easier because reviewers get a better sense of what you and your music are about.
  • Getting gigs is a breeze because venue owners or bookers have more to latch onto.
  • Getting more streams on streaming platforms is a walk in the park since you’ve got more music fans can binge listen through.
  • And so on.

And it’s also worth experimenting a bit, especially if you’re concerned about revenue streams (after all, we know that streams don’t amount to much).

For instance, you could release your single to all major streaming platforms…

And then make your full album exclusive on Bandcamp, so you can make some dollars rather than just cents.

It’s 100% up to you, but I think it’s worth trying different things with every release you put out if you’re interested in maximizing revenue.

Spinning the Album

This is the other reason you should follow a single with an album:

Because you can spin it (repurpose it) in dozens of different ways for additional revenue.

I’ve laid out a lot of these in the video above, but since I’ve got more space to talk about them here, let me get to it.

Your album can turn into:

  • Liner notes and lyrics (these are often overlooked assets)
  • Press releases (you should create a press release for every album you launch)
  • Sheet music and guitar tabs (which you can sell for additional revenue!)
  • Branded merch (e.g. shirts with lyric snippets on them)
  • Music videos (always good to support your release with music videos when you can)
  • Lyric videos (another great promotional tool)
  • Remixes and EDM remixes (can give your audience another reason to binge listen)
  • Acoustic versions (if your music is electric – otherwise you could go electric)
  • Instrumental versions (if your music includes vocals – otherwise you could add vocals!)

This much is relatively obvious…

But did you know your album can also turn into:

  • Handwritten lyric sheets (which you can auction off or include as incentives in crowdfunding campaigns)
  • Audio commentary (you’ll see some bands doing this on Spotify)
  • Video commentary (why not?)
  • Blog posts, guest posts, interviews, eBooks, books, infographics, podcast episodes, videos (plenty of cross-promotion opportunities here)

And what’s cool about all this is that you can bundle it up and make it into a DELUXE release too.

This is just the tip of the iceberg though…

There are so many more ways to repurpose an album and make more money from it. And there’s no way you could make the same impact with just a single.

First Release, Final Thoughts

Did you get some RADICAL ideas from this?


Don’t forget to sign up for email updates before you go (check the sidebar or footer if you’re lost), and you can also check this out:

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.

If You Want to Succeed in Music, You Need This

If You Want to Succeed in Music, You Need This

The subtitle of my latest book, The Music Entrepreneur Code is:

How to Get Paid for Your Passion and Impact More Fans Without Wasting Years of Your Life and Thousands of Dollars.

This subtitle is reflective of the fact that creating an independent life has been a long, circuitous, challenging road for me.

I’ve spoken elsewhere about the many challenges I’ve encountered on that journey:

Here’s another bulleted list of challenges I have yet to share anywhere.

While building my music career (and having some wins along the way) I also ended up:

  • Grieving the loss of my cousin who took his own life. This happened while I was recording my first album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments.
  • Burning out and getting an anxiety disorder. In ensuing years, I was also plagued by thyroid and adrenal fatigue. But when I was going through it, I had no idea what it was or how to overcome it.
  • Breaking up with my girlfriend.
  • Losing my grandpa.
  • Living with the worst roommate imaginable. For six months.
  • Having to take on five jobs to stay afloat financially.
  • Going broke and having to sell my house.
  • Taking multi-year detour into network marketing. I don’t regret this experience, but it turned out to be a significant part of my six-figure business education.
  • Breaking up with another girlfriend.
  • Investing $60,000 in a music industry startup that failed in a matter of three years. “Unfortunate” doesn’t begin to cover the bases of what happened.
  • Running my beater car into the ground shortly after a run-in with a cow’s head on the highway, nearly dying in the process. I didn’t dare drive for a few days.
  • Going broke again.
  • Enduring burnout again.
  • Running another beater car into the ground.
  • Breaking up with another girlfriend.
  • Running yet another beater car into the ground.
  • Going broke again.
  • …You get the idea.

Is this what your musical journey will look like?

It could, and it probably will if you choose not to get coaching or otherwise invest in your growth.

But it certainly doesn’t have to…

Because I wrote The Music Entrepreneur Code to help you with this very thing.

I didn’t have to write it. No one was holding me at gunpoint.

I wrote it because I wanted to help those who understand that you can see further when you stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before you.

Those who’ve made all the mistakes…

Endured all the challenges…

And been put through the ringer repeatedly.

I made my book so affordable, in fact, that virtually anyone can afford it.

I even tossed in a couple of bonuses.

Again, I didn’t have to do this. I’ve got to make a living like anyone else. And every week I work my butt off to do exactly that.

But I wanted to make sure everyone who understands the value of the book gets a copy.

I wanted to make sure that if you know the trauma of wasting years and thousands of dollars on things that don’t work, you got a copy.

You can go it alone, but I think you can improve your odds considerably by trusting someone who started out much dumber, much denser, much more naïve than you. Trust me, I did start out that way.

I’ve curated years and years of advice, experience, stories, breakthroughs, and did the hard work of putting it all into one book, The Music Entrepreneur Code. It’s done. It’s ready. It’s for you!

Stop wasting years of your life and thousands of dollars on things that don’t work. Learn more about the book now and get your hands on a copy.