Where to Find Me Today: October 2, 2022

Where to Find Me Today: October 2, 2022

What “accidental” or unexpected successes have you had?

I’ve been thinking more about this lately because there have been a few things, through the years, that have exploded, much to my surprise. Like the following:

  • I had a Britney Spears parody site that drove thousands of visitors per day
  • When one of my first bands, Lightly Toasted Touché, released our unrehearsed jams on the internet, it crashed our website due to the volume of downloads we got
  • I wrote a blog post about Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind that became my top trafficked blog post of all time (even weirder, it lives on Music Entrepreneur HQ)
  • I spent decades composing music for small projects, and out of nowhere, a score I composed for a short film ended up being nominated once, and winning four Best Original Score awards
  • A rant I published on Medium ended up becoming my most engaged story on the platform
  • I gained over 6,000 followers on Tealfeed as I started syndicating my content to their platform

I was beginning to speculate on the idea that these accidental successes may hold the key to my true calling in life.

I don’t have all the connections worked out. I’m taking still inventory of all that has flown.

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The 5 Layers of Independent Music Success

The 5 Layers of Independent Music Success

While blazing your trail to independent music success, you might encounter a few roadblocks. But the extent to which these roadblocks hinder you will largely depend on how well you understand the following.

These five layers form the foundation of a successful music career. They empower you when you’re disempowered and show you the way when there appears to be no other way.

Pyramid of independent musician success

Principles / Mindset

Most foundational to your success in music is your mindset. It accounts for 80% of your success. And your mindset should be built on time-tested principles.

Principles don’t change just because you change, and rest assured, you will change.

When all else fails, principles are what will keep you anchored in the real world, not some pretend world where everything always goes right. Because many things will go wrong on your music career journey.

When all else fails, principles are what will keep you anchored in the real world. Click To Tweet

You may not be able to depend on anything else – band mates, gig dates, record contracts – but what you can depend on is principles.

Experience

Your experience as an artist is invaluable. As you perform more, you’ll gain more live experience and become a better performer. As you record more, you’ll gain more experience in the studio, and gain a better sense of what’s expected of you when the engineer hits the “record” button.

But experience isn’t everything. “Every time we play at XYZ bar, at least 50 people show up to see the show.”

That may be your experience, and it may have proven true to this point, but there are factors you can’t possibly know, and this “truth” won’t always remain true.

The bar could shut down. They might stop promoting musical events to their 500 email subscribers. A natural disaster could unexpectedly come along the day of your show.

Some of this might seem far-fetched, but you’re denying reality if you think that nothing could ever change the 50-person turnout.

So, it’s key to know the difference between principles and experience. When you can’t rely on experience, you can rely on principles. But it doesn’t work the other way around.

Branding

An artist’s brand informs all aspects of their mission, image, and marketing activity. A brand might be the hardest thing to figure out, but once you’ve got your finger on the pulse of it, all other decisions concerning your career start to fall into place.

An artist’s brand informs all aspects of their mission, image, and marketing activity. Click To Tweet

A brand cannot take the place of principles because it’s built on principles. It cannot take the place of experience because it’s built on experience.

But it can outclass marketing any day because your brand informs your marketing. If your brand isn’t undergirding your marketing, chances are you don’t have a strategy yet.

Marketing

Marketing is critical. But without a brand, it’s mostly a shot in the dark.

Who are you trying to market to? Where do they like to hang out online? What publications, magazines, or blogs do they read? What podcasts or radio shows do they listen to? What do they like to watch on Netflix or YouTube? What interests do they have?

If you know your reason for existing, your mission, your purpose, you can build your marketing around that, because that is your brand.

But you can’t build your marketing on any less, because then it is reduced to a tactic (shot in the dark) and not a strategy.

Tactics

Tactics are basically the to-do list for your daily marketing activity.

“Send an email campaign to fans every Thursday at 1 PM EST” is the very essence of a tactic. It’s a specific thing to do, on a specific day, at a specific time.

Of course, such tactics are ineffective, or at the very least, less effective than they could be, away from a proper marketing and branding strategy. How do you know you should be sending emails at a weekly cadence, on Thursdays, specifically at 1 PM EST?

Further, who is the email being written to? Why is it being written? What’s the message, and with what voice are you going to deliver it? What action do you want the reader to take having read the email?

These are easy questions to answer if you know your brand and have a marketing strategy. Much harder to nail down without it.

The 5 Layers Are Your Foundation

If you’ve understood the above, then you’ve realized something most artists haven’t – success doesn’t happen by accident. You must be deliberate and intentional about creating your foundation, and you will have a shaky foundation if you don’t understand the five layers of independent music success.

See what else I’m up to.

Why Revenue Over Life is Stupid

Why Revenue Over Life is Stupid

On Saturday night, I experienced the early warning signs of burnout.

I have been “gunning it” for the last nine months, so it’s only expected that, at some point, I would start to feel a little worn down. And yesterday, my body let me know as I was standing in an elevator.

It’s obviously better to catch this early because recovery can happen much faster. I can adjust my schedule, turn my attention to the few revenue-generating activities that matter, and get more rest.

And more than ever, what I’ve recognized is that more work does not mean better results.

More work does not mean better results Click To Tweet

As ambitious creatives and entrepreneurs, we often assume a godlike work ethic will propel us towards our dreams, not realizing the sheer stupidity that follows as we seek to put revenue above life.

Let me show you my work…

Do You Recognize the Hustle as Endless?

When life becomes about revenue, the hustle is near endless. There is always more that could be done if you just had more energy and the willpower to do it with.

In that state of mind, it’s easy to forget that working at a breakneck pace should only be done in spurts. Never in a marathon.

Which basically means this – hustling and grinding is pointless unless you have a specific goal in mind.

If there is no goal, and you’re nowhere within the ballpark of achieving it, you’re hustling and grinding indefinitely, until your body says “stop,” or worse…

You can always find something more to fill your schedule with. But to what end? Is it even worth it? Is it producing any revenue at all?

You’d better take a cold, hard look, because the extra work you do is usually the 80% that’s just taking up time and producing no results. 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.

Are You Really Prioritizing Revenue?

When you’re in the constant fog of hustling and grinding, it gets harder to distinguish the activity that’s producing results from the activity that isn’t.

At some point, you start creating labels for your work – work that you find fulfilling and enjoyable, work you don’t, and shades of grey in between.

Before you know it, you’re prioritizing work that’s fulfilling and enjoyable, not realizing that this work doesn’t create revenue, at least not compared to the work you say you don’t enjoy.

The labels, then, become completely meaningless. Why hate the work that’s bringing an income and instead put all your time and energy into the work that’s producing hobby level results?

You think you’re putting revenue over life, but upon closer examination, you’ll realize that you’re just putting work above life, not revenue above life.

Are You Sure You Aren’t Comparing?

“I will not be a victim to comparison,” you may say. But you don’t realize just how much you are comparing yourself to those who have a bigger following, are making a greater income, or you feel are more accomplished than you are. It’s why you keep striving for more thinking you don’t have what they have.

“They did it, so I should be able to do it too. Why am I not as far along as they are?”

It’s important to realize that, if you have a vehicle that helps you make a living wage and covers your bills, while it might not appear sexy, it’s much better than a lot of people have it.

You have no idea how many entrepreneurs have a seven-figure revenue with a thin profit margin.

You have no idea how many so-called “influencers” with a massive following essentially live in a yurt.

Look, some people think the Lambo and mansion are what it’s all about. Some of your potential clients might even be fooled by it.

But if you do it right, you’ll be well-positioned to save their neck when they lose their shirt from the $12.95 book, $97 home study course, $997 conference, $1,997 coaching program, and so forth, they bought from the charlatan who was supposed to have a foolproof method for success.

Unless you’ve locked yourself out of the internet, you do compare yourself unfavorably to others. And it’s affecting your judgement severely.

Unless you’ve locked yourself out of the internet, you do compare yourself unfavorably to others. And it’s affecting your judgement severely. Click To Tweet

When Will You Stop & Enjoy Life?

For most creatives and entrepreneurs, financial freedom is but a concept – some random, far-off date, with some random, astronomical figure of money.

But assuming it an inevitably, most will soldier on, day after day, thinking that they will one day wake up to be bombarded with sales orders.

The opposite is just as likely and plausible, though, that their business stagnates, gets on a downward curve, or collapses entirely despite their best efforts.

It’s one thing to find out your idea isn’t going to work six weeks or six months in, quite another to discover six years or 16 years later that your ladder was against the wrong wall.

Working harder assures nothing, as I’ve demonstrated before.

I have no doubt that you derive a certain amount of joy and even fulfillment from the work you do, just as I do. But life is happening now, and if you don’t head out your door to enjoy the weather, the beautiful mountains and beaches, the new restaurant that just opened in town, you may never get around to it.

Even if you don’t have your financial freedom yet, by your own estimation, you do have a certain amount of freedom available to you today. And today is the time to start enjoying it.

You do have a certain amount of freedom available to you today. And today is the time to start enjoying it. Click To Tweet

The Bottom Line

Revenue over life is stupid because when you put income ahead of your wellbeing, you begin making stupid decisions that aren’t in line with your goals. All you end up doing is wasting hours of your life you’re not going to get back.

Limit your working hours. There will always be more to do tomorrow, and it will be right there waiting for you. When you have a start and end time for everything, you will necessarily be more effective, because there will be no other alternative.

See what else I’m up to.

How to Filter Out the Trendy, Noisy & Misguided

How to Filter Out the Trendy, Noisy & Misguided

My friend called me to announce that his TikTok profile grew from zero to 20,000 in two weeks. He invested in an expensive program to earn these results, and I congratulated him. I have no reason to think he will be unsuccessful in his continued efforts to grow his profile, drive traffic, and even create a successful business on the back of it.

But what was running through my mind as I was listening to him is what’s been drilled into me over the course of my entrepreneurial career – principles that have resonated so deeply with me that in some cases, I’ve practically forgotten how or when I initially discovered them:

  • If you’re going to build on rented land, make sure you have a backup plan (build your own platform and email list)
  • Algorithms change – success principles don’t (meaning there’s no new strategy to social media success, just new behavior based on the platform)
  • Own the racecourse, not the racehorse (as my coach James Schramko is famous for saying – suggesting that building your own platform is the most valuable thing you can do)
  • Here today, gone tomorrow (as is often the case with social media)

And so, even as I’m observing a possible success in the making, I’m wary of anything that’s gotten quickly. Because what’s gotten quickly is often lost quickly too. I don’t see my behavior changing because of my friend’s success.

What's gotten quickly is often lost quickly. Click To Tweet

Am I suggesting that you should never explore the flavor of the day? Of course not! But am I calling TikTok flavor the day? 100%! You’ll be shocked how fast it comes and goes after the fact.

That said, I spend about 20% of my time experimenting with and exploring new platforms. These days, I’m having fun on BitClout (because it’s a lot like Twitter), but does that mean I won’t be giving TikTok a try? Not at all!

Still, you want to be shrewd. You want to be calculated. You want to value opportunity for what it’s worth, not for its inflated hype value. Show me an entrepreneur that spends foolishly most of the time, and I will show you a broke social circle. Because that entrepreneur borrows mercilessly from friends and family.

Value opportunity for what it’s worth, not for its inflated hype value. Click To Tweet

There will always be overpriced social media courses. So-called Bitcoin consultants. Get-rich-quick FBA and NFT hype machines. Medium and Substack gazillionaires.

There won’t always be time, though, and opportunity cost, as I’ve said before, is real. Especially when we’re dealing with so many shills.

Who will you trust? I will leave that to you to decide, but my bets are on people who’ve dedicated themselves to becoming experts in their industry, continue to show up, and have a long-established pattern of success, even amid personal challenge and failure.

Quick reminder – you can now get The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition, the second edition of the best-selling guide to getting paid for your passion and impacting more fans without wasting years of your life and thousands of dollars.