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What’s the right way to look at building a music career? How do you make sure that you create long-term results for yourself?
That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.
- 00:26 – Exciting new course (now available)
- 00:53 – Christopher Sutton’s masterclass introduction
- 05:05 – Entrepreneurial essentials for musicians
- 05:29 – A musician is a small business owner
- 07:35 – A statement that could change your life
- 10:37 – Adopting a long-term mindset
- 13:55 – What can you accomplish in 10 years?
- 16:44 – Episode summary
Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.
What you’re about to hear is a segment of my course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass. You can find it at MusicEntrepreneurHQ.com/Masterclass.
The price goes up every week, so if you’d like to save a bit of money, head on over there sooner rather than later. It’s MusicEntrepreneurHQ.com/Masterclass.
Enjoy this segment from the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass.
Christopher Sutton: Hello and welcome. We are live. Sorry for the short delay and thank you for your patience, we were fighting some technical gremlins. Technology is incredible when it works and incredibly annoying when it doesn’t. Thanks for bearing with us. Sorry to be starting a little bit late. I guarantee it will be worth your while waiting a few minutes. Very welcome. Very warm welcome to you all here today, whether you are a Musical U fan or even a Musical U member, if we have any members give a shout out in the chat box. I’m sure we have a few who have come along. Today we are joined by a very special guest. I am delighted to say we have David Andrew Wiebe, author of The New Music Industry and The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship. David say hello.
David Andrew Wiebe: Hello everybody.
Christopher: David is the man behind The Music Entrepreneur HQ website, which is a fantastic blog and also hosts a podcast, and he is himself a guitarist and songwriter based in Canada, but he’s really made a name for himself online with his writing on modern music entrepreneurship and what it means to try and make a living with music in this day and age. I recently grabbed a copy of David’s new book, which I highly recommend. It’s The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship and I just totally loved the way he talks about this topic of entrepreneurship.
If you’ve come along today, then I know that that word entrepreneurship didn’t totally put you off, which is good, but I know that a lot of people assume a lot of things about it, and so I hope you’ve come today with an open mind because what I love so much about David’s book was that it wasn’t kind of the traditional just how to make money or how to make a business kind of entrepreneurship teaching. He really goes into the mindset, and the habits that make for success in life in general, to be honest. It’s definitely framed as entrepreneurship, but there is a ton packed in there that’s useful for any musician whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not.
So I was super excited to have David come and present this masterclass for Musical U members and anyone who’s joining us live today, because this is stuff that will help you transform your success in any musical endeavor, I think. In a minute I’m going to hand over to David to share his insights with you, and before we do, I’ll just explain the structure of today’s call. In a second I’ll hand over to David and then at the end of his presentation we’re going to do some Q&A. So you should be seeing a chat box on your screen live chat thing, so if you’re watching Musical U, I think it’ll appear to the right hand side of the video. If you’re watching on the public website, I think it might be below, and if you’re watching on YouTube it’ll be wherever YouTube decided to put it today, but look around and you should see a white live chat box.
Please don’t be shy. Do say hello. We’ve had a bunch of people saying helloin there already, which is fantastic. I will give a few shout outs to Glenn from Minnesota, [Meddy 00:02:51] from Europe, Scott from Texas, USA. You look familiar, Scott, maybe from a previous masterclass. Peter Pool from the Netherlands, Jamie from San Francisco, Maximiliano from Venezuela. Terrific crowd here from all around the world today. You’re all very welcome, Stephanie and Jim as well, and that MC Nick, you’re all very welcome. Thank you for joining us today, and I can see we have a ton more tuned in live that haven’t yet said hello in the chat. So if you’re feeling shy, or you haven’t said hello yet, please do say a quick hello and tell us where you’re from or what instrument you play, and we’d love to hear from you.
That live chat will be running throughout today’s session. So please do use it. You can make comments, and you can ask questions. If it’s a certain type of question, I might throw it at David and interrupt him midstream, but most likely I will be holding them back until the end of his presentation and then we’ll have some time for Q&A at the end. That’s it for me, without any further ado, I will hand over to our speaker and presenter today, David Andrew Wiebe. Thank you David.
David: Thank you so much for the great introduction, Christopher. I will say that Christopher has quickly become one of my favorite human beings even in the few interactions that we’ve had. He’s such a kind and wonderful person and so it’s a real honor, and a pleasure to be presenting here a masterclass for Musical U, which I would definitely recommend checking out. Today, of course, we’ll talking about entrepreneurial essentials for musicians and I’m going to be covering the basics here, so do not be intimidated. Can everybody see the slides okay?
Christopher: Yep. Showing up well.
David: Okay, perfect. Yeah, so don’t be intimidated. I think any information that I share with you today is totally applicable, and I am going to have a little challenge for you later on if you choose to accept it, so as an introduction to this material, a musician is effectively a small business owner, whether they know it or not. When you’re first getting started, no one knows who you are or what you’re about. They don’t know what you sound like. They don’t know what kind of music you play, basically, you have to begin creating your fan base, but if you want to sell your music, first you must record it, then publish it and then market it to your prospects, or at least that’s the traditional way of thinking about it. I’m going to present a different way of thinking about that whole process. If you want to book gigs, of course you must approach venues and event organizers and strike up a deal, which can be nerve wracking and pretty scary at first.
When you begin reaching out, you realize a lot of people are friendlier than you might expect them to be, but when you’re … It’s easy to conjure up in your mind images of failure or rejection as you’re going about that process. So similarly, a small business owner doesn’t have customers when first getting started and no one knows who they are or what they offer, what kind of products or services they have for them. Maybe their immediate friends or partners or affiliates might know something about what they’re offering, but most people don’t know who they are, what they’re up to, especially if they’re new to the entrepreneurship. So a small business owner must determine what their product or service is going to be and then market it to their target audience. Similarly, musicians must market their music to their target audience, which if you’re just starting to make music, you have no idea who that is, and you may take a while to decide on a direction whether that’s country music for people that live on farms, or rock music for people that love city life or things like that.
So if you understand the core fundamentals of running a small business, I believe that you’ll achieve more in your music career, that’s certainly been the case for me. There’s a lot of stuff that I really didn’t know, especially mindset wise, and that’s some of the stuff that we’re going to be talking about today. So even if your only goal right now is to learn an instrument, this information could change the way you think about practice, and the rate at which you progress, and that’s what we’re going to look at today.
This is the statement that absolutely changed my life. Employees work for money and other people, entrepreneurs have money and people work for them. I believe I first heard it from Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. When I first heard it, I was getting into a business model called network marketing, but it ultimately led me down the path of creating The Music Entrepreneur HQ and that’s because I realized the value in what I was learning and how pertinent it was to building a music career. I got an education, what I was missing, which was primary mindset, and I’ll be covering a lot of that here.
I had been pursuing a music career for over 10 years at that point without any major success, and gradually I began to realize why that was. I was missing a lot of keys to getting to where I want it to go and so many bands that I joined and participated in and been a part of had ended up breaking up usually within a year to a year and a half, and that’s going to happen to you too if you choose to go that route with being in a band.
The key point there is that you can’t give up. You have to keep looking for people, and you’ve got to be the one with the vision and hold on to that vision and continually find people who can support you in making that vision a reality, but you might be asking yourself, how do I apply this to my situation because that seems kind of intimidating, right? You maybe don’t have employees, and you may not even have a lot of money right now. So how exactly can you put this into practice sooner rather than later?
Well, it’s quite simple. You might be familiar with music distribution services such as CD Baby, DistroKid or Ditto Music, and what they do for you is they get your music out into various online stores as well as streaming platforms like Spotify or iTunes, or Apple Music, or Deezer or what have you. So when you’re paying them, you’re effectively paying them to get your music out to online stores and streaming sites. You didn’t have to do anything, you just handed them over a little of money, and they did the rest of the work for you.
If that’s something you’ve already done, congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming an entrepreneur. You just had money and people work for you. Similarly, if you decided to join the musical youth community, and you’re effectively delegating a portion of your practice to them and improvement, you’re paying for some of the accountability that’s going to come from the people in the forums, and some of the steps we’ll have you take such as setting goals, so you can outsource a portion of your practice time by joining a community like Musical U and that’s in my mind, entrepreneurial.
Christopher: David, sorry to interrupt, just a quick question from Scott in the audience. Could you say again the names of the companies you mentioned there?
David: Okay, so the music distribution companies, some of the ones that I’ve used and have had experience with are CD baby, DistroKid, D-I-S-T-R-O-K-I-D and Ditto Music, which I believe is a UK company, D-I-T-T-O Music.
Christopher: Perfect. Thank you.
David: All right.
Okay. So next, adopting a long-term mindset. I’ve taught hundreds of guitar, bass, ukulele and piano students through the years and that just happens as you continue to follow that path of being a music instructor. People come and go, you work for different studios, you teach people in their homes, and over the time that number of people just continues to add up, so it’s been hundreds of students to this point. The difference between someone who stuck with it, and this is what I’ve noticed, and improved versus someone who rarely practiced and didn’t improve, was a love of music. That’s not something I can foster in you. It wasn’t something I was able to foster in any of my students. They had to foster it within themselves.
So here’s a little challenge, if you can’t list your favorite artists off the top of your head, you might be in trouble. You may not be as passionate or have as much of a love of music that you need to be able to improve on your instrument, and so what I would do is I would develop a genuine interest in music and begin to follow your impulses. Get a magazine subscription or join an online community, or begin reading about the artists that fascinate you and pitch your interest. This is exactly what I did. For instance, when I first started playing guitar, I was listening to quite a bit of rap and hip hop music and one of my favorite groups at the time was The Beastie Boys and you might know Adam Yauch or MCA. He talked about how he’d become obsessed with Jimi Hendrix at different points in his career and I found that intriguing, so it wasn’t long before I started listening to Jimi Hendrix and then learning his songs on guitar.
But none of that would’ve happened if I didn’t pick up the guitar to begin with and I didn’t have a teacher helping me along and show me how to play guitar, but as I began to follow that track, I started developing a love for classic rock and rock music in general. Of course the blues too was pretty significant, because in a way Jimi Hendrix was kind of a blues player, depends who you ask. Some people say he was more rock, or funkadelia or psychedelia and what have you, but that was definitely at the core of his playing, was blues. So I started going down that path as well.
So your love of music will carry you through any disillusionment or setbacks you might experience in trying to learn an instrument. Like I talked about, most of my bands that I’ve been a part of broke up within a year to a year and a half. Those were at times pretty heartbreaking experiences because I could see us going somewhere. There’s one band called Angels Breaking Silence, we were getting the types of gigs that I hadn’t been getting in any other group or even solo such as camp gigs and skate park gigs and outdoor gigs and things like that, to where I thought, “There’s real potential here. We just have to keep honing our craft and make some great [inaudible 00:13:07] shows,” but unfortunately, people in the band had different ideas. So there’s something to be said for vetting the people you work with, but until you have some of those experiences, sometimes it’s hard to know what people are looking for, so it is going to be a little bit of trial and error and hunting around for the right people.
Now, many people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years. That’s kind of classic Tony Robbins, but it is very true. Don’t think about what you can do today or in a year, keep at it and begin thinking about what’s possible, three years, five years, seven years, or even 10 years down the line, and then work daily towards the achievement of what you envisioned in your mind. The mind is a very powerful tool we’re ever capable of visualizing and seeing a future for ourselves, and so utilize that. Take advantage of that.
There is something magical about that number, 10 years, just look at the Beatles, Metallica, or even Billy Talent. It took them 10 years to break through in their careers, as it’s often been said, every overnight success has been 10 years in the making. If it even took the best bands that long to get to where they want to go, why would it be any different for you and I? So no matter what it is you’re looking to accomplish and you don’t need to aspire to be the Beatles or Metallica or Billy Talent, you can start at whatever level that you want your career to be, or even just learning an instrument, whatever level, but think about what feels good tomorrow, not just today, and that helps you make long term decisions around that.
Now we’re going to talk a little bit about taking responsibility for your own growth. Unfortunately, I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t do. What we want to do here is let go of any expectations others may have for you. So having taught hundreds of students, I’ve met many parents that had unrealistic expectations. Some thought their child should be virtuoso so after four lessons, that’s like a month worth of lessons, half an hour each, whether they had spent any time practicing or not. Isn’t that absolutely ridiculous? It doesn’t happen that way. Now I understand you might watch movies like August Rush and think to yourself, “Gosh, if he can be that good in six months, I should be just as good and I’m not [inaudible 00:15:40].” Well, that may be possible for you. I’m not going to stop you from trying, but for most people that’s just not realistic. It’s actually going to take many, many years to master your craft.
One of my favorite guitarists is Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme and he grew up in a musical family and all his brothers played music, and he’s known as one of the world’s best guitarists now, but he says at the time he was the absolute worst in his family. He said it took him a long time and it was really hard for him to get good at guitar, but look what happened when he stuck with the process. So practice does make a huge difference.
You just heard a segment from the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass. I hope you enjoyed it.
If you’d like to get the whole thing, you’re going to want to head over to MusicEntrepreneurHQ.com/Masterclass.
This has been episode 223 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.
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