Episode #072: Are You Planning Or Hoping For Success?


If you’re not planning and working for a specific, desired outcome, then you’re hoping or wishing for success—and it’s doubtful that you’ll ever achieve it. Just like artists would “hope” that they’d be discovered by a record label, so artists today are hoping they’ll be discovered on Spotify, or they’re hoping their video will go viral on YouTube. What they lack is a plan for success, and the consistent action that creates it. They fall prey to fatalism and wishful thinking. And to pacify their conscience, they engage in “busy work” that doesn’t move the needle in their music business, and this just leads to more self-defeat. In this episode, you’ll experience a challenge to that way of thinking and discover some powerful ways to move into an action-oriented outlook. Enjoy!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Relationship marketing
  • Planning vs hoping
  • Are you dreaming or planning?
  • Taking massive action
  • Deceiving yourself with “busy work”
  • The remedy to hoping is direct marketing
  • The truth behind standard record contracts
  • The power of conviction


“The challenge is for you to create more engaging content with your audience, get them involved.” — @metalmotivation [0:04:34]

“People are more hoping that life works out instead of making life work out.” — @metalmotivation [0:06:18]

“A dream without a plan is just a wish.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:07:18]

“You go from imagining and dreaming to planning.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:08:47]

“Don’t think that massive action means it’s always 100% you doing everything yourself.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:10:27]

“The less you work, the more you hope things turn out.” — @metalmotivation [0:21:46]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“Map Your Music Year Planning Guide” (Freebie) — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

John Thomas (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/JohnAlbertThomasPiano/

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show, the music marketing podcast, and I enjoy each time I get to be across from Ms Leah, her eminence, the musing marketing master herself. Leah, always a pleasure.

00:38 Leah: I’m happy to be here and happy to be doing this episode.

00:41 CJ: Some people need to go where they’re tolerated, others go where they’re celebrated. Leah, you are celebrated here and I know that everybody is grateful for all the wonderful content that you’re sharing. And so in light of that, I want to encourage everyone to be sure after they listen to this podcast to go and leave a review. Again, I can’t tell you how much these reviews mean to us. If you want to motivate us, if you want to inspire Leah and myself, then go leave a review. Leave us as many stars as you possibly can. Helps us also to be discovered by other musicians like yourself.

But we actually read these testimonies and comments in our team meetings. And you can also feel free if you are in any one of our paid or free Facebook groups, go there and leave a comment or review of the podcast. And again, it is something we absorb and share so it would mean a great deal to us. In today’s student spotlights, John Thomas, who’s actually a piano player, a very talented one. He shares in the elite program Hashtag Win, overcame another fear yesterday by doing my first Facebook live event where I let my fans nominate someone and then pick one to do an improvisation inspired by the winner. I call them music sketches. It was very well received and was far more effective in reaching people organically than my other social media posts that I spent far too much time agonizing over. I had to overcome my fear of making mistakes in front of people.

In the end, nobody came crawling through the screen to hurt me. They just deeply appreciated it, engaged and shared it. The next time I set up a Facebook event and let people nominate in the comments. I have one nomination already. I also scheduled two house concerts in my home to give previews of my upcoming album. My wife said I needed to put myself out there, so I’m facing my biggest fears and doing what I can do with the limited time I have outside of my day job. I hope this encourages you and gives you some ideas for connecting with fans in new ways. Now actually Leah, this is stuff we have taught even within the last couple of months, right? How to fund an album, how to do things when you don’t have an album, how to build an audience when you don’t have an album using Facebook live and all of this stuff. And of course, recently getting over common fears that musicians have. What do you think?

03:10 Leah: I love hearing these kinds of stories from our students. Just putting the pedal to the metal, doing what they know to do and overcoming those fears. We all have to do it. We all have our zone of comfort and we have to go outside that comfort zone to get results and it doesn’t matter which way you slice it. That’s the only way to really see momentum.

03:33 CJ: Sure. I love how he included his fans, right? He got them involved in this process and the nomination process, and I love that he said, “I finally put myself out there and nobody came crawling through the screen to hurt me.” Right? We expect that if we put ourselves, this fear of judgment that people are just going to come after us, but no, they appreciate it. They engage, they share, and because they do, as he said, guess who else showed John Thomas some love? The evil Facebook algorithm, the evil algorithm who shuts everybody’s business down and is so against your page and your audience actually shared his posts with more people than all of the other posts he was agonizing over. Ladies and gentlemen, Facebook is not out to hurt you. Okay?

Don’t listen to what the naysayers say. They have to protect their newsfeed. And if people are engaging with your content, then Facebook wants your stuff on the newsfeed. So that’s the challenge. The challenge is for you to create more engaging content with your audience, get them involved. So this right here is pure online musician in practice. This is the kind of stuff that we … This is, he’s getting his market-ready. This was not sales, right Leah? This was not direct marketing, but it sure is building an audience, it sure is endearing a relationship. It sure is creating that know, like and trust element, which is going to make selling for John so much easier down the road, isn’t it?

05:05 Leah: Yeah, exactly. Keep it up. You’re doing exactly what you should be.

05:10 CJ: Awesome. Now, this takes us into our topic today, which is about are you planning or are you hoping for success? Because John can easily sit back and hope that people will somehow stumble on his music or somehow they’ll like it and they’ll share it and they’ll do whatever. But this is him being proactive. He said his wife told him to put himself out there and that’s certainly what you have to do. You have to put yourself out there. But Leah, as I’ve watched being a part of Savvy Musician Academy now for just about a year working with you closely like this-

05:51 Leah: It’s the best year of your whole life. Right?

05:53 CJ: The best year of my whole life. Of all the musician academies that I have been a part of, this one is by far the most recent. No, but it’s the one thing that I have seen is there is, which is something I see on my own motivational project which I do myself is something common, which is a kind of a fatalistic outlook on things. A very hope so outlook that people are more hoping that life works out instead of making life work out, that they don’t have this determination about creating a desired outcome. In fact, that’s really what determination means is to have a desired outcome.

Something that you can envision, something that you actually plan and something that you actually create. You and I are people of faith. We consider ourselves to be people of, you know, sensitive to spiritual things and all of that. So we don’t demean people putting some element of faith out there for things. But Leah, you’re not the kind of person who leaves things to chance. You seem to be someone who is very much planning, very much thinking, very much plotting long ahead of time. What’s your basic philosophy on this planning versus hoping?

07:14 Leah: My philosophy is very simple, which is a dream without a plan is just a wish. I think that’s it. And even then once you have a plan, I think the other half of the equation is the action part, the massive action. Because I also see musicians who have grandiose plans and never do anything with them in the end. And that’s part of a human nature thing too. We have all the best intentions in the world, but at the end of the day it’s about what did we actually do with it? Did we take a step every day in the right direction? I’ve got some examples of things that I’ve done. One of them I can’t talk about yet, but things that, let’s just say little endeavors of mine that every day I just wake up and go, what do I need to do today to move the ball forward today? And sometimes it’s a small thing.

Sometimes it’s just planning the next thing. Sometimes it’s thinking about the next two or three months ahead and going, if I want to do that at that point and I want to achieve that level, what do I need to do today? And just kind of reverse engineer it and it’s just one thing at a time and consistently over the long haul that’s going to get me there. So it does start out with dreaming. It does start out with using your imagination to just what would be really fun? What would feel good? What would I imagine about the future? Just start there, but then to manifest that, you don’t just sit there and think about it and hope the universe will give it to you. That’s not how you bring things about. You go from imagining and dreaming to planning. I feel like planning is really only the second step in this process.

That’s not where it ends. The third part is consistent massive action. Things that I’m doing. So there has to be a doing every day, not once in a while. And I don’t dabble. When I go to do something, I’m all in. I’m not dabbling. If I wanted to dabble, then that’s just a hobby. But if I’m serious about actually manifesting something, about actually making something come true, I have to go all in. So there’s been a number of things. And sometimes it’s not me. I’m not the only one that I’m relying on to make that thing happen either. One example I can give will be in the future podcasts we’re going to be having somebody on who I’ve been working with, who’s been helping me in the publishing side of things. Because one of my goals in 2019 was to start getting into licensing.

And as you can imagine, I’m a very, very busy person, so I only have so much time to do this. So I have someone actually helping me with the publishing side of things. But when I say I’m all in, I mean I’m all in even though I have even delegated some of it. So we have some results to share with you about that and we have some really humorous and amusing things to share about this as well. And like I said, we will be bringing this person on who’s been working for me this year after these episodes. And so it’s just another example. I just want to show you like there’s different scenarios. Don’t think that massive action means it’s always 100% you doing everything yourself. There are other ways that this can happen, but the point is that there is action happening every day and not busy work.

That’s I think another pitfall that can happen with musicians is they think they’re being productive, but they’re not. They’re not actually doing things that move the ball forward or move the needle. They’re just doing busy work and running around in circles and then wondering why they’re not getting the results they’re going after. So you need to determine what actually is going to move the needle for whichever goal that is versus have I created just busy work for myself? How do you determine that? I think you have to look objectively if that’s possible. Like make a list of the things you’re doing, the items you’re doing to get toward the goal, which of those things is actually working for you now? Which of those things is not actually working for you? Because sometimes we get locked into what we think is working for us, but if you actually look at, Hey, in the past 30 days of me doing this, did it actually move me forward? If not, then that’s probably not the action item you should focus on.

11:40 CJ: No, that’s really, really good. And I love what you said, we’re not trying to demean dreaming and that sort of thing. I always said a dream is a mental image of a desired end. And you’ve got to have that, right? An architect begins with that. You’ve got to have something that you’re shooting for, but you have to understand that, and again, we kind of reveal this in our language, that it doesn’t just happen in and of itself because you dream and you kind of get that with the law of attraction type thing. Not everybody teaches that, it’s good to envision things. And they do teach that you should take action and all of that, but a lot of people kind of, they took the other side of it. They just … It gave them an excuse for passivity.

And so it’s in our language when we use the word like hope, and I remember in the record industry, the old record industry days, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to wait to be discovered. Also in Hollywood, they are hoping that they get discovered, but with the age of the internet, that hope is still there. They’re hoping that their video goes viral on YouTube. They’re hoping that somebody will discover them on Spotify. There’s still this idea of hoping instead of saying, no, I’m going to go after a particular artist …

Now they may not know how, Leah. In fact, in a recent team meeting that we had, you brought this up, which is I don’t think we realize how many people out there really don’t understand the kind of options that are available to them that maybe would get them out of this hoping and wishing. In other words, they don’t know how to plan yet, Leah, because they don’t know the kind of marketing tools that you teach at the Savvy Musician Academy, kind of the ignorance, it keeps them locked out. But if you can at least understand, because Leah was in that position, if you listen to some of the earlier podcasts where she tells her story about how she became a music marketer, she didn’t know these things. Right?

13:49 Leah: Right.

13:49 CJ: But at the same time, Leah, you didn’t leave it to hope either. You started banging on the doors of this universe and trying everything that you knew was available until you eventually got on the trail of information that was working for you and you discovered more and more as you went along, right?

14:06 Leah: Yep. That’s right. I just said, well, I’ve got these little kids at home and some of them aren’t even old enough yet to homeschool yet. We weren’t even at that point. And I am a stay at home mom. What can I do with the internet? I know I’ve been doing all this uploading to different artist sites like ReverbNation, but I learned about after a year that, well, the only other people who are on this website are other musicians. They’re not my fans. This is a waste of time. So I stopped doing that. And so there’s an example of, at the time I was hoping that if I uploaded my music to these different sites that I would get discovered, some A and R person, I would just go viral. I was hoping to go viral. That’s really what I was hoping would happen. And I also realized my niche is too weird for it to ever go viral.

So I don’t think that’s really realistic either. So just add that to the pile that I’m not really supermodel MTV material, so I really don’t have any chances of going viral here. That at first was kind of discouraging and so that at that point, it wasn’t until I really discovered the 1000 fan model and learned about what niche marketing really is, that I thought, Oh my goodness, this just changes the whole game for me. I don’t even have to try and compete over there. I don’t even have to try and be world-famous. I don’t need to be a household name. In fact, I kind of like it that way, I don’t want to be so famous that I can’t even go out for dinner with my family without being inundated. I don’t even want that. So from there, it became about what can I do?

What can I control? What can I essentially like if I do this, I get that, action and reaction. And that I learned was digital marketing. That’s the best way. It’s direct sales, direct marketing that worked. So I didn’t have to keep hoping anymore. I could just start doing and doing the actions that work for everybody in every industry. And the very funny thing about that is even the big labels aren’t doing those things yet. They are still in the dinosaur age. And I know because I have experienced dealing with them recently where they’re looking at what I’m doing, they’re seeing the screenshots of my numbers and my sales, physical products, physical CD sales. And they don’t understand how I’m doing it. Well, it’s digital marketing. It’s email marketing. And they’re like, “Well, we do that too.” No, you don’t really, you don’t even have a pixel on your website.

No, you’re not really doing it. You don’t get it. They don’t even get it. And these are the biggest of the biggest labels in the world. So it just goes to show that if you stop just relying on hope, hope is where it begins with the dream and the vision. But you can’t leave it there. It has to turn into the planning. And then the doing. The doing is where you’re going to learn all your lessons. You have to fail more than you’re going to succeed. And if you don’t, if you’re not willing to fail and you’re not willing to screw up and for it to be challenging, you’re not going to learn the most valuable things that you will ever learn in your entire life that will allow you to become successful. All you guys see is that the whole tip of the iceberg picture, you see that little tip and the whole thing underneath the water, all of that under the water is all the failure, all the hardship, all the challenges, the times that all the ads I put up that completely flopped.

Including this month, by the way, like we’ve been doing campaigns and none of them are working at the moment. Does that … Am I discouraged? Not at all. Not at all. For whatever reason, Facebook algorithms are weird. Okay. That’s not going to discourage me. It causes me to be more creative. It inspires me to be more creative. Think outside the box. No problem. So I’m not discouraged by that. I’m onto the next thing. So I think the bottom line is you start with the hope and the dream, but you can’t leave it there.

All the broke musicians in the world right now left it there or they left their fate in someone else’s hands. Like if they did get signed, they are hoping that it’s a good deal because they didn’t even get a music lawyer to read through the contract. They’re hoping that they actually have their best interests in mind. They don’t. I can guarantee you. One of the things I learned recently in dealing with the biggest labels out there is that what the standard contract that every major artist out there has at this moment, every major artist from Rihanna to every pop star, every big artist out there, these labels take 90% of their streaming royalty.

18:56 CJ: Wow.

18:56 Leah: 90% is standard. That is every artist out there who is not independent, is basically they’re giving 90%. That is normal. And then these artists are complaining how they don’t make anything for Spotify. Well, that’s because they were hoping that these labels had their best interest in mind and they didn’t read the fine print, they didn’t find all the little gotchas in the contract. So it’s being naive to think that these big corporations have your best interests in mind. They’re out for money. That’s what they’re about. They want to make money. And that’s why there’s so many skeptical musicians out there today that I get to deal with is because that’s all they know. That’s all they understand is that people are out to get them. And so then here I come along, this short redhead talking about how I’m making six figures as an independent musician who doesn’t tour. They’re like, yeah right.

19:53 CJ: Yeah. It becomes magic. Right?

19:55 Leah: Magic or a scam, one of the two. So I understand. I get why it seems like that, it’s because you don’t understand this whole online marketing thing yet.

20:06 CJ: Yeah, no, I mean, a quote I’ve been saying for years now, the less you understand about the way something is achieved, the more you think it’s magic that it happens for someone else or the more you think it’s fate that it happens for someone else. We say it all the time. It wasn’t meant to be. Really? Meant by whom? And how would you know what is meant or not meant to be? And so hope becomes a wish. I don’t say the following example for political purposes or for political endorsement, but even if you look at my background is again, marketing and advertising and things like that.

So looking at the last two presidential campaigns, you go to President Obama’s campaign was one word, hope. And that was this … It was offered out there obviously as a positive, but that’s very ill-defined because hope is basically a wish. I hope it turns out, right? When you go to the last president’s campaign, it was Make America Great Again, very specific, very determined, very focused, very action-oriented. Again, I’m not endorsing anything either way by saying this, but from a campaign standpoint, I want to say-

21:19 Leah: Yeah, sales psychology.

21:21 CJ: From sales psychology, I don’t want to give people just a hope. I want to give them a conviction. I want to give them assurity, right? Assurance to know that if you take these particular action steps, you’re going to get this outcome. So hope is just a wish when you don’t have a plan of action. People who don’t have plans, they wish. People who don’t have plans, they hope. Or as I like to say, the less you work, the more you hope things turn out. Period. Right? The less you work, the more you hope things turn out. So you need to become intentional and confident about your success when you understand how success is achieved in the new music industry. And so when we say the new music industry, guess what? You know what the new music industry is?

It’s not an updated version of the record label. The new version of the music industry is you, you, like Leah said, she didn’t want to be so famous that she can’t go out with her family and enjoy a day at the park or going out to eat or what have you. But she still has a sizable audience of raving super fans who keep her more than financed to live the kind of life she wants to live. So she’s playing her music, she gets to control her time and she doesn’t have to be plastered all over every billboard. How is that not an ideal situation for any musician? It’s either that or hoping you’ll get discovered.

And if you do hope you get discovered, like Leah said, they’re going to take 90%. and I’m going to tell you what she mentioned earlier about the guy we’re going to interview here in the next few weeks. She’s going to get into some of the things that he revealed her and you’re going to be shocked at how these record labels think. And I think I said in a previous episode, one of the comments that came out of it was because they couldn’t figure out what Leah was doing, which was digital marketing. They referred to it as witchcraft. That was their conclusion. And we’re not talking about mom and pop labels here.

23:22 Leah: No.

23:22 CJ: We’re talking about serious, serious players.

23:25 Leah: We’re talking about the big boys. Yeah, you will be shocked and amazed because … And what really throws them off is that I don’t tour. That part they’re like, well, how does she make her money? She doesn’t tour. Uh, e-commerce, digital marketing. They just can’t wrap their brains around that. And it’s so funny because the guy who we’re going to interview who’s been working for me, he’s a musician himself, but he also totally understands digital marketing. So he’s laughing and crying at the same time telling me this and it’s so amusing and he’s just like, well, I’m like sitting there in their office and I don’t want to insult them by trying to explain to them what a Facebook pixel is by saying you’re not doing it right. That’s why you don’t get it. But essentially that’s what’s going on. They’re still in the dinosaur age.

And so they’re looking at me completely mystified and some of them even … This got me really shaking my head. In Europe, which is where these offices are based that we’re talking about here, the only thing they care about is Spotify numbers because they don’t believe that physical sales are really happening. So it’s all about Spotify and why they take 90%. all they care about is Spotify stats and metrics. And he showed them my Spotify metrics. And listen, guys, I don’t have millions and millions of streams or anything. I think in total I maybe have 3.3 or, I don’t know what it was, I actually don’t know what it is right now. I have it in a chart somewhere, but it’s not like I have that many. And they were looking at my numbers and at first, they were actually skeptical that it was a scam because they don’t understand how I would get streams as an independent artist like this.

And also because there have been some actual scammers in Europe with Spotify where, I don’t know, but they had some kind of bots or something where they were able to create millions of streams in like a week or something. But I’m like, okay, but why would you be skeptical of me? Like I don’t even have millions and billions of streams. Why is this such an achievement to you? That’s what’s actually disturbing to me is that you’re so out of touch with direct to fan models. You’re so out of touch with what real fans are like when you have relationships with them that this to you looks questionable. And I don’t even have that many. So why is that the norm in the label world? Not to take this totally like off-topic, I feel like I’m going down a rabbit trail, but there’s so much to say on this in the coming episodes.

26:03 CJ: Well, and, but you know what? It does make the point, Leah, and that is that, like I said earlier, where you started and you didn’t know these things and you started to just move forward. You had a dream. That was a given. You needed something to take action. You didn’t know what you needed to know to do the planning. You just started with what you knew was out there, but you tried it for as long as you could. It didn’t work. You tried something else, but you made your way through and to where now everything is calculated. Now everything is planned. Now you keep yourself constantly up to speed. I can’t tell you guys how many times in my personal conversations with Leah that she will tell me of a podcast she heard that morning or a book she’s reading. Okay? So this is not someone who’s resting on her laurels.

She is constantly consulting with top marketers themselves. She is in several elite groups herself for top people in their fields who are spending money on social media, et cetera. She hires herself coaches to speak into her business and her life. So again, nothing is being left to chance here guys. Nothing is being left to hope. Hope is not in our vocabulary. I don’t hear hope in any of our team meetings. Nothing that she’s doing is based on hope. It’s based on yes, dreaming, getting a desired picture, a depiction in your mind of that desired end. But then when you know the audience, when you know what you’re about when you know the outcome that you want, you know the tools that are available to achieve it.

You start taking action. So you are either hoping and waiting for life to work itself out or you are planning and doing what you can to make your life work out. It is simple cause and effect. You can take the passive approach or you can take the active approach. And speaking of an active approach, Leah, is there any action you would like for them to take today? In particular, maybe something that they could download which would give them some help during this particular sales season?

28:15 Leah: Okay, so speaking of not just hoping but planning and taking action. If you’re actually going to achieve your goals as a musician, I have a special guide for you. I want to give you as many free resources as possible to get you going. Whether you ever join one of my courses or programs or not, I want to just give as much value. This whole thing, the reason I’m even doing any of this is because this is about a movement. It’s about waking musicians up to the fact that they are in control. We are in a new era and not enough people have resources. And I understand we’re all at different places. So my goal with this podcast is if you never work with me ever, how can I change your life today? So this free resource is one way. I think we can do that in a small way anyways.

It’s called Map Your Music Year. And you can go to mapyourmusicyear.com. That is going to help you plan out your next 365 days. So that ties in really well with this episode because it’s all about not just leaving it with a wish and a hope and a dream, but putting it into action. And then how are you … What is your next 90 days going to look like? It’s the end of the year when you’re hearing this. So it’s time to think about 2020 and what you’re going to accomplish, even if you’re a student of ours, I encourage you to download this and go through it as well. It’s just as valuable to you. I will go through the same process myself for 2020. So this is my method mapyourmusicyear.com. I think it will be really valuable and if you found this episode to be motivational for you, I’d love it if you left us a review and also just let us know if this resource was helpful. That will encourage me to give you more.

29:57 CJ: Awesome. Leah, thank you so much again. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll see you again soon.