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 #060: How To Sell More Merchandise Online

Today’s show is focussed on the world of merchandising and selling this merch through an online store! For Leah, her merch and online sales have made up such a big part of her business and ultimate success and so her and CJ really want to impress upon all the listeners how important the way you approach this stuff can be. To start, Leah unpacks the impact it made when she started giving e-commerce its rightful dues and learning about it in a focussed and engaged way. From there she talks about the principles of increasing revenue in the online world and why she cannot recommend Shopify highly enough. The discussion also covers serving your fans and looking for their feedback as your number one directive in further products and offers. We also talk about photography and copywriting and these two seemingly small aspects are so pivotal in the sales process. To finish off, Leah shares her passion for adopting a ‘print on demand’ model for her shop and a few ways to improve conversion rates to completed sales. For all of this great information and more, tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Today’s #win student spotlight message! 
  • The hugely significant role that e-commerce and merchandise have played in Leah’s work. 
  • The three basic ways of increasing your revenue as an e-commerce business. 
  • Why Leah recommends Shopify above all other platforms. 
  • Leah’s focus on serving her fans and why this is so important.
  • Product photography and the impact that quality pictures can make.
  • Taking care to properly represent your product through appropriate and thoughtful descriptions.  
  • Abandoned carts and increasing conversion rates to completed sales. 
  • Familiarity and trustworthiness as the two most important factors for an online store.
  • The joys and wonder of the print on demand model! 
  • And much more! 


“This was an accidental coaching business in many respects. I was out there to make money with my music. That was the whole point of what I was doing.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:04:07]

“Anything that applies online is going to apply offline. Not everything offline applies online.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:09:46]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Savvy Musician Academy —

Savvy Musician Mastermind on Facebook —

Savvy Musician Spotify course —

WordPress —

Shopify — 

Bethan Nia (Student Spotlight) — 

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show, this is CJ Ortiz, I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the savvy musician academy. Once again, I am the chosen one who gets to sit across from the illustrious one, Ms. Leah McHenry, how are you doing? 

00:40 Leah: Thanks, illustrious, that’s a new one.

00:44 CJ: I got a million of them. Good things happening on the podcast, it is enjoyable for me to be able to sit down and do these with you Leah, we have great offline conversations and that’s great to take these online as well and talk about all the myriad of things, the ever-changing aspects of online music marketing and that’s really – this is what this is. There are a million and one ways to skin a cat, there are other ways that people are playing music for a living or doing something to push their music business forward.

You’ve had significant success doing this yourself and so, you kind of carved out a path, you developed your way of doing things over time, through trial and error, tremendous investment of time and money on your part and have gotten tremendous returns on that and I remember when you started, I remember getting your first album and where things were with you.

Just to turn around and come back to it and see just how many other – that must have been pretty significant, I know what it’s like from when I do my motivational aspect but when you got started, not many people knew you and it’s one thing they build your own fan base musically. But, then Leah, to on that other side of your decision to start the Savvy Musician Academy just to know how many lives, musicians and careers that you’ve impacted, it’s got to be pretty significant.

02:13 Leah: Yeah, it blows me away. I mean, A lot of you guys know the story or have heard the story but when I started out, really getting serious about my music career. I was approached by a lot of friends actually, other mom friends of mine who are singers and songwriters and they were asking, how was I getting all these results and everything and ended up thinking, you know, it would be helpful if I just compiled all these knowledge I have into an ebook.

I don’t know, it must be just in my blood or DNA, my ability to teach. My dad was a principal of a private school for many years. I think something in the DNA, where he was always very good at being able to take complex concepts and principles and be able to break it down in easy to understand format. Just kind of bite-sized and he’d explain these science concepts to me, political concepts to me in a way I could understand and I think that taught me how to teach.

I ended up putting that into a little ebook and that went over really well and then, of course, that ended up turning into a video course format and once we released that and I started doing webinars. I saw webinars were becoming a thing and I thought that would be a great way to get this message out to the world is in that kind of teaching style format.

I saw some other webinars out there and I thought, “Well, I’ve never done this but I’m pretty sure I can kill that.” I did and it did, it blew up like very quickly and before we knew it, there were thousands of students and actually, that became quite stressful too, I will say. Going from just putting something out there to all of a sudden, my goodness, dealing with hundreds and hundreds of people from a customer service standpoint and a growth standpoint and a leadership standpoint. I mean, you are forced to really grow. 

You know, the fact that I’m sitting here and that we’ve done all this and we’ve helped thousands of people, I never imagined that I would be here. I never imagined that we would be doing this, that wasn’t even my intention. This really was an accidental coaching business in many respects. I was out there to really make money with my own music. That was the whole point of what I was doing and then I found out, I had this other passion, this other calling for helping other people, teaching and I’m pretty darn good at it. Here we are.

04:25 CJ: Ain’t that amazing? It’s funny how you work so hard at something, right? You don’t know where you’re going to land and over time, you refine every little end of it and you travel loose ends as they say and by the time you’re all done and get to the place. It’s as if it was meant to be. Somebody looking who didn’t see all the work that went into it, they could say, it’s almost as if it was meant to be.

Yeah, well, that’s how great things happen, it can seem like that way, what others call destiny or something, you know, the end result of a lot of toil and innovation and experimentation, et cetera and e voila. You know, especially something like this now which is so needed by the huge tribe of independent musicians around the world that need this sort of thing.

You know, one of the things that I think became a big part which I’m going to talk about today for you was selling merchandise. You know, which is not common. Maybe the big bands will sell merchandise on their tours and that’s how they get a lot of their income from it but it became a significant part of what you did and we’re going to talk about that in the whole merchandise philosophy, the e-commerce philosophy, which is really unique amongst the music marketing space and people out there.

Leah, I don’t know a whole lot of people that can really speak to this area with depth and authority like you can. Again, another reason why this podcast and your courses are so important but before we get into that, I want to just share a little student spotlight and today’s win is from Bethania. She writes, “I am consistently getting great engagement on my posts and have top fans who regularly comment on my posts.”

“I’m so over the moon that I have dialled in my culture and that I’m so certain now of my brand and culture and what my fans liked to see. I know that this is going to be so beneficial when I release my album and run a crowdfunding campaign. And a big thank you to CJ for helping me really hone in on my branding. One of my fans in my page even suggested I become a TV producer, as my post and images are so strong. Hey, think outside the box, anything is possible.” Great.

06:44 Leah: Fantastic. 

06:46 CJ: We applaud that Bethan, good for you, applying the information, getting results isn’t that what it’s all about Leah?

06:52 Leah: Exactly. I see Bethan I see you in our Elite Group, you are consistent, you act or you ask for help when you need it, you used the resources, you’re using the group. I’m not surprised by this in this sense because you’re doing exactly what you should be doing so we’re proud of you.

07:10 CJ: That’s great, awesome. Good for you. Again, you guys can get this sorts of results, you can dial in things for your music brand and find your target audience and build up your super fans and this is so important, it relates to what we’re about to talk about is again, Leah is not out here telling you that you’re going to become a household name and this is how you’re going to fill arenas.

No, if you want to play music for a living, write your music. You don’t need to be a household name in order to make a full time living with your music. You just need what Leah refers to as her super fans. People who are just crazy about you, crazy about your music, crazy about the culture that you both share together and how you can leverage that with a small amount of people and turn that into a profitable online music business and we’re going to get into a key aspect of that today as we talk about how to sell more merchandise online.

Maybe you haven’t even sold any yet. Maybe that’s not even a part. But, it’s important for you to understand this so that you go into your career in music. You may not even have an album out yet. But you come into your next season armed with these possibilities and that’s what it is. You’re going to be armed with possibilities and opportunities.

Okay, Leah then, let me ask you this. How significant a role has this aspect, merchandise, e-commerce played in your music business?

08:43 Leah: It has been a game-changer for me. Ever since I had the lightbulb go off in my brain that I need to stop treating my music career like a typical music business and I need to start treating it like an e-commerce business. There are several reasons why and I’ll explain them and then I want to talk a little bit about some of the details there. You know, I think people typically, when I think about selling music.

They think about only selling their music. I think that’s what most people do. Then, when I think about selling merchandise, they’re thinking about what bands do at a concert, you know? They’ve got this merch booth and a table of you know, t-shirts and hoodies and key chains and stuff and that’s cool. But they don’t translate that into online and I particularly deal with training people in how to sell their music and merchandise online because that was the only tool that I had and I’m doing multiple six figures doing that without touring at all.

To me, here’s one concept that you can take right now. Anything that applies online is going to apply offline. Not everything offline applies online but I think anything you learn online will translate very well offline. In some cases, you can switch them back and forth. But, you got to treat them very differently. People’s behaviours and the psychology behind how people buy things online is different than in person.

You need to be educated on those things and we deal a lot within our Elite Course, you know, I don’t even call it a shameless plug because I really believe that everybody needs this information. You can’t succeed without understanding the nuts and bolts of these concepts. You know, when I stopped treating it like just selling music and I started treating it like e-commerce, all e-commerce is, is buying something on the internet and it’s the way the transaction happens and then getting it in the mail, right?

Before the internet, there was mail order and people would get a flier or something in their mailbox and if the ad sold them on it, they would write them a check or write all the numbers of their credit card in there, mail it away. I mean, that was the old school version of e-commerce.

Now we have the internet and now people can shop so much quicker. They can see something and on an impulse, put in their PayPal or credit card and buy something right now if it appeals to them. Then, have it sent to their house and so talk about convenience. This is – I mean, you’ve never had a better chance at selling music and merchandise than now.

It has played a huge part and specifically when I started treating things like an eCommerce business. I started to think a little beyond just selling music. When I first got started, I just wanted to validate the music itself and once I got past that point and I realized hey, people do like my sound they do like my brand, they do like my music. I can now venture out. 

I did things incrementally so I first waited till there was some demand, “We want a t-shirt, you know? We want more stuff.” Okay cool, we’re going to do a t-shirt and we did a short run of them. I made sure I could sell that and if I couldn’t sell it, I would probably start to analyze why. Was it the design, was it the price, was it the product, was it my copy, you know, was it the description that I had?

There’s so much that goes into the psychology and that’s what I want people to understand that if people don’t buy your merchandise, there’s a very good reason why. It’s not because they didn’t want to buy it, it’s because you sucked at something. You have to figure out what it is.

12:19 CJ: You’re right.

12:21 Leah: Once you figure it out, you can literally sell – 

12:25 CJ: You can scale it.

12:25 Leah: You can start scaling that and add other things. Game changer, when you start treating this like an e-commerce business, instead of a music business.

12:37 CJ: That is so huge. Just that phrase, when I learned to stop treating it like a music business and started treating it like an e-commerce business. Because that literally is the entire approach here. When we say online marketing, granted, you know, the social media aspect plays a role that’s all the stuff we do to warm the market so to speak, to get people ready to make a purchase.

It all is going to begin right there when you change your thinking. One thing Amazon has done is taught everybody to be an online shopper, you know? People are in that mode now, you’re seeing the statistics every year at the holiday time, how people are doing more and more of their shopping online. I do more and more things online because of our approach to nutrition, et cetera. 

You know, we’re not eating sweets or all that kind of stuff. Whether you can have diet drinks or what have you, whether those sweeteners are bad for you but my son had found the stevia-based soft drinks and they’re surprisingly good. I mean, they’re so pure, if you were to pour out the root beer one in a glass, it’s actually clear.

13:48 Leah: Clear, I love those.

13:51 CJ: Because there’s no food colouring, none of that junk in it but it actually tastes like root beer. But, you know, we’re like, “Okay, let’s see if they have any other – they have the Mountain Dew flavour or a Sprite kind of flavour,” and because he only found a few at the store and there’s so many more. He’s like, “well, should we find another store?” I said, “Son, I guarantee you, they’ll send it to you,” you know?

Sure enough, there’s all these assorted cases that you could get. Nowadays, even when I’m looking at something online like if I go to an OfficeMax or a or BestBuy. You see them in Target and things like that, it says, you have the option in-store or have it delivered. I think more and more people are getting into that mode which means, if you’re going to capitalize that, on that. You have to think like someone who is running an e-commerce business.

14:43 Leah: Absolutely. You know, I wanted to just do a little teaching here for a second and for everybody listening, whether you’re a student or you’re not a student of ours, you know, there are only three ways to increase your revenue. Three ways and there’s probably a few more than that but these are the basic ones in any business, okay?

You can either increase your prices, you can add more products for people to buy and you can add more customers, okay? Those are the three basic ways to increase your revenue. In an e-commerce setting, we can do all three of them, we might do two at times, we might increase a price or lower it for a discount during a promotion or something.

This is what the game-changer is for me. Is that I can add more products specifically and then I can add more customers and here’s my specific approach. When I had this little epiphany, I was like, “My gosh, this is a really cool idea that I’m going here.” Here’s what I decided to do. I thought, what I’m going to do is I’m going to create a music store like my shop where I sell my music and I sell other products that align with my brand and my culture and that way, then what I’m going to do is I’m going to advertise to both my fans and I’m going to advertise to cold audiences that don’t own my music.

The thing is, my other items are going to be so cool, they’re going to look awesome enough that they would buy those things without ever hearing my music, without knowing who I am, just because you know, whether it’s an impulse buy or they just really like it and I know how target those people. The thing is, this whole foundation is resting upon the fact that you know your niche and you know your culture.

You should build your entire e-commerce brand based off of that culture. Rather than having a general store where you are selling, you know, fishing rods and CDs and socks. Well, you could sell socks but you know, don’t do that. You should really appeal to a specific culture and we have specific modules and even episodes on this podcast where we talk about and of course we go much more in-depth in our programs.

But the whole thing is resting on culture, that’s it. That way, I can target a cold audience, people who don’t know me and they’re going to come for the product and they might even stay for the music and then what happens is if they buy something, let’s say, even like a cheaper product and they get into my email system, guess what they’re going to be hearing about? My music. I’m now going to turn them into a fan. 

What I’m doing here is kind of cross-pollinating, cross-promoting. I’m going to – in these three ways to increase revenue prices, increase prices, add more product or add more customers, I’m going to add more products for my existing fans and the price is going to go up or down depending on what I’m doing and then I’m going to add more customers, so people who aren’t even fans of mine yet, I’m going to present them other products and then introduce them to my music.

I’m doing two things at once and that has become real powerful machine for me and that’s what our whole Super Fan System Elite Program is based on is this entire concept of this e-commerce thing and in order to make it work though, you can’t just go open a Shopify store, throw some stuff on there and think it’s going to work, it will not.

The whole thing relies on getting your branding and your culture and your artist identity, you got to figure that out first. If you don’t do that first, the whole thing comes crumbling down and there’s a lot also I want to talk about in this episode, things that matter that a lot of people don’t even take into consideration. 

I sure love this topic because it’s opened up entirely new fields for me, it’s opened up new doors, I have ton more new fans as a result of being able to market other products to people that fit my culture that didn’t know about my music. It’s been very cool.

18:33 CJ: Okay, now, you mentioned Shopify. Just in terms of platforms, some people may not be familiar with what some of these eCommerce platforms are.

18:41 Leah: Year, there’s a number of things out there. If you’re working with a WordPress website, some people are using something called WooCommerce which is a plugin, it’s like a store plugin. A lot of people are using band camp and you know, I started out on band camp as well and then you have people using Bandzoogle and there’s a bunch of other ones, there’s a whack of them. I do not recommend any of those other ones, especially, you know, I would love to be able to recommend Bandcamp but unfortunately, they’re stuck in the dinosaur age and won’t allow you to put a Facebook pixel on your site.

Which means, those of you who don’t know what it means, it just means you cannot track any customer behaviour at all and you cannot retarget them. Which is internet marketing, it’s a crime in internet marketing, 101. You have to have a Facebook pixel if you’re doing any kind of advertising, any kind of tracking at all.

They don’t allow that – I’ve made complaints about it, I’ve talked to people. Several of my students have talked to band camp and it sounds like it’s not even on their radar to add it and I’m thinking, you guys are all about trying to empower musicians so Bandcamp, if any of you from Bandcamp are listening to this, know that I would recommend you so much more than I do if you would allow that one thing, it’s not that hard to add, you should really add it.

Other things like Bandzoogle, I’m just, you know what? None of them are built specifically for sales conversions. Bandcamp’s got some other cool features like you can let people preview albums and give them special access. They got some cool features like that. But what I’m talking about specifically, e-commerce, getting the sale, there is no competition. It’s Shopify. 

Shopify is the eCommerce platform. No WooCommerce or BandZoogle can even compare. Shopify is built for sales, it’s formatted for sales, everything about it is designed for sales. Why would you even go anywhere else?

20:33 CJ: Right.

20:34 Leah: It’s a waste of time.

20:36 CJ: Yeah, I agree. It’s been that way for years and again, until you start thinking in terms of e-commerce, you’re not necessarily going to recognize the importance of something like a Shopify and the kind of features and plug-ins and what have you that you can use for everything from what you just mentioned. Retargeting to little bells and whistles that again, help make sales, create a kind of a bundle-like, add to order type things. To up your – you mentioned adding more products, increasing prices and all the sort of stuff is, you know, because you can get people to buy more than one item, you know? 

A lot of the money that gets made is not initially the little Facebook ad you put out there on the front end. Most of that money gets made more in the back end, with the retargeting, it gets made in the bundles, it’s getting made on that end of things and so you have to think in these terms. Let’s get back to basics though, Leah, about — you’ve mentioned culture fans, et cetera. That means the artist has to know their fans and has to know what their fan wants.

21:39 Leah: Yeah, even though I mentioned that I am targeting a lot of cold people, you know, I’m so in tune with my culture because I’ve studied my fans, they are my ideal customer, that you know, it’s a lot easier for me. Now, I can scan products and look at them and go yeah, I think that would go very well but a lot of e-commerce is also coming down to testing. The thing is if you can take out some of the risks from the beginning, you’re much smarter and wiser for doing so and one of the things that I am a huge advocate of and you probably hear me talk about it all the time, is serving my fans. I do use constantly and so I will do that with t-shirt designs. I will have a few different options. I will survey my fans. You need to consider them like a little beta group testers or you know when some big corporation is going to come out with a product and they put people in a little controlled group. 

And they’ll stand behind the glass and watch do the kids actually play with these toys or do they throw them on the floor and think its garbage, you know? Consider your fans that group of people, they are your little test group and they’re going to tell you honest feedback and you should always ask for honest feedback. “Don’t hold back guys, I want to know the truth.” Because you are saving so much time and money by getting those answers. 

And getting the general consensus on if they prefer something or not. So I did an extensive one one time where I ask them everything from design styles. So before I went to go actually get a design made, I compiled a bunch of different types of artwork. I think I just got pictures off of Pinterest or something and I just let them vote on the style, you know and I made sure they were different enough that they could really pick something and then I even put colour schemes in there. 

You can put fonts, you could survey them on everything that you can to understand your people a little bit more. And then from there, I was able to come up with a great design and lo and behold, when I put that t-shirt out it sold. So then it’s no surprise, right? You are digging into who they are and they’re just telling you. It is such a goldmine. I can’t even express. Why stress out about something when you can just ask and they’ll just tell you? So that is a big deal.

23:52 CJ: Yeah, if you can do what you just described and then drop the ball when it comes to executing your own design on something, right? So how important then does design become, once you settled in on a style. 

24:06 Leah: Yeah, so with e-commerce, everything about e-commerce is extremely visual from the design to people are analyzing the quality of something even from the image that you take. So the product photos matter as much as the design matters and the mock-up. So you know, people don’t want to see some crappy picture of the potential of what a mug could look like. I mean you want to either take a real photo of the mug or something or have a really good product mockup for example. 

And so just remember that people will judge a book by its cover. So the design of the t-shirts, whatever is going on your mug your t-shirt, your hat that is the thing that will determine if someone is going to buy it or not. More than anything else. More than where you have the buy button the page like those little things can add up. Those are little optimizations but ultimately is the design on the thing desirable because they can go buy a mug and they can buy a t-shirt at Walmart but the question is is what your offering exclusive and unique that is not sold in stores?

25:16 CJ: Right and so obviously this leads to the customer experience at the store at your online store and so the design, the visual is there. What about what you say? What about product descriptions? How much time do you put into something like that? 

25:33 Leah: Yeah, actually you know I think a lot of musicians get stuck on things like product descriptions. They think, “Well gosh, what is there to say about a t-shirt like really?” And I run into that too but you know this is the time to be creative. You’ve got to make it fun. You’ve got to make it engaging. I always come up with something – it can be even silly. It can be humorous. You can make outlandish claims about “When you drink from this mug you will turn into Superman.” 

Or whatever but just be light-hearted, be creative, this is the time to be creative. And there is a couple of websites I’d love to go to, to get inspiration and I share this with our Elite students as well when they get stuck and so if you are not a student, this is going to really inspire you. There is a store called and they just sell all kinds of geeky stuff from a Star Wars lamp and all kinds of stuff and they are selling all sorts of things we think what would there be to possibly write about this product. 

And they come up with the most creative descriptions that are sometimes several paragraphs long and it always impresses me and I am like, “Wow I got to up my game on my product descriptions.” Because they are so good. So that is going to draw people and it tells people that it matters. You put thought and care into this item. You are not just greedy to try to get something. That is how you sell people, it is by showing them how fun this product is and how they can’t get it anywhere else. 

There is a bunch more details I can give that are inside of our Elite Program that is not all free content here because it actually matters that people get it in a step by step format. But just to give you guys a tastes that these little details actually make a difference in the sale. 

27:14 CJ: Right, well the word optimize is something that they should get used to. Optimizing means all of these little details that go to work together in aggregate form to cause somebody to buy is not just the offer. It is the store experience, it is the buying experience. They could be a great product but if they can’t find a button or the description doesn’t give them enough information or the image just doesn’t look right or there is something wrong with it. 

These are the little things because people are short on time, they will bounce right out of your store and one of the – for anybody who’s gotten into this to see the numbers of how many abandoned carts you might have. Now granted there are several reasons that someone might have abandoned carts but oftentimes, they were frustrated or things weren’t clear, they had a doubt about something, something demanded their attention. They got tired of messing with trying to get through it and they just said, “I’ll come back to it later,” and they never do. 

28:13 Leah: Let me share a little something about that that I just experienced because a large amount of people, if you get a lot of traffic to your store and I get quite a bit to mine, there is going to be a large percentage of people that add things to their cart and then don’t buy it. So I have been working hard to try and increase that conversion rate. If you can just increase it by 1% that can add up to tens of thousands of dollars more per month or per year. 

And so I am working on figuring out is there any issue even the smallest little thing that can cause somebody to go, “Oh I am not going to continue with this transaction,” and there was a little thing I came across on my shop and this was this little glitch that the PayPal button, for example, was showing up on the cart page but it wasn’t showing up on the checkout page, where they actually go to do the transaction and I think a lot of people according to a couple of comments that I saw on my ads. 

Because you should always pay attention to this, people will really tell you anything going wrong. They will come back to your ad and actually write it there and they said I can’t find PayPal and I said, “It is in there.” And they said, “No it is not there.” So I go, “Okay let me check that out.” So I go there and sure enough, the PayPal was showing on the cart page like I said not on the checkout page and it is one little thing even though it is there. They are not expecting it to be there. 

They are expecting it to be in a different place during the checkout and so as soon as they saw that PayPal wasn’t available during the actual where you put in your payment information they’re abandoning cart and I thought, oh my goodness, it took me weeks to figure this out. I’m like I don’t understand it is there and what it was is that it was not in the place they expect it. So I have been working with developers to try and get that button over to the place where they expect to see it. 

So this is why I say so much of it is human psychology. You got to start being fascinated and interested in people’s behaviours and what causes them to do things and why they don’t do other things. So start being really fascinated by that and you’ll make a lot more sales. It took me weeks to figure out, “Oh it is over here but they are expecting it to be there” and nobody ever told me that. I just put two and two together and I’m like, “Okay, let’s see if we can get that PayPal button on the other place. 

And then I bet you we’re going to see a huge increase, in conversion. So there’s an example of me going through the process. 

30:26 CJ: It’s those little things man. You know, you wouldn’t think of it. You wouldn’t think that would such a big deal. “Oh, people will find it,” don’t assume that people would do anything. Don’t even assume that they’ll do, they will stop buying or they will abandon the cart. That you can safely assume. We wanted to talk about checkout experience, the payment processors aspect and I think that touches on that but it is important that you know, we consider that customer experience. 

But that is all the more reason to use something like a Shopify. Which takes us into the themes and that sort of thing. In other words, some of the basic themes will have all of these things, for the most part, built-in and they have done a lot of the groundwork for you. You don’t have to think through a lot of those things. It’s again the premier e-commerce site in the world. I mean everybody uses Shopify. 

31:23 Leah: Huge brands are on Shopify and this is another reason why I wanted to discourage anyway from using Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, any of these other things is because actually, so many people have done shopping on Shopify without realizing it because you don’t see Shopify anywhere, you are just there shopping. And the checkout and cart experience is very familiar to people. People are more likely to buy something when the process is familiar. 

People don’t like going through a website where the buttons are in a weird location, the fonts are weird. There’s a black background and everything starts to seem sketchy and spammy and scammy to them. So the more familiar of an experience that you can create, the more likely you are going to make the sale and that’s why I love Shopify so much. That is one of the big reasons. Is that whole check out experience. The payment processes are standard, people know how it works. 

And then going into the whole theme like you just said, Shopify has a bunch of free themes. They have premium themes. I use a premium theme, all that information is on our Elite Course on what I use and why and why not using a free theme. They are fine though and there is a lot of people making money with free themes, you can but they are designed for sales. The way the format is, the layout, all of these things actually matter folks. 

It has to do with psychology. Again sales psychology, people’s behaviours and you know once upon a time you used to want everything above the fold and that just means that everything important would be above the line on their laptop or mobile device or desktop before they start scrolling and to a degree some of those things matter. But now we are in a scrolling culture and people are used to scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll. 

So for example, I can have a whole lot of stuff on my home page. And all the important stuff it is okay for me to have a really long home page because people are used to scrolling and that is completely acceptable and I make a lot of sales based on my home page. 

So that is just an example of why this platform matters and you have too many limitations on these other platforms like Bandcamp and Bandzoogle, way too many limitations. So I mean my rule is take the advice from people who are actually doing what you want to do. As opposed to your other broke musician friends, are you going to take their advice? Go ahead but I am making this simple for you. So don’t send emails telling me why you love Bandzoogle so much. 

I am telling you, when I started using Shopify, my income increased, not just because of the platform but because of all these other things we talked about so far. 

33:56 CJ: Wow, if you can’t tell Leah is very passionate about this aspect of the business because she could go on literally all day about because she hasn’t even gotten into the details of these things just the type of apps that brought in – 

34:10 Leah: This is a high level. 

34:11 CJ: Yeah it is a whole ‘nother thing, so let’s talk about just briefly probably the most important point because I got somebody who asked me the other day about one of my products and they were assuming that I was the one fulfilling orders. They were assuming I was the one who had a bunch of inventory and so then I have this particular size and whatever. So the point was is that he wanted a much larger shirt, which was not available in the particular shirt style that I was using on a particular tank top, what have you. 

So I have to tell him, I said, “Well no, I don’t handle this aspect of it. I have vendors who are handling this.” So this takes us to the subject of, well Leah, do you have a garage full of all of these different sizes of t-shirts that you’re selling? You happen to put these things in bags and ship them out the door. I get it that you have this great Shopify store but how in the world are you getting these shirts done? How is this money tied up in inventory? What about sizes? How do you know to get the right sizes? 

35:07 Leah: Well man, this is the beauty of Shopify and this will change your life, this will change your world when you get into this but there’s this amazing thing called print on demand and print on demand has been around but what you can do with it through Shopify and the different print on demand apps they have and the different vendors, so when I say apps they’re just vendors using an app to help you. You can create products, design the products. 

Upload those products to your shop and then fulfill them and they actually will drop ship those products for you and deliver them right to your customer and what’s incredible about print on demand why this is the model I recommend to all of our students and we have in-depth training on this, is there is such little risk involved. When I started doing this we literally did print 100 extra larges, 100 larges, 100 mediums and we had to hope that we could sell them. 

We had to hope that and they really were sitting in my garage and we really were mailing them physically ourselves and then just wow, my world just opened up when I learned about this. So these print on demand comes. There is a whole whack of them and we have specific recommendations for our students on the ones that we trust but it is a game-changer because you don’t have any inventory, you don’t personally ship it, you don’t have to worry about any of that. 

But you actually don’t even pay for the product until you have been first been paid, which is like, “What?” So the way it works is someone buys it, that money gets deposited into your account and then the app charges you for that product. So the money is there before you even have to worry about paying for it and then they fulfill the order and they will have the different processing times and then they ship it for you. You don’t even have to touch it and it is all automated. 

36:59 CJ: Yeah and they put your logo on it even. 

37:02 Leah: Absolutely, your logo, your design and it is all the best stuff like it’s all the same brands that you would go and get printed anywhere. It’s all the same, the same thing as you go to any bands merch booth, same brands. So the only tradeoff is that they have to make a bit of a markup as well. So they are getting it at a super-duper wholesale price. It is distributer price. They are marketing it up to a wholesale price for you and then you charge retail. 

So the only downside to this is that your margins are a little bit smaller than they would be if you went and printed them all yourself upfront. So usually if you did a huge batch of a thousand t-shirts you’d get a better price than when you are selling them one-off but really, I will take that any day especially when you don’t even know how much you can sell. You don’t have to have the merchandise. The inventory is sitting in your garage. You don’t have to ship it. You don’t have to touch it. You don’t do anything that is well worth it, the whole hassle. 

37:57 CJ: Oh yeah, plus you can do, you can throw products up quickly and you can add stuff. You can say, “Okay, you know what? I am going to put this design not just on a t-shirt. I am going to put it on a coffee mug, I am going to put it on a hat, I am going to put it on a dog bowl, I am going to put it on a shower curtain, I am going to put it on an apron, I am going to put it on a piece of canvass they can hang on the wall. I am going to put it in front of a journal that they can write in.” 

There are so many different products that you can put your artwork on and I mean within minutes, guys, literally within minutes and you don’t have to do a thing plus if you were to do like you just described Leah, yeah you get a cheaper unit cost. If you bought a thousand shirts but how many of those are you going to be sitting on two years from now because you just bought too many mediums? You got too many extra larges. 

38:44 Leah: And you find out that most of your fans are a XXL. It has happened to me. I actually had people requesting like four and five XL, like I do not have that in stock. So with this print on demands, a lot of them have all of those huge ranges of sizes and colours and the options are amazing. They are adding new things all the time and the other day I have seen then just adding all kinds of things like coffee coasters, cutting boards, like things you’re just like wow this is really cool. 

So that’s the model that we teach because most people don’t have the capital to go and invest in a whole bunch of merchandise they don’t know that they can sell. So you know I am not even going to talk about other kinds of drop shipping. It is not necessary this is what you need and so this is the model that we teach in the Super Fan System Elite because it is so effective and there’s no risk for you to do it. Absolutely no risk. So that is – yeah. There is a lot we can say on this but this is pretty thorough already. 

39:41 CJ: Yeah, I love to be able to offer as many things as I do from the items we just mentioned and hats and mugs and shirts and phone cases and you name it. You know offering all of these different things and I didn’t have to spend any money to buy them and have them on stock. Because if it was things I had to buy and have in stock then I’d probably only have t-shirts. I would be offering embroidered hats for goodness sake. 

I wouldn’t be offering a shower curtain or a cutting board or what have you or I’ve got all the phone cases and that kind of stuff or several different coffee mugs, I wouldn’t be offering that and the great thing about it is there are little apps where you can do items bought together and so if let’s say like I have a shirt that says “Eat, Drink and Be Metal,” in my store. So I can show down below the mug that says “Eat, Drink and Be Metal,” and the women’s shirt. 

So, in other words, you can get not just the shirts and say, “Oh wow, he’s got it also on a mug,” so I can get the mug and the shirt and save money and et cetera. So you can do as Leah said at the outset about adding more product and doing these things creates a bundle like effect that get people to go up. They came for a shirt but they ended up getting two or three things on the way out so. 

40:56 Leah: Right and there are so many things that you cannot do on Bandcamp and Bandzoogle like up sales and down sales. That is just helping little order bumps, things that are going to increase the average order value, which just means like how much the average person is buying, right? So like CJ said, showing them other related products, bundling products things that they can buy on their way out to checkout, right? 

All of those things matter greatly in an e-commerce setting. And I don’t really know of anybody else teaching this stuff, in-depth, I really don’t and I will tell you, I have taken a lot of different e-commerce courses out there and then they are always translating it into the music business. It is this always a very awkward thing. So that’s why I am here. I am here to bridge that gap between what works in business and what works in music because I am doing it. 

41:43 CJ: Well there you go and like I said, we go real deep into this subject but the best way to really become a master at this is to become a part of Leah’s Elite Program, the Super Fan System Elite Program and if you’d like to learn more about that, we would love to talk to you and tell you more about that. So book a call today, here is how you can do that, go to Book a call, talk to one of our staff members. They will go in deep with you. Take as much time as needed. 

To help to see if this is a great fit for you. If this could launch something new in your life that could spell you finally getting on track, putting an end to confusion, getting out of your rut, getting unstuck, getting that dream again, dust it off, polished and really getting you down the road to what you thought was gone. What you thought it was too late for what you thought maybe, you know you are just not cut out for, suddenly possibility is going to come back into the fore. 

So do that today, and again, if you’d like to please go and leave a review for this podcast. Go to your favourite media player, give us some stars and a great review. It helps us to rise in the rankings. It helps other wonderful people like yourself find out more about Savvy Musician Academy. Leah, always a pleasure. 

43:07 Leah: Oh it was a pleasure to do this episode. I hope you all enjoyed it. 

43:10 CJ: Talk to you guys soon. 

43:12 Leah: Bye. 

Episode #059: Why Physical Music Isn’t Dead & How To Sell More Of It

On the Savvy Musician Show today, Leah and CJ are exploring the world of physical sales and how it is still alive in 2019! Not so long ago it seemed like the formats of CDs, tapes, and vinyl was a thing of the past. But thanks to a resurgence of younger audiophiles and music fans, sales of physical music have actually risen in the last decade. From the almost completely vinyl music stand in Barnes & Noble to new independent record stores and beyond, physical music is not dead and can make up a huge part of your earnings as an independent music business. Leah and CJ unpack just how this could work for you, focusing on touring versus online, how to find and target the right audience for physical products, merch versus music and more! We talk about the vital importance of the visual side of this work, artwork, and coherence can play a huge role in your success. Leah also stresses the value of product photography and testing out markets, so make sure to tune in for this great conversation!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Today’s student spotlight; a special message from Jason! 
  • Barnes & Noble’s music section and the current focus they put on vinyl. 
  • Leah’s attitude towards physical merch from the standpoint of a non-touring artist. 
  • Reasons that Leah’s fans buy her merch; unique, exclusive and part of something bigger. 
  • The shift back to deep appreciation for the quality of audio and music.
  • Determining and targeting people who love vinyl or other physical formats. 
  • The importance of artwork and the visual language and style you use.  
  • Product photography and making the most of displaying your physical products. 
  • Validation and product testing with the minimum risk necessary.
  • Some information on the new Inner Circle monthly membership. 
  • And much more! 


“To do a limited edition of something that would be so fun, because I grew up with cassettes and I always wanted to have my own tape.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:02:46]

“Nothing is as inspiring, or reinforcing as results. It doesn’t matter what they are, long as you see some light, little glimmer of hope that you’re on the right path.” — @metalmotivation [0:03:32]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Savvy Musician Academy —

Savvy Musician Mastermind on Facebook —

Savvy Musician Spotify course —

Inner Circle —

Audible —

Stripe —

Jason Allender (Student Spotlight) — 

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 CJ: Well, welcome once again to The Savvy Musician Show, the podcast for music marketing. This is CJ Ortiz. I am the mindset branding coach here at The Savvy Musician Academy. Of course, I’m the lucky one who gets to sit across from the queen of the realm, her eminence herself, the lovely Leah McHenry. How are you doing, Leah?

00:44 Leah: I am wonderful. Thank you. That just cracks me up every time.

00:49 CJ: I am the king of introductions. I love doing that. Always go where you’re celebrated, never where you’re tolerated, right? Again, always a pleasure to be with each and every one of you on the podcast. I know folks are gleaning so much, Leah. The reports and reviews that we get sent to us every week are just amazing. So thankful for each and every person out there that takes the time to do that.

We want to ask you to take the time to do that by going to your favourite player, if you listen on Spotify, or iTunes, or Stitcher, and leave us a review and leave us some stars. Again, helps with our rankings and helps other people like yourself to discover this important podcast, because we do really want people to hear it. 

We want to help them and we want to bring them even closer to us, in some of Leah’s courses and the Elite Program, so that we can bring about significant changes in the music industry, and no, it’s not all come down to us and what we’re doing here, but we’re certainly going to be faithful to do our part.

Yes, to be ambitious and vision-filled and faith-filled enough to say that a difference can be made, because if anything, Leah, right? It’s mostly when it comes to the contemporary state of the music industry, it’s naysaying, right?

02:10 Leah: Yeah, that’s the truth.

02:11 CJ: A lot of negativity, so we want to change that aspect of it. Today, we’re going to talk about something really, really important here on Episode 59. That is the fact that physical music is not dead.

02:25 Leah: Hallelujah.

02:26 CJ: Yeah, hallelujah. For anybody who follows Leah musically, you know she is all about physical products. She’s got vinyl, she’s got CDs, and I’ve heard her talk about even dabbling into cassettes.

02:41 Leah: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that. I haven’t yet, but to do a limited edition of something that would be so fun, because I grew up with cassettes and I always wanted to have my own tape.

02:54 CJ: We’re going to talk about, because some people might say physical music is not dead. First, I’d like to begin with a student spotlight. Today’s win is from Jason Allender. He writes, “I started messaging people on Monday on my lunch break. In three days of messaging, only as many as I could during my breaks, I’ve gotten on two playlists. 

I’ve even made contact with an artist to help with illustrations for one of my projects. Got to get in touch with another musician and find some new music I like as bonuses too. This is getting to be a lot of fun and a definite boost to a really rough week.” 

Results, man. I tell people this all the time, Leah. Nothing is as inspiring or reinforcing as results. It doesn’t matter what they are, long as you see some light, little glimmer of hope that you’re on the right path and there is – you are making a difference in your music business.

03:49 Leah: That’s right. Yeah, that’s awesome.

03:51 CJ: Good for you, Jason. Again, Jason one of our Elite Group members or see – I guess, from the Spotify for musicians course that you offer. Yeah, so that’s a big one. Spotify. If you go to SMA to check that out. 

Again, physical music is not dead. I had an interesting encounter, Leah. I don’t get out much to things, like shopping malls and what-have-you. I became an e-commerce shopper a long time ago. I don’t go to stores, especially to a shopping mall. The shopping mall in my area, I probably have not been to in over 10 years and I’m not joking.

Now I lived elsewhere for a number of years and came back to where I am now, but I have not been to the mall, the closest one to my house, which is about 20 minutes away in probably 10 years. They’ve got nice restaurants there and all the big anchor stores. I took my daughter out to eat and we were going to go to a bookstore and they have a really big Barnes & Noble there, and so we said, “All right, well let’s just go there.” This is on a Friday night, 7:30. I’m thinking, “All right, well let’s get down there before everybody and their grandmother is out there.” Friday night, it’s going to be packed with kids and all of that stuff, teenagers, you know how it goes.

It was a ghost town. It was a literal ghost town. Some of the restaurants were all boarded up. I took a picture from inside the Barnes & Nobles on the very end, so you could see a long corridor of one of the malls, on the upper deck, there wasn’t a single person. Not a single person. The shot was just empty, like it was an empty mall. I mean, there’s other alleyways you could go down, but I mean, from that one shot on a Friday night, because there was little Cinnabons and Chick-fil-A’s and there was nobody there. 

I’m having this surreal moment and so we walk into the Barnes & Noble and I’m just thinking, “Wow, this is really weird. Where is everybody? It’s like a ghost town.” We walked in and I remembered how in a Barnes & Noble, they always had a music section, right? Or video section. I thought, “Well, let me see.” I turned to my left where it normally is and it was still there. I said, “Oh, cool.” I walked over to it and I look inside and, Leah, all I can see in the entire section is vinyl. All I can see is vinyl.

I was talking my daughter about it and I said, “Where’s all the CDs? Where’s everything else?” I had to walk down around the corner and there was a one little back-aisle they had in the very back and that’s where they had the CDs. Everything out front, everything that they were featuring in the music section at Barnes & Noble was vinyl. Look at the just the very strange juxtaposition to be in to be saying, “Okay, here’s the mall. The mall for years has been the epicentre of where people hang out. The mall is virtually empty.” I’m in a Barnes & Noble and I look in their music section and it’s all vinyl. It’s like, what a strange time that we live in.

If you would think that if, “Okay, nobody’s shopping anymore. Everybody’s doing everything online, then they would have gotten rid of a music section because everybody’s listening to it on streaming.” No. They had the music section there and they were selling vinyl records. That spoke to me so loudly about this aspect of physical merchandise, because apparently, Leah, Barnes & Noble has an entire music section dedicated to vinyl, then physical music is not dead, is it?

07:33 Leah: It’s certainly not. I mean, I would say the way we consume it, the way we’re purchasing it, that has certainly changed, but it is not going away. I don’t think it’ll ever go away. We can talk about some of that in the way things are changing, but I can tell you right now as a six-figure recording artist, a large portion of my income is coming from physical sales.

07:58 CJ: That’s pretty amazing. I think, again when people scratch their head about you, it’s like they think you’re some anomaly. Not to say that you’re not unique and you don’t have your unicorn overtones, but they think there’s just no way, right? 

“How is she making money, because everything is being streamed?” Et cetera, et cetera. Why do you think in your case, let’s just start with your case, why in your case would physical music be something that would make up such a significant portion of your income?

08:35 Leah: Well, there’s a variety of things and I think actually in my situation, it’s harder to sell physical music than for other artists who tour. When you’re a touring band and you do live shows, buying physical merch, it’s just part of the experience, so people want to remember the experience they had with that t-shirt and that is usually overpriced and the overpriced everything. Whenever I go to merch tables I’m like, “What? Get out of town. If I charge that on my shop, people would freak out.” They charge it in person and I understand why and that’s where a lot of their income is coming from. A lot of them aren’t making a lot of money on the tickets. They’re making it at the merch table.

For people, why they buy it is to remember the awesome experience they just had. I mean, some people buy the merch before the concert, but a lot of times you’ll see them go out and buy it during the intermission, or between bands. They are wanting to — It’s just memorabilia.

Now in my case, I’m only selling it online. I don’t do live shows. I never have toured and I won’t for a little while. I have to come with a completely different reason. I can give people completely different reason to buy my stuff. It’s actually harder for me but I’m doing it. I have had to ask myself, why do people buy anything? What is the point? Why would somebody buy my $20, $25 shirt, instead of going down to Target and getting the same shirt for 5 bucks? What is the difference? Then you have to look at buyer intent and a whole lot of things.

The answer for me is they want to buy it from me, because with my logo and my brand and everything, is because I’ve put in the work to create that culture around my music. For them, this is part of the lifestyle. It’s more than just the music. There are people even who buy my t-shirts and stuff who are not even familiar with my music, because I made sure the design was cool enough that anybody would like it. Most of the time, the shirts specifically, apparel specifically, is coming from my fans, because some of them have the Leah logo on it, and so it makes more sense that they’re going to buy it.

They are buying, because they want to support me as an artist. That’s one. Also, the design is cool and they can’t find those sort of things in stores. They can’t get it on Amazon. They can’t find it other places. It’s unique, not sold in stores. It’s part of a bigger lifestyle like I just said. When I started treating my music as more than just music and more as a lifestyle brand, things really started taking off for me. I have been teaching that ever since, that you need to look at your music career as bigger than your music. Sometimes depending on what music you make, there’s maybe more of a movement there. Sometimes it’s just silly.

My fans are primarily nerds. A lot of them are total geeks. I’ve had actually the gamut of people email me, I’ve had judges sit in court email me, like, “I’m a fan of your music. I own all your CDs,” to lawyers and doctors, to complete D&D nerds sitting in their dungeon.

11:54 CJ: Who like to collect things.

11:55 Leah: Like to collect things. You never know. I mean, people surprise you. Ultimately, they love where the music takes them. They love the culture. They love that. That’s enough reason to buy it and it’s exclusive. They can’t find this anywhere else. That’s the whole point. 

There’s a lot in the psychology part of this. I teach a lot of that in our Elite Course when we could talk about merchandise and how to source it, when you do a lot – I’m a huge fan of print-on-demand for a lot of reasons, and more speaking, not so much a physical music part of it, but physical items, physical merchandise part of it. 

There are print-on-demand music services as well. You can do vinyl print-on-demand. I know there are a few companies. I’m not super familiar with those, so don’t email me and ask.

12:43 CJ: Well, let me ask you this because I’m going back thinking of when your first album came out in 2012, right?

12:50 Leah: Yes.

12:51 CJ: Okay. Now I remember you sending it to me and it was a CD that you sent. How long was it before you introduced vinyl?

13:00 Leah: It was a little while. I was selling CDs and t-shirts first. That was back when I was on Bandcamp. If any of you guys know, I wish Bandcamp would come into the 21st century. They just won’t, so I can’t recommend it anymore for anybody. That’s where I got my start. I was just selling CDs and t-shirts, until I could sell enough to put in another order and reinvest into my next run of albums and just kept doing that over and over. 

I didn’t spend all the money. I just reinvested it. Vinyl didn’t come out till I want to say – I think I did an issue of it not till I came out with Kings and Queens and then I think I did vinyl for all three of my – I did two albums in an EP. I guess it’s only been since 2015, maybe? I’m guessing.

13:47 CJ: What was it that prompted that? Were you getting requests from people saying, “Hey, this would be great.”

13:52 Leah: Yes.

13:53 CJ: Really?

13:54 Leah: Yes, that’s what happened. I wouldn’t have even thought of vinyl, because I’m not a big vinyl person. Yeah, just due to popular demand, people just were wanting, “Do you have vinyl? Do you have vinyl?” I would get all these emails, or on Facebook and various places. Vinyl was like, “Uh, I guess we should do a vinyl run.” I’ve sold out of them and had to do reruns of them. It is really interesting. I’ve even thought about, “Hmm. I wonder if I can even sell vinyl players?” If you learn how to source products, you can. It’s really becoming huge and people are starting to get back into it.

It is a small segment of people, but it’s a very passionate segment of people, and it’s a growing segment of people who are becoming audiophiles again. They’re becoming really music connoisseurs. They want to take the time to actually sit and listen to music and experience music again. This is good news. This is very good news. Yes, streaming is on the rise. Streaming is currently the number one source of music revenue at the moment. I think things are only going to improve in that respect as time goes on.

There’s been some laws passed to make compensation better for musicians, where it wasn’t really in our favour up until now. I think even President Trump signed something about that, that was in the favour of musicians, so even if you hate him, you can’t hate him that much for that. There are positive steps towards even that streaming thing.

Here’s the deal and I want people to consider about physical music. I want you to look at your own behaviour of how you consume digital and physical products. Me personally, if someone were to ask how I consume books, I will tell them I consume books in multiple formats. I will often buy the physical copy and the Audible version and the eBook version. Because I like to collect books, I like to read the physical format, so I can highlight it, write in the margins, do all of that. 

Sometimes if I’m in the car, I also want to consume the content. Sometimes it’s not always convenient for me to have it in this format or that format. I like to have it in multiple formats, and that’s what we’re seeing right now in regards to the way people consume music is they like multiple formats.

Yes, streaming is convenient, it’s on the rise. A lot of people want the physical format. They want to collect it. It also says something about who they are. It represents their worldview and how they like to see themselves. Just like I collect books, I like to put them on the shelf. It says something about who I am. It’s been said, if you want to learn about somebody, just go and look at their library. 

Go and take a look at what’s on their shelf. That will tell you a lot about who they are. I think people are like that about music. You can take a look at their music collection and go, “Wow, you have a variety of tastes and genres in here. I can tell you really appreciate – you use different things.” I think that’s the important thing to think about is physical isn’t going to go away, because people still want to consume it into that format.

16:43 CJ: Yeah. We are at a very strange point in history and even my little story at the outset typifies that, where it’s again, a juxtaposition where a shopping mall is tanking, but vinyl is for sale. Just doesn’t seem that would be the case. There is almost a resistance, if you will, a backlash to the advance of technology and social media and all of these things to where people are almost in rebellion against it, where they’re going back and wanting things to be physical, whether it’s a book or drive-in theatres, those are opening up again. People are going to the drive-in.

Now kids who would have never experienced such a thing, are going out to experience and even – it’s interesting that even a lot of those who are getting into the vinyl records are younger people. We know when I was in the Blockbuster – I’m not Blockbuster. There it goes. Was Blockbuster going to come back? The Barnes & Noble music section, a lot of the vinyl that was for sale was stuff that I grew up with. Rolling Stones.

17:54 Leah: Beatles.

17:55 CJ: Yeah, The Beatles and what have you. There was all kinds of classic stuff. Again, these are connoisseurs who were buying these things, because it takes effort. It takes effort to buy a turntable. It takes effort to take care of records, have a place for them. You know how people handle their albums and they’re wiping them down. They’re taking better care of them now than we did when we were young. We just threw them around, because that was just something that you had.

There really is now, there’s a psyche, a psychology almost, in the marketplace that’s developing that is appreciating this physical aspect of things. There is the collector concept. There is the, I want to touch it and own it. I want to be able to see it. I want to look at something. Again, like you said, audiophiles they’re seriously sitting down like we used to do back in the day, to listen to music. 

These are little escapes. These are meditative times. It’s a great thing. Somebody can literally feature that as a part of their budget. Were you surprised at how well your initial vinyl sales were? Did that take you back?

19:01 Leah: Yeah. When I do advertising and stuff, it all comes down to targeting people who are fans of vinyl. I can actually do that on Facebook. There are segments and pockets of people who are vinyl collectors and they’ll collect all kinds of stuff, even other genres they don’t normally listen to because it’s unique. What I do is unique and there’s a couple things to think about there, is you always want your music to stand out and to have something unique, so that people want to collect it.

Then also, just the power of being able to target and I can write an ad and target people who are fans of vinyl, specific vinyl shops, vinyl lovers. I’ve made a lot of cold sales even that way. They don’t even know what my music is, but they want to collect it. That’s interesting. Yeah, that always takes me by surprise, just because I’m not really into it. I have one now, because I’m like, “Why vinyl? I should probably have a vinyl player.” It got me into it.

I’ve actually ordered some people’s vinyl albums now as well and it’s really fun. Physical music is certainly not dead and it’s not going to be dead. I don’t know if ever. I think, as long as we’re physical in our bodies, still wearing physical clothes and eating physical food, I think there’s always been a place for that for physical books, physical music. That just doesn’t worry me.

The stats might change a little bit on what people consuming — that’ll change over the years, but it’s never going to go away. To this day, my bestseller on my shop is a bundle of my CDs. That’s the bestseller. Out of all the different products I have there and I have lots of different stuff, that’s the best one. That’s the one that makes a lot of my money.

20:36 CJ: Yeah. I mean, we’ve been talking about vinyl here for so much, you forget that physical CDs are physical products. Yes, people still do buy CDs. It’s funny, because people may again as I said earlier, be scratching their head trying to figure out, “Well, how in the world does anybody make money because everything is streaming music now? 

Well, how would Leah going to be able to sell anything?” She just told you, she’s doing some specific targeting. You can actually target people and determine people who would buy these sorts of things. Once you get into an ad manager and you’re able to put in things in relation to your genre, your particular culture and then something in relation to people who would buy this sort of stuff? Yeah, you can start to get out there and do that.

I’ve always appreciated, Leah, the investment that you’ve made in making sure your artwork, for example. I think that plays a part in it. I think, people they look at and they see that and like, “I got to have that,” because they look like they belong in a set.

21:36 Leah: Right. Yeah. Yeah, and I’ve used the same artist up until now as well, so there’s a bit of coherency between them. I think that’s a big deal, you guys. Your artwork needs to be really stunning. It doesn’t need to look like mine. You can have a completely different genre, but your artwork really says so much. People do judge a book by its cover. If you can somehow make all of your albums look cohesive. I actually did a little rebrand. I released my first album in 2012 and I have these other albums now.

The first album cover that I ever did was from a different artist. He did a great job, but then when I went with this new artist who did the last three, we did a reissuing of my first album and it was a good opportunity to just tweak the album cover. Now they all look like a set and they all look like they go together and that’s why I think why they sell so well is because they’re bundled. They just look like it’s a book series. If you buy a series of novels, they all have a different storyline, but they look like they go together. A lot of times, each book is a different colour, but there’s a coherency between them all. It’s a set. You want them all. I think you need to really take that into consideration with your designs.

In fact, in any physical product, I don’t care if it’s a t-shirt, or a mug, or an album, vinyl, a hat. Design is everything. Design is everything. That is the one thing that people are going to determine if they’re going to buy it or not, is do I like the design? When you’re doing your physical music, make sure you have a graphic artist who really gets it. It should have some wow factor. It should. 

You don’t have to be in Celtic metal. You can be in folk, or whatever you’re doing. When you see that, you should be, “Wow.” That should be your first reaction. If you don’t have that reaction, it probably needs some work. Same thing with your t-shirt design, same with — it should be like, “Wow, that’s cool.” It should have that effect on you. If not, then don’t expect anybody else to get excited about it, never mind, buy it.

23:36 CJ: Right. I can imagine that you probably extend all your fans to send you photos of the stuff that they’ve gotten from you. I’m sure, some of them are probably using your stuff, CD or vinyl as decorative elements on their shelves and things. In other words, your album is not something they just put in the stack, so to speak. 

They may actually put it on display because again, some of them are those Dungeons and Dragons and Game of Thrones types, and so they probably got other stuff, swords and crystal balls and all this other cool stuff, little statues and things from films or whatever. Why not put Leah’s records right up there, because it just – it literally fits in with the culture.

It’s not as simple as just saying, “Well, yeah. People are still buying vinyl.” You still want to be doing things as an artist to make your items appeal, have that appeal for them to want to buy it and see them as again as a package, something that they would want to get to think in terms of bundles, think as a business person when it comes to your music. We can get so trapped in the art side of it, the creative side that we’re just musicians and we’re not going to dirty our hands in this end of things.

But hey, I know that used to be what record labels used to do. If you’re going to take over all this on your own, then you have to think, you are your own record label. You are the one who has to make these decisions. I would not scrimp on that. Now being a designer initially by trade, I can tell you that to get great artwork will cost you more, but it’s nothing like it used to be. Nothing like it used to be.

25:19 Leah: Well, just think of how much it’s going to make you, right? Whenever I come across costs and expenses and it seems like a lot upfront. You can’t just think about that. You have to think, “Oh, yeah. It’s going to cost me this upfront,” and that’s what crowdfunding is for and all that thing. How much is it going to make me after that? 

That’s the mentality you need to have and something that you can sell over and over and over and over for years to come. That small price is worth it. Get over it.

25:50 CJ: Yeah, exactly. Even when it comes down to the simple things of presenting it to your customers. You’ve done a great job of just taking your photos. People may think that you’ve had professional photos taken of your music, but not at all. These are things you handled yourself, right?

26:09 Leah: Yeah. Actually, the guy who does my artwork, he just has the same thing that I have here. He’s taking a couple of photos of me, but it’s just a simple little $25 lightbox from Amazon, which is a little white cube that you set up and it collapses flat into whatever. You set it up. It’s got a white background in a white box and sometimes it even comes with a little stand for your phone. You just set up your CD in there and take some photos on your phone, because every iPhone right now is a fantastic camera. That’s all you need.

I will say, product photography matters a lot when it comes to e-commerce. We go deep into this stuff in our Elite Course and in our Facebook group there, where I give a lot of details on this. Product photography matters. When you’re running Facebook ads and stuff, you have to give Facebook a lot of new creative as well. You can’t just take one photo and then that’s the one you use forever.

The worst thing I’ve seen that people do is use the cover itself, which didn’t really look like — you couldn’t tell it was an album cover. It just looked like maybe a poster, or I don’t know what. They use that as their image to sell it. I’ll just tell you, that’s why you won’t be making sales if you do that. You got to show the physical product. 

Meaning, don’t just use the cover, show that it’s a CD. Open up the jewel-case, or have it standing there with where you can see the CD sitting there. Show that’s a physical product, where they can see the cover, they can see the CD, they can see the artwork. You have to have a bunch of those photos, so you have white background photos. Then you can have real-life photos, where maybe you’re putting the album outside in nature somewhere and you take those photos.

Sometimes they can start to look like not so professional. Get down on the ground and take it at eye-level. Don’t shoot down looking at it. That’s not usually going to look very nice. Then there’s user-generated photos, where there’s other people holding your vinyl or CD and they’re fans with the photos. Those are also very powerful for social proof. I just gave you guys three different kinds of photos you should be using, whenever you’re trying to sell this thing. This just comes down to understanding e-commerce and the way it works. Again, I can’t get into all the details here, but that’s in our Elite Course.

28:39 CJ: Yeah. Again guys, what’s important is that your disbelief and your skepticism is banished from your mind, that these things are possible. Again, the ruling attitude of the day is naysaying when it comes to the music industry, Leah. 

People just don’t believe that such things are possible and therefore, someone like a Leah must be some anomaly. Instead of saying, “No, maybe there’s principles that I don’t know yet, things that I haven’t learned yet that may be the reason why a homeschooling mother of five who doesn’t tour is actually earning six figures a year on her music.”

She’s not getting that money primarily from streaming. No, she’s doing it from physical products. She did mention earlier the merchandise. We’re going to talk about merchandise in another episode, but how much the physical aspect of the music plays such a role in her income. I would imagine, Leah, you would have started a whole lot earlier with this if you had known about it. Now moving forward, if somebody is just getting out of the gates, I mean, would you be so bold as to tell them, “Yeah, be willing to include vinyl and CDs and all that on your very first record?”

30:05 Leah: Yeah. What I would say too is there is an element of validation, where you want to validate that the music is good and there are a market and people like it. Here’s what I did at the beginning like I said, I started out on Bandcamp. That was the best place to host it at the time. What I did before I could afford to print CDs and I didn’t know if anybody would even like my music. I didn’t know if anyone would care. Is I sold digital versions of it, digital copies, downloads, and I raised the money to print the albums.

What that did was it validated the music. It told me that there was a market of people. My risk was greatly reduced because I knew that people liked the music enough that they would even download the digital format. That helped me. Then I had requests of people asking for the physical format, so that helped a lot.

If you’re starting at ground zero and you can’t even afford to do a run yet, just out of the gate, validate it by selling it digitally. This is where I would say, this is why you don’t want to only have singles. We’re not in a single generation. Only in certain genres does that seem to be the case. Even then, all of those artists, all the rappers, all the pop stars, they still release full-blown albums. They still release 15-song albums. Albums sell much better.

You’re not going to raise enough money off of singles. You need to release a full-length album, 10, 8 or more songs, whatever that’s considered. Then raise the money, save it, stop spending it. Create a separate bank account, where every time someone downloads the money and you get it through Stripe or however, whatever payment processor, that money goes into that account and save it up. 

Don’t spend it. Don’t touch it. Pretend it’s not there. Then do your first run. If you can do it in bulk, you’ll get much better prices. That’s what you want to do. Then you have them and then you can sell them and they’ll become an evergreen asset, a physical asset that you can sell over and over and over again.

31:57 CJ: Well there you go. I mean, it’s like you said, prove it first, validate it. I think it’s a great way to do it. I love that, Leah. You’re always out to minimize the risk, all the while taking a big risk, putting yourself out there on your own. Remember ladies and gentlemen, that we’re looking for super fans. We’re not talking about you printing a million vinyl records and hoping that you become a household name. No, we’re talking about a small number of people that are just super fans in regards to your music and you as a messenger.

I’ve said this to a lot of the people that I’ve coached with from the Elite Program, Leah. I’ll often tell them, I said, “When it comes to social media, you have to be the musician and the messenger. You have to not only be the one producing the music, but you’re interacting with a specific group of people who share the love for that particular music, that particular culture, and so you become a leader, an influencer in and of yourself.” Know, like and trust, right? We like to say in marketing. 

This is what’s going to help people fall in love with you as the musician and as a spokesperson for that culture. Because they know you, because they enjoy your post and following you on social media, of course, they’re going to be way more likely to buy your music and your merchandise and even the vinyl and they may even take a collector’s approach to what you do, just because you handled these things so deftly. And all God’s children said, “Amen.”

33:33 Leah: Amen.

33:36 CJ: Physical music is not dead. Thank you, Miss Leah, for sharing your own personal success story. As you like to say, the lab rat. I think you’re more guinea pig than lab rat. What would you like for folks to do today who’d like to learn more?

33:56 Leah: Well guys, today I want to talk just for a second about our new Inner Circle monthly membership, which is a newsletter, old-school-style, which is really fun. Basically, we are sifting and sorting through all the changes that are happening in social media and in the music industry that you need to know about. I don’t care if you are just getting your music off the ground, or if you’re an advanced music marketer and you have all the funnels going, this applies to everybody.

The idea here is that you don’t need to sift and sort for hours a day to find out, “Oh, my goodness. What is the stuff that has changed that I need to know about and then what do I do about it? How does this affect me?” We’re just making this so easy for you. We’re putting it together in a very easy to consume format. It’s a PDF format and an audio format, so you have no excuse. I recommend listening and reading both versions because the audio version has extra little Easter eggs and little things in there that aren’t in the written format.

The idea is to make your life easy and simple and tell you what you need to know. If there’s an algorithm change, you’re going to know about it. We’re going to let you in on exactly what the algorithm change is, how it affects you, how to pivot and how that actually affects you as a musician specifically. 

There’s a ton of information out there and a lot of bad information. Also, you don’t need to be spending your time reading all the different news stories and figuring out what applies. The idea is that we give you a massive shortcut on all of these things and then you know what to do for the next month. That’s the new inner circle.

Now it’s a monthly subscription, so you can go to –

35:38 CJ: Yeah, Just go –

35:44 Leah: One word.

35:44 CJ: Yeah., one word. I just was going through the next issue. We’re in that about to publish the next issue. This thing is amazing and there are tips. I love the tips section. There are tips in there. There’s tools of the month, things that Leah recommends. There’s a book of the month. There’s a mindset article in there about just what it’s going to take mentally to succeed. 

There’s more than just with the latest updates on Facebook, ladies and gentlemen. There is a lot in this. Like I said, just great to mention it in the light of going back to the physical product element. This is old school. This is a newsletter, something for you to read, a multi-page document. There’s an audio version of it. You can also download it to your favourite mobile device and listen there. 

All that for just under 20 bucks a month. Man, that’s really, really good. Inner Circle Newsletter, go to Leah, thank you again for taking your time to teach us.

37:00 Leah: Oh, it was my pleasure. You guys, if you ever have any more questions about this physical music stuff, also leave us comments in the free Facebook group, or if you’re a student in our student group. You can do #podcast and ask your question and we will likely turn that into an episode.

Thank you and thank you also for leaving us a review. We read all of them and we really appreciate it. It also helps us get the message out to more people. Go ahead and do that now.

37:27CJ: Awesome. Thanks again, guys. We will see you in the next episode.

Episode #058: Things People Do To Ensure Failure!

What are some of the sure ways to fail? Now, this is not a question we hear very often, yet one that is very important to ask. We are so busy asking the feel-good questions about getting that big break or being successful, but we don’t confront ourselves often enough with the reverse – looking carefully at the real reasons why we are failing, reasons that are seldom related to the program, the coach or the economy! We love to make excuses, there’s something in us that wants to avoid responsibility, but if we ever want to be successful in the music industry, it’s going to cost a lot of straightforward sacrifice. Today on the podcast Leah and CJ talk about some of the mentalities that lurk behind unrealistic expectations and the mindsets that are guaranteed to make you fail. Sometimes we need to analyze our everyday habits to measure whether we are spending our time productively: Do you prefer staying in the comfortable safe zones and are you really willing to give up Netflix or whatever it is that is sucking up all your time? Are you truly willing to do what it takes? Join us for this episode for some more challenging, yet empowering thoughts! 

Key Points from This Episode:

  • Leah’s upcoming album and how her music business is the source for new curriculum ideas.
  • The different mentalities that lurk behind people’s unrealistic expectations.  
  • Avoiding the hard work by depending on everyone else to provide answers to simple things. 
  • The power that comes along with having to figure out something yourself. 
  • The importance of taking advantage of the student community and the FAQs. 
  • Bad daily habits and people not wanting to make the necessary sacrifices. 
  • Taking a log of your activities for three days to measure productive and unproductive time. 
  • Having a low tolerance for discomfort and pain as a reason for failure. 
  • The problem of not being fully committed and not willing to put in real hard work. 
  • Multitasking and skipping through course content that you think you know.  
  • Why you should not stray from the curriculum by consulting other sources of information. 
  • Remaining an optimist even in failure and why skepticism and perfectionism are the enemy. 
  • And much more!


“That’s what Savvy Musician Academy is all about because we want to be the trustworthy resource for you, whenever you’re trying to build your music career.” —@LEAHthemusic [0:06:28]

“There’s something magical that happens when you do have to figure it out for yourself. In that moment, you also create a sense of confidence in yourself.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:15:39]

“Would you rather watch TV and play video games and drink with your friends or would you rather build a successful music business? You can’t do both, that’s not going to happen, you will not get off the ground. You need to examine your daily habits.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:22:47]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Indiegogo —

Kickstarter —

Savvy Musician Academy —

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome once again to the Savvy Musician Show podcast, this is CJ Ortiz and I am the mindset and branding coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. Joined once again by her eminence, my favourite queen of the realm, Leah, how are you doing?

00:38 Leah: I’m doing fantastic, thank you, how are you?

00:41 CJ: Wonderful, you mind if I call you queen of the realm?

00:45 Leah: Sure.

00:47 CJ: People may be listening to you and maybe they don’t even know, they just got hooked on to the podcast and they don’t even listen to the music or know the culture of your particular musical genre and don’t know about Keltic Fantasy metal, Leah. And that you do represent that queen of the realm archetype out there but it makes for a great banter for me as a podcast host. 

To be able to call you cool stuff. Well again, always a pleasure to be with you and good things are happening on – I know you’ve been super busy lately with your upcoming album. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, she is practicing what she preaches and she’s in that phase of getting things ready for yet another album release. You want to give them just a quick note about that?

01:33 Leah: Yeah, I’ve been really busy and thank God so much for my staff here at Savvy Musician Academy because they really keep this whole ship running and doing excellent job at serving everyone. So that I can also go and keep doing what I do. You know, one of the things we figured out in the Savvy Musician Academy business is that, one of the most important things in figuring out where I can spend my time, where’s the most valuable place I can spend my time and there’s a few places.

One of the most important places is my own music business and the reason is because that’s my research and development. I get to be the lab rat, I’m the guinea pig, I get to try out all kinds of things and I’m doing it because I love it and I’m doing it because I have to and if Savvy Musician Academy didn’t exist, I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing right now with my music and making this current album and everything I have.

The way I get amazing ideas for curriculum, for courses, for coaching and all of that. That’s all coming from my music business. I have to have my hands dirty. Being in that position, always working on my music, finding new things that work and don’t work. I always tell my students, “Hey, you see me doing things, it doesn’t mean you should just copy it because I’m experimenting and not everything I do works. Be careful about going, assuming that just because they see me doing it that they should be doing it.”

That’s not necessarily the case, I’m trying out all kinds of stuff, I’m experimenting, I’ll come back and tell you if it worked or not. I’ll tell you if it was successful or not. As an example of that, I’m planning my upcoming crowdfunding campaign that I’ll be doing which is basically a big preorder campaign, right? They preorder the album and it helps me cover all the cost that went into the album, helps me recoup some of that which is really nice to come out on the other end of that.

Already in a positive ROI before the album’s even released. It can’t get better than that, it really can’t. In doing that, I’m considering, this is just an example of I don’t know if it’s going to work or not. Of hosting the crowdfunding campaign on my Shopify store on basically a landing page that I completely control instead of using Indiegogo with Kickstarter. 

This could be a very bad idea. I have no idea if this is going to work but I’m going to try it because that’s what I get to do and then you don’t have to make the mistakes. That’s what I’m doing and I am very excited for this upcoming album, it’s maybe one of my favourites that I’ve done, it’s not a metal album, it’s actually and so people might be wondering what I’m doing with that as far as branding goes and it’s actually, if you hear it, it sounds exactly like all my other stuff, just take out the metal.

It’s very much on-brand, it’s just – it’s a Christmas kind of holiday, winter-themed style album but I’m making a little more accessible to a larger audience. That’s what I’m doing with that and I really like what I’m hearing so far with the mixes I’m getting and I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.

04:34 CJ: Leah, I have to take advantage of what you just said because I believe that this really exemplifies why SMA takes the approach that it does in terms of what we offer and the courses that you’ve presented before are all filled with things that you have done already.

You’ve already made the mistakes, you’ve already invested the time, you’ve already invested the money so that others don’t have to. It’s proven and that’s a really important point that this is not simply theory. You’ve purged everything out, you’re going to find out what works, what doesn’t work and so that you can continually offer the most relevant up to date information possible.

In fact, this is the – a good plug for the Inner Circle newsletter that was just recently released because we want to do everything that we can to keep our followers and listeners and readers up to date with everything that’s happening, the constant changes in technology so yeah, I mean, you’re updating the Tom to 3.0, you’re going to do some upgrades to the Elite, you’re constantly making these changes and adding things like the Spotify course and what have you.

Because it’s really important that everybody gets the most up to date information. I’m glad to hear about your fundraising, doing things a little bit differently. Like you said, it may or may not work out but this is how we’re going to find out and again, all to end up with the best solutions for those who are about to launch an album, right?

06:04 Leah: That’s right, yeah, that’s just it. We put in a lot of work and it’s funny how people think things should be free all the time and they have no idea how much goes into just figuring what’s even, you know, all the back end work and figure out what’s working, what’s not working, the time, money, energy spent, just to bring relevant content and information to everyone that we can trust that’s accurate. 

I think that’s what Savvy Musician Academy is all about because we want to be the trustworthy resource for you, whenever you’re trying to build your music career. Some of you aren’t even at the music business stage, you’re just at the music career stage and you want to get to the business stage and how can you do that with terrible information, how can you do that?

You can’t. The wrong information will sabotage your results, you’re going to go down completely the wrong path and waste your time, waste your money so that’s what we’re here for. To give you that shortcut and that’s what I’m doing, you know? I am the lab rat and I get to test all kinds of things out on myself and report those results to you guys and give some good advice and be like, that is – I tried this, here’s why, this is a really bad idea or here’s why this is a fantastic idea and this worked out so much better than I thought. 

I already got a few podcast episodes talking about some of the things I learned, even about like my – the way I launched my album last time, I wouldn’t do it again that way. I’m going to do it different this time. I get to learn from my own experiments as well and that’s what this is all about.

07:37 CJ: Very cool. Well, today, we’re talking about something really interesting and I love when we do particular podcast like this Leah, because they begin from conversations that we’ve had offline and typically when you come into a meeting, all amped up we’ll just say, about something that’s gotten under your crawl as of late but out of that comes some real insight I think and we’re going to talk about that today in relation to some of three things that people do to successfully fail at this thing.

Yes, that you can successfully fail, that you are your own worst enemy. That, instead of just blaming everything around you, you know? An entitled person, right, Leah? Blames everybody around them, they blame politics, they’ll blame this, blame that, never a problem with them necessarily. You’re going to put the blame elsewhere. That can happen here too. Leah’s going to share with us today some of the things that, and it’s actually kind of cool. 

She shared some of them with me. I think you’re really going to get a lot out of this. Anyway, today, in our student spotlight, we want to talk about one of the wins and this one is from Annalise Leshamanan and she says, I started my first ad today, yesterday I had 314 likes and as of now, about six hours after I turned the ad on, I have 711. I’m pretty stoked about that.

That’s pretty cool. Good job. I coached – I did this coaching session with her about a week or so ago and she’s got good things going on again, like a lot of the students, extremely talented people that I love getting to. That’s one of the benefits to be honest with you of getting to know these students is I’m getting turned on to so many talented people and the other thing that I like about the Elite group is the attitudes because these people have invested something, they’ve got skin in the game now and it’s just – They’re very teachable, very humble but yet at the same time, so hard working so that’s been great. Good for you Annalise.

Things that people do Leah, to ensure their failure, that’s a weird approach.

09:53 Leah: Yes, well, I just thought it would be helpful to talk about things that you know, habits, mentalities, things that I’ve noticed over the years where there’s a consistent pattern of failure or failing to succeed anyways, not getting to their goals and things that need to be addressed because they are widespread, they are prevalent. I also want to say as a precursor here, that I’m not above these things I’m about to say because we’ve all been there where once upon a time, we have had a loser mentality.

Or we weren’t getting the results we wanted and we’ve had to seriously look at ourselves and go okay, what’s actually going on here? Is it that you know, the program I’m in that that sucks, is that why I’m not getting the results that I want or is it me?

I think that it’s important to address this because you’re not going to see the progress that you want unless you are willing to actually look at these cold hard truths. If I seem mean or harsh today, just know that I do love you all, I really do and brace yourselves, brace for it, I’m just going to be blunt about it because I care for you all so much. If I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t even do this episode.

11:20 CJ: Well there’s a proverb that says that you know, rebuke and correction to a wise person is like a cool drink of water. If you’re really wanting to bring about change in things, we’ve always got to be open to correction and I think you know, this is probably – like you said, it’s going to cover all of us. Except me. Never sinned, never made a mistake.

11:46 Leah: Yeah. I think, I have a number of points and all of this actually came about just very spontaneously and to get this going, I thought I would share as you guys know, I do a ton of studying, I do a lot of reading, I take other courses, I’m always, whatever, I’m always learning, it’s part of my daily routine and I came across this little quiz in a completely unrelated course, in a totally different market but I thought this was hilarious. Because it described a lot of what we come across and it was a little quiz that at the end of the module, they wanted you to take this thing.

Here’s what it said. It says, in order to get results with this course, I should – you have to pick one. A, skim around, take reckless action and rely on my gut instinct. B, treat it like a college class and study each video in the order it is presented and carefully, complete the entire course before expecting serious results. Correct.

C, not watch any videos, sit in the group, tagging coaches over and over until they do everything for me. Or D, watch 20 minutes of content, get mad because I’m not rich yet, throw a temper tantrum in the group and then take off my shirt, light it on fire and swing it around while screaming curse words. That just cracked me up. That made me laugh.

13:06 CJ: For anybody who has been in groups, you know exactly what that means.

13:10 Leah: Yeah, I mean, we’ve been blessed that for the most part, we have really amazing clients. But especially more you know, in free groups or especially if you have like a lot of students. At some point, you’re going to come across stuff like this and if you’re a business owner, probably come across customers at one point or another who kind of do something similar to this.

Maybe not in a virtual setting but the point is that there is clearly a mentality behind what people’s expectations are, you know, for example, the – I watch 20 minutes of content and I’m mad because I’m not rich yet, you know? That is a real mentality. There’s people who think, well, I went through this module, why am I not seeing results yet? They want to blame the content when the question is well, what did you do with that content, how long did you do it for, are you consistent?

How hard did you actually try? There’s a lot we can say about that but I wanted to share that because it was really funny to me and also because there’s some truth there. What you can come across. Yeah.

Okay, about things that people do to ensure failure, I thought about a couple other titles with this. Things losers do, we could be mean but it’s things that people are constantly doing habit wise, mentality wise, mindset wise, that are going to ensure that you do not succeed no matter how good your coaches are, no matter how good your courses, no matter how supported you are, these are the things that if you are doing them.

You will not succeed. There’s no way you have 100% failure rate at this rate. One is, dependency on others for answers constantly. Constant dependency, meaning, you’re not using your own brain, not using your brain for things that are obvious, for things that Google can completely answer for you and relying on coaches or other students around you or other people to give you the answer.

There’s a partial laziness there. You don’t want to do the hard work. You don’t want to go through – burn through the glucose in your brain to get to those answers. When I started out inside Savvy Musician Academy and in my own music business, I had nobody to turn to for answers. Nobody gave me a single answer for anything. 

I had to figure it out. There’s something magical that happens when you do have to figure it out for yourself. In that moment, you also create a sense of confidence in yourself. When you become so dependent on everybody else to constantly give you answers, you have no confidence that you can do anything. Because if they’re just constantly – 

That would be like me, homeschooling my kid, giving them every single answer they need for every math question. How is that accomplishing anything?

16:09 CJ: Right.

16:10 Leah: It’s not. I am actually debilitating their ability to solve problems on their own. This is something we see a lot out there. That’s some big things. What’s the answer for that? Use your damn brain.

16:24 CJ: My god, it’s so true Leah, as both as homeschooling parents, the both of us here. We are developing our children to be self-taught. That doesn’t mean that they’re learning everything from scratch without the help of textbooks and recorded lectures or what have you. It’s all there. But the objective is to get them learning on their own.

You raise a child to be mature and mature means responsible, right? Otherwise, you have a dependent for the rest of their life. You know, it’s funny to have that sort of mentality to develop in adult education for what I understand that your course can sometimes be challenging because you go so deep into these different aspects and there’s a lot to learn, a lot of software and all of that sort of stuff.

We understand the idea of being overwhelmed and in the other side, we don’t want to discourage good questions. However, what it turns into just asking for everything from how to turn on my computer to you know –

17:35 Leah: Right, especially things that are already in the course and they’re in, this goes into my next point is not taking – people who fail, do not take advantage of the current community, the current frequently asked questions type documents that are out there that you know, whether you’re in somebody else’s course, or you’re in our course, whatever.

Most companies have frequently asked questions. Not taking advantage of those things, not using – this is an amazing feature inside of Facebook groups called a search bar. You can look up any keyword in there and see all the past things that have already been answered. Your question, I guarantee has already been answered a hundred times and so taking advantage of that and then also taking advantage of if you were in a course like our Elite program or we have live coaching. Not showing up to that is a sure way to fail.

Not showing up live and being engaged, asking your questions then, especially if they haven’t been answered yet and you went through the course material and you know that your question has been answered, that is the place you need to be to get that, especially if you have a unique situation, unique circumstance, that’s – sometimes it can be difficult to know how to apply something to you and that’s where you should be.

We don’t want to discourage good questions, we don’t want to discourage people from getting help, absolutely not. It’s more the people who have become, it’s a mentality where they are dependent on everybody to do something for them and the very simple obvious things that have already been answered, they’ve already been addressed a hundred times, they’re not taking advantage of those things and that mentality, if you just look at the path that where that leads.

Do I see that kind of person making 10 grand a month with their music? No, I don’t. You have to have a bootstrap mentality. You have to have the mentality that nothing will get in my way, no tech problem is going to get in my way, no Facebook pixel issue is going to get to figure out no matter what. Those people are the ones that are going to make $10,000 a month with their music. That’s why I need to bring this up.

19:45 CJ: I think what also happens and we posted this in the Elite group recently about all questions are ultimately important, right? It’s just how you get those questions answered and what it shows sometimes when you see the same students, for example, asking the same sort of questions on an ongoing basis, you realize they’re not necessarily thinking about the most important questions, which is going to be about, how can I sell my music in the most cost-effective way. What’s the best way for me to sell my music?

Even though there are so many things in the Savvy Musician courses that are technical, software-oriented, you got to learn about copyright, all of that stuff, it’s still going to come down to this simple thing of who is your target audience and who do you need to market to and what do you need to say and what do you need to offer.

Those are things that are not necessarily technical. Those things are about understanding who you are, what your genre is, what your niche is, who your target audience is and really soak in your head in that culture. I wish sometimes the student spent more time studying their respective listener and the culture involved. Because that would answer so many things with them.

20:57 Leah: Yes, absolutely. Another one is bad daily habits. People who they say, I want to build an online music career, I want to make two, $3,000 a month with my music, I want to be able to live off of my music and quit my day job and yet, they’re spending three, four hours a day, watching TV, playing video games, drinking, out with their friends, doing this, that and the other thing, they have absolutely no concept of what sacrifice means, no concept at all. If they saw – 

You know, people want to know how I do it all and how I do – I don’t’ do it all, that’s the whole point, I don’t do it all. I sacrificed very much in order to do what I do because unless you are willing to give up some of those things and I’m talking to myself here too. I’ve decided, I’m going to be doing a lot more reading than I have been, that’s one thing that I’ve dropped is reading physical books. I’m talking to myself here too.

But, if you are not at the income level you want to be, I guarantee you, if you were to cut out all that – how many hours per day watching TV, even if it’s one hour and you watch one hour a day of whatever show, Netflix, seven days a week, that’s seven hours that you could have put in to building your online career. You know, if I took that seven hours, I guarantee you, I would have 5,000 more people on my list by the end of that week. 

If I took those hours out of your schedule and put them in my schedule. I would probably make an extra $5,000 in that time because I know what to do with it and I will make sure that I’m productive with that time. You know, people who say that they’re serious aren’t actually that serious because they’re not willing to give it up so I think you need to pick and choose.

Would you rather watch TV and play video games and drink with your friends or would you rather build a successful music business? You can’t do both, that’s not going to happen, you will not get off the ground. You need to examine your daily habits.

I’m as spontaneous as they come out there. Don’t think for a second that it’s easy for Leah, you know, she runs Savvy Musician Academy, she does this that and the other thing and she’s really disciplined, I’m not. I have to work very hard to be disciplined. I am as artsy-fartsy as they get. I don’t like schedules, I don’t like routine, I like to wake up and decide what I feel like doing, that’s my nature and I have to dial that – I have to reel that in, I have to reign it in and cut out those things that are not going to make me money.

I want you to – if you could get one take away from here, I would say, you should take a log of all your activities for like three days straight and just count up how many activities in your day are income-producing and how many activities in your day are sucking up productivity, sucking up income?

Your eyes will be opened as to how much time you waste, you waste so much time that you could be 10 times further than you are right now but you decided to waste it away, I want to say Netflix because that’s probably the biggest one but you know, fill in the blank with whatever it is you’re doing. I think that would be very eye-opening exercise if you did that.

24:22 CJ: Yeah, a friend of mine used to always say that the secret of your future is found in your daily routine and like Leah said, sacrifice is the keyword here because it means, giving yourself for yourself, right? You’re giving up something, that’s for sure. But you’re not giving it up for somebody else, you’re not giving it up for something that you don’t really care. This is your own interest.

You’re giving yourself for yourself, sacrificing what you were or are in order to become what you can be. Be willing to throw yourself on that fiery altar and be consumed in the flames of personal commitment. You can do it, you can check like Leah said, as you know she’s artsy-fartsy, she wants to be able to just go do but she can’t. If you are going to run a successful business these are the things you’ve got to do especially at the outset and everybody that we are talking to is at the outset, right? It takes more fuel to get the rocket off the ground. It can coast later so let’s pay our dues now. 

25:25 Leah: That’s right and I am going off of that point. I would say people who fail have a very, very low tolerance for being uncomfortable or low pain tolerance. So they only want to feel good, they only want to feel comfortable and anything that takes them outside of that, they just want to go back into that zone of comfort once again and so again, there is going to be – and nobody told me this but it was something I just wanted to do. 

And I have said this in past episodes where people have heard me say, you know my current discomfort is irrelevant and that has to become your motto that it is going to be uncomfortable to spend so much time studying. It is going to be uncomfortable to take risks. It is going to be uncomfortable to put yourself out there and try and build a fan base and build an email list and do Facebook ads and none of it feels good, there are things you need to do in order to get to that end goal. So people who fail, who have a habit of failing they don’t want to cause themselves discomfort. 

26:31 CJ: Yeah, I like to say when you are discomfort is comfortable enough that’s when you’ll settle and that’s very easy for people to get into and it’s funny if you have somebody who has a passion Leah for music and because of the amount of work that may be involved in getting things underway that they will literally sign a contract with mediocrity, settle for where they are because even though it is uncomfortable to be there and not have their dream, it’s still comfortable enough for them to tolerate. 

So they’re willing to tolerate the fact that they put their dream on hold and settle for where it is right now knowing they could have been ten times further down the road, ten times more the output. They have this much capacity as anybody else does and don’t sign that contract with mediocrity. Don’t do that. 

27:21 Leah: That’s right. Another one to ensure failure is basically having your foot half in and half out the door whenever you are in a program or you’re trying to learn something, again, this is a commitment issue. You are not all in, you are not fully committed, you haven’t dove into the water you just are dangling your toes in there, you are guaranteed to fail. You cannot approach any of this stuff with a half-ass mentality. 

If you do, yeah just expect to fail, expect to not succeed ever. It is guaranteed you’re going to fail. You know when I say go all in, I mean I have faced these things. I am all in all the time but for example my upcoming crowdfunding campaign, it’s scary before you go to launch. It’s like “Ooh” it is like there’s a switch that I have to flip again where it’s just like this is do or die. It’s like, “I am going to raise this amount and I’ve got to go all in.” 

All in and so it is going to take up a lot of my time and don’t think for a second that when I go to launch something like that for example, I just launch it and then it will happen all by itself. No, I am working it. I am earning every single dollar that comes in. I am working it as though none of it is going to come in on its own. That’s how I approach it. I don’t think for a second that any of it is going to happen like I am just going to push a button and then it is all going to come to me because I built this fan base. 

I don’t approach it like that. No, I like to approach things as though nothing is guaranteed at all and that pretend like nobody is going to contribute. What would I do? And then I continue to work it until I can squeeze out every last drop when people are totally sick of me and they never are but that’s how I approach it. So when I say all in, I mean you need to work it. You need to actually try and that’s the other thing. I think people don’t actually try very hard. 

They think that they do but they don’t. It’s just like someone who went for a walk around the block saying that, “Oh I did such a hard workout” no you didn’t. You did whatever you know, no you didn’t. That is not a difficult workout. That is how I think most people are viewing what I’m doing. It’s so much work that I would have to actually learn all of this and yeah, it is not that you have to, you get to. You get to learn all of this and the fact that there is Internet is amazing.

The fact that you no longer need to go through a label or executives for anybody to hear your music that is amazing. The fact that you get to actually control of what happens or doesn’t happen that’s amazing. You get to do this and if you have that mentality of I have to do this and it is so much work, guaranteed failure. 

30:15 CJ: Yep. 

30:18 Leah: I guarantee you will never make any money. 

30:20 CJ: No. I often tell people how hard do I work, like it all depends on me. That is how hard I work because it does and yes, there are resources, yes there’s help but ladies and gentleman you are not going to get anywhere without the sweat equity. I know work is another four-letter word but you know you’re designed for it. On the other side of all of the struggle that you believe is in front of you, the effort that it is going to take to create your dream is a stronger better version of you. 

One that doesn’t have regret, one that feels satisfied because you can pat yourself on the back. You can high five yourself that you did this. You did this and it got to be better than just settling for where you are just because of something like work. 

31:08 Leah: Yeah, exactly and on that note. I was going to the next one here. I think that we’ve all probably done this but I want to really drill this in that this will cause failure and that is skipping through content and I am talking about in a course situation, in a course setting, skipping through the content and skipping over to what you think applies to you. There’s so many things that are said and taught in these other lessons that you think I’m passed and I’m passed that but they are little nuances. 

They’re details of things that matter greatly as they say, small hinges swing big doors and some of these small little tips, this little principles, these little instructions make or break what you are doing and if you think I already know that, I am passed that, I am more advanced and you are skipping over to the parts that you think apply, I guarantee you, you are missing it and there’s probably some huge things that could be so much better for you but they aren’t because you just skipped right over it. 

And then you want to ask questions about it later and you’re in some stuff. It’s like, “Well did you actually go and watch it?” and I will say another funny thing is when people watch videos and they say they watched it and then they asked a question about that was totally answered in that video and it’s like, “Did you watch it?” “Yeah I watched it and it wasn’t answered” and then you go to that exact spot and yeah, it’s right there. 

So I don’t know what happens in people’s brains where there is selective hearing going on or I am not sure what happens there but that’s the sure way to fail as well and so not paying attention, thinking you are above it and then not paying attention when you are consuming it. Maybe you got your phone on beside you, maybe you’re browsing around in the internet why you’re going through it. I guarantee you are not taking in the content and you are not absorbing it if you are multitasking. 

So that is another huge problem. I mean I understand like we have a major attention deficit problem right now with social media and I struggle with this too, context switching. It is like I am trying to listen to something and do something else and do something else and then my phone is dinging and people are messaging me and I am trying to listen to a podcast at the same time, your brain is not designed to function that way and take in information in that fashion. 

It can’t process it. You can only do one thing at a time successfully. So yeah, I am killing a few birds with one stone there. Skipping through content. You are skipping right over stuff that could completely change your music business and then contact switching ADD situation, multitasking and you are not absorbing even what you are going through so. 

34:02 CJ: I am willing to bet, Leah that besides not finishing a course that that’s probably a big thing. It is like a lot of people are trying to kill two birds with one stone in the sense of multitasking and doing, thinking that by listening to it not for example watching one of your modules where you are light boarding things and bullet points and whatnot, seeing it as well as hearing it that sort of stuff then there’s not the focus. 

There is not the attention and there is just way too much at stake for you to I mean a professional sports team will never allow its players to do that. You have to learn everything and if you’re going to invest in a course or some sort of self-education program and then by all means devote yourself to it. So it’s a battle, like you said it is something that we all face. When you were saying that your phone going off and this going off and you are trying to listen, I know exactly what you are talking about, it is. It is a very tough thing but when you consider the price of what’s at stake, yeah we can do it. 

35:09 Leah: Totally, yeah I had a couple other thoughts occur to me as you were saying that but I think along those lines, another one would be straying from the curriculum itself if you are going through your program. We have a lot of programs but if you are going through something, one great way to fail is to dilute what you’re learning and confuse yourself with alternate sources of information. So when you are going through a course and then you’re also doing YouTube. 

And your other Facebook groups and you’re going to another course and you are just hop, skipping, jumping all over the place, I guarantee you this person is broke and they’re not making any money and they are not going to. They can’t focus. They can’t actually commit to one program and that is the worst thing you could do. It does not help you get to your end goal. So the lack of focus there is really going to inhibit your results. So don’t stray from the curriculum. 

If you’re going through a program commit, go all the way through it. Block out everything else. I will guarantee you, you will get so much better results. The program isn’t the problem. You’re the problem. 

36:21 CJ: Yep, an old friend of mine used to say people fail because of broken focus and you know like we have said before and I know I have said this that you could probably do very well with half the stuff that you teach, Leah if you just understood the basics and you got the important aspects about culture and targeting and niche and all of that good stuff, you could probably go further than people who know everything there is to know simply because you’re willing to stay focused. 

And do the work and the follow-through. It is always a failure, Leah in fundamentals. It is not because you don’t know a particular new secret. There is no secret here it’s all fundamentals and either fail in them or the failure is because you didn’t consistently apply them and so again, it leads to you being dependent upon others, playing the blame game, you know blame the course, blame other people, blame your background, all of these other things. 

Blame the economy, everything. You are going to blame everything else simply but you are going to find that your problems were basic, laziness, procrastination, lack of focus, not listening, skipping through courses, skipping through the modules of the course what have you. 

37:44 Leah: Exactly. My last couple ones here, ways to ensure you’re going to fail is continue to be skeptical. Skeptical of yourself, skeptical that it is not going to work for you, it is not going to work for me, skeptical of your coaches, mentors, people around you, skeptical that people like us that we actually want to help you. Skepticism is not your friend when you’re trying to make money, especially in the music industry. It is not going to help you. 

Now I would be skeptical of contracts if someone is like throwing there’s a place here for that but I am not talking about that. I am talking about your educational journey to success that is what we’re talking about in this frame. So by all means, continue to be skeptical but also continue to be broke. I think there is going to be a hand – something goes hand in hand there. You have to become an optimist and in the face of failing a lot. Be prepared to make all kinds of mistakes and have things fail. 

Now I am talking about a different kind of failure. I am talking about the kind that you actually learn from and the kind that actually moves you forward. The kind that will eventually make you money and you have to be willing to put Facebook ads out there that flop and write another one. Write a hundred more. You know when you’ve written 200 different Facebook ads, you eventually start to figure out a few things. You eventually start to realize, “Oh, okay I get this now.”

Don’t think that you are going to put one thing out there and then it is going to work. So I am going to add to this list aside from continuing to be skeptical, perfectionism. That is another sure way to fail. Failure to launch is the number one reason people fail at all is because they don’t actually get anything out there. They are too stuck in their perfectionism and I know musicians struggle with this specifically. We want everything to be perfect. 

We are creators of art and art we want it just right and so we end up applying that to our funnels and email marketing and all of this. We want to be just right and if it is not, we freak out. Sometimes we are a little bit emotional. We are a little bit control freaks in that way but I am telling you, you cannot be a perfectionist when it comes to getting this stuff out online. I learned very early in the game it is better to put out something, just get it out there and then fix it later and make it better. 

And tweak it later than to not get it out at all. If I am not going to get it out at all that means I can’t learn anything. There is no data for me to gather. So perfectionism is another sure way to fail. Get it out there, whatever it is you’re working on, if it is a landing page, a Facebook ad, email, you need to send it. Yes, there is going to be a typo, yeah, you probably forgot to put in a link somewhere. You probably spelled something wrong. I mean trust me, I make all these mistakes every single week. 

Do you think anybody cares? No at the end of the day, no. Now I am all for high standards. I am for excellence but I do my best and I just make a lot of mistakes on the way and then I go and fix them so that’s it. If you can have that mentality, you will – your chances of success are so much higher than everybody else’s.

40:57 CJ: Yeah, it really is. This is something we see a lot especially in the Elite group is they want to do right. They want to do well but then we see that maybe after a couple of months they’re still taking laps around the same mountain over and over and over again. When you just want to tell them, “Okay well, let’s put that aside for just a little bit and focus on running this kind of ad.” Just get some brand awareness. You need data. 

One thing I have said to so many students in the elite group, you need data. You got to get data. Put something out there. I know you got music, you got something we can target an audience. It may not be perfect but let us find out. We’ll never know. We can sit here and talk about all the different scenarios and write all of the interesting categories down and all the layering and such in the ad manager but nothing is going to happen until you put an ad out there and see if it does well or not. So you know let’s take some action. It is just so much easier to steer a car that is moving. 

42:02 Leah: That is right and speaking of data, let me give you a quick example of that since we’re talking a little bit about my crowdfunding thing that I am doing, I am getting ready for it not launching it quite yet but I am preparing it in the process of preparing. I’ve done something where I sent my fans, I asked them to opt into a specific email campaign that tells me that they want to know when my campaign goes live. 

They wanted the information and I am basically asking them for a little pre-commitment that they want in on this and of course, you know I got a track record so they know what my music sounds like. They know what they can expect from me. I haven’t even released a teaser yet. Nobody has heard a clip of music except for a couple 15 second things on Instagram stories but something I did was I sent them in the first email that they get. 

So they opt in to this. I send them automatically a first email and I asked them to answer three questions in this little Google form quiz thing just a little survey, three questions. One is “are you planning on pledging in this campaign?” Yes, no, maybe. The second the one was “If provided there is going to be some awesome pre-order bundles, how much of a co-creator would you like to be?” and then I give dollar ranges in there and then at the end, I just ask “Are there any specific items you like to see?”  

This is data collection right? And I do not worry about perfection. I just want to collect some data and you know what’s so cool? I haven’t even launched this campaign yet and last time I add it up, I try to lowball. I always try to go extremely conservative on the conservative end of the spectrum. So I gave all of these different dollar range options. So I add it all up on the low end of it and I am currently sitting somewhere around $54,000 in pre-pledged commitments, conservatively, before I even have launched this thing at all. 

That data is so valuable to me. I mean, that gives me the confidence that I need to go forward with this and make it really amazing. You know, you cannot be a perfectionist, you can’t be skeptical, you can’t be un-coachable, you can’t have all these other things that we talked about here to get to the place where you can do things like this. You know, that data is invaluable and yeah, I just wanted to share that to encourage you guys that I too think about what if it fails, what if this doesn’t work? The answered solution to that is get the data.

Then, have a positive mindset, don’t be skeptical and you have to see the glass half full when you’re doing all of this and it’s always about what can I learn. Even if it fails and it falls on its face, what did I learn from that? That’s what’s going to really help you.

44:51 CJ: That’s awesome. Ladies and gentlemen, these are some very powerful keys to how to fail. How to successfully fail, how to ensure your failure. Great ways to fail. Sometimes you got to kind of address it from that standpoint for people to know because sometimes it really is, we can learn all the great principles of success and we can, as you said earlier, it almost deceives ourselves into thinking, we are working hard, we did go through the course. You can’t figure out – 

What am I doing wrong because I followed all the keys to success so to speak.

45:27 Leah: No you didn’t. I guarantee you.

45:30 CJ: One way to find out is to talk about the steps to failure and by understanding the things that make up for failure, it gives you a better understanding that you weren’t necessarily following the steps to success if that makes any sense but Leah, what would you like to have everybody do today?

45:45 Leah: I’d like you to follow the damn course.

45:48 CJ: There it is, we’ll see you guys later.

45:49 Leah: Yeah. One last thing, probably my number one pet peeve, this is my last thing to say. My number one pet peeve is when people ask me a question and it reveals to me that you didn’t watch the course, you didn’t watch the lessons thoroughly and you weren’t paying attention and you’re skipping it and you’re being lazy and now you just want me to tell you the answer.

I mean, that really gets under my skin. That’s because I’ve already done this for you, I’ve already put in all those time and effort, all I ask is that you put in the effort too. That way, we can work together. That’s pretty much what I have to say on that.

46:27 CJ: Yeah, well, ladies and gentlemen, if you’d like to go a little bit further, a little bit deeper into this and you’re interested in finding out about the Elite course that we talk about so many times here on the podcast. I would encourage you to book a call with the coaches today. 

You can go to and find out more about what’s involved in the elite program and you get to be in the company of the lovely Leah McHenry and learn firsthand all the wonderful things that you need to have a successful career in music and if you’d like to do is a solid, you can review this podcast.

We’ve got some great reviews lately from people. Thank you to all of you out here who have reviewed the podcast but go to your favorite player, Spotify, stitcher, iTunes, whatever you’re listening to and leave some stars, five preferably and say good things about us, it helps us in the rankings and some other wonderful creative people like yourself to discover.

The most awesome music marketing podcast on the planet, Savvy Musician Show. I’m a tad biased.

47:40 Leah: Thanks for listening everybody. By the way, we read every single review so thank you.

47:44 CJ: That’s right, we’ll see you guys next time.

Episode #057: Take Your Teamwork To The Next Level

As part of our few special episodes, we are talking about something that indirectly – yet profoundly – affects our businesses and music careers, and that is different personalities and leadership styles. Sometimes you just click with people and other times you bump heads with members of your team and you find yourself wondering what’s going on. The truth is, you need those people in your team. You need people to not only agree with you but to challenge you and stand in for you in those areas where you struggle, and vice versa. We are all wired differently and therefore we bring different things to the table and we need to recognize how our strengths and weaknesses function together to make a well-rounded team. Today Leah shares more about the different types of leaders and also about the relationally inclined synergist who we all need to become more like. We strongly encourage you and your team to do The Synergist quiz to see which kind of leader you are and how you can best work together. This is also a great tool if you’re thinking about getting a team together, so be sure to listen in for some really helpful information! 

Key Points from This Episode:

  • More about The Synergist quiz and the four different leadership styles. 
  • Why everybody needs to be a synergist or work at becoming more like one. 
  • Why you eventually need each one of the four leaders on your team. 
  • Examples of how the different leaders complement one another. 
  • A few humorous pointers for visionaries in the workplace. 
  • A brief description of each of the natural occurring leadership styles.
  • How the synergist is fundamentally different to the other types of leaders. 
  • Playing all the different roles when starting off your business. 
  • And much more! 


“Everybody needs to be a synergist in their business, in their workplace, in their home.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:04:33]

“I say, have all your band mates take this quiz too because then you know what you’re dealing with as far as like just personalities and the way people are wired.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:11:53]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Superfan System Elite —

Savvy Musician Mastermind on Facebook —

Predictable Success Quiz — 

The Synergist Book — 

Airtable —

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz, the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. As I mentioned, we’re doing two very special podcast episodes. Last week, we did the secret to understanding social media. These are two episodes taken from our Elite coaching calls. You’re getting a backstage look at some of the very in-depth coaching that Leah, myself and the other team members here at the Savvy Musician Academy do each month with our Elite students.

Today, Leah is talking about in episode 57, “Take your teamwork to the next level.” Now, this is being taken from a book that she shared with our Elite members called The Synergist by Les McKeown. How to lead your team to predictable success and it has to do with self-assessment. Maybe you’ve taken personality profiles in the past. But when you understand the way that you’re wired and when you finally understand the way your team members are wired, you’re going to be launched into a new season of productivity that you’ve never experienced before.

This works for relationships of all sorts. No matter what you’re doing right now, even if you’re involved in a day job and it’s not so much being applied to your team or your band members. This is something that is going to seriously make a difference in your life. To understand the different ways in which we are naturally wired and how we can learn to work better together. Take your teamwork to the next level.

Let’s go in right now to Leah’s Elite coaching call.

01:59 Leah: The first thing I wanted to talk about was The Synergist quiz which was really fun and I have Steve join us. I think he’ll be here in just a minute, we’re putting kids down for naps and stuff like that during this call. The reason I want to bring Steve on to talk about The Synergist quiz is because we went through that quiz together. All three years ago.

That was right after we had launched SMA. It’s a good thing that we took that quiz because honestly, up until that point in time, him and I would clash a lot on our differences and we did not appreciate each other’s natural wirings and giftings, it was always like a point of clashing rather than a point of appreciation.

After that quiz and when you do it, they give you a little, just a very short summary and then if you sign up, they send you more information about that. Then they have a book as well which we’ll share the link with you today. When we ran through those summaries and everything, it was like a mind-blowing lightbulb moment and our business mentor said to us, Leah, you’re a visionary and Steve is an operator synergist. You two are incredibly lucky and blessed that you’re married to each other.

You couldn’t have a better combination and I was blown away because you know when we did Myers Briggs test and stuff, that always said that we were the worst combination on like planet earth that we shouldn’t even be married. These test – yet we took this one and saying, basically, we could be a real power team together if we learn to work together like that. That completely changed my perspective on our relationship, it changed our perspective on even just dealing with parents and kids relationships and then of course, in like a workplace environment when you’re building a team.

Who is it that you need? The basic premise of this whole Synergist thing is if for anybody who didn’t get to take the test there are four different kinds of leadership styles and everybody’s a leader but you lead in different ways. You have the visionary, you have the operator, get the processor and you have the synergist.

04:08 Leah: Most people are a combination of all four, although, some of us are more dominant toward the three. Now, the deal is that everybody needs to learn to become a synergist. A synergist is like a skill that can be learned. It’s basically being able to get along with everybody, being empathetic, understanding where other people are coming from instead of being dominating and imposing our perspective on everybody else.

Everybody needs to be a synergist in their business, in their workplace, in their home. Really, it’s a trait that, it’s people skills. But some people are naturally wired to be like that, they just woke up out of bed and they just get along with everybody. Everybody loves them.

Other people like me and other people who are very high on like the visionary end of the spectrum, we tend to not have as much natural synergism and we have to work at it. It doesn’t mean we’re automatic jerks but it just means that we have to develop the people skills side more than other people, we just have to work harder at that.

That relational level. Because for me, I’m very much like get to the point, let’s talk about results, I just want to deal with the stuff, you know? It all bypass sometimes, the relational side but because I’m an artist, I think that the artist side definitely makes us some more in touch with the relationships I think.

05:26 Leah: Yeah, everybody needs to learn to be a synergist, but here’s why I actually wanted you to take it is because as you guys start to grow in your music business, you’re going to want to start building out your team and by team, I don’t mean like they’re on salary necessarily but contractors and people you work with all the time, you know, graphic artists, even, I don’t know, an assistant, virtual assistant, things like that and it’s going to be really important for who you hire and who you work with and that you make them take this test, make sure you take the test because if you’re a high operator, what you don’t need is another operator. 

You need a processor or you need a visionary. Going back to the four basic things, in order to get off the ground, you’re starting like a company, if you were starting a business or a company, you need all four of those roles to properly launch this thing and get it off the ground and to scale. You can actually get away with not having those other three roles for a period of time but you will hit a ceiling.

For me being a visionary, if I try to launch Savvy Musician Academy and I didn’t have Steve, I would make it to a certain point in success but then it would just stagnate because I’m all vision, I was all about what I was imagining and what I wanted to do and I just want to get it done. But without systems and processes. 

Airtable, the excel spreadsheets without having the relational people and knowing how to form relationships and manage people and things like that. We wouldn’t even be sitting here having this conversation right now. Elite wouldn’t exist because I couldn’t do it all myself.

07:09 Leah: I would imagine Elite but it wouldn’t have taken shape and form and actually manifested into a real program of changing lives. Think about your dominant characteristic and I have actually my awesome team put together all of your results for me, I have you all here in a little spreadsheet.

Jeff Pierce is 510 visionary, 150 operators, 60 processor and 240 synergist. Your high synergist and high visionary, that’s amazing by the way. Great combination. Hour lower end is processor for example. If you were to need help, say in the future with a virtual assistant, you’d probably want them to be a lot higher a score of an operator and processor. 

Somebody who like to get stuff done and somebody who loves to put together systems and processes and they love and are in love with Airtable, you know? They could just sit there and look at data all day long and just love it. You can just kind of tell them, “Hey, I need this to happen, I need that to happen” and then they go and actually kind of do it and then they can also put it in spreadsheets for you so you can know and properly look at the data and make decisions.

That’s what you do with this information and we can recommend the book – the book called The Synergist and I just think this is an amazing book for everybody to read because this is more than like business skill. This is kind of a life thing but it will help you know how to proceed when it’s time to scale.

08:46 Leah: Some of you guys are going to be doing that this year, this coming year. If you have it, we can pop that link in the chat, it’s an Amazon link so there you go, yeah, you guys want to find it and yeah, the guys is Les McKeown and he has other programs he helps build up big businesses and stuff. And help them scale.

This is just radically important. I just think it’s so life-changing. Read all the material you can, if you just do the free stuff, even if you don’t read the book, read the emails that he sends you, there’s some other little snippets that are really fantastic. Yeah, the bottom line, if you’re al processor for example, you will really not get very far without a visionary aspect in your music business or in any business. You will need somebody to speak into your life or into your music business that can dream big.

But I don’t think anybody in here scored really high on processor. What I’m seeing here, that’s the lowest score for most of you guys which makes sense, we’re musicians, right? When not a lot of us are like data junkies. But visionary was big, I think higher on the operator and high on the synergist which is cool. Only a couple of people got zero synergist.

Christian got zero synergist, Marcela got zero synergist and I just did the quiz again myself this morning. I do it periodically because here’s what I found is that sometimes, it will change a little bit depending on the season of life you’re in. Right now, today, mine was 510 visionary, remember, this is out of 960 points. 510 visionary, 210 operator, 180 processor and 60 synergist.

10:27 Leah: The reason my processor’s a lot higher than it normally is because we’re trying to simplify things in SMA internal systems and stuff because I found that things have gotten really complex and I feel like it’s gotten a bit out of control because we use Infusionsoft, I call Confusionsoft. It feels like it takes a rocket science team to send one email, that’s how I feel.

We’re trying to simplify our internal system. I’m thinking about processes and even in my own music business with Peter. Him and I created a lot of processes this year. I mean, I have all over Airtable so normally my processor is way further down than that like 60 or 80 but right now, it’s a 180 because I’m focused on that right now. That makes sense that that’s important to me so a lot of the way I answer the quiz.

Hopefully, I’m not boring you all to death on this stuff. Then operator is like you want to just get stuff done and you just want to see – let’s talk about results, let’s talk about results, let’s get her done. I think a lot of us a part of that and then visionary is high, it’s not surprising to me at all that most of you guys are high visionary.

The only person who was low visionary was Chris Swan and super high operator and then kind of balance between processor and synergist. That’s a really interesting combination. I don’t know if I’ve seen that before. Chris, if you’re listening, you may have other bandmates that are visionary or somebody that you’re working with and may be high visionary. I say, have all your bandmates take this quiz too because then you know what you’re dealing with as far as like just personalities and the way people are wired and I don’t know why I get goosebumps but I do when I talk about this stuff because I feel like it just lands home for everybody, it’s just going to apply.

Yeah, this is hilarious when I retook the quiz this morning on the page after, it says a little more information. I see they updated a few things. “Since you’re all visionaries will read this, the visionary leaders, weekend mantra or how I learned that it’s not all about me”, this is on their website, this is funny.

12:28 Leah: Again, this is a work kind of business context but it’s still funny. “Being a visionary leader is the coolest, most important thing any organization needs, it’s also sometimes a short cut to being a jerk. Repeat after me. On Monday, I won’t hijack the weekly planning meeting with whatever stunning insight I read, heard or invented over the weekend. Instead, I’ll listen patiently and offer only what is relevant and on point, knowing that if my stunning insight is of any real value it will be just as relevant later in the week.” That’s so funny. 

“On Tuesday, I won’t pull some poor unsuspecting schmuck into my office and terrify him by asking an outrageously pointed though pointless question is they’ll take the same guy to lunch, find out how I can help him do his job better. On Wednesday, I will resist my arsonist tendencies. I won’t light a match and throw it some initiative that’s struggling to gain traction. Ooh instead, I will recognize that I was the person who started the damn initiative in the first place and I will do the hard work of buckling down to actually find out what’s going wrong and we’ll try to fix it.” That is a good one. 

“On Thursday, I will strenuously resist the need to yet again repeat and embellish barely believable stories without the magnificent feats of daring do I accomplished in the past. Instead, I will go out of my way to identify a recent real events that daring do that my team have accomplished and I will find a way to celebrate them without the main purpose being to draw attention to myself.” Ouch. 

“On Friday, I will recognize that not everyone in my organization has the same flexibility in their schedule than I have. I won’t stroll into the office wearing my golf shirt and slacks and saying, ‘Hey, how’s it going? We never talk these days, let’s shoot the breeze.’ Instead, I’ll realize that many people get their best work done on Fridays and well basically I won’t act like a jerk. I’ll go play golf, stay out of everyone’s way while they actually get good work done.” 

Okay, they actually have these for all of the results. So if you clicked on one of the links, it will take you to this page and you’d see they have one for everyone. So it was kind of funny, humorous. So I thought I’d share because most of you guys are high on the visionary spectrum. All right, is Steve on here? I think he is. I don’t know if you’re set up yet Steve but is there something you want to read a little excerpt out of that book before we move onto the questions? Because I just thought this was super helpful. 

14:43 Steve: So yeah, this is definitely something that we have gone through as a team here at SMA and it’s definitely helped us as a team function better but it is like as Leah said earlier though when we first started SMA, started working together, her and I took this and it was revolutionary for our marriage primarily but also totally helped with understanding each other and how we work together and learning how to because the whole point is, you want to appreciate everybody’s differences. 

We don’t all have the same strengths or the same weaknesses. So when you are building a team, you want to be able to lean on people where you are weak and you want them to lean on you where you are strong. So it’s been totally helpful for us. So I just want to read you, I am going to read from the – I think it is Chapter One summary and it just gives a short brief description of each of the natural styles. So it says: 

“Organizations do not achieve success. People achieve success through working individually and in groups and teams. Everyone who participates in group or teamwork tends to primarily in one of three naturally occurring styles: the visionary, the operator and the processor. Those are the naturally occurring styles. The synergist is more of a learned style. Some people generally have or naturally have but it is more of a learned style. 

So visionaries think big, they generate creative ideas and they take risks. They love risk. It does not cause them fear. It causes them excitement. They also become irritated by detail and can disengage easily when bored. So we’ve had it before in our team where we’ve gotten a lot better at this but there had been times when we have had long boring team meetings and Leah wants to pull out her hair and leave and so this, it just makes sense when you understand people. 

You can appreciate that. Anyways, it’s just funny. We laugh about it and joke about it all the time. Operators get stuff done. They take the visionary’s big idea and they translate it into actionable tasks they like to be left to work alone. They will do whatever is necessary to complete the task they are given even if it means breaking a few rules. So operators will drive processors crazy. Processors devise and monitor the systems and the procedures necessary to enable an organization or an enterprise to deliver consistent results in a complex environment. They think literally and objectively and are averse to undo risk.” 

So there are the three different natural styles. A couple of more things that I’d just read to you really quickly about each one. Just so you guys can all understand at least at the high level until you read the book what each of these means for you. So the visionary, “Visionaries abhor routine. They hate it. They adore discussion and they adore debate. They love those things. They are comfortable with ambiguity.” 

So they don’t need all the data in the world like the processor tends to, to make decisions. Visionaries just make decisions. They just do it. They just take the risk so they are all risk. “They trust their own judgment and they use that often. So they really go on their gut. They are not wedded to past decisions. So something worked in the past, it doesn’t mean it is going to work in the future and they’re totally okay with doing something different.”

“The processor on the other hand, they value routine. They trust data and they collect a lot of it. They hate risk. They are wary of intuition and hunches. They prefer not to be rushed. They really like to take their time and comb over all the details and make sure they’re eyes are dotted and their T’s are crossed and they tend toward the status quo.” So they don’t want to rock the boat. 

“The operator, they are action-oriented. They improvise and they move on. They ask forgiveness rather than permission. So they’ll make random decisions on their own and I totally do this and then I usually end up regretting it. So I am an operator by the way in our business. I am higher operator and very low visionary. So operators also work prodigious hours. They can be workaholics. They often work alone and they do not like being micromanaged.” 

They just like to be told, “Here is the job, here is what I expect at the end, now you go and do it” right? They just want to be left alone and let me do my work. Now, this all ties together is the synergist is the kumbaya person. They like relationships. Not that any of these other people don’t like relationships but the synergist is really relationally driven and they love peace. They love to bring people together for whatever the common thing is. 

So for the organization’s good, whereas this is the difference. The main difference here is the visionary, processor and operator, they are all driven by their own agenda. The synergist is driven by the agenda of the organization. That’s what drives them, that’s their primary objective that’s their primary concern and the operator, visionary and processor all have their own individual concerns that drives them. So getting a good balance and learning to be more synergist is definitely a good thing. 

If you do not have much synergist in you but it is also okay if you don’t have any synergist. So it is not the end of the world, this is just information. Take it, learn from it, grow from it and apply this. You can apply this to your music business. You can apply it to your relationships. I mean it is going to help in all of life. 

20:40 Leah: Yeah and what I love about this whole concept is the fact that we are not built and meant to be everything to everyone in order to be successful and that literally, we have limitations like wiring limitations. The way God wired us and there are other people we need in order to succeed and so like when you are getting any business off the ground, you play all four parts. You are the operator, you are the ad manager, you are the graphic designer sometimes even though we shouldn’t be. 

You are the customer service person, you are everything. That is totally normal, totally expected when you are getting off the ground. When you get to a certain level, you’ll know when that time comes. I think everybody is aware of that. There will be a time where you’ll be like, “Okay it is time for me to get some outside help” but even now, you guys already are. I mean you are most likely not designing your own graphics and your own artwork, right? 

So you are learning to delegate micro delegation right? Micro delegation is totally cool but then when you get to that next level, you are making consistent revenue and you don’t want to spend all day answering customer service emails coming in. Something went haywire at Shopify or whatever happened. Someone’s order didn’t arrive and you need to look into it or something, you don’t want to be the one doing that all the time. 

And so they have like a part-time assistant in the future. Just be thinking that way. Just be thinking to be prepared and then the exercise of letting go, you are going to face a little resistance there because it is your baby. You built this, you don’t want someone else to screw it up even though we screw it up all the time and I face this as a visionary. I am also a perfectionist too and I don’t know Steve if that runs for the other ones where visionaries are just naturally more perfectionist. 

But I definitely know that I am so I don’t like it when people screw up. It bothers me because that makes me feel like they don’t care as much about my business as I do and the fact is they don’t because it is not their business. So to just know that and then setting really clear expectations. We are going to talk about that today based on someone’s question. So I am so glad we talked about this. Sorry if I am all over the map I get excited about this sort of thing and I just see the value. 

And you guys understanding a little bit about this and how it can affect you personally and you build your music business going forward so. 

22:53 Steve: And I’ll just add to that too that this program, Elite program is to help you build a real business. We are not just giving you some principles to go start selling CDs which that is part of it but the purpose here is to help you build something that is really sustainable and long term. We are thinking long term here in this program. This is something that is going to last, it could be for the rest of your life, right? So a part of that is actual business principles and relationships and all that kind of stuff. So there will be stuff like this that we’ll throw in from time to time. 


23:29 CJ: Well, I am sure you got a lot out of that and you’re probably sitting there ready to take that sort of test and find out what your personality make up is. It’s is really, really an amazing thing. It will make a dramatic change as I said at the outset in every relationship that you experience in life. So what a treat. The Synergist, you can get the book, How to lead your team to predictable success by Les McKeown and here is what I like for you to do today: 

If you would like to take your music business to the next level, if you are tired of being confused, if you are tired of being frustrated just basking in questions and trying to search the Internet to listen to podcasts and YouTube videos to try and figure out how you can manage your way in this new industry, this new way of doing the music business, well then you need some help. You need something like the Savvy Musician Academy, our Elite program. 

And if you like to do that then I want you to do this: Visit today. That is and you could talk to one of our staff members and they will take you through what we do here in the elite program and see if it’s a good fit for you. It is making a difference in the lives and music careers of so many and that can be you. So go to today and one more thing, if you’d like to show your appreciation for the Savvy Musician Show podcast then please go and leave a review. 

Give us five stars on whatever podcast channel you listen to this on, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, leave us some stars and leave us a great review. It certainly helps us to rise in the rankings and it helps other people just like you discover this impactful podcast. So thanks again for all the support and we will see you next time. 

Episode #056: The Secret To Understanding Social Media

Today our episode is going to take on a bit of a different format. We thought it so important to give you a backstage look at how we approach the in-depth aspects of the application of what Leah teaches in the phenomenal Elite Coaching Program. On this episode CJ Ortiz talks about the secret to understanding social media, something all of you can benefit from! Marketing in the music industry has drastically changed over the last two decades and, even if you get signed by a label, you would still have to pull your weight in terms of marketing your music. But, how do you sell your music when people have become so resistant to being sold to? The answer is in making sure that your social media posts are curated for the culture of your audience and that they are organic and personal, blending in with people’s social media feeds. And when you get the hang of it, it will happen without much thought at all, freeing you up to use your creative energy for other purposes. Still unsure about social media or just looking for a quick brush-up course? Be sure to tune in for this one! 

Key Points from This Episode:

  • How the changing music industry in demanding a lot more from musicians. 
  • Why you don’t have to have everything together, as long as you’re on the way. 
  • Intentional pain and what something like a 250-mile-run can teach you about yourself. 
  • Why you have to get to know the culture of your audience to get marketing right. 
  • How social media has largely replaced the need for the work of a label. 
  • The importance of social media posts being organic and personal. 
  • You really only understand social media when you don’t have to think about it anymore. 
  • Why conventional sales techniques no longer work. 
  • Facebook Marketplace and why it appeals to people. 
  • How funnels work and build the know, like and trust aspects that you need to sell your music. 
  • The stages of onboarding your audience: awareness, interest and commitment.
  • The different ways in which you can raise awareness on social media. 
  • And much more! 


“You can’t have music that’s great but a website that’s crappy, you can’t have a packaging that looks great and music that sounds terrible.” — CJ Ortiz [0:04:29]

“You’ll really understand this whole social media aspect of marketing when it completely disappears and you are not so preoccupied with it. You are just talking to people, that’s all you’re doing and they don’t want to be sold to.” — CJ Ortiz [0:12:50]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Superfan System Elite —

Savvy Musician Mastermind on Facebook —

Savvy Musician Spotify course —

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show podcast. This is CJ Ortiz, the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. I’m excited to share with you the next two podcast episodes which Leah and I have decided to do something special here. Something she doesn’t normally do. Which is to give you a backstage look at what goes on in our Elite Coaching Program.

Each month, all of our coaches will spend one afternoon with as many students as will attend the online class and we will have an in-depth coaching call related to that coach’s expertise and on a particular topic of interest and application to the Savvy Musician Program. What we’re going to do is we’re going to share two of them. One is mine which is what we’re sharing today in Episode 56. “The secret to understanding social media” and then we’ll do in the next episode, one from one of Leah’s coaching calls with her Elite group on taking teamwork to the next level. I think you’re really going to get a lot out of this.

Again, not the usual podcast format but gives you again a real backstage look at how we approach the in-depth aspects of the application of what Leah teaches in this phenomenal course. Today, we’re going to talk about the secret to understanding social media and I think you’re going to get something out of this that you can apply today. That’s what’s important.

We want you to get into application as soon as you possibly can. What you can do for now also is leave us a review. Please go to your respective podcast player, whether Stitcher or iTunes or Spotify and be sure to give us five stars, leave a positive comment that helps us in the rankings and it helps other people to discover the Savvy Musician Show so that would mean a lot to Leah and myself.

Let’s go into the coaching call that I had with the group on the secret to understanding social media.


02:28 CJ: There’s a tremendous sense of mission and nearly every student that I talk to personally and I could see it in a lot of you and some of the stuff that you post. There’s a sense of mission. You have a desired outcome that you want people to experience with your music. I think that’s great. That is even better when you introduce the elements of social media where we can actually communicate with people on this minuscule microscopic level where the targeting is so focused and you’re able to relate to people that are so perfect for your culture, your lifestyle and obviously your music.

We got to be careful about what we allow in because we don’t want to confuse anything more, it’s challenging enough as I said to learn everything that’s being taught in this group. We don’t want to compound the problem by introducing other voices. Let’s just listen to the voice of the shepherd and in this case, that shepherd is Leah and she’s the one who has proven it.

I’ve been in marketing all my adult life so I know the experts offline, online, I’ve seen them all, I’ve seen a lot of the music marketing people and I was talking to Leah yesterday when we’re doing the podcast and I can honestly say that what she’s created is the most important thing as an answer to what was created via Napster at the of the 20th century.

Everything essentially changed and I don’t think people are aware of the full extent of how much everything has changed. In a lot of ways, it’s good. In a lot of ways, it’s also a challenge because now, yes, there’s more that you can do for yourself and you don’t have to hire out, you don’t have to get signed by a label, however, that means you’re going to have to deliver, you’re going to have to bring your game, you can’t suck.

04:29 CJ: You can’t have music that’s great but a website that’s crappy, you can’t have a packaging that looks great and music that sounds terrible. You got to be bulletproof so that from whatever angle people look at you, right? Three dimensional, you’re bulletproof, you’ve got your act together.

I see here, Jenifer Lin who I talked to a month or so ago and I remember coming across her stuff and some of these students that when I got the request for the call and I go to look at their stuff and I see everything is together and I’m like, well what do they call for? We get into it, we find out some of the reasons why but in other words, initially when I look at them, the packaging is great. Her stuff was really great and very well thought out, very well done.

These things are going to make tremendous impressions on people. Whatever it takes for you to get all of that squared away, you need to do that and we’ve said this before, this is not a race, you don’t have to keep up with another student, you don’t have to get this all done by whatever in terms of getting it all done. You got to get through the modules and that’s what’s important.

But you may get through the modules and still have to come back and review things. Still have to come back and get on a call. Still have to come back. That doesn’t matter, right? We’re going to get there. It’s not important that you’ve arrived, it’s just important that you’ve left and it’s important that you keep walking.

05:53 CJ: Sometimes I get into these weird interests. I’m curious about it from an information standpoint. Not because I want to do these actual things but I’ve been curious as of late, some I looked at many years ago but I got back into it recently but it’s just the whole thing around ultra-marathon runners, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen some of those but these are these incredibly insane people who they do ultra-marathons which means, we’re talking hundred to 250 mile marathons.

None of this 25.6 horse crap they give you at the Olympics. In fact, these people run that every morning, they run Olympic marathons every morning just for training but they’ll run these 250-mile-long marathons and it will be through terrain. This is crazy stuff. Now, the difference is that in order for them to make this distance, it will be over 36 hours, 48 hours, 50 hours on some of these. 

And again, it’s through terrain. It’s through trails, it’s through long stretches, it’s through elevation, they’re obviously not running the whole time. Sometimes they’re walking and then they’ll have either their own team that drives ahead of them and they stop and they fix their feet and change something and try to gobble down as much food as they can and maybe take a nap for a little bit. Sometimes they’ll fall asleep on the trail.

Some of them will even — they go into sleep running, they literally fall asleep as they’re running which is dangerous when you know, hiking the damn Grand Canyon. However, I find no physical pleasure in anything like that. For them, it’s not so much the physical you know? It’s what they learn about themselves that’s important to them.

07:43 CJ: There is something that happens to you when you put yourself through that much pain willfully, intentionally. Because you get down to the true nature of who you are because you can be at that point so beyond the pale, so worn out, so beyond weary that you don’t have the strength for pretention anymore. 

You don’t have the strength for fake anymore. You know, you’re completely vulnerable, you are completely honest, you are completely moving beyond what you think are your greatest ceilings. It’s very eye-opening. What it teaches you is you can pretty much do anything because if you could put yourself through this 250 mile run on top of ungodly terrain and come across the finish line victorious.

Yeah, you can learn the Facebook ad manager. You know, you can put out more CD’s, you can figure out your micro-niche. You can get that audience finally dialled in. I started running – be careful of my terms after all that. I started running an ad, not literally running. Running some ads, page likes ads a couple of weeks ago.

It took just a few minutes and I let it run for a couple of weeks and it was fluctuating but stayed always under 10 cents per like. It wasn’t a lot of thought, it’s just after so many years of doing this with my particular audience, I just know, you know? You just know. You can’t just cover that in a module, it’s not just a five step thing.

09:17 CJ: You have to get to know your culture, you have to get to know your people and what communicates with them and what really speaks to them, the couple that I mentioned earlier that I talked to, they wanted me to take a look at a post because they were having some challenges with the social media and I said, check out this one post and it has one of the members in the band, it shows a selfie of them and they were just a very simple question they had asked.

They said, “We did this post based on what you taught in the last coaching call. It’s our best performing and most engaging post” and I said, “Okay, well that’s good, I mean, you want the fruit of that.” “We’re just concerned about how we do this again.”

I want you guys to get past that. I want you to be able to just really be one with your crowd, your culture because people are going to buy from you because as they say, they know you, they like you, they trust you. But this means, we said this in the last call. You can’t approach this just like the music industry with the only difference being that we’re marketing online as supposed to in Billboard Magazine, right? Because the previous era of the record industry, that’s what they did.

Signed an artist, made an album, produced the album, marketed it, right? If you’ve ever met any one of your fans, it wasn’t until you went on tour. The label handled everything. No, social media has changed that completely. You can’t get online thinking okay, let me learn all this stuff from Leah and I’m just going to do exactly what the label did. I’m going to produce music and I’m just going to market it out there and Facebook is my Billboard Magazine ad. It’s not going to work.

11:00 CJ: It is not going to work. It’s just not going to work. No, you have to be somebody’s best friend on Facebook who happens to make music. That’s the way it works that’s what we’re dealing with. So look at how some of the thought leaders do it. It’s very much a personal following on social media, you know and like we said before, your post is appearing right above a post from their best friend and right below a post from their mom. 

And so this couple had asked me earlier about why that particular post that they modelled after what we talked about works so well, they had a picture of the girl and she was asking him to go on a walk to run some errands and was asking about what to listen to and so people just started chiming in. Well because her post looks very much like what a post would look like in between somebody’s best friend’s post and somebody’s post from their mother. 

And so it blends, it works seamlessly in this new format. So that is going to be really, really important that you glean these non-technological approaches to things. It’s about the organic. It’s about the personal. You’ll really understand social media when you are not talking about it anymore, right? If you’re a guitar player or a piano player, you are really a great player when you are not thinking about the instrument anymore, right? 

You’re playing, it’s like an extension of you right? You are not giving thought to the gauge of strings anymore. You’ve already chosen those, it is already to your liking. It is already to your fitting. You are used to it, you can see the little areas where you have worn the wood on your acoustic or it’s one with you. You don’t talk about it. You are talking about the music. You are talking about the listener. You are talking about what you are trying to say. 

12:45 CJ: And you could sit there and play something and still have a conversation all at the same time, right? You are one with it. You’ll really understand this whole social media aspect of marketing when it completely disappears and you are not so preoccupied with it. You are just talking to people, that’s all you’re doing and they don’t want to be sold to. They have a resistance to that, right? The idea of a salesman is coming to your door, or do people say “yay”? 

Is that what you do? “The salesman is coming, oh boy get the kids.” No, nobody thinks that, right? You see ads when you go to watch somebody send you a YouTube link and you got ads you have to wait however many seconds. I don’t know, as soon as it is going to be a five-second before I do the skip ad or is it going to have to go through the whole – it depends on whatever they set that at and you just sitting there waiting for it. Do you look forward to that? 

No, you look forward to the fact when you watch a video now on watch in Facebook that when it gets to a certain point, you see that little tile that says “ad starting soon” and you’re thinking, “Oh I am going to click out of it” guess what? You can’t. It won’t let you stop and if you try to scroll down, it’s going to put it up on the corner of your window. You are stuck on that video. So no, nobody looks forward to any of that stuff but we are all sold all the time. 

So we are not opposed. We understand sales is a part of the process. We just don’t want it to be so blatant. We don’t want it to be so obvious. We want it to be more personal, more casual. That’s why you want to see hardcore money being exchanged, go to Facebook marketplace. Well, I got people coming out of the wood just to go pick up to take firewood for me. My son gets on there and he says, “Dad, I got rid of this. I got rid of that. I got read somebody is going to come by to get this.” 

I’m like, “Where did you get that?” “Facebook Marketplace” how long was the ad up? How long is the post up there? “I don’t know, five minutes” right? I mean people understand that. They understand exchange, they understand sales, they understand all of that but it’s the context of it all. The context of a Facebook marketplace, which is basically like Craigslist right? It is based on demand, what people want. They are putting in search terms and it is what people are asking for. 

14:57 CJ: People are not sitting around asking for electro space rock pop electro jazz, okay? But if they got to know you and how awesome you are and how much you understand the culture, which is all understanding all the things that they love and celebrate and read and watch and eat and do and they are going to be like, “I am going to buy your music because you are one of my tribe and you’re awesome and there’s no way somebody this cool doesn’t make good music.” 

But if you just think, “I am going to get in here and just sell music” I mean that music better be so beyond the held awesome and knocks people and you get those kind of things but nowadays, they tend to be more parody stuff, right? More like the mash-ups and somebody who I saw one when they took all of Trump’s speeches and put together the lyrics of a Megadeth song. You know it’s like, who has that much time? But these are the kinds of things that are being pushed around. 

So you have that challenge of that’s what you are up against when you are online here but if you can attract people to you, if you can that’s what the funnel is all about. That’s why that funnel is so important. This is where people really get bogged down because they don’t understand this aspect of it. Funnels are about building that know, like, trust aspect. That is what they’re for. For example, you see a mini version of it with probably when most of you went through Leah’s webinar for the Elite group, right? 

So you spend an hour or so with her on a webinar and you’re like, “Yeah” because an hour was a sufficient amount of time for you to go, “She is getting all the pain points and she is covering all the type of benefits that I’d like to see in my own music” and so you’re in. So that is just a mini funnel right? You went from not knowing a whole lot to knowing all about it and to creating an affinity for her and by the end, you were ready to get on a phone call. That’s a funnel. 

17:06 CJ: You went from awareness to interest to commitment, right? Awareness, interest, commitment, that’s how that funnel goes down just like that. So you are going to be somewhere in there with your music, maybe out of little bit all of them depending on where you are, you may not have marketed yet, you may just have set up your Facebook page. I don’t know where you are but awareness, interest and commitment. 

So awareness is that top of the funnel right? That is what we are bringing in everybody in. So that is awareness. I don’t like talking to a student and then two months later, we’re still talking about your micro-niche or we’re talking about whether you should use Drip or AWeber or whatever. Like I said before, I’d rather come and find you doing way too much than fiddling just with everything. I’d rather see you out there just aggressively hitting the streets so to speak. 

Than overly concerned about your micro-niche or the exact wording in your bio or something like that. You have to pound the pavement. You need to build awareness that’s one thing you can all do no matter where you are in this course. So my first question is going to be, are you running video view ads? Are you building an audience? Are you running page like? Are you bringing people into awareness? Are you making people aware of you? 

Leah is not somebody, you can say I stumbled upon Leah back in 2016. Well, that is not the only time you are going to stumble on her. That just happens to be the first time you are going to stumble on her because if you didn’t stumble on her that Tuesday on March 28th on 2016, you were going to do it two days later. Why? Because she’s freaking everywhere. You want to go to Instagram, she’s there too. You want to go over here? She’s there too. She’s going to get you, why? Because she’s all about awareness.


19:04 CJ: Well I hope you got something out of that, the secret to understanding social media. As you can see, it is something you can begin to apply today. So look at it that way. When the technology disappears and you realize you’re just talking to people, it’s going to make such a significant difference for you in marketing your music and building a dedicated base of super fans ready to buy your music. The secret to understanding social media is to understand that you’re just talking to people. 

So here’s what I like you to do today, if you are interested in becoming a part of the Elite Group, we would love to have you. So what I want you to do is go and visit today and book a call with one of our staff members and learn more about the Savvy Musician Elite Program. It may just be the thing that you need. Thank you again for joining us on the Savvy Musician Show. Like I said, please leave a review, give us five stars and help others discover this impactful podcast. 

We’ll see you next time. 

Episode #055: Keys To Implementing Your Plans

Today on the show Leah and CJ are giving you the tools and motivation to start implementing your plans, no matter how big or small they are. The conversation starts off with an exploration and definition of the word ‘implement’ and how it is being used in the context. From there, our hosts go into getting down to action and putting a halt to the delays that keep us from achieving. Leah explains the process that led up to her becoming the action and result-driven person she is, making conscious decisions and focussing on the pleasure of attaining goals. The discussion covers the fear and pain around doing the work, how little is actually standing in your way, intentionality and consistency and the fundamental nature of follow-through. CJ makes a strong argument for rewiring your brain for achievement, something that may be eluding you if you are experiencing small defeats on a consistent basis, he believes that by getting in an achievement-oriented mindset you can grow from success to success. For all this and more super helpful strategies, be sure to tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A result-oriented mindset and how central that is to our work at Savvy Musician Academy.
  • This week’s student spotlight message! 
  • Defining today’s all-important word: implement. 
  • Avoiding delay and getting into action on strategies 
  • How Leah became an action-oriented type of person. 
  • Weighing different pains and choosing the path that has results. 
  • Intentionality, envisioning your actions and consistent in your strategies. 
  • An imaginary exercise that can jumpstart your action process.
  • Wasting time and money on programs while not showing up and following through.
  • Rewiring your brain, your habits and the things you do day in and day out.
  • Higher levels, bigger devils; the climb continues.  
  • And much more! 


“The word implement means to put a plan into effect. What good is a plan if you don’t implement and follow through.” —  @metalmotivation [0:06:32]

“If you study successful people in history and current successful people, billionaires and all that, you’ll find that they’re all action takers.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:07:56]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Superman System Elite —

Savvy Musician Mastermind on Facebook —

Savvy Musician Spotify course —

CJ Ortiz —

Jaqueline Caruso — 

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz, branding and mindset coach for the Savvy Musician Academy, joined once again by the lovely Leah McHenry. How are you doing, Leah?

00:35 Leah: Good, how are you? 

00:36 CJ: Awesome, always a pleasure to sit across from you if you want to call it that.

00:41 Leah: Yeah, we’re doing this virtually.

00:43 CJ: That’s right, we can see each other, we can certainly hear each other. But again, always a pleasure to be on this podcast, we’ve been getting such great feedback, we want to thank everybody who has taken the time to leave a review and give us some five-star ratings on the respective podcast channels. 

And that’s always something that you can do, we can’t say this enough, please, just do us that solid, get on Spotify, iTunes, Google, wherever you hear this podcast, Stitcher — and leave a comment and review it, give us some stars so that we can keep rising up the ranks, we want this to be the number one show for music marketing and it may be, Leah. I have no idea. But I know it’s to get a lot of downloads but not enough for you.

01:33 Leah: Yeah. Well yes, we do want to be the best that we can be for everybody. You know, I have other colleagues in the same industry who are out there teaching and they’re all experts in their own fields, we all l have something different to offer. It’s all about who you connect with and who you can learn from but I’m definitely competitive, that’s for sure. In a healthy way, I want to be the best. I want to offer the best information I can and it’s only going to benefit you.

02:02 CJ: That’s right. I’ve had so many conversations with Leah about opt-in rates on an ad campaign or downloads of a podcast or views of a video or sales of an album, et cetera. There’s never been a time where she did not talk about getting the numbers up. But, never once did she ever talk about going off and buying something crazy or doing something weird with money, we’ve never had that conversation.

I know she is a results-oriented kind of person and it also shows up in what she does for her students, I see this all the time, she wants them to get those phenomenal results. Leah, to be honest with you, it’s great. Because I deal with a lot of people, it’s great to deal with someone who is very results-driven and we want that in those who are part of these courses and the Elite Group, right? We want them to be numbers-oriented.

03:04 Leah: Yeah, I mean, you can be artsy-fartsy all day long but at the end of the day, what’s going to matter is what were the results that were accomplished because at the end of the day, we all have bills to pay, money makes the world go round, none of this – we can’t do anything without the money so that’s right, results matter, you know?

In your campaigns, what you’re doing with your music, your email list, all that stuff matters, the numbers matter and everything I teach has to provide a result, I don’t teach anything unless it’s getting me a result and that’s my standard.

03:37 CJ: Yeah, a lot of planning and things go into that and a lot of follow-through goes into that, to create these kinds of results and that’s kind of what we’re talking about today Leah, we’re talking about the keys to implementing your plans and ensuring that you will take action. You get this question a lot, don’t you?

03:56 Leah: I do, we have a lot of people who are asking, you know, “I got a plan or one of the programs and I’m you know, I have my goals that I want to accomplish but how do I make myself to do it because it’s so hard, I find myself falling off the wagon, I have a hard time sticking to things, life gets in the way, schedules change and there’s just like, I have curve balls thrown at me and I just can’t seem to get to the end result that I’m after.” So we hear about this a lot.

04:24 CJ: If we’re going to talk about today in Episode 55, I want to start with just a student spotlight, these are always cool, today is from Jacklyn Caruso who gives us a win from the Elite Group who said, “I just wanted to share some of the success I’ve been having on Facebook and Instagram with engagement. This has been a goal of mine forever but more recently, after our call, with one of the coaches, it became a main focus, we’ve learned that before our ads can perform well, our posts need to perform well with the audience we want to cultivate.”

She said, she shared a couple of posts that have blown her away, where she was putting some of these principles into effect and they have proven effective, she says, “I’ve been testing and hoping for things to work on my pages for almost three years now. But once you know the principles, you don’t need to hope anymore, I want to encourage you, the other students, to keep testing the principles and building the confidence to achieve great success. Small successes keep me going on this long climb to a sustainable music business.”

That’s pretty cool.

05:25 Leah: Right on.

05:26 CJ: Applying the principles, she’s been struggling with this for three years but she finally, the coin finally dropped after a call where she realized just how important that engagement really was. She needed to see things differently. But, there’s no – I love that — you didn’t see that but she actually put the word hoping in quotation marks.

Because the point being is that there are principles taught here Leah, that as you said, it’s all about the results and so that’s what we’re trying to get these students to experience. Nothing is as motivating as results — when you could have listened to a hundred motivational speakers and nothing is going to bring more motivation out of you, your own motivation than you getting to see some results and some problems solved for your music business. I know that’s a huge thing.

Yeah. I want to start with a simple definition, okay? We’re going to define the word ‘implement’. Because that’s what we’re talking about. Keys to implementing your plans and ensuring you got to take action.

The word implement means to put a plan into effect. What good is a plan if you don’t implement and follow through. Leah, I know a lot of very successful people, I know a lot of hard-working people, you’re probably one of the biggest planners implementers I think I’ve ever met. Let’s start with you, talk to us about implementation.

06:59 Leah: You know, that’s funny you say that I’ve heard that from others as well, like coaches of mine, mentors of mine, they’re always amazed whenever they give us advice. We immediately go to work on their advice and of course we get really good results because I don’t delay. If there’s something that’s going to work better than what I’m currently working, I put it into effect right now. I don’t wait for a rainy day, I don’t wait for – well, it’s not really a good time for me to do that, I have other important things, I clear my schedule and I go, I’m implementing this thing right now.

What do I need to do to reverse engineer this, what do I got to do, let’s do it? I think there’s something to be said about not procrastinating, not delaying and being an action taker. I think if you study successful people in history and current successful people, billionaires and all that, you’ll find that they’re all action takers, they don’t hum and haw about things. They don’t take forever to make a decision, they usually make quick decisions, not because they’re rash but because they know time is of the essence and they have enough wisdom and experience that they can make good decisions, we’re not always going to make good decisions.

Sometimes it will be a mistake, so what? You’ll get over it, you’ll learn. But make a decision and then move on it. Move, don’t sit there and think about it, that’s not helping you. That’s one thing I guess that part comes natural to me, does not come natural to everybody. Let’s just get that out of the way, it might be extremely uncomfortable for you to do that and that’s okay. But do it anyway.

08:40 CJ: Well, let’s unpack this a little bit in reference to you. Do you feel like this is just more your natural way of looking at things? What made you this, tend to be a more action-oriented type of person.

08:50 Leah: You know, I think it all really changed for me when I started doing this in my own music business. You know you come to a point where you can read and read and you can consume. You’re no better off than you were a year ago. Until you actually do something and you put your money on the line and you take a risk and you actually take that leap of faith and start implementing and don’t worry so much about the risk as the results.

When I started getting results in my music business, it was like, hey, when I put something in motion, things happen. It’s really weird how this universe works when you take action, it actually produces something, a result. I don’t mean to sound all metaphysical but it’s a fact. Actually, sometimes, it blows my mind about how thoughts have such an effect on people. They’re intangible in a materialistic world, thoughts shouldn’t mean anything, really, if you think about it, they shouldn’t have any effect. I could say, I’m a triangle, right? Or whatever, and it shouldn’t have any effect, it shouldn’t have any meaning but because thoughts have meaning and they have substance.

When you take an action in the world, it will produce some kind of results, whether it’s a reaction or something. It just encourages you, when you actually see the effects of that activity, it’s like, the more I do, the more effects that’s going to have. Yeah, I find that incredibly motivating. If I want to make a thousand dollars in my music business, all I have to do is come up with a sale or send these emails or put up this ad.

If I take this action, I will get a result. It doesn’t always mean that it’s a result I would like but it will – right? Because that’s the reality. But, it will happen. I’m encouraged by that. It sounds so simplistic but – 

10:45 CJ: Well that’s the thing, it’s so simple that people work overtime to help us misunderstand it and I mean, whether you take action or don’t take action, you’re going to get a result, right? It definitely will not be the results that you want, there’s something very true to the premise that the two motives for what we do is either to avoid pain or gain pleasure.

Leah, at some level then, for those who struggle with putting a plan into effect, they’re trying to avoid pain, has to be, because if the action would create obviously, pleasure — because it would create results that you want, sales for example, then why would you avoid that pleasure unless you fear the greater pain?

The greater pain is taking action. We can call it laziness, we can call it procrastination but it really is what you said, it’s a way of thinking, it’s a way that your thought processing is to where you honestly believe, the pain of doing the work is greater than the pleasure you would get from making sales. And that’s just weird.

12:05 Leah: Yeah.

12:05 CJ: People literally do that. Why else would they avoid the work?

12:09 Leah: I always say, pick your pain, it’s all painful in a way like having to do it, stick with something, be diligent, even when you hit bumps in the road, even when it’s not easy, you know, similar to an exercise program or a diet or something. You know, you have the pain of that discipline, of putting in the work and sticking to something or you can have the pain of not doing any of it and being worse off.

You know, pick your pain but the thing is, by sticking to your plan, by sticking it out and being disciplined and you are also in addition to that pain, you’re going to have this huge reward at the end of it too. I’d much rather have that pain than the other one.

12:54 CJ: Absolutely. I agree wholeheartedly. It is a distorted way of thinking and you know, if you do think that way, don’t feel bad initially, we’re not here to shame you, we’re not here to make you feel bad, if you’re guilty, just raise your hand, say guilty, I throw myself on the mercy of the court and it’s done with it.

Guilt and self-condemnation, feeling that about this thing is not going to help you get any — help you get your goals made real any faster. You can’t get there faster by feeling bad about yourself. But, if the shoe fits, that’s good. Because you know why? Because we can change you, okay?

13:30 Leah: That’s the good news.

13:31 CJ: That’s the good news, we can change you, if this is just the circumstances of the musical gods, have just chosen you to never be able to fulfill your dream of being a full-time musician, we can’t change the view of the musical gods, that’s just life. Life has allotted you for failure, there’s nothing we can do, there’s no point in even trying. You’re just destined to fail. We know that’s not the case.

The problem is all on our end. We can change that. Don’t feel bad if you feel this way. Let’s just change it, let’s make some adjustments in your mindset. Like for example, we just talked about our motives being the avoidance of pain or the gain of pleasure. If that’s the case then we need to beef up the other side, right? 

My guess would be, Leah, that in your case, you do well at this because you have a pretty solid grasp of the results, you have a pretty solid grasp of the feeling that you’re going to have if you get these particular results. You look – what that does is that minimizes your view of the pain, you don’t dress up the pain, you don’t exaggerate the pain, right?

14:37 Leah: I put little very focus on my current discomfort and I put a lot of focus on what I want my future to look like. In fact, I probably put like 90% of my focus is on what do I want this to look like, what I want the result to be and I just focus in on that. My current discomfort in getting there is irrelevant, it is not important.

Just do what needs to be done. You know, for that reason, I mean, there are a lot of people who struggle so bad just getting the motivation to get out of bed and I just don’t relate to that mentality at all because I can’t. I’ve got this fire in me to want to keep making music and I can’t stop even if I wanted to. 

My brain will start writing music in my sleep if I stop long enough. It will. I think a lot of people will feel the same way and the same thing with teaching. I think there’s a lot of people, there are times where I get sick and tired of dealing with people and dealing with whiners and complainers and needy people and this should be free.

I get sick and tired of it. I think, “I want to quit, I don’t want to do this anymore. You guys suck.” There’s other people that you know, I don’t think I can quit even if I wanted to because it’s in me, I’ve got this drive, I need to share, I have to share. I feel obligated to share what I’m learning with the world. That drives me forward and my current discomfort doesn’t matter. 

What matters is making an impact and we are laying the groundwork right now, in a society that is extremely entitled, a society that is extremely self-centred and narcissistic and they want all the benefits without putting in any of the work, this is the society we’re dealing with right now. In the music industry, we’re dealing with people who have no idea what to do with their career because of the internet and all this stuff.

We’re laying our groundwork here that hopefully will have some amazing positive ramifications for years to come and for that reason, that keeps me going.

16:40 CJ: Yeah, you know, I get this a lot Leah, on my side of things for those who don’t know, I have my own project that I do called Metal Motivation, it’s a motivational content and coaching and personal development for people who love – really for anybody but that’s just sort of the brand that it’s under. I get that a lot too where people will write in and say, “Yeah, CJ, what about the person who doesn’t want to do or struggling all the time.”

Can’t get themselves out of bed and like yourself, I’m just like, well, I don’t understand that mentality, I don’t understand that way of thinking and then people will come back to me and say, “Yeah, but that sounds elitist.” I said, “It’s not elitist at all, not at all.” “Well then, shouldn’t you be doing something for those people who can’t seem to get out of bed and can’t get themselves to do things?” 

I said, “No. I’m not designed for them, I’m not called to them, at least not now.” They say, “Well how will they get any kind of help?” I said, “Listen, this is why you have to look at. I’m there for the person who’s ideal for me, who is trying to really do something, needs some more information, needs some more help but they’re ready.” They’re ready for the teacher, they’re ready for the coach. If these other people, you know, they want more out of life but they’re not willing to put any effort into doing it, right? If they’re not willing to put an effort into go get something out of life then I will allow life to coach them.

17:59 Leah: Yeah.

17:59 CJ: And life will coach them with pain and so at some point then, the pain of staying where they are will exceed then the pain that they are afraid of, of doing any kind of work and then they’ll eventually take action. That’s when they’ll start to take action. The discomfort has to become really uncomfortable before they’ll get out of this mediocre stage of just settling, compromising and complacency and apathy. 

It’s not going to happen until that discomfort gets uncomfortable. Now part of my job as a coach, however, some have mentors. I’m a tormentor. So that means sometimes I may try to make you a little more frustrated with where you are. You are not frustrated enough, you are not uncomfortable enough but like the mother eagle, I’m going to stick thorns in the nest because it’s time for you to get out of the nest. It is time for you to take flight. 

It is time for you to take some action on these things and you are never going to get there until I kick your little furry butt out of the nest. And you know so to do that means I need to paint a picture of what your life could be like and Leah, you do that all the time, painting a picture for people using your own example of what their music business could be like. Imagine what it would be like if you could even if it is just a great part-time income with your music. I mean most people would be happy with that. 

19:21 Leah: Would you really complain if that was your situation a year from now?

19:22 CJ: Yeah, would you really complain. Well, the only thing that is standing in the way is just the investment of time and effort that’s it.

19:30 Leah: Yeah and the whole consistency thing. You said something in the past that I’ve talked about in workshops that we’ve done since then about the whole, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” thing where we actually – I don’t know, you said this also but I heard that people don’t actually do anything like go get a cup of coffee unless they first envisioned themselves doing it. 

Like you don’t make a decision to even get in your car and go somewhere. Unless you first had a mental picture in your mind of you getting in there and doing that thing. So you first envisioned it and then you took action. So when it comes to implementing, I think you just got to be way more intentional about it. Those things that they were doing are automatic then the everyday life scenario but when it comes to building a business, building your music career, creating sustainable monthly income you have to be so much more intentional with it. 

So we talked about being an action taker moving quickly, move now if there is a training that you need do it now. Don’t wait that is really important. All successful people have that one thing in common and then also being intentional about picturing what you want that future to look like and it sounds like I am not a big fan of the woo-woo whatever manifestation crap out there. I am not going to hide that. I really don’t like a lot of it. I think a lot of it is garbage. 

But there is something really to be said for being super intentional with what that is, what does that look like. Even if it is just a certain amount of like a number of income, you want a thousand dollars a month consistently. That is a great place to start. So that is being intentional and picturing it, what would life look like when you have that thousand dollars coming in consistently every single month, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to reinvest it? Are you going to blow it? 

What are you going to do? So there is something very – and something does get loosed I think when you say something out loud “I want to do this,” and then you put actions behind it, something very powerful happens. 

21:36 CJ: Yeah and you are always going to be motivated by results. So that’s why I will often tell people to get their physical health in order. So diet, nutrition, all of that sort of thing because you need to see tangible results in something in order to train your mind, to believe that you are not just blowing a bunch of law of attraction nonsense into your head that you are seeing very real-world results. 

But in another side and I do this exercise with a lot of people when it comes to procrastination or when it comes to laziness and it is just a simple visualization exercise you can do any time, if you need to clean your room, organize your garage, if you need to get to the gym, I don’t care what state of mind you are in, I don’t care if you are – picture your most lazy time, on the couch, you’ve been there surfing channels, eating a bag of chips, the last thing you want to do, it’s a Sunday afternoon is go to the gym and get on the treadmill. It’s the last thing in your mind. 

You are tired but you’re stuck now. You’re stuck because you’re in this habit of laziness and surfing and you know the TV. In that moment, just do this, just close your eyes and for just a couple of minutes, I just want you to picture yourself doing the very thing that you don’t want to do. So picture yourself driving to the gym real quick, getting on the treadmill but just picture yourself happy about it, excited about it and then picture yourself running on it, smiling and just picture it. 

Okay now open your eyes and then look around the room and there’s the TV on, there is the bag of chips on your lap. Now close your eyes again and let’s do it again and let us make the smile even bigger on your face and let’s see yourself doing – now let us see you lifting up some weights and you know, focusing on your muscles and just doing things and being really happy about it and just keep seeing that for just two or three minutes. 

We could do that. I could have you stand in front of a messy room and have you close your eyes and picture yourself picking up that room, seeing the end result clean and all of that then open your eyes, you see the dirty room. Close it again, envision the same thing again. What will happen is your feelings are going to follow your consistent thoughts. It’s as simple as that and so I guarantee you, you do that for five to 10 minutes sitting there on that couch and you will get up and turn it off. 

You will put that bag of chips aside. You will get into your car and you will go to the gym. I guarantee it. You are not as lazy as you think you are but that is the key, think you are, right? 

24:15 Leah: That is really good. The whole of your feelings will follow your thoughts. 

24:19 CJ: Yeah. 

24:20 Leah: That is very – so if you are intentional about your thoughts you’re saying the feelings will follow that. That is really powerful for those who do – 

24:28 CJ: And those who want to. 

24:29 Leah: Yeah, for those who do struggle with motivation, maybe is there something we can speak to about consistency because I know that that’s a big thing for people when they say, “Well I have those plan and I am going to start it but I am not good at staying on track.” 

24:43 CJ: Right, I think everybody – you know we all understand how many days, the debate about how many days that it actually takes to create a habit. I think the most important thing that people have to get into is today. You know it’s like the concept of worry, right? You know, tomorrow will worry about itself. Yesterday is obviously already gone. The only thing you truly have is today and so that lightens your load a whole lot, right? 

Alls you got to do is create today but I think the important thing is when somebody – because I get that question often is about they have a problem with – they say, “You know, I get excited about things and I get started okay but then I fall back to my same old habits. So how am I going to get this type of consistency?” And I say well the problem is not that you struggle with being consistent in that one thing you are trying to do. The problem is in your mindset altogether. 

Which means then you have to get a taste for achievement and that is a thing we don’t have. We don’t have a taste for achievement and because we don’t have that taste, we’re inconsistent and because we are inconsistent, we lack something and that lacking is confidence and confidence is based on the word confide, right? If I confide in Leah it’s because I trust her to keep the information secret. I confide in her but it’s taken from the word ‘fidi’ which means belief, right? 

So if I believe in Leah then I know she is going to show up when she says she is going to show up. I know she is going to do what she says she’s going to do, right? So I have confidence, confide, fidi, I have confidence in Leah that she’s going to do what she says she’s going to do. We don’t have confide or confidence in ourselves. We don’t believe in us. But why would I believe in Leah and not believe in me? Because Leah has given me evidence of it, right? 

She has proven herself to me. All I need to do is to prove to me that I can do things on a regular basis. Well then how do you do that? You have to make it less daunting. In other words, the most important thing you can do is not so much – even if I told you to put certain plans that you are struggling with on hold for a little bit. I just want to spend a couple of months with you teaching you how to get a taste for achievement. Teaching you how to get a taste for daily discipline. 

And so to do that, I may not need to address these bigger things. We are going to put those on hold because we are going to rewire your brain so that you can do those things. So we are just going to do little things every day because the reason why you don’t confide in yourself, you don’t have confidence is because of a multiplicity of a bunch of little defeats that have added up over time, right? They are just a bunch of little defeats like bricks on a wall that have added up over time. 

And how are we going to reverse this is we’re going to get you a bunch of little victories that are going to start add up in the next 30, 60, 90 days. Just a lot of little victories and we’re going to exaggerate these things. So we’re just going to say, hey making the bed, cleaning this or making sure you always – like one of the things that I have here is I do not want to wake up every morning to a kitchen that’s dirty, right? I always the kitchen clean every day. So that’s just simple things. 

Okay, every day I will make sure before I go to bed, I’ll take the 15 or 20 minutes it takes to clean all the dishes out or whatever. If I do that I’ll make a big deal about it just like I did when my little kid first ate his peas. We have talked about this before, I wanted him to think that eating your peas is a super great thing. 

28:30 Leah: Yeah, make it a big deal. 

28:32 CJ: You make it really big, “Yeah you ate your peas, isn’t that wonderful?” Same thing with you. Pick something that you are going to do, two or three things that are small every day. They don’t have to be your big plans. They could be a portion of them, they could just be something around the house. Do something every day and let’s for the next 30, 60 or 90 days whatever it takes for you, let us rewire your brain for being the daily achiever. 

28:55 Leah: That’s brilliant. So you guys if you heard this and you are one of those people who asks us about that, I expect that you are going to implement this. This is advice in things that people normally pay for with CJ, so you’d better appreciate it. You better thank him, you’d better leave us a raving review of this episode. I want to hear what your one or three small things are that you’ve chosen to implement whether it’s just like, “I am going to wash my face every morning and before I didn’t.”

I don’t care what it is, if it’s that or making your bed or drinking a glass of water first thing when you wake up, something like that where it is just incremental, small and consistent that you’re doing all the time. You’d better thank him for that. The other thing I wanted to bring up because this is a statistic that Steve actually shared in a group, in our Elite group just to kick everybody’s butt, there is a statistic that he learned that only nine to 12% of people whoever joined a program ever finish it. 

And so we were doing that to just light a fire in everyone’s butts because even in our Elite Mentorship Program, people have invested a lot of money into this program, into their selves, into their coaching. There are some people who have barely logged in and it blows my mind. So this happens at all levels by the way whether it is a $10 product or a thousand dollar program or whatever it is, there is people who spend money on the University and missed all of their classes, right? 

The problem is not the program, it’s you. You’re the problem and what is with this phenomenon though of people investing into themselves and even sometimes when they have skin in the game, they are still not showing up, they are still falling off the wagon. They are still not logging in doing the work. Why? What is wrong with people? 

30:45 CJ: Yeah, the emotional impulse to – you know we do that all the time right? Spend some money because we think we’re going to do something and then we leave it. The membership at the gym or whatever it may be, we spend this money and we don’t do it but like we said before, if we know the problem is us then that is good news because we can always change us, which is why I think what we just talked about is so important that we really want you guys to rewire yourself. 

This is a long game we’re in. It is a long game and if you are going to succeed in music, think of it that way. So sometimes you want to get the things and the hardest thing to do sometimes Leah are the things that are the most fundamental, right? People want to jump like you put out a course and there’s level one, level two and level three. People say, “We’ll just send me workbook for level three. I don’t need to do level one or level two.” 

For some reason, we are averse to the fundamental things that we need to do that lay the groundwork for the rest of the things that we do and if you are stumbling over something as simple as implementing a course that you have invested a lot of money in, we have a brain problem. We have a simple brain problem and so for you, again I would spend time rewiring your brain for achievement. Because that is all that’s standing in the way between you and your goal’s work. That’s it and you have a problem with work. 

32:11 Leah: Yeah, ouch. 

32:16 CJ: It’s a four-letter word, w-o-r-k.

32:20 Leah: Oh this is so great you guys. I hope that you are getting a lot out of this because it is even good, it is good for me to hear even though I mean I don’t relate to any of it. 

32:30 CJ: Yeah, I have never made a mistake, so we’re just doing this for the listener man. 

32:36 Leah: Yeah.

32:38 CJ: No it can get the best of us, all of us at some point and you know, we have a saying is higher levels, bigger devils.

32:46 Leah: That’s good, yeah. 

32:48 CJ: So you know, Leah’s success doesn’t mean she’s excused. It just means the burdens and the responsibilities and the disciplines that she has to maintain are only that much bigger. 

33:01 Leah: I’m telling you, that is the truth. 

33:04 CJ: But all of the victories that she’s done along the way have equipped her for where she is now and that’s part of why the journey is difficult as it is so that – this is why those people who have a sudden rise to success whether they are an actor or musician or what have you, why they fall so hard, is because they didn’t have that arduous journey up to the top. So whether – 

33:30 Leah: Don’t have the character behind it to support the success. 

33:33 CJ: Yeah, just can’t do it and so yes, achieving success is just another climb up that steep muddy slope but it’s worth it because on top of that mountain as I like to say, on top of the mountain that you are so afraid to climb is a stronger version of you. 

33:54 Leah: Amen. That’s good. That is a great note to leave off on too. 

34:00 CJ: Yeah, so implement guys. Implement today. Leah, what do you want them to do today? 

34:05 Leah: Well, if you are serious about wanting to build your online music business and you want us to help you, you want the accountability because that is one of the issues that some people have with implementing is they just need an extra layer or accountability. Well, we are providing that on quite a big way in a way that I have never seen it done before at all in the music industry and my goal is that nobody will. We are here to serve, we are here to help you implement.

That is what we’re all about and if you want that level of accountability and implementation, we are ready to speak with you on the phone. Give us a call at and book a call and we’ll definitely help you out and see how we can hold you accountable to your goals. 

34:51 CJ: Awesome and again guys like we said before, please leave a review, give us some stars and we want to take this to the top and produce more results for the Savvy Musician Show. 

Once again, this is CJ, what a pleasure to be with you again, Leah. Thank you, sign us off. 

35:08 Leah: See you later guys. 

Episode #054: Growing Your Music Business With Less Stress

Today on the Savvy Musician Show we’re talking about growing your music business with less stress by not doing everything yourself. At the start of your music career, you might have to fulfill multiple roles, which will give you the insight you need to delegate and oversee the tasks later on. But getting help will give you the freedom and breathing space to build out your business much faster, which in turn will provide the finances you need to further outsource and in this way, grow. We dive into the topic of delegation, advising you on the types of tasks that you should contract out and the ones that are important to do yourself because there are certain things that only you, the artist, can do successfully. Fortunately, there is loads of stuff that you should not be filling up your time with, things that you are no good at and that won’t do your reputation any favors. Household duties are also an easy one to delegate, getting someone to give you a hand with cleaning and cooking so that you can spend your time more productively on the things that you are passionate about. Be sure to tune in!

Key Points from This Episode:

  • A testimony from a student about his success with the help of SMA.  
  • Some of the problems Leah encountered when she tried to do it all herself. 
  • The importance of initially doing things yourself so that you understand the various dynamics. 
  • Two extremes: those who don’t delegate anything and those who delegate it all. 
  • Mixing and graphics – the first two things you should probably farm out. 
  • Considering unnecessary expenses and why you can afford to contract out some work. 
  • The importance of artists themselves doing the course and not their managers. 
  • Why you should not be delegating the marketing early on in your business. 
  • Decision fatigue and lightening your load by delegating home tasks and chores.
  • Giving others more decision-making power so that they can take things off your hands. 
  • Identifying the most important aspect that you need help with. 
  • And much more! 


“In a lot of cases, it’s more expensive to do it yourself, all the time that you’re putting into it to not get it right and for it to not leave a good impression on somebody.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:10:02]

“That’s how delegation should happen, you need to know enough about it that you know if somebody is doing a good job or not for you.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:16:53]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Fiverr —

Upwork —

99designs —

Rob Hulford (Student Spotlight) — 

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome once again to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz and I am the branding and mindset coach at the Savvy Musician Academy. So thrilled once again to be joined with her eminence, Leah McHenry, how are you?

00:37 Leah: Good, thanks. I’m getting used to that eminence thing, yeah.

00:41 CJ: The queen, the admiral, all the things I said in the last episode. You’re in charge. She’s basically in charge of SMA, when we say SMA, that means the Savvy Musician Academy. We just tend to throw around some things, we can’t assume that everybody knows exactly what we’re talking about. We’re going to make it a point ladies and gentlemen to try and explain this thing and not use only the insider lingo.

Episode 54, thank you so much for joining us. Today, we’re going to talk about growing your music business with less stress by not doing everything yourself. Now, we’re going to have to break this down because there’s a lot to it and Leah will explain a whole lot more about what that means. I want to start just Leah, again, with the student spotlight, these are pretty awesome, all the great testimonies that you get inside some of the paid and free group.

Today’s spotlight is Rob Holford. I can’t his name without immediately thinking of Rob Halford, the singer.

01:39 Leah: I know, me too.

01:43 CJ: Rob Halford who also has a – an English accent or he’s from Australia, but anyway, he writes. A win, #win. He says this is officially bonkers, the first ad only went live last night, 12 hours ago, still very much in its learning phase but coming in at eight cents per like, OMG. This bleeping rocks.

The ad he’s talking about is a likes ad and he goes on, he says, this has been achieved directly as a result of the teaching in this course, hats off to Melissa her patients and attention to Megan, this is some of the other coaches in the group for her guidance, enthusiasm. Of course, to Leah, for setting all this up in the first place to help us make the greatest success of our talents and of course he says, here, I’m going to mention this one even though it’s bad to brag about yourself. 

He says, top prize today goes to CJ because to get that particular one down. Students were struggling to get the cost of advertisement. In this case, was a page likes ad down. For somebody to come right of the bat in this early phases with a page likes ad that inexpensive is pretty amazing. He’s right to be saying OMG but the part that I like about it is where he acknowledged that he had the help of A, this course and then B, the multiplicity of coaches and counsel. That’s pretty cool.

03:15 Leah: Yeah, it is a counsel of sorts, isn’t it?

03:17 CJ: Yup, there’s a wisdom in that, there’s wisdom in counsel, that’s one of the great things about that elite program Leah, is just all the information, not just you get initially in the program itself but the other coaches. I enjoy listening to what the other coaches have to say because they’re all experts in their particular area, whether it’s Facebook advertising, websites and what have you and of course, people like Melissa and Megan who take a more administrative role in thinks so huge with keeping this machine running.

You don’t realize all the people that are involved in this so very thankful to read that. That was pretty great.

03:55 Leah: Good job, Rob.

03:55 CJ: Good for Rob and he’ll have continued success but again, today Leah, we’re talking about growing your music business with less stress by not doing it all yourself. I get the feeling, this came out of your personal experience.

04:09 Leah: Yes, it did, you know? I’ve come a long way at this point in my music business. I have a full-time virtual assistant and I also have a full-time customer support person, that’s on my music business side of things, not Savvy Musician Academy, but it took me a long time to get there to where I am now where that’s even necessary and so I want to talk about that, a little bit about delegation, contracting certain things out, when should you do those sort of things and you know, how much should you take on yourself. There’s so much we could talk about it actually on this. 

04:42 CJ: Well, take us back then to the beginning for you? What were some of the problems that you initially experienced when you were trying to do it all?

04:53 Leah: Well, when you start doing everything yourself, when you’re doing it all, obviously, not everybody has eight to 12 hours a day to dedicate to that and I certainly didn’t especially getting started and having my own music business and then homeschooling the kids and single-income household for a very long time.

It was me doing it all myself and there’s actually some benefits to doing that when you’re first starting out and I think that in a lot of cases, actually, quite necessary, for you to learn the important lessons that you need to learn in order to even know when it is time to delegate is this person doing a good job, what are the things that I’m good at, what are the things I’m definitely not good at.

Those are all the things I had to figure out but I was doing everything myself. You know, aside from like my album covers, you know, I was doing all the administration side of things so everything from the distribution and uploading everything, fan emails, sorting through all of that, of course there’s the songwriting in the music side itself. I don’t do any of my own mixing or mastering so I’m hiring that sort of thing out. Just organizing, you know, project management to logistics of like paying session players.

There’s just so many different aspects. Yeah, legal, administrative, creative, man, there’s just a lot, there’s a lot to learn.

06:11 CJ: Yeah, the reality though is that someone’s starting out can only farm out as they say so many things. What can they do because they’re just getting started out just like you. If you had to do it over again, how would you approach it differently?

06:28 Leah: I think I actually did a pretty good job the way I went about things. If it’s a matter of like budget, you can only delegate so many things. First I want to address, I think there’s a couple of different kinds of people, there’s people that never delegate anything because they think nobody can do it better than them. Then there’s people who want to delegate everything because they don’t want the responsibility, they don’t want to think about it at all.

There’s issues with both of those scenarios, people who think that nobody can do it better than them, that’s just not the truth, there are other people who can do it far better than you other than you. Other than, let’s just take out the songwriting part of it, you’re the music creator, let’s take that out of the equation, only you can create your music but even then, you know, you get a producer and they get a hold of it and you know, that’s the spit and polish, they may get something better than it ever was.

I’m experiencing that right now with the stuff I’m doing. Yes, I’m composing all the music, I’m putting together a lot of the arrangements but then I hand it to my producer and I get it back a few days later, a week later and it’s like night and day difference, he improved on what I did. Even then, I can’t say that I could do what he did better, I can’t. But the essence of the song is coming from me.

On the one hand, people who have a hard time passing anything off, they have a hard time delegating anything, you are going to hit a ceiling very quickly because not only do you have the time constraints, but you have skill constraints as well. You can’t be an amazing top-notch musician who is like you know, your vocal skills are on par where they need to be.

Your musicianship, your live show, all of this and be an expert at you know, graphic design and be an expert massage therapist and like five other things, you know what I’m saying? You can’t do it all good all the time, you’re going to be mediocre, very mediocre, I promise you at most of the stuff you’re doing. 

I think the first important thing if I was starting over is identify the things that I definitely shouldn’t be doing. For me, I should not be doing graphic design, I shouldn’t be designing my own artwork and unless you have a background in that, you went to school for it or you have like a really good grasp on it.

You should not be doing your own graphics, we can all tell you did your own graphics, they look really bad. I’ll just tell you, I’ll be the bad cop for you, they look horrible and you should not do your own graphics. That would be the first thing I would farm out and find somebody to do. Aside from of course, you know, most people shouldn’t be doing their own mixing and mastering either, even if you think you’re pretty good.

If you don’t have real experience in that, it’s just worth the money to go get that stuff done properly. But outside of the music, right? Graphics for sure, I mean, that’s the easy thing. I don’t care who you are, you can find a graphic designer who can do a better job than you.

I would start there. Then after that, let’s see, t here’s so many different aspects to the music business, I have to think for a second about what would be the second thing I would do? I’ll have to think about that.

09:26 CJ: You felt like that you had a pretty good concept of delegation early on? Delegation is one thing, it’s what you’re doing more so now as the business has grown. Initially, it was more so farming certain things out.

09:40 Leah: That’s right.

09:41 CJ: You say farm out, in other words, you’re hiring somebody else to do. Some will think like you said, nobody can do it better than them. Others, maybe you don’t feel like they could ever afford it or so they have no idea that graphic designer, Leah has got to be super expensive, right? I mean, shouldn’t I do it myself and save that money?

10:01 Leah: Yeah I know, in a lot of cases, it’s more expensive to do it yourself, all the time that you’re putting into it to not get it right and for it to not leave a good impression on somebody. It’s much more affordable in so many ways. I mean, your time is worth something. To hire someone who knows what they’re doing, can get it done, 10 times faster than you, better than you and a better end result. Especially with graphics, you know?

You have a split second to make an impression on someone, someone’s going through Spotify, you know they type in an album name and they see 10 albums come up with the same name, which one is going to jump out at them, right? You have a split second for a tiny little thumbnail. It better be good. I mean, you can go to places like, freelancing sites, Upwork, there’s so many different places, there’s even sites like 99designs where you post a job and they all bid on it and they actually all do a sample of the work and you get to look at everybody’s samples and pick the best one that you like.

I mean, this Internet age is crazy amazing like that stuff did not exist even 10 years ago. It doesn’t have to be expensive but I would say even if it’s a bit of a stretch for you, make it work. We could do a whole other show on ways to make extra cash so you can afford to do the things that you need to do in your music business.

We can definitely do a show on that because I have a lot of ideas. In fact, I wrote a guide called The Quick Cash Generation Guide, that’s actually in our online musician program for this very reasons. Because people say I can’t afford this, I can’t afford that, I can’t afford a graphic designer. Well you can.

The truth is that you’re spending money on other stupid crap, you know? You are. Everybody has some room in their budget unless you live in a Third World country, you know? You are spending money on Netflix and cigarettes and booze and eating out and makeup and shoes and you do have a disposable budget. You can afford a graphic designer; you choose not to.

You choose to prioritize something that is not actually going to move you forward. Don’t talk to me that you don’t have the money, you do. That would be you know, contracting out, we’ll call them contractors, right? You can call it farming out or whatever but contracting is going to be the first step for you delegating, you know? Because these are going to be more one of jobs, right? It’s like, I need this thing for that specific purpose, you know? I do a crowdfunding campaign, I need this one video edited.

Yes, you can edit the videos yourself but if you want it to look really professional, there’s somebody on Fiverr who can do it way better than you and it will cost you 50 bucks or whatever, depending on how big the project is. Worth doing.

12:41 CJ: Yeah, I think the concept of time and money is a huge one and as you’ve noted before, everybody has to understand, even though they’re musicians and artists, when it comes to being an online musician, you have to see this as a business, you are in business. Think like a business person would think.

A business person, you know, opening up a little pizza place or a little floral store or something like that, they understand that they have to hire certain things out, right? They have to do these things because that’s what businesses do, there is a cost of doing business. Now, we certainly understand that you can be strapped financially and all of that, believe me, we get it. But what are you willing to do in other words, how important is your dream? How important is this goal because if it is, if you do want to do what you claim you want to do so bad, well then, it will show up in how you spend your time.

It will show up in how you spend your money, right?

13:44 Leah: Yup.

13:45 CJ: And like you said, they’re wasting a lot of money on other things, they’re wasting a lot of time on other things. They could be listening to podcasts like this instead of binge-watching on Netflix in order to learn principles and keys to raising extra money or what they should be looking for, for example in design. I had this question today. Now, it just so happens that my degrees are in design and advertising.

I’ve been designing logos and packaging and things my whole adult life. I could talk about that stuff but Leah’s right. What’s available now with sites like Fiverr and 99designs would have put me out of business years ago. Because it’s cheap and sure, you get what you pay for to some degree but you know, what we’re talking about is just give yourself this professional look or professional sound, whatever the need may be and it may cost you, you might get a little sticker shock when you realize that you do have to pay for these things, but you have to think of the value that you’re getting.

You exchange money to get something in return, you’re getting something in return. You’re getting a music career here potentially.

14:51 Leah: Yeah.

14:51 CJ: There’s an element of risk in it and you’ve got to invest in that. To think that you’re going to do all this yourself is just being unrealistic and so you end up setting yourself up for a lot of stress, a lack of sleep, it’s not good, it’s not a wise move in terms of creating a successful business and what I get from you Leah is you want to get a hold of these people early on in the stage so that they don’t have to start everything the hard way, right?

15:21 Leah: Yeah, I also want to speak to the other end of the pendulum which is people who want to delegate everything and they only want to focus on the music. Well, now you’re going back to a label model, you know? Where they do everything for you, you don’t’ think about the marketing, you don’t think about anything, you’re just going to be the creator and that is not also going to help you, you know?

When you start a business, at the beginning of Savvy Musician Academy. When I first started that. Started out as a little eBook that turned into a video course and I was first sharing it with my friends and then it turned into well, can we learn that from you? It turned into this course. Well, I was doing everything and then shortly after, my husband joined me.

We were doing the two of us, we’re doing everything ourselves, we were the customer service, we were the course provider, the teacher, the curator, we were the tech support, we were doing everything, absolutely everything ourselves.

You reach a ceiling very quickly when that happens. At that point you go, okay, we’re growing to this certain point, now it’s time to bring on somebody else. That’s the model that is natural and proper and everybody should go through that where you start out and you’re doing quite a bit, you’re learning the ropes, right?

Okay, this is how this works now. I understand enough about say advertising for example. I know everything about Facebook ads manager, but I know so much about it that now if I hire somebody to manage it for me, I know if they’re doing a good job or not. Because I know my stuff.

You know, when you get to that point, that’s how delegation should happen, you need to know enough about it that you know if somebody is doing a good job or not for you. The other side of that is people who want to delegate everything and so you need enough skin in the game. You need to be doing enough that you know when you are growing and when it is time to delegate and contract out certain jobs, you can be confident that they are actually doing a good job and you are getting a return on your investment there. So yeah, I just wanted to speak to that. 

17:22 CJ: Well then we’ve seen some examples of this, have we not? And with certain students who sign up for an elite program spend all of this money and they don’t even show up. They have somebody else learning all of this. 

17:36 Leah: I have seen this, yeah and it is never successful when someone else is going through it like managers going through it with their artists and artists aren’t the one logging in, it is the manager, the partner, whatever who is going through the program and they definitely don’t see the same results as when the students are the ones logging in and doing the work. As long as they are extremely involved and we actually speak to these people in the forum and we tell them: 

“Listen this will not work if you try to do this completely alone without the artist. It won’t work. You cannot be their voice. You know there is email sequences that need to be written and it needs to come from the artist. You cannot do that for them. This needs to come from their heart. It needs to be their voice and you can’t do that.” So that is why to this day, nobody writes our ad copy except for me, for even Savvy Musician Academy. 

We had other people in the past try and it never went over well because people can’t replicate my voice. A good copywriter should be able to do that. That is not impossible but unless you have mad skills, other people cannot replicate that for you. So what I don’t recommend, delegating is your marketing and not at this point. Not until you guys are making at least $10,000 a month regularly in your music business. You shouldn’t delegate your marketing. 

So I don’t want anybody else running your ads, nobody else should be writing your emails. Nobody should be setting up your funnels like you need to know that stuff. You need to do that. So I wanted to just draw that line in the sand so that people understand. When I say delegate, I am talking about the stuff that you don’t need to be doing. You actually probably shouldn’t be doing it and I have already brought up the graphic design that is one really big one. 

For other people it could be website design, we teach that stuff. We teach it but for people who don’t have our teaching, most of your websites are horrible. They are terrible. We did a whole podcast episode on that so you should go back and listen to it. We did a five-part series on why your music isn’t making money, we went really deep on that. That is another one where a lot of people should get extra help in either designing it or setting it up because it is just leading such a bad impression so that is another thing. 

19:42 CJ: Leah, how about this then. Let’s expand it outside of the actual music business itself, what about delegating other areas especially speaking from a mother and wife perspective. When it is like okay, it’s not just the music business I am dealing with. It is kids and yard and what about delegating there. 

20:07 Leah: Yeah, actually that is another fantastic area that can just lighten your load exponentially because as you are learning the music business and you are diving into all the ins and outs and Facebook ads and pixels and funnels and emails and all of these really important things, naturally your focus is not going to be on, “What should we have for dinner tonight?” It is very difficult to have enough creative juice at the end of the day to open a fridge and go, “What should I make?” 

So a lot of people ask me about my time management and how I do it all and the truth is that I don’t do it all. That’s my secret. The secret to doing it all is to don’t do it all and so like for one thing, I know that my time, I am worth more per hour than cleaning my house than I would pay somebody else to clean my house. My hourly worth is worth more than what it would cost for me to clean the toilets. So for that reason and it has nothing to do with the fact that I mean I enjoy cleaning. 

I like a clean house but that is not where my best time is spent. So I hire out once a week deep clean and the rest we do our self and our kids have chores and we do stuff around. We tidy up but the deep cleaning stuff I don’t do so we hire that out. It’s worth it for me to do that. There’s other things you can do too like meals or the service that we just got, we are trying it out right now called Daily Harvest and they’re basically just fruits and vegetables in a cup that go in the freezer. 

And you just dump it in a blender and you have a smoothie so the kids can have that anytime they want and it is in the freezer. It’s in this little cup called Daily Harvest or whatever so that’s great. So things like that makes your life simple and you don’t have to think so hard about there is a real decision fatigue that’s real. That is a real phenomenon that a lot of us are dealing with. Simplifying your wardrobe like I basically wear the same thing every single day. 

I don’t sit there and wonder what am I going to wear unless I have to go out somewhere. I am always in workout clothes so that if I have energy, I can go workout right now. So it is like yoga pants, t-shirt that’s it. I am not thinking about it and I’m sure you are not thinking of other things too but you know meals, household stuff, yard work, those are things worth delegating and hiring out. So that you can focus on your music business. 

22:25 CJ: You know that is the key. Yeah, the key is to protect your focus. You’ve got to protect your focus, people fail because of broken focus and these things it’s not just distraction so much but it is feeling like you have to do all of these things yourself and for a lot of you and this one may be tough for you and it may fall a little bit more on the side of females because they find themselves often in the wife and mother position but sometimes we can be really good at training people not to do things around us, who live with us, training people not to govern themselves, not to take care of things easily themselves and so they end up calling on mom and dad or whoever all the time for everything and so there may be some habits that some of you may need to break.

You may need to start training that 14-year-old who’s fully capable of throwing something in the oven or like you said, tidying up. They’ve got their chores or whatever. They might balk at it, they may not like the change. What’s up with the new version of mom? Well, mom’s got a new mission in life. Dad’s got a new vision in life. 

23:31 Leah: Right, the new sheriff in town. 

23:32 CJ: Yeah, exactly. So we’re changing things around here and don’t be afraid to change anything. You are not breaking any laws, you haven’t committed a sin. You are not suddenly a bad person now. No, what you are saying is I’ve got gifts, talents and abilities and I need to fulfill this calling in life. I now have the opportunity more than I ever had in my life because of where things are in the music industry and what Leah is teaching is now so readily available. 

These powerful tools, I can now fulfill this dream I have always had. I don’t want to forsake my family, I am not going to leave my kids, you guys are not going to starve but it’s time for you to start taking care of more things so that I can be more devoted and not worry about it and not feel bad about it. That is going to be tough for some people to get passed but you need to do it.

24:21 Leah: That’s actually a really important concept and it is something that we are implementing it personally in our family with the kids but also with our staff is giving people more responsibility and decision making responsibility and letting them know if you make a mistake you are not going to lose your job over it because we are giving you more decision making power and you are going to make mistakes that we all do and you will not lose your job. 

So the same with my kids like actually literally yesterday, my oldest son’s name is Ryder and we said, “Hey, I need you to cook those burgers” and it’s so funny because we don’t normally have him make dinner and I don’t know why we haven’t because he’s Mr. Chef Boy like making donuts. He’s really into baking. He is making donuts and pies and it’s like, “Why haven’t we’ve been getting him to make dinner too?” Like he is totally capable of doing this. 

So yeah, he fried them up and got all the burgers ready for everybody and we had a great dinner and he can do a salad like this is easy. So giving more responsibility to your family members and people around you and allowing them to be like, “Hey, if you mess this up nobody is going to die. You’ll be okay.” And just giving them that permission to breathe. So yeah, I think that is important. 

25:27 CJ: Yeah, you have to depersonalize this because I think what happens is like back in the 50’s when Betty Crocker first came out with instant cake mix, it did not sell well at all. Of course, everybody uses this stuff. Now Dunkin Hines, whatever just throw it in to make their chocolate cake, it did not sell at all because keep in mind this is the first time anything like TV dinners, that’s the first time anything like this have ever come about. 

Women prided themselves at that time of making things by hand. So to have an instant mix would not sell at all. So Dunkin Hines could not sell their instant cake mix, which was again common today, so they figured out one simple little change and it changed everything. They added on the back in the directions even though there was a pack of the powder and all of this stuff, they just said “Add one egg” and that one step of adding one egg was all it took for women to start buying because they felt like now they were – 

26:32 Leah: They could take some of the credit? 

26:34 CJ: There is a guilt issue, yeah. There is a guilt issue that comes with this and it’s don’t make this personal. This is not personal, this is practical. Just because you ask your kids to do this or ask your husband or wife or whatever to do something doesn’t mean you don’t love them or you’re doing something bad or whatever or that you are less than or you are not forsaking your role as a parent or spouse or what have you. No, it doesn’t mean that all. 

It’s just coming up with a brand new way to fulfill everybody’s thing and if your family loves you and you don’t have a bunch of spoiled brats then they should be interested in helping mom and dad achieve their dream. 

27:16 Leah: And a lot of people know that we home school our kids and we have the entire time. They have never set foot in a school and since we have been running Savvy Musician Academy, for me to do what I do at SMA and in my music career, I have help with the kids. I have a nanny that comes in every day and helps me for a certain amount of time per day with them and that’s how I am able to pull it off guys because they have needs. 

They do school every day and in order for me to do it, I am not superwoman. I don’t wear some cape. The only way I can do this is by getting help and at first, it was really weird for me. I was such a dedicated – I am still a dedicated home school mom but the way it looked had to change in order for me to do everything I do and so I found a way to not compromise for them. They still get the education that I want for them. I am still directing it. 

I still spend time every year figuring out what we are going to learn and now the kids are getting older we are doing a lot more of that together you know what they are going to focus on for the year, the courses they are going to do, when do we want it done by, trips we want to take that year. So I am still extremely involved in all of it but I have delegated out part of that role, I am overseeing it and I have somebody helping me do that because I am not the only person who can do that. So you know, you find ways of compromising without compromising if that makes any sense. 

28:44 CJ: Sure. Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Again this is just wisdom ladies and gentlemen. I can almost hear Leah for those people who said, “Oh yeah she is hiring a nanny. Okay, nice for you Leah. You’ve got the money there to hire a nanny and have somebody come in and clean your house. Well, that’s not where I am right now.” Well, we understand that. We understand that is not where you’re right now but these are the principles. 

It’s all about the principles. Leah wasn’t where she is right now. I know, I talk to her back when you were struggling. 

29:16 Leah: When I first hired my nanny, I couldn’t afford them by the way. The first time I had it was just basically a babysitter come in for a couple of hours a day so that I could go and focus on building SMA, I couldn’t afford them. I had to figure out a way to make it work. It was a sacrifice so that I could pull any of this off. So you make it, you find a way, there’s what’s called bootstrapping. That’s what it’s called and you find out what is the most important thing. 

So I didn’t have someone clean my house and nannying and delivering food services, anything like that at first. That did not all happen at first. I picked what is the one thing if I could get help with, what is the one thing that would free up my time and my head and give me the ability to move the ball forward where we want it to go. That was the one thing so I chose out of all the things of cleaning the house or all the different things I could hire out, what is the one thing that will really move the needle for me. 

And it would be childcare, getting a little help with that a couple of hours a day so that I could focus uninterrupted and get the job done and guess what? That made me money of me doing that. You just have to prioritize. What is the one thing that you can do? What is the one thing that you can hire out that will move the ball forward for you? And then that’s how you prioritize it. 

30:32 CJ: Right, so you are making the adjustments necessary but you are not compromising your values by doing this because you are not breaking any law by doing this and as you said, this requires sacrifice and I did find sacrifices tossing something of value for something of even greater value and until you get it in your own head the true value of what your future would look like if your dream was fulfilled, if your music career was fulfilled, how valuable is that to you? 

And then compare that to whether or not you’re making all of your kids’ food or cleaning your house or whatever the thing even again going back to the stuff that you do inside the business to a delegation and a contracting out affects there. You have to always value these things. You are the only one who can and don’t put more value in something that doesn’t necessarily that could be easily handled by something else. So that is the point. 

31:35 Leah: Yeah, exactly. 

31:35 CJ: Leah, anything else you want to say about delegating? 

31:38 Leah: I don’t know. I covered quite a bit. 

31:41 CJ: You did cover a lot. 

31:42 Leah: Okay I think that about wraps it up actually. I think you have to know where you’re at in your music career on what do you absolutely need to learn first like we talked about marketing that whole online digital marketing thing. I would not contract that stuff out. I would contract out other things that will free you up to learn that stuff. That is the priority I want to leave you guys with. 

32:05 CJ: Awesome. Well listen, guys, do what you can for your business today and the most important thing is to start thinking of it like a business. All of this stuff, the principles that Leah is sharing is all based on a basic mindset that just says I am now in business. Yes, you are a musician. Yes you are an artist, yes you are super creative and all of this ad manager and this email and marketing stuff is going to take a single thing away from that. 

If anything is going to help you do more music, more creativity than you ever thought possible. That’s the power of the information that is being shared at the Savvy Musician Academy. Leah, what would you like our listener to do today? 

32:54 Leah: Yeah, today I just want you guys to either join the Facebook group if you are not in there and of course, leave us a review if you are finding this podcast helpful to you at all. 

33:06 CJ: Wonderful. Once again, such a pleasure to be with each and every one of you. Thank you for joining us on the Savvy Musician Show. Leah, as always it’s a pleasure. 

33:15 Leah: It’s a pleasure as well. See you guys next time. 

Episode #053: Why We Charge For Information

On today’s podcast, we get into the serious topic of why we charge for information we provide. In a world that is becoming increasingly entitled, some people do not always get why they have to pay for something like content. Today we give you a full explanation on why we give some information for free and others come at a cost. People wonder why they need to invest in their education when they can get it all on YouTube and off the Internet, but what they are forgetting is the immense trouble it is to sift through, organize and make sense of all the random bits of information they piece together. Paying for information, for somebody else’s hard-earned experience makes total sense when you consider the cost of collecting, curating and packaging all the information in a way that is easy for students to grasp – not to mention what those teachers have paid to gain the expertise they now use to teach others. In the broader sense, we talk about the importance of having the right attitude and a worldview that challenges you to do your part in order to be successful. This conversation is so empowering, so be sure to hear us out!

Key Points from This Episode:

  • Measuring the value of information according to the size of the problem it solves. 
  • Considering the potentially devastating repercussions of wrong information. 
  • The particular problem that Leah solves for people – helping them realize their dreams. 
  • The issue with free information: having to sift through everything to find something of worth. 
  • The problem with people who know very little but then attempt to teach others. 
  • The customer journey and how that relates to the free information Leah provides. 
  • A culture of free information and the sense of entitlement it produces. 
  • The importance of having a teacher who communicates well and maintains the right pace. 
  • How the evolution of education might cause expensive colleges to become obsolete. 
  • And much more!


“The way I see it people have zero excuse today to fail because of all the amazing information they have.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:05:33]

“I hope if I can get people results with the free information, they might consider working with me later on. That’s absolutely the truth.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:12:36]

“In the world of the information age it’s easy to assume or believe, because of the sense of entitlement being created by this information age, that all information should be free.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:26:07]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Join Savvy Musician Academy —

Berklee College of Music —

Click For Full Transcript

00:07 Leah: You’re listening to the Savvy Musician Show with Leah McHenry and this is your secret weapon for success in the new music industry.

00:22 CJ: Welcome once again to the Savvy Musician Show, this is CJ Ortiz and I am the mindset and branding coach for the savvy musician academy. Once again, I am joined by her eminence herself, the lovely Leah McHenry. So good to see you today.

00:38 Leah: Thank you, I’ve never been called ‘her eminence’.

00:42 CJ: You’re the queen man, queen of the empire. Doesn’t that abide with your culture?

00:48Leah: It does.

00:48 CJ: Big fantasy metal-y. You should be like used to that. Your highness, Admiral.

00:56 Leah: You know, when you come from a background of changing five kids’ diapers, you know, you don’t perceive yourself that way.

01:05 CJ: That has a way of humbling, in fact, I was telling my grown kids the other day, we were talking about that very thing and I said, you know what? It’s hard for me to take a lot of advice from somebody who hasn’t had kids and it’s not necessarily that because you learn so much more information, there’s just something about a reality check that you get.

01:25 Leah: That’s so true.

01:30 CJ: Speaking of raising kids, we’re going to be talking about some things because kids can be entitled Leah, this is a sort of more impromptu podcast that came out of an offline discussion that Leah and I were having. It has to do with why she charges for information. Now, a lot of you know that she gives a whole lot of her information out for free and of course, that’s what she loves doing but then, there are things that you have to pay for, of course, it’s the stuff.

We’re going to talk a little bit about that, what’s her philosophy behind it? What’s the reasoning behind her approach to all of this? Leah, we’re going to poke at your brain a little bit because maybe there’s a motive in there, maybe there’s something – you’re just out there to take everybody’s money or – 

02:14 Leah: Yeah, I’m greedy, that’s the real reason, right?

02:17 CJ: Rags to riches so that just made her greedy. No, not really. As we always do in the Savvy Musician Show, we like to talk about the students’ spotlights and I didn’t want to talk about a student, in particular, this time, I will in future episodes but dealing with the students as a coach Leah, this past two months, I had just a very unique position to be put in where I was even twice a day, doing one on one sessions with students just almost two months straight.

I didn’t anticipate that I was going to get that sort of response from what we offered back in the branding boot camp but what we offered back in the branding boot camp but it did. I’ve talked to musicians from all over the spectrum, all different genres and different levels of where they are in your courses and all of that.

But there were certain things that came before that was an encouragement to me in relation to really what Savvy Musician Academy is doing. That is that people, for the most part, are stuck over very simple things, okay? Things that when you and I hear about their problems or challenges, we think it’s very simple because we do these things all the time, we’ve studied these things, we teach these things.

They don’t know that though necessarily. But yet, the thing I found is that in all of the sessions that I had, Leah, there was tremendous turnaround but the information that they got that was such a turnaround was not anything overly complicated.

03:47 Leah: Right.

03:48 CJ: It was something that should have been staring them in the face but sometimes, the things that are the most obvious tend to be the most elusive. They were missing the boat. I say that because you probably seen this too. I say that because of what we’re going to talk about today. Is this idea of information? This information, let me ask you that, does information have value?

04:14 Leah: Well, I would say it absolutely does have value, however, it’s useless to you without application.

04:22 CJ: Right.

04:22 Leah: Without you utilizing it and putting it into action is information inherently valuable? I guess that’s a philosophical question. I don’t even know how to answer that.

04:34 CJ: It’s like your value is determined by the problem you solve. How significant is – well, let me ask you this, how significant was the information that you received when you first started out on your first album. You didn’t know much of anything about online marketing. How much, how valuable was that based on the problem it solved and the results it created.

05:00 Leah: When you put it like that, it’s everything. Think about what happens if you have the wrong information. Give the wrong information, that could cost you your life savings, it could cost you your life. I mean, what do people do with wrong information, they make wrong decisions and there’s a lot of bad consequences that happened with it.

That’s how I perceive it. With the right information and of course, all that comes with it, you know? Application of that information. With that, you’re unstoppable, what can stand in your way with that. The way I see it, people have zero excuse today to fail because of all the amazing information they have. That does bring us like why is some information free and why is some gated behind a payment or you know, some kind of transaction.

05:51 CJ: Yeah, I think that’s why the ancients would say, thou shalt not lie. Because the implication is that if you do, then people are going to build their lives on wrong information and that’s a terrible thing. Now, what’s the value of information that is true. Well, the most important kind of information is something that solves the problem, that’s why go to a doctor, right? That’s why you go to a lawyer.

That’s why you pay them more money than you pay the person who might fix your plumbing. It’s because the size of the problem that they solve and in your case Leah, you’re solving a significant problem for people. People, who have – well, what’s their problem? Their problem is they have a dream that eats a hole on the inside of them.

Frustrated because they want to be able to play music all the time, they want to write music all the time, they want to perform on a regular basis, they want to be paid for this. But the industry has changed, everything’s different now and so the one hope that they have to get signed by a record label may be gone or maybe they’re in some obscure genre somewhere and nobody would even give them record deal?

That’s a big problem for someone to have, that’s the problem that you had.

07:01 Leah: Yup.

07:02 CJ: For you, was all of the information that you needed that you use in your business today was all about information free?

07:08 Leah: Absolutely not. In fact, it was the free information that I found that prolonged the process for me. It prolonged it because I had to sift through it, sort it, I had to try and read enough and consume enough free stuff that I kind of could even discern what is BS and what’s not BS. Even by then, I mean, I didn’t know enough, at the end of that, to even have a good judgment of is this actually going to work, is any of this going to work?

At that point, that’s why I stopped studying the music industry, all the free information that I could find, all the YouTube videos, all the articles, all the different things. At the end of the day, nobody’s actually telling me how to do this and in especially in a sequential order that will get me to an end result, the one result that I really want and not only is the information out there scattered, conflicting, you’re going to hear a lot of conflicting opinions and that’s where it is, opinions.

It’s all in the wrong order, you don ‘t know, do I do this first or do this first? Do I release the album first or do we crowdfund first? Do I do this; do I do that? I don’t know. Then, how do I figure out what is the right decision for me? All of that becomes extremely overwhelming. I would say, the fact that I didn’t probably just start out studying digital marketing like I do now. That prolonged the experience.

I think I could have even done a whole lot more much sooner, much quicker had I – if I had a Savvy Musician Academy at the time, that would have rapidly sped up my process.

08:45 CJ: That’s true. That’s part of the value what you do is that you had to go outside of your own area of focus to get the principles from another place and then bring them, import them into and apply them to your particular case. You then became the unintentional expert, right?

09:05 Leah: That’s right, it was an accident, I mean, all the studying that I had done was never intended. I want to have a coaching business one day and where I sell information, that was never my intention. I think if you go into it without intention, I don’t know, maybe some people do but that was just not – it was definitely an accident. Then of course, I think what ended up standing out a little bit later too is my story is a little unique, right? 

You don’t often come across home school moms who are pursuing music careers and don’t tour, that makes it more interesting too.

09:38 CJ: Yeah, I think in your case, it’s a great example that there’s a real frontier aspect too – especially the creative industries now, now that they have been challenged by technology and so you almost have to customize things and you have to stay on top of things.

I think there are a lot of people going back to what you just said that especially in the marketing guru industry, who didn’t know anything about marketing and they’re just going in to learn a bunch of stuff so that they can turn around and create a business teaching something they have only known about for about a year.

10:10 Leah: Yes, I give all the other marketers a bad name because of that.

10:14 CJ: Yeah, you went through a lot, you spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to create what worked for you and you proved it not just with one album, not just with two albums, not just with three albums. Four albums. This is a proven system. In light of all of that and obviously, now that you know, you do have courses that you offer which are charged, you do have the elite group which I work with you in that also is a high ticket thing, it’s not like the course, it’s much more expensive, could you get so much more out of it. 

Then Leah, why would you give any information away for free?

10:58 Leah: It’s lead gen.

11:01 CJ: That’s a marketing term.

11:03 Leah: The truth is, it’s something called a customer journey, right? Like let’s be frank here, it’s called a customer journey where people buy from people they know, like and trust. If you’re in the marketing world at all, you’ll hear that over and over again, same with your fans. People will buy from the bands that they feel like they know, they really like them and they trust them, they trust even the checkout experience, is it trustworthy? Is my credit card safe? 

There’s that kind of trust and then there’s, do I like this person, do I feel like I want to support them? In marketing, the customer journey is people need to get to know you first. It’s like, are you going to propose to somebody on the first date? Probably not, you want to get to know them, are they the right fit for me? Sometimes it needs to be lengthy. Some people know that they want to get married after two weeks, some people have to wait 10 years, everybody’s relationship is different.

In the customer journey or the fan journey or both of them, the length of time is irrelevant, it’s the same process no matter what. People get to know you and there’s some kind of engagement where they’re either listening or consuming or your music or this podcast, consuming information or engaging in some manner and then at some point, the likelihood of there being a transaction is much higher.

Fans who have been listening to my music on Spotify for a long time, when I come up with my new album later this year, chances are very high, they will purchase it. Why we give away information for free is A, I genuinely want to help people and I sure wish that I had some access to that stuff when I was in that position.

I genuinely care. The other thing is that I hope if I can get people results with the free information, they might consider working with me later on. That’s absolutely the truth.

12:45 CJ: Yeah, you’re being honest about this because there is a familiarity that people have to obtain from you, they have to know, like and trust is the marketing terms we use. They have to be able to become confident in what you’re offering and the system that you espouse. Because again, as I’ve said before when it comes to you Leah, the thing I hear from people is they can’t figure out how she does it.

They just don’t know, they’re online too, they have a YouTube channel, their band has a Facebook business page. What is the secret sauce that she’s doing? Well, she’s spent thousands of hours as I said and thousands of dollars, learning these things.

Not just learning it from somebody else. Learning it, chewing the meat, spitting out the bone so that she could create some – her, as a musician. The intent was not to come out and create the Savvy Musician Academy, that was an afterthought. That’s been very successful and it’s helping a whole lot of musicians.

However, in this sort of space, the danger you now have Leah is that people then misunderstand this idea of free information, you’re doing it to help people get to know you, you’re doing it to help people period and to kind of bring them into your radar so to speak. Is there a sense of entitlement now that now anybody who teaches anything has to do it completely for free?

14:12 Leah: Well, I’m starting to think that that is what people believe and I certainly come across it a lot and yeah, part of me just wants to say, if you think, if you’re listening right now and you think that all information and coaching and courses should be free, I suggest you unfollow me right now. I suggest you unfollow this podcast, unfollow the pages, unlike, unsubscribe because that says so much about you, it doesn’t say anything about me, it says everything about you.

It says that you believe that everything is going to happen to you at no cost. You expect all the results with none of the work. That kind of person will never be successful and I don’t want to work with those people because they’re not going to be successful. 

I could give them all my courses for free, all the coaching, even one on one coaching and I guarantee you they would do absolutely nothing with it and I don’t want to work with those people. I come across way too many people who have that or even any kind of offer.

Even our students. If I come out with a new offer idea, I informally pull our students all the time or free Facebook group as well, we have a mix of students and nonstudents in there. People are so quick to say well because we’ve paid for something in the past, we should automatically get that for free. It’s like, what do you think this is? Do you think that this doesn’t cost us anything to put anything together for you?

To curate information, to study it, test it, we spend thousands of dollars on marketing every month and we’re testing, we’re putting stuff, I’m testing stuff and I’m spending thousands of dollars in my music business every month so as SMA.

We’re actually putting our money where our mouth is and do you think that those results should come free to you? Do you think that it doesn’t cost money to have staff and to provide the best support in this entire industry? Because I guarantee you, nobody will out serve us, that’s our motto, nobody will out serve us. None of that is free for us. It cost us money to provide that and people don’t get it, they don’t’ understand that this is a business.

This is a business where we serve you and the point of serving you is to help you get that result that you couldn’t get on your own, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast, you wouldn’t be consuming this free information because why would you need it? If you’ve already solved your own problem.

That mentality, I have a very low tolerance for, especially when I think of the investments I’ve made into myself to even – here’s the thing. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know anything. I don’t know if that’s just me but the more you learn, the more you realize, holy crap, I know nothing and to acquire that information, other people’s experience and wisdom and to learn from their mistakes is absolutely priceless and when I come across entitled little whiners who want everything for free, I just think –

I actually don’t’ want you as a customer and I’d rather you go somewhere else.

17:11 CJ: Yeah. If you’re not willing to put skin in the game if you’re not willing to invest. If you don’t’ understand this concept of exchange, then that tells us all we need to know about how you’re going to handle things down the road. It’s funny, people, for example, I’ll see people commenting in the free groups that you have and they’re asking questions about the elite group, right?

They want all of this information, they’re thinking about it, et cetera. But they’re balking at pricing and – 

17:41 Leah: Yeah.

17:42 CJ: Things like this. It’s just – if you had any idea, you’re not looking at the right thing, you’re not looking at the result, you’re not looking at the thing that you want so bad because if you did, you would say, this is a very small – the more expensive thing is doing nothing, that’s the most expensive thing.

Because it means you’re just going to keep trying to piecemeal this together with the aggregates of free information that you find on a YouTube video here, blog over there, a podcast over here and you’re going to try and somehow figure this all out on yourself, you’re just determined to do it all by yourself. That misses the entire concept for the existence of wisdom.

People talk a lot about #truth online, tell the truth, he speaks, she speaks the truth, it’s not truth man, it’s wisdom. Wisdom is using the experience of the past, right? Somebody else’s past usually. So that your future can be a little bit brighter. Let’s use somebody else’s experience. I don’t have to live through five divorces Leah, to learn that it’s wise not to have a divorce. That’s not the way I want to learn.

I’d rather talk to somebody who’s had the divorce and tells me listen, you don’t want to go this way, man. I don’t want to go that way. Let’s learn from the experience of others but now you got this dynamic where there’s so much information available, right? Freely available so then what constitutes then the cost? Well, the cost is what Leah is just saying, curating information, organizing information because yeah, maybe you could piece together everything that she knows from the thousands and thousands of disconnected podcasts and blogs and videos out there, good luck.

19:33 Leah: Yeah. 

19:34 CJ: Good luck with that or get it very simple handed to you in a course outline, module after module specifically designed for the steps that you would need to take, all the software you would need to get and all of the support staff needed should you have any question about any of the one myriad of millions of little things that you are going to be learning. You are telling me that price is the problem? No, your attitude is the problem. 

20:01 Leah: Yeah, I mean I couldn’t agree more. I had a thought there for a second. The other thing that people don’t think about too is let’s say you can curate all of that yourself and even put it in order. Can you understand it and can you apply it in a way that is relevant to you right now? I think the other thing that people don’t realize is the teacher, who is the teacher? Can this person teach and explain and communicate in a way that I can absorb it that I can process that information and then break it down into bite-size pieces where I can actually go and implement it in an organized – There is another word I like, in an organized sequential – what is another word for sequential?

20:44 CJ: An outlined fashion, right? Step.

20:46 Leah: Yeah that’s right. Can they apply it in an organized step by step way that’s very simple and gets them to that end result? So that is the other part. So yeah, you can probably over a period of years go and curate a lot of this information yourself but it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do anything with it. So that is the other part of it as I took lots of courses, lots of marketing courses like all the big names out there. 

I started really getting a taste for what makes a good teacher and what is not a good teacher and some of them are my personal preferences but I certainly learned there are some people who go way too fast and just assume you already know everything they are talking about and you’re just like, “Whoa that just went completely over my head. I don’t know even know what they are talking about now and now I feel lost and now I feel like I can’t get there now.” 

And there are other people who move at a snail’s pace and you’re just like, “Come on” and you are fast-forwarding it to the videos and you’re just like, “Please, get to the point. What’s the thing I need to know?” and so I developed a preference for teaching style without really knowing it and it’s a little bit in my DNA and my dad was a principal of a private school and a history teacher and so it is a little bit in my DNA and he was always really good at explaining complex things in simple terms.

He was really good at that so I inherited that from him and yeah, I just realized that over the years our students would tell us that, “Leah was able to explain this in a very easy to understand manner. It doesn’t go too slow. It doesn’t go too fast. I am able to implement it” and I break it down and I also really love providing other complementary assets to go along with the information. So I really like workbooks. I really like stuff where you put pen to paper and you’re working stuff out.

I love digital tools as well and some of those things and just being able to decipher between what is busy work and what is actually going to move the needle because hey, I have been in the same position and that’s one of those things because I am doing it, I don’t have time to mess around. I don’t have time for BS. I don’t have time for fluff just tell me what I need to know to move the needle and so that is what all our courses are based around and that’s why you are paying for it. You have to. 

23:07 CJ: Exactly. This is so funny because I edit a lot of my own videos for example and the stuff that I do and so I use Adobe Premier in software or Adobe Edition for some of the audio stuff. So sometimes I need just simple things, a simple question answered, “How come I can’t pull up the caption thing?” so I am going to go to YouTube and just do a simple query for that “how to” something but having it done it so many times now using this particular software the thing I keep coming up against. 

And I would never mention it had you not just said what you said but I’ll get in my query a ton of different videos all addressing the same thing but the thing that I realized is, is how hard it is to find someone that I can A, understand whose audio is good, who is not from Pakistan, who is not talking super-fast or all of the things you – 

24:02 Leah: Someone who gets to the point. 

24:03 CJ: Yeah, so then you find that one guy or gal, who’s got the nice little video intro and they are not going too slow. You can see their desktop and they’re moving, they’re showing you and here is another option you can do to do it this way and the video, I look at the videos only five minutes long and I pull up something about how to open captions for example and I could see a video time that says 17 minutes, no. We’re not going to spend 17 minutes on that.

So if somebody who is A, gifted, enabled and capable of teaching they understand the importance of how the information is delivered, all of these things, ladies and gentleman, go into information sharing, information marketing. So the first thing is to be thankful Leah even gives a damn because she could just be using this to sell her own music and not have to bother with anything. There’s no reason. I don’t have to do this, I’ve got people who argue with me on my motivation on this. So I’m like, “Hey guys, I don’t have to be here” okay? 

25:03 Leah: That’s right, no one is forcing me to do this. I don’t have to do this. 

25:06 CJ Yeah, you are not paying me so I don’t need to be here and so be thankful there are people like Leah who are willing to go through this much effort and come on man, you got somebody who just said her motto is “nobody is going to out serve us” that is something to brag about. That is something to really invest in but what we’re most proud of is the fact that we go above anybody else or try to go above anybody else to give them the service that they provide.

And believe me guys there is stuff I deal with, with students in the elite group that I don’t even mention to Leah. Not bad things just going out of my way to help them answer questions about a little headline that they’re writing or what their graphic looks like or their opt-in ad or how to get more engagement on their Facebook page. It’s maybe going to take me five minutes of my time but no, I am going to give them to them and I am going to ask – 

25:59 Leah: You’re pouring into these people. 

26:01 CJ: Yeah. 

26:01 Leah: You are still investing into them. 

26:03 CJ: But that is the vision that is the mission statement. That is the objective here so in the world of the information age, Leah, it’s easy to assume or believe because of the sense of entitlement being created by this information age, that all information should be free and the only reason why you’d assume that is because – I mean could you imagine what it takes just to pull off one cable news network episode? It may be 30 minutes long but you calculate everybody that’s involved just the time they have to do for animation, just the time they have to do for – 

26:38 Leah: If I could bring up another thing too and this touches a little bit on politics, which I don’t normally do on this show but there is a growing group of people who also believe that all higher education should also be free you know? That all universities should be free. Well everything should always be free. The government should literary provide everything for everyone and nobody should have to pay for anything and there’s some simple math that hasn’t been taken into consideration. 

You know unfortunately we have a monetary system, people have to get paid, people need to feed their families and as you said, people saw bigger problems in other people. The guy deep-frying French fries is not solving the same problem as a brain surgeon and they need to be paid with their worth and so why shouldn’t all universities be free and in some countries they are, some higher education is free and again this is going into a different realm I don’t normally go into.

But I don’t hide the fact that I am very libertarian and my fans know that too and I don’t go there often but I think it is important to address. I think this is in the culture, this is not prevalent in the world view and people’s attitudes and it affects their own ability to be successful. So you have to address it so what are your thoughts on the whole, “Why isn’t all education free?” 

27:57 CJ: Well I am so glad you asked. Well, I went to art school and graduated years and years ago but it was expensive because it was a private institution, right? So it is a four profit institution, trade type school and it cost at that time $24, 000. Now I graduated in ’92 from there so you do the math. I think it is three or four times that amount now if you were to go to that very same school, take the very same thing that I did.

Well I had a pretty sizable graduating class and I am friends with students of that class that I had graduated with, my alumni, and I’ve only been able to count maybe three or four that actually did anything with their degree. Everybody had to endure the same hours of homework and class time but only a small, small few actually did anything with what they learned me being one of them. Well here’s the lesson. They paid $24,000 if they paid their school loans back. $24,000 in an education that they did nothing with. What will they do with an education that’s free? 

29:18 Leah: Right, they got no skin in the game.

29:21 CJ: None so – 

29:22 Leah: Right, what do people do with their high school education if you went to a public school, did you do anything with that? 

29:28 CJ: Right, exactly but I think there is something to be said here. I know you don’t want to get this on a political depth, but I think there is something we can say just about the concept of how you view how life should be and a lot of that comes down to the world you grow up in, the culture and the society that you grow up in and so when you, for example, you go to kindergarten when you are five and you know the public school graduate when you’re 18, go to college for a few years.

Back in my day, you left college, you got one job for a big company and retire at 65. You got the golden watched and played golf. I mean that was the world view that was given to you when you were young and so everybody is following suit, right? They are just following with what they’re told. They are not really thinking outside of the box. The most important thing that you have is self-government. The most important thing that you have is the fact that you can make decisions for yourself.

As I like to tell my people all the time, if you are telling me it is up to me you are giving me good news. You say it’s up to me but somebody else it might probably scare them to death because they have learned to depend on the environment. They are the true environmentalist. They believe that if you change the politician or if you change the policy or you make another law that somehow everything is going to be better. No, they’re not realizing that. 

No, change starts right here with you and I. So to me, the less I have to deal with bureaucrats or institutions or anything else the better off I am. Give me the information I need and I will figure out how I need to do it my way and so even for example in the courses that you teach, you are not telling everybody to do everything exactly your way in the sense. In other words, you have to copy all of her posts or say things exactly the way she does.

No, you have to customize things for your culture, for your audience, for your genre of music but you are going to be equipped with the principles that are going to get you there and that is what you pay for and what we are saying is, it takes so much to do that and it is more than just trying to create a balanced economy so that everybody’s got a job. No, it is the issue of value just like anybody who is listening to this podcast Leah is yeah, they might come over and help you and I do something at our home but you ask them several times to keep coming over and they are going to start charging you, you know

32:03 Leah: Yeah and for the argument that people make, the university and courses and education are way over priced in the States and I think there is an element of truth to that. I mean the debt that people are racking up is absolutely incredible. What’s really cool is the internet age. That is the solution. I’m at events where I am speaking to people who have been to Berklee College of Music and spending between 100 and $200,000 on their music education, which just blows my mind.

And here our programs are a fraction of that price and what they’ve been able to build with what we are offering. That is the solution that is what this internet age is doing. The education space is revolutionizing the overpriced college courses, right? And unless you have to go to some kind of specialized trade like doctors and brain surgery and that kind of thing, a lot of it will be I think become obsolete. I think even public schools will become obsolete over time because of the incredible information and courses and things that kids have access to now. 

That is why we are doing homeschooling me and my son, he’s 13. He just turned 13 and he told me, mom, my dream – he is very clear about this, “I want to have an animation company. I want to have an animation team and a studio” I mean what 13-year-old knows that in public school? I mean there’s the odd ones, right? But this has become the norm. So I don’t want to hear complaints about our course prices. Go to Berklee and spend a $100,000 and then come back and tell me that my courses are expensive. Bullshit.

33:38 CJ: Yeah, exactly. I mean that’s the point, guys. This is not a justification, this is an explanation. There’s nothing that needs to be justified here. If anything, those who expect everything for free that needs to justify that position because that certainly didn’t build the world we live in and you can’t just go down to your local electronics store like Best Buy and say, “I’ll take this for free please” no. You will normally get arrested.

I can’t go into a pub and say, “Well isn’t tonight’s drinks for free? I mean I come here all the time and spend my money why wouldn’t this be free?” You know? Okay, exactly so you might have taken one of Leah’s courses but the next course on Spotify, guess what? There is a charge for it. Now, you might get a little discount here and there and get a special offer. You have the timeline to get that done and that’s about as good as it is going to get but if you take someone – 

I mean that is what I love buying books off the shelf and it says, “$17 for this book” and I say, “Wow here is somebody who is going to give me 30 years of their study life experience for 30 bucks.” 

34:40 Leah: Wow, right? Yeah, it’s crazy.

34:43 CJ: So I feel like I need to call them, find out who the author is, call them on the phone and say thank you and you say, why? Because you gave me such a deal. So guys, it really is all about outlook and it is about attitude. It is about your mindset and those who are committed to success they understand this. Leah like you said, you hate to have to say this but yeah, if you do want to do it and serious and you’re ready to get more invested in what Leah is doing. 

And get that music business that you’ve always wanted then this is the path that you need to take. So Leah, what do they need to do today? 

35:22 Leah: Well and one last point here is like in our elite program, when I say “no one will out serve us”, I mean that to the 10th degree or the Nth degree in the elite program. We are at the point now even if you are not in elite, if you join any one of our programs you are going to get a phone call from us. We are going to call you and say, “Hey, how are you? How can we serve you? Where are you at in your music business right now?” and we want to double check that you even got into the right course. 

We want to make sure that you are in the right place because somehow people sign up for things and that wasn’t actually a good move for them. They should be in a different one or something like that. We want to make sure that we are actually serving you. We bring the human touch back into it. We love the internet but it does not replace relationships and so we are really serious about bringing the relationships and in the elite program, we’re calling you. 

We check in on you. We hold your feet to the fire. There’s group coaching. There is faces. There is human interaction where we really hold you accountable. So that is worth an incredible amount of value and so if that is something you need, then you definitely need to go and book a call with us and see if that’s what you need to move your career ahead and get to that finish line whatever it is that you are headed. So you can go to and book a call with one of our amazing coaches and we’ll see if and how we can help you. 

36:44 CJ: Awesome. So do that today and listen guys, do us the favor and so many of you have been doing it as of late. We have been reading some of the reviews of the podcast, Leah. They have been awesome. So I think we did a lot of this today. I think they are going to walk away with a better understanding even so if we are just correcting some attitude mindset then maybe it will change somebody from entitlement to investment thinking. 

And they are going to change their trajectory from here on out. So it is always a good thing but you guys can do so much for us by helping us by going and leaving a review. Give us five stars, help other people find this podcast too, wherever it is on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, even all the hotspots but that would mean so much to us. Leah, thank you again for teaching us. 

37:30 Leah: Well thanks for listening guys. It’s a pleasure. I love doing this, so we’ll see you next time. 

37:36 Leah: This episode was sponsored by The Super Fan System Elite Program here at Savvy Musician Academy. If you are looking to scale your existing music business and you are looking to get into advanced digital marketing such as email marketing, funnels, ecommerce, Facebook ads and more and you are looking to build a real profitable online music business, book a call with our team at We would love to speak with you for about 30 minutes and see how we can help you. Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast for more episodes and we’ll see you next time. 

Episode #052: Overcoming Overwhelm & Productivity Hacks with Suzanne Paulinski

Joining us today on the Savvy Musician Show is Suzanne Paulinski who is going to talk to us about something we’ve all experienced in trying to catch up to our fast-paced schedules – the feeling of being totally overwhelmed. Suzanne is a mindset coach for music professionals, particularly those who battle with anxiety around making their busy lives run smoothly while also trying to raise a family and advance their music careers. It is not easy, but everything is figure-outable! In trying to get down your work-life balance, Suzanne talks about time management, goal setting, time blocking and sometimes just breathing and giving yourself permission to take time out. We also discuss why we as people inherently fear success, how to avoid the shiny object syndrome and the paradoxical role that structure and routine can play in giving you artistic freedom. There is a lot of really helpful insight coming out of this episode, so be sure to tune in! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Suzanne’s niche in the music industry outside of being a performer or manager. 
  • Using time management and goal setting as gateway terms to deal with mental health issues. 
  • The widespread sense of overwhelm and the pressure to be an expert in multiple fields.
  • How Suzanne enables clients to organize and declutter their mental space. 
  • Reducing the overwhelm by differentiating between micro and macro tasks. 
  • Why we fear success more than failure and learning to celebrate the small wins. 
  • Batching tasks of similar mental focus together rather than switching from one to the other. 
  • Staying focused and avoiding the shiny object syndrome. 
  • Navigating feelings of resentment and guilt regarding family and making time for them.
  • The role of a schedule, being adaptable and learning to live in the mess.  
  • Why time blocks and boundaries can be adjusted, but shouldn’t be deleted. 
  • And much more!


“I have them just mind dump onto a piece of paper because writing, taking pen or pencil or paper is very effective and it just unlocks certain pieces of your brain.” — @RockStarAdvo [0:10:51]

“As humans, we don’t respond to vagueness. When we see something that’s big, we just avoid it. Getting as specific as possible with your to do list can be really helpful.” — @RockStarAdvo [0:14:09]

“No matter what team you have or what label signs you, the buck still ends with you.” — @RockStarAdvo [0:19:10]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Suzanne Paulinski —

Marie Forleo —

The War of Art on Amazon — 

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 CJ: Welcome once again to the Savvy Musician show, this is CJ Ortiz and I’m the mindset and branding coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. Once again, joined by my dear friend, the queen herself Leah McHenry, how are you doing Leah?

00:39 Leah: Fantastic, how are you?

00:41 CJ: Wonderful. Well, this is a special podcast today, I’m really excited about it because this will be the first time that Leah and I get the chance to do an interview together. She’s done a number of these in the previous podcasts and bringing me on was to make her more the focus and so now we get to kind of tag team and get to ask someone else.

I’m excited about our guest today, Leah, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about who she is.

01:10 Leah: Yeah, we are excited to have Suzanne Paulinski here and I’m going to be talking to her about some very important things and I think you will all appreciate this episode because the topic that we’re about to get into is her area of expertise and something you guys asked me about all the time. Every day, I get questions about stuff to do with work-life balance, time management, productivity, all of that.

Leah, how do you do it with the five kids and running the music business and SMA, how are you doing all the stuff. Well, Suzanne is an expert on this and she specifically helps musicians and creative people master this area of their lives. So we’re really excited to have you here. Welcome!

01:54 Suz: Thank you so much, I’m a big fan and I’m honoured to be here.

01:57 Leah: Great, well, tell us a little bit how you got into coaching people on productivity and work-life balance and how’d you get into it and what do you exactly do?

02:09 Suz: Sorry about that. Yeah, I’ve been in the business a little over 15 years. I started at the major labels here in New York City. I worked at Atlantic and then I went to work for EMI and Astralwerks which was Fatboy Slim’s label at the time. You know, I’m not a performer, I’ve had experience performing in high school and stuff like that but that’s never how I saw myself and so I just figured, well, if I’m not a performer then I must need to be a manager or ANR or something. 

I studied music business in college and even then, it was still limited in terms of like here are your options. I just assumed, well, I’m not a performer, I must be working at a label and I did sales for a while and my accounts were Damn Goody and Virgin Megastore and Tower Records and within a year of me working there, they were all starting to post down. Myspace was growing and Napster was everywhere and so it was just a very odd time in the music industry.

I realized it’s not what I wanted to do so I started a company with my college roommate and that went through a bunch of changes and then I realized I’m not fitting in anywhere with what I love to do on the business side of things. Let me take a break, let me go back, whenever I get stuck, I like to go back to school and to learn new things and try to open my mind to new experiences. I went back from my masters in psychology and that’s when it really clicked.

I was like, this is what I love to do, I know that my clients need help with these things and so I said okay, I’m going to start a music therapy business and then I started to promote it and everyone was like, I don’t need therapy. That’s okay, I’m fine. I write music, my therapy. 

It was still very taboo to talk about. Help wasn’t really being talked about. Then I started to change it and figured, okay, I’ll promote time management and goal setting but really, both of those are so rooted in mental health and mindset. When I work with clients, you know, yes we talk about time management, we absolutely talk about how to navigate the industry while maybe you have a day job or children or all of the above.

But the root of those things and the root of why they may not be taking advantage of every time or why they might be stuck on something is all psychological, it’s all your mindset and stuff you might be struggling. That’s how it kind of how it came up and you know, it’s nice to see more and more people are starting to talk about mental health and more – there are more coaches coming out.

That once they realize t here’s a market for this, there have been more coaches that have opened up shop and I love that. Because it’s just showing how important it is and you know, we’re all creating a nice community of support for these musicians.

05:03 Leah: Fantastic, yeah.

05:06 CJ: Yeah, I could testify to that really. Because I’ve watched it from a different vantage point, Suzanne. Because I do this thing called mental motivation. It’s really more focused on just general audiences, no matter what their particular profession is, but obviously you’re going to get a lot of musicians because you’re focusing on that aspect.

Yeah, it’s been such a thing to see because it has at the same time sort of elevated the DIY approach to things. The technology kind of puts that, it’s exciting but also very frightening for a lot of people because they’re realizing, okay, it’s great. The technology really is powerful but my goodness, I’ve got to become such a master of so many things and they tend to look almost exclusively at the technology, not necessarily at the psychology and like you said, it’s probably the number one thing that does hinder them.

06:03 Suz: Yeah, absolutely.

06:04 Leah: What do you find – when you’re working with all different kinds of musicians, what’s the one common thread that you find, all of them regardless of what their particular situation is?

06:16 Suz: Yeah, a lot of as to what Chris said, it’s just overwhelm. Now, we see, okay, I don’t need a label but that means I need to do everything myself and you know, even when they say to me, I say, what’s your goal? To get signed by a label, why? Because they’ll do things for me. It’s like well, that’ not really how it works and you know, there is not a whole lot of artist development anymore these days through the labels, at least the major ones.

You know, getting that, doing it again, shake that of what the industry looks like and a lot of it is because they think my goal is not to get signed by a label and I’m doing everything myself as you had said. It’s like, there’s too much going on, I can’t be an expert in social media and in marketing and in sales and in my music and you know, fan engagement and building my mailing list and you know, there’s too many things and so, what I help them do is to just breathe and prioritize and understand, yes, you should know a little bit about all of these things, enough so that you can delegate it to somebody else.

Explain to them what you want them to do, how you want them to carry it out. You need to still be the captain steering the ship of your brand but that you can build a team and that you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring in to do it. You can start small and even just by getting a virtual assistant who may not even be in the music industry to do some initial research for you or schedule your social media posts or any of those things.

A lot of what happens when they come to me and I work with managers and booking agents as well is overwhelm because, as this industry changes, we’re responsible for a whole lot more than we used to be. It’s a lot to manage.

07:59 Leah: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more and I mean, I know this firsthand because that musician in that position, you know? Yeah, my thought is that like you said, they are doing everything themselves and on one hand, here’s the thing. I tell musicians like, you don’t need to be an expert in all things marketing and copyrighting and landing pages and funnels.

You just need to be an expert at marketing your own music, right? If you learn the fundamentals of some of these things, it’s not as intimidating as you think, right? It is about prioritizing and the other thought that came to mind is like, there’s a lot of musicians probably even listening to this podcast. I mean, they’re nowhere near ready to build a team yet and like you said, they actually need to know enough about it to know even what to delegate, first of all.

Second of all, when they have delegated, are they even doing a good job? They need to know enough to be able to determine those things. Even at my level here and I have a long way to go in my career. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface, I’m just getting started. Even in my business, I have a full-time assistant and I have a full-time customer support person in my music business. It’s not Savvy Musician Academy. It’s a team of three.

Now, outside that, I will contract outside of that and of course, I don’t do everything myself and even in my music. I’m not mixing and mastering. Hell no. That’s not my area of expertise, why would I do that, right? I think sometimes when they think I have to do everything myself. They’re taking on everything themselves. It’s just like, you don’t need to do that, you know? I actually heard – I forget what the name of the painter was, I just heard it, I was looking at an audiobook this morning, about a painter.

I have to remember the name. He became – at first he was doing all these amazing paintings in – it was in England – himself and then he started delegating out certain parts of the paintings because he became really well known for just painting the faces and so when the royal – whatever it was, the queen or whatever hired them to do the paintings inside the buildings, he just worked on the faces and he had assistants do the rest of it.

I was like, my gosh, that’s brilliant, that’s a perfect example. We’ll have to do another show on this when I can remember who it is. Perfect example of doing the things that only you can do, delegating some of the other things but it’s still under your brand and under your oversight. I just love that example.

How do you help people accomplish things like that?

10:37 Suz: Sure, you know, one of the first things I like to do, one of my favourite exercises is just do a mind dump, you know? We carry around so much in our heads on a daily basis and especially if you are a parent, there’s just so much going on and so, I have them just mind dump onto a piece of paper because writing, taking pen or pencil or paper is very effective and it just unlocks certain pieces of your brain.

I just say okay, you know, what’s in your head, get it all out so that you can let go of it and you know that you’re not going to forget it. It’s down on paper but you know, we all have thoughts flowing around of like five year plans and things we have to do tomorrow and the laundry and buying groceries and all these other things and they’re all jumbled in our head together and then we feel like that kind of rise of panic and overwhelm of there’s so much to do, there’s so much to do.

It’s not organized in our brain so dump it all out and I like to take a fresh piece of paper and take out from that list, what are the immediate things, you know? They can be personal, I can be – I need to get groceries for dinner tonight. I have to get on top of my laundry, it’s out of control. It can be all those things because your music career, for instance, I’m sure you come across this a lot, you know, as you build your music career, yes, you want to – 

There’s all these social media platforms and yes, you could be a YouTube star or an Instagram influencer or have a great thriving Facebook group. Especially if you don’t have a team, you’re not going to do all those right now. Pick something, you know, when you get that all out on paper, I have to monetize my YouTube channel and I have to figure out how to get my Instastories is more consistent and I have to grow my Facebook, going to put on the piece of paper, pick one and start picking out things that you could take action on now.

Maybe you already started a Facebook group and you got more members and maybe your YouTube, you haven’t even touched. Just focus on Facebook right now and then if that’s kind of already got some momentum. Then, once you have like your priority piece of paper down, then you’re going to do what I always say is mono task and microtask. Again, to bring the overwhelm down, it’s kind of counterintuitive because you think I never have time in the day so I got to do everything at once but it’s so counterproductive.

If you just do one thing at a time and put less things on your plate, you’ll get more done faster to then on the third piece of paper, micro testing it out. What I mean by that is, YouTube for example, if you had on your list, I have to upload a new video. Well, have you started to film the video yet? You or I might do a tutorial on something. We need a script.

We need to set up a camera and the lights and the mic. We need to write a title and a caption and figure out the hashtags and write some social media posts for it and record it and edit it and then upload it. There are all these micro-tasks within that one thing so if we can break it down, then when you say I have no time but you’re sitting up a doctor’s office waiting for your kid to finish their exam or you’re on the train going to work to your day job that you hate.

The train gets stuck and you’re there for 30 minutes, you’re sure you can’t film the YouTube video but you could write a script or you could write an outline or come up with a social media post, you start to see that I have time to get started on some of these things.

Rather than look at your list and say, well, I don’t have four hours to do a YouTube video so I can’t do that today. I just work with them to try to break things down and really understand the components of what they’re trying to do because as humans, we don’t respond to vagueness. When we see something that’s big, we just avoid it. Getting as specific as possible with your to do list can be really helpful.

14:20 CJ: That’s great. They’ll often tell people in my group that you can get so focused on the size of the mountain that you miss how easy it is to take one step, you know? It is, they overwhelm is like you said it is all psychological. You know, the piece of paper is so helpful. I’ll often say that you know, I’ll write things down on the piece of paper because at least it puts me in a position where I can look down on something, you know?

Something about that posture and I guess it was also on paper, it’s not necessarily crowding the mind space. But it is, I mean, it is literally an overwhelming thing. Do you find though, that the problem gets compounded because of something like for example, the fear of success and just if we just define it in terms of like the fear of that added responsibility, the fear of putting yourself out there and being criticized, you know, especially for creatives.

I know that’s a big deal. It’s got to be something you encounter a lot yourself, right?

15:25 Suz: Absolutely. I’m so glad you said fear of success because so many say, fear of failure and we’re not afraid of failure, we’ll take that any day of the week because we were comfortable with it. We know what that looks like no matter what you’re aiming for, failure’s always going to feel the same no matter what. But when your goals are different, each time it’s higher, each time it’s a new thing. Success is always going to feel unknown because you’ve never been at that next level.

We fear the unknown and that is success is what’s unknown to us in each step of the way and so, yeah, I encounter that constantly and you know, a lot of it and as you were basically explaining fraud talk which is that imposter syndrome of I’m not good at this, somebody else is going to do it better, people are going to say nasty things about me online and we talk ourselves out of things. 

The micro-tasking also helps break it down like you said, taking that first step up the mountain. What I also like to do with them is to do an exercise to look back at what you’ve already accomplished that you never thought you did. Even if you think you haven’t accomplished anything. I bet when you were little, you didn’t think you could tie your shoes or you never thought you’d learn how to ride a bike or there are always things that we overcome.

We forget that. We forget to celebrate the small wins. I’m a big proponent of number one, always being in a place of gratitude and definitely being thankful for what you already have but to also celebrate the small wins. If you’re in a bad spot right now and you got up out of bed today, that’s awesome.

If you were able to put on a clean set of clothes and go outside and take on the day, even if it didn’t go your way, that’s awesome, celebrate that like each time you can celebrate something, even if it’s sometimes if I’m really scared to start something, I’ll add to my list, things I’ve already done like brush my teeth, ate breakfast, walk the dog, just so I can start crossing things off and then I’m like I like that feeling. I want to continue that.

I think that’s a big thing is that as you said, we look at the mountain and there’s so many things that we do that we take for granted that we should be celebrating.

17:29 CJ: Yeah, we have a very similar perspective, it’s almost scary. Because I’ll often tell my people, you know, we’ve got to celebrate the little victories. Just like it may seem like you clear off your desk or you rearrange a space or you clean out a closet.

To really get excited about that, make a big deal about it and why would you make a big deal about it, well, I said, it’s – I had small kids at one time and we made a big deal when they first ate their broccoli, that was a big deal. When they first did it, we’re like yay, you ate your broccoli. Because then we wanted to associate that this was a big accomplishment, you know? You do because you didn’t get to this lack of confidence overnight, it wasn’t a single even that gave you a traumatic experience.

It’s the adding up of little defeats. You reverse engineer that to say okay, well, let’s add a new thing, just a multiplicity of little victories to create this greater sense of self-confidence. They want it so fast, I understand because you know, the democratization of media means you can get started today. You can launch that YouTube channel today and that’s kind of frightening and I guess, there is that security in something like a label because it’s like okay, well, there’s already a process in place and there’s people in place and there’s other people that they’re going to have to do all that.

That’s now all on me. It kind of also gives you a bunch of stuff to stay busy with and not have to put yourself out there.

18:53 Suz: I’ve noticed the other thing is too and it all gets tied into fear of success but if it’s a label and they mess up or your album doesn’t sell or you’re show doesn’t sell out, well, they messed up, it’s not on you. If you can build a team and when things go wrong, you’re so willing to just get out, well they messed up. 

First of all, no matter what team you have or what labels signs you, the buck still ends with you. No matter what, it’s going to be your brand and your name and your career that’s at stake. A label’s not going to make that go away but that’s what we tell ourselves.

Another thing is too is the decision fatigue and I’m actually writing a book on that now is you know, when musicians just, okay, you just do it, can’t you do it for me, you know this stuff, just tell me what to do and it’s like, well, I don’t know because I’m not choosing your dream but you need to make the decision but I just did a podcast episode on the streets of me where it’s just, when we have so many decisions to make all the time constantly day after day. You’re not only many of our friends and family might go to a job and their boss says, I need this by this time and here’s the work and just do it. 

As a musicpreneur, you have to invent the work, create the work, set the deadlines, carry out the work, fix the work. Promote the work, there is so many decisions along the way that we do get fatigued and so when we’re not mono tasking, when we’re multitasking or we’re doing so many different things at once, trying to get it all done in a rush, you’re actually contextually shifting.

That contextual shifting like say, creating your social media graphics while you’re also writing your newsletter, why you’re also taking a call and your brain is doing so many different contextual tasks at once. Then you’re not, you’re exhausting yourself on top of that. There’s a whole lot of things that go into this one and this is why mono tasking is so important and the last thing I’ll say about it is when we do all that stuff, another thing I like to tell people is okay, I get that you’re trying to be productive.

What’s better and you’ll see this once you’re micro tasking out your list, you’ll start to see things that you can batch together, when you batch things, that means you’re taking things that use the same contextual focus. Maybe you need graphics score at your CD release but you also need it for something else you’re promoting and you also need to figure YouTube cover photos and you also like, fine, you have different projects you might be working on but they all need graphics. Do all the graphics. I do all the graphics at once.

If there are a bunch of videos you want to set up the camera, lights and microphone one time and then do record all of them. But then edit them all separately or delegate the editing to somebody else. Don’t constantly shift back and forth between different types of mental focuses because that’s going to exhaust you and overwhelm you very quickly.

21:42 Leah: Man, I can really relate to what you just said there because in fact, with me running two businesses, my music business and then SMA. I’ve learned this. That’s exactly what I learned. That I cannot context switch between like even if I’m working on networking, I’m working on a new album right now. I do not work on my album in the morning and then work on Savvy Musician Academy later the same day because it’s a completely different frame of mind, a different mindset, all of it.

What we’ve done right now, I don’t recommend running two businesses but, it’s really hard. The way we did it is, I have literally full designated days for music like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday right now because I’m working on an album. Those days are all in, I’m all in music, there’s nothing else on my schedule at all except work on that.

There’s a lot, that can be anything music-related, whether we’re working on my album or music business or my eCommerce shop. All of it, it’s just that brand that I’m working on and then the other days of the week, it’s only Savvy Musician Academy. I’m coaching, I’m podcasting, creating content, writing emails, all of it, all in.

That helps me because I wake up and I can be focused and I’m like in a certain mindset. I can mentally prepare before I go into the day and the night before. I just found that made a huge world of difference and then I even do the same thing like I want to talk about your experience with musicians who have children because that’s a lot of us.

We do a lot of batching, in terms of just think like meal prep as well. We do some meal prep on Sundays, I love the Instapot, I don’t know if you were instant pot or Instapot, I don’t know. It’s like a pressure cooker, we just like do all the chicken at once, you know? Then it goes in the fridge or the freezer. That kind of thing. It really helps, it just categorize these different things and then batch them, it makes a big difference.

23:33 Suz: Absolutely, yeah, I love that you time block because it’s a big thing of what I teach and I’m also happy to share, I have a free audio tutorial on how to time block and I’m happy to share that with your audience. It’s basically taking all that stuff and saying it. Boundaries give you freedom, that’s what I say all the time.

23:52 Leah: Totally, yeah.

23:54 Suz: If you again, helping your decision fatigue, if you’re somebody that feels like I don’t want to make another decision. Time blocking, which is basically what you described, is so important because I always say too, there’s like the shiny object syndrome. I see musicians constantly where they’re working on something and then they’ve got their email open and the email comes along and says hey, I need this. Okay, they drop what they’re doing and then they go do that because we’ve learned, with technology in the last 15 years is this false urgency, everything is urgent.

I hear a beep and I must respond to it, right now. It’s like, really? Because I remember life without cellphones and when you got to the office, they couldn’t reach you, that was it. This is a job and as much as you love it and it’s a passion and maybe, whether you have kids or not, you wish you could devote 24/7 to it, that’s not realistic and it also doesn’t – it’s not sustainable for your health but also for your creativity.

You need to close the books on that and walk away from what you’re doing. If you say to yourself, I do the same thing with my business, I say okay, clients, I only work with clients from Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Obviously, if something happens and it’s important they need to schedule a call on a Tuesday. Okay, we work that out but if somebody says to me, hey, I’d love to hop on a call with you, when are you free?

I say, well, here is my calendar link and pick one and they’ll be Monday, Wednesday and Friday available that they can choose from. You know, rather than say, I don’t know what’s better for you and then I turn myself into a pretzel. You know, I think doing that insane no to things and saying I’ll answer – I’ll look at emails once in the morning and once at night and that’s it. 

Giving yourself that permission is a huge game changer and that’s definitely something that I say to my clients who have children where it’s – I tell them to schedule it just as if they would have another day job too. It’s like being a parent is a job, it’s a full-time job. You have to carve out, okay, here are my time for my kids and my family, here’s what I’m responsible for. I walk through that in the time blocking exercise.

First goes on, what are your responsibilities? Where are you needed and when and that in that free time, we plan in a 24 hour day, we don’t have the 24 hour day. You have maybe a four-hour day and what happens is you plan for 24 hour day, you get disappointed because you didn’t get half your stuff done and it’s not because you’re not good enough, it’s because you were just being unrealistic. 

You can’t stop the time continuum, you have to work with a realistic timetable and once you start blocking out your schedule, you realize, I can only really get one extra task done tomorrow. Let me plan for that and finish it and feel good. Because that was realistic. If there’s one meme I hate more than anything out there, it’s the, you have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé because you absolutely do not. Beyoncé doesn’t even have 24 hours in the day and she has an endless stream of people helping her to be the incredible person that she is.

26:58 Leah: She has a massive team.

27:00 Suz: Yeah, it is unrealistic and it is unhealthy for us to say, “I am not Beyoncé yet so I must not want it badly enough.” It is like, no when she sleeps, believe me, she gets a whole night’s rest, believe me. So you can’t compare apples to oranges in that way. 

27:16 Leah: Oh my gosh, yeah. You said so many things there that I resonate with and even with the shiny object syndrome problem, wow. I mean I think everybody has that a little bit even with social media. Anybody can reach us at any time all day long. It is even hard for me because I log into Facebook on my personal account and I have all the notifications not just from my personal life but from all my students, all my Facebook groups like my fans on top of that. 

There is so much going on like I have to put – I mean that is actually a weakness of mine. It is like I go to log in for personal reasons and then there is all these non-personal stuff. There is work and fun and music in everything there. We are just inundated with this and then the other shiny object syndrome I see a lot is with programs. I mean I feel it myself but I try to tell my students, if you are going through a program just focus on that one program. 

Don’t get sidetracked with like signing up for another program or even another one of my other programs. Do one at a time, just stay focused. One of our students, actually it was Lauren, she came up with the acronym, what was it, FTFC, Follow the Freaking Course because she shared the story on our coaching call because we are so easily sidetracked. We so easily go off the path that we know we’re supposed to be on. So many resonate with a lot of what you are saying but shiny object syndrome, man yeah this is full of good stuff here. 

28:53 Suz: And as you said, yeah I have actually turned students away if I ask them how many other courses that you are currently signed up for and I will say because I don’t want you to get crappy results from working with me and you are not going to get the results you want if you have already committed to other things. So yeah, I totally feel that. 

29:11 Leah: Yeah, for sure. Can you speak a little bit on specifics of musicians who do have kids? I can chime in as well but what are the main obstacles that you are finding with people that have kids or say like a very, maybe they’re in school fulltime or they have a lot of obligations but they have to do music. So what is the main piece of advice that you have for them? 

29:33 Suz: Yeah, it is a two-part with those types of clients that usually it is a lot of guilt mixed with a lot of resentment and then it is an endless cycle and then I feel guilty for being resentful and then it is like this whole big thing instead of again realizing you can still make progress. You are already being very unrealistic about how fast that progress is going to happen. So rather than being so consumed with it is going to take me longer, yeah it probably will. 

But you will do it rather than sitting there complaining that it is going to take you longer and you haven’t taken that first step yet. If you can get a schedule down where you are maybe most people could have six hours in a day to give to their career, maybe you only have one or two but if you can commit to that and be boundary with that and treat that as sacred time, treat it like it is your own child then that will work and I think with the guilt, you know I always talk about the oxygen mask principle. 

You know we have been on planes before and they say when the oxygen mask comes down even if a baby is next to you, you put your mask on first because you have to be able to help them and if you’re gasping for air and you are running out of breath you are not going to be able to help them correctly. So it is the same thing where it is our instinct especially as women I have to say. I notice it is so much more of my female clients it’s, “Let me drop that. It is not worth it. Let me help them.” 

But then the resentment comes up and it’s like, yes because we have to be able to give ourselves permission to want what we want and draw that boundary in and both my parents worked and my mom went back to school after I was born and I was already in a daycare and she would have to bring me to class sometimes and you know I am going to be quiet in the back of the room and sit there and then she would have to come home and she needed that night out with her girlfriends. 

So she’d say, “You know you are with your grandma or you are with your dad tonight and I am going out” and no matter how much we cried and we wanted her it’s like, “No this is my time. I am entitled to it and this is what I am going to go do” and I think as parents in general I think it is important to have that and obviously every stage of being a parent maybe you have infants, maybe you have teenagers, the responsibilities are going to be different. 

But you can still find something to draw a boundary around and say this is my time because you are also going to be a great example to your kids going after what you’re passionate about and you are going to be a better parent who is happy and you are fulfilled and it has such a great domino effect. 

32:00 CJ: Yeah, that does really. You are a better version of yourself, you know? There is a good reason for you to succeed and do what it is that you want to do with your life because you are so much easier to live with. You have so much more to give, right? You have so much to give, you’ll be so much more encouraging, so much more of an example, et cetera. There is nothing but incentive to do that and I think you’re dead right to say that this is a handicap for a lot of women.

Especially once they get into that wife and mother role because it is so in your nature to put others above yourself. It’s just it. 

32:36 Suz: Yeah and I have to say another quick thing about that is that I am not a parent. Every single one of my friends is basically on their second kid by now just from a lot of observing of this. Another thing is too and I’ve learned this myself just being an entrepreneur, but you’ve got to live in the mess. Obviously when you have children especially some of my friends is so type A and everything is organized and everything is scheduled and then the kids you can’t predict who is going to get sick. 

Or who is going to need you or who’s going to fall and hurt themselves or all of that stuff. So you know you are learning as a parent to live in the mess and you have to learn that for your career as well. You know I am a time management expert. I still struggle sometimes where things pop up and they have to take priority, you know family comes first obviously and there is boundaries but then there is also realizing, “Okay my kid is sick and I have to stay home and take care of them” and that’s that. 

And so, some of my clients would beat themselves up. “I didn’t get to finish that song, I didn’t do my social media this week as much as I want to because my child was sick and I had to take them to the doctor” and I say, “Okay but you did what you had to do right? I mean you were proactive and taking care of what was in front of you and you did that.” so you have to embrace the mess and no, maybe I don’t keep to the schedule all the time but I know that’s my structure to go back to. 

That is what I aim for and that is what you work towards. You are not always going to get it and then that is okay. Acknowledgement over judgment and I think we just have to keep repeating that to ourselves.

34:08 CJ: Yeah, guilt is a handicap, man. It really is. 

34:13 Leah: Yeah and that scenario happens to me all the time by the way because I have five kids, not just one but there is a lot of variables in my household. A lot of variables and I work with my husband too. So there is a lot going on and I think having some time management skills and programs, you know there is lots of different project management type software, Asana and they really help because and I always say the tool doesn’t really matter right? 

It doesn’t matter that you have something, you have a plan and that is the whole reason why it is useful because life is going to throw a curveball and if you have kids, you have a lot of curveballs and then you just get right back on track to where you were, right? If you are on a diet or something and then you go out to eat and you have something you don’t normally have, “I don’t normally have this” and then you go back to what you are doing right after that, right? 

It’s just getting back on track and then it doesn’t have to be so stressful. It’s like I have the plan, something came up that it doesn’t normally happen and whatever, I am going to get back on track. I know where I am going. I know what I am doing. I know what my goal is and it’s great and so I just feel like it relieves some of that pressure to have that in place. So I mean CJ and I did a podcast recently on annual planning actually and so some of the things I am doing – 

I mean I do an annual plan but then I also do some quarterly planning. So I am sticking to the 90 day thing because I feel like beyond 90 days starts to be a little unrealistic and I have found you probably can tell me about this that, I mean so many things come up even in a 90 day period of time that completely change what you thought you were going to do and so I mean I have learned that both in business and personal life and in my music life that I plan on reaching this goal. 

And if I say I want to be this place a year from now, it is really tough to actually see that happen whereas a 90-day goal is within a close enough reach that is actually kind of attainable but even then, I got to be willing to pivot and adapt, be very adaptable. I mean that is the one piece of advice I have. So what have you noticed in terms of like goal setting, in terms of timelines and stuff? 

36:26 Suz: Absolutely. I am 100% with you. I first heard of the 90-day sprints from Todd Herman and – 

36:33 Leah: I love Todd, he’s great. 

36:34 Suz: Yeah, I love his stuff and I am the same way. I have been creating the rock star life planner for about four years now and this past year we finally put in front of the book a section about why should I plan out my year if I can’t predict it and I guess I was having a lot of clients say, “Well I spend this time to think about my goals and plan out how my year is going to go and it never goes as planned. So why should I bother?” and all of that stuff. 

Here is the thing, I like to plan in pencil for the year. I don’t need to spend too much time doing it but I spend a little bit of time thinking what would I like to accomplish in the year and then doing that as I am sure you’ll find too, I like to do the quarterly just as you said because then I could work backwards and say, “Well then what could I take on this quarter and then what can I take on this month and what needs to be done this week and tomorrow and right now?” 

And what I always say to that is yes, I understand the frustrations when you have to pivot or things don’t go as planned and then musicians usually like to be more in the moment but if you are not working backwards and you don’t know what the first step to take. So if you are just going to blindly say, “Oh well I’d do this now but you don’t have an intention of what impact that is going to have, then you are not really doing for physical action with it. 

So I like to start with a year, get just basic structure, basic hopes and dreams for it and then as you said, once I get to a quarter let’s get real specific and then every week, at the end of every week I always reflect on what’s happened. What worked, what didn’t, let me look at my monthly goal, am I still on track, do I need to change my goal because we are learning every day. I’m sure like your students take your course and they learn something new. 

And in order for them to not make it a shiny object syndrome, they are going to have to take a moment and say, “Wow that is some really great information. Where do I work that into my plan right now? Do I do that now or do I finish what I was doing and then I act on what I just learned?” You know it is understanding where things fall in your list of priorities. So it is very important to be okay with the mess, be okay with the pivoting and it’s not that you were wrong. 

We blame ourselves, “Well I was wrong. I planned for the year and I didn’t do what I set out to do and I stink because I couldn’t predict it” You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. So as you go, it is not about being wrong, it is just about collecting more data points and being able to make a smarter vision as you go and it is all about that science experiment mentality of like, “I’m going to give it an educated guess. I am going to experiment and then I’m going to look at my data and then redo it and do it again in a more specific manner.”

39:10 CJ: It’s funny how we introduce the moral question to all of these things you don’t do it and so I must be something wrong as if guilt and self-condemnation are going to get you any quicker to your goal. We could probably go all day with extremely practical and helpful tips about time management organization and planning and you still come back to this initial hurdle of just how much people trip, you know? Life is hard enough as it is. 

You compound the problem when you are adding this anxiousness about it you know? That has to be frustrating a bit for you as a coach because you are like, “Okay these tips that you are giving them could help them so much if you could get them to chill out.” Don’t take it so seriously, it’s not the end of the world. 

40:02 Suz: Right, I was lucky enough when I worked at Atlantic Records. My boss would always say, “We’re not curing cancer.” Like if you make a mistake, you know yes, what we can do is very impactful. Music can be very impactful but you know it is okay, the world will live if I mess up on my podcast or if I write a blog post and if I leave out a tip or I don’t include something or maybe it is not as clear as I hoped it could be. It’s like, okay I have another shot to clarify it or to edit it or to go back and update it. 

There are always things – you know Marie Forleo, I am a big fan of hers and she always says everything is figure-outable and I spent a year literally every morning repeating that to myself and it did wonders for my mind because I have anxiety too and I get that way the minute the plan doesn’t go as planned. It’s like, “Well why? What did I do wrong or why can’t the universe work in my favour?” You know I merely in my what are three things I am grateful for and I am going to repeat to myself I will figure this out. There will be a solution just keep going. Just keep swimming. 

41:08 CJ: Yeah, you know why, I guess asking yourself why is never a great way to start a question, you know always better to say how “How can I get it?” from not “Why am I…” because the obvious answer is going to be is well because you are a loser or at least that is what we’ll tell ourselves. Why can’t I get this figured out? Because you’re a loser. We don’t ask why and so, “How can I get this figured out?” You know I’ll often tell people that because of the concept of worry and anxiousness, which pervades anybody who’s trying to do anything great. 

And it’s not used to that going to this next levels of achievement, that worry is just there. It’s just there and I’ll often say that worry is self-prayer and you make a terrible god because it’s as if you’re constantly going over these anxious thoughts in your mind as if somehow, you are going to produce an answer that way. So you are almost petitioning yourself and it never ever seems to work out. I love what you said about what the record label said. 

You are not curing cancer. This is again, we are bringing all of this to the table. We are bringing all of this extra baggage to something that is actually just very practical. It is a very practical thing. You know we dress it up like it is. We put the makeup on the dress and everything on and make it more than it is but it is funny how we do that now, but especially creative souls because they are so sensitive. 

42:28 Leah: Do you find musicians and creative people resist these kinds of methods at first? Like are they afraid of structure and boundaries and routine and productivity or do you find like okay, once they got over the hurdle of that, they just fly like what is your experience in that regard? 

42:48 Suz: Yeah, that is a great question. One of the first things that ends up happening is they are resisting at first because they look at boundaries or routines as, “It will stifle me and I am a musician, I don’t know when I am going to create and I don’t know when I am going to hit that flow and so I can’t live in these boxes.” one of the things I always say is boundaries, you have the power to move them and you can always change them and alter them but you should have them up. 

Again, it is all about giving yourself freedom to have a starting point and if you give yourself too many options and it is a blank canvas that you are working on, you are never going to take that first step because again, I mean we are still animals and animals fear the unknown. So if you don’t know what direction or when you’re going to make a decision to work on something and put your focus on it, yeah maybe you’ll say Saturday for two hours. 

I’m going to lock myself in the studio and write a song and maybe you do that and it doesn’t work out. Okay but you tried it and then you learn from it and maybe Saturday afternoons aren’t my sweet spot or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood that day, whatever happens, you can then work around it but you got to first try it and take action and the other thing I say to them too is with time blocking. I have my blocks of time all set up. I can always move them. 

I could always say, “Oh that two hour thing I am going to break it up into one hour chunks for these two days for this week” because that is what this calls for and that’s what I am going to do and I have the power to give myself permission to do that but I am not deleting the time blocks. The reason time blocking is so important is because you are giving space to the things that matter and if you start deleting them and replacing them with stuff, I always say to people it is like when you have a kid. 

And they want your attention and you say, “Not now. I am doing this other thing” and you don’t give them attention eventually. What happens is they start screaming, “Mom!” 

44:43 Leah: Or they light the house on fire. 

44:44 Suz: Right, exactly. You need to pay attention and that’s that resentment. That’s, “Oh I don’t have time for that” or “Oh I know I said I’d write for two hours on Saturday but I decided to go do this other collaboration” or go to this networking event and so if you are not moving those two hours somewhere else will eventually give attention. If you are just deleting it that resentment is growing and you’re at that networking event not focusing on making connections. 

But you are focusing on, “I can’t believe I have to be here. I should be in my studio. I wanted to be in my studio. I don’t want to be here” rather than, “Okay I am going to do this now and I will do my studio later this evening rather than this afternoon because this was also important. You know understanding that there is a compromise and that there is a lot more flexibility in routines than people think and one of my clients, Corina Corina. 

She is a wonderful singer and songwriter, we spoke a lot. She is one of my first clients with the Rock Star Advocate here and we talked a lot about toward depression and what a real thing it is and how you’re on the road and every day is different living out of pace and then you come home and it is the daily grind. The responsibilities waiting for you and all of that stuff and that transition is really difficult. What she started to do after 12 national tours that she booked for herself, she realized well I need a routine. 

I need to be centred and grounded because again, we might find it fun and exhilaration in the different day to days but again, we’re creatures and creatures need habits and creatures need structure. You got to get your baby on a sleep schedule, kids go to school for the same hours every day, they have math and gym and science at the same times every day. There is a reason for that so we don’t just grow out of needing that. 

So doing routines like every morning, she does yoga, she meditates for 10 minutes and she journals for 20 minutes and that stays the same and that enables her to ground herself while she is changing environments, while she’s on tour, while she is taking on other projects. So routines can be more freeing than they initially seem to be. 

46:50 Leah: Yeah, oh my gosh you described me so much like I am that. To give everybody hope, I am the artist that says, “I hate schedules. I don’t like routine. I have no idea what I am going to create.” In fact over the last few years when I have been trying to make albums and grow Savvy Musician Academy, this was a huge conundrum because I am like, my brain is going to internally combust because I am trying to – I am in different headspaces all the time. 

I am trying to make an album. How the heck do we make this work? So I have really been there and yes, routine is everything and actually what really impacted me is Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, where he said in regards to blocking time and to showing up and doing it, you know the difference between an amateur and a professional is the professional shows up no matter what they feel like and they sit down and they do their work. 

Even if not a single word came out of your pen, if you sat down to write, you sit down and think and you just be there, right? So within that still having flexibility to this day that’s it. So I got my major time blocks right now, I started working on my album and SMA but within there, there’s flexibility. There is some days where I am like, “So normally Wednesday would be a music day. Today I actually have to do an extra thing for Savvy Musician Academy. No big deal.” 

I just carry on and then we’d pick up where we were the next week and we don’t delete the time blocks just like you said. So guys just to give you hope out there, you know I am that artist where I feel extremely artsy-fartsy. If I could do it, have my way I would do everything on the fly and on the seat of my pants. That is how I roll but you know the boundaries have given me freedom and just like an artist, an artist needs to work on a canvass. 

There are borders around the canvas. They are not just like painting in infinity. There is structure to it, there is a border around the edge, there is edges where they go off the canvas and now you are on nothing. So within the boundaries comes creativity that is what I found. So I just love everything you are saying. It is really cool. I feel like you got this nailed down. 

49:02 Suz: Yeah, I mean I have spent my whole life around musicians and I have such respect and always so in awe how vulnerable musicians are and you know I try to be vulnerable to them with the lessons that I have learned through mental health and with other things in my life but to take something so intimate and put it out there for people to share, I am just in awe of it. So I learn from musicians every day and if there is anything I could ever give back to them, awesome. 

49:30 Leah: That is awesome. Well if you could leave us with one main tip, if you have to leave people one big thing that they can do right now that would make a big difference, what would that be? 

49:41 Suz: I would say to give themselves permission to be kinder to themselves. I think a lot of people like when they hire me they expect me to be all tough love and kick their butts and sometimes I do but a lot of it is just I am always reminding them to forgive themselves and you know, give yourself and understand you are not planning a 24-hour day. Understand that you are going to do the best you can and maybe just plan to get one thing done tomorrow. 

That is important too, that is going to move your career forward and then go from there and I think that’s the most you should do rather than, “You know if I really want this I have to grind, grind, grind and hustle, hustle, hustle” it’s like just take a breath and I think you will get a lot further than you think you will. 

[0:50:23.6] Leah: That’s awesome and if someone was interested, you mentioned you have a planner and everything. Actually I’ve got it right here on my desk. Yeah, it is really cool and I really enjoyed going through it and just seeing everything you have in there. I think you could really help a lot of people for sure who need that, the physical write it down kind of planner, life planner and it is really comprehensive. So you did a great job on that. If people are interested in learning more about that and what you do, where can they go? 

50:50 Suz: Yes, so you will find all of that and more on my home page at the and thank you so much for those kind words because I am a big fan so that means a lot coming from you. So thank you for that. 

51:02 Leah: Yeah, absolutely. It was a real pleasure having you. I’d love to have you back and do some follow up because man, you’ve got us nailed down to a tee but you know us. So yeah, I would love to have you back. Any closing thoughts CJ? 

51:16 CJ: No, I think this is wonderful Suzanne. Like I said, I can just jive so much about your approach and because I think it is practical and you are focusing on those things that really trip everybody up and it is really the simple stuff you know? We got tripped up about the simple stuff and just the fact that your alleviating these things, you know I kind of put you then in a category with Leah where I think I have often said about Leah and what she’s doing with SMA. 

This is the most important thing to develop since Napster, since Napster initiated the collabs if you will of the music industry, she is the first thing to come about that produces a real change and gives musicians hope again that they can do them, but with that comes a tremendous amount of work and when I first joined her in her group as a coach, the first thing she said to me was ‘overwhelmed’ that that was the main thing that was just really doing a job on these students. 

And so I love your approach to it and because it is such a practical way for them to hack their own little psychology and move forward that they can. They can achieve success. They can experience so much more than they even imagined and it is something to be excited about not something to be anxious about or worried about or as you said, stand in your own way with self-sabotage so I think that is awesome. 

52:47 Suz: Thank you so much and I would love to have you on my podcast as well. I’m just a big fan of what you both do and yeah, I am just very excited to have had a chance to speak with you. 

52:59 Leah: Yeah, it was a pleasure. Absolutely, we’ll definitely set that up. So thank you again Suzanne and I hope everybody listening in that you got something out of this and know that you are not alone feeling some of these challenges and facing these challenges. This is part and parcel of who we are and what we are doing in today’s music business. So thanks again for joining us. 

53:22 Suz: Thank you. 

53:23 CJ: Well, thanks once again for joining us here on the Savvy Musician Show. So please go and like and review this podcast. Help us get up in the rankings and we will see you online. Take care.

Episode #051: Micro-Niche VS. Branding

On today’s show we are breaking down the difference between a micro-niche and a brand! Leah and CJ systematically look at each and how it relates to your own music career and especially how to use them to your advantage. They talk about how to differentiate and categorize yourself with these concepts and how they should not be confused with each other. Leah makes the point that using her audience’s own interests and ideas around genre has made a world of difference in her success. Owning a niche and taking charge of the conversation around topics can make impact how and audience responds to your content very meaningfully and really pursuing this path to the best of your abilities will have amazing rewards for you. The episode ends off with some reminders about the importance of support through these processes and why that is such a focus at the Savvy Musician Academy. For all this and more, join us today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A special message of thanks from Chad!
  • Defining micro-niches and sub-genres in the music world.
  • Differentiating brand from micro-niche and genre. 
  • Tying your brand to an audience’s interests and deeper desires. 
  • Owning your niche and the conversation and perceptions around it. 
  • The support that is offered inside of Savvy Musician Academy. 
  • Why Leah stays in the trenches of the music industry. 
  • Today’s simple action step to do with your branding. 
  • And much more! 


“I am not concerned about being world famous. It always makes me laugh.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:05:24]

“I am blessed with a little bit of intuition before I understood the theory of any of this. I’m still learning so much.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:17:59]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — 

The Superfan System Elite Program —

Leah on Twitter — 

CJ on Twitter —

Tony Robbins —

Chad Anderson (student spotlight) —

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 CJ: Hello and welcome once again to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I am the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy and grateful to serve alongside and be able to talk to, in this podcast, the lovely Leah McHenry. Good to see you.

00:42 Leah: Good to see you. Looking forward to this episode.

00:46 CJ: Yeah, this is pretty cool. Now, depending upon where you are in your knowledge of The Online Musician, this may or may not make sense to you but for those who are working at it in particularly, the students of the Savvy Musician Academy, this is something that is a point of confusion. Because terminology plays a role.

We’re going to be talking about micro-niche versus branding. It’s an important thing because for those of you who really understand the success that Leah has experienced, you have heard her talk about both of them and you might be wondering, which is it? Is it micro-niche, is it a brand or are they the same thing? Where do I need to place an emphasis on.

She’s one of the best examples that I’ve ever seen of how these two things work together and I think you’re really going to have some coins drop during this particular episode, you’re going to better understand this and so I’m excited for each one of our listeners. Leah, I would like to start with the student spotlight and I love it when you share these and she sends this to me to be able to share with you guys and this one’s pretty powerful. This one’s from Chad and this is one of our Elite students and he says #win. “I’m really excited about the revamp to our websites and even more excited to get feedback on it,” so we encourage students to do that in the group to get feedback.

He says, “Things that I have changed, I gave to my whole website a complete overhaul to fall in line with the high conversion theme or principles.” That’s something that Leah teaches. In other words, designing a site to be high converting and you can do that, there are principles to this. He says, “I was able to give this site a more uniformed look based on my branding board and based on the feedback I’ve gotten in the past. I also up the prices in my current shop. This has brought my LCV, what is that?

02:40 Leah: Actually, I’m not sure what LCV is, LTV would be like a lifetime value. I think he’s talking about his average order or something like that.

02:50 CJ: He says, “This has brought my LCV from 107 to 125 without adding any additional items.” That would be what the potential of a particular customer is for a year I would imagine, right?

03:03 Leah: Yeah. It’s probably an LTV.

03:06 CJ: Yeah, he was able to raise that based on – without adding any additional items. Again, these are all some of the techniques and things which we can’t go into today but these are the techniques and things you teach in that elite group, very amazing stuff.

But, he’s thinking through the impression that he’s giving his customer, his fan, you like to call it the customer journey. Because they’re coming to a site for the first time and so you do something with the students that you call the five-second test. You know, to see what the impression is that somebody gets within five seconds, where do their eyes go, you get them in, where do you put certain items on the page.

All of these things being always cognizant of the impression that you’re leaving on your customer and that does take us into the branding, that does take us into this whole aspect of who you’re targeting based on who you are as an artist, et cetera. Let’s start from the beginning so we can make it really simple for everybody Leah. 

First of all, define for the listener what is a micro-niche?

04:18 Leah: Yeah, I know, depending on where you live in the world, you might call it niche or niche, it doesn’t really matter. Basically, I don’t even know where I originally learned about niches. Somewhere in my studies of marketing, I came across this idea of niche marketing and how powerful it is and how businesses were able to succeed so much more.

Instead of trying to appeal to everybody, they just appealed to a certain small demographic and how becoming a specialist instead of a generalist would increase their sales and their profitability and their overall revenue, like crazy. So I started applying that in my music and going, hey, instead of me trying to appeal to the world and try to be famous around the world with my music. Why don’t I just stop trying to do that and just get really good at what I’m really good at and try to appeal to a smaller group of people who are probably diehard fans.

That introduced me to the whole concept of niching down and it also – what’s amazing about that is it really takes the pressure off of you to, when you look at what you’re trying to accomplish in your lifetime. I am not concerned about being world-famous. It always makes me laugh. Look, we’ve talked about this in the past when people see our ads and they say, “Leah, I’ve never heard of you,” and I’m always saying, “Yeah, of course, you haven’t because you’re probably not a fan of Celtic fantasy metal, are you?”

“Otherwise, why would you have heard of me? You’re not in my target market, you’re not seeing my ads, I only target people who like Celtic fantasy metal and I know all their interests and stuff. If you’re into country music, yeah, you won’t have heard of me, this is the internet age. I don’t need to be a household name to be successful. 

Until people understand that, they don’t get it. The whole concept of a micro-niche is just really going deeper into that niche. Now, you know, I see people all the time get really caught up in this and we have a little process, a little system for how you can discover yours and actually, we have a PDF download, we’ll put in the shownotes for you to work through this yourself.

The basics, the way it works is really, there’s an umbrella genre which we call just a big main category, it’s like rock, pop, country, blues. Very general, okay? It’s the stuff that on iTunes or Amazon, they kind of have these big categories. Below that, there’s a sub-genre. You know within, say, the rock category, there’s probably hundreds of maybe dozens of sub-genres of rock. Alt-rock, blues rock, you know, country rock, there’s all of that. Now, below that.

06:54 CJ: Heavy metal is the same, year.

06:56 Leah: yeah, heavy metal is like bazillions of these little niches. Umbrella genre, and then there’s a sub-genre and then I would say, the third level is your niche. This is like where we’re getting a little more granular here. It’s a smaller group of people. That’s the whole point, it’s a smaller group of people.

At this point, let’s say you’re in the rock genre, it could be like folk-rock at that point. Folk-rock or you know, I don’t know all the genres out there. It’s just an example. Then below that, if there’s room, if it even makes sense, you could get into a micro-niche and this is where I see people get caught up all the time.

Mine, guys is right now, it’s Celtic fantasy metal. My umbrella genre is metal, sub-genre for me is symphonic metal, niche is like female-fronted, symphonic metal because that’s like a thing or folk metal kind of a thing and then my niche is like Celtic fantasy metal. Now, there’s so much I could say about this but one thing I will say out of the gate is like, if you just get the first three, you’re good for so many things.

I don’t want people obsessing or getting hung up or stuck, the fact that they don’t know what their micro-niche is. This is not meant to cause you stress, all that exercise is meant to do is to help you just get a little more clear on your identity as an artist and for targeting purposes. 

So you can identify who your superfans are. If it happens to be language they’re already using, you can use it in your social media and in your advertising and stuff. That’s what I do. Actually, some of the words I’m using in my micro-niche are words that my fans already told me and so that gave me freedom to kind of use it back to them.

Kind of repeat it back to them, the thing they were already saying to me and so that ended up becoming a powerful thing. That doesn’t always work for every artist in every case, in every scenario. Listen, if you get your umbrella genre, your sub-genre and your niche, you are already miles ahead, you’re going to be already so much more clear than many other artists out there. Let’s start with that.

09:11 CJ: Yeah, I think that’s, A, that’s been a huge key to your success, is niching down and like you said, as you were talking, I stopped to write that down, I don’t need to be a household name to be successful. That’s such a great summary statement of your entire approach and it makes the point. It makes the point that yeah, a household name, we know all sorts of household names and we don’t pay any attention to who those household name —

We just know them because everybody says them. That’s the definition of a household name. But we’re interested in creating successful music businesses. When it comes to creating a successful music business, it’s not about ego, it’s not about everybody knowing you, it’s about the right people knowing you. It’s about having like what you say, super fans. Having people that you’re able to go directly to, who like your specific style of music. 

Granted, even if you’re an innovative player and maybe you believe you’re more innovative than you think you are, still, there are – everybody likes to think that, right? They’re completely original.

10:28 Leah: Yes.

10:28 CJ: I guarantee you, there are genres and niches that you can fit in and that you’re going to be able to identify with people who would absolutely love your music. That’s the first thing is understanding who you are musically. Now, this is still not the brand though. This is where people get their wires crossed. 

When I first came into Leah’s group, her Elite group as a coach. That was the first thing I saw was people were struggling with getting results and so because they were learning so much in-depth information about the tools that Leah uses and the technology and some of the ad copyrighting techniques and all these new software and emails and opt-ins and page, all this stuff. They kept thinking that it was something there that they were missing when there was a problem at the outset.

That problem was they didn’t understand that difference, A, between micro-niche and branding. But then B, branding was suffering because they were so focused on the micro-niche and so when I go to their page, I would see their artist name and right below would be this very descriptive, very long, very descriptive statement. Which is great for you to have hanging next to your computer or your keyboard to remind you of what you’re targeting.

But it’s not necessarily going to be the thing that people remember you for, it’s not necessarily going to be your strongest selling point, it’s not going to necessarily be what you want to create as that brand. That was a huge eye-opener for people once you and I started to talk about these things more in the group. We actually – we felt so strongly about it that Leah asked that I do a branding boot camp which is now a part of the actual curriculum now.

12:27 Leah: We have it in the modules now. Now, since we’ve added that, since you did the workshop and then since we’ve added that, people have had so many breakthroughs and just getting the results. I was so glad we did that, I’m so glad we had you – yeah.

12:41 CJ: For people, I think to get those two – it’s like a two-edged sword, you know? One edge of the sword is the micro-niche and then the other edge of the sword is the branding because you have to know who you’re targeting. You can’t target with a brand, you don’t know who you’re targeting.

You got to know your niche, you got to know comparable artists and the culture and all of that to be able to put into some of these powerful features in Facebook’s ad manager in order to run your ads. That’s where the niche is going to really help you targeting those audiences.

But then, what you become to those people, you know, that’s a whole different thing and of course, you know, you’re such an easy one, Leah, to use as an example and you know, I have a whole thing in that branding boot camp just focused on you because it’s just so many teachable lessons from your particular testimony. I remember when, because I was there when she first started this and she sent me her first album and I remember saying to myself because I had a good friend of mine who did a lot of work with.

He’s a total musician and totally knows what I’m into and so I shared it with him and we were talking about it and I said, “You know what she sounds like?” Because at that time, it was odd Leah, it’s very odd because at that time, prior to me hearing your music, something had gotten me into a lot of the Windham Hill ambient music stuff.

I heard a lot of Enya during all of that. The artist Enya. Then, I heard your first album and I said, “Dude, you know what she is, she’s a heavy metal version of Enya,” you know? It was just – in other words, now, if I was to share one of your CD’s with somebody. I would simply tell them what she’s like. “She’s like a heavy metal Enya,” and they’d be like, “Oh. I know exactly what that must sound like.”

They can picture it. It’s going to have a whole lot more guitar, it’s going to be more in the rhythm section of things like that and the themes will be a little bit different.

14:50 Leah: But they already know, it’s not going to have aggressive vocals.

14:53 CJ: Yeah, they know that, they know it’s not going to be country, right? That’s really cool. When she goes out into that now, she becomes literally a personage to people, she becomes now this – I love it because if you look at her album covers and I would challenge you to do that if you’ve got one close by you and if not, go to her Instagram page or her webpage and take a look at the album cover.

You’re going to see exactly what I mean here and this is really powerful, I almost want to charge people for this right now, Leah. But Leah, one of the real secrets to what she does is – and this is so creative. Her culture, the Celtic fantasy metal, you can see that somebody who listens to her music may be very interested in a show like Game of Thrones and when you get into that fantasy element in storytelling and myths and lore and legend.

There is no need for feminism there because women are exalted in these stories. Women are heroes in these stories, whether you’re watching something like The Hobbit or anything else, women are exalted figurines in a lot of these stories. The concept of the queen, the princess, you know, the warrior type thing. All of these – 

16:17 Leah: Xena.

16:18 CJ: Yeah. They are archetypes, right? Within these stories. When you look at Leah’s album covers. She’s got one called Kings and Queens. That’s what you literally see. It says if you’re looking at a promotional poster for something like a character from Game of Thrones. You could literally pass for a character on game of thrones in a sense.

For those who are listening to that music. She fits an archetype that they understand very well. Now we’re beyond just a particular musical style, we’re beyond a niche now. Now we’re into something that is much deeper, much more psychological that plays to the reasons why they listen to that music. The reasons why they love that music.

It’s a part of if somebody’s really into the Game of Thrones and they read Tolkien and they read all these fantasy type literatures. They’re probably not listening to pop-country, right?

17:17 Leah: Right.

17:18 CJ: They’re going to be listening to music that’s going to be germane to what their interest is. That’s the difference and that’s what you have to understand is that now, she becomes this figure, she becomes this archetype and her music fills that role but it’s targeted to – this is not Coca-Cola branding. This is not Coke is the real thing, you know what I mean?

No, this is so targeted to her micro-niche. The brand and the micro-niche are working together, they’re working hand in hand to create just – Leah, just probably one of the best examples of anything in terms of the new online space that I’ve ever seen.

17:56 Leah: That’s cool, yeah. Some of that stuff was – I am blessed with a little bit of intuition before I understood the theory of any of this. I’m still learning so much from you on it. Even now. It kind of blows my mind but I was blessed to have some just intuition as I created this career and I was learning on the way.

Yeah, I want people to understand that your micro-niche, it’s about targeting, it’s about identification and it’s about, really it’s like ad copy. When I know my micro-niche, I really know what kind of copy to write in my ads and you know, what kind of emojis are going to communicate and enhance my ad copy to be honest, right? 

People don’t even think about that but I know if I put a little green tree and a little bow and arrow and the little castle emoji and then I have my headline, that will make sense to the people in my micro niche who do follow, they’re obsessed with Game of Thrones and they read J.R. Tolkien and a whole bunch, all of the other targetings I know about my audience. It is going to make sense. So the micro-niche is meant for you. 

Again, don’t stress out about it. It is just going to help you clarify your brand as we teach in our academy and in past episodes. It is like owning a word. So I have in a way become owning, there is not a lot of Celtic fantasy artists out there with the combined metal. So I am trying to own something in the market. I am trying to own a feeling. I am trying to own a word. 

Like you always talk about Kleenex and BandAids how people refer to that as like the category when really it is a single brand and so I am trying to own Celtic fantasy metal or Celtic metal. I am trying to own that in the market place so when people think of it they think of me and they will think of some other band and so it is hard to do that if you are not in a niche. It is hard. 

19:59 CJ: Yeah. 

20:00 Leah: So understanding those two things and that branding like you’ve called positioning and I love that and so is there a word that you can own when people think of you and your band in the marketplace. So even though Celtic metal is a niche I am owning that and like you said, it is working alongside of my brand. The brand is the imagery, it’s everything. It’s the vibe, it’s really the consistent feeling I am trying to give my fans when I am not around. 

When they think of me and whatever impression comes to mind that’s the brand and I want to give an accurate – whatever I put out there is contributing to their perception and my positioning. So I want to be purposeful with it, so it doesn’t accidentally happen, right? I think that is the key in the academy and what you teach in the bootcamp is really being purposeful with it, identifying who you are, shifting your positioning a little bit for where you wanted to be and then how can we control people’s perceptions of our brand a little bit. So there’s a lot of meat and potatoes to dive into there. 

21:10 CJ: Yeah there is and let’s say that we can talk a lot about this. I want to give you guys the essence of what this is in the branding boot camp, I define branding to me is when you incarnate an idea. That’s what branding is, so whatever the big idea is behind your music like in Leah’s case these Celtic fantasy themes, she embodies that, which is why the imagery is so important and the more that she can do that, the more that she can embody that. 

That’s what incarnation means to become something that is abstract becomes flesh. It takes on a fleshly form that we know from religion for example, Jesus would be the incarnation, right? Incarnate meaning something from heaven took a physical form here on earth that we can interact with. So you become that brand. This is what I did with my personal motivational project being the Metal Motivator. Metal Motivation. You know Tony Robbins meets Metallica but I get it to where people. 

They’ll say oftentimes, they will write on a post, they will say to me, “Hey I was going through a hard time CJ and I thought to myself I was going to react the way I normally do but then I thought, What would CJ do?” Well, who knows what CJ would do. Maybe CJ would go and fly off the handle, right? But the point is that they think now when they think of Metal Up when they hear the phrases and things they think of me. They think of the person. They think of the individual. 

So anybody in their grandmother can try to join the space that I am in. They can call themselves rock and roll this or they can say whatever they want but alls that does is build my piece of the pie even bigger because I have already claimed that space because I claimed that niche. I claimed it when nobody else was claiming it and so there has been motivational speakers around forever. Plenty of them, male, female, young, old, all different kinds of sorts but still to this day 10 years removed there is still only one Metal Motivator, you know? 

23:17 Leah: You own it. You own the word.

23:20 CJ: Yep, so that is what we are talking about and it may not be to the degree or as simplistic maybe as in Leah’s case or my case. But it can still be done. It is not that complicated and I think what she just said is so important, relax about this, you know? Yes, there is a lot to learn but if you are doing what we are suggesting then you are going to get a lot of great feedback from your followers and the more intentional you are about this. 

And Leah, you know what the hard part is? The hard part is trying to be objective about yourself. That is the hard part. 

23:56 Leah: Yeah it is. 

23:57 CJ: You know – understand. 

23:58 Leah: Put some clothes to it. 

23:59 CJ: Yeah, it is and that is one of the great things about the group now because of the fact that we introduced the new branding aspect to the course. We didn’t leave it there, we did create an option for people to schedule coaching calls to talk more about the branding because we wanted to make it more specific to each individual person. So granted, you can obviously spend a lot of time on somebody’s particular case or what have you. 

But that takes you into a whole different – now you are talking about an advertising agency and all of that but all to say is that, you know it was a great example because Leah really let me lose to work with her students one on one beyond the actual just one bootcamp that I did and so it just goes I think to show Leah that they understand your heart in terms of the commitment that you have to making sure that people don’t fall through the cracks. 

We’re making every opportunity we can available, from the podcast to the one on one calls in the Elite Group. Everything that we can to make sure everybody fully understands these things and puts them into practice. Because we have seen the results. We have seen others experience the results and there’s a lot to be confused about. We are trying to clear that up. 

25:20 Leah: Yeah, absolutely and I think it is just good for everyone to hear that and just because I know we’ll probably get emails about it, we are not offering one on one stuff outside of our programs. This is something like you need to be all in, fully committed, going through the program to have that kind of access to our coaches. So just in case you are wondering, we don’t offer it. I don’t do one on one stuff. Our coaches don’t do one on one stuff outside of Savvy Musician Academy. 

We offer all the support we can possibly give you and feedback inside of this coaching program. So I mean we don’t want anybody falling through the cracks and I literary spent hours in my week thinking about how can I help these people be more successful. Really, I truly do spend time if I’m ever awake in the night this stuff is on my mind. You know I am not losing sleep about it but I am always actively thinking about what is — is there anything missing that I could communicate better? 

And we literally just had a conversation in our staff meeting yesterday about, is there anything we can streamline in this Elite Program? Is there anything we need to take away? Is there anything we can add? What can we do to help people get better results? You know what we actually came up within our coaching program? We actually talked to everybody on the phone. So one of our head coaches actually calls you every few weeks and you get check-in calls so you are not left on your own. 

You don’t sign up for this thing and then you are floundering around trying to figure it out. We actually call you, see how you are doing, are you struggling, are you hitting any walls? And one of the biggest things that we found where people aren’t getting results is just a lack of – they will fall off the wagon because of the lack of accountability. So we are actually putting in more effort into calling people more often, text messaging, emailing. 

I mean we are going to be – you are going to be attacked by us, you know? Because that is where we found where people just you know you can lose momentum when you sometimes have a steep learning curve. So I just want you guys to hear that we are really trying to help you guys. We are looking at all the different obstacles you might be having and accountability is unbelievably effective and so we are looking at ways we can even up our game to help you with that accountability. 

So I just want to put that out there that I don’t know too many other companies that go to that length to call you, check in on you, how are you doing? How can we help you? What can we improve? I mean we really want to know this stuff. So we got thick skin, if there is something that you didn’t like or you had a bad experience, we want to know about it because we will do everything we can to fix it and help you. 

27:58 CJ: Yeah, that is interesting. I’ve talked to a number of students in the group in my sessions with them and I always ask them questions about when they first discovered you, Leah, and when they finally decide how long was it before they decided to join the group and why did they join the Elite Program. And I could say I mean 99% of the answers because they have taken some other courses and things and they implemented those and they’ve really progressed. 

But they are like this is not the level I want to go to the next level. I want to get to Leah’s level and so you know, what was it that was the thing that made you say I am going to go all-in and they said support. That was it. You know it wasn’t not just getting some okay in the elite group, we are going to get some super-secret information, you know? Yeah, you are going to get a whole lot more in-depth information. Absolutely you are. But what’s the game-changer? Support. 

28:59 Leah: Yeah and we are looking to up our game on that in any way we can because we are committed to results. I mean that is the driving point of any business. You can’t actually survive on the internet with a business these days unless you are really helping people. You will go away very, very fast if you aren’t genuine and you aren’t actually delivering results for people. We are still around, we are thriving, we are growing and I am very proud of not just the company I’ve built. 

But just like the amazing people and the transformations and yeah, it’s incredible. It is what keeps getting up every day doing this and in case people have no idea and you wondering like how much is Leah even working on her music, my schedule right now, the way we’ve got it laid out is three days a week I am working on my music, my music business. The other two days, I am doing coaching. I am doing this podcasting, I am doing content, I am doing marketing, writing ad copy, all emails, things like that. 

So I am actually working on my music business more than I am in Savvy Musician Academy at the moment. It is really tight, it is really hard to make it happen but it is something that I told my husband, Steve, who is a huge part of the business and our whole company that listen guys, the whole reason SMA exists is because I experiment and I am in the trenches. I am in the trenches with our students and I am learning, I am experimenting and I love – 

I mean I am just a sucker for new information and trying the latest and greatest stuff and I’ve got to make sure that it is always a part of what I am doing for a number of reasons, personally I have to. I have to be an artist or I don’t feel happy in life at all. And then also, it is part of our USP, our unique selling proposition for Savvy Musician Academy. The bottom line is a lot of gurus and people out there aren’t doing it. They are teaching it but they are not doing it. 

And I think that I can speak with more of an authority, the fact that I am doing it and doing it well. Hey, sometimes I fail so not every ad works and I tell you guys about it. But the fact that I am in the trenches I am doing it with you, I am reporting results and I am also pretty darn good at teaching it and helping people and figure out where the holes in the bucket are. 

So just so you guys know, I am actively doing this stuff. Every time I release a new album, I am also having to think of my micro-niche. And the branding and positioning thing that doesn’t go away. It is not like you set it and forget it, you know? We evolve as artists, so I just want you guys to know I am working on this more that I am actually working on my academy because I want to build my music career to places, I have some big goals. So I just want to throw it out there. So hopefully you can appreciate it. 

31:55 CJ: No, I think it is great. I think again that is part of the element of why Savvy Musician Academy is as good as it is, Leah, because of what you are doing and how you have chosen to live. You didn’t stop making the music. I think I have said this before and you had a couple of successful albums and then you’re just devoting yourself to this because this is more profitable or something like that. No, you are very much in the trenches on every front. 

From recording, from marketing, from self-education and all of the above, always pushing the boundaries, there is a lot of stuff that we talked about offline that she’s considering doing. She’s never mentioned here, so I could tell you it is either more than hearing but that’s what creates greatness and I think for people to – if you really want to experience something at a higher level, you got to get around people that think like that. 

You got to get around people that have that next level kind of attitude and that is part of the Savvy Musician Academy. It is one of the great things I love being in that Elite Group is because I am surrounded with very, very serious people who have skin in the game, financially they have skin in the game. You know it is not an inexpensive thing but the results you are going to get are going to so far exceed anything that they are investing in right now. 

It’s mind-boggling but you got to take that step. You got to be fearless. You have one life to live. There is no do-over, you will not be able to come and do this over again and the clock is ticking. 

33:27 Leah: You won’t come back as a cow or a plant, sorry. 

33:30 CJ: No and the clock is ticking on the only life that you’ve got. So Leah, let us leave them with a simple action step. What can they do today? 

33:39 Leah: Yeah, I want to encourage you guys, I’ve got a little exercise for you to help you with your branding. It is not a micro-niche exercise, it is a little branding exercise. I want you post a photo that represents you or your music. Most of the time it will be a selfie but it could be a nice image from a photo session and I want you to post it on Instagram, do it on Facebook wherever you fans are and I want you to tell them, “Hey guys, in one word describe what comes to mind when you think about me or you hear my music.” 

And then pay attention to what they tell you. It will be so revealing and you are going to get all kinds of ideas and you’ll be shocked and you’ll be surprised and some of them will be like, yeah that is obvious and this is just a powerful exercise to show you what your current positioning is and it might also reveal ways in which you might want to shift it or tweak it a little bit as you go through this. 

So that is kind of a freebie exercise that you can go through. Outside of that, if you want more in-depth coaching and training accountability like we talked about, go to and one of us are going to speak with you on the phone and actually help you figure out where you’re at and where you need to go. That’s and we would love to talk to you. 

34:58 CJ: That is so awesome. Well guys, once again please be sure to rate and review this show. Give it stars on Spotify, Stitcher and iTunes and Google Play and help us raise up in the ranks and leave a sweet comment about how much this show is impacting your life because I know it is. 

How could it not? It has to be the most information-packed music marketing podcast out there. I have heard a few out there and I haven’t seen anything that touches this. And I know that sounds like bragging but I am late to the game like I said, we’re what? 51 episodes in now and I wasn’t on at all 51 of those. So I have seen growth. 

35:40 Leah: Absolutely and guys, if you leave us a really nice review send us a screenshot of it and email it to [email protected] and you will be put into a draw for a prize. So send us that screenshot.

35:55 CJ: Awesome. Leah, thank you once again. 

35:57 Leah: Thanks and we’ll see you guys next time.