In as few as the last several years the Modern Music Industry has reached a foundational maturation level that has truly opened the door to a transformative and very exciting practical reality for Artists.
The digital revolution has ushered in a dizzying assortment of new technologies which have changed the way music is created, bought, sold, promoted, distributed, marketed and experienced.
Let's sum hundreds of thousands of years in cultural and technological evolution up to:
- Available tools and resources to create, produce, publish broadcast quality music for less than $1,500 to and from virtually any place in the world.
- Available tools and resources to market, distribute and promote your content to and from anywhere in the world and build a loyal fan base that supports you through a direct relationship of mutual benefit for very low, or in some cases, no monetary investment cost.
- Available option on the menu of life = a career path and lifestyle built on doing what you love, on your terms, based on how well you do the things you’ll learn throughout this series.
- Instead of going out and getting a job we don’t like, or choosing a career because we didn’t think we could truly do the thing we loved most… is over.
- The Modern Artists Revolution has ended the age-old compromise of needing a day-job vs. Passionate creation as the job-via savvy, intelligent strategy, a committed work ethic, and creative use of the tools of the modern creator.
Yet despite all these external changes-most of us have yet to fully embrace what I’ve learned is key in adapting to these new developments and enjoying the opportunity that comes with the added responsibilities of being a Creator in the Modern World.
In my experience, the majority of Artists are either trying to apply traditional strategies and ideas to a radically different industry, or are getting old/outdated advice. Or just aren’t thinking or working very creatively.
While the tools have been adopted and utilized effectively in the hands of some… I’ve almost gotten used to emerging and established Artists coming to me without the basic understanding of how important their mailing list/database is… Still. In 2014! Let’s step it up! Your Relationship Database is your retirement plan.
The landscape changed as well as the playing field, yet the approach and the mindset for how that translates into business model and behavior change-remains somewhat primitive and polarizing from what i’ve seen.
A few years ago in the DIY Launch Plan I detailed a simplified blueprint for how Artists can build a solid foundation for a long term career. Then, In the Musicpreneur Manifesto, I hashed out the individual characteristics and principles that made the difference between those who are succeeding as Artists in the Modern world, and those who aren’t quite connecting all the dots.
As I mentioned in the Modern Artist State of the Union training series at the beginning of this year-there are still a few substantial problems i’m seeing which are hurting artists and hindering their growth, some of which are hard to notice.
The primary issues that continue to entangle Artists from my vantage point (working with hundreds of them at many different levels) boil down to ineffective strategy, and/or confusion for what to do next.
Overwhelm, (mindset, clarity, focus) or ineffective action. Many times there is no formal map, vision, or tangible goals set for their career at all.
It’s troubling, yet so common-there’s no sense in being frustrated. It’s clear to me that it’s not just more education, blog posts, tips, or opinions Artists need… It’s proven strategies and step-by-step blueprints to get from where they are, to where they want to be.
Most Artists aren't focused on the most valuable things they could be doing, and/or aren’t doing them in an effective way. What’s needed in my opinion is greater precision in their perspective and the approach for how Artists develop their careers in the new economy. Starting with clarity and focus, and creating long-term, 3Dimensional success through progressive victories that generate increasing momentum.
As we continue the shift from traditional, inside the box thinking, to expansive, creative music marketing and career development in the modern music business-what’s needed is a simplified framework and updated business model that lays out proven blueprints for Artists In the Modern Music Industry.
In this brand new training series you are going to learn:
- How small shifts in perspective and your mindset can help you build your career faster and more intelligently
- Why you don’t need a major label, and instead need to focus on getting a GAME Plan and a modernized business model
- Why it’s time to Declare your Independence as an Artist in the Modern Music Industry
- How to utilize Grassroots Artist Development and Modern Content Marketing to develop your content and your Core base of True Fans
- How to leverage Systems and processes to step up your game, and let technology work for you so you can spend more time creating and connecting
- The evolution of the Traditional Music Release into The Modern Music Release Cycle
This Training Series aims to help you get out of any confusion or frustration you may be experiencing, arm yourself with some proven strategies to grow your career immediately, and teach you how you can grow your fan-base more effectively than a major label could!
You are going to begin learning the Art of the GAME, starting with a case study to illustrate (Grassroots Artist Music Empowerment) some of the strategies we teach for Artists in the Modern Music Industry.
There is a lot of ground to cover, and i’ve tried to compress the material down.
If you’d like to have me send you each new post in the series automatically so you don’t have to worry about missing any of the training-you can sign up here and i’ll give you a free copy of The Grassroots Music Marketing System, gratis.
A New breed of Empowered Artist in the Modern World
The independent artists revolution has matured as we’ve finally reached a tipping point for Artists and Creators in the Modern World. Careers and teams built around an Artist at the Nucleus as CEO of their content business. Embracing and expanding on the infrastructure that’s progressively been laid over the last 15 years-both worlds of Commerce and Artistic culture have birthed a new breed of creator equipped with the dual skillsets of artistic and entrepreneurial savvy fit for the modern world.
These Hybrid Artists combine the integration of creativity and technology to leverage the tools and opportunities of the Modern Music Industry. Let’s call these Artists who enjoy the rewards for becoming the leaders, creators, and designers of their career... Modern Artists.
Not only has a more savvy class of Artists emerged, so too has a different kind of “Star.”
Now it’s not just the few rock-stars that everyone used to fantasize about being, but a practical career path available to any committed Artist.
Gatekeepers are no longer necessary choke-points, and “manifest destiny” has never had a more tangible, realistic resonance than it has today. Now, no one besides yourself need pick you. Artists are the central leaders of their brand, designers of their lifestyle, the creators of their career and content.
Creativity and inspiration are the true drivers for Artists in modern world, and the palette of experiential expression extends beyond vinyl or canvas or digital data. It is a sophisticated array of always on, always available communication formats and distribution channels designed to deliver your content to anyone, virtually anywhere or anytime.
Let’s start with a Story.
How Johnny Found The ART in his G.A.M.E
Over the next 3 Articles i’m going to tell you how an Artist named Johnny transformed his career from working-middle-class Band Leader loving what he does-though the Band was just getting by; to an evolved Creator of his Career, Income, and Lifestyle.
You’ll Learn How He and His Band Mates went:
From a Subtle Disempowered Mentality………………………………….. To an Empowered Modern Artist running a 3D Content Business.
From In Debt, Co-dependent attitudes living off the Old Economy..................... To Self-Reliant, Artistically and Financially Independent Artists with Multiple Streams of income in the New Economy
From Perfectionistic/Procrastinators.……………………… To Well Prepared Pragmatists with a Solid Game Plan
From emotional, abstract, estimated thinkers about their careers……………….. To passionate, expansive, practical, curious and accurate thinkers coupled with consistent execution of new ideas for their growing Content Business
How did Johnny find the ART of his G.A.M.E?
It started with attitude and mindset.
While those transformations may sound like extremely large leaps to you, the GAPs weren't all that gargantuan and began to close with increasing positive momentum starting with a few simple breakthroughs in attitude, perspective, and strategy.
The minor breakthroughs triggered slight shifts in perspective that opened Johnny and his Bands mind up just enough to see the opportunities in front of them-with enough clarity and confidence to fuel them with a charismatic, enthusiastic, transformative influence that helped them develop to their full potential and thrive as evolved Creators and Artists in the Modern World.
With consistent effort they actualized their ideal Creative Vision on a day-to-day level. That they got to wake up to every single morning. Theirs didn't require flashy Cars or Jewelry, (though we're not opposed to either) but gave them everything they'd dreamed of as a Band. They got to create and make their music, their way, on their terms. They created a loyal tribe of True Fans and Super Fans who loved and supported and helped spread the word for them. They didn't have to worry about trivial financial logistics and could all live with comfort and control, knowing what it takes and how to increase their income level. Of course, they also know that it will require more work and dedication, and if they decide to upgrade their lifestyles they'll have a process and resources to help them do it more effectively.
The practical specifics needed to be spelled out, as they had never formally been fleshed out before. There were some very realistic and tangible details that needed to be discussed. This triggered more discussion, further introspection, deeper debates. But the practical Goals and Objectives for their Paradise, at the end of the day, was not only achievable, but realistic.
Do you think that a little bit of planning with a slightly upgraded strategy and mindset would prove to be the simple accelerant for completing or expanding the dream picture of your career?
What would it really take to actualize it?
I'll tell you what... there's probably a pretty direct path to it, and it's likely not as hard to find as you think.
But, let's not fantasize or go too far, i know, back to reality!
...While their (Johnny and the Bands) version of Heaven on Earth, their Creators Paradise will likely look and sound a little different than yours, the Core catalyst, which may resonate with you at some level, came down to truly claiming Creative and Financial Control doing what they love, for those that love what they do.
Not an outrageous request, right?
And honestly, let me tell you something…
I'm not a miracle worker.
While I think i showed up at the right time, offered the right knowledge, tools and guidance, Johnny and his band were ready and committed. They did the legwork and made it happen little by little. They were and still are the Creators, Designers, and Artists of their own destiny.
I helped steer, structure, advise, tweak the blueprints, formulate the step-by-steps, and together we built a Roadmap that THEY followed, adapted and refined over time, and ultimately they did the work to realize their Vision. To pull into reality via consistent follow through over time, One Mission at a Time.
One of the benefits that I hope learning Johnny's story will provide you with is an unbiased worldview and hopefully a clear recognition of the cause and symptoms that was trapping and hindering their Content Businesses growth. These common Artistic pitfalls are what we call the Creative Growth Traps, and though they can be subtle, they will restrict the growth of any career all the same as a gaping, dramatic, obvious one.
You see, over the years I've been able to identify certain key impact points for where performance meets results. I won't outright point them out, but as we go through this Lesson i want to encourage you to see if you can detect where these particular impact points may be.
Talented Professionals doing what they loved
Johnny, the leader of his band, was a gifted singer songwriter who could shred the strings on just about any guitar in virtually any style. He had a lot of great things going for him. He had the goods, had the chops, rocked his live shows, and together, they put their whole heart and soul into their music.
I could quickly detect a cohesive dynamic and felt a healthy relationship between the band members. The kind of vibe that develops over years of camaraderie, battle scars, and war stories from the road. Overall It was a comfortable and fun atmosphere-between insider pop shots.
He and his Band had done their due diligence as a Business Entity, actively maintaining responsibility with their blog and content strategy, website updates, the songwriting, and social media.
They operated their Content Business under a Delaware LLC, with fully formed Band Agreements, Publishing, and other Contracts in place for legal protection. They were professionals.
They regularly co-wrote and collaborated with other Artists and Musicians at the top of their game and were creating relationships locally as well as internationally through their digital channels.
They had a pretty solid little routine going on, and all the checkmarks-for the most part seemed to be getting ticked.
Again, from the way everything looked, he was doing everything he “should,” and was a respected working class musician in his local scene.
Johnny and the Band have been doing what they feel are the “right things” for a couple years, yet things have sort of tapered off in terms of growth and excitement. Comparable to what a Fitness Trainer would refer to as a Plateau.
He enjoyed what he got to do for a living, sure, Johnny and his band were Indeed talented, their fans certainly enjoyed their music, and they worked to maintain their web presence. They were a fun band to hang out with. They were all pretty close, and the atmosphere was alive and infectious.
But after the laughs, the stories of the latest victories and fiasco’s, the rest of the band took off-and me and Johnny got down to business.
The conversation was fun for a while as we swapped stories involving whiskey and women and four letter words… We both loved Golf!
Eventually our dialog led us back into the music industry and as I inched closer and closer back to him and his situation, the atmosphere dampened a little and the conversation started to change…
The mood fluctuated a bit in the room as the air seemed to get thicker. I shifted my attention to my moleskin pad and looked up a couple notes i'd jotted down.
We’d moved on to the band’s finances and income.
We began to talk numbers...
Johnny's tone and demeanor changed a little. It was a partially deflated posture. He spoke authoritatively, yet his body language backed up a message of apathy-bordering hopelessness and hands in the air frustration.
“There’s just no money in this industry, there’s no money being an artist today, it’s hard out here. People don’t want to pay $15 to purchase our one CD, when they could pay $10 to get one million albums on Spotify.” He said with exasperation. “Sure people love our music, our fans show up for us when we play, we love writing, performing, and our bands a happy family, ya know... we’re grateful to get to do it, but at this point it’s just that there’s very little profits in this as a business unless we want to sell out and just go start making cookie cutter crap... and that can make things hard at times, ya know..?”
“Of course”-I snapped back, you guys rocked tonight, this place was alive with your music and it totally made the venue... so, how are operations going-If you don’t my mind my asking...?” I asked for clarities sake.
“No don’t get me wrong we all make enough to support our families, pay our bills, and do what we love, but sometimes it just seems like, is this as good as it gets, ya know what i mean?”
“I think." I said. "You don’t feel like you are continuously growing, and progressing, and taking things to that next altitude?” I suggested…
“Ya, ya know it’s like we’ve sort of hit a plateau in terms of fans and sales where it’s kind of like the same crowd and the same gig every week… Listen, we work really hard, and we need a new Van. The drummer needs a new kit, we've tried to do some "advertising" before in the past, but this whole Marketing aspect just isn't the sort of thing any of us are good at?"
I knew it wasn't the time to dig in their yet, so i just continued to listen, piecing things together and visualizing the constructs of Johnny's worldview.
We tossed about a few more details that validated and verified my sense of exactly where he was at, and obviously noticed that we’d struck a nerve.
Between his bands leadership roles, practice and the rest of his areas of management, which were a full time job, Johnny wasn’t sure there was anything else he could do... and frankly, seemed a bit skeptical that there was anything else he could do to improve his cash-flow, the growth of his platform, (fanbase, web-presence, following) and a renewed sense of vigor and freshness for their career, that he and they, weren't already doing or had tried before.
Johnny had a problem. Pretty confident I could help him breakthrough these mental and financial blockages-I restrained from going right to the solution and rattling off different ideas and things he could try immediately, and decided to again, slow my roll, and just continue to listen.
With such obvious talent, a decade of performing and recording and writing together as a band, why weren't they making much noticeable progress? Why wasn't there the same excitement that they once had, and how come they weren't building momentum that continually presented bigger and bigger opportunities, gave them more and more victories, all the while multiplying the size of their fan base?
As I continued to engage with my ear-Johnny laid it all out without me having to do anything but listen.
Before we breakdown the details of what, why, and how we went about our mission with Johnny and his band, before we get to the tactical elements it is of utmost importance that I highlight this ultra critical point...
Though the “methodology,” the specific activities which led to the results he was getting-were in fact less than effective, and once changed-did begin to yield the favorable results he was failing to create himself... The difference in “methodology/behavior” though, was nominal in terms of impact-had it not been for the fundamental breakthroughs that occurred in his mindset and attitude.
This variable, the “mentality,” rather than the “methodology” account for the lions share, the 80% vs. the 20% in any successful initiative of this nature. As i stated earlier, your mindset, your mental model, your INNER Operating System-is without question your most valuable asset as an artist. Do not overlook the tremendous leverage point that truly embracing a mentality that is conducive to your success-really is.
Now, let’s step back away from Johnny’s daily and weekly “activities” for a moment and see the whole picture. I want you to notice if indeed you might be able to relate to this in any way....
From the outside, it “appeared” that Johnny was doing all the right things. From the outside, no one could really tell him that he could be doing better, or be doing more, or earning more money, or getting better exposure, or exponentially multiplying the size of his fan base...
No one could or wanted to tell him that because it didn’t seem appropriate, he actually WAS making the effort, he was already successfully doing what he loved, and that is absolutely commendable. This is what he was meant to do, he enjoyed doing it, and he was indeed doing it. So far so good!
Yet, there was an invisible affliction. It wasn’t a hemorrhaging wound-but a very real threat to Johnny’s potential, to the bands potential, to his career, to his music and to his larger audience whom might never get to experience his gifts.
Again, left unattended to, these invisible, unchallenged ideas-picked up from who know’s where, could have festered and infected his career and ultimately maybe even his legacy. Small shifts can move large ships!
The fact was that Johnny and his band, although profitable, were just barely getting by. They had just about resigned themselves to one of two outcomes; keep grinding and doing what they do-trying to make ends meet at the end of each month... Or HOPEfully, someone might somehow from somewhere notice them-and save them from a mediocre fate, and more of the same.
Both outcomes, certainly unacceptable to me, and especially for any client or student I take.
Mind you, Johnny wasn't desperately flailing, he was making it happen on his own, although I sensed that he'd just about accepted that things were the way they were-and this was his lot, etc… I however, wasn't going to let him kid himself or allow that happen so long as he was ready to give our Game plan a shot and do the work.
I told him that based on everything we’d discussed I was ready to make the diagnoses. What Johnny had was a common case of Starving Artist Syndrome. He had found a comfortable level of success and recognition. All the routines had become a bit old hat, he had found his comfort zone and that he'd reached a point where he was right up against that pivotal moment of choice, and that he already knew what had to come next.
I could easily tell that he was still listening, being polite, sort of playing it cool…
I told him that while I understand that certainly nothing good came easy, I gently suggested that there might be a smarter, savvier, more effective way to maximize the quality of life for him and his band. That it didn’t need to feel like and be a “compromise.” That perhaps there was a way to have his cake and eat it too. To improve his condition and available resources, earn more income every month, and grow the fan-base all from virtually doing the same amount of “work/activity” that they were already doing, just doing it in a much more effective way. With a strategy and an action plan.
I sensed that he got-i wasn't exactly the punk kid down the street who'd "build you a website," or sell you some outrageous advertising gimmick, but wasn't quite sure how deep the rabbit hole really went…
Ya know, sort of sizing up the potential caliber of my methods and guidance-in contrast to the kinds of results he could hope to realistically achieve.
I said "if you can start to see that there may be another way, an effective way to have your cake and eat it too-tailor made for you to profit from it in multiple dimensions, creatively, emotionally, financially… then feel free to give me a call and i’d be happy to do my best to help you find it."
I asked him to do me a favor, regardless of if I ever heard from him again…
I told him, "No matter what you come up with or which way you choose to go, answer this question, with an honest effort, at least one time…"
"What would you do, in a perfect world, given you knew there was no way you could fail?
I don't care how silly that may initially sound, do it.
What exactly would your own version of paradise look and feel like on a day-to-day level?"
The next day I got the call back. We worked out the particulars, and day 1 began.
It was time for a BREAKTHROUGH. We’ll pick up from here in post 2 of this series.
If you’d like to have me send you each new post in the series automatically so you don’t have to worry about missing any of the training-you can sign up here and I’ll give you a free copy of The Grassroots Music Marketing System, gratis.
The Content Business Architect for Artists and Creators