Author: 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.

Episode #041: How to Plan Your Music Year & Set Goals That You Can Achieve

On the show today we are breaking down how you can set out your year and goals to make better progress in your music career! This means having a broad outlook for the year ahead and then sectioning it off into quarterly chunks, ready to be accomplished! The conversation covers a few of the questions we have been receiving from the Facebook Group and the common themes from these and balancing achievable goals with ambitions that stretch your abilities and reach. From there we go on to discuss just how to go about the process of goal setting from the early stages to some of the specific and nifty tricks to give you the upper hand on your tasks. We talk brainstorming, resources, tools, deadlines, categories and a whole lot more. If you are struggling to get around to setting goals or whether you need help with measuring and completing your to do list, this is the episode for you!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Some of the questions we received over at the Facebook Group.
  • The importance of putting yourself out despite the discomfort. 
  • Small and important lessons to take away from everything. 
  • Why should you plan for the year in advance? 
  • The starting point for planning. 
  • Brainstorming, whiteboards and getting the ball rolling.
  • Giving yourself enough time and runway to accomplish your goals. 
  • Leah’s list of goal categories.
  • The brain dump for each of your goals!
  • Implementing gradual habits and how this can help you.   
  • Some tools to help you plan out your year and stay on track. 
  • Inspiring resources and the benefits you can accrue from reading. 
  • Quarterly deadlines and sticking to them!
  • And much more!


“My starting point is I like to brainstorm, I just do a giant brain dump.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:15:11]

“I like to give a six month runway into any kind of a launch if possible. You start planning the album launch six months ahead of time.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:22:41]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Annual Planning Guide Download:

Leah McHenry —

Leah on Twitter — 

SMA Spotify Course —

Savvy Musician Academy Facebook —

The Super Fan System Elite Program  —

Bulletproof Coffee —

Crowd Funding Podcast Episode —

Album Launch Podcast Episode —

Rocket Fuel — 

The Synergist – 

The Synergist Quiz —

Episode #040: The Current State of The Music Industry & Why You Don’t Need a Label

On today’s spontaneous episode, Leah McHenry is joined by new cohost CJ Ortiz, an experienced branding and marketing expert, who works as a coach in the Elite Program. They delve into various topics related to the new music industry, such as the power of online marketing and how rather than being hopeless, aspiring musicians should see this new space as one full of opportunities. Leah shares some of the reactions she got when she put herself out there and how through perseverance, she is now able to support herself and her family with her music. She shares how, through learning about marketing, rather than music, she has been able to empower herself and create an authentic and sustained connection with her fans. If you’d like to find out how to start to do the same, join us today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Groups on Facebook that you can join. 
  • How CJ and Leah’s friendship started. 
  • How much Leah’s career has grown.
  • How to adapt when changes happen in marketing. 
  • Success in the new music industry is defined differently than before. 
  • Shifting your mindset in defining success is key. 
  • The music industry is shifting in an unprecedented way. 
  • Some success stories of people who have used these principles. 
  • If you learn the basics of online marketing, it can translate across various spheres. 
  • When Leah realized that she could take control of her career. 
  • Some pros and cons of record labels. 
  • What a Facebook pixel is and why it’s important. 
  • How Leah was able to find and target her ‘superfans.’
  • And much more


“How I had any success at all, by the way, was I stopped studying the music industry,” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:09:15]

“The only thing that matters is your little music industry that you just created.” — CJ Ortiz[0:11:00]

“That’s our biggest challenge as musicians- is to help people understand that we exist in the world.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:32:25]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Savvy Musician Mastermind on Facebook —

Savvy Musician Spotify course —

Leah on Twitter —

CJ Ortiz —

Episode #039: What Is Artist Development?

Today’s show takes on a new format where CJ Ortiz joins Leah McHenry as cohost. CJ has over 20 years of experience in marketing and helping both individuals and organizations to achieve their visions. Currently, CJ works as the mindset and branding coach at the Superfan System Elite Program run at The Savvy Music Academy. In this episode, Leah and CJ talk about what artist development really is, delving deep into the complicated topic. They discuss what some crucial aspects of the artist development process are and how they think most traditional artist development companies are falling short and failing their clients. Leah also gives some insight into the process she has used to develop herself as an artist and how she thinks The Savvy Music Academy is breathing fresh air into artist development. Join us today for this and a whole lot more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The primary problem in the music industry since Napster. 
  • What is artist development? 
  • Leah’s five-year plan for Savvy Musician Academy and where she realized this.  
  • The problems with traditional artist development agencies.
  • Leah’s insight into artist development in the new music industry.
  • Two things which are key to artist development.
  • Musicians should see themselves as entrepreneurs. 
  • How Savvy Musician Academy is doing artist development differently.
  • The role of the coach and how they should work. 
  • Leah’s own coaching style. 
  • How DIY management is different from traditional management
  • An understanding of branding that goes beyond logos and fonts. 
  • The real meaning of online marketing.
  • Making time to write or practice every day. 
  • Building a fan base is a perpetual activity.
  • And much more!


“The destiny of the company is artist development, but not in the typical sense.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:08:04]

“A high percentage of success is in the mindset part and the personal development part of it.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:13:48]

“It doesn’t help to blow sunshine up somebody’s backside.” —  CJ Ortiz [0:22:40]

“We’re like Robin Hoods.” — CJ Ortiz [0:50:26]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — 

SMA: Superfan System Elite Program —

SMA online —

Episode #038: How To Write Commercial Hit Songs with Friedemann Findeisen

Today we are joined by Friedemann Findeisen, a songwriter and songwriting coach. He has written over 1,000 songs in more than 100 styles and also has his own successful YouTube channel, Holistic Songwriting, where he explores various topics related to songwriting. In addition to this, he has also written a book, The Addiction Formula, where he shares his insights into how to ‘crack’ the songwriting code. In today’s episode, Friedemann talks about the book as well as holistic songwriting, which looks at the at various aspects that affect the process of songwriting and the quality of the song that is produced. He also shares some of his success stories, his own songwriting process, and some tips and tricks of the songwriting trade. Join us today to learn some of the ins and outs of how to write a successful song.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Foundations of songwriting and why they are important.
  • What holistic songwriting is; more than music.
  • The pillars of creating a great song.
  • How to know when a song is good and will be a success.
  • Why the formula is not only for pop songs.
  • Understanding that “commercial” does not have to mean pop.
  • Most important tips to make your song addictive.
  • Learning how to understand the energy distribution of songs.
  • Importance of establishing image.
  • Success stories from Friedemann’s experiences.
  • How Friedemann helps other people.
  • The problem of incongruency.
  • Examples of successful intuitive lyric writing.
  • Finding out who your fan avatar is.
  • His approach to songwriting.
  • And much more!


“It’s easier to connect to your songs if they follow a certain blueprint.” — Friedemann Findeisen [0:03:13]

“To me, there is three pillars of a really great song.” — Friedemann Findeisen [0:06:41]

“It’s not just the music, it’s the people behind the music.” — Friedemann Findeisen [0:24:46]

“Have more purple cows in your lyrics.”  — @LEAHthemusic  [0:39:22]

“It’s that honesty that fragility that I think people really get addicted to.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:48:25]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Friedemann Findeisen —

Friedemann’s Patreon page —

Holistic Songwriting on YouTube —

The Addiction Formula on Amazon — 

Episode #037: Sync Licensing Sucks: Change My Mind with Michael Elsner Pt. 2

Welcome back to part two of our amazing conversation with Michael Elsner about licensing, how to get your music into TV, films and different mediums, the huge income potential there is around this and why it gets such a bad rap with so much skepticism around it. Michael is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, as well as the creator of The 4 Step Plan to Licensing Success. During part one of the show, Michael shared a little bit about his background and some of the success that he has had in this industry. We’ve also talked about potential income streams and the importance of choosing the right libraries. On today’s episode, we hear from Michael all about his 4-step process and how we can make licensing work for us. So, for all this and more, keep listening!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Hear about Michael’s 4-step process in detail.
  • Step 1 – Building your catalog: writing music you’re passionate about.
  • Step 2 – Creating valuable content: Delivering a lot of alternative mixes.
  • The difference between tracks and stems.
  • Michaels recommendations for anyone wanting to get into licensing their songs.
  • Metadata: the descriptive terms that describe what that audio file is.
  • Step 3 – Mastering metadata: using very descriptive keywords to describe your songs.
  • Step 4 – Getting your music heard: finding the proper end users for your music.
  • Four paths to getting your music heard.
  • Having consistency over the long term.
  • Some good book recommendations from Michael.
  • And so much more!


“With licensing your music, your end users are different than if you’re releasing your record to the masses.” — @michaelelsner [0:04:58]

“It’s important to deliver what I call valuable content. Always put yourself in the position of your end user.” — @michaelelsner [0:12:28]

“You have to think long term and then you have to think foreign international royalties.” — @michaelelsner [0:31:57]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Michael Elsner —

Michael on LinkedIn —

Michael on Twitter —

Michael on Youtube —

Master Music Licensing —

The 4 Step Plan to Licensing Success E-book —

Everything you Need to know About the Music Business by Donald Passman —

The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing

This Business of Music —

Episode #036: Sync Licensing Sucks: Change My Mind with Michael Elsner Pt. 1

Today we get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes functions involved in licensing; TV, film, ads, and anything alike. We’re joined by, Michael Elsner, a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, as well as the creator of the The 4 Step Plan to Licensing Success. Today Michael shares a little bit about his background and some of the success that he has had in this industry. Many people in the industry are huge skeptics of licensing and never want to even get into licensing. They always avoid it. Often you can feel like you have no control over it and you feel like you don’t even know the way in. There are tons services out there where you pay fees and supposedly some executive is going to hear it. However, as many of us have found, you pay those fees and never hear anything, never get anything back and never hear any good stories about it. Today, Michael is here to completely change our perspective on licensing as a whole. So, if this is sounding all too familiar and you are also one of those skeptics, keep listening. This show has been divided into two parts so be sure to come back next time for part two with Michael Elsner where we hear more about his 4-step process.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Hear more about Michael’s background and how he got into licensing.
  • Why licensing should be considered as a valid avenue for people with a music business.
  • Being diverse with your styles of music when licensing.
  • Money potential in licensing.
  • The five kinds of placements.
  • What the most favored nations clause means.
  • The two contracts: a sync license and a master license.
  • What a one-stop shop refers to.
  • Giving away rights to administer your songs, not giving ownership of your music.
  • Potential income streams that this could provide for musicians thinking about it.
  • Michael’s approach to licensing; all about consistent placements.
  • Understanding the different types of libraries.
  • Quality libraries and how it works.
  • Hear more about Michael’s 4 step process he takes each song through.
  • And so much more!


“Licensing was always the outlet for the songs.” — @michaelelsner [0:05:05]

“One of the things that’s nice about licensing is you don’t have to live in a music industry town. You can really do it wherever you want.” — @michaelelsner [0:06:45]

“Licensing gives you that freedom to grow and expand and explore a lot of different avenues artistically.” — @michaelelsner [0:10:19]

“Let’s say you are the artist and you sign your music over to a library, you’re basically giving them the rights to administer your songs. You’re not giving them ownership of your music.” — @michaelelsner [0:22:54]

“My whole approach to licensing is not about the one song. I’m about consistent placements.” — @michaelelsner [0:27:16]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Michael Elsner —

Michael on LinkedIn —

Michael on Twitter —

Michael on Youtube —

The 4 Step Plan to Licensing Success E-book —

Episode #035: The Nuts & Bolts of Tour Production, Finances & Live Show Business Pt. 2

Welcome back to the Savvy Musician Show. Today on the podcast we continue with part two of our interview with John B. Webster, an accomplished tour set designer and builder. In this episode, we continue our conversation about the layering effect that you can achieve by systematically introducing light, color, and haze onto the stage. John explains how to increase the theatricality of your productions to ensure an impactful ending to your show. He sheds light on the safety implications of using pyro on stage and cautions us against those elements that are best avoided and those that should be used sparingly. For those who favor a romantic atmosphere, John B gives pointers about the types of objects that effectively create that vibe on stage. We discuss the practicality of using LED technology and then jump to the all-important topic of finances. As any successful entrepreneur would do, he reminds us how crucial it is to stay within the budget and to keep tabs on what you are spending on each effect. We learn how lucrative merchandise sales can be on tour and that it’s never too late to adjust a stage element that isn’t working for you. We talk about the visibility of artists during a show and John B. dishes out some helpful tips in this regard. Tune in to hear it all! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • How to create a layering effect in your productions
  • Ensuring that your show builds up to a grand finale.
  • How and when to use pyro.
  • Why it is important to always consider safety first!
  • Using candelabras and candles to create mood.
  • Making the most of LED technology.
  • Respecting your budget.
  • Profiting from merchandise sales.
  • Optimizing your visibility on stage.


“LED technology is the way to go.” — John B. Webster [0:07:49]

“The idea is to go out there, tour, and to make more money, make more connections, get your name out there, make your brand larger than it is.” — John B. Webster [0:11:10]

“Planning is key, it’s the key to all of it.” — John B. Webster [0:15:56]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

John B. Webster —
Leah McHenry —
Leah on Twitter —
Savvy Musician Academy Facebook —
The Super Fan System Elite Program
Shopify —

Episode #034: The Nuts & Bolts of Tour Production, Finances & Live Show Business Pt. 1

Today we get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes functions involved in set and tour production. Having worked with artists such as Joni Mitchell and k.d. Lang, we are fortunate to have John B. Webster, better known simply as John B, with us today. He is going to share a bit about how he managed to land such impressive gigs and his philosophy that keeps all doors open. He touches on the nitty-gritty of set design, including the creative process and the importance of keeping the type of venue in mind. Those on a tighter budget would be delighted by his brilliant tips for introducing striking design elements, all available from your local Home Depot. We further talk about the effects of lighting and color on stage and hash out the difference between a fogger and a hazer. Tune in to find out what else you can do to put up a spectacular show.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Friends can be valuable contacts.
  • Never burn bridges in relationships.
  • Set design starts with a meeting with the artist.
  • 3D CAD programs can be used to sketch set designs.
  • Design elements must fit different venues.
  • Banners are user-friendly, convertible and inexpensive.
  • Digital printing has made logo printing much cheaper.
  • Use mylar foil and lights to create atmosphere.
  • Colored lights work well on screen door mesh. 
  • Make friends with the light guy at the venue.
  • Uses hazers rather than foggers.
  • Lighting and music must correspond.
  • Identify your primary color lights and communicate it.
  • Create a story with your music.


“I’ve spent most of life very carefully trying not to burn any bridge whatsoever because you just never know when that’ll lead to a different opportunity for you.” JBW [0:03:48]

“You can’t, in any musical environment, you just about never can have too much haze.” JBW [0:16:26]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Displays2Go —

John B. Webster —

Leah McHenry —

Leah on Twitter —

Savvy Musician Academy —

Savvy Musician Academy Facebook —

The Super Fan System Elite Program


Episode #033: Secrets of Spotify: Case Study On How to Increase Monthly Listeners & Revenue

Today on the show we are joined by Dave Powers from the band MountainCity. Dave and his wife, Tara, formed the band as a folk and country duo a few years ago and have managed to grow their following and revenue impressively since then. In our conversation, Dave shares the ways in which he has approached these tasks on the different online platforms and the strategies that have helped him take the band to where they are today. We discuss a lot about Spotify and how to get onto the important playlists on the streaming platform. Dave even shares some extra special tactics that have helped them get millions of listens and a steady source of passive income. We talk systems and spreadsheets, generosity, guerrilla marketing, and building mutually beneficial relationships in the business. For this and a whole lot more, be sure to join us today!

Key Points From This Episode:

    • A little bit about Dave and his band Mountain City.


    • How Dave has approached growing on Spotify.


    • Reaching out to people with playlists on the platform.


    • Understanding Spotify’s algorithms and how to use them.


    • Intentionality and the tracking of your systems.


    • Guerrilla marketing and reaching out to strangers.


    • Generosity and helping others through your network.


    • Doubling down on relationships and solidifying your listens.


    • How payment works on streaming platforms.


  • And much more!


“This is something you just chip away at over and over again, you translate your key words into different languages so you can tap into those platforms or a playlist.” — @Mtncitymusic [0:14:01]

“I continue to engage in the process so it’s kind of always building more and more. It really does ebb and flow.” — @Mtncitymusic [0:16:58]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leah McHenry —

Savvy Musician Academy Facebook —

The Super Fan System Elite Program

MountainCity —

Jeff Walker —

The difference between making $0 month and $10,000 with your music

How I went from $0 in music sales to $1000 to $5000, to $10,000 and beyond…

Most people want to shortcut. They want to reap all the rewards without putting in the risk and the work to get there. That’s like signing up for a gym membership and thinking that you should automatically have abs in a month. Ha!

The reality is that you CAN take a short cut: listen to people who are already achieving the results you want. But don’t just listen. DO.

But don’t just take action TODAY…. you have to be in this for the LONG HAUL and be CONSISTENT over a long period of time!

THAT is how you get abs and how you make progress in anything!

Why do I bring up revenue as a marker of success? Simply because that’s what musicians ask me about day and night. They want revenue.

They want to fund their passions, dreams, next album and be able to pay the bills from it and quit the job they hate.

Okay then, we can do that…. but it’s going to take a major shift in your attitude.

Here are 10 things you must do to get there:


1. Create amazing, quality music that the market wants. Quality means it’s in demand, and quality means it sounds great, regardless of the budget.

2. Identify your niche, your “twist” that a smaller group of people are actually excited about. You don’t need millions of fans, you only need a 1000 die-hard fans that are in love with your music.

3. Have a consistent image & brand across all social platforms, your website, and merchandise. What does your brand communicate? What feeling does your imagery create in your fans? If you don’t know, you’re likely missing out on a lot of sales.

4. Be purposeful in what your music stands for and build a culture around your music. People see your music as bigger than just the music. It’s part of their way of life. It’s a lifestyle brand.

5. Have a detailed understanding of how to launch your music online whenever you have a new release. You know how to plan and execute an online campaign, in a matter-of-fact, methodical way. No guessing.

6. Launch your old and new music perpetually to new people every single day. This is called an “evergreen launch”. It is always running, and the sales pay for the campaign.

7. Automate your “lead gen” or new fans. There’s a way to attract new fans every single day, 24/7. You know how to build relationships, and automate the process of taking a new fan from Aware to Engaged to Buyer.

8. Be fearless when it comes time to sell. If you want to succeed, you have to get over this. But even better, your system does the selling, and you don’t have to even talk to one single person (so yes, you can be successful as a hard-core introvert).

9. Regularly ask for feedback from your fans and survey them. Use the data they give you and you turn it around and make more music, merch products, bundles, and whatever they want based on that feedback. Don’t guess: ASK!

10. Be willing to take a RISK. Stop being afraid of what people will think. Don’t ask “How can I stand out online?” … just put your head down and start DOING what you know you should!

I am currently having my biggest physical music sales month… maybe ever. Mostly selling CDs.

What has taken me from $10,000 to $20,000 per month?

Doing exactly those 10 things over and over and over.

Getting better at it.

Dialing it in.

Then testing and experimenting even more.

Taking more risks.

Sometimes failing.

Learning from it.

Stepping out in faith.

Putting more faith in my fans.

Being more transparent.

And continuing this journey in the Wild West of the New Music Industry!