028 – The Ugly Truth Behind The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship

028 – The Ugly Truth Behind The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship

Many are under the impression that they can understand a book without reading it in full. But even with books that have rather obvious titles, sometimes if you don’t dig a little deeper, you don’t come away with the gold.

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares what readers may have missed about The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship.

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Highlights:

00:17 – The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship: A marketing misstep
01:02 – Standing out from the crowd
01:35 – But it’s not just about standing out – there’s got to be strategy
03:26 – Finding resonance with an audience
05:52 – The value is in the process
06:24 – Becoming known for something is crucial to creating your celebrity effect
08:23 – Without work, your “Triangle” doesn’t work

Transcript:

A few years ago, I came out with the book, The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship, and I can admit it… I think it’s not the best example of marketing.

The subtitle was Making and Selling Your Neon Yellow Tiger. I don’t have the I think people got this right away, at least those who are familiar with Seth Godin, it’s kind of like Purple Cow. I felt that comparison could end up helping the book but I’m not sure it did.

And I also feel like people missed some important things in that book. It’s not just a book about being unusual and standing out.

Although that is huge today. Look at what music is right now. Every song has the same damn drumbeat. Every song has the same damn singing style. And it’s awful.

And if you were to go out there and release something that’s different from any of that but it still had pop appeal, it would stand out like crazy.

But as a book, it’s not just about “Hey, let’s try to be different and unique.” Those types of opportunities are rare. I hear people talking about micro niches and whatnot. I’m not a micro niche king, so maybe I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s a sound strategy for a lot of people.

Like, “Let me decide today that I’m going to be a jungle beat techno DJ guitarist Japanese oriental pop music fusion band.” Maybe it hasn’t been done, but what’s the appeal?

A few people are going to come around and listen and watch just because it sounds ridiculous, but trying to build a fan base… That I’m not so sure.

You must be sure about the impact you want to make. What’s the difference you want to make? Who are you appealing to? Who is your dream customer?

I have a friend who decided to start a college party band. So, they oriented their music and their look and their merchandise and their slogans and their website and everything around college parties.

And guess what? They did very well in the college scene. Weird how that works.

So, many artists don’t have that level of intention. It’s like, “I want people to notice how amazing my music is. I want people to notice how amazing that little guitar solo was. I want people to notice how amazing my vocal style was.”

Well, maybe true and maybe not. And competing on those things, it’s tough trying to find something that’s unique that has not been done before. Competing at that level, it’s not going to be easy.

But competing on brand, look, most artists don’t have one. They don’t become known for something.

Most artists don't have a brand, which means the bar is quite low when it comes to winning the branding game. Share on X

So, here’s what’s being missed – it’s The Music Entrepreneur Triangle. I’ve talked about it many times before. At the foundation of the triangle is work. And then the other two sides of the triangle are celebrity and diversification. But everything is built on a foundation of work. You may need to try many things to find what resonates with an audience.

And you will know. It’s not like it’s going to be accidental. You post a bunch of YouTube videos, and you get three views, 15 views, 1,000 views, 50 views, and 100 views…

But then suddenly, having stayed consistent in your craft and iterating and trying different things, suddenly a video gets 50,000 views. And that’s when you must stop and go, “Oh, I think we just did something that people like.”

And now you need to look seriously at how you can iterate on it or replicate it or use those same ingredients to create something more, something new, something unique.

At that point, you’re tapped into a formula. You don’t need to start from scratch anymore.

At first, you’re throwing hooks out there to see what the fish bite on. But once you have a much better sense of what people are biting on, then it’s time to keep doing what’s working.

You don’t want to stop doing that. Keep the winners, and ditch the losers, right? Don’t worry too much about the losers. You’re going to have a lot of them. But when you find a winner, that’s a rare thing. That’s a unicorn. Hold on to the unicorns and ditch the donkeys. Poor donkey. But you don’t need donkeys.

Hold on to the unicorns and ditch the donkeys. Share on X

What you’re working towards and putting in all this time and effort is to get to the unicorn. Guess what? It might take a while to get to that unicorn, right? But while you’re doing it, you’re finding your voice. You’re learning. You’re growing. You’re throwing stuff out there. You’re finding your audience. You’re trying different things. You’re experimenting.

So, the value is in the process and a lot of people are not willing to go through that process. But this is why rapidly creating and publishing and iterating and experimenting and iterating and adjusting and revising, continually going through that process is so valuable. One of these times you’re going to hit the video that gets 50,000 views, or 100,000 views, or 1,000,000 views.

But if you don’t put in the work, you can’t expect it to happen. So, you’ve got to become known for something. That’s the only way you’re ever going to achieve celebrity status.

You won't become known for anything if you don't put in the work. Share on X

I’m not talking about becoming a worldwide global phenomenon that everybody knows. I’m not talking about becoming Johnny Depp or anything of the sort. I’m talking about creating a celebrity effect with your audience. And that’s a desirable thing because the celebrity effect will have people behave irrationally when it comes to you selling things. And when it comes to your customers buying new things that you create, you want them to be irrational.

You don’t want to have to sit there and convince them that it’s a good product that they should buy and why they must buy and why they should buy it. When you have a celebrity effect, selling will almost happen on autopilot and that’s a desirous thing that’s going to happen as you become known for something.

As I said earlier, you will need to try many things, but what you’re going to become known for is one thing. And once you find that one thing that resonates, you will have built a bit of a celebrity effect already.

When you have that celebrity effect is the time to diversify, but before then is not. You want to remain as focused as you can be, putting stuff out there, trying different things to see what works, to see what resonates, to see what your audience latches onto.

You look at someone like Dr. Dre, well, what did he become known for? He became known as a rapper. It’s as simple as that, but he was a huge part of the outgrowth of Gangsta rap, right?

And then later he built Beats, and maybe Dre will be remembered for that. I’m not saying he won’t. But the thing that he’s going to be remembered for most isn’t necessarily the brand that he created, but rather the music.

So, what are you doing? What does your work ethic look like right now? Without that, the triangle doesn’t work.

Even when it comes to time to diversify. Sure, you might have a lot of people around you whispering in your ears “Let’s do this. Let’s do that. Let’s create merch. Let’s put something new out there.”

But bottom line is it’s going to require something on your part. You can pay people to do many things, but you’ve got to listen to the right people too. Listening to just anyone is not going to do it.

And that’s the essence of The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship. So, if for some reason you thought, “It’s just Purple Cow and I need to stand out, that’s only a piece of it.

Embrace Minimum Viable & Make Faster Progress in Your Business

Embrace Minimum Viable & Make Faster Progress in Your Business

As creatives and creators, we often give way to perfectionism.

And perfectionism, in a word, is “fear.” Mostly the fear of looking bad.

This fear can easily prolong the process of creation and have us neglecting the important work of publishing.

The Important Work of Publishing

Publishing is where the rubber meets the road. It’s what validates our existence as creators, more so than even projects.

Publishing is where the rubber meets the road. Share on X

Here’s the thing about publishing. Hitting that “publish” button for the first time can be scary. And the second time can still be quite scary. But the more we do it, the less scary it becomes.

Oftentimes, the reason a creator fears publishing is because they are not in that momentum.

Making Your Minimum Viable Product

Although this reframe is important, what I’m asking here still isn’t easy and I know that.

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a lo-fi, basement demo, homespun version of your work. It’s the 80% that matters, versus the extra 20% of polish that would make you feel better but might not make the slightest bit of difference for your audience.

The 20% is where creators end up wasting a lot of time. Making a better logo. Optimizing a landing page. Choosing the right fonts and colors. Versus putting lo-fi elements into place until there’s a need for something better (and many times you will discover there is no need for something better!).

Examples of MVPs

I have several examples of MVPs that, to my surprise, ended up doing quite well:

  • Fire Your God. Out of all my musical releases, this is the one that gets the biggest reaction, and it was the most amateurish. It started out as a project called Demos 2010, if that gives you any idea.
  • The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship. I turned a long-form free guide into a book by editing and adding a little bit of content to it. I received no backlash whatsoever, and in fact, people ended up loving the book.
  • The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship. I wrote most of the manuscript for this book in two months. Like The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship, it’s basically a handbook, but it still ended up becoming a best-seller.

Downsides to MVPs

Am I saying there are no downsides to MVPs? No.

For instance, if you create an infoproduct, and your first customers come back to you and say, “I paid too much for this,” or “I know all this already,” you might not feel all that good about the situation.

By the way, this happened to me.

But what matters is how you deal with a situation like that. My customers didn’t end up demanding a refund because I was willing to interact with them and share some of the reasons why the product had turned out the way it did. Customer support for the win!

Upsides of MVPs

The great thing about an MVP is that you can launch it to your audience, gather some feedback, and then make some improvements. In some cases, you will find that you receive little to no feedback, and therefore do not need to make any improvements!

Basically, you can begin making an independent income, and more importantly, an impact, sooner.

And if your product just isn’t compelling, isn’t the right fit, or wasn’t destined for massive success, you’d also know sooner. And that means you can go back to the drawing board sooner, too.

Final Thoughts

There will always be the temptation to approach your business like an artist. I’m not saying that’s wrong. But when it comes to the important work of making an income, you might need to set the artist hat down, even if just temporarily, so you can put your business hat on and approach product development from a different angle. After all, no money, no mission.

Try minimum viable for yourself and see how it feels. Real-world experience is important. Likely you will see that you can get things done much faster when you don’t obsess about the small details that may not even matter, and which you can improve later anyway.

What’s holding you back from embracing minimum viable?

Let me know in the comments.

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141 – Creating a Minimum Viable Product That Sells as a Musician or Music Entrepreneur in 2019

141 – Creating a Minimum Viable Product That Sells as a Musician or Music Entrepreneur in 2019

If your music isn’t going to sell, wouldn’t you like to know sooner rather than later? Is there a way you can rapidly release music at less risk to test the market?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share what a Minimum Viable Product is as well as how The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship came into being and who it’s for.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:34 – The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship
  • 00:50 – The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship
  • 01:46 – Minimum viable product
  • 04:46 – An offer that converts
  • 05:05 – The inception and development of The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship book
  • 08:16 – What is The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship about?
  • 11:28 – Creating a series of Essential Guides

Transcription:

It’s The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship. I’ve been holding up this book a lot in videos lately. I don’t know what’s up with that. I do want to make you aware of the book so it’s good in that sense.

Anyway, what is this all about? Why would you want it? Who cares?

Last year I came out with The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship, and that sold very well. I actually got a really great response for that book as well, which is something that surprised me because here’s kind of the secret behind that whole book – most of the content was already written before I put it out. It was on the website. It was on davidandrewwiebe.com.

I had written this guide on what it meant to be a musicpreneur or music entrepreneur here in the digital age. What I did was I took that content, I edited it, I updated it, I revised it. I added an introduction and a conclusion. I curated a few more blog posts, and voila, that was The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship.

The feedback has been far better than I ever anticipated. So much so that I thought, well, this is what I would call a minimum viable product. If you haven’t heard of that term before, if you don’t know what an MVP is, a minimum viable product is like the least amount of content you need to make something that people would buy, or people would be interested in.

That’s a good concept for you to know as a musician to learn this whole thing about minimum viable product because as musicians we tend to obsess over perfection, getting something just right, making sure the vocals are in tune, making sure the guitar sound right, making sure the drums are exactly as we want them to be in the studio.

And then that often ends up being relegated or delegated to a producer or an engineer and sometimes musicians do it themselves too, right? I’ve certainly produced my own tracks.

We obsess about all these things not realizing that maybe 80% is good enough to get a feel for what people think about it. 80% is maybe not enough to get on the radio, to get in front of influencers, to get your music in front of a major label or anything like that, but it’s enough to get a feel for what people think about it.

They might go, “Hey, this is great. I love this.” Or they might go, “This is all right.” But the thing is if you got it 80% of the way there and people didn’t like it then you didn’t waste a ton of time and energy and money. You still wasted some of your resources. I still wouldn’t say it’s a waste because everything is a test and experiment anyway as an entrepreneur, as a musician, as a creative.

In some capacity, practically everything is an experiment. I’ve experimented with a lot of things. Trust me, a lot of them didn’t go well.

But there’s that extra 20% to take it to 100%. That 20% probably would cost you more in time, and resources, and energy, and everything to get your product perfect. If nobody likes the product, what was the point in spending all that time and money and energy on that? No point, right? So that’s the whole thing about a minimum viable product.

Guess what? The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurshipdid well as a minimum viable product. That was enough. It was straight to the point. It was no BS. There wasn’t a bunch of extra stuff in there.

There wasn’t just rambling incoherent text, which I hate about some books anyway. I love reading books. It’s just that some books go on and on and on about nothing. They’re not talking about anything. They’re saying a lot and not getting any kind of message across. I’m sure you’ve experienced that as well.

I just want to make you present to that fact that you can do that too. You can create a minimum viable product. Put it out there. Test it. See how people respond to it. If it’s good, you can iterate on it, make it something better or something like it. If people don’t like it then you can make kind of a bigger adjustment based on the feedback that you’ve been getting.

For me though, with The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship, I found a winning formula. I found something that works well. Something people would want and something that people will buy. It’s an offer that converts, which is awesome. That’s something to be excited about, right, when you find something that works, something that people want?

I was then approached last year with the idea of creating The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship. I was approached by a friend and a colleague and a mentor, just a really wonderful person.

He said to me, “You know, we’re going to get this creative community started and would really love you to put together a book, maybe rearrange the content you already have in The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurshipand make it into The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship.” And that’s how this came about.

Now, I didn’t just merely rework the content that was in The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship. I could have done that. I actually wrote everything from scratch. The content that I wrote again is actually available on the blog. That’s a little secret. Maybe you knew. Maybe you didn’t. You can find most of what’s in this book on my blog as well as on Medium.

If you’ve been following along, then you know that I’ve been doing quite a few experiments over on Medium as well, which is another social network. Just a place where you can take your blog posts and syndicate them. Or, you can even create fresh content for Medium, which is something I’ve done before too. So, it is content that you won’t find anywhere else, some of the things that I’ve created on Medium.

This book came together by really creating an outline. That was the first thing I did. I had a journal and I created the outline. I said I want 12 sections. And here are the 12 sections that I want to create. Once I was clear on that, I just turned every one of those sections into a blog post. That’s how I broke it down once I had the outline. And then I began writing each of those sections while also publishing them.

And, of course, something you should know about my process is once everything goes into the book, I still read it over and over and over again. In fact, what happens is I will submit the manuscript when I feel like it’s reached that point of being good enough, 80 to 90% of the way there.

I will get it up on KDP, which is Amazon’s self publishing platform. And then I’ll have them send me an author copy. When the author copy shows up, I get to see what the book looks like. Does the artwork work? Is it fitting properly? Are the dimensions correct?

And then I also look at the text on the inside and I go, “Is this readable? The message I am trying to convey, are there any awkward sentences? Am I missing a comma? Am I missing a period?” I will just go through it and edit it and make sure it’s up to snuff.

And then I will resubmit the manuscript one last time to KDP once I’m happy with it. And then the book comes out. That’s my process. First, I’ll get an author copy sent over. Look it over. Make some last-minute notes on the whole thing. And then, I will submit it to KDP to have it published and out there.

I’ve said a lot about the self-publishing process. I actually haven’t said a lot about the book yet.

The book itself is obviously there not just to help creative entrepreneurs but to help creatives in general and artists of all types to be able to create something and do it more efficiently and do it more effectively and then share their work with the world. And then of course, ultimately sell it.

You might be wondering what making and selling your neon yellow tiger means, which is the subtitle of the book, right? I don’t actually have an eloquent explanation for this yet. A number of people have asked me already what exactly that means, but it is about finding your niche. It’s about going into a niche that isn’t overcrowded, where there isn’t a ton of competitors already. Making something, a piece of art. Sharing it with the world and then becoming a dominator in that space. You can dominate that space if nobody else has created anything in it.

Now, if you do a Google search, you’ll see for yourself. You can search for neon yellow tigers and it will come up with lot of results, but the so-called results there’s really none showing like a legitimate… There aren’t too many legitimate neon yellow tigers out there. So, if you want to dominate that neon yellow tiger space you could do it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that’s what you do. I am suggesting that you find a niche that isn’t overcrowded and then dominate it. A niche where there is a demand and then go into it and hit it with everything you’ve got. That’s the concept behind the book.

There’s a lot of ideas, there’s a lot of tips, there’s a lot of suggestions, there’s a lot of advice, and there’s a lot of examples in this book of people who are doing well in creative entrepreneurship. I wanted to make sure I was citing and mentioning examples of people who are doing well in that space. That’s something you’ll find in this book.

It really is a little bit of a buffet. You can kind of take it or leave it because to be perfectly honest there are some slightly conflicting or contradictory advice in the book.

Before I get asked and interviewed – although I’m sure I will at some point – before I get asked, the whole idea is you can think of it as a buffet. You can take what you want. Just because you can take everything doesn’t mean you want to take everything.

I myself I don’t eat seafood. So, if I went to a buffet… And I do love Asian buffets by the way. If I go to a buffet, I’m not necessarily going to eat the seafood. I’m probably not going to touch the seafood. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might try just a little something but that’s not what I’m going to go for.

I’m probably going to go for the spring rolls and the rice and the dumplings and maybe some soup or some noodles. That’s more of my speed, so that’s where you would find me at the buffet.

Same thing with this book. I think most if not all of it is applicable and helpful but if there are things that you don’t find helpful, just toss them. Just throw them out and go like, “Okay. This point earlier makes more sense to me than this point that was mentioned later in the book.” And that’s how I take it.

This is really exciting to me. One of the reasons is because it’s sort of started creating a bit of an ecosystem.

What I want to do now is publish many more “essential guides”. Just to give you an idea, I haven’t revealed this elsewhere but I’m thinking about creating The Essential Guide to Community Building. That’s project that’s sort of getting into the works.

I was already going to be working on a book about growth hacking for musicians. I think I will turn that in to The Essential Guide to Growth Hacking for Musicians.

Another title that I’m thinking about is The Essential Guide to Crowdfunding. The Essential Guide to Personal Development for Musicians.

This really opened up a whole new world. At some point, I’ll probably register a domain name and put all those books up there as well. Might be like EssentialGuideBooks .com. And then continually update and revise those books and add new content to them as we see fit and necessary for the whole project, and of course based on the feedback you give us. That’s a huge part of it.

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