Leah’s back! Where has she been? What’s she been doing? Where to from here for music marketing and the Savvy Musician Academy?
In this episode, Leah joins C. J. for an in-depth discussion of her new business, Mythologie Candles, and what her plans are for the near future.
But they also discuss this podcast because after a recent survey conducted by Leah of followers and students of the Savvy Musician Academy, a lot was revealed that prompted a reconsideration of our efforts.
Long story short, Leah and C. J. discuss the plan to take a sabbatical on the podcast in order to invest more in the coaching of our existing students.
BUT… there’s a ton of great principles taught in this episode, so don’t miss it!
Key Points From This Episode:
Catching up with Leah
Mythologie Candles is booming!
How to market a sister brand
Polling your audience
The state of the podcast
Focusing more on the students
People who buy the course but fail to engage
2020 in hindsight
How different personality types work together
The new Instagram 4 Musicians course
“We know that those who have already invested in courses, if we dedicate more to them, to help them get results, that is probably the best investment of time and money.” – @metalmotivation [00:31:25]
“You can make it happen. It really does come down to, ‘How bad you want a music career?’” – @metalmotivation[00:38:54]
“That’s where musicians shine is we think outside of the box.” – @LEAHthemusic[00:41:28]
“My magic phrase, getting to half a million dollars in six months with this company was, ‘I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.’” – @LEAHthemusic[00:42:30]
Are you trying to figure out how to get more streams on Spotify? Did you know we offer a course on this? This week C.J. welcomes Dave Powers, the co-founder of the course, and Kirk Smith, one of its top students and rising stars.
Dave and Kirk tell how they started making hundreds of dollars and thousands of streams a day by focusing on getting on big playlists by building relationships with curators and sending them steady streams of singles. You could do this too and it all starts with learning more with this weeks episode of The Savvy Musician Show.
Key Points From This Episode:
Introduction to Dave Powers and Kirk Smith
Why focus on Spotify?
What is a curator?
The power of the playlist
Releasing singles instead of albums
Staying consistent with reaching out to curators
A steady stream of content
Spotify is content marketing
User-generated, algorithm, and editorial playlists
Keeping users on the platform
The music business is a relational business
Getting past rejection
Why you should be in the Spotify course
Focusing on one music style
Bad quality music fails quickly
Having faith in yourself and the principles
The Spotify course group
“I ought to focus on a platform that actually could make me money rather me spending money to grow.” – @Mtncitymusic[00:04:08]
“I put the record out. I probably should’ve been putting out singles, but I learned that lesson.” – Kirk Smith [00:08:39]
“I’m starting to see like, ‘Okay, I need to plan stuff out to where I’m putting out every six to eight weeks or every couple months.’” – Kirk Smith [00:11:30]
“Spotify is content marketing, and the content is the music… their main thing isn’t to get music to people. Their main thing is to get people to Spotify.” – Kirk Smith [00:11:56]
“You have to be consistent with reaching out and with making the content.” – Kirk Smith [00:18:52]
“The sole purpose of any platform is to keep people on the platform.” – @metalmotivation[00:21:22]
“Selling your music is not the end. It’s a means to an end. It’s one part of all the things that you will do in this new era of social media-driven marketing where you’re sharing a lot more of your life than just the music itself.” @metalmotivation[00:22:05]
“If your desire with everything that you post is to keep people on the platform, attract them to it, and keep them on the platform for as long as possible, guess what the algorithm is going to do with your content? It’s going to favor it.” – @metalmotivation[00:22:55]
“I think in the last couple of years, there’s been a real understanding among artists that culturally people are listening to one song as opposed to albums more frequently.” @Mtncitymusic[00:24:20]
“Whereas Spotify is technically the label now. The curator becomes A&R.” – @metalmotivation[00:30:19]
“The music business has always been a relational business, but I don’t know of a time when there’s more opportunity for an artist to develop relationships that can advance your career outside the context of a record label.” – @Mtncitymusic[00:31:42]
“If you have bad quality music, good marketing helps bad products fail quickly.” – @Mtncitymusic[00:50:52]
00:21 CJ: Welcome to The Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy, and I love hosting this Savvy Musician Show podcast, premier music marketing podcast. I just don’t know another one out there like it. They are echoes and not voices. No, I probably shouldn’t talk like that, but it’s a joy come each and every week to feature interviews and inspiring messages and great how-to information on how to market in this new era of the music industry, and today’s podcast is no different.
00:00:56 CJ: I love the diversity we’ve been having as of late, and today’s really special because I’ve got two guests with me today, one who I’ve gotten to know through the Savvy Musician Academy, one of our Elite students who’s also a participant in one of our products, which we’re going to talk more about, and then another who we’ll meet here for just a second. So, first of all, Dave Powers, welcome to the podcast. Good to see you, man.
00:01:20 Dave Powers: Hey. Thanks so much, CJ. I’m stoked to be on this with you, bro.
00:01:23 CJ: Great to have you, and also with us today is Kirk Smith. Now, Kirk, are you a student also at Savvy?
00:01:31 Kirk Smith: Yeah. I have a few of the Savvy products, and I found out about Spotify. It’s a course that Dave did through that.
00:01:38 CJ: Great. Well, and that’s what we’re talking about today is Spotify and just to set that up, the great revolution of the modern music industry really happened at the end of the ’90s with the advent of Napster with torrent bit streaming, with people digitizing their CDs, and now, all of a sudden, these MP3s, which nobody had ever heard of started to literally be networked together. So, you weren’t even sometimes getting one whole song from somebody. You were getting a complete file from thousands of different computers’ networks. I don’t know how it all worked, but that was Napster, and of course, it turned everything upside down. Of course, there’s a metal guy. I remember Metallica being very outspoken about this, and they were mocked because people just saw them as greedy musicians and all of that.
00:02:27 CJ: Well, now, they’ve been since justified in their argument, but then it went from there because for a few years then, that’s what was happened, a lot of file sharing, and people were getting used to the MP3s via podcast and all that, and then with the advent of the iPod, then Apple started to try to montage this MP3 digital phenomena. So, now, everybody was talking about downloading music that you could legally and pay for just $0.99 a song or $9.99 for an album. You were downloading music.
00:02:58 CJ: Now, in our day, if you were to say you were downloading music from iTunes, you’d be considered ancient. You’d be like AOL, but that just doesn’t seem like that all that long ago, but now everybody’s used to now the next phase of that, which is streaming music, and I remember Pandora and all that coming on the scene, and that was what everybody was doing for their music. Of course, you had to put up with commercials and all that kind of stuff, but then the market dominator became Spotify, and that’s really changing things now. So, Dave, why don’t you take us because at some point, Spotify became such a dominant that Leah felt the need at Savvy to get a Spotify course going. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?
00:03:47 Dave Powers: Yeah, it’s been really cool to partner with Leah and the Savvy Musician Academy actually and creating this course. So, the basic deal that I was working on as I was building my Facebook platform, and as I got into the 150,000 followers and stuff like that, I started turning my attention to Instagram, and as I thought about that, I thought, “I ought to focus on a platform that actually could make me money rather me spending money to grow.” So, even though I continued to be active in our social media stuff on Facebook and Instagram, I really just turned my attention towards Spotify, and one of the things that I found out, CJ, was that all of these big artists were whining and complaining because of what you just articulated. They’re used to getting $9.99 for an album or $0.99 for a song, and after everybody’s splits come out, the artist who’s maybe getting about $0.70 of that.
00:04:42 Dave Powers: So, if you sell a million individual songs, you get $700,000, but on this new landscape with Spotify, they were paying artists about four-tenths of a cent per stream. So, if you go from making $700,000 for a million songs sold to somebody streaming your song a million times and you make $4,000-
00:05:05 CJ: Wow.
00:05:07 Dave Powers: … you better believe they were frustrated. On the flip side of that though, all the indie artists were like, “Wait a minute. We get to make money when people listen to our music? This is awesome. I don’t care if it’s four-tenths of a cent. I’m getting money, man. This is great.” So, that’s the mindset that I have was I’m just curious how this whole platform works, and I started doing a bunch of research and trial and error stuff, and I think on July 1st, 2017, we had about 629 monthly listeners with 150,000 Facebook followers, and that just made me so mad because it was like I’m trying to promote market on Facebook and drag all those people over, and there wasn’t that connectivity at that time. So, I got frustrated and started calming myself and trying to think through processes and stuff, and this idea came to me about how to connect with curators that aren’t under the organizational umbrella or not being paid by Spotify.
00:06:10 Dave Powers: They’re just normal people, average people making playlists that other people find and follow. So, I started reaching out to those people in over a, I don’t know, seven-to-eight-week period of time. I went from 629 monthly listeners to 62,400 monthly listeners.
00:06:27 CJ: Wow.
00:06:27 Dave Powers: By the end of that year, I started in July. So, December 31st, my goal was to have 50,000 streams total in my music, and I already had 20,000 or 30,000 at that time. Using this process, we blew that out of the water, man. We ended up the year of 1.8 million streams instead of just 50 like my goal was. So, anyway, just jumping into that space, and it occurred to me. Man, I can really help other musicians really similarly to how Leah processed stuff. She found a really beautiful niche and insight on how to create streams of income by selling merch and different things like that, marketing yourself as an artist online. Then she said, “Whoa. I have a passion to help others.” So, her and I share that same passion.
00:07:18 Dave Powers: So, we developed a friendship and got to create a course together to help other musicians find a stream of income through streaming, and that’s how I met Kirk. He’s part of the Spotify for Musicians course, and Kirk has blown it up. I literally cannot wait for him to tell you his story today. It’s so cool.
00:07:39 Kirk Smith: First of all, I’m so pumped to be here and be talking to you guys. I’m so grateful for everything that’s been happening. Literally, it’s changed my life.
00:07:48 CJ: Wow.
00:07:50 Kirk Smith: I’m a producer, and I mix and I master, and I’ve been working with artists forever and helping them make their own product and take it market themselves. It was about two years ago, I was like, “Well, I want to make my own content. I want to do my own thing. I like producing and mixing/mastering, but I want to make music. I got it inside of me. I want to do it.” So, probably for about a year, I just made music in the mornings, at night when I had time, and just built up a collection of songs, instrumentals, started to find my own little voice and what I liked and my aesthetic. Right when I went to put it out… I think it was May 2019. I got ready to put it out, and I came across the Spotify course, and I was like, “Okay, so I need to look at this.”
00:08:39 Kirk Smith: I put the record out. I probably should’ve been putting out singles, but I learned that lesson, but I put out the whole record, and actually, a couple days before, I was like, “Oh, man. I need to make sure all my stuff works.” So, I basically created a single so that I could flesh out the infrastructure of everything and make sure it all works and Spotify for Artists and the backend and all my links and everything. So, I just created a single in a day, so I would have something to prime the pump before the album dropped, right? So, created the single, put it out, and I started going through his program. I reached out to curators. I had my little template script, and I was just trying to do as many as I could a day.
00:09:32 Kirk Smith: If I got five a day, I did five a day. If I got 10 a day, I did 10 a day, and pretty much every single day, I was chipping away at it and building my list, and I got crickets. Tons of people, no response, but every once in a while, I got a little response. “Hey, love the music. Great,” and I was telling all these people, “Hey, my album drops in a couple months. Is it okay if I follow up? People were like, “Yeah, cool.” So, I’m building this list, and I mean I can remember when I get my first thousand streams, and I was like, “This can work. This is going to work.” So, it’s like those little… I’m getting into fishing now, and it’s like you get those little nibbles, and you’re like, “Okay. There’s fish here,” and then you might get a bite, but you don’t hook it. You don’t bring it in.
00:10:25 Kirk Smith: But when you bring one in, you’re like, “Okay. This is going to work.” So, this whole process of reaching out, building the list was awesome. It was very exciting. Some days and some weeks, it was arduous, but you keep at it. So, did that for I don’t know months and months and months, and all the while I was building relationships. So, I built relationships with a couple of artists. We ended up collaborating and doing some songs together. So, we shared each other’s audiences. I ended up connecting with some really cool indie labels that are in my niche and said, “Hey, if you ever want to do something together, if there’s anything I can do for you guys, that’d be awesome.”
00:11:07 Kirk Smith: So, we ended up doing some projects together. I got on a compilation, and the thing about it, it’s just amazing way to just build relationships. We just kept building relationships and making music and following up with more music. So, all along in that process, I’m pushing the music that I have, but I’m building more content, so I’m making more content to get ready and now, I’m starting to see like, “Okay, I need to plan stuff out to where I’m putting out every six to eight weeks or every couple months, I got something that I can do.”
00:11:42 CJ: Now, when you say the content in every six, you’re talking about a song?
00:11:45 Kirk Smith: I’m talking about a song.
00:11:46 CJ: Okay.
00:11:46 Kirk Smith: So, here’s the mind-blowing thing I realized with Spotify is it’s content marketing. Spotify is content marketing, and the content is the music. So, what I realized was, Spotify, their main thing isn’t to get music to people. Their main thing is to get people to Spotify. That’s how they function. That’s how they’re able to give music to people, but their bottom line is getting people to Spotify, and they need content marketing in order to get people to their platform, and that’s the music. So, once I realize that, it’s like, “Okay, they need a steady flow of content.” Just like YouTube likes a steady flow of content and all the others, they like a steady flow of content. Now, it doesn’t have to be I drop a song every single day, right?
00:12:38 CJ: Right.
00:12:39 Kirk Smith: But I could do something every eight weeks, every six weeks, every five weeks, and it’s easier for me because I can produce mix and master, but just seeing that that’s… Spotify is content marketing with that light went off. So, then I had my EP coming, and I started doing singles on my EP. By this time, I probably had, I don’t know, four to 7,000 monthly listeners, and I was just like through the roof, and I was making $2 a day or $3 a day on music, and I’m like, “This is crazy,” and I’m like, “I’m not touring. I don’t have to buy a van. I don’t have to change tires. I don’t have to fill it up with gas. I don’t have to leave the house, and I’m making $2 a day,” and I’m like, “This is amazing. This is awesome.” I was like, “It’s not gonna pay all the bills, but I’m able to share my music and meet people and work with artists,” and it’s like, “This is awesome.”
00:13:37 Kirk Smith: So, that’s how it was going and growing. Then I’m working on my EP, and I’m like, “I’m going to chop this up into singles.” I sent it out some to some of my fans and some of my friends before I released it and said, “What do you guys think? It had some of the songs that they liked,” so I was like, “Okay, I’m going to lead with that,” and I put out a couple songs. I actually used artwork from my three-year-old finger paintings, and I did digital representations of his finger painting because it was just really cool, and I was like, “I don’t have to pay a graphic artist.”
00:14:15 CJ: [crosstalk 00:14:15].
00:14:15 Kirk Smith: I’ll pay him down the road in college. So, I started putting out the singles, and one of the singles ended up getting picked up by a really famous band in my niche. They put it on one of their quarantine playlists. I was so blown away and messaged them. It was like, “Thank you so much,” and it was getting picked up by a lot of my kind of top playlist of the relationship I had built. So, it was getting some good traction, and then I followed up six weeks with another single, and that got a lot of good placements, and then I think it was about a month later or where it was later, I drop the EP, and it’s like, “Okay, cool.” I open up my little app the next day, and it says a 100,000 plays for your EP, like the morning of, and I was like, “Honey, I think we did it. I think we hit the jackpot.”
00:15:18 Kirk Smith: So, I was freaking out. Come out to find or I found out that it basically tallied all the streams from my first two singles and lumped them into the EP, which is cool, so I wasn’t getting a 100,000 streams a day. It was all right. Once I got over that emotional realization, I was like, “This is amazing. Let’s keep going,” and essentially three weeks later, or 10 days later, I get on a little editorial playlist, and it’s something that’s called a personalized playlist. So, you have the user-generated playlists, the algorithm playlists, and the big boys editorial playlist.
00:16:01 Kirk Smith: This was somewhere in between editorial and algorithmic, and I got a little bump in my numbers, and I have a little list of my own that I’ve been building through giving away music, and I said, “Hey guys, go to this list. Check it out here. Make sure you smash the heart and listen to it all the way through, and then three days later, I got on another editorial playlist. The crazy thing was it wasn’t even the song that I pitched to the Spotify for Artist pitch song. So, someone must have listened to the EP, and they just like this other song better, which was really cool.
00:16:45 Kirk Smith: So, I was like, “It’s not even the song I pitched,” and it’s starting to pick up on these little editorial playlists. So, every time, every couple days, it got on another editorial playlist, and every couple days I would send it out to my people and say, “If you haven’t listened already, go here, hit the heart, listen to it all the way through,” and it went from… I was getting 6,000 streams a day before all this happened, and then it jumped up to 14,000 streams, and then I was somewhere I didn’t have cell service, and I was driving, working all day, finally got onto the interstate, and I’m looking at my phone like, “Something’s weird. These numbers are really, really high. This is crazy.”
00:17:28 Kirk Smith: Then I saw an email, and it said, “Yeah, you’ve been added to this editorial playlist, and the playlist had 1.4 million followers,” and since then, that was the 25th of last month July, and since then, I’ve been getting 30,000 streams a day.
00:17:48 Dave Powers: That makes me so happy.
00:17:52 Kirk Smith: Hey, yesterday, Monday is the bump day. Yesterday, I broke 40. I had 40,300 streams.
00:18:02 Dave Powers: No kidding. So, dude, did you do the math on that? How much did you make in that one day?
00:18:08 Kirk Smith: Well, the math is always different for me because this… Some of my stuff are 50-50 splits with other artists. So, I round down a little bit, but yeah. I think when I do point 0.004, it turns out to be $160 or something. So, it’s something like that.
00:18:27 Dave Powers: Okay. That’s nothing to blink at, man.
00:18:29 Kirk Smith: Dude, I mean, I was excited to make $2 a day, $3 a day. I mean, I knew it would grow, but just that idea of, like it’s truly passive income. I definitely have done a lot of leg work and a lot of things to make the content and to talk to the people. It is a lot of work, and it’s consistent. You have to be consistent with reaching out and with making the content, but today, I’m talking to you guys. I’m making some plans for some new music. I got to fish with my son this morning, and I’m making 160 bucks. So, it’s been amazing. It’s really been amazing, and the thing that I realized too that I wanted to just mention throughout this whole process was I can remember years ago talking to a big record executive, and they were talking about how they broke this song. It was a really famous song, and they were just telling me how they broke it, meaning they blew it up.
00:19:29 Kirk Smith: They started in a very small radio markets, college radio, local radio, and they would play the song, and then the popularity grew. They would take those numbers, and they would take it to the next market, and then they would take those numbers, and they’d bring it to the big boys. So, they started in the small markets, and as they got the spins and the popularity, they’d bring it up to the bigger markets, and as this is all happening, I’m realizing, “This is the same thing,” like these curators, like Dave said, they’re just regular people who love music, and you reach out to them. You build relationship with them, and it starts to affect the algorithm, and then the algorithm starts to affect… The numbers can start to get the attention of the editors.
00:20:19 Kirk Smith: So, I’m just like, “Okay. It’s just like breaking a record in a radio promotion thing,” and now Dave has shown us how, independent artists, we can become our own promoters in this sense. So, it’s amazing, super cool.
00:20:34 CJ: What’s interesting about this is how similar it is to album rock in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s where they would put out 45 singles, and you always have to have something on the B side. What would always happen is the B-side song would be the one that makes it, right?
00:20:54 Kirk Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
00:20:55 CJ: If anybody knows your history of rock bands like Kiss, Kiss’ famous ballad, the original rock ballad, Beth, was just a B-side song. It was not the one they were trying to promote, and that thing took over the world. So, it’s very, very common. The other thing is how similar this is to the way the other social platforms are actually working because you’re quite right, and I’ve been arguing this a lot lately that the sole purpose of any platform is to keep people on the platform. So, you want to draw people to it, which means, and I said that social platforms are much akin to the government. They don’t produce anything, but yet they control everything.
00:21:38 CJ: So, Spotify, YouTube, they don’t make anything. Even the record labels didn’t make anything. They’re powerless without creative artists. They’re powerless without the musicians. So, it does. It becomes a content thing, and it’s a challenge sometimes when at Savvy, we’re trying to get musicians to get the same philosophy as it relates to their music. I’ll tell them, “Selling your music is not the end. It’s a means to an end. It’s one part of all the things that you will do in this new era of social media-driven marketing where you’re sharing a lot more of your life than just the music itself. You’re contacting people, like you’re collaborating with people.”
00:22:24 CJ: This necessity of being the mother of invention, you’re diversifying, and it’s like, “Okay, well, these are new challenges, new precipices we have to reach, and there’s limitations, but there’s also freedom,” and there’s also opportunity if you keep a great attitude and realize that the algorithms whether it’s Spotify or Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, the algorithm… I always tell people. Just make a covenant agreement with the algorithm to have the same desire that the algorithm has and the algorithm will show you love. If your desire with everything that you post is to keep people on the platform, attract them to it, and keep them on the platform for as long as possible, guess what the algorithm is going to do with your content? It’s going to favor it, and I love to see that this is working across the board.
00:23:10 CJ: So, I’m sure you guys have both heard from the Instagram headline that was bannered about just in the last few weeks of the CEO, Spotify, saying, “You can’t just be putting out a record every two or three years. Everybody, of course, all the musicians are getting bent out of shape about it, but this is in essence what he means, right?
00:23:29 Kirk Smith: Correct, and yeah, I read that article, and I’ve listened to a bunch of interviews with him, and he seems like a good guy. The thing is it’s like, okay, if you made a records’ worth of material in two years or in a year and a half, you could still break that up and release it over the course of a year and a half, and you’re basically not having to, like not to make an album every four weeks. So, it’s the release schedule and strategy, even not as much as just the amount of content that you have to create.
00:24:02 CJ: Dave, do you think that we’re still suffering from the hangover of the record industry in the sense that you have to put out an album and thinking that way as opposed to what this new market is forcing artists like Kirk and yourself to do?
00:24:20 Dave Powers: I think in the last couple of years, there’s been a real understanding among artists that culturally people are listening to one song as opposed to albums more frequently, and I think the invention of the playlist or that concept anyway has really accentuated that concept, because you’re pulling from a variety of different artists and listening to more of an eclectic, or even I was going to say an eclectic mix of music, but even in the same genre, just jamming all these different artists together, they’re typically not adding entire albums but their favorite songs. So, I think it’s starting to click for artists all over. Hey, we’re in a culture where we used to prioritize listening to and enjoying an album, and now, our culture is shifting to listening to and enjoying a variety of different artists on a playlist, and that’s our new album.
00:25:12 Dave Powers: So, I know that there’s some purists though that are hanging on to the creation of the album and don’t want to do the single thing because they want people to engage with a body of work and have an experience and have continuity and all that stuff. So, I don’t think that that concept will ever die. I don’t think in the listener or in the artist, but in general in culture, I think people are starting to get the idea, “Okay. We’re in a single-oriented culture, so we probably need to create and release some.”
00:25:42 CJ: Yeah, and I think… I mean, it’s great. I love that you call them purists because that’s literally the way that it ends up because a purist can end up as the starving artist whereas Kirk over here is like, hey, he’s happy to go fishing and do the passive income thing. So, I think in some cases, you can have both because obviously, like Kirk can add the Facebook, Instagram, Shopify component to this, right? He can eventually get into then building a more personal relationship where he’s sharing his life and his fishing trips on Facebook and all these sorts of things and getting people to buy, merch or anything else.
00:26:24 CJ: Because he’s got a foothold with Spotify, he can expand because again, it’s the same principles that are in application, but Dave, I really like what you just said that the big transformation in people’s thinking and artist’s thinking is to think in terms of the playlist, less in terms of the album, and again, it doesn’t have to be that that’s all that you do, but it’s a great way for you to be competitive to get yourself to the place and again, you can cultivate and build your fan base and put out an album if you want, put out a concept Pink Floyd album if you want. But to get to that place, we got to get you out of the day job. We got to get you out of… You need some of that passive income, so that you have more money to spend, more time, excuse me, to spend on these other things.
00:27:12 CJ: So, I love this idea of… because I think that’s a really big aha, Dave, in all honesty is musicians try to think in terms of the playlist, which means, yeah, you’re thinking in terms of individual songs, and there’s probably a lot of artists listening to us right now, Dave, who’ve never even heard of something like a curator.
00:27:32 Dave Powers: Okay, so let’s define that. So, a curator in this new music business era is somebody that just creates a playlist on one of the streaming platforms. So, they jump onto Spotify. They have their personal account. They put a bunch of their favorite songs on a list, they make it public, and people start following it over time, and that amount of people begins to grow, and I think the definition of a curator isn’t just somebody that makes a playlist and sets it and forgets it. A curator is somebody that wants to create an experience for themself and for others to enjoy. So, it’s almost like creating a concert for any live musicians. There’s a flow to concerts and where you play specific songs and tell specific stories because you’re trying to create moments, and I think a curator has that similar thought process that as somebody’s listening through their music, they’re trying to create moments.
00:28:34 Dave Powers: Like the curators that are overseeing some of the editorial playlists that Kirk is on, they are very much tuned into creating an experience. His music is… Kirk correct me if I’m wrong in terms of the way that I articulate your music, but it’s ambient, instrumental. It’s peaceful. It’s really easy to listen to. It’s easy to sleep to, and I think, Kirk, isn’t that right? That one of your biggest playlists is called… It’s something about sleep, isn’t it?
00:29:02 Kirk Smith: Yeah, Deep Sleep.
00:29:03 CJ: Deep Sleep. That’s a great game.
00:29:06 Dave Powers: It is. I think that’s the one with 1.4 million listeners. So, if any of you that are listening by the way want to enjoy some really peaceful beautiful music and support Kirk simultaneously, check out the Deep Sleep playlist on Spotify. It’s a great playlist, but oh, man. I just lost my train of thought on what I was saying.
00:29:23 CJ: Well, there’s I want to capitalize on what you just said because this… I’m really taken aback about how much of what we’ve discussed is just a different version of the way the record industry was being done. For example, the concept of the single, much like it was in the old days with the 45s, the B-side you get all the airplay, but then also what you just mentioned with the curator, the curators are the new A&R. It’s the guys who would go out and find these bands, who are getting all this popularity on a local scene, and they go in and they see the band perform, and they see a full house, and right after the show, they go back, and they sign that band. That’s the way it used to be done back then.
00:30:05 CJ: So, the curator is the new one who’s out there scouting, so to speak. Even though content producers are trying to share their stuff with curators, it’s the same process whereas Spotify is technically the label now. The curator becomes A&R. They become the people who are out there scouting and bringing in the new talent, so to speak. So, sure, it’s still an uphill climb for the artist. That’s also the same as it’s always been in the record industry.
00:30:39 CJ: However, there’s more autonomy now in the hands of the artist, but the challenge is still there to be creative.
00:30:50 Dave Powers: That’s right, and one of the things that I’m loving about this current setup and how Spotify is structured is it really places opportunity in the hands of the artists that they didn’t use to have. I mean, you used to have to have a record label that’s advocating opening doors and all of that stuff, but currently you can do what Kirk did. He just would find playlists. He would reach out to those people that created the playlist, and he’d create a relationship with them, and I don’t know if you guys caught this. When he was talking, he said, “I made an initial contact. I started developing a relationship, and then I told them, ‘I’m going to be releasing more music. Is it cool if I reach back out to you?'” What was he doing? He was creating future opportunities. He was opening up doors for himself in the future to touch back with them and submit a song to them.
00:31:40 Dave Powers: Man, I’ll tell you what. The music business has always been a relational business, but I don’t know of a time when there’s more opportunity for an artist to develop relationships that can advance your career outside the context of a record label. It’s phenomenal.
00:31:58 CJ: Yeah, I think this is great. So, Kirk, where to from here for you? What’s your next hill to conquer?
00:32:06 Kirk Smith: Well, I got to wait three months for the checks to start rolling in. There’s that, but essentially, what I’ve done is I’ve got music done in the can. I have an artist/friend who’s not a three-year-old, who’s helped do some of the work for the next basically four singles. So, she’s a great artist, and I got the artwork done. I got the music done, and I’ve got the dates chose, so I can release… I think it’s four singles, and then I’ll do the EP in January. So, basically, from at this point, I’m going to try to stay on Spotify’s radar. I’ve done a few collaborations. I just came out with the EP this Friday, and I got a single coming out in September, another in October, and basically, I’m going to try to have a release every four weeks until January, and then depending on everything else in the world, I’m going to make more content to fill up the next year. So, find a week or two week, where I know I can just hunker down and make the content.
00:33:13 CJ: That’s cool.
00:33:15 Kirk Smith: Yeah, and now that there’s actually money starting to trickle in, I can leverage my time to do that instead of working on the early mornings and the late evenings on music. So that’s one thing is I’m going to try to stockpile the content and stay on their radar by making sure I can at least pitch one song to editors every four weeks, and that’s the first thing. I’m also doing some list building with giveaway music. So, I’m trying to grow my email list and-
00:33:44 CJ: Good.
00:33:45 Kirk Smith: … stay on that and tinker around with Facebook ads. I’m using part of my revenue from streaming to pay for some of my Facebook ads and all that kind of stuff. Then, honestly, what I want to do is start again from scratch. I have other music that I like to make that’s not in the ambient, cinematic peace world, so I’m basically going to create another album’s worth of material and make a plan to start this all over again-
00:34:16 CJ: That’s great.
00:34:17 Kirk Smith: … because I hear you guys talk to artists sometimes about like, “Well, I like this music, and I like to make this music,” and I don’t want to… It’s like, “Okay, that’s fine. Just pick one. Start making that kind of music. Make it as best as you can. Start putting it out, and if you build that to a place, it might give you the opportunity to start a side project or to start another thing and then start what else other kind of music do you want to build.” So, that’s how I approached it when I had that same conversation with myself. It’s like, “Well, I like doing all this stuff.” It’s like, “Well, just start. Just pick a thing that you like to do and do that as good as you can and build it.” So, that’s where I’m headed.
00:34:56 CJ: What I love about the attitude here is the commitment to the long-term approach, which I think gets a lot of people. I just saw a comment in one of our Facebook groups for someone who’s been in that particular course. A group for I know over a year was asking about their branding. They’re thinking about tinkering with their branding again, and I said, “Man, I wish you were so much further down the road. I wish you were just… ” Sometimes, I want people who just are fearless, don’t know what they’re doing, and are just willing to go on the internet and break stuff.” It’s the person who’s always thinking and never gets started. They never commit to one thing. They’re just afraid to leave the other stuff like, “Is it their other kind of music that they love to do that if they leave it alone, if they don’t tell everybody about it, then everybody’s going to think that they’re this artist and not this kind of artist?” You don’t have to worry about that.
00:35:48 CJ: The news cycle is very, very short. People have short attention spans. They forget real easily. Don’t worry about that. What you need to do is to, I think, and I think this is the case with you, Kirk, is you have to taste results, you know?
00:36:04 Kirk Smith: Yeah.
00:36:04 CJ: You have to taste that. So, it’s a self-reinforcing hunger because it keeps like fire. Fire is the one hunger that grows stronger the more you feed it.
00:36:17 Kirk Smith: Correct. Correct, and it’s like the two things. It’s like getting a taste of someone liking your music or getting a ad or that kind of thing. That’s one thing that feeds the fire. The other thing is getting okay with a rejection or getting okay with crickets. That’s really hard for an artist to put themselves out there and to feel like, “Oh, they didn’t like it,” or, “Oh, they didn’t respond back.” It’s like you can’t push through that until you start really experiencing it and experiencing that mix with people resonating with the music, and I think once you experience it enough to where you’re comfortable in your own skin, and you start to believe in your own music, then it allows you to just keep sharing, and it’s like, “You know what? A lot of people aren’t going to dig this music, but I really like it. It resonates with me, and I know that there’s people resonating with it because they’re telling me.”
00:37:15 Kirk Smith: So, that fuels you to be like, “This is fine. I’m going to put this out there. I’m going to share it, and some people are going to get it, and some people won’t, and that’s okay.”
00:37:25 CJ: Yeah, I think that’s amazing, and I think that people, right now, the response of most musicians to things like Spotify is just… It’s just somebody else who doesn’t do anything in music or is jacking the artist again. That’s how they see it instead of saying, “Okay, well, this is the… ” It’s the way I look at things politically. People will act online as so emotionally as if a president really changes that much of their life, like 50% of their life as they know it is going to be changed based on the next president. It would have to be because that’s how much they’re going off about it whereas I’ve lived through several presidents in my lifetime, and I can still buy pizza. I can still watch football and do all of these sorts of things. Nothing’s changed fundamentally about my life, nothing has, but people act as if it’s the end-all and the be-all because we need something to blame for our lack of effort.
00:38:23 CJ: We need something to blame for our lack of willingness to take care of ourselves to build the life we want, build the career we want, achieve goals, experience real achievement and lasting change. So, it’s helpful. We’re all the ultimate environmentalists. In other words, not that we hug trees, but that we think everything’s determined by things external to us. So, we’ve got to have the right politician. We got to have the right policy. It’s these technocrats that are killing us. It’s amazon. It’s Spotify. It’s Apple. It’s all of these people. It’s they’re at war against me, and that’s why I am where I am. No. That’s not why you are where you are. You are where you are because you’re filled with self-doubt, fear, procrastination, laziness, and a host of other.
00:39:08 CJ: You’re in your own way, but here’s the thing is, yeah, you are your own biggest problem, but that means you’re also your own best solution.
00:39:15 Dave Powers: That’s right.
00:39:16 CJ: You want to get to the place where we can say it’s up to you, and you feel like that’s good news whereas lot of people, you tell them it’s up to you, and it scares the hell out of them because they don’t feel like they can trust themselves. Well, the Savvy, this is what this… It’s about equipping the self-governing musician. That’s what we do. We give you the tools and methods and applications to help you do what you do. We don’t write your music for you, and we can’t turn you into a go-getter. If you don’t have that, you know what I mean? You can know all the knowledge in the world about marketing and algorithms and all that stuff and still have what Kirk’s been calling crickets. Nothing but crickets in what you try to produce and the efforts you try to make.
00:40:02 CJ: So, you have to be willing to get out of your own way, which is what Kirk did. So, Dave, as we wrap this up… I mean, Dave, sell me your Spotify course.
00:40:17 Dave Powers: Okay, that will be fun actually, and CJ, I just want to just jump in before I sell you the course. Is there an opportunity for us to just get some basic numbers so people have an understanding of where Kirk started, where he is today, and also give a name of his art so that they can go find it on Spotify or Apple Music or whatever and help support him? Is that cool if we should do that now or should we do that after this?
00:40:45 CJ: Yeah, I would have concluded with contact information for both of you guys.
00:40:48 Dave Powers: Oh, man. Sorry about that.
00:40:48 CJ: I’m a professional here, Dave, but thank you for trying to hold my hand, pal.
00:40:56 Dave Powers: Dang it. Sorry, man. I was listening. You’re like, “Oh.”
00:40:58 CJ: Well, one thing that I think would really be helpful is what you just mentioned about just summarizing the numbers timeline because that was obviously told throughout the story. So, I think that’s a great thing to share, Kirk, real quick before Dave talks about Spotify.
00:41:12 Kirk Smith: Yeah, totally.
00:41:13 CJ: Encapsulate that for us.
00:41:14 Kirk Smith: Absolutely, and I would say it’s like when I talk to my artists and talk to people I’m like, “If you could do one thing to start this whole journey, I would say take this Spotify course. It’s powerful. It’s elegant. It simple in a lot of ways. It just takes you being consistent and working it.” So, it’s not overwhelming in a technical sense. It doesn’t necessarily cost you anything to implement the strategy other than your time. So, just my testimonial is do it. Take the course. I’ve recouped my money 100 times over from what the investment was into it, and I’m making relationships with people.
00:41:56 Kirk Smith: So, five stars testimonial, whatever, I’m all in. It’s amazing. I might have had 50 streams and maybe two monthly listeners. I would have had three if my mom had Spotify.
00:42:13 CJ: When was this though?
00:42:14 Kirk Smith: This was April 2018.
00:42:17 CJ: Okay.
00:42:18 Kirk Smith: No, 2019.
00:42:20 CJ: Okay, great.
00:42:20 Kirk Smith: April 2019. It’s all blended together, and I built it up to probably 7,000 monthly listeners, and then it went to 12,000 monthly listeners, and it crossed 20,000 monthly listeners, and I got on this playlist probably about three and a half weeks ago, and I was like, “Oh, man, wouldn’t it be cool if I got to 80,000 monthly listeners? That would be so flipping awesome. I cannot believe it.” I’m waiting for it to populate. It hasn’t updated today, but as of yesterday, I’m at 325,000 monthly listeners.
00:43:01 CJ: Wow. So, we’re talking about just over a year? Just over a year, 18 months.
00:43:07 Kirk Smith: Wow, and I’m on track at least for this month to get a million streams in a month.
00:43:13 CJ: Kirk, that’s great, man, and guys, this is ambient music.
00:43:18 Kirk Smith: Yeah.
00:43:19 CJ: Okay? We’re not talking about pop or hip-hop or straight-up rock and roll or something like that. This is just ambient music. So, there’s no lyrics in there?
00:43:30 Kirk Smith: No lyrics. I like to write songs, but it takes me so dang long to write a song. I’m like, “I can just crank out music and just do it like that.”
00:43:38 CJ: Well, I’ll tell you what, we’ve got a lot of ambient players in our Elite course, as Dave probably knows, and we’ve got one guy, Jeff Pierce who’s guitar, and he’s worked with Windham Hill over the years, and he’s just put out his, I think, his 13th album or something, and he does really, really well just like CD Baby. These people are still buying these CDs, but like I told him, I said, “You know what? I and I think a lot of people are closet fans of ambient music because my background is design marketing and all these sorts,” so I still do a lot of creative type stuff and CDs correspondence and writing emails and blog posts and all this stuff. So, even though I’m a metal fan, I can’t listen to lyric-based music and think conceptually.
00:44:23 Kirk Smith: Yeah, you never get anything done.
00:44:25 CJ: But I don’t want it necessarily to be quiet either. So, for a long time, in fact, that’s where I came up with the phrase that Leah was the heavy metal Enya because I would listen to ambient music all the time. So, of course, Enya always pops up on every ambient channel and all of that. It’s the Kenny G of ambient music, but then when Leah first sent her music to me, I think this is beginning of 2012 or something like that, and I listened to it, I thought I was just so struck. The first thing I thought was she’s a heavy metal Enya, but it was because I was a devoted listener to ambient music. As the harder I get in relation to that is maybe some smooth jazz, but anything that’s relaxation or ambient or whatever spacey, it’s easy to put in the background. It creates atmosphere. It truly is musical life enhancement. It truly is mini escapism.
00:45:27 CJ: So, I’m not surprised, but I think for our listener, they feel like, again, thinking like the old industry, it’s got to be something poppy. It’s got to be something that everybody can sing along to, three-and-a-half-minute song, but you’re proof that that’s not the case.
00:45:43 Kirk Smith: Yeah, it needs to be something that you believe in, something that resonates with you, but then the key is to just go find other people who would most likely it because if I was going to go reach out to a bunch of metal curators and be like, “Check out my new thing,” it’s like I’m going to get laughed at, and no one’s going to like it.
00:46:02 CJ: Just tell them it’s heavy metal ambient music. They’ll be like, “What?”
00:46:05 Kirk Smith: Yeah, mix minus guitar, drums, bass and vocals.
00:46:12 Dave Powers: I love that, Kirk. I love the story. I love the journey that you’ve been on. I’ve been tracking with you along this journey obviously because you’ve been a part of the course, and just watching you stay faithful just step after step, man, day after day, engaging in the process some days more than others, some days like you articulated in your story. Sometimes, it was like, “Man, this is a grind.” Sometimes, it’s exciting. Sometimes, you have to deal with a bunch of internal stuff like CJ was talking about of mindset and what do you do with rejection and how do you process all of that stuff, but man, it has been so cool to watch you just keep moving, keep moving and then boom, this thing break open for you. That is so awesome, man. I love that.
00:46:59 Kirk Smith: Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it.
00:47:01 Dave Powers: Then CJ, I really love the perspective that you bring to the table. I love the wisdom, the insight that you have. I’m so thankful for you, man. Thank you for serving artists so well so beautifully.
00:47:13 CJ: Oh, you bet, man.
00:47:13 Dave Powers: I really appreciate you. I learn something from you every time I hear you talk. So, I just want to let you know, man, I appreciate you a lot.
00:47:20 CJ: I appreciate that, and of course, we have to say thank you to Leah and-
00:47:25 Dave Powers: That’s right.
00:47:25 CJ: … Steve for giving us this platform to be able to do this. It’s funny because I’m playing music myself, but my background is all of this stuff that we’re talking about, but I’m a music guy, and I know tons of music because I’ve run venues. I have so many friends that are independent artists, bands, club owners, and the promoters and the like. So, for me, to have the opportunity to work with musicians like yourself is so important because I understand the setbacks. I understand how disappointing it can be and yet, we all want to keep music alive, and I want artists to be taken care of. So, it’s like, “Man, what part can I play in helping to make that happen?” So, I’m grateful to be in a position where we can hear these stories and hear these testimonies and get these interviews and get these insights from what you guys are doing because you’re pioneers, man.
00:48:32 Dave Powers: That’s awesome.
00:48:33 CJ: You don’t have somebody to follow. You guys are creating this seemingly out of nothing. Like we said before that necessity being this mother of invention. So, Dave, thank you for working with Savvy to put together such a course that is making a difference. So, man, I mean it too. I am not afraid to sell anything especially something that I believe in. So, Dave, sell me Spotify.
00:49:03 Dave Powers: Okay. The majority of the students in the Spotify for Musician course are ambient, instrumental players, creators, and singer, songwriters. There’s every genre represented in the group that’s taken the course. We’re working with hundreds and hundreds of artists all over the world, but one of the things that I articulate to people, I say, “Look, if you’re taking your music career seriously, and you’re taking ownership of it, then this is a course that’ll help you actually practically line by line, literally point by point go through the process to get the results.”
00:49:39 Dave Powers: I started a brand new project in march just to see if it would work again, and I put out one song. I followed all of my advice in the course. I went from zero monthly listeners and zero followers in a brand new genre. So, I wasn’t borrowing my relationships from my singer-songwriter duo that me and my wife have. Brand new genre, no contacts. I just started fresh, went through it, and it went from zero monthly listeners to 12,500 monthly listeners in 30 days.
00:50:10 CJ: Wow.
00:50:11 Kirk Smith: Awesome.
00:50:12 Dave Powers: It just works. I mean, it still works. It’s cool because I have the advantage of working with and walking alongside all these artists from all over the world and watching them. As they faithfully engage in the process, I’m seeing their music grow just like we’ve watched Kirk’s music grow, but I don’t know. I was still curious. Will it work for me again? Or was that a fluke? I’m sitting here watching it work for others, but is it going to work for me though? So, I did it, and it just works, man. It’s unbelievable because it’s rooted in the concept of relationship, and it’s rooted in hard work. So, one of the things that I tell people when I’m talking about this course, I said, “Look, if you have bad quality music, good marketing helps bad products fail quickly.”
00:51:04 Dave Powers: So, what I’m teaching you in this thing is it’s a form of relational marketing. It’s not just a one-time benefit. As you build relationships, it has reoccurring benefits to you over and over. As you release more music, they’ll be interested in putting more of your music on their playlists. So, I always tell people, “Look, if you have a bad product, a bad quality music or whatever, you can follow this course. You can jump in and do everything I tell you, and it’s not going to work because you have a bad product.” So, I guess number one is if you’re going to take your music seriously in terms of a career or even monetizing your hobby, it really does need to be quality, and sometimes our closest friends and family, they’re just too scared to shoot you straight.
00:51:54 Dave Powers: So, you really do need to get some outside feedback and stuff because we think something sounds awesome, and everybody else is like, “Barf. That’s really not great.”
00:52:03 CJ: That’s true.
00:52:03 Dave Powers: But they don’t want to be mean, so they won’t tell you. So, anyway, this course is so awesome for people that want to take their long-term hopes of, quote, making it or making some money off of their music. If they’re willing to put the hard work in, they’re going to make money if they have a good product. They don’t have a good product, they’ll work their butts off and not make money. So, there you go. Fascinating sales pitch, right?
00:52:31 CJ: Yeah, no. I love that. I love that because we sound so much alike, Dave. You’re hitting the nail on the head. There are so many ways to skin a cat, as they say. So, which is the best way? Which is the best marketing? They probably all work, but it really does come down to the individual themselves and dealing with the circumstances as we have them, which are not all together bad. I would argue that the chances of… Now, we say success doesn’t mean playing in a stadium. Nobody’s playing any stadiums right now or signed to the label or that sort of thing. No. What’s successful is you earning income from your music so that you have the opportunity and the time and the incentive to do it more. I think most people, that’s all they’ve ever wanted. They’re not asking for the moon. They’re not asking for the big record deal necessarily because they know they’re playing something like ambient or an obscure genre here and there, and they understand that you’d be lucky to get even on an indie label, small indie label somewhere.
00:53:37 CJ: So, to really empower the individual artists like this is so fantastic, and sometimes people aren’t ready for the more comprehensive in-depth Elite program, Dave, as you know, but what I love about this, Dave, is that it’s so targeted on a particular door. You know what I mean?
00:53:59 Dave Powers: Yep.
00:54:00 CJ: One door, something that like the old image of the salesman who just got to get his foot on the door to exploit that, to get you a taste of this, because I could see how someone like Kirk for example gets a taste for this, and pretty soon he’s like, “Okay, I got the Spotify thing down. I’m going to go tackle this platform over here. I’m going to go apply these same principles over here, learn what I got to learn, and with a little patience and some diligent effort, man, I’m going to break through there too.” All the fears and the guesswork and the inhibitions and the speculation all gets burned away because you’re now not just confident that there’s principles out there to achieve success in any area, but even more importantly you’re confident in your own ability to persistently apply those principles.
00:54:51 CJ: You got to have confidence in those two areas. You got to know there’s a way it can be done, and you got to know that you’re dogged determined enough to put out the effort to do that, and I think that gets us back to I think the main problem I see, not just with people who’ve never taken the Savvy course, but people in the Savvy course still in their own way, still self-defeated, still their biggest obstacle. So, I think the beauty of the Spotify course because it is so targeted and focused on a particular platform that’s measurable, you know what I mean?
00:55:23 Dave Powers: Yeah.
00:55:23 CJ: The metrics that Kirk gave us are easy to measure. We got curators. We got playlists. We’ve got numbers. We know the percentage. It’s something we can easily measure, not the multiplicity of things you’re measuring with social and email and stuff as in Elite, but what a great way and what a great opportunity through this one course to train yourself to become the larger marketing beast that you’re going to eventually become. That’s as much a part of this as anything else is. You got to get your head around something targeted enough to give you the confidence that you need to say, “I can take this anywhere.” That’s what Leah did with her mythology candles. She did just like what you did, Dave, zero based. She didn’t take her existing music audience and suddenly start selling candles to them. She started from scratch just like you did.
00:56:20 Dave Powers: Yep, genius.
00:56:23 CJ: Isn’t that amazing?
00:56:23 Dave Powers: I love it. Yes, it is. One of the common conversations that I’ll have with artists that we’re working with right now is people that just said, “Man, I’ve had so much hope and so much dreams that had been destroyed over the years. I got this music. I don’t know what to do with it. I want it to get out there and make a positive impact on people’s lives, or I want an opportunity to stretch out a little bit and show the potential fans music, and I don’t know how to do it, and I’ve just given up,” but when I saw about this course how targeted it is, how practical it is step by step, I started getting some of my hope back, and it reminded me of an ancient quote that is, “When hope gets deferred, your heart gets sick,” and there’s something too that when your hope just keeps getting pushed out and pushed out and pushed out and pushed out, it starts sickening your heart, so it makes you want to give up.
00:57:19 Dave Powers: I see so many artists that want to just give up. So, maybe there’s some artists listening that feel that way. I’ve had these hopes and these dreams, but I’ve never been able to break through. I’ve never been able to get traction. I mean, I was just talking to an artist the other day about this course, and he articulated this exact same thing for the hundredth time that I’ve heard from 100 different artists. “I don’t feel like I’ve worked so hard and I’ve got nowhere,” and I’m like, “Dude, good news. If you just do these few things, I think there’s 16 lessons or something in the course. Literally, sit down for two and a half or three hours, do what I tell you, and if your music doesn’t suck, you’re going to see results.” It’s hilarious how it works, man.
00:58:04 Dave Powers: So, I think that it’s really helpful when you start getting hope restored. It does all kinds of amazing things for you internally. It removes a bunch of natural barriers like fear or laziness. You start getting some motivation. Like Kirk, man, he’s getting seriously motivated to create new music, and now he’s thinking about, “Ooh, I’m going to start a different project,” because what he’s doing is diversifying his streams of income, right? He’s like, “I’ve got multiple styles of music in my heart,” so I’m going to engage in the ambient. I’m going to do this other stuff. He’s creating multiple streams of income by using the same information and the same method. It’s genius.
00:58:44 CJ: It really is, and it reminds me of another verse. It talks about how the spirit of man can endure sickness, but a wounded spirit who can bear, and in other words when you’re sick, physically, if you’ve got a strong heart, strong spirit, you can endure it, you know?
Dave Powers (00:59:00): That’s right.
00:59:01 CJ: But if your spirit is sick, if you’re wounded from defeat and failure and all of these things, what bears you then? If your spirit is wounded, what bears you then? I don’t want to over-promise, but I think again what we’re just saying is so important that a simple course so targeted and so practical as Dave noted would give you these little victories. That’s what kept Kirk going the whole time.
Dave Powers (00:59:29): That’s right.
00:59:30 CJ: The one or $2 a day, those were little victories, and little victories add up to rebuilding self-confidence just like multiplicity of little defeats add up to wounding that confidence.
Dave Powers (00:59:40): That’s good.
00:59:41 CJ: So, there’s a healing restoration for… And creative people are wounded oftentimes because they’re afraid of judgment. They’re afraid of the criticism. They don’t want to necessarily put themselves… They wish they could just hide away in the studio all day and let the label do all the work.
00:59:55 Dave Powers: That’s right.
00:59:56 CJ: But now they have this opportunity to build themselves back up. So, what a targeted way to do that. There’s a, ladies and gentlemen, a restoration I think that you might need that a simple little course like that can help you achieve, as you just get some victories, something measurable for you in a very targeted way, and let’s target something like Spotify that everybody considers to be just another enemy to the artist. No, let’s target this and see some game for you because you can break out into the other platforms as we noted.
01:00:30 CJ: Dave, let me just ask. Besides the actual course material, is there anything else special about Spotify for Musicians like a Facebook group or something like that?
01:00:41 Dave Powers: That’s one of the best features. I’m glad that you brought that up. There is a private Facebook group for anybody that goes through the course, and that thing is awesome. I think, Kirk, haven’t you found a ton of value in that?
01:00:52 Kirk Smith: Absolutely. It’s great to bounce ideas off other people. I built some relationships with other artists, and it’s just like, “Hey, this is what I’m thinking. Is this something you guys have done before?” It’s amazing. It’s a great part of the program.
01:01:06 Dave Powers: It is. There’s a lot of collaboration and community. There’s a great vibe in there. There’s not people chewing on each other or cussing each other or whatever. There’s lots of encouragement, lots of people sharing tips, and like Kirk did a 15-minute video the other day talking about some of his journey and just encouraged people and seeing comments and likes and people, like man, way to go Kirk instead of being like, “You idiot or jerk,” or whatever. Like, “You’re making all this headway, and I’m over here not seeing any.” They were just so encouraging and Facebook affirming of him in his journey. So, it’s probably, like the content that I do in the course is so practical point by point, literally follow the directions, and if your music doesn’t suck, it will work.
01:01:53 Dave Powers: But the best part in my opinion is that continuous ongoing support system, like Kirk said, bounce ideas off of each other and just be like, “Hey, I’m trying this. Does this work?” Or, “Hey, I just discovered this. Everybody go check this out.” There’s a cool vibe in there, man. It’s really cool.
01:02:10 CJ: That’s so valuable especially for the position that I’m in where I’m overseeing or participating in these different groups because I see that dynamic at play across the board with everybody helping each other, and the difference is, as you noted, you’re not getting the haters and the naysayers and all of this because all the people that are in there are people, A, just like you that’s-
01:02:33 Dave Powers: That’s right.
01:02:34 CJ: … trying to do this and then also though, but these are people who have skin in the game.
01:02:39 Dave Powers: That’s it, man.
01:02:39 CJ: They made a very small financial investment to be there. Now, it’s part of the course guys. So, that’s an ongoing thing. The course is one thing. The ongoing relationships and reinforcement and accountability and new ideas and new tips because as we know, three months, technologies can change things. So, new hacks or methods or whatever can come about. So, yeah, you can exploit in a good way. You know what’s happening because you’re in there with a bunch of Elite people, so to speak, people that are really taking their music marketing to the next level. So, because we’re all pushing on this invisible membrane, between us and success, we learn some things. If you ask, seek and knock, the universe spits out solutions sometimes.
01:03:27 CJ: So, we can glean so much more, so I love the fact, Dave, that there’s a Facebook group and people I’m sure all over the world probably, right?
01:03:36 Dave Powers: Yep. Yep.
01:03:37 CJ: Isn’t that great?
01:03:39 Dave Powers: It’s amazing.
01:03:40 CJ: Kirk, you have any concluding thoughts for us?
01:03:43 Kirk Smith: Yeah, yeah. Since we all got little verses, I’ve been chewing on one myself lately, and it’s the one that says, “Faith without works is dead.”
01:03:54 CJ: Dead, yeah.
01:03:57 Kirk Smith: The hardest thing for an artist to do is not reach out to the curators. It’s not set up their account. It’s not find a graphic artist. The hardest thing for an artist to do is to believe in themselves. That is the hardest thing. So, once you grapple with that and go to that place and realize that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that you are an amazing person regardless of your performance and your numbers and that you have something to say and that you have a voice and you should use it and believe in that, like that’s the faith part, but then you got to do the work.
01:04:42 Kirk Smith: So, sometimes when you’re doing the work and you don’t believe in yourself, it makes doing the work really hard. It’s like, “Oh, man, I got to reach out to these 10 guys today, and only one of them is going to probably message me back, or maybe nobody will today,” or you got to deal with this technological thing or trying to pitch to a Spotify editor and what do I say in the pitch part and what kind of genre do I label it this time? Or whatever.
01:05:06 Kirk Smith: It’s like the works are way harder when the faith is not there, but you can’t just have the hope and the dream and the faith, and it’s all going to work out and don’t put in the work. So, it’s faith and works. It’s believing in yourself, and then it’s grinding it out and putting it out there.
01:05:25 CJ: Yeah, show me what you believe by what you do, right?
01:05:26 Kirk Smith: Yeah, yeah.
01:05:26 CJ: Show me what you believe by what you do. Maybe keep quiet, and I’ll be able to see what you’re saying. So, yeah, I love this whole thing. In fact, you know what I’m going to do, man? I’m going to recommend to Steve that we put this video on the Spotify sales page. Even though we’re just technically recording the audio here for the podcast, I always make sure I snag the video just in case. So, because this I think is a great way to present the course, so we’ll see about doing that as well. Let me first just mention where they can learn more about Spotify. Then I want you guys to share your own contact information, but you guys can go to savvymusicianacademy.com/spotify. So, savvymusicianacademy.com/spotify to learn more about this course. Now, Kirk, tell everybody how they can follow and see what you’re doing.
01:06:22 Kirk Smith: Sure. If you’re into ambient music and you want to listen, you can go do a search for We Dream of Eden. We Dream of Eden. You can check it out on Spotify. I’m also on Bandcamp as well as all the other platforms.
01:06:39 CJ: Yeah, channels and platforms. Dave, how about you?
01:06:42 Dave Powers: You can search for my music at just by searching mountaincity, which is one word, mountaincity. Then you’ll see pictures of my sweet heart on there and listening to some good songs. We just released a song actually about families who have gone through miscarriage, and man, we’re just hearing so much feedback from people that are not knowing how to process that loss. So, we’re getting to jump in with them and help them process the pain. It’s so amazing. My wife did an amazing job on writing that song, but that’s called Graveyard, but yeah, you can find me there. My email’s [email protected] So, if you want to shoot me an email and pick my brain or whatever, I’d be happy to talk with you.
01:07:28 CJ: Yeah, and then I think what happens oftentimes is regardless of somebody’s personal genre preference, I think, and I would encourage the listener that I hope you’re interested in these two guys to follow their journey, to follow their process. You can learn a lot by observing and listening. So, it’s nothing to do with whether you like ambient or Dave’s music, or it has nothing to do with that. It’s about being connected to people who are determined to succeed and are applying proven principles to make that happen. You learn a lot that way. So, go and check them out, but gentlemen, once again, thank you so much for being with us today on The Savvy Musician Show.
01:08:08 Kirk Smith: Thank you so much, CJ.
01:08:09 Dave Powers: Thanks, CJ. Thanks so much, man. You are an inspiration and an amazing host. I appreciate you, and Kirk, thanks so much for coming on, bro. You did great.
01:08:18 Kirk Smith: Thanks, man. Thanks for inviting me. It was super fun.
01:08:20 CJ: So, ladies and gentlemen, what you can do for me, do me a solid and go to your favorite podcast player whether it be Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, and the like, Google Play. Just be sure, and if they give you the opportunity to leave stars, click all the stars and write a empowering comment because, hey, we read those things, and it’s your reviews that help this podcast reach musicians just like yourself. To learn more about what we’re doing, again, just go to savvymusicianacademy.com, and once again, for our Spotify course, Spotify for Musicians, savvymusician.com/spotify, and I will see you soon. Take care.
If you’re not planning and working for a specific, desired outcome, then you’re hoping or wishing for success—and it’s doubtful that you’ll ever achieve it. Just like artists would “hope” that they’d be discovered by a record label, so artists today are hoping they’ll be discovered on Spotify, or they’re hoping their video will go viral on YouTube. What they lack is a plan for success, and the consistent action that creates it. They fall prey to fatalism and wishful thinking. And to pacify their conscience, they engage in “busy work” that doesn’t move the needle in their music business, and this just leads to more self-defeat. In this episode, you’ll experience a challenge to that way of thinking and discover some powerful ways to move into an action-oriented outlook. Enjoy!
Key Points From This Episode:
Planning vs hoping
Are you dreaming or planning?
Taking massive action
Deceiving yourself with “busy work”
The remedy to hoping is direct marketing
The truth behind standard record contracts
The power of conviction
“The challenge is for you to create more engaging content with your audience, get them involved.” — @metalmotivation [0:04:34]
“People are more hoping that life works out instead of making life work out.” — @metalmotivation[0:06:18]
“A dream without a plan is just a wish.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:07:18]
“You go from imagining and dreaming to planning.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:08:47]
“Don’t think that massive action means it’s always 100% you doing everything yourself.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:10:27]
“The less you work, the more you hope things turn out.” — @metalmotivation[0:21:46]
00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show, the music marketing podcast, and I enjoy each time I get to be across from Ms Leah, her eminence, the musing marketing master herself. Leah, always a pleasure.
00:38 Leah: I’m happy to be here and happy to be doing this episode.
00:41 CJ: Some people need to go where they’re tolerated, others go where they’re celebrated. Leah, you are celebrated here and I know that everybody is grateful for all the wonderful content that you’re sharing. And so in light of that, I want to encourage everyone to be sure after they listen to this podcast to go and leave a review. Again, I can’t tell you how much these reviews mean to us. If you want to motivate us, if you want to inspire Leah and myself, then go leave a review. Leave us as many stars as you possibly can. Helps us also to be discovered by other musicians like yourself.
But we actually read these testimonies and comments in our team meetings. And you can also feel free if you are in any one of our paid or free Facebook groups, go there and leave a comment or review of the podcast. And again, it is something we absorb and share so it would mean a great deal to us. In today’s student spotlights, John Thomas, who’s actually a piano player, a very talented one. He shares in the elite program Hashtag Win, overcame another fear yesterday by doing my first Facebook live event where I let my fans nominate someone and then pick one to do an improvisation inspired by the winner. I call them music sketches. It was very well received and was far more effective in reaching people organically than my other social media posts that I spent far too much time agonizing over. I had to overcome my fear of making mistakes in front of people.
In the end, nobody came crawling through the screen to hurt me. They just deeply appreciated it, engaged and shared it. The next time I set up a Facebook event and let people nominate in the comments. I have one nomination already. I also scheduled two house concerts in my home to give previews of my upcoming album. My wife said I needed to put myself out there, so I’m facing my biggest fears and doing what I can do with the limited time I have outside of my day job. I hope this encourages you and gives you some ideas for connecting with fans in new ways. Now actually Leah, this is stuff we have taught even within the last couple of months, right? How to fund an album, how to do things when you don’t have an album, how to build an audience when you don’t have an album using Facebook live and all of this stuff. And of course, recently getting over common fears that musicians have. What do you think?
03:10 Leah: I love hearing these kinds of stories from our students. Just putting the pedal to the metal, doing what they know to do and overcoming those fears. We all have to do it. We all have our zone of comfort and we have to go outside that comfort zone to get results and it doesn’t matter which way you slice it. That’s the only way to really see momentum.
03:33 CJ: Sure. I love how he included his fans, right? He got them involved in this process and the nomination process, and I love that he said, “I finally put myself out there and nobody came crawling through the screen to hurt me.” Right? We expect that if we put ourselves, this fear of judgment that people are just going to come after us, but no, they appreciate it. They engage, they share, and because they do, as he said, guess who else showed John Thomas some love? The evil Facebook algorithm, the evil algorithm who shuts everybody’s business down and is so against your page and your audience actually shared his posts with more people than all of the other posts he was agonizing over. Ladies and gentlemen, Facebook is not out to hurt you. Okay?
Don’t listen to what the naysayers say. They have to protect their newsfeed. And if people are engaging with your content, then Facebook wants your stuff on the newsfeed. So that’s the challenge. The challenge is for you to create more engaging content with your audience, get them involved. So this right here is pure online musician in practice. This is the kind of stuff that we … This is, he’s getting his market-ready. This was not sales, right Leah? This was not direct marketing, but it sure is building an audience, it sure is endearing a relationship. It sure is creating that know, like and trust element, which is going to make selling for John so much easier down the road, isn’t it?
05:05 Leah: Yeah, exactly. Keep it up. You’re doing exactly what you should be.
05:10 CJ: Awesome. Now, this takes us into our topic today, which is about are you planning or are you hoping for success? Because John can easily sit back and hope that people will somehow stumble on his music or somehow they’ll like it and they’ll share it and they’ll do whatever. But this is him being proactive. He said his wife told him to put himself out there and that’s certainly what you have to do. You have to put yourself out there. But Leah, as I’ve watched being a part of Savvy Musician Academy now for just about a year working with you closely like this-
05:51 Leah: It’s the best year of your whole life. Right?
05:53 CJ: The best year of my whole life. Of all the musician academies that I have been a part of, this one is by far the most recent. No, but it’s the one thing that I have seen is there is, which is something I see on my own motivational project which I do myself is something common, which is a kind of a fatalistic outlook on things. A very hope so outlook that people are more hoping that life works out instead of making life work out, that they don’t have this determination about creating a desired outcome. In fact, that’s really what determination means is to have a desired outcome.
Something that you can envision, something that you actually plan and something that you actually create. You and I are people of faith. We consider ourselves to be people of, you know, sensitive to spiritual things and all of that. So we don’t demean people putting some element of faith out there for things. But Leah, you’re not the kind of person who leaves things to chance. You seem to be someone who is very much planning, very much thinking, very much plotting long ahead of time. What’s your basic philosophy on this planning versus hoping?
07:14 Leah: My philosophy is very simple, which is a dream without a plan is just a wish. I think that’s it. And even then once you have a plan, I think the other half of the equation is the action part, the massive action. Because I also see musicians who have grandiose plans and never do anything with them in the end. And that’s part of a human nature thing too. We have all the best intentions in the world, but at the end of the day it’s about what did we actually do with it? Did we take a step every day in the right direction? I’ve got some examples of things that I’ve done. One of them I can’t talk about yet, but things that, let’s just say little endeavors of mine that every day I just wake up and go, what do I need to do today to move the ball forward today? And sometimes it’s a small thing.
Sometimes it’s just planning the next thing. Sometimes it’s thinking about the next two or three months ahead and going, if I want to do that at that point and I want to achieve that level, what do I need to do today? And just kind of reverse engineer it and it’s just one thing at a time and consistently over the long haul that’s going to get me there. So it does start out with dreaming. It does start out with using your imagination to just what would be really fun? What would feel good? What would I imagine about the future? Just start there, but then to manifest that, you don’t just sit there and think about it and hope the universe will give it to you. That’s not how you bring things about. You go from imagining and dreaming to planning. I feel like planning is really only the second step in this process.
That’s not where it ends. The third part is consistent massive action. Things that I’m doing. So there has to be a doing every day, not once in a while. And I don’t dabble. When I go to do something, I’m all in. I’m not dabbling. If I wanted to dabble, then that’s just a hobby. But if I’m serious about actually manifesting something, about actually making something come true, I have to go all in. So there’s been a number of things. And sometimes it’s not me. I’m not the only one that I’m relying on to make that thing happen either. One example I can give will be in the future podcasts we’re going to be having somebody on who I’ve been working with, who’s been helping me in the publishing side of things. Because one of my goals in 2019 was to start getting into licensing.
And as you can imagine, I’m a very, very busy person, so I only have so much time to do this. So I have someone actually helping me with the publishing side of things. But when I say I’m all in, I mean I’m all in even though I have even delegated some of it. So we have some results to share with you about that and we have some really humorous and amusing things to share about this as well. And like I said, we will be bringing this person on who’s been working for me this year after these episodes. And so it’s just another example. I just want to show you like there’s different scenarios. Don’t think that massive action means it’s always 100% you doing everything yourself. There are other ways that this can happen, but the point is that there is action happening every day and not busy work.
That’s I think another pitfall that can happen with musicians is they think they’re being productive, but they’re not. They’re not actually doing things that move the ball forward or move the needle. They’re just doing busy work and running around in circles and then wondering why they’re not getting the results they’re going after. So you need to determine what actually is going to move the needle for whichever goal that is versus have I created just busy work for myself? How do you determine that? I think you have to look objectively if that’s possible. Like make a list of the things you’re doing, the items you’re doing to get toward the goal, which of those things is actually working for you now? Which of those things is not actually working for you? Because sometimes we get locked into what we think is working for us, but if you actually look at, Hey, in the past 30 days of me doing this, did it actually move me forward? If not, then that’s probably not the action item you should focus on.
11:40 CJ: No, that’s really, really good. And I love what you said, we’re not trying to demean dreaming and that sort of thing. I always said a dream is a mental image of a desired end. And you’ve got to have that, right? An architect begins with that. You’ve got to have something that you’re shooting for, but you have to understand that, and again, we kind of reveal this in our language, that it doesn’t just happen in and of itself because you dream and you kind of get that with the law of attraction type thing. Not everybody teaches that, it’s good to envision things. And they do teach that you should take action and all of that, but a lot of people kind of, they took the other side of it. They just … It gave them an excuse for passivity.
And so it’s in our language when we use the word like hope, and I remember in the record industry, the old record industry days, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to wait to be discovered. Also in Hollywood, they are hoping that they get discovered, but with the age of the internet, that hope is still there. They’re hoping that their video goes viral on YouTube. They’re hoping that somebody will discover them on Spotify. There’s still this idea of hoping instead of saying, no, I’m going to go after a particular artist …
Now they may not know how, Leah. In fact, in a recent team meeting that we had, you brought this up, which is I don’t think we realize how many people out there really don’t understand the kind of options that are available to them that maybe would get them out of this hoping and wishing. In other words, they don’t know how to plan yet, Leah, because they don’t know the kind of marketing tools that you teach at the Savvy Musician Academy, kind of the ignorance, it keeps them locked out. But if you can at least understand, because Leah was in that position, if you listen to some of the earlier podcasts where she tells her story about how she became a music marketer, she didn’t know these things. Right?
13:49 Leah: Right.
13:49 CJ: But at the same time, Leah, you didn’t leave it to hope either. You started banging on the doors of this universe and trying everything that you knew was available until you eventually got on the trail of information that was working for you and you discovered more and more as you went along, right?
14:06 Leah: Yep. That’s right. I just said, well, I’ve got these little kids at home and some of them aren’t even old enough yet to homeschool yet. We weren’t even at that point. And I am a stay at home mom. What can I do with the internet? I know I’ve been doing all this uploading to different artist sites like ReverbNation, but I learned about after a year that, well, the only other people who are on this website are other musicians. They’re not my fans. This is a waste of time. So I stopped doing that. And so there’s an example of, at the time I was hoping that if I uploaded my music to these different sites that I would get discovered, some A and R person, I would just go viral. I was hoping to go viral. That’s really what I was hoping would happen. And I also realized my niche is too weird for it to ever go viral.
So I don’t think that’s really realistic either. So just add that to the pile that I’m not really supermodel MTV material, so I really don’t have any chances of going viral here. That at first was kind of discouraging and so that at that point, it wasn’t until I really discovered the 1000 fan model and learned about what niche marketing really is, that I thought, Oh my goodness, this just changes the whole game for me. I don’t even have to try and compete over there. I don’t even have to try and be world-famous. I don’t need to be a household name. In fact, I kind of like it that way, I don’t want to be so famous that I can’t even go out for dinner with my family without being inundated. I don’t even want that. So from there, it became about what can I do?
What can I control? What can I essentially like if I do this, I get that, action and reaction. And that I learned was digital marketing. That’s the best way. It’s direct sales, direct marketing that worked. So I didn’t have to keep hoping anymore. I could just start doing and doing the actions that work for everybody in every industry. And the very funny thing about that is even the big labels aren’t doing those things yet. They are still in the dinosaur age. And I know because I have experienced dealing with them recently where they’re looking at what I’m doing, they’re seeing the screenshots of my numbers and my sales, physical products, physical CD sales. And they don’t understand how I’m doing it. Well, it’s digital marketing. It’s email marketing. And they’re like, “Well, we do that too.” No, you don’t really, you don’t even have a pixel on your website.
No, you’re not really doing it. You don’t get it. They don’t even get it. And these are the biggest of the biggest labels in the world. So it just goes to show that if you stop just relying on hope, hope is where it begins with the dream and the vision. But you can’t leave it there. It has to turn into the planning. And then the doing. The doing is where you’re going to learn all your lessons. You have to fail more than you’re going to succeed. And if you don’t, if you’re not willing to fail and you’re not willing to screw up and for it to be challenging, you’re not going to learn the most valuable things that you will ever learn in your entire life that will allow you to become successful. All you guys see is that the whole tip of the iceberg picture, you see that little tip and the whole thing underneath the water, all of that under the water is all the failure, all the hardship, all the challenges, the times that all the ads I put up that completely flopped.
Including this month, by the way, like we’ve been doing campaigns and none of them are working at the moment. Does that … Am I discouraged? Not at all. Not at all. For whatever reason, Facebook algorithms are weird. Okay. That’s not going to discourage me. It causes me to be more creative. It inspires me to be more creative. Think outside the box. No problem. So I’m not discouraged by that. I’m onto the next thing. So I think the bottom line is you start with the hope and the dream, but you can’t leave it there.
All the broke musicians in the world right now left it there or they left their fate in someone else’s hands. Like if they did get signed, they are hoping that it’s a good deal because they didn’t even get a music lawyer to read through the contract. They’re hoping that they actually have their best interests in mind. They don’t. I can guarantee you. One of the things I learned recently in dealing with the biggest labels out there is that what the standard contract that every major artist out there has at this moment, every major artist from Rihanna to every pop star, every big artist out there, these labels take 90% of their streaming royalty.
18:56 CJ: Wow.
18:56 Leah: 90% is standard. That is every artist out there who is not independent, is basically they’re giving 90%. That is normal. And then these artists are complaining how they don’t make anything for Spotify. Well, that’s because they were hoping that these labels had their best interest in mind and they didn’t read the fine print, they didn’t find all the little gotchas in the contract. So it’s being naive to think that these big corporations have your best interests in mind. They’re out for money. That’s what they’re about. They want to make money. And that’s why there’s so many skeptical musicians out there today that I get to deal with is because that’s all they know. That’s all they understand is that people are out to get them. And so then here I come along, this short redhead talking about how I’m making six figures as an independent musician who doesn’t tour. They’re like, yeah right.
19:53 CJ: Yeah. It becomes magic. Right?
19:55 Leah: Magic or a scam, one of the two. So I understand. I get why it seems like that, it’s because you don’t understand this whole online marketing thing yet.
20:06 CJ: Yeah, no, I mean, a quote I’ve been saying for years now, the less you understand about the way something is achieved, the more you think it’s magic that it happens for someone else or the more you think it’s fate that it happens for someone else. We say it all the time. It wasn’t meant to be. Really? Meant by whom? And how would you know what is meant or not meant to be? And so hope becomes a wish. I don’t say the following example for political purposes or for political endorsement, but even if you look at my background is again, marketing and advertising and things like that.
So looking at the last two presidential campaigns, you go to President Obama’s campaign was one word, hope. And that was this … It was offered out there obviously as a positive, but that’s very ill-defined because hope is basically a wish. I hope it turns out, right? When you go to the last president’s campaign, it was Make America Great Again, very specific, very determined, very focused, very action-oriented. Again, I’m not endorsing anything either way by saying this, but from a campaign standpoint, I want to say-
21:19 Leah: Yeah, sales psychology.
21:21 CJ: From sales psychology, I don’t want to give people just a hope. I want to give them a conviction. I want to give them assurity, right? Assurance to know that if you take these particular action steps, you’re going to get this outcome. So hope is just a wish when you don’t have a plan of action. People who don’t have plans, they wish. People who don’t have plans, they hope. Or as I like to say, the less you work, the more you hope things turn out. Period. Right? The less you work, the more you hope things turn out. So you need to become intentional and confident about your success when you understand how success is achieved in the new music industry. And so when we say the new music industry, guess what? You know what the new music industry is?
It’s not an updated version of the record label. The new version of the music industry is you, you, like Leah said, she didn’t want to be so famous that she can’t go out with her family and enjoy a day at the park or going out to eat or what have you. But she still has a sizable audience of raving super fans who keep her more than financed to live the kind of life she wants to live. So she’s playing her music, she gets to control her time and she doesn’t have to be plastered all over every billboard. How is that not an ideal situation for any musician? It’s either that or hoping you’ll get discovered.
And if you do hope you get discovered, like Leah said, they’re going to take 90%. and I’m going to tell you what she mentioned earlier about the guy we’re going to interview here in the next few weeks. She’s going to get into some of the things that he revealed her and you’re going to be shocked at how these record labels think. And I think I said in a previous episode, one of the comments that came out of it was because they couldn’t figure out what Leah was doing, which was digital marketing. They referred to it as witchcraft. That was their conclusion. And we’re not talking about mom and pop labels here.
23:22 Leah: No.
23:22 CJ: We’re talking about serious, serious players.
23:25 Leah: We’re talking about the big boys. Yeah, you will be shocked and amazed because … And what really throws them off is that I don’t tour. That part they’re like, well, how does she make her money? She doesn’t tour. Uh, e-commerce, digital marketing. They just can’t wrap their brains around that. And it’s so funny because the guy who we’re going to interview who’s been working for me, he’s a musician himself, but he also totally understands digital marketing. So he’s laughing and crying at the same time telling me this and it’s so amusing and he’s just like, well, I’m like sitting there in their office and I don’t want to insult them by trying to explain to them what a Facebook pixel is by saying you’re not doing it right. That’s why you don’t get it. But essentially that’s what’s going on. They’re still in the dinosaur age.
And so they’re looking at me completely mystified and some of them even … This got me really shaking my head. In Europe, which is where these offices are based that we’re talking about here, the only thing they care about is Spotify numbers because they don’t believe that physical sales are really happening. So it’s all about Spotify and why they take 90%. all they care about is Spotify stats and metrics. And he showed them my Spotify metrics. And listen, guys, I don’t have millions and millions of streams or anything. I think in total I maybe have 3.3 or, I don’t know what it was, I actually don’t know what it is right now. I have it in a chart somewhere, but it’s not like I have that many. And they were looking at my numbers and at first, they were actually skeptical that it was a scam because they don’t understand how I would get streams as an independent artist like this.
And also because there have been some actual scammers in Europe with Spotify where, I don’t know, but they had some kind of bots or something where they were able to create millions of streams in like a week or something. But I’m like, okay, but why would you be skeptical of me? Like I don’t even have millions and billions of streams. Why is this such an achievement to you? That’s what’s actually disturbing to me is that you’re so out of touch with direct to fan models. You’re so out of touch with what real fans are like when you have relationships with them that this to you looks questionable. And I don’t even have that many. So why is that the norm in the label world? Not to take this totally like off-topic, I feel like I’m going down a rabbit trail, but there’s so much to say on this in the coming episodes.
26:03 CJ: Well, and, but you know what? It does make the point, Leah, and that is that, like I said earlier, where you started and you didn’t know these things and you started to just move forward. You had a dream. That was a given. You needed something to take action. You didn’t know what you needed to know to do the planning. You just started with what you knew was out there, but you tried it for as long as you could. It didn’t work. You tried something else, but you made your way through and to where now everything is calculated. Now everything is planned. Now you keep yourself constantly up to speed. I can’t tell you guys how many times in my personal conversations with Leah that she will tell me of a podcast she heard that morning or a book she’s reading. Okay? So this is not someone who’s resting on her laurels.
She is constantly consulting with top marketers themselves. She is in several elite groups herself for top people in their fields who are spending money on social media, et cetera. She hires herself coaches to speak into her business and her life. So again, nothing is being left to chance here guys. Nothing is being left to hope. Hope is not in our vocabulary. I don’t hear hope in any of our team meetings. Nothing that she’s doing is based on hope. It’s based on yes, dreaming, getting a desired picture, a depiction in your mind of that desired end. But then when you know the audience, when you know what you’re about when you know the outcome that you want, you know the tools that are available to achieve it.
You start taking action. So you are either hoping and waiting for life to work itself out or you are planning and doing what you can to make your life work out. It is simple cause and effect. You can take the passive approach or you can take the active approach. And speaking of an active approach, Leah, is there any action you would like for them to take today? In particular, maybe something that they could download which would give them some help during this particular sales season?
28:15 Leah: Okay, so speaking of not just hoping but planning and taking action. If you’re actually going to achieve your goals as a musician, I have a special guide for you. I want to give you as many free resources as possible to get you going. Whether you ever join one of my courses or programs or not, I want to just give as much value. This whole thing, the reason I’m even doing any of this is because this is about a movement. It’s about waking musicians up to the fact that they are in control. We are in a new era and not enough people have resources. And I understand we’re all at different places. So my goal with this podcast is if you never work with me ever, how can I change your life today? So this free resource is one way. I think we can do that in a small way anyways.
It’s called Map Your Music Year. And you can go to mapyourmusicyear.com. That is going to help you plan out your next 365 days. So that ties in really well with this episode because it’s all about not just leaving it with a wish and a hope and a dream, but putting it into action. And then how are you … What is your next 90 days going to look like? It’s the end of the year when you’re hearing this. So it’s time to think about 2020 and what you’re going to accomplish, even if you’re a student of ours, I encourage you to download this and go through it as well. It’s just as valuable to you. I will go through the same process myself for 2020. So this is my method mapyourmusicyear.com. I think it will be really valuable and if you found this episode to be motivational for you, I’d love it if you left us a review and also just let us know if this resource was helpful. That will encourage me to give you more.
29:57 CJ: Awesome. Leah, thank you so much again. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll see you again soon.
In this episode, Leah delves deeper into her successful crowdfunding campaign for her latest album, Ancient Winter, and now she reveals the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned. Leah has tried various ways to crowdfund her albums, and she’s always experimenting to find a better, more profitable way to market her music. In this recent campaign, she exceeded her financial goal by $30,000, but with that came more lessons in how to sell more effectively. In this episode, she shares what she learned and the mistakes she made. You’ll enjoy the detail she goes into. Listen now!
Key Points From This Episode:
The pros and cons of hosting a crowdfunding campaign on your own site.
The astonishing amount of people who demanded vinyl.
What makes crowdfunding easier.
The difference between those who succeed and fail.
Why you must expose yourself to marketing training over and over again.
The importance of your email list and why email is still king.
Leah’s amazing results in revenue in 7 days with email.
The unexpected things Leah underestimated.
How to create a successful landing page.
Understanding the psychology of your fans.
“Is it time for you to stop wondering about whether you’re supposed to do music or not?” — @MetalMotivation [0:02:39]
“This is literally just a skill. It’s about incorporating who you are, your personality, your authentic self, your authentic music, and just having these skills in place and then, then you can do anything.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:05:40]
“You can’t just be exposed to it and expect something good to happen out of it. You must become a practitioner.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:08:38]
“If Facebook died and disintegrated, turned into Myspace, I could still make a living just off of my email.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:10:17]
“You don’t have to be a world-class marketer and learn how to market market everything else in the world, just your own stuff, your own music to your own audience.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:12:49]
00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz, Branding and Mindset Coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy, cohost of this awesome podcast, which means I get to sit, talk with the queen herself, her eminence, the master music marketer, Leah McHenry. You get tired of me bragging on, you?
00:40 Leah: No, it makes me laugh every time. Her eminence.
00:46 CJ: Leah goes where she’s celebrated, ladies and gentlemen, not where she’s tolerated, right? No. So we celebrate her here and she does a tremendous job of heading up this organization. Have a fantastic team, actually and maybe one day some of you will meet our team. Of course, if you’re in the Elite program you will. But we have such a great team of people committed to helping musicians create a career in music and none of our team more better to have featured for the Savvy Musician Academy than Leah herself and we launched, in our last episode, a three-episode series, Leah, on crowdfunding because it is something that you have done before. It is in a way sort of unique to your approach to music marketing. And in the last episode, we went in deep with, you know, the reasons why you did this, your basic approach to things.
The one point really made was that this really has to do with knowing how to sell. And I want to make sure even though we’re going to go into the details of the things that you offered and you know what software you use and some of the approaches, it really does come back to being a marketer, knowing how to sell, knowing how to write great copy and knowing your audience and building that engagement. So as you said in the last episode, you noted that we’ve talked about in previous podcasts about how to do these sorts of things when you don’t have an audience, but if you’re gonna really do this, especially to the level that Leah does, you need to build an audience.
And social media makes that easy to do. The kind of things we teach in our Elite program here at the Savvy Musician Academy, which is why this is something I always want you, throughout these podcasts, to be thinking about is; is it time for you to stop wondering about whether you’re supposed to do music or not. To stop having to deal with that gnawing inside you, the calling, if you will, that you have that seems to eat a hole on the inside of you. Are you tired of living with that constant conflict in you about having this extreme passion and desire to want to play music for the rest of your life, but feeling like you were born at the wrong time because technology’s changed everything and everything is being streamed now and nobody buys physical music anymore? Well, if you listened to the last episode, you realize that’s not even true.
Leah had to change her campaign mid-campaign to accommodate the fact that people wanted physical products. Ladies and gentlemen, the music industry is alive and well. If you’re willing to step out of the old way of thinking and become, not just a musician, but also the marketer of your very own music, which is again the kind of thing that Leah teaches in the Elite program. So I want you to be thinking about this throughout this series. Is it time for you to take that next step and invest in your future and secure yourself a music career? But we’re talking about crowdfunding. We introduced it last time and today we’re going to get into some of the mistakes and lessons that she’s learned even though she’s done these before, she is still learning, still changing, still testing, and that’s what good marketers do. So before I start pulling on her ear, let me share with you just a student spotlight.
Someone from our elite program, name is Daniel Coates, and Daniel writes, hashtag win. Just did $20,000 (Australian Dollars) in ticket and merchandise sales in five events over eight days on my Queensland, Australia tour using the principles taught here, but applied to selling even Eventbrite tickets. For the first time I had my custom jewelry for sale as merch and I had the CDs, I had the downloads, my jewelry, outsold my CDs in four of the five events. I’d say that was a good addition. You can apply this knowledge to touring and I can tell you from my own experience, it works. Again, that’s awesome. That’s one of our Elite students. He’s applying what is taught for the online space to the offline space, Leah. He’s doing it for his actual events and that’s the important part here is if you learn how to sell, this can be done in any format can’t it?
05:17 Leah: Yeah. And if you guys ever listened to a podcast episode that we did previously with Daniel Coates, you can tell he’s not like anything you would expect some kind of a salesman type of person. He’s like the most down to earth, genuine, authentic, real artist, like super artsy fartsy. So if he’s able to do $20,000 in ticket and merch sales over eight days, that should tell you something. This is literally just a skill. It’s about incorporating who you are, your personality, your authentic self, your authentic music, and just having these skills in place and then, then you can do anything.
And with that said, you guys, just know that in these episodes, if you didn’t listen to the last one, you need to go back and start with that last one where we talked about the beginning of this whole new crowdfunding campaign.What I did different was different from the last time. We’ll get into a little bit more of that here. And I’m not holding back.
I don’t have a course on this, so I’m giving you everything I’ve got in these episodes, short of actually giving you over-the-shoulder tutorials, which is not really that necessary because, here’s the thing which we did point out and CJ pointed out, it’s not the platform that matters. It’s not the app that you’re using. It’s not any of those superficial things that people get stuck on. The tools and, you know, this thing or that thing. It’s about; do you have an audience? Do you have an email list? Do you have good music? Do you have something to offer? Do you know how to sell? Do you know how to use words to motivate people?
Those are the key fundamentals you need to learn to be able to sell anything. And crowdfunding is easy when you have those things because of the inherent nature of scarcity and urgency and limited edition stuff. So that’s the easy part. The hard part is learning how to get those skills and then practicing them. I want to say there’s something really important that I heard this morning. Whenever I get ready in the bathroom or whatever, I spend, you know, I’m a woman, so I’m in the bathroom a lot, shower, hair, this hair. Do you think this hair happens all by itself? No. When I’m doing that, getting ready, even with this podcast, I’m always listening to things, audio books and such. I don’t really waste my time. And I do listen to a lot of music in the car as well.
But I heard something really fantastic by, I dunno, somebody who has like multi nine-figure businesses and stuff, and he talked about the difference between people who succeed and fail with information. And I want to point this out because it’s a podcast where you’re getting exposure to information. People who just get exposure to information often do nothing with it, but people who practice and train basically expose themselves to that information over and over and over and over again, and they put it into practice. And that’s the difference between people who succeed and fail. So you’re getting a lot of exposure in this podcast in general and in these episodes to information. You’re going to be blown away by some of the stuff I share with you between the last episode and this one in the next one. You’re gonna your brain might, it might even be too much for you.
And I’m also addressing our Elite students, our TOM students, people who are listening to this; you have been exposed to amazing information, but that’s not enough. That’s not enough. You can’t just be exposed to it and expect something good to happen out of it. You must become a practitioner. You must train. You must expose yourself to it over and over again. So, if you’re listening to this and you have one of our programs today is the day you start over again from the beginning and do it again and do it again, that’s how you will get results.
09:02 CJ: Isn’t that awesome? Let me just set the stage here; in the last episode when we introduced this, and we talked about this recent campaign for your winter album, your goal was $50,000, right? And you did $80,000 plus by the time this whole thing was done. That’s, I mean people are lucky to get their goal, let alone exceed it by essentially more than half. You exceeded it by more than half. And as we said in the first episode, it has to do with these other things. And you know, you showed me something about the results that you got from email and I want you to just talk about that because I think people, again, they don’t understand the power of email here. We talk a lot about social media and social media is important, but we want to keep in funnel fashion driving people to these email lists. Talk a little bit about why email is still King here in relation to this campaign.
10:02 Leah: This episode, guys, I’m sharing mistakes that I’ve made and lessons learned. Lessons learned from the past, and this campaign. Email is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about a successful crowdfunding campaign. It’s still King. It’s still, at the end of the day, if Facebook died and disintegrated, turned into Myspace, I could still make a living just off of my email. So yeah, I took a little screenshot here of one of the weeks that things were, you know, it was one of the bigger weeks in the campaign and this was very shocking when I saw this. I use an email service provider called Drip and we actually have a good relationship with them. We can put it in the show notes. So I don’t use MailChimp at all, it’s not very e-commerce friendly, but drip is extremely e-commerce friendly to the point where they can track how much each of your customers has ever spent with you.So that’s something called a lifetime value.
And it can also tell you, in any seven day period, how much revenue is directly attributed to the emails that you sent, which is incredible data to have. So in this one screenshot I took, I logged in one day I went, “holy smokes”, it said “revenue from drip (that’s my service provider) in the last seven days was $27,299”. Yeah, so over $27,000 came directly from the emails that I had sent that week. Just that week. So it’s incredible. Anybody who is saying email is not relevant. I beg to differ.
11:43 CJ: Yes. Over $27,000 in seven days, ladies and gentlemen, from email, from a stay at home mom with no original marketing background, selling her own music. I know we’ve said that before, but I think people lose perspective, Leah, after while they start to think you’re a magician, you’re doing something secret or you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, it’s gotta be a trick. No, seven days, $27,000 plus dollars for a pre-launch. Nobody even got anything for that. They won’t get something until, when does it album released?
12:18 Leah: November 15th so like two months in advance. And don’t forget, I don’t tour. So we gotta add that too, because everything that I’m doing is strictly online. And one day, I will tour, and hopefully it’ll be a really amazing experience. Hopefully, I’ll have some sold out shows and stuff because I’ve been working so hard to build my fanbase around the world that it’ll all come together. But, it just has to be said because yeah, people don’t realize the power of learning how to market your own music. You don’t have to be a world-class marketer and learn how to market market everything else in the world, just your own stuff, your own music to your own audience. That’s all you need to learn to do. And then crowdfunding is easy. So yeah, mistakes and lessons here.
13:08 CJ: Well Leah, all right, let’s talk about some of this stuff. And I know you kind of got into a little bit on vinyl, but let’s answer that right now. Cause I think again, that’s the thing that people are tripping about. I remember telling you a story of going to the mall and seeing that it was an empty mall. We’re in the Barnes and Noble, I went to the music section, all that was there was vinyl. And then I saw the article in a major music magazine saying that vinyl sales now are outpacing CD sales. This is unprecedented in an era when everybody’s saying streaming music is taking over. So, you started out this campaign not including vinyl
13:47 Leah: That’s right. Well, it started out as a mistake and that we spun into a plus, you know, something that ended up being beneficial. So one of the mistakes I made was underestimating the demand for vinyl. And yeah, we did not offer that at first, it was just these four core bundles. I knew people would ask about vinyl, but just I was looking at my historical sales. I hadn’t historically sold tons and tons of vinyls. So I thought, I don’t know that I’m going to go to all the effort. Vinyls were expensive to manufacturer if you’re not doing it in huge quantities and so I won’t offer it right away. I know people ask about it. So what I’ll do is I’ll put a little FAQ at the bottom and I’ll say, you know, one of the questions could be, will there be vinyl? And the answer was, we don’t have any plans to do vinyl yet; however, if there’s enough demand for it, please email us here, let us know and maybe we’ll come out with this later during the launch in November or something.
Well, as I said in the last episode, we got emails, all right. And not just, “I’d like vinyl”, “I’d like vinyl”, but they, they were kind of pouring in and very, I mean the most passionate emails that I had seen since I opened this launch. As I said, I got Instagram DMs, emails and social media comments like all over the place. And one guy, he really wanted to make sure I saw this. So, he did all of the above. He sent me a really long email, very passionate, a little, I mean really expressing his disappointment that I did not have vinyl available. Sent me other messages, also in Instagram. Also left in comments on regular posts and Instagram and on Facebook. And I just had to smile, I said, “thank you so much, I’ve seen all your other comments. I promise we’re going to work on it”.
And like I said, I mean some people might’ve even been offended by, I mean he went on and on and on about how disappointed he was, why he only listens to vinyl, do you understand why this is so important to me? Like you really need to know this. And I just thought, wow, he is dead serious about giving me money. Like, I mean, I’ve got to fix this. And here’s the thing you guys need to understand about customer support, this is what I’ve learned from running a seven figure business and multi-six figure on the music side; when somebody speaks up like this complaining, they are actually speaking for a silent majority.
A person that is very, very vocal like this, they’re one in a thousand who will be vocal like that, whether positive or negative. They’re very vocal. The rest of everybody might be thinking the same thing, they’re just not vocal and they won’t actually bother to write in and tell you. So when you get something like that, you should really pay attention. I’m not saying take them all serious, sometimes you have to have the discernment there. Is this someone just being a ding-dong or whatever, complaining? Or is this like something legitimate here?
So, I thought this guy, if he’s this passionate and I’m getting all these other emails, there’s gotta be something here. So, we’re a couple of weeks into the campaign, shoot, we’re going to have to run to figure this one out. So, we went to work right away and we started looking into vinyl manufacturers. Some of my students know, in the past I’ve worked with a distributor, small label distributor in Sweden; however, this time I’m on my own for the vinyl, I’m not really using him for vinyl at all. So, we had to come up with all of our own solutions. So, we found somewhere and put a deposit down for a limited amount. Oh, and I will say, here’s a way I had to pivot once we decided, okay, we’re going to do this, I’m not a vinyl person, so I really don’t know much about it. So I didn’t know what they wanted. And so can you guess what I did? I sent a survey!
17:40 CJ: The queen of surveys. Of course that’s what she did.
17:51 Leah: That’s right. So I sent a survey and I asked them, what do you want? Okay, so we’ve gotten these responses that people want vinyl. What do you want? You know, what colors? We gave him a bunch of options. We got as detailed as we could possibly get because we’re doing this, we better get it right. So, we came out with a limited number of these blue colored vinyls to match the artwork and they sold out in like three days. The whole lot of them sold out in three days. And I will say too, before we brought it up, we had to get some graphics made, we need some mock-ups of this. So that had to come together too.
So again, yes, it was a little bit, you know, this is what we call the plan spontaneity. You plan what you’re going to plan and then within that structure comes, you just have to learn how to pivot. Go with the flow. Okay, gonna some graphics, need a description, throw this up and then, boom, we’re sending out emails about it and I’m doing corresponding Facebook ads to go along with it, posting about it on social, all of that. And they sold out in three days. I was like, what just happened? What the heck? Wow.
19:05 CJ: Yeah, that’s amazing. I mean this is vinyl. For something else it makes sense. Not something that a technology that went out 30 years ago.
19:18 Leah: Yeah. Mind blowing.
19:20 CJ: Yeah. Just as a footnote here, I had sent Leah yesterday inboxed her a little advertisement for the new Sony Walkmans, which are going to be playing cassette. So you know, you’ll probably learn on your next crowdfunding campaign. Why didn’t you put cassettes out too, Leah?
19:39 Leah: Yes, I mean there are bands who do that limited runs of cassette tapes and I would seriously consider doing it. And I did read on that article you sent me, that’s not just any old Walkman, it’s actually got superior sound and all these. I’m like, I want one. I totally do. I love it. I still have some cassettes sitting in my closet because I just hung onto them, you know? And I would make my own like mix tapes and I would record myself singing on them, playing piano too. Cause that’s what I had. But yeah, so that was one thing guys I totally underestimated. Now, you have to survey your audience, that’s the thing. Don’t assume that what my audience wanted is what your audience will want. I hope you’re understanding the point here is that don’t assume you know what they want. Ask them and they shall tell you. Ask and you’ll receive. That’s the point here is survey the crap out of them. Get as detailed as you possibly can and then you don’t have to guess. And then it’ll sell, it’ll work.
20:37 CJ: So what are some things you underestimated in this?
20:41 Leah: Well, aside from the vinyl, I also think there’s always a bit of an underestimation on how long certain things take to get ready. Like for example, if you’re working with a graphic designer and you say, Hey, I need this thing by Friday. One thing I’ve learned about graphic designers, God bless their hearts, you usually have to make the deadline a week before you actually need the deadline because they’re very busy, a lot of times. I find that they’re often slammed with work, multiple projects and sometimes a little graphic can seem not that important or it gets pushed down. And so just giving yourself more time than you need, giving them a little cushion time can really help. And that goes for anything that’s like a graphic or a lyric video or a music video. Sometimes we just think, oh yeah, it’s only gonna take this amount of time, but really just double that, double it, and then you’ll save yourself some stress.
21:40 CJ: No, that’s smart. Speaking from a graphic designer’s perspective, and I’ve done that for almost 30 years, when it comes to any kind of deadlines, we would always do that, Leah. We would ask for something at least a week before we actually needed it. Knowing that it’s always gonna cost more and take more time. So that’s wise.
22:02 Leah: Other mistakes and things I’ve learned that I can speak to, people really want to know about this and I will address it again in the Q&A episode that we do after, but people really want to know about me hosting my own campaign this time versus the way I did it the last two times on IndyGoGo or using some, you know, Kickstarter-type platform. What were the pros and cons of that? So I will share a little bit now. What I will say is that, okay, so this time I hosted my whole campaign on a simple landing page. If you go on there, it doesn’t look so simple, there’s a lot going on on it, but it’s just a landing page. That’s all it is. It doesn’t even matter what landing page you use. There’s a couple of tools out there, it doesn’t matter, I don’t want you to get caught up in that.
I had a landing page, there was no app involved. I tried some different Shopify apps, none of them did what I wanted to, so I just did away with them. And in the past I’ve used IndyGoGo. Mostly I chose them and especially the last time because I could put a Facebook pixel ID in it, which means I could track people’s purchase behaviors, or if they viewed it and didn’t purchase or if they made a purchase, I was able to track that and actually do things with that in my Facebook ads. Without that, it’s really pointless, and so that’s why I did not use any other crowdfunding platform. None of them integrated that none of them integrated Facebook pixel. So you can’t do Google tracking, you can’t do Facebook tracking, can’t do all those things.
And there’s a couple other reasons why I didn’t go those other ones, but that being the main one, one of the pros, I will say, of hosting it myself, this is what I want it to preface with as well; listen guys, me hosting it on my own landing page, which was connected to Shopify, this is not for a beginner marketer or a beginner person starting out. It is a thousand times more work. There’s a lot more that can go wrong with it. I’ll share a little bit more about that when I get to the cons here. The pros was that I saved a lot of money in fees like credit card fees, the fees just for hosting on IndyGoGo or one of these platforms they take, I forget what percentage, 3%, 5%, whatever it is, but ends up being thousands of dollars if you’re doing a campaign as big as mine.So, I saved that amount of money, which is good, that’s more that can go toward the album and paying for things.
I could customize the experience that people had. I could design my page the way I know would convert well. I could do whatever I wanted on there and in fact the campaign technically ended last Sunday night and then due to a lot of people writing in saying, “hey, I didn’t get a chance yet”, we extended it for six more days. We could do that because we could. I was hosting it myself, we could do whatever we want. So a six day extension was completely possible. Didn’t mess up anything completely seamless. I could also do some other cool things with the way I have things set up in Shopify with things like a post-purchase upsell, meaning someone purchases a bundle and they’re checking out and so they’re seeing the thank you page and on that thank you page they get like a onetime offer to buy something extra.
And so what that did was bump up a little bit more revenue than I would have gotten had I not offered those things. So, that has already acquainted into several more thousand dollars just from having something like that, which is great. So again, those are things, that extra bump in revenue is going to pay for contractors, it’s going to pay for some advertising for me and that sort of thing. It’s extra money on the table that I wouldn’t have produced. Also, there’s a lot of great things, I liked having that FAQ at the bottom. Now, if you’re just using like an IndieGoGo or something, you can put your own FAQ, just put it in your actual crowdfunding page. Just put an FAQ at the bottom and just list out your own FAQs. So there’s no reason why you can’t do something like that, but I liked the cool features that I had on here.
Now, some of the cons, as I said, this is not for beginners. I do not recommend most of you, even my students I’m talking to now, even my Elite students, I still wouldn’t even really recommend for them going about it this way. It is so much more work. There are more technical issues, there are things that go wrong, more responsibility and I will say you are not going to get any bonus traffic that you would normally get when you’re on a big platform. There are some benefits to being on these big platforms because they do want to promote you and if you get a lot of traffic, a lot of activity, they’ll feature you on the front page. They’ll send emails and sometimes you’ll be featured in those emails. I definitely know I got extra traffic from that.
So this was 100% relying on the fact that I had a pre-existing, dedicated, loyal fanbase. If I did not have that, I wouldn’t be doing the $80,000 on my own site. That’s pure personal audience following. That’s all it is. So, if you don’t have that, I wouldn’t recommend you do this. And there’s not really referral links and easy ways for people to track referrals and things like that on a landing page like this There are apps out there that are expensive, whereas IndieGoGo, it’s very simple. Someone can set up an account and they have these referral links and easy ways to share on social and whatnot and it’ll track that. And so those are, those are some of the things. So again, I hope I’m getting this point across very clear that while I’m at the level where I was willing to experiment, you guys, you have to realize my whole career is an experiment.
I’m the Guinea pig. I was willing to take a risk. I was willing to for this to not work. As I said a couple episodes ago, this could be a very bad idea, me hosting my own crowdfunding, this could go all completely wrong and then I’ll learn from it and I’ll teach about it and I’ll do it different. But I would say it was successful. Will I do it like this again in the future? Yes, I will, but again, I have a small team that I’ve built because I’m at the level where I can financially pay for a small team. I have a customer service person, I have a full time assistant and I work with a lot of contractors who are helping me do this. So don’t think that I’m some kind of super woman that you have to learn to be a graphic designer and you have to learn how to be this and be that — you won’t. But again, like in the last couple of campaigns I’ve done, I wasn’t all those things and I was doing it a little bit more on my own and I still pulled that off. So you don’t have to be an expert in everything, the point is that if you learn how to be an expert marketer in your music, you can go very far with that before even really needing a team. So I want to communicate that.
28:49 CJ: Yeah, I mean we’re obviously taking them in real deep because Leah, again, has done this before and I can testify to the fact that she is full-on and she will do things that others won’t. She’ll go farther than others will and it’s good for you to see that, but don’t be overwhelmed by it and think that you have to do that coming out of the gate. She didn’t do that coming out of the gate. You can do a very simplified version of this and do very, very well. Once you understand, again, the principles that are involved and whatnot. What’s important is that you’re going to have this information. You know these podcasts are free. That’s what she said. She said she’s going in, she’s not holding back because she can’t teach this in a course. She does not offer it in a course, so she is going in deep on this so that you have this information going forward.
Again, she mentioned and she’ll mention again the download that you can get that has a little bit more of this information in written form so that you can retain it. But again, the keys are again your ability to market and the sort of things that we teach at the Savvy Musician Academy. But that’s what it’s all based on and the rest of it, yeah, I mean she didn’t do all the tech stuff. She obviously had to hire that out and that became a part of the campaign itself. She had to pay these contractors so it’s all self-serving, but it, I think it’s great, Leah, that you did it this way this time and that you’re willing to do it again because there is that benefit of you’re taking a whole lot more of the pie and the stuff that was a challenge will be less of a challenge the next time. Constant never ending improvement. And I love that you did this, but since you didn’t use IndieGoGo or Kickstarter or Go Fund Me, you’re doing this all on a single landing page. That’s a challenge right there. So what’d you learn about just doing an on your own landing page?
30:41 Leah: Well, landing pages are fantastic and I think this is where your skill as a marketer really comes into play and will really reveal itself. There are certain psychological things that need to happen on a sales page in order for it to convert, meaning someone going from not buying something to buying something and where a transaction takes place. So there are some key elements that I had on this landing page. I know it was very important to have a countdown timer, for example. You need to have a countdown timer. I went and took a good hard look at the successful campaigns I had before on other platforms, I’m going, what are the key elements on this page that make it work really well, regardless of what I’m selling or what other people are selling? There’s two real main things. One is what is the amount raised, whether it’s in a percentage format or dollar format and the countdown timer. Those are the two big things, like time left, and amount raised.
I know that has to be on the page no matter what else is on the page, that has to be on the page. The other important elements that have to be on here is a campaign video, like a pitch video, as they’ll call it, a campaign video where you’re teasing what it is you’re introducing. Maybe other people involved at the album. You are asking your fans for help and this time I didn’t do some crazy elaborate video. A lot of it was just done on a webcam. I had the other people involved in the album just send in cell phone videos. Totally fine. We’re in a social media era, this is expected, there’s nothing unusual about them seeing a little bit of a shaky camera from a phone. No problem. No problem at all.
So this was very, very inexpensive to make. And then I also noticed, as far as key elements that made this work, was a big, compelling headline about what it is, why they should care and how to get involved. You know, those three things have to be present. Then I wrote a personal letter, that’s something that really worked well on my last campaign, a personal letter from me written from the heart. Again, giving them some background. Now this is a part where it looks really wordy, but people really, my fans will read every single word. They actually consume all of this, and so I’m taking the opportunity to milk it, really. So I’m giving them the background on the album. Why decide to do this? How they can help, how their involvement makes a big difference. And then I give them a specific list of how you can partner with Leah, and I use that word a lot throughout the campaign, being a partner.
You’re not just buying something. You’re not just pre-ordering something here. Creating a movement here in the music industry, you’re supporting an industry that really needs help and other people, you’re giving other artists hope actually when they see that you can contribute to this album, they think, wow, there’s hope in this music industry. Then I actually put the timer I think two or three times on this page so that as they scroll down they are going to be reminded of how much time there is left. I put the campaign goal update right in kind of the middle of the page right before I showed all the bundles because I knew that people, they’d be checking back on the page to see what it was at and so actually in the menu at the top, if you click to see amount raised or about funded, it jumps down to that spot on the page and that’s right before the bundles and I wanted them to just go back to that spot from a psychological standpoint, see the amount raised, see the offers again. So, I wanted them back at that spot as many times as possible.
Right below that, and actually this changed, the page has morphed and changed a little bit as the campaigns has progressed, so as we finally had a lyric video to present, we swapped it out and the place it was on the page so that it would get the most traffic right above where the bundles are. Again, this is, we’re thinking through psychology, human behavior, making things easier, less steps for them to actually get and see those products in the offerings. So we knew that once we put out the lyric video, people would be going to that spot on the page to watch it. And so we put it right above the offers, once again. And then I remind them in a big headline right above the bundles that when you purchase this limited time exclusive bundle, you officially become partners with Leah and you are helping to launch this album worldwide.
I’m reminding them of kind of the good deed they’re doing by pre-ordering. They’re getting something out of it and they get to feel good about it. They’re doing something really cool. They’re becoming part of something cool. One of the mistakes that I made when I first launched this page was it was just a simple little oversight but it probably affected my sales in the first few hours I had this page cause it is a landing page, I was treating it like almost like a little miniature website in a way, even though there aren’t many pages, just one page. I had a menu at the top but what I didn’t have was a little cart icon which showed, if they had added something to their cart, that it would show that in the top right hand corner. This is going into e-commerce for a second, when people are shopping on any kind of store, when they add something to the cart, they always expect to see in the top right hand corner.
If you go to a website and it’s not in the top right-hand corner, you’re going to wonder what happened to my order? Where is it? Where’s the shopping cart? I’m confused. And a lot of times you’ll lose sales. Well, not only did I not have it in that corner, I actually failed to put it on the page at all. Like it was like it just wasn’t even there. And so we got some emails right away initially going “hey Leah, I added to my cart, but then I couldn’t find my cart, I had to go back to a different URL to see my cart”. And I thought, oh shoot, it was a really easy thing to fix. So I fixed it right away. But I’m sure that I probably lost sales in those first two or three hours after I launched it because people couldn’t find it.
And so again, this is just a psychology thing, thinking through the experience someone’s going to have as they go through your website or your shop. What are all the possible things they could do and is there anything missing in their experience? This is going to require the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to experience what they would experience for the very first time. I’m kind of going into teaching mode here, but I really want to give you all a taste. If you’re not in our programs, this is what’s like, this is how I teach. Putting yourself in their shoes, try to experience it and that’s where you’re gonna find many holes and even then you think you’ve thought of everything, you put it out there to the world and suddenly you’ll get your messages that go “hey, what about this?”, and be like, “oh crap, I totally didn’t even think of that”.
So, you want to minimize that. You don’t want to have that, if at all possible. The next thing I realized, where I was probably losing sales on the first day, and again this all comes with the complication of trying to do it yourself, was that this is a very long page. It goes on and on and on because I had was adding more bundles and you just keep scrolling, there’s more information, it’s an epic page. And by the way, that doesn’t discourage sales at all. I mean we’re $80,000 on a long page is actually a good thing. Some people need a lot of information in order to have enough trust to make that transaction and to purchase. So it’s better to have, I think, a long page than a short page. So make it, as they say in copywriting, I love this saying, it’s hilarious, I always remember it, you know, how long should the copy be? And then the saying goes, “copywriting is like a skirt, it should be long enough to cover all the details, but short enough to keep it interesting”.
So cover what you need to but don’t make it so long, obviously, that’s like a novel. So it’s as long as it needs to be. That’s it, right? But because this is such a stinking long page, it occurred to me that, again, this little menu with the cart item is stuck way at the top and if they want to find their cart again, imagine all the scrolling they have to do again to get all the way back up to the top. So, one of the nice little features about this little landing page thing is I could make the menu sticky, meaning you keep scrolling and the menu stays at the top and you can see the menu and your cart at all times no matter where you are on the page. That helped tremendously and I did see an improvement in sales, just so that they could just see that card on that top right-hand side. So, again, this is very in-depth. I’m not holding back, I’m talking to you just like I talked to my elite students, all the details short of actual tutorials. But that is another, really such a small detail that you think really does that really make a big, big difference?
39:39 CJ: Oh, it’s huge.
39:40 Leah: It’s everything.
39:41 CJ: It’s huge because yeah, if you figure somebody who’s going deep on a long page reading on down, yeah, they want to be able to see, cause especially seeing that cart is a reminder that you’re going to check out.
39:54 Leah: That’s right.
39:55 CJ: The less they see that the more they just think they’re just at a website reading information, they’re not in the sales mindset and so we want to keep them in that sale. And again, you just want to make it easy.
40:05 Leah: That’s right.
40:06 CJ: You just, it’s really like Leah said, you’ve got to come out of yourself and really think about your user’s experience, you know, what is that customer going through and you think about what you put because everybody shops online. So you think about an Amazon and how easy everything is from a one-click order to always being able to see your cart, to having other recommended products, to having the description, having them show you how long it takes to deliver and the different size options. Everything is accessible. You know, how to get to everything, even if you’re not familiar with the website. That’s navigation and that’s the importance of really emphasizing that user experience. Wow.
40:47 Leah: Yeah.
40:48 CJ: Man, Leah, there’s so much here. Again, three episodes, why we did this, but she’s still got so much more to say and I think the best way to do that is what we’ve got planned for the next episode, which is all of the wonderful questions that you got from other musicians and things about this and now we’re getting beyond the customers now. Now we’re getting into what people who want to do what Leah does. Let’s hear from them and their questions about campaigns and crowdfunding because it’s probably a question you have. So we’re looking forward to that. Leah, what’s the special offer you’d like to give them today?
41:27 Leah: Yeah, if you are thinking about starting crowdfunding and you just want to get some great brainstorming ideas going, some comparisons between different platforms, I have already put that together for you. Just go to savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding. That link will be in the show notes as well. And guys, as we’ve said, I just want to emphasize this, I just want to drill it into your head that it’s not about the apps or the platforms or this, that and the other thing, it’s all about learning how to market your music. It’s about becoming a digital marketer for your music, your band, your project, and so I also want to encourage you if that’s something you want to do and you want to play on this level and you want to, you know, stop playing with the little kids in the little kiddie pool and you want to come and play on the big playground. Give us a call, at callsma.com if you’re interested in playing at that level we’re there for you, we’ll help talk to you about your situation and see if and how we can help you.
42:23 CJ: Awesome. Leah, thank you so much, again, for sharing so much and not holding back and we’re looking forward to the next episode. Thanks, everybody for listening. Take care.
In this episode, Leah and C. J. launch in an in-depth 3-part series on crowdfunding taken directly from Leah’s recent successful crowdfunding campaign for her fifth album, Ancient Winter, in which she exceed ALL her revenue goals! And to make this even more challenging, she decided to host the fundraising on her own website instead of using popular fundraising software such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe. Her goal was to raise $50,000 in 30 days—ambitious in and of itself—but she exceeded that amount by over 30% for a whopping $80,000+ in just one month! Even though she’s done crowdfunding campaigns before, she still learned a great deal during this successful campaign. Her first thought was, “I should create a course on this,” but then decided, “No, I’ll share everything on the podcast for free, but it may take a few episodes!” Well, you’re in for a treat, because Leah holds nothing back in this episode. Sit back and enjoy!
Key Points From This Episode:
Success in crowdfunding is not determined by software or tools.
Why Leah chooses to crowdfund her albums.
The different approaches to all her crowdfunding campaigns.
Why you should try crowdfunding.
Being crystal clear on your WHY.
Why crowdfunding is better than a record label deal.
Leah’s crowdfunding is not begging. It’s pre-orders.
Leah’s “three launches” for her albums.
How Leah chooses the amount for her crowdfunding goal.
Leah’s secret to surveying her fans ahead of the campaign.
Warm vs cold audience.
The power of creating scarcity and urgency.
The key to crowdfunding is knowing how to sell.
How Leah inspires her fans to support her.
What Leah included in her crowdfunding offers.
“It’s very, very important that you are crystal clear on why you are crowdfunding, what the purpose is, where the money is going and what you’re going to do with it.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:07:19]
“My goal with crowdfunding like this several months before the album launch, is to launch my album with zero debt and zero anything owing anybody anything.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:08:08]
“Typically an album or a record deal with a label is essentially a loan.” — @MetalMotivation[0:08:53]
“The majority, like 97% of this campaign, the funds are raised from my warm audience, meaning people who already know me.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:18:02]
“I’ve got the skill of copywriting. These are the reasons why it’s successful. It’s not because of the platform.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:18:58]
“You don’t need a course on crowdfunding, you need training on how to sell your music.” — @LEAHthemusic[0:26:13]
“If you’re going to have a career in music and you can have that career in music, you’re going to have to be the artist and you’re going to have to be the marketer.” — @MetalMotivation[0:46:46]
00:21 CJ: Well, welcome once again to the savvy musician show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy and I get to be the cohost of this savvy musician show with the lovely Leah McHenry. Leah, how are you?
00:36 Leah: I’m good today. Really good.
00:39 CJ: That’s always great. And I can tell guys, we have a bit of chatter, chit chat before we get started and I can always tell when she’s feeling something and she’s feeling something really, really special. So much so that it’s going to consume a few episodes of this podcast and I’m really excited about it. And Leah, what are we doing right now?
01:03 Leah: We’re gonna do a three part series all on crowdfunding and lessons I’ve learned, mistakes that I made during my recent crowdfunding campaign, 80 K in 30 days. Once again, second time I’ve done this and we’re also, I put it out there in our free Facebook group and in our student groups; what do you guys want to know about crowdfunding and anything that you’ve observed me doing? And so we got a boatload of questions coming in. So we’re also gonna do some Q & A on this. So it’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to talk to you about it cause it’s so fresh on my brain.
01:41 CJ: Yeah, this is really awesome. And I think you might listen to this, ladies and gentlemen and say crowdfunding, how important is that? By the time we’re done with this, you’re going to realize just how important this is. And just in the issue of serendipity, I had a conversation with somebody just yesterday about this very thing who was looking for a record label going back and forth, hated every deal presented before him and had not considered this particular option. And so I think this is going to change a lot of minds and again, all a part of the big transformation process that needs to happen, as Leah talks about, in terms of thinking about marketing your music online, so this is very, very relevant. Before we get started, we love to share student spotlights and today I’m sharing from one of our elite students, Innessa, who writes #win this is a huge win for me. I cracked the branding and Facebook engagement at last. I feel like I know what I’m doing. Posting finally comes naturally to me, no frustration and wonder what to post about from 1 to 5 likes per post and no shares in February to a steady 50 120 likes per post and many shares now and it’s growing every day. Yay, she says.
Now Leah, I think what’s interesting about this is that in light of what we’re about to talk about, we’re going to get into something which I think is the deeper aspect of this. It’s kind of like music. You can know all the mechanics and the theory and things of music and the methodology, but there’s something about being a musician, right? There’s something about that in terms of the art itself, in terms of the sensitivity to, you know, the kind of music that you want to write and the kind of ideas that you have.
Something deeper, something deeper, and it’s that very same thing with marketing. It’s that very same thing with presenting yourself online in social media, et cetera. So even though you’re going to be talking about this crowdfunding campaign that you’re just about to finish up on the upcoming winter album, that there’s still, there’s deeper aspects to this, which is why we’re taking so much time with this particular subject because it really makes the point that it’s about the sales process. It’s about understanding culture, understanding your marketing, your audience. It’s about, you know, how you present yourself in what Innessa just told us is that that’s what the breakthrough was. She didn’t mention anything necessarily about a particular app, right? Or about or the specific time of day to post. She had cracked the code and the code was, for her, finally understanding, you know, what it means to be this online marketer.
So I’m really excited that we’re going to get into that aspect to it as it relates to crowdfunding. People are thinking crowdfunding, what is that? You know, typically, when somebody sees crowdfunding, they think of, oh, so-and-so got an accident, so they’re doing a crowdfunding campaign to help with their hospital bills or help to repair their car or something like this. You have used it now a few times to actually produce and market your albums and to do it very successfully. Like I said, you’re about to finish a campaign now. In fact, this Sunday, so just in two or three days from now. First of all, Leah, how is that campaign going and tell us why and the what’s why you crowdfund your albums?
05:20 Leah: Yeah. Oh man, there’s so much to say already. I think most people are familiar somewhat with raising funds online nowadays. Like you have the Go Fund Me’s for personal things and there’s Kickstarter for tech companies and gadgets and gizmos and all of that. So where people are donating or pre-ordering something and then they get it in the mail six months, sometimes a year later. We ordered something, it was a gadget for a camera that you could like move any which way you wanted and it would just kind of follow along and actually when Steve bought it at the time, he didn’t realize it was like a Kickstarter thing, so he was expecting to get it and didn’t for like eight months and then finally it showed up. But this is normal and expected in the crowdfunding world. What I’ve used crowdfunding for in the past, my first big one was to actually fund the album itself, meaning I didn’t have the money and if I didn’t raise the money, I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. I would be able to pay for anything.
So that was for the Kings and Queens album. So I figured out my budget, how much it would cost to work with the musicians I wanted, the exchange rate working with people in Europe, which sucked. And all of those things, then that’s how I calculated the total, I would need around $25,000 US dollars and ended up doing $27,000 something. So that was mind blowing to me that that even happened. The past two crowdfunding campaigns, the objective is a bit different. The past two crowdfunding campaigns, the album was already complete and what I was looking to do was recoup my costs and then hopefully have enough leftover for the marketing and PR, that kind of stuff.
So a little bit of marketing expenses covered. And of course, what we can’t forget is we’re offering something in exchange. They’re not just promoting the album, oftentimes there are other perks, there’s other merchandise, there’s specialty things. And so we have to also budget for ordering those items at wholesale prices or whatever we’re doing. And so there’s a lot to consider when doing crowdfunding. But you know, there’s many different objectives you could have for crowdfunding. And it’s very, very important that you are crystal clear on why you are crowdfunding, what the purpose is, where the money is going and what you’re going to do with it. I’m happy to talk more about the budgeting stuff side of it. I’ve seen some questions come in asking, you know, what do you do with the profit? Well, first of all, I want people to understand that I’m not trying to make profit on this crowdfunding campaign. I’m recouping costs, I’m paying for the merchandise that people ordered and if there’s leftovers that’s going towards my ad budget that’s going towards marketing stuff, I’m reinvesting it all.
If there’s anything left over after all that, while I’m also paying contractors, you know, graphic designers and such, I’m really not trying to make a profit here. Not here. My goal with crowdfunding like this several months before the album launch is to launch my album with zero debt and zero anything owing anybody anything. Basically starting at ground zero and by the time I’m launching my album now I’m in profit zone. You couldn’t ask for a better situation under any circumstance from a label or otherwise. Like you cannot ask for a better situation than to have all your expenses paid for and come out the other side of it in profit zone when your album was about to launch, like that to me is does it get any better than that? I don’t think.
09:08 CJ: Yeah. I don’t know. Because typically an album or a record deal with a label is essentially a loan, correct?
09:14 Leah: Yes.
09:16 CJ: So they’re fronting all that money, but you still have to pay that back. It’s the same thing in book publishing. You know, you may get up signing bonus or something for coming on board with that particular label, but all the initial sales are going to pay that back. And so royalties become very minuscule. In this situation, even though again, you are recouping your costs, for someone who you know, doesn’t have necessarily the capital to do that. They can fund the entire project. So it’s six and one half dozen the other, either way, but you’re doing it yourself directly with your super fans.
09:52 Leah: That’s right. So whether you’re recouping it or you’re just trying to get the funds in place so you can finish it. Either way to be able to come out the other end not in debt and you didn’t have to take out loans from the bank or family and friends and be able to, just in practical terms, that’s the dream of every artist. Be able to self-fund their music from their fans and keep making music. That’s the ultimate. So then after that, I will say for on the outset here, this is going to be a doozy of a year for me because not only do I consider a crowdfunding campaign, a launch of sorts, it’s a prelaunch, I consider this a prelaunch campaign. So again, this is, there’s a differentiator here where it’s not like, please guys, I really need your money.
That’s not, I’m not begging for money. This is a preorder. This is a transaction. You ordered this specialty item at a specialty price for this specific amount of time and I deliver that to you. And there’s some benefits. There’s a win-win situation going on here. So it is a preorder campaign. Then there is the actual prelaunch like two weeks before the album comes out. There’s going to be some benefits for people to preorder at that time. I’m coming up with that plan now what that is, maybe a discount or a bonus thrown in or some reason I got to give them to buy before the actual launch. So that’s launch number two. Launch number three is the actual launch. Now I’m not saying everybody should needs to go to this extent that I’m going to, this is just where I’m at.
And then because my album launches in the middle of November, guess what comes right after that? Black Friday and all the holiday sales. I mean, really I didn’t really think that part through earlier this year when I picked my album date, it didn’t cross my mind until I got neck deep into the salt and I thought “holy cow, what did I just do to myself?” So this may be for another episode. We can talk about holiday sales later about how I’m rolling in my album launch and Black Friday and holiday sales all in one. It’s a big, you know, it’s twice as much work essentially, but it could be one of the most successful quarters of the year I’ve ever had.
12:16 CJ: Wow.
12:17 Leah: It could be, it’s going to be a doozy. I’m expecting that. But I’ve got a little team and we are revving and ready to go. So it’s all being planned out. People we do not wing this kind of stuff.
12:30 CJ: That’s right. Well let me ask you then, just so people have some perspective on the results. What was your goal for this particular crowdfunding campaign? Where are you now?
12:43 Leah: So I set a $50,000 goal for the campaign and that goal came from all the different expenses I had for the album. That’s was like the minimum that I wanted to hit to be able to recoup costs. That sounds like sounds like a lot of money, but certainly not in the major record label world. If people are familiar with what some bands have spent on their albums. It’s really peanuts. There are some record labels, like what does Metallica spend on a record? Like millions, I think to make records. Of course they get the five star, everything in the five star studio treatment, you know, so I’m not going that far. I do a lot of stuff at home. I record all my vocals at home. I’m doing a lot of stuff here, composing and whatnot. But, so that’s how I set the minimum for me. I’m currently sitting just under $80,000, which we will hit in the next day or so here as the campaign is closing. So doors are closing.
13:45 CJ: This Sunday. Okay. So again, I want everybody to have a clear perspective on what we’re talking about here. Her estimated costs for what it would take to even this is a very streamlined operation, as she said, doing so much at home, hiring vendors and contractors such as designers and the like. Busy musicians who are accomplished and on, you know, in popular bands themselves who have helped out, string musicians in the like, and all of this together she calculated to be about $50,000. Again, not an uncommon number, but for most of the people probably listening to this podcast, $50,000 too much, you know, for them. And so the campaign is not over yet. When did it begin?
14:31 Leah: 30 days ago.
14:33 CJ: Wow. Okay, so again, I want everybody to have perspective here. This began 30 days ago. The goal is $50,000 to recoup expenses and she’s currently sitting at $80,000. So that’s $30,000 more than what her goal was. The campaign is not over yet. Now you’ve had, like I said, this may be the most successful, but you’ve had very successful crowdfunding campaigns before. Why did this work? Why is it working?
15:07 Leah: Well, and I think this campaign is actually special, and even more impressive in some ways. My last crowdfunding campaign, I actually raised a bit more, at least where I’m sitting at at the moment. And the reason is because it’s like a metal thing. What’s impressive about this album is I’m doing something completely different. First of all, there’s only eight songs on it, so it’s not like a very long album and B, it is a holiday album. It’s holiday, there’s no metal in it at all. So I completely switched things up. It’s very Leah, it’s very aligned with my brand, but it’s a totally different thing. So that was a risk in and of itself. So I do really, you know, that’s why I didn’t say shoot for $100,000 as my minimum cause I didn’t really know fully how it would go over.
I had really good reactions from the song I released and some of the teasers, but I didn’t for sure know. So I wanted to pick something I knew I could hit. So I know I can hit 50 so I chose 50 and I knew that that would cover the basics so when I’m factoring in the merchandise we still have to order and delivery and shipping, and you know the basic costs, it’s really not that much money when you break it all down.
Albums are expensive to make, I’ll add. To make world-class music. That really sounds good. And some people just forget how much it costs to make. And you know, sometimes fans forget how much it costs cause they’re just, they are used to streaming nowadays and I think it’s important and healthy to remind them. And so if anybody wants to check out the page just to see what I wrote on there, go ahead. It’s ancientwinter.com I’ll have that page up for awhile. Even though it’ll be expired, like the timers won’t be going, you won’t be able to purchase the items anymore, but you can, you’ll be able to read it. And I explain this, you know, what’s involved with making an album like this. So you have to educate people too. Now we can circle back to this a little later about how, what to write and how to write it and all that kind of thing and copywriting, essentially.
17:08 CJ: I think the best way to do this is to deconstruct, I guess what you’re doing.
17:13 Leah: Yeah.
17:14 CJ: And so take us back to the first of the campaign. Any campaign, what’s the first thing that you’re doing?
17:19 Leah: I will say from the outset, I want everybody to understand that what made the last one’s work, what made this one work, why is any of it working? I’m going to address this kind of the way I address, questions that I get about Shopify and things like that. It has nothing to do with the platform, clearly. The last couple of times I used IndeiGoGo this time I’ve been hosting it on my own shop, on a landing page and I’m not even using an app. There’s no apps on this. It’s just a landing. So we can conclude it’s not to do with the platform. It has everything to do with the fact that I know how to market my own music. I have an audience, I have an email list that’s active. I engage my followers on a daily basis through organic social media. I hustle like crazy during a campaign on organic, I know how to run ads and run them to very targeted people.
The majority, like 97% of this campaign, the funds are raised from my warm audience, meaning people who already know me. I do run sometimes a little bit to cold just because I have so much social proof already there, meaning tons of comments and likes and stuff already on my ads that if I show that same ad with like, you know, 50 comments on it to a very targeted cold audience, so someone who doesn’t know me yet, and I already know what all their interests and likes and hobbies are, they’re going to check it out. Cause now they’re interested because I was, you know, my graphics are aligned with the music and the social proof is there and everything looks right that it’s just, it’s very enticing. So I do make sales from cold, but I do not recommend, most people do that. So I have, what did we say? I’ve got an email list. I have an engaged audience. I’m running Facebook ads,
I’m engaged in organic social. Did I say that twice? I can’t remember. And I know how to sell. I’ve got the skill of copywriting. These are the reasons why it’s successful. It’s not because of the platform. It’s not because of the app. It’s not because of the font or any of these other superficial things. It’s not because of the time of year that I threw this campaign up. None of that stuff matters. It comes down to audience, your skillset and yeah, your knowledge and ability. And I will say market research. So one of the first things that I did that, going back to the question you asked, one of the first things I did before I launched this campaign or any campaign is I survey my fans. I do market research on my own fans and I start putting the feelers out there saying, “how would you feel about this?” “How do you feel about me doing this kind of an album?” “Hey, here’s a sample of something I’m working on.” And I just kind of gauge the reaction.
Now, at the end of the day, you have to do, you have to make the music that makes you happy. Okay, so I in no way am implying here do what the market wants you to do. I’m just saying it’s very much I treat my fans like a relationship. You guys have heard me say this a lot on this podcast, but it is a two way street and so I throw things out there and I see what happens and I gauge the reaction and then sometimes I’ll adjust based on what I see that as long as it’s aligned and I still feel authentic about it. So I survey my fans. So I use Google Forms or Survey Monkey or whatever you want. Again, the tool doesn’t freaking matter.
The point is get some answers from people who care about you and your music. Now, if you don’t have an audience and you’re starting from scratch, we have other episodes on that, you know, the chicken or the egg scenario episode. What other episodes do we have about starting? Just a recent one that came out of about when you’re starting from scratch.
21:09 CJ: How to Fund An Album If You’re Broke.
21:11 Leah: Right. And we covered some topics in there about starting from scratch. I’m not going to address that here, but when you have an audience, I don’t care if it’s a hundred people, you should be surveying them. Getting data. Data is your friend as a musician selling music online, you need that data. I don’t care how artsy-fartsy you are, that will take all the guessing out for you. Why would I guess when I can just ask and get the answer immediately?
It is the best gold mine of a tool that I have ever used and it’s free. Google Forms is free. Survey Monkey is free. They have paid plans, who cares? Like whatever, use whatever and get those answers. People are gonna want to know, what do I ask them? Right? I actually have the link here so I can tell you what I ask them. This is what I sent out to them. Once I announced that I was doing this album, I asked them, “do you plan on pledging to the new winter fantasy album by Leah? Definitely. Maybe or not this time?” I just let them tell me. What I was looking for here was getting people to pre-pledge to me, like just verbally pre-pledge so I could kind of gauge how you know, how big this could go.
Then I asked them, “provided there’s some amazing bundles, how much of a co-creator of this album would you like to be?” Again, I didn’t say, “how much would you like to pay me?” This is a nice way of saying that, but I’m asking them “how much of a co-creator would you like to be?” This is, I’m turning it and making it about them. This is copywriting, right? Learning how to phrase something in a way where it shows somebody a benefit to them and what they will get out of it. So then I gave them specific dollar ranges. You know, $20-40, $50-80 to go all the way up to $1,000 and I wanted dollar amounts. How much of a co-creator, how much credit do you want in this essentially? And so I got a bazillion answers in there.
And then I asked, “is there any specific items you’d like to see available for preorder?” Three questions, three questions and that data I based my entire crowdfunding campaign off of. So I didn’t have to guess about a single thing and you could download these things into a CSV form and just go through them thoroughly. It’s just, it was such a gold mine for me to know what to do, what items they wanted to see, what I needed to think about and they gave me that I wouldn’t have thought of too. So, my goal was to get a thousand pre-pledge responses and this was mostly all coming through my email list and organic social media. I didn’t do any ads for that. I got a 1,669 so I was really happy with that. Really happy. And of course that’s a small segment, I have more than a thousand fans, but it’s almost more than that.
24:07 CJ: Yeah, it’s almost twice the amount. Your goal was a thousand. You’ve got 1,700 I’m you nearly, you know, doubled it. As far as that goes. And what’s killing me here, Leah, is that I know what people are thinking because it sounds like there’s so much involved and I don’t want anybody to miss the point because the first temptation is going to be to think, “oh my gosh, it’s the tools, it’s the tools”. You know? So you mentioned the survey tools and this tool and that tool. No, no, no, no, no. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re completely missing the point. It has to do with what she just said about knowing her audience, being a marketer, copywriting and these sorts of things. I wish guys that we could just give this to you in a mini-course or something like that.
This is where the coaching comes in. This is the true essence of the Savvy Musician Academy. For example, our Elite program. This is the kind of stuff we talk about and work with students, the student spotlight that I read at the outset that didn’t come just because you took a course, it came because you are working with marketing experts, copyrighting experts and we help to develop that. That’s the kind of thing that goes on in this Elite program and so as we continue through these episodes on crowdfunding, Leah, I really, really want everybody to be thinking about how serious they are about their music career.
25:41 Leah: Yeah.
25:42 CJ: How serious they are about literally coming through this debt-free and learning how to have a lifetime career of playing music and earning money, playing music, by selling to your own super fans that you literally don’t need a record label and Leah is going through the latest thing that she did to describe that. And you know we’ll be talking about at the end of this episode about how you can have a call with one of our team and talk about your particular project, your particular needs and see if this is something we can help you with.
But my goodness, Leah, I mean you set a goal for $50 K money-wise, you’re at $80,000. You wanted a thousand responses, you got 1,700. Surveys who stops in the middle of their day to fill out a survey, right? Only somebody who has a very close relationship between the artist and the fan. And you only can create that if there’s not a bunch of mediators in between, like a record label for example.
26:46 Leah: I guarantee you record labels never survey their database ever. They would never do such a brilliant thing. But yeah guys, listen, the reason I don’t have a course on crowdfunding is because you don’t need a course on crowdfunding, you need training on how to sell your music. You need training on just copywriting, Facebook ads, how to build your email list, what to send your email list, just selling stuff. That’s all you need. And then crowdfunding is easy. Crowdfunding should be a lot easier because there’s inherent scarcity and urgency built right into it. Scarcity is referring to the quantity that’s available that it’s limited quantity and urgency refers to a limited time and that it’s going to end soon. And so those two things are really powerful psychological triggers. I’ve mentioned this before, but those things are inherently built into a crowdfunding campaign.
If you have some kind of weird crowdfunding campaign going on where you don’t have those things, I will not be surprised if you do not hit your goal. Those things need to be part of it. So the bottom line is that crowdfunding should be easy, relative to just everyday sales. So if you can sell some CDs and t-shirts and hoodies yourself, then you just prove to yourself you can sell anything and you can sell large quantities of it. You can scale that. So that’s what you need training on. You don’t need a course on crowdfunding. You just need to learn how to be a marketer of your music.
28:16 CJ: Like I said, I think that’s the part that people are going to stumble on because they’re expecting it to be secrets. They’re expecting it to be a special method that you do or a special application or piece of software that you’re using and I know we’ve talked about in previous episodes things like Click Funnels and all of these popular funnel-based sort of software to try and automate this online marketing thing as much as they can and there is no automation in that sense. It really is the application of probably the most pure, highest expression of traditional marketing that’s ever been done before. You don’t get 1,700 responses, ladies and gentlemen, to a survey. People don’t take the time out of the day unless there is such a close and personal relationship with somebody, but this is a relationship with an artist who’s going to sell something to you.
But she likes, she talks, she shares with them, she treats them as literally co-creators. She sees them as co-creators, she features them. Go to her website. You’ll see pictures of the people that support her. Okay, so this is why the dynamic of social media has changed the game of online marketing and marketing in general forever. And if you don’t pick up on and realize that you have to come out from behind the microphone from behind the piano, from behind the guitar, and engage and market to an audience and learn and study, you know, the way people think and what they respond to and create the kind of products and items and things that they’ll purchase and want to invest in, you’re going to forever think this is magic. You’re going to forever think that Leah is doing this in some underhanded scammy way or that this is some sort of secret of the universe. It’s not.
30:11 Leah: I promise it’s not.
30:13 CJ: She’s doing what musicians and labels are unwilling to do. Some because it’s too big for them to get their head around or others because they don’t want to feel like they’re a car salesman or others just because they’re plain ignorant of the principals that are involved. And now in your case, it’s not just getting people to, like you said, to just give you money. It’s pre-launch. It’s pre-sale. So people are buying something. And so, you know, if you’re giving something to people that they genuinely want and they get not just, like for example, I’ve worked over the years, Leah, with nonprofit organizations, right? 501C3 nonprofit organizations, they rely exclusively on fundraising. It’s amazing what people will do, what people will go for just to be able to donate. They want their name inscribed on something. They want their name to be on a plaque, they want to be listed in a newsletter or what have you. These people for any little reason so long as it’s a cause that they believe in, they will freely give their money. Billions of dollars a year are given to nonprofit organizations. In this sense. This is not a donation.
31:31 Leah: Right.
31:32 CJ: This is pre-sales.
31:34 Leah: That’s right. Actually, after I launched, I went back on even made some tweaks and changes to my page to even emphasize more about how it’s about them and how they get to partake in something special and unique. It’s not just about pre-selling the thing, it’s about, it’s bigger than that, right? So I’m just looking at my page right now. The main headline is “Partner with Leah, become part of her fan-based label to launch a new Celtic fantasy-inspired holiday album”. Then there’s a personal letter from me. Everybody can go and see this later. How you can partner with Leah. I keep talking about this partnership. I keep talking about how they are an integral part of not only launching this album, that’s how I’m phrasing it, and this is a campaign to launch the album, but I also tell them in emails that by you participating in something like this, you’re actually really contributing to the music industry and that they’re doing something that they can feel good about because I let them know that in this day and age, there are many artists right now who are watching this campaign who have said to themselves, they’ve read the articles, they’ve read the doom and gloom articles that have said, this is the end of the music industry, it’s streaming only, everybody’s screwed. And by them seeing the way fans support an album, an eight song holiday album, that they are instilling hope in other artists and they are helping to make the world go round tight now.
They are actually supporting this industry. And it’s not a dying industry. It’s a thriving industry. It’s a new industry. And so I help them understand that this is more than just supporting an album. They’re actually contributing to a thriving music industry. So I make it bigger than the music. And I think that that’s important because bands, they don’t necessarily, they’re not tuned into what we’re tuned into. You don’t know those things. Not necessarily. Some of them do, but some of them don’t and they don’t know what it takes to make music like this. And I think that’s very important in the selling process too, in motivating someone to really understand why they might want to be involved with this. I am not the best copywriter in the world and you don’t have to be the best copyright in the world. I’m just writing from the heart and doing what I know to do, which is make it about them, not about me. That’s what I know works.
34:03 CJ: Yeah. You’re the best copywriter for your audience.
34:06 Leah: Right. So guys, don’t go copy and pasting my copy on my landing page because it won’t work the same for your audience, by the way, if you do that.
34:13 CJ: No, it is certainly won’t. I want to broach this subject with you in this episode about what you’re exactly offering. What were the items that were involved and the reason why is because you’re doing something that I think if everything, all the results that you’ve had so far and the way you’ve gone about this is not unique enough, the added dynamic here has been vinyl records. Okay, now I think just the other day we were sharing an article with each other about, might’ve been a rolling stone or something about for the first time now vinyl sales have out-paced CD sales. There are now more vinyl records selling than actual CDs. Vinyl records, ladies and gentlemen are selling. And you know, you mentioned earlier about scarcity and part of the reason why there is scarcity is because you didn’t print a whole ton of vinyl and CDs in that sort of thing.
35:11 Leah: Yeah. I want to expand on this a little bit in the next episode when I talk about the mistakes that I made and lessons that I learned from this campaign. Because one of the mistakes I made was I did not offer vinyl initially when I launched this album, or this campaign I should say. I’ll expand more on that later, but why don’t I go over the bundles I did offer on here. So, the last campaign I did, which was $87,000 in a 30-day time period as well. That was for like kind of a big metal album. I launched it with two bundles only. And people hear that and go, “what? Two bundles? I mean, every campaign I see they have like 50 things”. And I said, “exactly”. There’s a saying out there that says if you confuse, you’ll lose. I know Donald Miller says that and other people say that, that if you have too many offers, people just sometimes choose none because they’re overwhelmed. There’s too many things to pick from, now I’m stressed out, this is burning too much glucose in my brain, I give up.
So by simplifying and paring down the options, only a few simple cohesive things, you make it much easier for the person buying. You’re taking away any obstacles that are getting in their way. You want there to be less friction between them deciding they want something and actually buying the thing. So in this campaign, I did come out with more, I had four initial bundles, so bundle one we called, we named them cutesy little names so that you know it’s part of the branding and also on the back end we can kind of tell the difference between them.
But bundle one had an autographed digipack album, you can only get this digipack during this campaign it came with a digital download, instrumental download, signed card and we added later, an exclusive Q & A live session, like a Facebook live. We’ll put up like a little pop-up Facebook group for that. Just to add to the perceived value, and this is everything. Perceived value is everything. Two different companies can sell the same water bottle. One of them does a really good job with branding on the logo and the image and the product page and the description. The other company could sell the same water bottle and just really be lazy on their branding, their imagery, their product description. And the one water bottle could sell for $35 the other one could sell for $7 and the $35 water bottle will sell, you know, $1 million a year in that and the other company will be struggling to make $200 a month.
So it’s all about perception, it’s all about adding perceived value. And I decided that adding like some kind of exclusive hangout session would really add to that. So we actually added that to every bundle you buy, anything you get to be included in that. So that really helped and we added that later on. So one question that came up that I will address now, you know, how planet was everything and how adaptable were you to like change things? My philosophy is planned spontaneity. So you plan as much as you can and then within that structure you gotta be prepared to pivot, change, add, tweak, whatever you to do. And that has been my secret weapon as a marketer. Even building Savvy Musician Academy, you go in with a plan and if at any point you need to change something you just do and you don’t think twice about it.
So I hope that answers that question and I will talk in the next episode about some of the things I did change. Things we had to add at the last minute. Bundle two was a little bit more money. So that first one was a $35 price range and I’m not saying this is what you should charge. This worked out for me based on my profit margins based on the research we did and what we could afford to put these out at. Bundle two was, again, there’s several items here so I don’t know, do you want me to read out all the items? I feel like this could get.
39:19 CJ: Yeah, just give kind of an overview.
39:21 Leah: Yeah, I mean, so it’s like a t-shirt and a digipack and a download and a card and stickers. And I dunno, we get a little bit crazy. Bundle three, there are 11 different items in there, but this is a $250 price point and they sell. It’s still selling. They’re still coming through. And so at this point though, there are some custom things going on. Like I hired a, a freelance guy in Finland to custom hand make these leather pendants for people who get this bundle and it’s gonna have my logo branded on the back and just very exclusive, really cool unique items. So there’s some, it’s not just a t-shirt, hoodie stuff. This is special stuff. So, really cool. And then the fourth main bundle was all of that, plus an early listening party. They’re going to have credits in the next lyric video and you know, the live session, a bunch of that. So in each of these bundles, I included the items in a list. I feel like by numbering the list, your brain can just really comprehend how much you’re actually getting.
Then below that I put in bullet points what the features where, which are really the benefits. So the bundle, like what it included in the, what are the benefits of all those things so that it could just, you know, limited supply, special written commentaries on each song. The downloads are going to be available in all these different formats. People really do read all of this and they can tell when you’re being lazy about it and when you really put a lot into it. So handmade, LEAH branded leather, pennant, original design, just for this campaign, we won’t be selling them afterwards. That kind of thing. And also adding these make a great holiday gift, since it’s a holiday album, we want them, they may have not thought of that until they thought, “wait a second, I have like a sister who loves this kind of music, I could totally get a gift early for her as well”.
And then we ended up adding later on in the campaign, here’s one thing that has always worked well for me is, you know, launching with say two to four core bundles, those are the ones that are gonna make most of your money from, then a week or maybe two weeks into the campaign, say this is like a, a 30 day campaign, you bring out something else. Because one thing I found out about these kinds of campaigns is people need to see something new every once in a while. If you show all of your cards at the beginning, then you kind of just, you know, showed your hand and there’s other expressions for that too, but I won’t say them. You’ve shown your whole hand and then that’s it, and people just kind of get sick of it and then that’s it, you’v got nothing left to kind of bring out later, whereas in this instance, I’ve got my core offers where if I didn’t offer anything more, those are still great. And then I bring out maybe two or three weeks later, something I will call more just like revenue bumpers.
So I didn’t offer a digital download of the album by itself until things start to kind of dwindle, right? Or in the middle of the campaign. The middle of the campaign has always, when you see it’s kinda, it goes a little dead in the middle because people, the excitement has gone down, people forget about it, whatever. And so that’s a perfect time to bring out something new. And so I would do that, bring out something new in the middle. And so that’s when I brought out the digital download, which I always make it a bundle, it’s not just a digital download. You’re going to get the instrumental, you’re going to get all these different formats, MP3 and Wave. And when I send this to them in a zip file, I also usually include other goodies in there. So there’ll be the PDF version of the, the liner notes, the booklet. They’re going to get some photos of me and I’ve even in the past included like a thank you video that they weren’t expecting. So just try to really blow them away and give them more than they were expecting. And then we also came out with just this limited edition digi-pack on its own kind of a thing. So they are autographed. I won’t be autographing them after that. They’ll just be regular jewel case. So six in total there. That’s more than I did in the past and this was just, again, I’m always experimenting.
It worked the same as the last time when I will say it’s a lot more work, adding more bundles. More bundles means more work. And there’s more complexity, more things can go wrong, more technical issues, things like that. Then we’ll talk about this more in the next episode, but I do want to talk about vinyl because as you noticed, I didn’t say anything about vinyl yet and that’s because I launched this whole campaign without vinyl. Now I did do a survey and I did see vinyl in there, but I think sometimes with surveys it’s not always an accurate picture because only certain people respond to it, right? Certain people will fill that out. And then other people don’t. What happened was after I launched this, I had an FAQ section at the bottom of my page just to help cut down on customer service, so it’s customer service prevention, like “do you offer PayPal?” “Yes, we’d offer PayPal.” “When will my bundle ship?” And we tried to think through all the scenarios that people would ask about and try to pre-answer them so that would also increase the revenue as well.
“How long does shipping take, what’s the shirt size, what are the dimensions and blah, blah, blah”. And one thing I put in there, it’s not in there now, but I did say, I knew people would ask about vinyl, so I said, “if you really want vinyl, please write to us at this email address and let us know”. Well, the emails came in. At first, it was like one and then it was three and then it was 12. And then it just kept going. And what was interesting to me was not just the enthusiasm asking for vinyl, but like there was genuine, people were upset that I didn’t have it genuinely upset to the point where I got the same guy like DMing me on Instagram, long messages expressing his deep disappointment that he couldn’t give me money because I didn’t have vinyl. And then also writing to me in emails these lengthy things, explaining all the reasons why he only listens to music on vinyl. And I mean, he really went in-depth. I was like, this is hilarious because like some people might even be offended like he was a little on the negative side of things, but I thought, I mean, this guy really wants to give me his money. He really, really wants to and I have failed him. What can we do to fix this?
I’ll continue that discussion in the next episode, but you can be sure that we made it happen. We made it happen. So I’ll explain more of that later. But we did come up with vinyl, so that ended up being part of the campaign. We had two options originally and they sold out in like three days, and so it was a limited. campaign-only like blue vinyl sold out. I mean, I was shocked. I was shocked and I was like, holy smokes. I mean, that definitely gave us a huge bump right in the middle of the campaign that I wasn’t expecting.
46:49 CJ: Yeah. In other words, it was literally blue records guys too. Blue cover, when she says blue vinyl, that’s not a technical term. That’s blue records.
46:58 Leah: Yeah. Yeah.
47:00 CJ: That’s awesome. Yeah. I, as you can see, guys, this is why we said at the outset, there’s no way we can cover this in a single episode, and we even went a little longer in this one. But that just goes to show you just how much is involved in this campaign and I know it can feel like it’s overwhelming, this kind of information. You don’t have to do everything that she did. Her first campaign was not like this, okay? She’s a few campaigns in, so she’s an expert, so she knows what she’s doing. It’s just trying to show you the possibilities and you can learn all the gory details of the offers and the applications and all of that good stuff, but the basic essentials, the reason why this works, the reason why she gets these numbers, the reason why she gets these responses, the reason why her fans are writing her lengthy emails and direct messages explaining their love of vinyl is because of that relationship. It’s because of Leah as a marketer and an artist. It’s both.
If you’re going to have a career in music and you can have that career in music, you’re going to have to be the artist and you’re going to have to be the marketer. It may seem like that’s intimidating. It’s not. Leah comes from no marketing background. She’s a stay at home mom still is, but she had no marketing background. And you’ve heard, you can listen to previous episodes to hear more about her story, but she’s learned, she’s learned the principles, she applies the principles, but she takes her fans seriously. She takes the culture seriously. She takes these genres seriously, but she takes the principles that govern marketing and communications and branding and sales very, very seriously. And that’s the kind of stuff that we cover in her SuperFan System Elite program, which I encourage you, again, you can go to callsma.com if you’d like to learn more. Help us to help you learn more about your project, what your goals are and see if there isn’t a great fit. But we’re going to talk more about this and they’re going to get into a lot of the Q & A because Leah put questions out there, she said at the outset, and a whole bunch of questions came in about the details of this. So by the time we’re done with this series on crowdfunding, ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to feel like you went through a marketing seminar and how to release an album.
49:23 Leah: I thought long and hard about what to share in these episodes and I decided to not hold back at all. I’m not holding anything back. I’m talking to you listening right now as though you are one of my Elite students and I’m just going to share everything that I can that makes sense in a podcast format. We’re not doing over the shoulder tutorials, but those sorts of things are in our SuperFan System Elite training, again a little more on the advanced marketing side. That’s where you’ve got to go to get results like these. And we have students doing some amazing things like that. And just so you know, all three episodes here, I want you to know that you can get a freebie crowdfunding, kind of little starter guide if you’re interested in doing that for yourself. Just go to savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding and it’s a little guide just showing you some comparisons between different platforms, even though you know that’s not what’s gonna make you successful. I still know you have the questions. So I put that together for you and just some initial things to help you think through your own campaign. And by the way you can think of this even if you’re not doing campaign, you’re doing an album launch, a lot of the same things apply. So go ahead and get that. It’s in the show notes, but you can also just type this in your browser. So savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding.
50:49 CJ: Awesome. So, we’re going to get into this even more in the next episode. She’s going to tell us about her experience with the vinyl. And again, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not all streaming, people are buying very real music just like they used to even young folks. So there’s plenty of hope for the music industry, which means there’s plenty of hope for you and we will see you next time.
Congratulations on deciding to make a move toward your music career — and even better — the ONLINE part of your career or hobby.
You probably sense that the music industry has totally and completely changed in recent years. You’re right, it has. The Internet pretty much turned the traditional music model upside down, yet so many people still wait around, hoping to be “discovered”.
Guess what? You no longer need to.
Today, you can do it yourself and put your music straight out to the public with no need for a “middle man” or label.
Can you gain a following doing this? Yes. Can you even make money doing this? Absolutely.
In reality, you have a better chance at making money as an independent artist than you do if you were “discovered” by a major music label.
In fact, most bands signed to a label are broke and in DEBT for years!
When you sign a deal with a label, it’s like taking out a giant loan from a bank. You don’t make any profits until it’s all paid back.
The label’s main goal is to make a return on their investment (ROI), and you need to do anything and everything to make that happen, including non-stop touring and selling merchandise.
It’s the equivalent of signing on for a big loan from the bank with the hope that you’ll get rich and famous. It’s not very likely.
Even many bands that do get famous are still broke, and then as soon as they are able to break out of their contract, they start over as independent artists and raise money through crowdfunding instead, taking their fans with them.
That is the reality of today’s music scene.
If you’re like me, it feels scary to think about stepping into a huge overwhelming sea of music. I totally understand. I’m just a stay-at-home-mom, myself.
I didn’t begin making music until after I already had a family to look after. How would anyone hear my music?
Well… after much trial and error, and lots of sweat and tears… I figured a few things out, and people did hear my music. It was very cool what happened after that.
I’ve become a well-known recording artist in my genre, and I even raised over $27,000 in one crowdfunding campaign and $87,000 in another one all by myself!
I learned many things the hard way and experienced much frustration. I hope to spare you that and give you some valuable tips as to how you can get started the right way.
Understand, first off, that the Internet drives the music industry today. Everything you do is going to revolve around this.
If you are just starting out, thinking of what it will take to start a music career, or have begun but are overwhelmed by what to do next, or wonder what the most important steps are, I’m here to help.
Let’s start by talking about the biggest rookie mistakes I see over and over again when launching your music career online.
#1 Rookie mistake: Not picking a genre (or even better – a micro-niche!)
Look, I know your music is unique, you are unique, and you are probably great at a lot of things, including playing all kinds of music.
The worst thing you can do is be a jack-of-all-trades in music genres. This is not the best way to build a fanbase, because if you’re great at everything, that means you lack a specific artist identity. And if you lack an artist identity, it means you don’t have a recognizable brand.
Even bands who make a living doing cover songs still have a very trademark sound and style, like The Piano Guys, or the vocal band Pentatonix.
You can recognize them immediately by the WAY they do their covers. And they usually stick with the same genre of music – turning those cover songs into their own style and adding their unique branded-twist to it.
So how do you choose your genre?
What if you love several genres and are good at them all? I have some homework for you.
Get out a piece of paper and write these down.
What are you all about?
You will need to choose a larger “umbrella” genre to work from and then we will narrow it down after. The goal is to end up in a smaller niche, which will help people find you better and help you stand out.
You can start to narrow this down by considering a number of things:
What bands/artists/genres do you already love and are drawn to?
It’s OK if you have a wide variety of taste. We will use this to your advantage. Look at any current songs you already have written.
What genre do you think your songs already fall into?
Think broad for now.
Have 5-10 friends/family/fans listen to your voice or your songs and ask what they hear. If you add or take away certain kinds of instruments, would it completely change the genre? If you could combine elements of your favorite bands, describe what they would be and how it might sound.
There is nothing new under the sun, but you can combine elements of your favorite sounds to make it sound fresh and different (paving the way for your micro-niche). Remember, different is memorable!
#2 Rookie mistake: Publishing any and all songs you write without any thought about your artist brand
Let’s be honest, most artists don’t know what their identity is or what their brand is.
Very quickly, a brand is not a logo, a font, or a color scheme, although they should reflect the brand.
A brand is really a consistent feeling you produce in others whenever they think of your music, see your music, or experience your music.
It’s completely intangible. How do you produce a feeling in others?
You do that by FIRST choosing the correct songs that align with what you want your brand to be.
Let me give you an example.
My brand is LEAH (my music name). It’s all about castles, fantasy, Celtic culture, beautiful landscapes, beautiful home decor, ancient ruins, Lord of the Rings, escapism, and my MUSIC is what “takes you there”.
Whenever my fans see my face, see my logo, visit my website, or interact with me on social media and my posts, they are interacting with my brand. All my social media activities, promotional activities, and my song choices will align with this specific brand I’m creating.
Choosing the right songs to create and further my band is a very strategic choice that most artists don’t give enough attention to.
If I were to publish all the songs I wrote under my LEAH brand, my fans would actually be quite confused because sometimes I like to write in other styles, flavors, and genres. They do not all belong under the LEAH brand.
So what should you do with all the songs that don’t fit or align with your main artist brand?
Start another separate project or artist brand, or, perhaps save them for a catalog of songs for other licensing opportunities.
Choose ONE artist brand or project that you will launch and put 100% in. I don’t recommend trying to get two or more projects/bands off the ground at the same time. This will take all your energy and focus.
Decide what that primary brand is.
What is the music all about?
What’s the genre, what are the topics, what movies would it make a great soundtrack to?
Make a list of your lyric themes that seem to come up time and time again (this will also help determine your genre/sub-genre and keywords later on).
Unless Disney (or a company that dictates the subject and keywords you must use) hired you, I suggest not trying to write for a specific audience. Music is not about people pleasing. It will sound cheesy and manufactured if you do that. Some of the biggest hits have had totally weird and bizarre lyrics that almost make no sense at all (Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” anyone??). It doesn’t need to be groundbreaking; it just needs to be authentic.
If you are a songwriter, list all your best songs, or ideas that have the most potential.
If your budget is very limited, pick the best three to five songs.
If you have no songwriting skills, you can choose very old songs, or songs that have public domain and do your own rendition of them, or hire someone to write songs for you, or work with a band to create your own songs.
#3 Rookie mistake: Bad sound quality on your recordings.
This might sound like an obvious point, but unfortunately, I’ve come across more bad recordings by good artists than I’d like to see.
Let me preface that you can get great quality from home studios, and it also doesn’t mean that it must be expensive.
Even if it’s a single or an EP, you mustn’t cut corners on quality!
This is sometimes the first and only impression you may get to leave with thousands of potential fans, and if the quality is less than fantastic, they may judge your music wrongly, or even turn it off or click away immediately.
What instantly makes a recording instantly sound BAD?
Very cheap microphone (although there are some inexpensive with fairly GOOD quality)
Poor mixing. If you’re not a professional mixer, do not attempt to mix yourself. Get an expert – mixing can mean the life or death of a recording.
Signal to noise ratio. Hearing signal noise, static, background noises, traffic, etc.
Unintentional distortion. When vocals or instruments peak, it’s distracting and instantly communicates “unprofessional”.
Lack of vocal edits. I’m not a huge autotune fan, but sometimes singers need a little polish to make it sound professional. If we can clearly hear bad pitch and it’s all over the place, it’s a big turn off.
Lack of quantization. This is referring to drums and instruments syncing precisely with the beats/click track. If your budget allows, always get your drums edited to be as perfect as possible. It’s the foundation of your entire recording. Make sure it’s perfectly in time, and make sure you edit your other instruments to be perfectly in time. The worst is when we can hear instruments speeding up and then slowing down unintentionally, and even worse – when they’re all doing this in different places!
There’s a lot more to say about quality, but avoiding these few things will instantly make you sound that much more PRO!
#4 Rookie mistake: Ignoring email list-building as the #1 online marketing activity
Have you heard email is dead? If you have, that theory is dead wrong.
Email is still the #1 way to market anything online. People still check their email multiple times per day, and when on a mobile device, people see all their emails in order and they don’t go into Gmail’s promotional folders.
Any company has a much higher valuation (think Shark Tank) if they have a large, active email list and is worth more if they ever sell it.
Not only that, there’s so much we can do with email lists on Facebook.
Did you know that you can actually upload your email list to Facebook and show the SAME PEOPLE ads in their newsfeed? This is an advanced advertising technique I teach our students that is highly effective during promotions or album launches.
I do $20,000 music months because of email marketing. It’s a massive part of my music business.
So how do you begin building your email list if you’re starting from scratch?
My favorite strategy is to give away free downloads in exchange for an email address.
Does this still work?
Here’s a screenshot of how many email addresses I’ve added to my list in the last little while.
This one ad of mine works so well, I literally just set it and forget it (after lots of trial and error, I’ll add).
I literally added 5234 new people to my email list in the last few months by giving away a free track — ONE free song!
Will people still want this if they can get it on Spotify?
If someone asks me if they can get it on Spotify I tell people “Yes, you can, but I’d also love to give you a download of it for free so you can put it on your iTunes playlist, and have a “hard” copy of it for your library!” They LOVE it!
And… if for some reason, this ever stops working, no problem. I’ll find something else of value they’ll want and use that. The point is to offer something they value MORE than their email address. In this case, they still want the download.
How do I get started building my email list?
First, set up an account with a professional email service provider (do NOT use free email like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. It’s against the law to send promo emails to lists of people that way).
My favorite is Mailchimp and Drip. Drip is the one I use (a bit more advanced than Mailchimp).
You’ll want to use a landing page provider as well. Mailchimp provides some templates for free, but I don’t recommend them if you want to get serious about this — there are some limitations.
My favorite landing page provider, hands-down, is Leadpages. It’s built specifically for conversions. This is all they focus on. I can do stand-alone product pages, thank you pages, etc.
And most importantly —
DO NOT SEND PEOPLE TO YOUR WEBSITE to collect email addresses.
I don’t have space here to get into all the reasons why that’s a terrible mistake, but in one word: distraction!
Send people to a page where the ONLY thing they can do is make a Yes/No decision. That’s it.
As for how to deliver the song and hook up all the tech, I have more in-depth training on how this is all done in our main program The Online Musician. See the free training on that here.
One thing I’ll leave you with is that email should be the PRIMARY online marketing activity you spend your energy on — even above social media!
After all, social platforms are borrowed land — you don’t own your profile.
You can’t even contact your followers if anything happens, you get blocked or hacked, or the platform dies (remember Myspace?).
You control your email, no one else can take that from you. Make sure you’re making list-building a huge priority.
#5 Rookie mistake: Not properly utilizing all the free traffic you’re already getting on social!
I’m a huge proponent of using paid traffic because you can control it, scale it, and dial it in. But if you don’t have the budget to go there yet, at the very least you should be optimizing every social platform you’re already on.
The WORST thing I see in artist’s social media is a lot of dead ends.
What I mean by that is they’re not using links in the obvious places. If a potential fan is curious and goes to your bio or page or what-have-you – they get a dead end.
Here are a few examples:
Instagram: Use something like Linktree or Link in Profile for the ONE link you get to use in your bio. And don’t put URLs in your Instagram feed posts – no one can click on them! And no one is going to try and copy/paste it into a browser, that’s way too much work! Stop making it hard for people. Tell them the link is in your bio and make sure whatever you’re pointing them to is the first link they see (with a matching link description).
Facebook: Make sure you’re using a professional artist page and not your profile. This is for a variety of reasons, one of them being it’s against the terms of service to sell or promote business-related things on a personal profile. Besides that, there’s no SEO on a personal profile, and many, many more reasons you need to use a professional Facebook page.
Make sure your main page banner has links! Link to your music — don’t make people scour the internet to find you. Where can they BUY it? Use the Facebook page tabs to add all the info you possibly can about your music and where people can download, stream, buy, and follow you.
Also, take advantage of the native Facebook Messenger bots you have available on your page. Direct people to your opt-in landing page or where they can buy music!
Youtube: Probably the biggest under-utilized platform I’ve seen in artists.
Use every single video description to link back to where they can
opt-in to download that song for free
buy the song,
follow you on other platforms
…Or all of the above! So many artists and bands aren’t telling people where they can go!
Your Youtube content is already “evergreen” platform in that based on how well you tagged your video and used keywords in the title and description, you’ll already be getting free traffic 365 days a year, so why wouldn’t you also direct all that traffic to a potential sale?
My favorite tool for Youtube is Tubebuddy. If you upgrade, they have a really handy tool that lets you insert a snippet of text into ALL your video descriptions with the push of one button. This also comes in super handy during any of my promotions or sales! Then, once it’s over, I just change the text to something else!
I hope these tips have been eye-opening, even if only one of the points resonated. If you take action on these now, you’ll definitely see much better results in all your efforts!
My goal as a fellow artist and musician is to help others succeed in their journey too.
I love to teach, it’s another passion of mine. If you are ready for more in-depth training and you’re serious about launching your music career online and taking it to the next level, I invite you to watch this free online seminar on what it takes to really Explode Your Fanbase THIS YEAR!