Episode #104: Behind-The-Scenes at SMA, Part 2 with Steve Harnett (Chief Operating Officer)


Continuing our look behind the scenes here at SMA, this week C.J. is joined by our very own Steve Harnett, Leah’s wonderful husband, and our Chief Operating Officer. This is Steve’s first time on the Savvy Musician Show, but he has been with SMA since day one and his experience and insights shared today can not be overstated. 

Jumping from topic to topic with lots of humor in-between, these two great minds offer something for both the beginner and seasoned online musician in this week’s episode, so don’t miss out on getting to learn something new and meeting the one and only, Steve Harnett! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The Synergist’s four leadership styles
  • Who SMA is for
  • Steve’s bio with SMA
  • Being your brand
  • It’s all about the principles
  • What it means to take ownership of your business
  • Reasons to add an online component to your business
  • Your music is not for everybody
  • Updates with Tom 3.0 and The Inner Circle
  • The psychology of sales through social media


“A lot of conflicts within bands could be easily resolved if everybody just took on this sort of perspective where you realize that giftings are different, they’re natural, they’re organic, and you should be complementing one another.” – @metalmotivation [0:12:32]

“Who we (SMA) are for are the musicians who actually want to make a living with their art, which is not thing to be ashamed of, nobody should ever feel bad about that ever.” – Steve Harnett [0:21:19]

“Operational people tend to be the break pedal. Visionaries tend to be the accelerator.”  – Steve Harnett [0:27:40]

“It’s about a movement, it’s about independence for musicians… and all musicians are going to be personal brands, and that’s perfectly fine, but you have to understand then that you are the brand.”  – Steve Harnett [0:30:47]

“It’s really about the proven principles of marketing because that’s all Leah has ever been doing… and those principles can be breathed through anyone who applies them and knows them.”  – @metalmotivation [0:33:47]

“The online aspect of your business is another leg of your table. You can’t have a table with one leg. You better have two or three legs on that sucker, four if you can.” – Steve Harnett [0:38:53]

“If you have an audience, you have capital. If you have social influence, you have capital. You have something someone else doesn’t. It is all to your advantage.”  – @metalmotivation [0:41:14]

“Relationship building, culture building, lifestyle building, that’s what creates the sale.”  – @metalmotivation [0:51:11]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Online Musician 3.0 — https://explodeyourfanbase.com

Book a Call With Us — http://www.CallSMA.com

The Inner Circle — https:savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle

The Synergist by Les McKeown — https://amzn.to/2Vm3znw

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. I’ve been having a blast lately getting to do interviews and getting to do behind the scenes stuff here at SMA. I wanted to take advantage of this downtime during the summer to give you a broader view of what the Savvy Musician Academy is all about because as I’ve said before, the Savvy Musician Academy and what it offers is the single greatest response to what has happened negatively to the music industry since Napster in the late 20th century, then what moved into the streaming services on and on and on. You’ve seen it now, venues are closing down. Either way, the only ones that ever get screwed in all of this, in the music industry, is always the artists themselves. And so, who stands up for the artists?

We don’t need just advocates. I saw a post the other day, Don Henley of the Eagles advocating before Congress for copyright issues, et cetera, et cetera. That’s never going to really touch you, ladies and gentlemen. You need to be in control of your own music business, building your fan base online while things are shutdown. We don’t know when venues will come back, how many will come back, what format will come back, what it will cost the artists. We’ve already seen things from Live Nation. They released yesterday that any shows that don’t go well will be charged to the artist. No matter what, the artist is getting screwed, as I said, so what’s imperative now is that you build your online music business and no other company is going to help you do that. No other academy is going to help you do that like the Savvy Musician Academy, through a myriad of ways which we’ll talk about at the end of this podcast, and you’ll discover them more today as I do part two of behind the scenes at the Savvy Musician Academy, and this time I’m going deep.

I’m going insider’s insider, the shadow hand. The man ultimately behind the scenes, and you may not even know who this is. When I say his name, which is Steve Harnett, you probably don’t even know who that is. Those who are in courses, especially the Elite course, will know who he is. Steve is Leah’s husband, and I’ll let him give his actual title, but he’s pretty much the one controlling and administrating just about everything of the Savvy Musician Academy, so let me bring him on. Steve, my friend, good to see you, man.

02:58 Steve: You too, dude. Thanks for having me on the Savvy Musician Academy podcast.

03:05 CJ: Is this your first time on?

03:08 Steve: Yeah, it is.

03:10 CJ: So, Leah never had you on before? She never-

03:12 Steve: No.

03:13 CJ: He’s got nothing valuable to say, so why bring him on? Oh, my goodness. Steve is my dear friend and colleague and pretty much the only other dude who is regularly on the Savvy Musician team meetings, so outside of anyone-

03:35 Steve: Outnumbered.

03:36 CJ: We are very much outnumbered, but outnumbered by brilliant women who are doing great things for the Savvy Musician Academy, but Steve, what would you classify as your official title, CFO, CEO?

03:52 Steve: I guess, COO would be the official title.

03:56 CJ: Operating officer.

03:57 Steve: Yeah, operating officer, but official titles, whatever.

04:01 CJ: They don’t mean much, do they?

04:02 Steve: We all wear multiple hats and that’s just the way it is. We have a small team and we like it that way.

04:08 CJ: That’s right. Well, and there’s more to it than chief and officer. It’s the operations part, which is so critical because if anybody who’s been through some of the courses, especially in Elite, you know the importance of personality profiles, giftings, and these sorts of things. And so for you, I forget the actual personality type of profile thing, but you are an operator, correct?

04:39 Steve: Yeah.

04:39 CJ: What does that mean?

04:41 Steve: Well, there’s basically four types of leadership styles.

04:45 CJ: That’s right.

04:45 Steve: That’s what you were referring to there. There’s the visionary which Leah is almost 100% of. The operator, the processor, and the synergist, which everybody has some level of synergism, but the other three are the ones that were predominantly gifted with one or the other of those three, visionary, operator, and processor. So, I am mostly operator and then synergist, and synergists get along with others, they’re good in teams. Visionaries obviously cast the vision and are really good at creating stuff, but they’re also the glue that holds teams together. They create the culture, which Leah’s known well for in her music side.

05:34 CJ: I laugh at that because I know the downside of the visionary. Being a visionary myself, I’m more of a visionary synergist because I do do well with teams. I love people and I strive to get a long with them. I love the concept of multiple people with multiple giftings working together. Not an operator, although a lot of these things, and I’ve seen this in other personality profiles where you grow, you become aware of what the other giftings are and it doesn’t mean you can’t touch into those things, it’s just not your natural wiring, but you can glean from that, right?

06:13 Steve: Yeah, exactly. So, you have to be in operations just because you’re independently owned and you contract and all those different things, so you have to. Otherwise, who’s going to?

06:28 CJ: Now, this was a huge breakthrough for you guys as a couple, as a family, and in particular, in business, and I want us to go back a little bit in just a second here, but I know that understanding the different roles here was huge for you guys on multiple fronts, wasn’t it?

06:49 Steve: It was, it was a big breakthrough for us because we didn’t understand each other prior to realizing the visionary, operator, processor balance and culmination. So, it was kind of frustrating before that because we didn’t understand each other, we didn’t understand the strengths and the weaknesses and how we can work together, how we can benefit each other until we learned Leah’s a visionary, Steve’s an operator, and why is that good? That’s actually the best combination in a business because you have to have both.

You can start a business with only visionary, but it’s only going to get you so far if you don’t have the operations side of things, which operations takes things more longterm, a visionary gets things off the ground. It was transformative not just from a business perspective, but also from a marriage perspective because we live together, we work together, we homeschool our kids together. Everything is out of our home, so it’s really crucial that we understand each other from that perspective, so that was really, really helpful.

07:59 CJ: And so for those listening, and again, we’ve mentioned it before in podcasts and courses, but this is something that I think is important because he just alluded to when you do work together, which more and more people are as more and more people are working out of home, maybe even now this message is even more important, Steve, going forward because now people are going to have to learn how to work together even more so at the family level and there’s that other element where you just alluded to that the visionary alone, who tends to get a lot of the fanfare, the accolades because they’re the ones with the ideas or the vision for something, they have their particular skill set that’s more publicly consumed, whereas the operator tends to be obviously behind the scenes like I said at the outset.

Maybe there’s a lot of people who don’t know who you are, but yet there would be no SMA without you, and I see it upfront and I’ll often tell people personally that my natural gifting is visionary-type, so I’m always coming up with stuff in projects and I’m a front end, public kind of guy. Everything that I do is stuff I make and push forward out to the public sphere, but for years, and years, and years, Steve, I’ve waited for my complementary gifting, the one who covers the stuff that I don’t cover, to walk through the door, and they have never walked through the door.

Now, you guys had it in a couple. I have never had that person walk through that door and I’ve always wanted it, which means, like you said, because I’m independent I have to learn operations. It’s still not my gifting, and I’m still not doing it effectively as somebody who, like yourself, who has that dedicated gifting, they never walk through the door. So, what did I start doing as an independent person? Well, I can walk through the door of somebody else and be the thing that they need.

I could never get somebody to do it for me, but I could be somebody who could operate visionary-wise, creatively, synergistically within a team, and so that has been a huge thing for me, and in fact, that’s exactly the kind of relationship that I have with the Savvy Musician Academy right now because I fulfill a lot of the creative roles. Now, here I am, even hosting the podcast and you couldn’t find Leah with Sherlock Holmes and a team of hound dogs right now. She’s having her much, much needed break, but she could do that and you guys could do what you’re doing because we do have a very small team, but we all understand this synergistic concept and it allows us to rely upon each other. In fact, when I did the interview with Amy last week, I said-

10:52 Steve: Which was great by the way.

10:53 CJ: Oh, she’s fantastic and I would just love being able to tell her and talk about just how much we all lean on each other, completely. We’re not checking up on each other. This is not micromanagement. We have independent, self-governing people all working for the same team and cause. I bet a lot of these musicians listening to us right now, Steve, wish they had that in their band.

11:19 Steve: I bet they do, I really do. I can’t imagine the struggle they must have.

11:25 CJ: So, we really encourage you guys to work on that. I don’t recall, wasn’t there a book or something?

11:32 Steve: Yeah, there is. It’s actually called The Synergist by Les McKeown. You can find it on Amazon or I believe it’s on Audible and stuff as well. Definitely worth reading because not only will it illuminate to you as a musician if you fit that [inaudible 00:11:52], you’ll have a combination of the different leadership styles, but I’m guessing most musicians are going to find themselves higher in the visionary side of things just because they are creative, but it’ll also help you understand others who aren’t visionary who you need to depend on, and then how you can find those people.

Once you understand the different styles, you can then recognize those in other people and say, “Oh, my friend so-and-so is more of an operator and processor. Maybe he can help me with X, Y, and Z.”

12:28 CJ: Right. Isn’t that interesting how you almost think that a lot of conflicts within bands could be easily resolved if everybody just took on this sort of perspective where you realize that no, giftings are different, they’re natural, they’re organic, and you should be complementing one another. Just because, again, the primary songwriter or something like that tends to get the credit or the vocalist or something who’s out front, if the vocalist and the others would understand, then you would know you need everybody and not one part of the body is more important than the other because you’re all working for this larger vision.

13:10 Steve: Right, bigger than you. It’s bigger than the lead singer, it’s bigger than the lead guitarist, or whoever, and that’s actually a really good point too that this book will cover is the fact that visionaries, operators, processors, they all have an agenda. Their agenda is self-interest, according to what their gift is. So, when you come into a team with your own agenda, and you’re not thinking about this. You’re not saying, “I want my agenda to be the top priority.” But, that’s how we act, we act out of that, and if we don’t try to be more the synergistic side of things, which is what is the agenda of the organization actually? That’s the top priority. What’s the agenda of this band? Where are we going? What’s the mission? That’s the central hub that everybody needs to be focused on and clinging to, not the individual.

14:12 CJ: That is such an important thing because, guys, I operate in that with the Savvy Musician Academy, SMA for short, because they have empowered me, whether it’s this podcast or just recently, we rebooted version 2.0 of the Inner Circle program, which I’m pretty much heading up now. We’ll have other people who will speak into it, other people teaching, that sort of thing. But, it’s under my measure of rule and at the same time, that there’s this autonomy, that there’s this self-ownership, it is completely dominated by the fact that it is a shared vision of what you guys laid down for the Savvy Musician Academy.

And, that’s not limiting, that’s not a limiting thing to me, it’s not a limiting thing to you guys can go to sleep every night and not worry about, well, I wonder what CJ is up to, or something like that. Once ego’s gone, guys, life goes to another level when ego and selfishness and self-interest is not a part of the equation. So, my heart goes out to the bands and artists that do work with people who are that way. It’s any miracle that a band survives. Bands like the Beatles, they never thought they were going to last 10 years, let alone as long as they did. I don’t even know that they lasted that long, but you-

15:47 Steve: It’s amazing.

15:47 CJ: If you don’t understand gifting and the fact that you can’t do everything on your own, you need that, and so it’s great to see that and this is very much on subject because this is very much a part of how the Savvy Musician Academy operates. These guys, they’re constantly reading, they’re constantly teachable, mentoring. They are coaches themselves. We have coaches, you and Leah are coaches, but how many coaches do you have? How much money, Steve, and don’t literally give me the figure, but how much have you guys spent on mentors and coaches over the past three years?

16:33 Steve: Lots, multiple, multiple five figures into the six figures and probably maybe even multiple six figures. We’ve spent a lot of money on books, actual coaches, one-on-one coaches, group coaching, courses, all that kind of stuff. We live by it. We used to call our family car, which is a van, not a sports car, but sometimes I like to pretend, but anyway, it’s our university on wheels. That’s how we treat it, so our kids are listening to podcasts with us and audio books all the time.

17:14 CJ: God, I hope everybody’s listening to this, that nobody leads by better example than Steve and Leah, so when they say, “Hey, this course costs this much.” That doesn’t mean A, that they’re money hungry and B, if they were money-hungry, that they’re going to take everybody in because they don’t. A lot of people get turned away, not everybody’s a good fit, so it’s not about that, and they have spent so much more money and time on their own training and their own personal development than any student that will ever be a student at … you will never spend more money on your personal education than Steve and Leah has, and that’s not just for the sake of comparison to shame you or to make you feel bad. It’s to just say no, man, everything that goes on at SMA, again, behind the scenes, is as pure as we can possibly make it.

This literally is about getting the best results for you guys, and if we say coaching, if we say a course, if we say get into something like the Inner Circle, or try this out, or take this, it’s not just to get money, guys. If you want to build your online music business, this is the stuff you got to do. Who are we going to do, send you to somebody else? Of course not, we’re going to have you start right here.

18:41 Steve: The alternative is you could go to university or college for something, but you’re going to spend a lot more money doing that and like we’ve heard from multiple of our students, you’re going to come away with nothing actionable.

18:55 CJ: We have them, we have Berklee-type grads who … totally, they were no better off. Musically obviously, you’re in a music school, that’s great, but there’s a difference between music and music business. You could play music, you could go on the street with your clarinet or your trumpet or your guitar or banging five gallon plastic drums outside of a subway and just be a purist and make money that way from the change that people throw in your hat, but if you’re going to make music for a living, it is by definition business.

So for example, I was trained, Steve, in visual communications. That’s what my degree is in, so I drew as a kid, I won art contests as a kid, and all of that. Well, I wanted to make money doing this and so I went to school for visual communications, which is essentially commercial art, which people now call graphic design or whatever. Back then, before the internet age, it was called commercial art. In other words, you were doing art to sell products advertise businesses, that sort of thing. And so, now years removed, again, as a kid I used to paint and do all these things, years removed people asked, “Hey, so do you paint or draw or something for a hobby or to relax?” I said no, business took all the fun out of that.

I’m not going to put up an easel and paint something unless I can send an invoice afterwards. I need somebody to bill, so it’s business related. You have to understand that if you’re going to play music, we appreciate the integrity of you as an artist, but it’s a business. If you’re going to make money to do it, and finance yourself, it’s a business, and to be in business, you have to learn how to become a business owner.

20:53 Steve: That’s right.

20:53 CJ: Marketing manager.

20:56 Steve: A good distinction there is we aren’t for everybody, Savvy Musician Academy isn’t for every musician. Some musicians go, “Oh my goodness, make money from your music? No, I could never.” Well, then we’re not for you and that’s okay. You can treat your music like a hobby. You can just love doing it and do it for the fun of it for the rest of your life and that’s totally fine, but who we are for are the musicians who actually want to make a living with their art, which is not thing to be ashamed of, nobody should ever feel bad about that ever. Lots of famous painters made their income by painting and being commissioned to make those paintings.

21:42 CJ: Authors have done the same and entertainment costs, it costs. It’s going to be a business either way, what we’re saying is take as much control of it as you can, so that all of these companies that we mentioned at the outset aren’t the ones who are profiting the most from your business. So, Steve, since I have you here, I have to take advantage of this opportunity because most of the people listening to this podcast are familiar with quote, unquote Leah’s story, which is obviously your story too and your kids’ story, but they’re familiar with Leah’s story and so some people, they may not believe it or they feel like there’s some missing pieces or whatever it may be, but you obviously lived this, so take us back to before the first album was sold, to those days when you guys were … well, you were working in construction and you guys were rubbing nickels together. Take us back to that time.

22:49 Steve: Nickels, maybe pennies even, but no, I grew up in construction myself, so that’s what I fell into. That’s what I knew and was comfortable with, so that’s what I did, but I had my own business. I was an independent contractor in our area for 10 years doing renovations and all that kind of stuff and it was really tough, especially the couple of years leading up to Savvy Musician Academy and even prior to that Leah really taking on her music as a business because we were going backwards.

The harder I worked, the more we paid in taxes. The more behind we got, the more in debt we felt, and it was like this impossible weight, this impossible task that we would never overcome unless we changed our circumstances. So, Leah decided that she was going to take her music more seriously as a business to help out with the family, to help out with the family income because she felt powerless and that’s one thing that she could do that she was already doing in terms of making music.

So, she studied, and studied, and learned and ended up making her first whatever it was, just a few thousand dollars and then it turned into more and then it turned into more, had her first five figure year and then shortly after that she started SMA and I helped her with that, but we had some really rough times prior to SMA even beginning and even in the start just because the stress and burden of finances really rubbed our relationship the wrong way. So, we went through some tough times there, but we’re committed, and we pushed through that, made it through to the other side and started SMA in 2015, I think it was, the end of 2015, and within a couple of months, three months or so, we came to the conclusion that I would be able to quit construction and that was not something we were aiming for, it was just, okay, let’s have this side income, maybe that will help and we’ll get rid of debt and we can start saving for a house and do all these things that we wanted to do but haven’t had the means to do for so long.

And, anyways, SMA just exploded. It hit a nerve in the market, right timing, good marketing, Leah being her ideal customer I think was a real advantage that we had in the marketplace because even to this day, maybe there are some other artists who do what they do as a full time living, but also do training on the side or coaching, but I don’t really know of any. So, Leah had an advantage in that that she’s relatable. She’s not just some person who used to do something in the market, or she used to do marketing and now she does this, or she used to do record deals and now she’s doing coaching. She’s doing it all.

26:13 CJ: Right.

26:14 Steve: From making the music, producing the music, marketing her music, building her music business and then out of those experiences, out of those challenges, successes, failures, she can now teach what is working. And so, I think that really was a key actually and still is to this day.

26:36 CJ: That in fact, which is why she’s on a bit of a sabbatical now because she has been carrying all of that and more, and plus you guys have your kids and now you’ve got the Mythologie Candle business, and so that’s escalated things as well, but again, I want to go back and ask something. You were working construction, so we’re talking like 2011 or so, ’12, when she was like, “I want to try to do something with the music.” Did that just sound impossible to you? There were no other examples really of somebody who was doing what she was doing. How did you feel about that?

27:18 Steve: There was one person, I can’t remember who it is, she’s pretty well-known now I think, that I knew of that was doing something similar to what Leah was wanting to do, or what she was aiming for. She’s another independent artist of some kind, but being the operations kind of guy, operational people tend to be the brake pedal. Visionaries tend to be the accelerator.

27:46 CJ: You’re right, yes.

27:47 Steve: So, I’m always thinking, okay, if that’s going to happen, what does that mean practically? What are we going to have to do? What is that going to look like? And so, it was maybe challenging to see how that was going to work, but I was never in a mindset of disbelief like, oh, you can’t do that, that won’t ever work. So, I think I was always hopeful and I’ve always tried to be supportive of what Leah wants to do, so I think that is really where I was at actually, just okay, do it. I’ll help you however I can.

28:27 CJ: I bet you were like, “But, I’m not quitting the day job.”

28:30 Steve: I’m not quitting yet.

28:35 CJ: Again, I remember I knew you guys at the time and to be able to watch this firsthand … which is great for me because I do come to her defense a lot because at this point, I take offense at people’s criticism of her story and that this is some sort of … she’s cheating or it’s a hack or it’s a secret or whatever. She doesn’t make music anymore. That just, she’s teaching people how to do what she’s doing and so, no, like you said, she still does it all. In fact, this year is pretty much the first that I know of, where she’s really, literally saying, hey, hold off, where she told her own music business hold off.

29:27 Steve: Yep.

29:27 CJ: Because she needs for her health, for her sanity, she needs some literal, physical downtime. Everything just has to be shut down, which is why again, everybody’s hearing so much from me lately is because I’m helping to cover things while we’re pretty much just shutting as much down as we can around her, so that she can first and foremost, be the wife and mother that she wants to be, the person that she wants to be. That’s far more important than anything on business. There’s more than enough ways that we can run a business.

30:01 Steve: Totally.

30:02 CJ: And, talk a little bit about that part, Steve, where you guys came to the place where … I’ve mentioned it. I don’t know that people have really … the coins really dropped for them that you don’t want SMA to be necessarily based on Leah.

30:19 Steve: Right, and I think what’s tough about being a personal brand, which SMA kind of has been for the sake of having one person who is the face and the front and center of the organization, but we did start SMA with a bigger vision in mind knowing that … and that’s why it’s not called Leah, it’s called SMA, Savvy Musician Academy because it’s bigger than just her. It’s about a movement, it’s about independence for musicians and though up until now it has been by default focused on her story, and she has been the face of the brand, which by the way, it’s okay to be a personal brand and all musicians are going to be personal brands, and that’s perfectly fine, but you have to understand then that you are the brand. You can’t be removed from the brand like an organization that’s built on a foundation that’s not one person.

So, there’s a lot of pressure and so being the personal brand, SMA, that Leah has that pressure, but also her own music career and of course, as a musician, and Leah is probably the most genuine, authentic person on the planet, at least that I know. And, she puts pressure on herself. There’s the pressure to be the artist that she wants to be, but then there’s also the pressure to perform in a certain way to show that other musicians can do what she’s doing. So, she’s got the pressure of her music business and then the pressure to perform as a coach in her music business, so other people can take that example.

So, anyway, long story short, I guess the conclusion that we’ve come to is that she’s been experiencing burnout for a while and it comes out in different ways, just not having energy and being able to do the things that she would like to do on a daily basis, and so this time off that she’s taking is for her health and we’re not going away, we’re just taking things off of Leah’s plate, so that she can focus on her health. So, with her music business, her music is still available, she’s still an artist, she still writes music, but there’s no pressure. It’s like, okay, you want to write a song today? Cool, go ahead, but there’s no, I have to have it done by this date, so that we can launch and create this huge marketing campaign and do all this stuff by December 31st, none of that.

There can’t be anything on her calendar, no time constraints for anything, no obligations really other than the basic, daily things of a normal life.

33:29 CJ: This is where I want to take advantage of the opportunity here, which is why I’m so glad that Steve is with us is because especially on this point because it has been based so much on Leah that people miss the point that it’s really about the principles. It’s really about the proven principles of marketing because that’s all Leah has ever been doing, and that’s why I’ll often talk about my marketing background and my experience as long as it has been, so that I can further confirm and affirm and validate that very simple thing that Leah is not pulling tricks out of a hat. She is just more consistently, more professionally, more relentlessly applying the principles that have always governed direct marketing even before the internet.

So, as Steve mentioned earlier, they spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on their education as it comes to building an online business, and they learned from the people who have been at this for a very long time. So, they are implementing these principles. Now, someone might say, “Well, okay. Well, CJ, now we’re seeing and hearing from you. Isn’t that another personality brand?” Not at all, in fact, if it’s any visual symbol, it’s a visual symbol of what we just said because I’m not a musician. I am not a musician, so I’m not in here to tell you how to record your album. I’m here to tell you that I’m a spokesperson for the principles that are taught at the Savvy Musician Academy.

So now, it’s no longer just based on the physical person Leah. So in other words, I could step out of this chair, Steve, and someone else who’s maybe one of our Elite students who’s proficient and doing great numbers could literally sit down in this chair and coach the Inner Circle, host this podcast, et cetera, et cetera. So, they are personalities, it doesn’t mean we’re becoming robotic or impersonal at all, no. It’s just that it’s all about the principles and those principles can be breathed through anyone who applies them and knows them and this downtime I think will also help to break that visual connection, I guess, that people have to Leah being the brand, so there are added benefits to here having this downtime. And again, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to hear from her again.

36:09 Steve: Oh, you’ll definitely hear from her.

36:11 CJ: In fact if anything, we might want to put on our seatbelts because she’s going to come back rested.

36:16 Steve: That’s right.

36:18 CJ: Rested and with righteous indignation.

36:21 Steve: Yes, probably. I think the biggest thing is you as an artist have to have ownership, and that’s what Leah really does have is ownership. She owns her music business and that means not that she’s the owner of the music business, not that she’s the primary stakeholder, or shareholder, she is 100% responsible for the success or failure of it, which means she takes it very seriously, every ounce of what she does in that business and even with SMA, that she’s going to own it, success or failure. So, when you take that kind of ownership over your music business, you can guarantee that you will get results. If you haven’t seen results, that’s why.

37:12 CJ: Right. Steve, you obviously have to learn a lot about musicians and you have, you’ve talked to a lot of them, much like Amy’s done. You’ve been on a lot of student calls of people who are inquiring into SMA. If you’re going to advise the musician, what would you tell them?

37:36 Steve: Well, in this day and age, I would advise that you start with your education, really, and that doesn’t mean that you need more training on how to become a better musician. Although, if you suck, that may be true.

37:52 CJ: That’s right.

37:53 Steve: If that’s something you want to pursue and you’re not that great yet, then that’s where you need to start, but if you’re a decent musician already, you have stuff that you’ve created, you’ve recorded, you want to sell it, you want to make a real living with your music, whatever that means, whether it’s a combination of touring, physical live shows, which is fantastic, but you also have to have your online side too. Leah says this all the time, not having all your eggs in one basket. I think one thing we can take away from this whole COVID epidemic, whatever you want to call it, I have some other words for it, but we won’t say it here, is that if all you relied on was the physical presence of your music business, being somewhere, i.e. touring, you now know that you can’t depend on that.

So, you better have a backup plan. So, that’s what we’re teaching is the online aspect of your business is another leg of your table. You can’t have a table with one leg. You better have two or three legs on that sucker, four if you can. So, your online side of your business is, in marketing terms, almost an evergreen part of your business which means it’s working for you every day, every hour, whether you’re there or not.

39:23 CJ: Right.

39:24 Steve: That’s what you need to be building, so that when you do go on tours, when you do do live shows and gigs, you’re not relying on that 100% for your income. We have lots of students that I’ve talked to and that are now Elite students and such, that that was their primary source of income and they were working very hard. Musicians are hard workers, they just need some direction, but when they open up their mind to having an online aspect of their business, these other people that I’m thinking about in particular, they were like, “Holy crap, I am so glad that I started working on this because I’m seeing these results.” It’s usually income-related, obviously, but that they didn’t have before, rather than just working like dogs for ends meet, doing live gigs, taking any gig that they could, not because they wanted to, not because they felt authentic to that gig, because they had to. They literally had no choice. That’s not a position you want to be in. Why are you a musician? So, you can do what you love. Isn’t that right?

40:38 CJ: Exactly. Again, artists tend to get taken advantage of and so now we’re at this unique place in history because you can look at it in one sense, Steve, and think, wow, well, the music industry was already bad. Now you throw COVID and lockdowns and it’s just not like everything is going to open up. Even if it does open up, we’ve already lost tons of venues, so the space is going to become very competitive even in your hometown it will become very, very competitive.

So, if you have an audience, you have capital. If you have social influence, you have capital. You have something someone else doesn’t. It is all to your advantage, which is why we started the end of last year and in the beginning of this year, before this all went down, we were citing this quote by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, one of the biggest bands in the world. So, here’s a rock star, who’s already reached the pinnacle, he’s already done it. He’s set for life, and in Guitar World Magazine I think it was, he said, “If I had to give a piece of advice to today’s musician,” he said, “I would spend 100%, not 99%, 100% of my effort on the internet, online, period.” There is no other way to do that.

So, the only person that I know of that has done that, proven that it can be done, done consecutively each year, and if you doubt that, she just went ahead and did it again with a brand new audience, brand new everything for a candle business, ladies and gentlemen, in the middle of an international pandemic, she starts a candle business. Steve, I ask myself, who cares about candles when people are dying, when you can’t go out, when you can’t go to a restaurant? Why in the world would a candle business be doing well? Well, if you know what you’re doing with internet marketing, you’d be amazed what you can sell.

42:57 Steve: That’s right, totally. So, typically musicians love to create their music and then if they do do anything online it’s to put it on multiple different platforms, it’s all over the place. They have no plan, they have no strategy whatsoever, they don’t even know who their audience is. They think it’s for everybody, but it’s not for everybody. It’s for a select few. Those people are the people that are going to buy it. When you go into a music store, you don’t see people buying every CD on the shelves. They go in, if there even are CDs to buy anymore. I don’t know, I haven’t been in a store for so long, but they go and they buy a specific CD from a specific genre. They’re not buying everything, and that’s the same with … so no, it’s not for everybody, it’s for a select individual, a select few and that’s what Leah did with the candle business too.

It’s not for everybody, it’s a niche product. People who like fantasy and mythology and that kind of thing, and then she built the candles around that theme, so they’re theme based. So, they attract a specific person who’s already into whatever, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, and they love it. Even during COVID, because during COVID, they’re reading books, they’re watching Lord of the Rings, they’re playing games, Dungeons and Dragons.

44:33 CJ: They’re at home, they want the home to smell good.

44:36 Steve: Exactly, and it creates the experience that they want. It’s another way to entice their senses with the smell and the sound of a crackling wick.

44:48 CJ: It’s so true. I had a conversation with my son, Joe, yesterday who’s a filmmaker, videographer, and all that good stuff, and I told him, I said … using also SMA as an example, I said people understand that you can make money online, they understand all of these things, but in the creative fields, they’re still trapped by the way things used to be done. They’re still trapped in that way of thinking because they think, well, if I’m going to be popular, then I’m going to be a household name. I said, no, you have to get past that. You have to get to the place to where I can be super, super successful and most households don’t know my name.

45:33 Steve: Right, I think that’s probably because in our culture, we have no vision. There’s a scripture that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Well, if you have your vision just two days ahead, you have no vision for two years down the road. What are you doing? Where are you going? So, you need to have a longer-term vision. That doesn’t mean you have to have everything worked out, or how that’s going to play out because things change, but where are you going? What’s the direction you’re heading in? You have to have a destination in mind.

46:15 CJ: That’s the key, guys, and I want to finish on that note is that there has to be a destination. So, here you are trapped, locked down in your home, still wanting to play music, still have a desire to do these things, wondering if SMA is right for you. SMA is helpful with helping you determine that direction, helping you determine that vision, helping you to make a … we want to help you make a decision, and part of that may be helping you to discover that SMA is not an option for you, but don’t sit there and wonder, connect with us.

So, if you’ve been at this for some time, maybe you’ve been in the Online Musician course, you did that, and you’re still not moving the needle forward in your business, but you got a little website, maybe a store, or something like that, and you’re just stuck, you may need the Elite program, and they can still do that, Steve, at callsma.com?

47:15 Steve: They can, for the summer, we are actually closing the doors to the coaching part of the program, but they can still get started with the course material itself, and we will be back in the fall, but like you said, we’re taking things off Leah’s plate completely, so that’s one of the things that we’re closing down temporarily for the summer. They can still start with the core Elite program.

47:42 CJ: So, it’s the same curriculum, it doesn’t come with the actual coaching and that sort of thing, so very, very worth it. I think it’s more inexpensive too, correct?

47:51 Steve: It is, definitely, and they can add the coaching later.

47:54 CJ: And then, the course, we just upgrade it to the Online Musician 3.0. Now, I did Inner Circle the other day, Steve, and I was really trying to make this point about where sales come from, about creating desire and value in your audience, and one of the things that just kept coming to mind was how important the Online Musician as a course is and especially this latest version 3.0 because people are like, “Well, she’s not going into Facebook advertising.” And I said, “That’s exactly what you need right now because she’s taking out those shiny objects that you’re going to get fixated on because you could figure out everything you needed to know about the Facebook Ad Manager and all the special software and retargeting applications and all of the gory details of the stuff that’s in the Elite program, and still not sell a thing because you didn’t get the fundamentals down about what really creates sales.” Because I told them, I said, “Technique and technology is not the thing to be fixated on because those come in to help you scale what’s already working.”

49:02 Steve: Right, and we are not about tricks and tactics. That’s not our USP, our unique selling proposition like there are others out there I know of, and their thing is, oh, what’s the fad in the market right now? Oh, it’s Instagram this, or it’s Facebook ads. Here, how to sell 100 albums in two days with blah, blah, blah. Well, that’s a tactic, and that will get you exactly that, one day of sales and then you’re done.

49:34 CJ: That’s right.

49:35 Steve: So, you better have a foundation in place, especially if you want this to be long-term. If you want to make your living this year, next year, and the year after that until the day you die, you better work on the foundation.

49:47 CJ: That’s what the Online Musician 3.0 … it is a very, very powerful foundation, man. Me and my son Aaron, my other one, we help to put the videos and things together and the slides and all of the stuff for the Online Musician 3.0 and it just so-

50:06 Steve: It looks amazing.

50:08 CJ: Great job, Aaron, right?

50:09 Steve: Great job, Aaron.

50:11 CJ: It just so reiterated to me the importance of what you just said, Steve, about the foundation. You have to understand how to sell online. You have to understand the psychology of why people buy. It’s not a technique as Steve said, it’s not a tactic as Steve said, it is literally creating desire in people through a personal relationship. That’s why social media is such a game-changer, guys. There was internet marketing before Facebook, but you were relying upon people coming across you from Google searchers.

There would be no Leah if we were relying upon Google searches. Without the ability to go direct to your ideal fan, your super fan, without discovering them through social media, you couldn’t do this that we’re talking about. So, social media is the game changer, so learning about this … social media means you’re dealing with people, social media. Media means broadcasting, broadcasting from person to person instead of from your television or newspaper or what have you.

51:10 Steve: Relationship.

51:11 CJ: Relationship building, culture building, lifestyle building, that’s what creates the sale. In fact, you should be able to create such a great relationship with your ideal fans via social media and email that they’ll buy cat food from you even though you make music. In other words, when they know you, when they like you, and they trust you, they’ll pretty much buy whatever because they’ll see the fact that you’re drinking something in particular, and they’re like, “Hey, what’s that you’re drinking? I’d like to get that too.”

I see this all the time. If there’s something I happen to have, not even thinking about it, just a cup I have, they’re like, “Hey, where’d you get that cup?” Or for years, people would just say … they’ll ask me on a post that’s unrelated to sales about anything, I’m just adding value to their life through a post, and they’ll write in, “Hey, do you happen to have any t-shirts?” Or, “Hey, do you have a book?” They’re going to ask you what you have to sell, and so that’s not-

52:10 Steve: They’ll be looking.

52:11 CJ: That’s not paid traffic. That doesn’t happen because you understand the ins and outs of the Ad Manager or anything like that. So, what’s covered in the Online Musician? So, where do they go for that, Steve, to learn more about the 3.0?

52:23 Steve: I believe it is theonlinemusician.com.

52:23 CJ: Okay, so that’s your opportunity there. In fact, I think there’s still a … is there still a webinar that’s playing?

52:35 Steve: Yes, we have an evergreen webinar that’s playing, so you can go and watch the webinar and then go through that, and even that alone, go through the webinar. It’s free for goodness sakes, and take the notes like Leah tells you to and you will gain a lot out of that.

52:53 CJ: You’ll see the value of all of this.

52:55 Steve: Absolutely, that’s a good place to start.

52:59 CJ: And then lastly, what we’ve been doing, again, this past month has been the Inner Circle, and this is great because, Steve, this is weird because it’s for both novice and experienced. We got them both covered in there because as we were doing the Inner Circle, as it was done before, which was a downloadable, periodical and a membership thing where you can get some mini-tutorials and that sort of thing, but it wasn’t direct interaction, and so back in May we did this three-week pop-up Mastermind where it was live sessions, live workshop sessions in a private Facebook group and we got, what, close to 500 people from all over the world that signed up for that, and we had people after it was done writing in saying, “Where to from here?”

53:50 Steve: I want more of that.

53:51 CJ: I want more of that. I liked having my questions answered live, and so that was kind of the impetus for us changing what we would call, I guess, your 2.0 version of the Inner Circle where now that’s in a private Facebook group based on live video sessions each week, and because it’s question and answer and all of this, we’re able to take in the input from Elite students as well as people who might be new, so you’re going to learn the parlance, the language, all the lingo. You’re going to get all the fundamental type of ideas and you’re going to live, experience, and hear from Elite students and see what they’re doing.

So, we’re just scratching the surface right now. There’s so much we can push through the Inner Circle as well as tips, and tools, and books of the month, and so much recommended stuff that we can give you, and that’s right now … we just knocked off like $20. We could charge 97 easy for that thing. That’s a lot of information, bro.

54:50 Steve: Oh, man.

54:51 CJ: We knocked it down to $47. We just knocked it down $20 more for $27. If your music business and your life isn’t worth $27 … and plus, you get to deal with me.

55:03 Steve: Then, who wouldn’t want that, right?

55:04 CJ: Who wouldn’t want that? Some people are mentors, I’m your tormentor, which is again it brings in that … because I’m a motivational speaker, so you’re getting that motivational element. We deal with the mindset which is a huge part, Steve, hasn’t it been a huge part of what holds musicians back is the mindset?

55:20 Steve: That’s the biggest part, honestly. I’ve personally spoken to probably close to two or 300 musicians on the phone, long conversations, and that is the biggest hurdle that they all have is in their mindset, and that goes for everybody. That’s not just musicians, it’s anybody who is thinking of taking a bigger step or making a big decision in their life, it’s all mindset.

55:48 CJ: Exactly right. So, you’re going to get mindset, marketing, all of that for just $27 a month in the Savvy Musician Inner Circle, so you and I get to spend a whole lot more time together looking at what you’re doing and you can learn more about that at savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle. Steve, we were threatening to have you on the podcast, you and I doing something probably a year ago.

56:15 Steve: I know.

56:16 CJ: It’s taken us this long, but Steve has become one of my favorite people and I trust him completely, and he’s been such a … not just a great friend, but a colleague and I’ve gleaned so much from both he and Leah and working with the Savvy Musician Academy, so it means a lot to me to have him on today, so bubba, thank you, man.

56:38 Steve: Thank you, it’s been awesome. I love it.

56:41 CJ: Give everybody’s best to Leah because I’m sure they all want to send their best, all the podcast listeners send their best. You get to tell Leah about that.

56:50 Steve: Will do.

56:51 CJ: But, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much once again for joining me on the Savvy Musician Show. Do me a favor, and go right not, literally right now, and leave us a review on whatever your favorite podcast player is, Stitcher, Spotify, iTunes, write something nice, leave stars, as many as you can if they offer that. Why is this important? Twofold, number one, it’s what helps us in the rankings, so you can help another musician, confused, brokenhearted, frustrated, confused musician out there who doesn’t know what to do, you can help them find this podcast. If this podcast made a difference in your life, guess what it will do for someone else. That helps there, and secondly, we read your comments.

It is a huge form of encouragement to us, like I tell people. People ask me, “CJ, motivational speaker, what motivates you?” I say, “You want to motivate me, tell me how much I motivate you.” That’s how you motivate a meta-motivator, and it motivates us to know that your life has been changed. It motivates us to know that you’re moving forward in your music business. It motivates us to know that there’s someone out there who’s business is actually being transformed, that you’re finding direction in life and business.

Once again, we want to know. It builds us up, and helps us moving forward, and even if it’s a critical comment, that’s educational to us as well. We just don’t think there are any. Anyway, good to see you, guys. I will be back next week on the Savvy Musician Show, take care.

The entire music industry just changed overnight. Suddenly, every band and musician has had their live gigs canceled indefinitely. No one knows when live events are coming back, and when they do, the competition will surely be fierce. Artists are realizing they have to pivot quickly if they want to earn an income with their music. Musicians are now scrambling to figure out how to sell their music online. They need answers and they need them now.

If this is you, then discover our new Savvy Musician Inner Circle membership. It’s a private subscription based coaching group to help you launch and market your online music business fast. For one low monthly subscription, you’ll get live, weekly marketing instruction, plus tips, tools, news, updates, and your questions answered. It all takes place in a private Facebook group that I, CJ Ortiz, will be hosting and I’d love to help you build your online music business. To learn more, go right now to savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle.

Leah McHenry

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.