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Episode #074: Record Label or Independent Artist? An Interview With Jens Hilzensauer Pt. 2

In Part 2 of our interview with Jens Hilzensauer, we dive even deeper into the state of the music industry—specifically record labels and record deals. We also discuss the huge learning curve that labels have in order to get up to speed to what we’re doing at the Savvy Musician Academy. As a musician, it’s important that you understand where things are so that you can make the best decision possible for your career. This interview will help what decision!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • You as a person is just as important as your music
  • Thinking of your culture as a lifestyle brand
  • How the music industry resists change
  • What the record labels should do
  • Confusing marketing with advertising
  • Creating brand awareness
  • The current approach to social media by record labels
  • Why record labels will struggle with social media
  • The importance of creating a relationship with your fans
  • What Leah’s doing to secure her career and still without touring
  • When you should consider talking to a record label
  • The questions you should be asking yourself
  • Current rates by Spotify
  • What a typical record contract looks like

Tweetables:

“I think the record business side of the music business was always reluctant to change.” — @jenshilzensauer [0:04:10]

“Basically the music industry made Apple rich because they let Apple, invent iTunes.” — @jenshilzensauer [0:04:57]

“There is no call to action. That’s advertising. Marketing is based on a call to action.” — @metalmotivation [0:09:00]

“You’ve never seen a Starbucks commercial. That’s pretty powerful brand awareness without any reliance upon traditional advertising.” — @metalmotivation [0:09:22]

“The algorithm is completely indifferent. It’s going to follow basic principles that are based on psychographics.” — @metalmotivation [0:13:02]

“You must treat your career as though no one will do anything for you. Just treat it as though it’s depending and relying on you alone.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:17:24]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Jens’ Band “Planet Trompeta” — https://www.facebook.com/planetatrompeta/

Schedule a Call with SMA — http://callsma.com

Click For Full Transcript

00:19 CJ: Welcome to The Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz and I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. As we said in the last episode, we’re going to have part two now of our extensive interview with Jens Hilzensauer. He is a consultant working alongside with Leah and helping her with greater distribution and licensing with her own music and he gave us so many insights into not only what’s going on in the current record industry and what he’s doing for Leah, but also he’s a digital marketing expert himself, and we dive deep into the topics that are going to help you navigate your music career.

So let’s go into part two with Yens. Thank you so much for joining us on The Savvy Musician Show. Please leave a review. If you listen to my Spotify or by Stitcher or by Google Play or iTunes, leave us stars and a great review. We read each one of them. We would love, love to hear from you again. If we can help you in any way, schedule a call with us today at callsma.com.

01:24 Jens: You can sum this up by saying it’s about culture and your music is just one part of it. It’s so much more. It’s you as a person. And once I realized that it’s like, of course, it’s so much bigger. It’s the attitude, the values this artists portrays. It’s so much more. I mean, it’s not putting the music down, it’s just, it’s so much bigger than only the music. And once you get this, it’s like, of course, it makes sense for Rihanna to not only do music. She definitely should sell fragrances because she’s a personal brand.

02:02 Leah: And that’s what I found. Like as soon as I thought, no, wait a second, my music is bigger than the music. This is bigger than the music. This is really about a culture and a lifestyle. So if I were to think about other products I could offer that fits and aligns with this culture and this lifestyle brand, what would I add? Well, I would probably have jewelry. I would love to do essential oils eventually. I would love to do fragrances eventually, and I’m opening my mind to those other things.

And maybe I end up specializing those and it becomes like kind of like a sister company or something, just like if you go to Rihanna’s cosmetic website, it’s probably different than her music website, but they’re connected. It’s the same person, it’s the same brand. So it just, it opens up a whole new world when you start thinking about that and how that aligns with just the culture, the brand, and then the people and they’re like you and I find that’s going to attract people that I would actually hang out with. That’s cool. And you should view your fans that way.

Can you tell us a little more about what you see happening in the labels in some of these companies in terms of like where are they at in their digital marketing? Like we talked about, some of them don’t even have pixels on their website. They’re still going the traditional route of radio only. I was just in Nashville and at a conference with my dear friend Brett Manning. Such a good friend of mine.

And I was there and I met and was on a panel with some of these traditional record label guys. And it was like, I felt like it was like oil and water. I was the oil and they were the water or vice versa, because they’re talking about radio, they’re talking about how you just need to have a hit song and we’re talking to a group of songwriters and I’m thinking, I don’t think anybody in this room is going to come up with a hit.

None of these people are going to end up on the radio. None of them fit into this paradigm that they’re talking about. And so it just made me realize how different these approaches really are. And why do they still believe in them so heartily? Is it just because it’s what they’ve always done? Like how come they’re not with the times?

04:10 Jens: I think the record business side of the music business was always reluctant to change. I mean, the world was going to end when the cassette was invented. People could suddenly record the radio and after that-

04:28 Leah: Right? It was like the streaming of the time.

04:29 Jens: Yeah. And then it was streaming. So I think innovation unfortunately never came from the inside. I mean, even today, all the big majors bought into Spotify. And I mean, in the early 2000s there were more interested in suing music fans for illegally downloading stuff than in finding a solution for them to buy the music they like. Basically the music industry made Apple rich because they let Apple, invent iTunes. So you can download a song you like and you don’t have to buy the album of 15 songs, you only like one of.

And it’s like, we rather sue music fans instead of finding a solution to actually market to the fan. I think it’s maybe a system, imminent problem. And one sentence I hear really a lot is, we always did it this way and it’s like, and it never really worked. So why aren’t you changing? And I think now at this point in time with budgets getting smaller and smaller and smaller, I mean, even production budgets, the labels will change definitely and a lot of them are on their way because, they only have two options now. It’s either die a slow, painful death or change and go with the times and find solutions.

06:06 Leah: So you’re saying they need to go through Savvy Musician Academy?

06:10 Jens: Actually that’s what I’m saying. I already told you that’s where I see Savvy Musician Academy going instead of like, it’s not musicians against labels, it’s, no, we all want the same thing. We want artists to be heard, great music to be heard and we want-

06:30 Leah: And profitable.

06:31 Jens: Yeah. And profitable for all people involved. So we basically want the same thing. And I’m always for some form of collaboration and figuring out a way to move things forward. And the musician industry mill is on a slow grind, but I think it’s accelerating at a time. I see a lot of new startups, a lot of new indie labels, having great successes with doing and running things differently. So after time I think majors will follow. Definitely.

07:08 CJ: I think that’s an important point because they have to. They have to adapt or die, right?

07:12 Jens: Yeah.

07:13 CJ: And obviously if their capital is driven, they’re going to do what they can to adapt. They’ll hire the people who know, they don’t know themselves. They’ll find the people who do. Which is going to be good for the Savvy Musician Academy because we’ve talked about plans we’re going to do down the road publishing. We’re getting into the written word and other things to be that brain trust for whoever.

Like I said, we want that to be, as you just described it, the preservation of the art of music and what it does for society. God forbid we ever lose that, just because of things that are business-related and what have you. I mean, you said something earlier when you were talking about the brand awareness and which is so imperative as a thrust and a primary tenant of the savvy musician approach to things.

And you brought up a Starbucks and then also the big name brands like ACDC Metallica, Taylor Swift, that they have much, much more brand equity than they ever reaped. Now we can all criticize the Taylor Swifts and the Metallica’s for being ultra-rich, but they could be four or five times that wealthy, but because the labels had exploded so much of their brand equity. And then, I’m glad you mentioned Starbucks because I said earlier that I had spoken in Detroit recently and I used the Starbucks as an example just to talk about the difference between marketing and advertising.

Because people think advertising instead of marketing where they confuse the terms. They think they’re just one, they’re synonymous terms and they’re not. They’re completely different. And you see an advertisement on television, you don’t get an exact price, you don’t get an action step. You’re not told where that Coca Cola is. You’re just showed some polar bears drinking Coca Cola and that’s it. It’s just a brand. They’re just putting that out there. But there’s no marketing involved.

There is no call to action. That’s advertising. Marketing is based on a call to action. And so I asked this crowd in Detroit, I said, “How many of you guys have been to Starbucks just on your trip out here to Detroit?” And half the hands went up. And I said, “How many Starbucks commercials have you seen?” They would say, “I haven’t seen any.” Exactly. You’ve never seen a Starbucks commercial. That’s pretty powerful brand awareness without any reliance upon traditional advertising.

And so we’re trying to get that at a micro level here at SMA, the Savvy Musician Academy with our students to get them to understand this idea of brand awareness that you can create this, again at a micro level, where would you guys just alluded to in terms of culture and what have you are such powerful aspects of creating this very close relationship between, two people. Now the question then becomes, how is a label going to replicate that? Which means, they’ve got to think very, very hard about how their artists are going to function.

10:08 Jens: And I mean, I see labels running social media pages really poorly, I have to admit. It’s like, we’re doing Facebook. You’re doing it, but it works because the artist is already famous, but the engagement rate is really poor. And it’s just about vanity metrics. It’s like, “But we have so-and-so many page likes or so-and-so many views.” And I’m like, “But you barely have any likes or comments.” So the people watch it, but they don’t care. And the ads I see all the time, it’s like, “Hey, I’m blah blah. My new album is out. You can get it now. Swipe up.” I’m like, “I have no idea who you are. Why would I?” It’s like the equivalent in your-

11:02 Leah: No customer journey at all.

11:02 Jens: No. And of course, no retargeting ad. It’s like I always compared in coaching context to going out with a girl and asking what to name your first kid on the first date.

11:17 Leah: It’s a little premature.

11:19 Jens: It’s maybe a little early for that. It’s like, I don’t know you, I don’t want to buy something from you. I don’t even know if I like you.

11:28 Leah: I just met you, why are you asking me to get naked?

11:29 Jens: I never heard the music. I just saw a video from you on Instagram telling me to buy or stream or whatever, your new album. And I’m like, I have no idea what your music sounds like. Show me a song and then ask me if I want to stream it or buy it or whatever. That would make sense. And I think that’s why a lot of musicians are frustrated too with social media because they think, I read this blog from music magazine X or company X, Y, Z that offers a blog for musicians. And then it’s like, you should have a Facebook presence and maybe you run an ad and advertise your album and it’s like, the problem is in not doing. It’s the how and the sequence and progression of the relationship. It’s on the other end of this, whatever Facebook, social media ad, there’s a human being and they work. It’s a totally crazy concept like human beings.

12:31 CJ: That is the key. This is why I think labels are going to have a hard time trying to adapt to this model because you can’t do that third person. You can’t automate that aspect of it. You can utilize all these wonderful tools, but without that personal relationship between the artists and the fan, without that engagement, the algorithm doesn’t care who you are. The algorithm is not impressed that you’re Taylor Swift.

If you’re a far lesser name but you are getting engagement and you’re engaging with your fans, the algorithm thinks you’re the bigger one. You’re the one the algorithm’s going to put in the feed. The algorithm is completely indifferent. It’s going to follow basic principles that are based on psychographics. It’s based on other things than what, a marketing manager thinks. So they can try to adapt these principles as much as they can.

And I say all that to say, I don’t think they’re going to do it very well. The only way they can do it well is to give the artists more power and help your artist, give them the resources and the coaches and the consultants that they need to follow this sort of model. Otherwise, it is not going to work. They are going to be blinded by vanity metrics and they’re going to keep thinking they’re doing the right thing and they’re not.

So if you want an extensive shelf life, and you mentioned earlier what these other labels might think of someone like Leah. Well, if she’s not touring, what’s the longterm effect here? Well, she’s got nothing but options, because her primary goal is not ego-driven. She’s getting all the creative expression she needs. Her goal is her family and their livelihood and all of that. So she’s got a [inaudible 00:14:07]… In fact, your guys’ relationship in terms of what you’re doing and helping her with is not really directly based on this.

We’re getting into publishing and licensing and these sorts of things so that she’s not putting, as she said, all of her eggs in one basket. She’s continuing to diversify her portfolio so to speak, and there is stuff she’s doing that I know about, she hadn’t told anybody about. So she’s always working, always creating, always doing these things. But it’s because, but none of it. She wouldn’t be doing any of it if she didn’t understand these fundamentals of marketing, these fundamentals of branding, these fundamentals of culture, niche, social media, all of the stuff that is taught in the Savvy Musician Academy. I don’t know how labels are going to grasp that anytime soon. Chorus for a healthy price point, we’re more than happy to sit down and talk to them about it. A very, very, you could tell them that. You can tell him I said that, Jens.

15:04 Jens: Of course. And I can totally see that happen actually. Because I think musicians are more and more going one, let’s say on a like a meta-perspective, they’re going and they’re taking like a bird’s eye view on this whole system and I’m like, do I really need a label? And I know a lot of professional colleagues that separated after a time from a big label and make more money than ever with selling less records, because they earn all of it. They don’t have to share.

And it’s really about learning how to run your artist’s career like a business in a good way. So really applying the principles of a healthy relationship and then becoming so big that it really makes sense for you to approach a label and say, let’s license my album, and I really want to use your distribution infrastructure and you can have a piece of the pie and we’re negotiating eye to eye. Then I think you are at the right point in your career to really make that next step.

And of course, it’s all about ownership. And we talked about ownership of your music. That’s what it’s about. Keeping ownership of your music and you deciding what deal to take or leave. I think then it’s time. Once you’re there then it’s time to talk to a label or a publishing company for sync or whatever. And of course, it always depends on your genre. If your music is really a good fit for sync and licensing.

Of course, not all music makes sense in a TV or movie environment. I think what Savvy Musician Academy for me is about is empowering artists to view it as a business in a good way and taking ownership of their career and not waiting on anybody. I mean, how many times have I heard the sentence, I just need a manager. I just need a blah, blah, blah. You’re sitting there putting yourself and waiting for somebody to rescue you.

17:19 Leah: I just said this in Nashville when I was there speaking to these songwriters. I said, “You must treat your career as though no one will do anything for you. Just treat it as though it’s depending and relying on you alone.” And in fact, we teach each of our employees that even at Savvy Musician Academy like act as if the whole business is relying on you in your role, that your corner, your little corner, your role, your job is holding up the whole thing. What would you do differently there?

And so you ask yourself the same thing, what would you do if absolutely nobody was going to help you in your career? It was all on you to make or break it. What would you do? What would you learn? What were the skills you would need to acquire to make that work? That’s how I live my life and I’ve so much to learn. Now I’m not saying don’t delegate and don’t outsource things like that, but I’m taking ownership of it first and then assessing the situation. I’m not waiting for a manager to tell me what to do. I’m not waiting for anybody else to tell me what to do. I educate myself and then decide. So that’s such a key thing I think.

18:22 CJ: You can either wait for the life to happen, or you can make that life happen.

18:28 Leah: Jens, you shared with me a statistic recently about… and I want you to share this with our audience because I think they will be astounded about what a typical deal looks like with Spotify with these majors. Can you share that and how you were taken aback by it as well, in regards to split what the major artists typically get. Are we allowed to talk about that?

18:57 Jens: Let’s maybe make it a little more general.

19:00 Leah: Completely general. Like what is normal?

19:03 Jens: A lot of artists, especially in the olds of the old generation, from that started like 20, 30 years ago when streaming wasn’t even on people’s creative minds. Back then they signed contracts that already said, “If something like streaming is going to happen, you’ll only get let’s say 10 to 15%.” And today a lot of people still agree to those terms or even sign away their complete streaming income, which is crazy.

19:40 Leah: So is this why we’re hearing so many artists say such bad things? I mean, I know they don’t like the actual streaming rates, like the rates they’re getting paid, they don’t like that. But then it makes it obviously a lot worse if they’re only seeing a tiny percentage of it.

19:55 Jens: I think most of the mainstream artists are only seeing a tiny percentage. So, they could make a lot more and people always forget that you have two kinds of royalties involved. You have the publishing and mechanical royalties and a lot of, distributors only collect one of those two. So they’re leaving money on the table there and then people sign bad deals and give away a lot of their streaming income, which is totally stupid because, if you think about it, if let’s say if 10 years in the future the streaming platforms have really penetrated all markets and let’s say a typical household pays a yearly streaming fee.

All artists would be incredibly rich, just from streaming. And over the course of a lifetime, once the market penetration is bigger and the distribution models between artists and streaming platforms evolve, I think in the future, artists will love streaming actually. And it has the most potential. So why sign away money on that part of your record business that is actually your future? That doesn’t make sense at all. And of course in old contracts, more than 80% of mainstream artists, most of the bands that don’t make the top 20 never make $1 off their record sales or streams. Not one, and all goes back to production.

21:47 Leah: Oh my goodness.

21:48 Jens: Which is just insane.

21:49 CJ: Record labels alone, right?

21:53 Jens: Yeah. The idea typically is we give you a front up and you have to pay it back with sales and we’ll do a split. And if you don’t have leverage because you’re not that far along in your career, we get a big part of the split and you have to make the front or back with your little part of the split. So it needs a lot of sales and a lot of streams to make even the front up back. And then you have to go on tour for the next 10 years and never make a dime because you’re only paying your front or back.

22:23 Leah: It’s just so sad. It’s such a sad scenario and that’s why I keep referring to this national thing because it was very eye-opening to me to like actually sit beside these executives on their panel. None of them know who… they don’t have no clue who I am. And I’m saying to them, to this room full of songwriters, “Hey, I respect all you guys and what you do. You worked really hard at your careers. I’m coming at this from a completely different perspective. There’s no chance on the face of the earth that a homeschool mom of five playing a weird niche Celtic metal would ever have their music heard if it wasn’t for this new music industry. And I’m coming at this from somebody who’s self-funding the music through my fans and recouping all the money by the time the album launches. So that on launch day I’m now in profit zone.”

And I was trying to be as respectful as possible, but basically I made it clear that there’s no deal here that could possibly tempt to me. That’s even better than what I could do right here for myself. Even though it’s on a small scale. I’m not making millions of dollars doing what I’m doing and that’s fine by me. I’m not trying to be a household name. I don’t want to go to a restaurant and be interrupted for autographs. That’s just not the lifestyle I want.

I just want to be able to make art be, make whatever music I want and have it funded from my fans and we have this great relationship and I just have a sustainable career. That’s my goal. And so I’ve made sure it’s like, hey, to communicate this, what kind of career do you want? Because there’s only a couple of options here. Like, do you want to make a comfortable living with your music or is your goal to be worldwide famous and not really own anything.

And are you going to try to make it into the top 0.0005% that these guys are, that’s what they do, or do you want to have a sustainable music career? It’s like, hey, I can pay my bills with my music. Like there’s a couple of options. There’s maybe more than one way to do it. But to me the contrast was so stark and it was so black and white. So that was very, it was an eye-opening experience for me to even just sit and hear it from the horse’s mouth.

24:28 Jens: And two really big points in what you just said, you can create a career you want. I personally, I know a lot of, at least in Germany, mainstream artists that say, “I actually hate that fans are camping on my stairs in front of my house or in my yard. I don’t have a private life anymore. I hate that part of it.” And I’m like, “It doesn’t have to be that way. You could do it differently.”

And people have this crazy idea only in the music business, you’re only a business or you’re only successful if you reach the ACDC Taylor Swift status. But that’s not the case. You wouldn’t go to your local successful bakery that’s paying 20 people for 50 years and you wouldn’t go there and say something like, you’re not Walmart. Why even bother? You’re not successful. It doesn’t make sense. And people think like this in the music industry.

So I think that’s another thing I find really empowering about, your journey and Savvy Musician Academy to see, you can make your own decisions and go your own way and you can make a decent living without being crazy famous. It’s perfect because there are only maybe a handful of exceptions, but most musicians just want to do music. They don’t want to be famous. They just want to do music and they want people to enjoy their music and they want to make a living off of it. That’s about it. And they want their creative freedom. And that’s basically what SMA enables. So I really liked that idea.

26:18 CJ: I think the process can apply broader because I know there’s going to be those people who are just like as you described, Jens, and they don’t want to be the ACDC, they don’t want to live like that. But at the same time they would like to play in front of a crowd and we’re not saying you have to all do it Leah’s way in the sense that you don’t have to tour. It’s just that she did it without touring, so that makes the argument even stronger that you can do this without touring.

Again, at the event that I spoke at, I was talking to people about, because I was talking to other coaches and motivational speakers, which is what I do when I’m not here, and we were talking about, because they all have to chase these other events and always trying to get on someone else’s stage. So they got to be booked on someone else’s stage, someone else’s events. So they’re always chasing that next paycheck in order to be, featured on somebody’s thing.

And I said, “You don’t have to do that.” So I told him, I said, “With the metal motivation model that I’m going to do is, Facebook will tell you for example, where your fans are throughout the world. And you can see the cities where you have the highest concentration of fans.” And so if they are several cities, for example, throughout the US that I have like Chicago, Orlando, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, then I can target ads just to those cities. I can build up likes and followers just in those cities along with everything else I’m doing.

But I can just run special ads just to them, spend the next year or two, just building up these communities, hundreds and hundreds and thousands of fans in these given metroplexes, these major cities. And then I can have all the events I want to have and they’re my events, they’re your shows. Because a venue, a local venue bar, what have you is, they’re very, very interested in artists who have a big following in that local community. The more you can build up a following, the easier it is.

So you’re going to have managers that want to talk to you, you’re going to have booking agents that want to talk to you. You’re going to have promoters that want to talk to you, you’re going to have bar and venue owners that will talk to you all day long. They won’t need that middleman because you have already targeted, you saw you have a big following there and you build that community up. So the same principles go.

So if somebody wants to play music and just doesn’t want to be isolated, doesn’t want, again, doesn’t want to play the super stadium or whatever, then you can go on the road. But you can all do it all to your choosing. It’s like you’ve been saying throughout, Jens, you are in control and that in and of itself is an incredibly empowering thing. So there really is no limit. We’re not saying, we’re not suggesting anything here that has limitations. As much as you want to dream, man, the principles still apply.

29:11 Jens: And I mean, that’s the crazy thing. I’m waiting on the day Leah goes on tour.

29:17 Leah: It’ll be a castle tour by the way.

29:21 Jens: Got it. Sounds awesome.

29:24 Leah: I want to plan this out and Jens, you’re going to help me with this. We’ll orchestrate it, it’ll be like an experience, where we have a feast first.

29:31 Jens: Definitely. And I mean, there are so many castles in Germany, so you have to do one leg in central Europe.

29:37 Leah: Exactly.

29:38 Jens: Of course. And that’s what I really like. It’s like, I would like to go on tour, make a tour happen in castles. And the traditional business, it would be like, but how do we get people inside castles? And, typically we don’t do concerts there. Don’t you want to-

30:00 Leah: Exactly.

30:01 Jens: You could have an opening slot on a festival. And it’s like, no, we don’t want an opening slot. We already have a following. We’re just going to sell tickets and people will come. That’s it.

30:13 Leah: So people would spend a ton of money to go on these cruises, these music festival cruises. I’ll just make mine a big, like a renaissance fair kind of experience. Only it’ll be like a feast at a concert and we hang out and drink Mead or something. I don’t know.

30:32 Jens: That sounds great. I really like this idea and I see it more and more. I know a surf rock band, they do like ’60s instrumental surf guitar music and they host small events. Like they have a barber, who travels with them, who cuts people’s hair and beards, and they have this little flea market for vintage vinyl and stuff from old surf bands. So it’s basically a whole event about that culture of surf music.

31:09 Leah: That’s so it, the culture. And that even reminds me one of our elite students, Daniel Coats that we’ve done a podcast with him. He recently did really well, talking about selling tickets and stuff, using the principles that we teach at SMA just with ads only. He applied it to Eventbrite tickets and he said, “During these shows,” and they did like 20,000 Australian dollars or something in I think it was five shows over eight days, something like that.

And they’ve created their own jewelry. They’ve created like I don’t know if they’re handcrafted or something like that. They create their own like necklaces and stuff that has a special pendant, that’s their new logo, their band logo. And they said, it actually outsold all their music at these events. So I’m just like, that’s it, guys. It’s about diversifying. It’s about like adding, it is bigger than just the music. This is a culture, this is a lifestyle like you’ve got to think that way.

And so he’s having great success with that, doing very well. So I just think that there’s, it seems to me like the majority of musicians right now are not even awake to this reality yet. They’re not even awake. They’re still sleeping, they don’t understand it and that’s why we do what we do here. And that’s why I’m having guests like you here because you’re seeing it, you get it, but so many don’t. And so this is the whole mission and the more people we can kind of gather around to try and wake people up to this fact, I think the better and quicker musicians will find so much more satisfaction and become profitable.

32:39 Jens: And I mean, doesn’t it sound exciting to quit your shitty day job and do music full-time even if you are a mom of five?

32:48 Leah: Yeah.

32:49 Jens: And if you decide to go on tour, go on tour, it’s possible on your own terms. I mean, I can’t imagine something better.

32:58 Leah: There isn’t. Crowdfund your album, like build up the audience, crowdfund it. So whether you do it, you get the money beforehand, before recording or you make the album then recoup your costs. That’s what I’ve been doing. It’s more work and yes, it’s a learning curve and I think this is the part we have to get people over this barrier. I think this is an obstacle for them to go, but I got to learn all this stuff. I have to learn digital marketing, I have to learn all this techie. Like I’m not techie. I’m not techie. I hear that a lot. I’m not either. I’m not either but you, it’s like you learned how to use your smartphone, don’t you? Like did you learn everything about your smartphone in one day? Probably not. It took a while. There’s always a learning curve.

33:43 Jens: You’re not techie, but you have like 50 guitar pedals on your board. Those kinds of people. But I’m not into this tech stuff.

33:52 Leah: You’re a liar.

33:53 Jens: It’s just an excuse. It’s just an excuse. And I mean, marketing is so creative.

33:58 Leah: Totally.

33:59 Jens: It’s another fun thing too. And once you realize that there’s a good way to do it and a bad way to do it and you do it the right way, it’s really fun and not pushy, non-intrusive. You’re just doing the right thing in the right order. And then it really is fun because you can reach people that are like-minded to you. And I know, not so many is an exaggeration, but I know more and more bands and I see that really, more and more India are running their own label on their own terms like you are and they love it.

There’s a friend of mine, he’s a son of a famous, German polka brass bands music playing father, which is really a traditional and [inaudible 00:34:53] and then he’s playing in a hip-hop band. And he’s an incredible player, but people give him a lot of shit for the hip hop guys are like, “Why are you doing this [inaudible 00:35:05] stuff?” And the other guys are like, “Why are you doing hip hop?” And now it’s like, “I’m doing it on my own terms. And actually there are a lot of fans who like it and they see the connection.”

And so I think those little boxes and draws we put ourselves in are only limiting. And once you decide to become an entrepreneur instead of a onetrepreneur, I really like that idiom. You are free to really not only do it yourself but let’s say to decide yourself. But I know of course I had this thought too, how will I ever be able to do this? And I mean, you’re not doing it alone. You built a team, but the DIY stands for decided it yourself and keep it authentic and direct and then it’s really great fun.

I mean, you told me so many stories of interactions with fans you already love because it’s like-minded people and that’s, I mean, isn’t that the coolest thing? Sharing your music with people you maybe even become friends with. One bend I’m playing in, the front singer, he invited a few fans to his birthday because they became friends over the years, which is so cool. And that’s I really want to encourage musicians to come out of their little pitiful holes that are filled with self-doubt and I need somebody to rescue me or the ACDC way of things is the way to do it. No, it’s not. It never was. And do it yourself and make it happen yourself and take ownership and keep ownership.

37:04 CJ: That’s great.

37:04 Jens: And get the right help. Join SMA.

37:09 Leah: Well, thank you for the plug.

37:11 CJ: I mean, I think the keyword for this whole discussion we’ve had with you Jens is empowerment. Somebody can really, it’s yes, it’s intimidating. We know they’re going to be scared. We know, like you just said, there’s so much for them to learn, but that’s why the Savvy Musician Academy is here. That’s why we have a qualified, capable team of coaches and all of that to help. So, listener, you’re not alone. You don’t have to learn this all by yourself. There’s plenty of help. It will take time, will take effort, but this is your dream we’re talking about. Nobody’s going to bring it to you. And if that’s the mentality, then it’s just not for you.

37:48 Jens: Of course.

37:48 CJ: The music is not for you. You need to get the day job. Keep it as a hobby. But if you want that dream of doing it all yourself, there’s a way, it’s easier than you think. You’ll get acclimated to it. Just like again Jens says, just like you got acclimated to using your iPhone. It really is. It just takes some time.

38:09 Jens: And of course you’re right. SMA can show you the door, but you have to go through it yourself.

38:16 CJ: Well, thank you, guys. Jens, great to meet you. Of course.

38:20 Jens: Me too. My pleasure.

38:22 CJ: And I think we’re going to have to bring you back on again when you can spill more beans about not stuff.

38:29 Leah: And not only that, but he’s got other things to share about other areas of expertise. Like, you’ve a practice technique for live shows and you do a lot of coaching with bands on their live shows and presentation, that kind of thing. And there’s other areas. That’s what I’m saying, he’s a multifaceted guy, which makes every time we talk it turns into hours at a time. So, which is great. So I consider you a friend and a colleague and so it was wonderful having you on.

I hope everybody was totally fascinated and I’m sure they were. I find all these conversations you and I have fascinating. Sometimes I think, if we had just recorded this, that would’ve been cool because we always have so many personal insights. So it was great having you on. We will have you back and thanks so much.

39:20 Jens: Thank you, guys. Thank you for having me.

39:22 CJ: And guys, thank you for listening to The Savvy Musician Show. Be sure to leave a review like we said and we will see you next time. Take care.

Episode #073: Record Label or Independent Artist? An Interview With Jens Hilzensauer Pt. 1

In this episode, we go behind the scenes of Leah’s push for publishing and sync licensing her music by interviewing someone who is working intimately for Leah in this process. The results have been eye-opening as our special guest, Jens Hilzensauer, pulls the veil back on what’s going on now with record labels. And because Jens is an experienced digital marketer himself, the conversation gets deep into the cutting edge of what innovative artists like Leah are doing now to achieve levels of success that are challenging the beliefs of record label executives. And because the interview went so long, we’ve decided to break it up into two parts. Believe us, you won’t want to miss this interview!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The new era of the music industry
  • What European records labels thought of Leah’s success
  • The reality of what A&R people see and sign to a label
  • Why musicians need to take extreme ownership
  • Applying marketing principles to music
  • How effective are labels in their marketing?
  • The power of culture in making sales

Tweetables:

“What good marketing actually is, relationship building. And I think that’s where a lot of labels, and publishing companies still fail.” — @jenshilzensauer [0:19:46]

“But this is what makes social media such a revolutionary element, and a huge key to Leah’s success because you can now go direct to market.” — @metalmotivation [0:28:57]

“You’ll really understand social media when social media disappears, and you realize you’re just talking to people.” — @metalmotivation [0:29:56]

“It’s just simple offline relationship building in an online world. And you can scale it.” — @jenshilzensauer [0:32:26]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Jens’ Band “Planet Trompeta” — https://www.facebook.com/planetatrompeta/

Schedule a Call with SMA — http://callsma.com

Rich How (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/rich.how

Click For Full Transcript

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, joined once again by the lovely Leah, McHenry, her eminence, the mistress of all music marketing, Princess Leah, as I think I once called her. Good to see you, again.

00:40 Leah: I’m happy to be here. Today’s an exciting day.

00:43 CJ: Very exciting day. Can’t wait to get into this. I hope everybody’s been enjoying the podcast. Again, you can do us a solid by being sure to go to your podcast player and leave an exciting, riveting review that other people will want to read. People just like, who are working very hard in their personal music business and help them find and discover the Savvy Musician Show because it’s going to mean a lot to them and their career. That’s a great way to be a help to us. Leave us stars if they offer that, and we appreciate each and every review that you give.

Leah, before we get into what’s special about today, I just want to share again what we always do, a student spotlight. Today, one of our T.O.M. students, Rich How, he writes hashtag win, big moment, this week I have finally opened my website, mailing list, and now my Facebook page for my progressive sci-fi metal project. I’ve also made a teaser video, my first single, which is going to act as a Facebook ad.

I’m so excited. Until I got to the moment of actually making everything live, I was nervous about the point of no return. But now, fan numbers are increasing already, and it’s all the motivation I need to crack on with my debut album, due next spring.

All of this kicked off in April when Leah’s ad, after seeing it about five times everywhere, directed me to the TOM webinar and my brain was just in the perfect place to receive the information, and I suddenly saw a path. Thank you Leah. How about that?

02:18 Leah: It’s great.

02:20 CJ: Don’t you love these micro-niches that people come up with, sci-fi, heavy metal jazz, influenced country-rock?

02:28 Leah: And there really are people that want it, and they love it, and will totally nerd out over it.

02:34 CJ: Yeah. It’s funny. Well, great here because we recently talked about crowdfunding, and we’re going to talk more about the larger context of things in relation to the production of music. But it’s great to see someone, see a path. And I think that’s an important point, is he sees a path.

Because I think when we’re looking for motivation and things, sometimes all’s we really need, we don’t need a cheerleader, right now. We don’t need somebody just to tell us, “Hey, you can do it.” We need to know how, and we need to see a path. We need a light, something to direct us to know where we’re going.

That’s enough oftentimes to carry us. We’ve got all the energy and the creative power that we need. We just need to know which direction to go. And in light of that, the direction we have been steering people away from, Leah, for a while now is the traditional music industry, is record labels.

And in light of all of that, you’ve been telling me about somebody for some time now, which I’m very excited to say is going to be joining us today on this particular podcast. And why don’t you tell us a little bit about our guest?

03:41 Leah: Yeah. I am really excited to introduce you guys to somebody that I’ve been working with all year, and his name is Jens [Hillsandsour 00:03:51]. Did I get it right? Sort of, kind of. All right. Well it’s German, and he’s from Germany and he’s been working with me behind the scenes on my own music career.

As you guys know, if you’ve ever watched my webinars, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of never putting all your eggs in one basket. No investor will ever tell you to, “Yeah. Put them all in one basket. Put it all in this one place, invest it all in whatever the stock market or something.” That’s not wise.

So I have been working a little bit on, well the beginning of 2019, I decided I really wanted to pursue sync licensing after I talked to a couple of other people. We had a great guest on our podcast about it. I was like, “That is an avenue I’ve really never pursued, and I think it would be really fun.”

So in that process, I met Jens and through a series of events. And he’s been helping me with getting that process started, and subsequently getting a little bit into the publishing side of things. Because, if you get publishing, it’s easier to get sync licensing. These are things I had no idea about. It’s a whole world, I don’t know anything about.

And so that’s why I got the help, is because this isn’t something that can be easily taught. There’s no course that especially when you get into relationships, and it all comes down to relationships, when in the publishing world, it just, from what I understand is very complex.

So that’s why I got help. So I wanted to bring Jens in today, and you can correct the pronunciation on your last name to talk a little bit about behind the scenes. Because he has many talents, for one. That’s what I learned. Many different talents. He does many different things. He is a musician, himself.

He’s also got a lot of inside perspectives and insight on the industry itself and especially in the record labels, and what’s actually going on there now. There’s been such a transition. Now we’ve never come out and said, “We hate record labels.” That’s never been the case. It’s just that for 98.7% of musicians, I made that up, but 98% of musicians are never going to get a traditional record deal.

And so to put all your dreams, hopes, and everything into that one thing, thinking it’s going to be your saviour and that’s what’s going to make you rich and famous is delusional. And you don’t need to, in light of the music industry we have today. So it’s not necessary, but we never said that we hate record labels.

It just that there are so many more viable options for you. So I just want to say that from the outset going in. We’re not here to bash anybody. We’re not here to bash labels. But we are here to talk about what’s really going on, and why it is more important than ever that you take ownership of your own music career.

And I say this, as somebody who is, we’re talking with publishing companies and somebody who is going into this. So let’s dig into this a little bit. Nice to have you here, Jens. I’m so glad that you could join us today.

06:49 Jens: Hi guys. Thanks for having me.

06:52 CJ: Let me say something just really quick here. Whenever I coach any of the elite students that I work with in the Savvy Musician Academy, I’ll often ask them, “When did Leah first come across your screen?” I understand Leah’s utilizing your abilities and positioning in the industry where you are in Germany. But when did she come across your radar? How did you meet Leah for the first time?

07:18 Jens: I met Leah in little quotation marks online back in, I think it was 2013. And I worked as an intern at a game and sound design company. And at that time, I just saw a YouTube video of Leah going viral. Was it 2013? I think it was related to the Skyrim soundtrack. I don’t recall exactly when you published your rendition of the main theme of this video game.

But that was the first time I heard of your music. And I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” I stalked you. And I was like, “Yeah, okay. It’s a viral video, and she doesn’t even have a label.” I like it.

And I just put it somewhere in my internal archive and forgot about it. And a few years later, I was thinking about different business models or new directions, artists are going. Because there are a lot of famous rappers and hip hop artists who are really getting out ahead as completely independent from labels.

So they’re not with Indies. They are doing and running their own label, so to speak, but not in a classic way. And I was looking for artists that have the same approach to business. They run the artist’s career like a business and artists who are in the driver’s seat, but not in the hip hop or rap industry.

And then I remembered, there was this woman, this female metal singer. And then I remembered. And then I just saw her job opening, and I basically more or less wrote, “I don’t want this job, but I would love to work with you because you get it. And you get the idea of running your artistry like a business. And it’s a good thing because nobody is deciding things for you, artistically.”

09:20 Leah: Yeah.

09:20 Jens: Because I think what really attracted me to Leah, as an artist and as an entrepreneur, is she got that it makes a lot of musicians shy away from the business side of things. But what they forget is the business decisions have to be made. It’s either you, you are making them or it’s somebody else.

And I experienced firsthand what that actually means, being signed to a record label with a band a few years ago. And we were young and dumb, signed a bad contract. And yeah, our band broke up and we got dropped a few years later. So that was that.

10:00 CJ: Well there you go. I mean, right it’s a testimony to the fact that like, Leah said, “We’re not trying to bash the record labels.” But sometimes what we’re for, really is the success of the independent artists and the continuation of artists being able to earn a living from their music.

But sometimes being for something, makes you against something else. And so, it’s just a default, because up until this time, obviously, labels have controlled so much of this. And as in anything that’s institutional, it rests on its [inaudible 00:10:30] and it is going to exploit and it’s going to look after its own interests. And, the artist’s tends to be the one who’s expendable.

We don’t see many testimonies of big successes having to do with artists and record labels. It’s usually an artist, years later, I remember Metallica, for example, announcing that they … in fact, I heard James Hetfield reiterate the story. He was saying how, when he finally got the news that Metallica now had the rights to all of their music. And so he’s with his family, he has several kids and he was celebrating this. And the kids were like, “Well dad, what are you celebrating?? He goes, “We finally have all of our music.” And the kids were like, “Why would you not have your music?” They couldn’t figure out. Well, you see the record labels have owned it for this many decades, et cetera.

So yeah, now we’ve got this new era where we need something much, much different. And you know, thankfully, Leah didn’t necessarily go that route. So she was forced to, kind of, forge her own way, which has, kind of, created this now, this new template for things. How long did it take for you to really get your head around what exactly she was doing?

11:34 Jens: I think, actually not that long, because at the point of realization, I was already deep into funnel marketing, email marketing, content marketing, customer journeys, etc., online marketing and paid advertising on social media.

So I was like, “Ah, she’s just applying real-world business and e-commerce tactics to the music industry. She’s running it like a business and it makes total sense.”

12:03 Leah: Thank you. Because I get so many people like you on our ads or wherever they’re seeing me, and they think that I’m a scam artist because they don’t get it.

And can you tell us like some of the reactions you got, some of the work we’re doing together, and some of the reactions you’ve gotten from some of the executives that you’ve been meeting with? We can’t say a whole lot at this point. Can you just give us a little bit, of why we can’t say a whole lot? Yeah. There’s so much to say here.

12:30 Jens: Yeah. We are in negotiation with different companies, so, unfortunately, I’m not allowed to disclose anything. But reactions varied widely from some companies that are more on the traditional side. They work on radio. The concept of business is you get a radio hit, and then you go on tour and promote the hell out of it and make the money back.

And then there are other companies that are a little bit more modern and from the, let’s say, conservative spectrum of music business. Things I heard phrases, like, “That’s not possible. It’s a scam. How can you make money without going on tour?”

Because I think I’m allowed to say that it’s not a number I got from the labels. It’s just if you watched the numbers published by the music industry, in general, then from record sales, only the top 20 makes a profit from record sales alone.

And they were like, “She’s not in the top 20. How is she making money from music without touring?” They couldn’t grasp the concept. And then there was the other side of the spectrum, where things are a little bit more modern and tailor-made, and they are more flexible with contracts. They’re more like, “We don’t get it, but we would like to get in.”

It’s like, “Ah, we don’t exactly understand how this works, but we want a piece of it.” And that’s actually where I think, especially a major player, makes sense as a partner. If you already run a successful business and make it to a certain point, and you really want to take things up a notch or to the next league or global, I mean, of course, you are already global, if you upload your music with, let’s say, a DistroKid or CD Baby or any online digital distributor, you’re global, but in the traditional sense. And then I think a major is a good partner, and they have, of course, the money and the pathways, the infrastructure to roll it out in a big way.

But up until that point, if you’re not doing mainstream pop, I wouldn’t recommend sending your stuff to a label. Because I talk to so many label people. One A and R, I’m friends with, he said, “On my desk, I receive around 2,000 demos a year.” So, 2,000 are the demos that are left after his assistant [inaudible 00:15:07] out, a lot of stuff.

And he’s like, “I can sign around five a year, and I only sign-

15:14 Leah: Not very good odds.

15:15 Jens: Yeah. “And I only sign what I think has a target audience, has a brand that’s already clear and ready.”

15:23 Leah: Yep.

15:24 Jens: “And had some kind of small success, because I can only sign so many artists that fail. Because if I signed, let’s say five artists this year and they all fail, then it’s my job.”

15:37 Leah: Yeah. This even creates a stronger argument for why people need to take extreme ownership of their music career. Figure out your branding, figure out your niche, develop a following. Because even if you wanted a major deal, they’re not even going to look twice at you if you don’t have those things in place already.

15:54 Jens: Yeah. Correct.

15:55 Leah: So that is your goal. All the more reason, to get this off the ground yourself. Learn the principles of digital marketing, learn the principles of branding, and all the things that we talk about here. It just makes an even stronger case.

16:09 Jens: Yeah. And I think it’s totally easy for musicians if you frame it right. I mean, it’s like learning an instrument. You are not sitting down with your guitar for the first time, and you are not expecting to be the next Eddie Van Halen right out of the gate. It’s not going to happen.

And it’s the same with your brand. It needs work, it needs time, it needs dedication, and you need to have a plan and structure. I mean, you can waste a lot of time practicing in quotes, though there’s a difference between smart practice and just noodling away in your shed.

And I think it’s the same in marketing, and that’s where I think, really for me, going through your stuff, and like, I already know this, but it makes so much sense. I’m watching the courses right now. I’m going through all of Leah’s stuff just to get the whole picture of Savvy Musician Academy and it makes so much sense. It’s like, “Yeah, finally.”

17:05 Leah: It’s funny because I even have, there are people that come into our courses, they’ve taken a ton of other actual, like, business courses, marketing courses, and they weren’t able to bridge the gap to make it work for their music. There are some highly intelligent people too, that are in our elite program, people who even create courses for other people, and they weren’t able to somehow translate to their music. And I think that was actually the true problem that I was able to solve, wasn’t so much, I certainly haven’t reinvented the wheel about digital marketing. 

Like there’s, in some ways a lot of what I teach, there’s nothing really new there. I think the problem I solved was applying it to music and because it’s weird, it’s art and it seems totally subjective. And how you sell this so that’s a pleasure point. It’s not really a big pain point.

And we’ve talked a lot about that, sort of thing. And I think that’s the problem that we’ve, kind of, solved on the digital marketing end, was bridging the gap for music. You can learn a lot of these same principles if you study business and e-commerce and marketing, in all these other places.

But suddenly, you go to apply it to your music and you’re like, “This feels weird. Like, can I do the same thing? Can I have the same kind of calls to action? Do I use copywriting in the same way?” Like, suddenly it just feels awkward.

And that’s how I felt. And then I learned the key to it all, is really, it’s the identity. It’s the artist identity and creating this truly authentic voice. So coming up to all the Black Friday sales and promotions, I’m going to create all my, like my album launch, the black holiday sales and promotions, the exact same way any e-commerce brand would.

However, the difference is that it’s not like a team writing it. It’s all in my voice. I’m speaking to my fans, and yeah, I do have help. I have a small team helping me orchestrate all of this, but at the end of the day it’s my voice coming through and they’re feeling like they’re hearing from me, not a corporation, not a business.

That’s one of the ways I’ve been able to do this. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the epiphany’s that you’ve had in this year? What is the state of most major labels right now, in terms of their marketing? Like what are some of the takeaways that you’ve landed in your mind?

Because we’ve had some meetings where we’re like laughing and crying at the same time, and it’s just, are you allowed to talk about those things, just generally?

19:33 Jens: Yeah. I mean, most of the bigger Indies and majors, they don’t even pixel their shop. It’s like, it doesn’t make sense and it’s so easy. What good marketing actually is, relationship building. And I think that’s where a lot of labels, publishing companies, et cetera, still fail.

They try to reach new people all the time. Let’s say you are releasing an album from artist X, she’s a pop star. And instead of just asking all the people who bought the first album, if they are interested in the second one, they just try to find new people to sell the second album to. It doesn’t make sense.

If you just made a friend, and you went out and had a few beers and a great night, who’s the first person I would call to go out with and have a few beers? Hmm. Maybe I should find some new guy. It doesn’t make any sense.

And I think that’s what good marketing actually is. It’s just following up on people and trying to view it from a relationship perspective.

20:42 Leah: Totally. Do some of these majors or even Indies, do they have email lists?

20:48 Jens: Yeah, they have email lists. But, I mean, it’s not enticing to be on that email list. And it’s called, join our newsletter. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll let you know when we are going on tour. And I’m like, “Yeah.” I can Google it. So there’s no reason for me to join those email lists.

And, I mean, I know your email list, and it’s actually bigger than a lot of really big mainstream artist’s email list, which is crazy.

21:19 Leah: Yeah. Jens, he has access to my entire backend. So he’s seeing, like everything from the inside out.

21:26 Jens: I think it’s so empowering, even for me, as a musician, to see that there is another artist who gets it, who’s doing it on her own terms. And I mean that literally, it’s like you decide who’s in your band and who’s not. You decide what songs going to make the album or not when it’s going to be released, is it going to be vinyl or whatever? You decide what the artwork looks like.

So there’s no middle man in creative decisions, you know? And of course, does pressure attach to that?

22:05 Leah: Yeah.

22:05 Jens: So, you have to decide it yourself and you have to get it done. But at the same time, you have the freedom to decide it yourself, and I think it’s awesome.

22:13 Leah: Yeah. And I think that’s also the fun of it, too. Like to me, that’s half of the enjoyment, is being able to make those decisions. Being fully creative, like, would it even really be fun if I didn’t get to decide the artwork and I didn’t get to just completely make it my own? Like, I can’t imagine it being nearly as satisfying.

So is that really a thing? Do people really lose creative freedom when they have a big record contract?

22:38 Jens: Typically they do. And then it all comes back to where you are in your career. If you’re already having some form of success, whatever that means, it could be some form of vanity metric, let’s say YouTube plays, which we all know means nothing in the first place. I can’t pay rent from YouTube plays. But the music industry still values it. But at the same time, maybe it’s sales. Of course, that works. Spotify followers is a big incentive.

So whatever form of success you can show, then you have some form of leverage over the label. And, of course, it makes sense from the label’s perspective. Let’s say I’m the label, I have a big infrastructure to, let’s say, radio, TV shows, or traditional forms of media outlets. And somebody’s coming along, let’s say Leah is coming along with an idea of like, “I can sing.” I’m like, “Yeah, I can see that.” How am I supposed to make money with your ability to sing?

But if I already know you are a great performer, you write great songs, you have a finished product I can sell. It’s like, “Ah, yeah, okay. There’s a product I can sell and that’s where they make money.” And I still have the feeling, labels still haven’t figured out how to make new fans. I think all the artists that are big now, for like 20 years or 10-15 years, they are famous because they busted their behinds on the road.

And then after 10 or 15 years, you see something like an overnight success. But they worked this traditional model of, “Let’s say we play this club for five people, and next year they each bring two friends. And a year after that they bring two friends. And the year after that it’s like 200 people. And then another year goes by and it’s 500, blah blah blah.”

Fast forward 10 years, and then it’s like 5,000 people, and then you can really make a living on it and you can quit your shitty day job, that crust financed all of this. And you’re an overnight success, and I think your model is actually a lot smarter.

I haven’t even talked about this with you, but I just had the idea of I want to start a solo career as a singer. And I’m just going to use the principles you do because to me it sounds a lot more attractive to make a name for yourself, get fans, become friends with them. And after you build a following, you go on tour and you sell out places, and you have data on people. That makes a lot more sense than going on tour and hoping for the best for the next 10 years.

25:20 Leah: Totally. That reminds me of, I just saw in my … I have a street team, a Facebook street team and one of my sweet fans posted a video in here. It was an unboxing video he did of vinyl. And he said, “Oh, I got a comment on my video.” And this was the quote. It said, “Leah is probably the most caring, incredible and reachable music artist I’ve ever listened to. Thanks for the video. We’ll definitely buy this bundle.”

I thought that was the sweetest comment, like that I’ve seen in a really long time. That they really see me as reachable. And when you said like, “Be their friend,” it reminded me of that comment I saw. And that it really matters.

Sometimes, I’m doing this relentlessly, and I forget how much it means to people. I forget that they’re not used to this. They’re not used to people they look up to, band members, actually replying to them, caring about them.

I’ve got a customer support person who I’m like, I really, we’ve got protocols in place. It’s like, “Hey, here’s where the e-commerce stuff comes in and the customer journey comes in.” Or, it’s just like, I want them to be happy. If something gets lost in the mail, we send them another one on my dime. I don’t care. We need to make that person happy.

And so just caring about those things, giving a damn about people is revolutionary in today’s online world. So that’s another aspect. But are you telling me you’ve decided you’re going to be a solo artist? Is that what you’re saying?

26:41 Jens: Yep.

26:42 Leah: I love it. This is exciting. This is so cool. That’s really great. I mean, there’s so much we could talk about with you too, and I feel like we may end up doing a part two because you have a lot of other specialties too. You’re not just in the back end of the music industry, although you have experience there, you have personal experiences with it yourself. But yeah, there’s so much to talk about.

27:03 CJ: Let me just say this is a key point, as to why the record labels are struggling, as much as they are, to understand Leah’s situation and what she’s doing. And when we don’t understand the way something is done, the more we think it’s happening by magic or a scam or fate or something else, we ascribe these mysterious causes to something, simply because we don’t understand the way-

27:28 Jens: Yeah.

27:28 CJ: … that it works and the personal aspect. In fact, even, this month I think is a year I’ve been working with CMA. Excuse me-

27:36 Leah: SMA.

27:36 CJ: … SMA, as a, yeah, country music association. I’ve been working for a year. But, so now they’re completely metal. The country music is completely metal.

27:46 Leah: Yeah.

27:46 CJ: But working for a year, especially as a coach, and watching these musicians trying to absorb something that’s very principle-based, obviously has a lot to do with the quote-unquote technology and all of that. And they’re scared to death that they’re going to miss something.

They’re scared to death, that it comes down to a particular piece of software or something. There has to be some magic element to it. Forgetting the fact that no, this is a very, very personal social thing. So I’ll often tell them, “You have to keep in mind that although online marketing is a key element here, online marketing was happening long before social media because e-commerce was there.”

Amazon, obviously, had started in the ’90s, so people were spending money online and therefore businesses were marketing long before social media came around. But social media is the revolutionary element here because you’re no longer relying upon people searching on Google to find you. Right?

Especially, when you now have these creative niches that people have and these niche artists, with all the sci-fi, heavy metal, country music thing. Nobody’s going to go online looking for you. But this is what makes social media such a revolutionary element, and a huge key to Leah’s success because you can now go direct to market.

You’re not relying upon people finding you. You’re finding them, by understanding who you are as an artist, your genre, your niche, the type of people who would be best for you and then creating an effective brand for that community, for the culture that surrounds your music.

And then you now have to come out from behind the microphone, to be not just the musician, but now also the messenger of the big idea that’s behind your music. We have a lot of, for example, artists in our elite program that are very mission-driven.

29:38 Leah: They have a message or something.

29:38 CJ: Their lyrics are, you know, they have, yeah, there’s a clear message about what they’re doing, could be the environment, could be something of faith or what have you. But all of those things require so much more in order to market in these days.

But as I just taught a group out in Detroit here, at a marketing seminar, and I told them, I said, “You’ll really understand social media when social media disappears, and you realize you’re just talking to people.”

It does go back, Jens, to what you said about, you know, “You have a great night with a friend that you met, and you had several beers and you’re going to want to do that again. But are you going to go find somebody else?” No, you’re going to continue that relationship. It costs so much more time, energy, and money to find somebody new, when you can keep selling, so to speak, to that same person over and over again.

There is nothing magical, about this at all.

30:27 Jens: Yeah.

30:27 CJ: And I love the fact, Jens, that here you are in Germany and, Leah had mentioned to me beforehand, “Okay. Now he has an accent. He has a heavy accent.” So I’m thinking, I’m sitting here going, “He knows all of our jargon and cliches.” So you were thoroughly Americanized, as far as that goes.

But are you seeing that aspect of it, and how empowering is that to you, just the fact that you have this ability now to control what’s going on, but go direct to market and create these actual tangible, real relationships, where like Leah described, somebody is watching an unpacking of a fan with the album and saying, coming to that conclusion, “What a caring artist.”

31:10 Jens: Yeah, I mean it’s totally mind-blowing if you just think back a few years. I mean, I’m not that old, I’m 30 right? So it all began with the digitalization of recording becoming cheaper and cheaper. And then the social media thing happens. And the first thing I realized was like, “Okay. Why do I need social media as an artist, if I can fill a venue if I have reached directly? I can ask people to go to my shows. If people go to my shows, I get booked for the next festival.”

31:42 Jens: Then I had the realization of, “Oh, you can actually retarget people because you have a pixel, and that’s what most labels unfortunately still don’t get. You have a pixel and you can retarget people, so you can talk to people again that are already interested in your stuff.”

31:59 Jens: Let’s say I met CJ at a bar and we’re having a great time, a few big laughs, a few beers, and we forget to exchange numbers. But I have a pixel installed in that bar. I can show CJ a Facebook ad saying, “Hey, I had a great time. Let’s hang out again.” I mean, isn’t that great?

32:21 CJ: Yeah. “And the next round is on me,” you’d say,

32:23 Jens: Yeah, and the next round is on me. And I mean, it’s just simple offline relationship building in an online world. And you can scale it. That’s just mind-blowing. And you don’t need a middleman, and you can create your own artist business on your own terms because have no creative middleman in between you and your success.

It’s so crazy, empowering. I mean, of course, I had these talks about Leah. She’s not going on tour. And what’s the projection of her business? In my mind, it’s like, “Leah has five kids, homeschool, STEM, and runs two businesses. She’s tougher than all of you.” And what I just realized a few days ago is, of course, Leah’s approach works. We see it. It’s like-

33:09 Leah: It works for millions of other businesses. So, I’m pretty sure it works.

33:12 Jens: Yeah. And if you look at it from a perspective of how well known is a brand, to how much revenue is the brand making, and you compare, let’s say one company, Starbucks to the worldwide record industry, you learn that Starbucks is making more than five times the revenue the whole worldwide record business is making.

And I think that really puts it into perspective how small the record business actually is, compared to brand recognition. I mean, let’s only take Taylor Swift, Metallica, ACDC, how many people in the world know these brands? And yet these brands and bands and artists and real people make so little money compared to the actual brand awareness and reach. It’s insane. So there’s something fundamentally wrong with the business model.

34:08 Leah: Yeah. Well, and look at how many of these huge artists start completely side e-commerce businesses. Like Rihanna. I heard a statistic this morning like Rihanna has made more from her e-commerce business, her cosmetics line than from her music. So, and what does she have? Does she have a clothing line and she has a fragrance line and makeup line? Like, that should tell you something too. Well, I get a whole bunch of conclusions. What do you conclude from something like that?

34:42 Jens: Yeah, of course, you see that her contract is actually a bad one.

34:48 Leah: Yes.

34:49 Jens: So I mean, she really has a lot of radio airplay and all the traditional media visibility and reach, and she’s still not making a lot of money from her record sales.

And, of course, it’s because of the different deals people make and made in the past. And at the same time, you see the pull of e-commerce. And for me as a musician, I mean, after my publishing deal fell through, I thought it’s a good idea to go to college and learn about the music business.

And then I had this crazy idea of, “You go to college and then you know how it works.” That’s another story for another podcast episode. But what I learned over the last few years is people don’t listen to music, to listen to the music. And they don’t go to concerts or live shows, to listen to music.

It’s about status and about belonging to a specific group and to, let’s say you’re a little cult in a way. And at the same time, you go to concerts just to go on an emotional journey.

36:02 Leah: Yeah.

36:03 Jens: You can sum this up by saying it’s about culture. And your music is just one part of it. It’s so much more. It’s you as a person. And once I realized that, it’s like, “Oh yeah, of course it’s so much bigger.” It’s the attitude, the values, this artists portrays. It’s so much more.

I mean, it’s not putting the music down. It’s just, it’s so much bigger than only the music. And once you get this, it’s like, “Yeah, of course it makes sense for Rihanna to not only do music. She definitely should sell fragrances because she’s a personal brand.”

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

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

Key Points From This Episode:

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

Tweetables:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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

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

Click For Full Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:49 Leah: Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18:56 CJ: Wow.

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

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

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

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

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

21:19 Leah: Yeah, sales psychology.

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

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

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

23:22 Leah: No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode #071: How To Get Ready Now For Holiday Sales

Believe it or not, now is the time to start thinking about preparing for your holiday sales whether you’re working only to build your list, preparing your special offers, or hitting your holiday marketing full on. The only time it’s not conducive is during the holidays, but this powerful episode was created to equip you to maximize your profits during the next holiday season. In this episode, Leah goes into the radical preparation and marketing she did for her recent holiday sales campaign, and it’s NOT for the faint of heart! For an independent, non-touring artist like her, you have to maximize your efforts in order to maximize your profits. You’re going to get a lot out of this episode, so get something write on to take notes!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What you should be thinking about when it comes to holiday sales.
  • When you should start planning your holiday sales.
  • Do you market to a cold or warm audience?
  • What you should be doing throughout the year.
  • Why you shouldn’t worry about sending too many emails.
  • Segmenting your email list.
  • How to handle shipping times during the holidays.
  • Why more emails is better.

Tweetables:

“Last year, I made an extra $33,000 just from Black Friday sales and holiday, little holiday promos and the majority of that came from email.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:04:40]

“Ideally, you would start planning your end of year sales in August and September.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:05:13]

“I’m spending the rest of the year building my email list, building my following, building my organic following, building my email list, just building my audience all year long.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:06:50]

“What we’re really going to focus on is honing in on the existing audience we already have and offering them really attractive deals.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:09:09]

“If I conducted myself worrying about offending people, too many emails, I wouldn’t send any emails.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:11:15]

“Don’t let your insecurity make the decisions…you got to do what’s best for your business.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:11:39]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“How to Plan Music Promotions for the Holidays” (Freebie) — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

Lorena Dale (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/LorenaDaleMusic/

Click For Full Transcript

00:18 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show, the podcast for music marketing. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy and I’m joined once again by her eminence, Leah McHenry. So good to see you. There you are.

00:39 Leah: Here I am. Nice to see you too.

00:41 CJ: Love to pick your brain, miss lady and great receptions we’re getting out there. I keep hearing good things from people about how well the podcast is going over. And in light of that to the listener, I say, leave us a review. That’s something that I cannot emphasize enough. If you really want to help give back to this podcast, if you’re getting value out of it, if you feel like it’s really helping you with your music marketing, then do us a favour and go and leave a thoughtful comment.

We will read every single one of them in our staff meetings and leave us as many stars as you can, if they give that on your particular podcast player. But we, again, we live on those reviews because it’s the one feedback we get as I often say on my end of things in my motivational side, I’ll say, how do you motivate a motivator?

You have to tell him or her how much they motivate you. So if you want to motivate me, you got to tell me how much I motivate you. So if you’re getting value out of this, please go and leave a review. We can’t wait to read those. You love those don’t you, Leah?

01:52 Leah: I do. They really mean a lot and it gives me a lot of feedback to know if this content is even valuable. We don’t really have to be doing this, you know?

02:00 CJ: Yes, you’re right. But we enjoy this guys and thank you so much again for all of your support. I want to share something with all of you in the student spotlight, Lorena Dale, is one of our elite students, had a win and she writes, “Have just listed my first ever like ad and in less than a day have almost a thousand new likes. I’m still pinching myself that this even works. Excited to watch the rest of the week play out now to keep my new fans engaged.”

02:36 CJ: Sounds like she also understands what she needs to do.

02:38 Leah: That’s right, yeah. And she’s using a specific technique that we only reserve now for advanced students because I found that even though it’s a fairly simple process, most people don’t follow instructions. So we have to leave the more advanced techniques to the more advanced students who will follow. That’s how they’re going to get the good results like this.

03:02 CJ: Well, good for you Lorena, and we look forward to seeing and hearing more about your success. Well, the folks may hear this a little later before year-end, but when we’re recording this, we still have some ample time here for one of the busiest times of the year holiday sales. Which especially here in the US is governed by the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday and Cyber Mondays and all that kind of stuff. We just call it holiday sales because it’s kind of covers all of it.

But Leah, you are notorious and I have seen what you do in the background. You are notorious for plotting and planning for absolute domination when it comes to selling during the holiday season. So how can our listeners get ready for holiday sales?

03:57 Leah: Yeah. There’s a lot to say on this and actually I have also a free download for you guys if you really want to get ahead of your planning, but it’s going to be really useful. Because I’ve spent a lot of time doing these several years now and last year alone, just keep in mind for those of you who don’t know my story or even if you’ve heard it a hundred times, it’s important to keep things in context.

I’m a non-touring artist, I’m a recording artist for now. I have kind of an odd niche and I built my entire fan base, everything I’m doing online using strictly online digital marketing techniques. That’s all I’ve got. Last year, I made an extra $33,000 just from Black Friday sales and holiday, little holiday promos and the majority of that came from email. So that’s pretty significant for some people, that’s a year’s worth of salary, and I did that in a short amount of time just from these sorts of sales.

So I think it’s important to know and understand how significant this part of the year is and understand the types of things you should be thinking about when planning. Now, ideally, ideally, you would start planning your end of year sales in August and September.

05:20 CJ: Really? That early?

05:22 Leah: Yes, yes. Any major and minor brands and companies normally start planning the fourth quarter of the year, the quarter before. And the reason is because if you’re doing it properly and correctly, you need that amount of time to get your act together. Because there’s so many different assets involved. It’s not just sending one random email. I’ve done that in the past where it was like, “Oh, tomorrow’s black Friday. I guess I should send an email.” I’ve done that. Trust me, it didn’t give me an extra $33,000. Yeah, it did not.

It did not result in that kind of revenue. So if you want this kind of revenue, you should be done ahead of time. Now, most of you guys listening, maybe you’re not at that point where you’re listening to this. By the time you hear this you think, ah, it’s too late. It’s not too late.

There’s still things you can do. So I’m going to give you as many tips as I possibly can in this episode in the short amount of time. And then like I said, listen through to the end because I’ve got a link for you to where you can get a holiday guide, a planning guide that I put together for you.

06:28 CJ: Well, I mean obviously something like this, you’re not marketing to a cold audience, right? You’re going strictly for the audience that you’ve already built.

06:38 Leah: That’s right. I think that’s a really good place to start. I think one really key takeaway you can get right now if you didn’t even listen to the rest of this podcast is that I’m spending the rest of the year building my email list, building my following, building my organic following, building my email list, just building my audience all year long. So that by the time I get to Black Friday, I’m not trying to acquire new fans. I’ve already got a following.

There’s already people there, there’s an audience and they’re willing and ready to buy the new stuff I’m going to show them. Now is not the time in the fourth quarter to try and get new fans on your email list. The reason is that’s not because they might not be interested, but there’s a couple of reasons. One, they’re already going to be inundated with so many other offers, so many ads vying for their attention.

That’s one. So noise, just white noise. Number two, it’s the most expensive time of the year to try and use paid traffic or advertising to build your email list. That’s because the amount of competition is so high at this time of the year. So inventory, so space in the news feed, for example, is limited. There’s only so many places people can put an ad or Facebook can offer spaces for ads and that means the more competitive it becomes, the more expensive it becomes. The highest bid will win.

I don’t know if that just registered in your brains when you heard that, but this is an auction. Facebook is an auction. When it comes to buying media, buying advertising space. The highest bidder will win. That means the person who is willing to pay the most money to acquire that space or acquire that customer will win. And that’s why they say if you can outspend your competition, you will always win. You’ll be a thriving business.

But for most musicians, we’re not in that position that we can outspend the competition. That’s probably the worst time of year to ever try anything like that. So even big brands that I know and follow, most of them are not trying to acquire cold traffic, they’re not trying to build their email list and get new people that never heard of them. You may get a little bit of that trickling in, which is great as a side product or by-product.

What we’re really going to focus on is honing in on the existing audience we already have and offering them really attractive deals. And there’s a lot we can say about this, but this is going to be the most economical thing, and this is going to be the most profitable thing is focus on the existing audience you have through email ads and organic social. That’s my trifecta.

09:33 CJ: Okay. So it’s great for them to be focused on these holiday sales. Some of them may be waking up to the sudden reality that, well, I haven’t been building my audience throughout the year. So make this as a mental note that as you go into your next year, even start thinking about it now. Just say, I’m going to structure my music business to the place where I can sell when it comes down to the holiday because I’ve spent all that time building bringing people to my pages, my channels, getting them on email lists, creating that relationship.

And so it becomes much, much easier to do this. So you’ve already done that work, Leah. You’ve got raving fans, super fans, as you’d like to call them. We’ve just been covering in the last few episodes on the podcast about your crowdfunding. You’ve been doing pre-launches, you’ve been doing album launches. Now you’re going to hit them with holiday sales? How do you, that’s a lot?

10:33 Leah: Oh, you better believe it. This is, well, it’s going to be one of the most intense years that I have personally had just because of the timing of it all. Although last year when I released the Quest, it was released in October and then we still had November with Black Friday and everything. So it was very close together. This time it’s even more close together. Because album comes out November 15th and then a week later it’s Thanksgiving and holiday starts.

So it’s going, for me, one is rolling right into the other. That means, yeah, I am hitting up my audience like crazy. Now, how do I do this without offending people and knowing them? Number one, don’t worry about that. Don’t care about that. If I conducted myself worrying about offending people, too many emails, I wouldn’t send any emails. Because I’m always, that’s always in the back of my mind. So you got to let the marketer in you win and not the insecure musician win. It’s about going into a certain mode, right?

It’s a headspace, my musician artsy-fartsy mode or I’m in promotion mode. You just pick the mode you’re going to be in. Don’t let your insecurity make the decisions. So you got to do what’s best for your business. And that’s part of just learning how to think like a business owner and a marketer. So yeah, I will be hitting them up with a lot of emails. Now I’m going to open this little tool that I use to plan out all my stuff. And if you don’t know what this tool is, go back to the last episode. Go to the show notes, I’ve got a link for you to watch me kind of explain how I use this tool to plan out my album launches and holiday sales.

I use it for all these different things. So I’m going to open this up and the things that are in here that I use to plan out my holiday sales, I’ve got kind of high-level things that are going on. I will run a campaign for people to opt-in for my email list before any of these holidays happen. So there’s still an opportunity, there’s still a window of time to get people to opt-in and that’s going to happen if you’re not doing paid traffic yet. It’s going to happen from word of mouth and social media, just so organic social media.

12:38 CJ: Let me stop you for a second there. Because I think it’s an important point and I don’t know if everybody’s going to make sense of it. So you’re running ads during this time for an opt-in?

12:48 Leah: Before it begins. Before the holidays start. Yeah, so for me.

12:53 CJ: Would it be a dedicated list for just for this particular sale?

12:57 Leah: The way it’s going to work with my album launch and the holiday sales because of rolling in one after the other I have, with the software that I use, my email service provider, we don’t really create separate lists the way MailChimp does. In my software, we’re going to give people a tag. So there’s not really a separate list.

They just get a separate tag and so they’re going to get a specific name that says, “Early bird pre-launch.” And then the people who opted in to get that news and those discounts and freebies and things in there, I will send those people’s specific emails based on the tag they have. For the holiday sales, that will go out to everybody. Everybody’s going to get those emails. Does that make sense?

13:38 CJ: Yes. So this is a segmentation type of thing that you know, again, not your for your average person necessarily to indulge in, but Leah is, she wants to share everything that she’s doing. Whether you necessarily can grasp what it is she’s doing or that you’re ready for it right now is really not important. It’s important that you know what’s possible.

13:57 Leah: Right. Okay. So people are opting in before I do this holiday launch, then during the holiday lunch, I’m not trying to build my email list, I’m strictly marketing to the people who are on my email list, following on social, and I will advertise to my warm audience through Facebook and Instagram ads.

14:17 CJ: Okay. So again, it may seem a little bit sophisticated guys, but it makes sense that she’s differentiating. She knows she’s going to be, there’s going to be some overlap. Some people are going to get whatever, you know, little extra emails here and there.

But I’ve heard you say before recently on the podcast that you are not concerned that these people are getting too many emails. Why is that?

14:43 Leah: Well that’s because for one, most people are not seeing your emails. They’re not seeing your posts in social media, either. So that really frees you up to send more than you are comfortable with. Believe me, it’s outside of my comfort zone too. Don’t think that I’m comfortable sending sometimes up to three emails a day on a heavy last day cart disclosing, the last day to get this. I’ll send three.

In fact, the last one I sent four on the very, very last day and the last one wasn’t a heavy promotion when it was just like, “Hey guys, whatever happens. I just want you to know I appreciate you. Thank you for coming on this journey. If you’re still reading this, you’re still on my list. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I know I sent a lot of emails. I appreciate you going on this journey. This is how it is what during a campaign, so thanks.”

So I acknowledge it too. I want people to understand. I know I’m sending you lots of emails. I appreciate you putting up with it in a way without making it sound like that and it always goes over really well. People actually, a lot of my fans say, “Actually we like getting all those emails because I want to feel like I’m in the loop like I’m getting updated.”

Once in a while, get someone who’s PO’ed about it, but then they’re not for you. That’s okay. And I always say, “Hey, I’m not offended. You can jump out of the car. That’s okay. You can always come back later. No worries. Like no hard feelings.” I opt-out of emails constantly and it’s not because I don’t like the brand or the person. I just right now I feel like my inbox is too full. That’s all it is and I might resubscribe later. It happens all the time.

So I have at least 35 or 40 emails planned for November and December and there will be more ads. Because right now in my list here of emails planned out and yes, I do make a list of them, there will be some days where two or three go out in the same day and those aren’t accounted for yet. So Black Friday for example, I will send a lot of emails and the reason is specifically for that day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, people’s inbox are going to be buried alive. It’s going to be like quicksand in there. They won’t see anything.

There’s going to be so many, they will not see it. So I’m going to have to send more. You got to stand out more. That’s the only option. And at the end of the day, email is still the number one channel to drive eCommerce sales. So people buying physical items online, whether it’s a digital music. You’ve got a digital offer on Bandcamp or you would just want to send them to iTunes or you are running a full-on Shopify store and offering bundles. In any case, people won’t be seeing your emails. So send three times as many as you’re comfortable with.

17:27 CJ: So let me ask you this then. Do you, having done this many times yourself, whether the crowdfunding or holiday sales or launches, have you seen the uptick in sales when you’re ramping up the emails and even up until the last day when it’s super crazy? Do you see that it actually makes a difference?

17:48 Leah: Yes and that’s because also people are seeing their emails at different times and in my case, I have fans all over the world in different time zones so they may not have seen the one I sent at 8:00 AM in Pacific time or they had already finished their day and aren’t looking at email. But they might see the one that I send 10 o’clock at night, which might be 6:00 AM for them and then when they’re up, you know? So I don’t even really worry too much about the times of day.

I don’t even pay attention to that on social media, either. Like, “Oh, when is the optimal time to post?” I don’t know. There’s people all over the world awake right now. Who cares? Bottom line is post frequently and often. Same with email. Send messages frequently and often and at different times and test them out. So I’m sending a lot.

18:36 CJ: Well, let me ask you this, so how do you, because I know we can’t get into it necessarily here, but the way you handle a lot of your sales and merchandise fulfillment and stuff is through services where you’re not having to touch inventory. They’re taking care of it, but I know that that takes more time. It’s one thing if I have a bunch of products here in my house, I can ship it overnight. I can get it ready really quick.

So your service providers who are taking care of your merchandise and accessory and things, they’re getting inundated end of the year with all people just like us. So how do you deal with that aspect of people getting things late or trying to get in under the wire and that kind of thing when you’re not the one who’s able to control the actual fulfillment?

19:25 Leah: I mean, my personal situation is I have a hybrid going on. I have a physical warehouse, not in my house, but at a separate location where I have certain physical items like CDs and vinyl, certain t-shirts and stuff that are sitting there. And then I have a lot of print on demand stuff. Again, this, we cover these sorts of things in our Superfan System Elite program, how to do all of that.

Everything from the apps that we recommend to design and the fulfillment part of it, all of it. But the nice thing about print on demand is that you don’t have to touch it. You don’t touch the inventory. You don’t touch the shipping. It’s all drop-shipped for you and you don’t even have to pay for it until you’re paid first, which is revolutionary for a musician who’s on a budget with stuff like Christmas and people wanting to get things in time.

The best thing is be completely transparent about shipping times, and there’s a couple of reasons. This is very important. Well, from a customer experience position alone, you never want to over promise and under deliver much better to under-promise and over-deliver. So you should whatever you’re using, whether you’re shipping it out of your garage and you have an account with UPS or FedEx, you want to contact them and get their policy, their shipping times for that season, the holiday season and you need to ask them, “Hey, what’s the shipping time? What’s the standard shipping time during these months, these weeks so that I know what to tell my customers.”

And the same thing applies if you’re using print on demand. If you’re using anything, you want to get clear on what their standard procedure is during these times. Then you want to make sure it’s loud and clear on your website, on the product description, in your emails, on the order confirmations, anywhere where they’re going to be observing basically where they’re going to be opening their emails. Anywhere in that process, you need to say it and don’t think that if because you put it one place that they saw it. Put it multiple places like I said, on your website as a banner in the product descriptions.

If you’re using Shopify, in the order confirmation, follow-up emails anywhere you can put it. The more transparent and more times you see this, the better you can set the expectation, the happier your customer will be and want to come back and buy from you again. The worst thing you can do is promise that it’ll get there in time for Christmas and then it doesn’t. That’s going to be, they will be upset even if they liked the product, they’re going to be really upset. So be super transparent about these things.

The other really important reason, and I’m speaking to my Elite students right now, that you want to be so transparent about your shipping times is because Facebook is now surveying your customers. If you run an eCommerce store or you sell products through Facebook, after a certain period of time, Facebook is going to send a survey to your customer because they track all of this stuff in their newsfeed. They’re going to ask for their feedback and one of the things that are going to be asking about was quality of the product.

“Hey, was it what you expected? How long did shipping take, was that what you expected?” They’re going to survey them and you will get a score based on this. This is brand new. You will get a score based on this and if it goes under a certain number under a two. I think it’s like you get a scale of one to five if you’re a two or under, I think a two is the line of being satisfactory. If you are under a two, you can actually get penalized. Your accounts can be shut down. They can suspend you. All kinds of things.

And the reason Facebook is doing this, by the way, don’t demonize Facebook. Their job is to provide their customers, their users the best experience. If people are being on their platform and purchasing items and then having a negative experience, Facebook doesn’t want to associate with negative experiences. They want people to only have positive experiences. So you as an advertiser on their platform and you are now providing a negative experience for their customer, their users, they want to penalize you.

The whole goal is to get your act together so that it’s a positive experience for everybody. That’s why they’re doing it. So don’t freak out about it. I checked my score. I have a 4.8 so that’s next to perfect. I’m really happy about that. You never know what people are going to say, right? So that’s really good. That’s why this stuff matters. So just be transparent. Be honest. If you don’t set the expectation, that’s where the danger is. Don’t worry about, “Oh, it could take up to 14 days or whatever.” That’s fine. As long as they know that, then you’ve set the expectation.

24:28 CJ: Very good. Well guys, I mean this is a lot, I know it’s a lot, but the basics are the foresight to know that ahead of time, knowing what your goals are, knowing what you’re targeting, who you’re targeting, and then planning out your particular communication with your audience. Now, Leah mentioned she’s got a ton of emails that she’s going to be sending out. You’ve got to know your audience, but like she said, your audience is not seeing every email. They’re not seeing every social media post.

Don’t err on the side of caution. It’s better especially if they’re super fans, they’re going to understand as she mentioned earlier. She’s putting in her emails, “Hey, I know you’ve gotten a lot of emails. I know you know you’ve heard from me quite a bit, but thank you for standing with me.” Make them participants, partners with you and the success of what you’re doing. Because that’s what makes them super fans. They believe they are supporters of your particular vision. Leah, you mentioned you wanted to share something with them today.

25:35 Leah: That’s right. So there’s a lot more to say about this whole holiday planning stuff. So I have a download for you. If you go to savvymusicianacademy.com/holiday-guide, I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s in the show notes. So go ahead, go to the show notes, click on that link and you will download a PDF made by me to help you plan your holidays. Even if this feels last minute for you, there’s still stuff you can do.

Do it now and then prepare for next year. I hope we can work together. If you’re not already in one of my programs, I would love to work with you. I’d love to help you plan year-round. You need to start thinking long-term. Stop thinking short-term. Think about what you can be doing all year long in 2020 to prepare for the next holiday season. So savvymusicianacademy.com/holiday-guide

26:31 CJ: Wonderful. Leah, thank you so much. Guys, we will see you soon.

Episode #070: How Leah is Preparing For Her Album Launch

After completing her highly successful crowdfunding campaign where she raised $83,000+ in in 30 days, the work was actually just beginning. Leah still had to release her album, and there were still two more phases to doing this successfully. After crowdfunding—which is Phase 1—she still to do a pre-order launch and then the actual launch or album release. In this episode of the Savvy Musician Show, Leah and C.J. discuss the details of how Leah is going about the next two phases of her Ancient Winter album launch. A lot of great tips in this episode!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The 3 phases of an album launch
  • How long is the pre-order period?
  • Making money before the album release
  • Incentives for pre-orders
  • Leah’s pre-order bundles
  • The power of scarcity and urgency
  • The advantage of using print-on-demand
  • Giveaways and discounts

Tweetables:

Any kind of promotion I run with built-in scarcity, built in urgency.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:09:10]

“It takes this level of creativity and planning and forethought to do this kind of revenue.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:11:32]

“Let’s say I do a video or a photo and it just gets really good engagement that I wasn’t expecting, I can then use that and turn it into an ad.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:15:04]

“Organic social paid ads, especially Facebook and Instagram ads are what I’m focusing on. And email, email, email.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:17:03]

“technical things to the unlearned can appear as magical or witchcraft but I can assure you it isn’t.” — @MetalMotivation [0:19:54]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leah’s Crowdfunding Page (Limited time) — http://ancientwinter.com

FREE Planning Tool — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

Call Savvy Musician Academy —   www.callsma.com

Colin Caetano (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/colincayvz/

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome to the savvy musician show this a CJ Ortiz on the branding mindset coach here at the savvy musician Academy. Joined once again by, let’s see, what will I call her today? Princess Leah. She reins the marketing galaxy. Leah, how you doing?

00:41 Leah: Doing wonderful, thank you. How are you? 

00:44 CJ: I’m wonderful. It’s good to see you. 

00:46 Leah: Nice to see you since an hour ago. 

00:48 CJ: Yeah, right? I don’t know if we can or can’t do the recording of the banter that we have before and after and in between these podcasts. But it’s our, it’s our chance to put off the business hat sometimes and just kind of catch up on other stuff. So anyway, I’m excited about this episode today because we’re kind of, in a way, Leah, continuing what we talked about in the past three episodes. You got in-depth into the crowdfunding stuff, but still, after the crowdfunding, there comes the actual album launch and the preparation that you go through for the actual album launch is extensive in and of itself. So I’m excited about the fact that you’re going to break some of that down today for we get into that. Let me just share this real quick.

A student spotlight, this is from one of our TOM students and TOM is The Online Musician program. Collin Caetano, and he writes, “win, over two years it took me to get lead costs to stay this low consistently. This means I’m finally getting to know my audience aesthetic and what they like and want to see from me much better. 63 cents a lead over seven days. I’m super stoked about this. Ready to split test my landing page to raise my conversion rate and then split test ads to get lead costs even lower. Couldn’t have done this without SMA”.

02:18 Leah: That’s awesome. Colin, I know you’ve been working really hard for a really long time, so I love hearing about your progress.

02:25 CJ: When I read something like this and the jargon which you and I know very well, I think of the people out there listening to this podcast with some of that probably sounded like Greek.

02:35 Leah: Yeah. Like what? What split test? What?

02:37 CJ: Split tests, landing page, conversion rates, what is all that stuff? Well, you’d have to listen to every podcast we’ve ever, done. 

02:44 Leah: Yeah. You know, we should do an episode where I just explained some of these terms. That would probably be useful. 

02:50 CJ: We’ll call the glossary episode. 

02:53 Leah: Yeah. Well you know, it would be really informative because there are so many different terms and names for different things. I think it’s is a good idea. So we’ll write that one down.

03:06 CJ: Yeah. Yeah. I think that would be helpful for a lot of people. But short answer is Colin is making some progress at getting the money he’s spending on his advertising in order to get people to get on a list or what have you, is getting cheaper and cheaper per conversion. So he’s spending a bunch of money to reach a bunch of people and however many people respond, that gives them an average rate of what he spending, you know, his cost per conversion and he’s getting those lower. And so again, with something like the TOM program, Leah, people are learning how to get out there and start promoting themselves and learning even more how to keep their costs down in doing that. So that’s a real bonus. Very happy for you Colin. Well Leah, preparing for your album launch every time we unpack some of these things, I know you could go on for days in-depth and so we’re not going to do another three-part episode, but we may spend a couple episodes talking a little bit more about your album launch. But first of all, how is that going?

04:07 Leah: Well, it’s going really well. The last few episodes we recorded, my crowdfunding campaign was just wrapping up and yeah, we wrapped up around just over the $83,500 and something mark. So I was really happy with that, especially being that it was an eight-song holiday album, something different from what I normally do and I wasn’t sure how my fans would receive it. So what we do know is that it didn’t matter what platform I was on because I did just a little over that amount the last time. And I did that one on IndieGoGo. We talked about platforms, we talked about all of those kinds of pros and cons in the last episodes. Now is when all the work kind of begins. So that was all the heavy promotion and marketing. Now is the followup, all the fulfillment of these orders and preparing for a very busy crazy fourth quarter of the year.

And the reason it’s so busy is the way I’m doing launches is I’m not just doing a crowdfunding launch that’s best basically launch number one. Launch number two is the pre-order phase before the actual album launch, which in my case will be November 15th. So launch number two is the pre-order launch, which how is it different than crowdfunding? Well, I’m basically going to have everything in stock at my warehouse. I’ll also come out with some different products. I’ll go a little more in detail about that as we move into this section a little more in-depth, but launch number three is essentially the actual album launch. It’s available everywhere. People don’t have to wait for it anymore. It’s out. Then after that, because of the timing of this album launch on November 15th right. What else? What’s the big thing that happens in November? Well, in the US here you have Thanksgiving and that is the big kickoff to Black Friday, and so one thing I wasn’t really thinking of too much earlier in the year when I plan my album launch by was how close to Black Friday my album launch really is, and now that it’s set in stone, I have to take all of that into account as well.

I have to take into account Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the holidays leading basically all the way up to the end of the year. And that’s why I want to talk in this episode about how I’m preparing for my pre-launch and actual album launch. That’s kind of launch two and three. And then after that, the next episode I want to talk about specifically more what I’m doing for the holiday sales. I want to split it up because it is so much, there’s so much going on. So that’s kind of where we can begin.

06:41 CJ: Yeah, pre-launch pre-order. It’s all happening before the actual album is released, which again, you said about November 15th so we’re getting close to that. That’s just over a month.

06:53 Leah: Yeah, that’s right. So if people are wondering how long is my pre-order pre-launch period, it’s just two weeks. So November 1st will be the beginning. It’s a Friday. It’s going to be the beginning of my pre-order time. So the first thing you have to think about when doing some kind of a pre-order, whether it’s a crowdfunding campaign, because some people just do crowdfunding campaigns and then do these, do the actual album launch, no one says you have to do a pre-launch, but I like to do this, I like to maximize this. The fact is that there’s money to be made in a pre-order right before the actual launch. And so the question you have to ask is what can you offer, what kind of incentive can you offer to make someone want to buy the album before the actual launch date that’s different from maybe a crowdfunding campaign and different from the actual album launch? What can you offer? 

So there’s really only a couple options in my case. And you can be as creative as you want with this. In my case, it will be either access to some kind of bonus or something that they can’t get in the future or some kind of a discount on either select items or whatever you want to bundle or something. And I’m actually gonna do both in my pre-launch. So for the two week period, it’s going to be, I have a surplus of autographed digipacks, so physical CDs that I didn’t sell during the crowdfunding launch, and so that’s a perfect opportunity to sell the rest of those because they’re limited. So what’s nice is, because this is a two week period of time, I’ve got built-in scarcity, which speaks to the quantity of items and I’ve got built-in urgency, which speaks to the length of time that something is available.

So I have found over and over and over again with my audience, and this could be true for your audience, it could be true for even just the music audience in general, I haven’t proven this yet, but at least with my audience that anything, any kind of promotion I run with built-in scarcity, built-in urgency. True urgency and scarcity tend to work very well. So limited runs of things, limited number of items of things, limited time they can get something tends to work very well with my audience. It tends to work well with, I think probably general audiences in marketing all over the world. But at least in the music world, I have found this to be true. So I am trying to be as creative as I can in this two week pre-launch time period. So, I’m going to offer whatever, however many autographed packs I have leftover, which may be at 500 of them or whatever it is.

And then I will probably offer some kind of a small discount on certain items or bundles that we’re going to offer that weren’t offered in the crowdfunding campaign. So we have to come up with all new stuff. So that’s another thing. This is why we have modules in our Superfan System Elite on how to do print-on-demand. Which apps to use would, how to do this all on Shopify, blah, blah, blah. Because you need to be able to put things up fairly quickly and get it out there. Also, send yourself samples of some of these items. Make sure that quality assurance and make sure you like it. You also want to take photos of yourself and all these kinds of things that help sell the product. So that’s another thing I’m doing. And the third thing I’m doing, which will really help incentivize to get people on my email list during, well, before this pre-launch period and during the pre-launch period is I’m going to do a giveaway.

So it’s like enter, you know, get on my email list and you will get early access to limited edition items. You’re going to get access to a percentage off and you’ll be entered to win a bundle, like a high dollar amount and fun bundle. So it’s really worth it for them to do it and then they’re going to get blasted with emails. And that’s the other thing, you know, I mean I can talk about this all day about how we don’t email enough, but anyway, this is a lot of information I’m giving. This is normally the kind of information I would reserve even for our Elite students, but I really want to tell you guys, anybody who’s listening, it takes this level of creativity and planning and forethought to do this kind of revenue. It really does. And I just want to give you real-world examples of exactly what I’m doing, not so you can go out and just copy and paste it.

You can’t. My audience is not your audience. You can’t just copy and paste what I’m doing. I want it to infuse you with principles that you can take and go, oh, okay, so what I need to be thinking about, it’s not, oh, well what’re the items Leah is doing? Or what are her design looks? Oh, well, who’s the person who did her lyric video? Can I get the name? Instead of thinking about that, I want you to think about, oh, she talked about urgency and scarcity. What do the concepts look like and what does it mean for me if I were to go do this? How can I use scarcity and urgency in my pre-launch, in my crowdfunding campaigns? That will make you way more money than trying to copy exactly what I’m doing.

12:25 CJ: And that’s, I think, an important note because people do kind of get fixated on some of these details, which are important, we’re not saying those things are not important, but the things that are going to really convert are going to be the scarcity and urgency. That’s just direct marketing, guys. That’s just the way it works. You might be uncomfortable with it now, you can get used to it. You will become more comfortable. Now, Leah, which do you feel is your better source for marketing? Is it going to be your social media? Is it going to be your email? You mentioned email and really ramping it up in this. Again, this is a two week period, right? You said, so this is very limited, so there’s not a lot of time for data gathering and that sort of thing. You have to kind of go for the jugular, so to speak, during that period. So I know you’re going to be firing on all fronts. Which one do you feel like is gonna pull the most for you?

13:20 Leah: Well, because my campaign ended a couple of weeks ago and I’ve got basically a month here in between the next big campaign, which is the pre-order campaign, two week period, I am already building my list. You know, a bunch of people will unsubscribe when you’re doing a campaign like crowdfunding cause I’m sending so many emails, totally normal, par for the course, get over it, it doesn’t offend me, but I’m building my email list. Some people might want to resubscribe so I start showing them ads now, “hey get on the early bird list. You’re going to get all these benefits. Here are all the benefits and what it’s going to do for you.” And this is another skill that I really want to infuse people with, the principle of thinking about what is in it for them because nobody cares about me. They only care about themselves, what’s in it for them.

So I lead with what’s in it for them. You’re going to get this, you’re going to get that. So I’m already kind of rebuilding my email list a little bit. Not that I lost so many people, but it’s just a fact like a certain percentage of people unsubscribe normally. So I’m in the time between then and the next big launch from launch two and three I’m reinforcing my email list. And then when it comes time to launch that campaign, it will be a mixture. Then basically my big three is organic social, paid traffic and email list. Those are my big, like my trifecta of marketing, so I always, I always use organic social media and that will never go away. What’s cool is that if you see something that’s worked really well in organic social media, like let’s say I do a video or a photo and it just gets really good engagement that I wasn’t expecting, I can then use that and turn it into an ad.

When you know how to do these sorts of things, it’s really easy. You can turn it into an ad. I can go into my ad manager, find the post and it’s not like boosting a post it all. It’s a completely different thing, but I can turn it into an ad and make it very targeted. I can show it to my email list, I can show it to a, could show it to new people, but typically during a launch, I’m not looking to bring in new people. I’m looking to market to the people I’ve already built, the audience I’ve already acquired and they’ve been following me for a while now and especially moving into the holiday sales season, November and December. I am not trying to build my email list at that point with new people. I am strictly marketing to people that are already following me and I’ll know who I am.

It’s far too expensive in those months and so you’ll see it. I mean they are the most competitive advertising months of the entire year. That means you know, Coca Cola and all the big brands and all the big people, all your competitors, even the labels and stuff, a lot of these big companies have ad budgets and they are required to spend those ad budgets and when it gets to the end of the year, they actually have to blow out the rest of their ad budget. Believe it or not, they actually do. They don’t just save it, they actually spend it and so they’re spending it all at the end of the year. Plus we all know that’s the biggest commerce time of the year. That’s when people are pulling out their wallets and credit cards everywhere to buy Christmas gifts and just all of this stuff. So it is so competitive. It will be the most expensive time of the year. You don’t want to be spending all your money on cold audiences, on people who don’t know who you are. This is the time to capitalize on all your hard work and that you’ve been doing all year long and real in all of these warm audiences. And it’s time to show your ads and organic posts and emails to them. So that’s my trifecta. Organic social paid ads, especially Facebook and Instagram ads are what I’m focusing on. And email, email, email.

17:12 CJ: So are the ads that you’re running, both organic and paid, are they driving people to an opt-in or are they driving people to the actual preorder offer?

17:23 Leah: So when I go to do my pre-order, during that phase, we’ll probably have a couple of different campaigns going. I will have one trying to just notify all my fancy people following me on my page, people who follow me on Instagram, hey, you can still join. The early-bird list, pretty much until the day before the big launch. But I’ll also be showing people who are on my list who have been tagged as they’re on the early bird list, I’m going to show those exact people, not only emails, not only social posts, I’m going to show them ads. So that I’m top of mind during this period. So this gets a little bit techie, a little bit ninja, but there is something called dynamic custom audiences. And all that means is that when somebody joins my email list, because of the type of software I use and because of their capabilities, I can sync that specific audience.

So the early bird list, I can sync it with Facebook and say, Facebook, every time someone joins my early bird list, I want you to add that name to a specific small little audience and only those people, nobody else except these people who joined that list. And then I want you to show those people my ads, these specific ads that I’ve written. So that’s pretty awesome. If that just went completely over your head, you have no idea what I’m talking about, just know that you’re not alone. It is a little bit techie and it’s something that you will eventually learn to do in the future if you decide to ever work with us. This is the stuff that you will learn. And if you’re just like, oh, I’m so not a techie person, just know that I’m not either. I really am not. You just learn the stuff, you’ve got to learn to make it work and, and when there’s money on the other side of it, it becomes pretty fun pretty quick.

19:19 CJ: Yeah. And that’s a reason to be in the Elite program I think, because it does get, you know, people think that somebody had said in one of our team meetings recently that a record label couldn’t figure out what you were doing and the success you were having, and use the term actually will then it must be witchcraft. Of course. We, we have heard mostly on our own channels here. Well, it must be a scam or it must be this. It must be that. No, ladies and gentlemen, it is technical. Okay. So yeah, I mean technical things to the unlearned can appear as magical or witchcraft but I can assure you it isn’t. Now you mentioned two other phases to this.

20:04 Leah: Yeah. So then there’s the actual album launch and it’s now out, it’s available everywhere. Go buy it, go stream, blah blah blah. I really don’t like to, but on that one day and like what happens in that first or second week, I want to pretend like that day doesn’t exist. I want to work as hard as I can during my crowdfunding campaign and my pre-launch, as though my life depends on it, launch like nobody’s going to buy anything on that day and that way that just puts me in the right frame of mind that might the right headspace, and then there are a percentage of people who just do hold out until launch day. For some reason there is this percentage of people, but I try to make it juicy enough and attractive enough and incentivized enough that most people I’m hoping would buy stuff beforehand during the crowdfunding and during and during the prelaunch and if I’ve done well there, I know I’ve done a good job because at the end of the day there is going to be a large amount of people who buy on the day or the first week that it’s out.

And even after all this, there’s still going to be a fragment and a segment of people who didn’t even know you had a new album out like even a month later. Like they somehow did not get the memo. They didn’t get the emails. They didn’t, I mean just recently I saw, I had a Facebook post and someone just said, “oh my goodness, you have a new album coming out soon. I had no idea”. I’m like where the heck were you? And just because even with paid ads, even with organic, somehow still people aren’t seeing it. And this is why I want you to stop worrying about bugging people too much cause I promise you they’re not seeing it as much as you think they are. They’re not even seeing a fraction of what you’re putting out there so you can relax and do way more than you are and not worry about offending people.

22:11 CJ: So you’ve got a pre-order, you’ve got the actual launch, right, well, back up to the crowdfunding, pre-order the actual launch. Now we’re into just an open cart so to speak. We’re just, you can buy it as is at any time. There’s no more scarcity or urgency. Then at that point,

22:30 Leah: Well I do have some things in place.

22:32 CJ: I’m going to say it unless there’s something else here.

22:36 Leah: I do have something up my sleeve, but I can’t talk about it yet. I will. We will do maybe in a couple episodes from now because I can’t let the secret out. I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet, but what I will tell you, here’s what I can say; I can tell you that the other thing I’ve discovered about maximizing sales is to not show your hand of cards all at once. So don’t do it during a crowdfunding campaign. Don’t do it during a launch, meaning always have something else that you’re going to bring out that people don’t know about just yet. So even if just one item, I have something up my sleeve that my fans don’t know about yet and I’m not, I haven’t determined exactly when I’m bringing it out. I might actually start it during the pre-orders just because I don’t know how it’s going to go and I really don’t know what to expect cause I’ve never offered anything like this or I might save certain things for later.

I haven’t fully determined it yet, but this is what I know is like people love new. If I offer the same during my album launch on November 15th that I offered her my crowdfunding campaign math, it’s old news. They’ve already seen it, they’re over it. I gotta have something new. So what I can tell you is there will be, for example, during the pre-launch, I will have a dedicated page to just an Ancient Winter collection. That’s the name of my album, Ancient Winter, there’ll be a collection of new stuff that they didn’t see before. So there will be a new t-shirt design that wasn’t offered in the previous campaign. There will be some mugs and like a hat and there will be some things that are offered that were not offered before. And then, like I said, I have a secret item that I can’t talk about yet, but stay tuned, you’ll hear about it.

I have a lot to say. So I think the important thing is keep them guessing, keep them on their toes, plan far enough ahead that you realize, okay, well what else could I do that would delight my fans? That’s a really important question. What can I do? 

I mean, if, if you’re in any business, how can I delight my customers? I asked myself that last year when we were done travelling and I was doing the Quest launch, my last album launch. And for example, the digital download, I put an Easter egg video in the zip file that they got with all of these different song files and formats. Something they weren’t expecting. It was a personalized thank-you video kind of coming from the heart and I didn’t tell them it was going to be in there. And just small little gestures like that, create an experience. Small little gestures like that will delight your fans and make you really memorable and make them want to support you and create a kind of loyalty that you would never even imagine. Things like that.

25:31 CJ: Well, yeah, and you know, I can back up from this and look at the whole thing and just see the overall approach. There is so much obvious technique, method and tools being used here, but it all stems from that. You know, the person, the artist and that artist’s connection with his or her audience. And so you can do that ladies and gentlemen, you can achieve these very same things. Yes, there’s a lot to learn on the technical side, but that’s the easy part because you can have all those things in place and if you don’t have the good music, if you don’t have the relationship with your fans, if you don’t know what you’re about, if you don’t know who you’re targeting, if you don’t know the message of the culture and all these sorts of things, all the tools in the world and are not going to make it work. So you need both. And so that’s again something you can get at the Elite Academy, but you wanted to offer them something kind of cool today. Why don’t you tell them about that?

26:30 Leah: Yeah. So, I know so many of you have album launches coming up or you’re in the middle of one or you’re thinking about doing your next crowdfunding campaign. I get a lot of questions about the tools that I use and there’s one simple one that I used to pretty much plan everything. And I’m looking at it right now. We use it in Savvy Musician Academy and I use it specifically for album launches, and all my holiday planning, all of this stuff. And I made a tutorial, just a little walkthrough showing you how I use the tool for album launches, for crowdfunding, what kind of stuff is in this tool and just how I kind of map it and plan it out. And you can watch that walkthrough. It’s only 15 minutes long. And if you want to use the tool, there’s a link there. I don’t get paid for it or anything. I just want to be able to help you guys out. You can go to savvymusicianacademy.com/planningtool. So we’ll put that in the show notes. You can go get it there or just type it in your browser. And let me know if you liked it because I’m pretty sure this will be useful and maybe fascinating to you and maybe this is something you’ll incorporate.

27:39 CJ: Awesome. Thank you, Leah. Now guys, do us a favour, go right now from this podcast, go to your player and be sure to leave a review for this show. If they have the offer of stars, give us as many stars as you can possibly click on, but then again, write out a review. We’d love to hear from you. If you’re in any one of our groups, that free mastermind group or the student group for TOM or Elite group, please go into those groups, leave your comments and questions there about the podcast. We read all of your testimonies and comments and we love to share them in our team meetings so they’re huge encouragement to us to leave a review on the podcast today and uh, Leah, I think that’s it. Thank you so much.

28:24 Leah: You’re welcome. See you guys next time. 

Episode #069: Crowdfunding Q&A

As we reach the third and final episode of this powerful 3-part, in-depth series on the success of Leah’s recent crowdfunding campaign, Leah answer’s some of her student’s questions on crowdfunding. Having done a few crowdfunding campaigns during her career, Leah is always pushing the envelope and learning more, and even these three episodes on crowdfunding were not enough to cover everything. This is why being a part of her Elite program is so important for anyone desiring to have a full-time career in music by maximizing their music business through online marketing. Still, Leah goes even deeper in this episode by answering the most important questions she received about crowdfunding. If you haven’t heard the first two episodes, you should listen to those first, and the content of this episode will be far more fruitful for you. Enjoy the discussion!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The difference between Leah’s crowdfunding campaigns.
  • How social media has changed online marketing.
  • The simple things you must focus on.
  • Leah’s method of email marketing.
  • Leah’s method of using surveys.
  • How Leah keeps fans interested throughout her campaign.
  • How Leah writes her email subject lines.
  • How Leah managed her time.
  • The importance of cleaning out your email list.
  • Is there a certain time of year that’s best for crowdfunding?
  • Leah’s “trifecta” for marketing success.
  • Releasing singles.
  • Can you manage a campaign by yourself?
  • How Leah organizes her work.
  • The ins and outs of product bundles.
  • The breakdown of costs vs profits.

Tweetables:

“This isn’t the time to go after a whole new crowd, it’s the time to advertise to the people who are already following you, and so that’s really important.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:07:47]

“My advice is do the simple things. Build your audience, build your email list, learn how to run ads.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:08:18]

“I don’t treat surveys as exact data… It is to get a general feeling and sense for what you could potentially do.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:10:53]

“You try it and you figure it out, what worked, what didn’t work, and then analyze it after and make it better next time.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:14:04]

“You learn a hundred things to do, and a hundred things not to do.” — @MetalMotivation [0:14:10]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leah’s Crowdfunding Page (Limited time) — http://ancientwinter.com

FREE Crowdfunding Guide — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

Call Savvy Musician Academy —   www.callsma.com 

Annelise LeCheminant (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/AnneliseSongwriter/

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show this CJ Ortiz, I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy, cohost of this awesome podcast. And once again, I get to sit across the table from the lovely Leah McHenry music marketer herself, queen of this domain. How are you today? 

00:39 Leah: I’m great, thank you. How are you? 

00:42 CJ: Good. It’s good to serve in the throne room, man. Always a pleasure to be here. Well, guys, this is the third episode in this amazing series on crowdfunding. Leah, all the episodes you’ve gone so deep in the subject and each one of these episodes has been longer than our usual ones and we’re still now three episodes deep. This is like a course and you said you weren’t going to hold back. You said you were going to go into all of the detail, everything.

It wasn’t just going to be a teaser that you were going to share here. You were going to go into this. Such a successful campaign. Your goal was $50,000 on this most recent campaign, crowdfunding on your own website. You went beyond that and reached $80,000 crowdfunding for this latest album, the winter album. It wasn’t even your usual music, wasn’t even the metal album that you usually put out, no metal in this album, still within your brand, but a holiday album which you had not done before and then you learn so many lessons from it because you didn’t start out initially having the vinyl, you queried your audience. They gave you such tremendous feedback about vinyl. You put vinyl into there and sold out within a few days. You were getting from your emails stats like 20 plus thousand dollars in returns from seven days of email marketing.

Again, just breaking all the rules, all the stigmas, all the myths about what can be done in this new era of music marketing while other people, Leah, are complaining about Spotify and iTunes and not getting their royalties. You are targeting your audience of superfans and fully paying for, and more, your album release. How is anybody supposed to wrap their head around that 

02:39 Leah: They listened to this podcast, that’s how

02:44 CJ: You know, when you hear it put like that, you know, in summary fashion, it does sound pretty amazing. And you know, if I didn’t know her so well, maybe I would be also one of those skeptics out there saying, “hmm, I wonder how she does it”. Well, we’re going three episodes deep, very long episodes to tell you how she did this. And even though there were so many specific ways and tools and things that she used to do this, as we’ve been saying throughout the series, she didn’t rely upon that. Ultimately what she relies on is her ability to market, her ability to sell, her ability to write copy and knowing her audience, like she said, she may not be able to write copy for other people, but she knows how to write to communicate with her audience. And so we’re going to get into today a lot of the questions that other musicians have asked students and whatnot. And so this is going to be even probably deeper than what we’ve gone so far because we didn’t get into the real nuts and bolts about things from an inquiry standpoint. 

But before we do that, Leah, let me just share a quick student spotlight. Another one of our elite students from our program, Annalise, she writes “#win, a journalist in France offered to review my album and my ads gained a ton of traction last night and I’m not sure why. I woke up with 200 plus more followers now to get to work.” I’ll tell you what I’ve had, I’ve woke up sometimes on Facebook or Instagram and seen a flood of new followers and said, well, I know somebody did something last night on the internet because this stuff doesn’t just happen on its own. But the thing is, is she got a review on her album and this is an independent artist, obviously, right? Who reviews independent artists publishing their own music?

04:39 Leah: Yeah. That’s really cool. I love it when those happy accidents happen, just cause you’re doing what you should be doing. And as I’m sharing in lessons, I’m preparing for the next iteration of TOM, I’m sharing about how in one mindset lesson about how it’s amazing when you just get to work and do the things you should, how much more “lucky” you get. Right? Just by doing these things, it’s just like all of a sudden opportunities just start happening and people start reviewing your album and these things just start happening to you. And it’s not out of the blue. It’s because you’re doing what you should be doing. You are marketing your music as you should be. And the doors open,

05:15 CJ: Leah, you raised $80,000 in 30 days. Your goal was $50,000, so more than half of that, you increased your amount. So you talked about all this stuff that you did, but you know, obviously, we can’t cover everything. So you made a wise move and you put some post out there to our existing Facebook groups and said, “do you guys have any questions?” What kind of feedback did you get?

05:45 Leah: Oh my goodness. Oh, we had so many questions. This is clearly an important topic to you. There’s no way I’ll be able to get to them all. But we do have a large list. I can’t promise I’ll get to answer single one of these, but there’s some really good ones and I’m going to do as many as possible and who knows, we might even have to do a round two of these because there’s so many and then it really will be like a mini-course for free. So I hope that you appreciate it cause I probably could charge for this information. I really could, but I’m not. I want to, yeah. 

06:17 CJ: Oh, yes you could. 

06:20 Leah: But, maybe we will.

06:21 CJ: Say thank you when somebody does something nice. Yes. Some say thank you and someone does something nice for you. 

06:24 Leah: That’s right. 

06:25 CJ: Leah just did something very nice.

06:27 Leah: You better leave us a good review if you get something out of this. So, yeah, why don’t we start with some of the first questions that came in and I’ll do my best.

06:36 CJ: What is the biggest difference between this crowdfunding and the initial one you did when you started? First and what did you do differently or better since your last campaign?

06:47 Leah: Well, the biggest difference between my initial one and say the last one and this one would be the component of Facebook ads, which I did not have. So my very first campaign when I did $27,000 that was email and social media only. I wasn’t doing Facebook ads back then and so obviously that still indicated I have quite a loyal fan base without the advertising. But you add the advertising in and some of the cool nifty things that I do and it obviously is multiplied and I’ve grown my audience since then too. So more people know about me. I’ve grown my email list like crazy since then. So I’d say the addition of social media would be growing my email list year-round in preparation for these launches because I never know when might do something new and really learning how to do Facebook ads and target my warm audience during things like. This isn’t the time to go after a whole new crowd, it’s the time to advertise to the people who are already following you, and so that’s really important.

07:47 CJ: That’s awesome. And again, a great argument for the way that social media has changed things. And so she’s using everything. She’s not advocating just one thing she’s using everything. That’s important for you to realize. Here’s another one; any advice for those of us who want to run their first crowdfunding campaign? What should we pay attention to more? What should we avoid?

08:10 Leah: Yeah, my advice is do the simple things. Build your audience, build your email list, learn how to run ads. And when you have an audience, I can’t give you a specific number and say, “oh, when you have 10,000 people on your email list, now you’re ready”,  there’s no way I can determine that. You have to do surveys. You have to put the feelers out there and determine for yourself when is the right time. You will know. So I can’t give you specifics like that. What you should avoid would be putting a campaign out there when you don’t yet have a following yet. You don’t yet know if people believe in your music, your music isn’t tested or proven yet. So we have done previous episodes, I’ll refer to again in the show notes about how to launch an album when you don’t have an audience yet, things like that, those are the episodes. If that’s where you’re at, you need to go listen to those. We’ve addressed that. So that’s what you should avoid. For these kinds of questions, guys, I always need more specific detail if you want a more specific answer. If you give me a broad question, you’ll get a broad answer, just FYI. 

09:17 CJ: There you go. Well, good thing you said that because the next question is very much in detail. In fact, coming in three parts. So how many times did you send emails to ask how much fans would pledge and how did you go about this in general?

09:34 Leah: I sent, actually, I haven’t counted it right now, but I sent many. So what this person was referring to is like in the last episode I talked about sending surveys, or was it the first episode we did all of this, but I sent a survey to my audience to get them to pre-pledge. Like, “Hey, if I do a crowdfunding campaign, how much would you be involved, in dollar amounts?” and I had that surveyed. Of course, if you send it out one time, you only get a few responses. So I descended out many times via email many, many times. So I want to say like eight times. I dunno, I sent it out a lot. Within a two week period, say before I went ahead and really made some serious plans. But I think around it in total, maybe for a month, I’m just going to guess somewhere in that ballpark.

10:23 CJ: Yeah, I got the emails and that sounds right. You also have some people who do not reply to emails even though they would like to pledge. So how did you get all of those who were interested in your campaign to reply to your questionnaire so you know exactly what your target should be?

10:40 Leah: I don’t treat surveys as exact data. I know that only a certain percentage of people will reply. I also know a percentage of people who say they’re going to pledge won’t because that’s human nature. So I don’t take it as whatever they pledge, that’s exactly what I’m going to get. That’s not how it works. This is a test. It is to get a general feeling and sense for what you could potentially do. So, I think I was sitting somewhere around a hundred thousand dollars in pre-pledges and at the time of this recording, my campaign hasn’t officially ended yet, so I don’t know where it’s gonna end up by the time this episode comes out and you’re hearing it and you can go and check it at ancientwinter.com. So I got a custom URL to send people there. That’s another little side detail that the whole idea is to just get a sense.

11:34 CJ: Yeah. What kinds of subject lines do you use and what kind of content to keep people interested throughout the campaign?

11:43 Leah: Types of subject lines. Oh man, I’ve sent, well, I can tell you through in this 30 day period I’ve sent somewhere around 35 emails, which isn’t even that much for a campaign if you’re campaigning pretty hard, honestly, I feel like I probably slacked a bit on the email. I could have done double, to be honest. When it comes to Black Friday, I will be doing two or three times more than what I’m doing right now. I just don’t want to burn out my list before the fourth quarter of the year, which is the most important and because it’s a pre-launch, I haven’t even actually launched the album, I don’t want to burn out my list quite yet, but I’ve sent somewhere around 35 emails, generally speaking to people and I will say that some of the time I’m excluding people who have already purchased.

12:30 Leah: Now, how am I doing that? Well, you find out those sorts of things in our courses and training, but I will tell you that I try to not bombard people who have already purchased over and over and over again after they purchase. They want to be updated. They do want to follow along, but they just don’t want all the sales ones constantly. So I exclude them from some of my emails. What I can tell you is Shopify is amazing and my email service providers amazing that allows you to do that. So as far as subject lines that I was using, I would say some of the students who, you guys are probably on my list and following along to see them all, some of them are straight up like, hey, this many days left. Some of them are like that. And then other ones are like, hey, something new.

13:14 Leah: And so that’s why as you heard in the previous episodes, I don’t show all my cards at the beginning. You got to leave something to bring out later in the campaign, a new perk, a new bundle, a new this, a new that, just something new. And even just new graphics that you hadn’t showed them before. And so, I mean, I can’t give you the list of subject lines here, but I just tried to keep things interesting, keep them exciting. And I always ask myself would I open that email? Is that interesting to me? And not all of them are winners. I got low open rates on a few of my emails. Don’t think that they’re all like hitting them out of the park. It’s an experiment, right? You try it and you figure it out, what worked, what didn’t work, and then analyze it after and make it better next time. 

13:56 CJ: Yeah. You learn a hundred things to do a hundred things not to do. 

13:59 Leah: That’s right.

14:00 CJ: How did you use your time leading up to the campaign launch? Maybe look at a day or week of prep and then look at the day or week while the campaign was live?

14:11 Leah: Oh my gosh, I cannot even answer this question. The reason why I can’t answer, how did I use my time is because it’s a blur. It’s a complete blur and I really don’t know that it’s that helpful for everyone because my life looks very, very different. I have to ask, why does this matter to you? Because I have a small team, so I’m delegating certain things to other people. I’ll say, hey to my assistant, can you go and draft all these emails? Like, get them all ready. I’ll go in at the end of the day and I’ll go make all my changes. I’ll add my personalization so it’s me speaking, but can you just get them ready and set up? Like that takes a few hours to do, right, that I didn’t spend in my day doing that. So I can’t really give you an accurate picture. Plus my life is crazy.

15:00 CJ: Well let’s think about it this way. Cause really it’s not important how much time you spent because your circumstances are yours, unique. It’s really more about the person who wants to do something like this. So thinking of a person who’s just starting out doing this kind of campaign, what kind of time do you think is going to be spent?

15:20 Leah: All I can tell you is if you’re wondering how many hours should I put in it? Maybe you shouldn’t be doing this cause all I know is I’m all in, I have no idea how many hours I’ve spent on it, a lot. I spent a lot of time, I spent every spare minute working on this, that’s what I can tell you. That just go all in whatever it takes to get it done. Yeah. That’s the mentality you have to have.

15:43 CJ: Yeah, because, and this may sound super mysterious, but I’ll reveal a simple secret here that maybe Leah has never told you this, but she starts with the premise that she wants a career in music, and so because she wants that career in music so bad, she does whatever it takes. It’s as simple as that. And so like she said if you’re thinking, oh, how much time do I have to spend? Then we’re back to the starting question. Are you really wanting a music career or are you just looking to have a hobby playing music? Because if you want a career, this is what, let’s talk, let’s walk together in that journey. If this is just a hobby to you, you just kind of kicking tires, well, it’s not for you now. Right now, of course, you’re going to watch everybody else do well and eventually your regret and the pain of not doing it will eventually get you to kick in and take action or you can take action now. How much time? Be prepared to spend all of it. You won’t, but be prepared. 

16:41 Leah: Yep. 

16:42 CJ: Okay, I would love to know if at all possible about your numbers as in the size of the mailing list and the Facebook ad spend. I’m reflecting on my current campaign, the many mistakes I’ve made and how I’d like to do it differently next time and because my album projects all costs roughly the same amount, around 65,000 pounds, I would love to have some benchmarks to work up to in order to reach my goal more easily and without having to offer such crazy rewards next time. I don’t know, Leah, you offered a lot of rewards.

17:12 Leah: Yeah, I don’t know what this person means by crazy rewards, but I will say it’s not about my numbers and my size of email list and that if you have the same size, you’ll get the same results. I’m pretty sure I know which student this is from. And if I’m correct, I think one issue with your campaign is that you don’t have a deadline. And so because you don’t have a deadline, this is still just some ongoing thing. I think we’ve actually given you this advice already. You’re not going to hit your goal because there’s no incentive to, there’s no reason. And people respond to deadlines. They respond to scarcity and urgency. And if you’re not giving them either of those, then that’s where your struggle is. So it’s not about my numbers. I can share my numbers, but that’s not going to help you.

So I’ll share though. Actually, during this campaign, I did a big list clean as well because you don’t want to have tons and tons of people on your list that they’re not active or they haven’t been opening emails. Sometimes people just sign up for things with the emails that they don’t really look at. Some are sitting around the $30,000 mark, somewhere around that ballpark. So we just got rid of any spam emails, spam traps, that kind of stuff. So, ad spend, I can’t tell you what the total is yet because I am still, the campaign is still on. I could probably share more of those stats in another episode. What I do know is that I think you need to follow the program that you’re in and I think you’ll get better results.

18:44 CJ: What’s the best time to start a crowdfunding campaign? What is the worst time? Now again, Leah did $80,000 in 30 days. So that’s, that’s a very, very tight timeframe

18:57 Leah: And I don’t know what they mean by best time. Does it mean like best time of the year?

19:01 CJ: Yeah. I think they’re referring to the best time of the year.

19:05 Leah: It doesn’t matter. What I wouldn’t do is maybe start one in December just because of the Christmas and people’s attention is diverted. But it doesn’t matter what time of the year. It really doesn’t, I think do it whenever it makes sense to do it. As far as like best time in your career, that’s maybe the other way you’re alluding to the question when you have a fan base that tells you that they will contribute to your campaign through a survey. Yeah, and I say that smiling again. Survey.

19:36 CJ: Yeah, I think for time of year, like she said, it doesn’t really matter. For example, she launched hers in August, right. So that’s summertime, which is typically when people are out vacationing and not at home and usually a bad time for retailers and the whole nine yards. Great for tourism industry, bad for retailers. Well not if you’ve got super fans and that’s the magic here, ladies and gentlemen, Leah has a targeted audience of people who love Celtic fantasy metal all year round and they love Leah all year round, so they don’t take a vacation from their email. They don’t take a vacation from listening to music. So you have that advantage. You’ve got a great targeted audience, you’re going to be fine if you just follow the principles. What have you noticed brings in the most money? I think the answer will be obvious as far as the contributions, mailing lists, Facebook ads or other?

20:34 Leah: It’s really the trifecta of email, Facebook ads, and organic social media. So those three things, it’s my trifecta. They all work together. They work synonymously and you wouldn’t really want to exclude any one of those three if you’re going to do it on this level. If you’re not ready for Facebook ads, then just don’t do the Facebook ads. Just do what you can through email and social and you’ll still get results. The Facebook ads are only going to amplify what’s already working. So if your campaign is not working, don’t do Facebook ads. That will not help you. 

21:08 CJ: Do you recommend releasing a single on the day the crowdfunding opens or during the campaign? 

21:14 Leah: I did that this time, and there are some pros and cons to that. When you release anything, you get all the eyeballs and attention on that one thing. So here’s what I learned about that, here’s my theory, I should say, I thought if I release a single on the same day that I launch the album and the idea was actually to release a lyric video the same day because I knew that would get the most attention, the most eyeballs, and then I would funnel all that free traffic to the campaign page, like a big announcement.

Okay, so that fell through. Actually, the company that I had hired to do the lyric video, they pulled out at the last minute the week it was supposed to happen and now I had no lyric video but I still had the singles, so the single came out. I would say the complication in doing that instead of maybe releasing it the week before or during, is that you now have two CTAs, calls to action, where it’s like, listen to the song and contribute to the campaign. Now I made it work in my favour. But somebody who’s not very experienced in this, you might find the tension is split between what you want them to do. So a general rule of thumb when you’re writing emails and copy, which we teach in our courses here, is that you don’t put more than one call to action in an email.

Sometimes I break this rule, but typically right, you wouldn’t say go here and go there and then go here and go there. You don’t want to give people five different things to do in an email because now they have to pick and now you just confused them again. You’re making them burn calories. If you make them burn calories, they’re going to click away. So the problem with releasing a music video, and although I’d say that’s probably one of the better things you could do, is a music video and then funnel all that traffic to the campaign. Like put it in your description and put it in, wherever they let you put a link, put a link there to funnel that traffic over. But if you’re writing emails or other places, you’ve now got two things you want them to do. You want them to consume the single or the video and then you want them to do this other thing was go over to this page.

So that’s the complication. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it’s just something you need to think through as you are becoming a marketer. These are the types of nuances that matter. And so these are the sorts of things you have to test. So I hope that kind of answered the question. Would I do it again in the future? Yeah, I would. But again, I’m experienced and so I know how to do both. You could also have success releasing a single, getting people excited about it, then release the campaign. That would also work. You could release it during the campaign, but I think that it would probably be better before.

24:06 CJ: Do you recommend someone get assistance for their first crowdfunding? Like an actual assistant who’s an expert at that or an administrative assistant, or at least a coach? Do you feel it’s realistic to manage it all by oneself?

24:19 Leah: That’s a really good question. I think it depends on the size of the campaign. If it’s your first one, and you only do a hundred sales, that’s not that much to manage and you could probably do it. And my first campaign, I did it myself, uh, where I did the $27,000. Now it was a lot, but I also learned a lot and my theory on assistance, which you know, I’ve had a couple, is you do want to learn the things that you want them doing that you will eventually delegate because then you really know if they’re doing a good job and they might be better at things and you, and that’s good. We want that. But you still need to know what the basics are so that you know what to do. Now, I’ve never seen experts, crowdfunding experts who are assistants, right?

Maybe I should start an agency where we train assistants in our systems and then connect you with them. If you like that idea, let me know. But what I would do is if you have a band, make sure they’re involved. You should be delegating some of these tasks to band members. Get a spouse to help you. You could definitely get someone just to come on who’s a little more administrative and just help you with the order part of it. The marketing part of it. If it’s not a big campaign like what I’m doing, then I don’t see any reason why you can’t do it yourself. It just depends on the size.

25:37 CJ: How do you organize, prioritize everything, writing emails, bundles, photos, plus the landing page. How long before do you start preparing everything?

25:47 Leah: Quite a bit in advance. We start with mapping out what it is we want to offer and we’re looking at different wholesalers, where can we source this stuff and what are the profit margins going to be? And then from there, once we’ve solidified what the bundles are we start working on mockups and graphics, getting those graphics made up. Then we start figuring out what the page is and we put those graphics on the page. I start writing my copy, this is all happening at least a couple of months in advance is when we’re actually putting it together. The planning of it as long ahead of time that I can possibly muster. This time it was all a bit of a time crunch for me because I had just wrapped up the actual recording of the album and my vocals and everything was just, it was a little bit chaotic for me this year. More chaotic than I like because it was a very quick, as a quick decision. It all kind of had to happen. So it was a little more rushed than I like to do it. I love to give myself a good six months for any kind of launch. Six months before an album launch, six months before a crowdfunding campaign that that way there’s no stress and just you plug away at it until it’s ready. But this time it was definitely a little more on the clock. So that’s what happened.

27:07 CJ: You normally have all of your products ready to go before the campaign? During or after it’s completed?

27:14 Leah: Yeah, the timeline is always a little bit unique with each campaign depending cause there are so many different moving parts. This time, none of it’s ready before the campaign. The only thing that’s happened was during the campaign, my CDs, we’ve already predetermined how many digipacks we were producing and those are already being printed, they’re probably done now. The other things like vinyl we hadn’t even planned on, so that’s in production right now because those actually take the longest. They take like 12 weeks to produce and so we actually let our customers know who bought this was actually in our survey. Hey, since this is since we would be coming out with this late, you know, would you be okay with not receiving your vinyl on the day, the album launches? Are you okay with getting this a week within a week after the launch date or two weeks or anytime before Christmas and we just got a general feel and what my fans told me was, we don’t care when we get it, anytime it’s ready, we’ll be happy with is what they told us. So that really helped. 

As for the other bundles and the other items, t-shirts and all that, as soon as the campaign ends we get the totals, send it off to the order, you know the manufacturer where we’re getting it all done and then all of that stuff is going to go to the warehouse and we’re going to bundle it all together. So I’m not doing the typical print-on-demand one, one-off items that I would do, you know, on a typical day on my shop where they might get a few different packages and it might arrive at different types of, we’re doing it all together so that that’s part of the experience of getting to crowdfunding bundles. You open it up and everything’s in there and it feels cohesive and so that’s how we’re doing it.

28:51 CJ: I noticed you had quite a lot of high-quality photos, graphics, new video clips about the bundles and the time left in the campaign. You plan those ahead of time or have someone who is able to put those together relatively quickly for you? Where’s the easiest place to find people who put together nice promo clips and bundle photos?

29:09 Leah: Yes, so one thing I have learned about successful campaigns is imagery online, actually for any kind of marketing is very important. We’re dealing with a visual medium, you know, social media, even in email, any kind of banners or graphics or GIFs. Did you know you could put GIFs in email? They look like video, but it’s not. Any of those kinds of things require some thought. And so yes, I do have a graphic designer that I work with. I don’t do this stuff myself are you kidding. I’m not good at that. Unless you are a graphic designer, that’s one thing you should automatically hire out, hire a friend, hire somebody you know to do this, there’s a ton of sites. Just Google freelance graphic designer, that’s your friend in Google. There are all different kinds of websites. There’s Upwork, there’s Fiverr, there are all these different sites out there where you can find graphic designers to do this.

The high-quality photos are gonna come from original photos are taken of me, and then the graphic designer might Photoshop me into something else, a different background, a different filter. And that’s where the fanciness comes from. And the video clips usually have clips of the songs. Sometimes I’ve got these little animations that are going into my Instagram stories. Again, just a graphic designer who does little animations. That’s what you’ve got to find. So, as far as how quick, the graphic designer usually knows, we usually have a deadline on like dates I need them by and so then they just deliver them. So it’s usually nice if you can find somebody with a quick turnaround just in case you want to add something at the last minute. But that’s never guaranteed. 

30:45 CJ: How do you group and price the bundles? Which exclusive items do you find sell the best? What are the best options for those who want to support and are on a budget? 

30:56 Leah: So grouping and pricing bundles. Typically we just ask ourselves, first, we start with the grand total that we want to raise. What’s the number? So I take the $50,000 and I start doing some simple math going, okay, $50,000 let’s say the average price point, the average order value is $40 on average. How many people would I need to buy a $40 package? Or let’s say I make it $35 and then I’ll just get a number from there. So I start doing this kind of math and start going, okay, so that means if say my average bundle is a $40 bundle, what is the margin I need on that in order to be profitable to actually pay for all these expenses, pay the contractors and so forth.

And then I start putting, you know, once we got our bundles together, we start researching wholesale distributors, places where we can get these t-shirts. There’s so many on Google, you just Google any of them. Start talking to people on the phone. You get all the price listings and do some comparison, put it in an Excel spreadsheet or whatever, we have to do some price comparison. This is the laborious part that people don’t want to do and this is why they’re not profitable and this why they don’t make the money. You gotta be willing to do things that other people aren’t willing to do. So just do all these price comparisons and then we figure out what bundles do we think and what going to look, what have I historically sold, what a vice historically sold on my shop and in previous campaigns, what do people like the most?

Then I look at my survey data of course, and I’m looking at what do people want and then what can we put together, what’s profitable? And then you’re looking at profit margins. There are many details involved, as you can tell, in putting this together. And again, the other things that nobody else wants to do. And that’s why they’re broke still. So just to be blunt. So yeah, that’s, I mean, grouping and pricing it, you’re taking all of these factors together to come up with that. As far as what exclusive items I find sell the best, any kind of exclusive artwork. So the digipack, which I’m not going to sell after the campaign, the t-shirts and the hoodies that have specially designed artwork on them. Again, not selling them, at least not in the same way after the campaign, the blue vinyl, that was special. That was what they specifically requested. Obviously that sold well three days it’s sold out. Basically I’m really paying attention to what people are asking for and then we give it to them.

33:26 CJ: I’m curious to know what was planned versus what was a pivot based on demand or analysis. Should we plan for every conceivable contingency or leave wiggle room? Over planning can be paralyzing sometimes, but where is that line?

33:42 Leah: I think I’ve demonstrated that in the past two episodes already pretty well, where we planned for these four key bundles and then pivoted based on the feedback we got from fans and survey data and then we adjusted. So you want to be nimble, you want to be easily adaptable to the situation, but you also want to really be as well planned and thought out as possible. And yeah, I just think if you have that mindset, then you’ll be prepared for anything and you won’t be really stressed out or too thrown off.

34:22 CJ: We’ve got a few more questions here, but some of them are a little bit of repeat stuff we have covered in the past. I like this question here though. How do you know when to stop asking for money before people get tired? You kind of touched on this before, but break that down a little bit. How do you know when to stop asking for money before people get tired?

34:42 Leah: You don’t worry about them getting tired, number one because I can’t be worried about every single person. I’m on a campaign here. What I do in my social media, sometimes I’ll type something up on stories or an email. I say, hey, I don’t acknowledge the fact that they’re getting a lot of emails. I say, listen, “I know you’re getting a lot of emails. Thank you so much for hanging in there with me. This is the nature of doing one of these campaigns and the fact you’re still here reading this. That means a lot.” I just acknowledge it and then whatever else I got to say and I think just acknowledging that does a lot for them and they go, oh, okay, she’s aware. She’s not trying to just sell, sell, sell like, this is part of the campaign, par for the course and I can either go along for the ride, or un-subscribe, whatever. It’s cool. So that, and then there are things I can do, like in my email I can exclude certain people who have already purchased so I can do that so that I don’t annoy the crap out of people who have already bought something so that that is something I’ll do.

35:45 CJ: I’d love to know where the split is between actual revenue of the crowdfunding and how much goes to product cost. For example, someone buys a $50 perk, roughly what is the profit and what is the cost of the physical product?

35:59 Leah: When we’re planning the whole campaign and we’re putting these bundles together and we’re looking at profit margins and stuff, we’re looking for as big of a margin as possible because not only do we have to pay for the item and ship it to them, we also have a whole bunch of other costs to cover. Again, just to reiterate, I’m not actually trying to be super profitable during a campaign like this. I’m actually trying, if I come out breaking even, I’m really happy with that because that means that when I go to actually launch my album, I’m in profit zone already. And you can’t ask for more than that. Like it’s there’s no label that can offer me a contract that’s better than this situation. So I’m looking for deep margins as much as I can possibly get without degrading the quality of the items. So, but for these campaign items, I’ll try to go with a little bit more luxury t-shirts say than like a regular  t-shirt just because it’s a special thing and you’ve got to take into consideration when you’re pricing the product that, because this is a limited item and a limited time and it’s a special campaign, you can also go to the higher end of what you would normally charge for this. 

So instead of like a $20 $18 t-shirt, it might be a $25 value in the bundle because it’s limited, it’s special, they can’t get it. Again, there’s more perceived value in the item. So that means I can price it higher. And so, there’s more opportunity for profit during this. So we’re looking for at least like a 50% profit if not more, maybe 100% even. And yeah, there are some items we might even do more than that. So just depends. So these are things that you want to take into consideration

37:40 CJ: What, and this will be my last question, what is an acceptable target amount? This person asked specifically because they have a much smaller operation. But I think the larger question is how do you determine, no matter where you are with, you know, how much your expenses are, how do you determine a target amount for your particular campaign? How should, what’s a, what’s a formula someone can use?

38:04 Leah: Well, I’ve got some things for you to think through in the free PDF download that we’ve got for you guys when you go to savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding there’s multiple things and this person who asked you know, what if my only real expenses are mastering artwork and publicity, I would just say there are so many more things you’re not thinking of. Like, where’s the PR going to come from? What about your marketing. What about, there are so many other things, so I’ve got a list of stuff for you to think through in that PDF. Yeah, there’s a lot more expenses than you think. Especially if you’re doing this seriously. 

If you’re just thinking about barely covering your costs, then I’d say this doesn’t sound like too serious of a campaign yet, and maybe it’s time to invest into some list building, and get a little more serious. 

38:52 CJ: Yeah, and I really encourage you guys to download that. We’ve been offering it throughout this series. Just go to savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding, a free download that has this information and a whole lot more. It will really help you think through this process. But again, as we’ve said from the outset, the real skill here is in the sales. It’s in the ability to market and that’s the sort of thing that we teach in the Elite program. I’ve been at this sort of stuff for years and years in years and I can honestly tell you, I’ve seen nothing designed specifically for creative people and that’s why I’m here.

I’m here not just because Leah and I are colleagues in relation to marketing and things like that. We both love heavy metal, et cetera. We share a lot of things in common, but you know, I really have a heart for creative people. I have a heart for artists, you know, especially musicians and what she has done to create a program to help musicians really push forward and give them an opportunity for a music career is second to none. I know there’s a lot of other options out there and we’ve talked about that in some of our previous episodes. I can’t recommend anything more highly than what’s offered by the Savvy Musician Academy and in particular, we’ve been talking about the Elite program and I will really want you to do some soul searching. After you listened to this podcast, I really want you to have a discussion with yourself.

What are you prepared to do for that career that you’ve always wanted? This is your dream we’re talking about and I know it never goes away, I know the challenges that you have with your conscience and being prepared to live with regret. You are called and gifted to do something with your talents and abilities and here is a way for you to do that. There’s a lot to learn, yes. But so many others just like you who didn’t know anything at all, have learned how to do it and are doing it now. And there’s no greater example than Leah herself. She wasn’t raised in this sort of thing. She figured it out on her own. She’s gotten rid of all the junk information you don’t need to know and she’s distilled it down to a precise program that gives you current information on what you need to know to build a career in music, selling your music online. 

So I want you to go today to callsma.com and schedule a call. We’d love to talk to you more about your project, your career, and how there might be a great fit. But Leah, thank you so much for taking all of this time. I know you were excited about sharing all of this because it was so new, but still at the same time, I know you could go so much deeper on this and there are so many more details to this, but thank you, because I believe that a lot of people who are been listening to these episodes are going to take a step of faith in themselves and try to raise the money for their music and opt-out of a label and take the same kind of chance and risks that you did. And it’s good to know that there’s someone like yourself out there giving away this sort of information. So thank you for that.

42:17 Leah: Yeah, you’re welcome. And if you guys enjoyed this three parts series, I would love to hear about it. Whether you write us in the Facebook group or actually on the podcast page on savvymusicianacademy.com or on iTunes or whatever. We actually read every single comment and I promised I wouldn’t hold back and I didn’t. I got as detailed as whatever came to mind. And so there’s nothing I’m withholding from you in these episodes. And again, you don’t need a course on crowdfunding. You just need to learn how to market your music properly. And we do that at Savvy Musician Academy. I’m also hoping, if you’re not a student or you’re in our online musician program, you’re not in the Superfan System Elite, I’m hoping that by me sharing and just like giving you everything I can give you, that you would see the potential for how we might be able to help you. So if that’s the case and you’re feeling like, “I think I could learn from her, I think I could learn from the coaches at Savvy Musician Academy”, that is your call. Now’s the time. It’s never a good time, by the way, it’s like kids and marriage, it’s never a good time. You just have to do it. You have to do what you gotta do to move forward. And so yeah, give us a call. Callsma.com.

43:28 CJ: There you go, guys. Thanks again for joining us. We look forward to the next episode. Take care.

Episode #068: Leah’s Recent Crowdfunding Results, Part 2: Mistakes & Lessons Learned

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.

Tweetables:

“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]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leah’s Crowdfunding Page (Limited time) — http://ancientwinter.com

FREE Crowdfunding Guide — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

Call Savvy Musician Academy —   www.callsma.com 

Daniel Coates (Student Spotlight) — https://suntaramusic.com/

Click For Full Transcript

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. 

Episode #067: Leah’s Recent Crowdfunding Results, Part 1: 80k in 30 Days

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.

Tweetables:

“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]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leah’s Crowdfunding Page (Limited time) — http://ancientwinter.com

FREE Crowdfunding Guide — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

Call Savvy Music Academy —   www.callsma.com 

Inessa Hk (Student Spotlight) — https://www.innessamusic.com/ 

Click For Full Transcript

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.

Episode #066: How To Grow Your Music Career When You Can’t Tour

On today’s episode, we are talking about what you can do to grow your music career when you are not able to tour. Many musicians are unable to tour for various reasons, such as work, family or other commitments. This inability to tour is a far more common problem among musicians than many of us realize. This does not mean that your music career will not take off because there are many ways to get around the obstacle of not being able to tour. Leah is a prime example of someone, who due to family commitments has never toured, and yet she has still achieved tremendous success. For her, because she has never been able to hit the road, she had to make success happen within her means. Having the internet at your disposal opens as many, arguably more doors than going on tour ever could. There are so many different platforms and ways of reaching out to people than ever before, you simply have to find what works for you. This may sound simple, but it is not an overnight process. It is a long, hard slog that will eventually yield results you want. You have to define your brand, as well as hone in on your super fan and learn how to speak directly to them. Once you are able to do this, the sky is the limit and you will never need to see the inside of a tour bus, ever! For all this and more, join us today. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • This week’s student spotlight and some lessons to take from it.
  • The Internet is the greatest tool you have if you are unable to tour.
  • What lead Leah to create her first course, The Online Musician.
  • Differentiating your music is the key starting point in launching your music career.
  • Defining your niche gives you the clarity you need to build your brand.
  • Why direct marketing is so important in growing your brand.
  • Proactively engaging on social media extends far beyond posting your next gig.
  • Show fans your vulnerabilities and the real parts of your life, rather than hiding it.
  • Build a community around the culture that surrounds your music.
  • An example of how Leah has tapped into what her fans like.
  • To create passionate super fans, you have to celebrate the same things that they celebrate.
  • Keep what you share within the same theme to maintain brand cohesion.
  • Some things to steer clear of sharing online.
  • Ways to generate money from your music career, if you are not touring.
  • Take advantage of all the platforms and their strengths that are available to you.
  • We are all salespeople in some way or another.
  • Learning how to sell organically should come before working on paid traffic.
  • Effective marketing is about answering providing an answer to a customer’s need. 
  • Entertainment and art have always and will always continue to be a fundamental part of life.
  • Create as many opportunities as possible for fans to buy from you.

Tweetables:

“The beauty of online marketing, is you’re not trying to be commercial. You are trying to find your tribe of fans.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:17:07]

“People buy from those they know, like and trust.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:20:41]

“Nobody cares about me. They only care about themselves, and what my product can do for them.”  — @LEAHthemusic [0:37:55]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Apply For The Superfan System Elite Progam —   www.callsma.com

The Online Musician 2.0 —   https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/tom/

Savvy Musician Show Episode 065 —   www.savvymusicianacademy.com/65

Jennifer Kessler (Student Spotlight) — https://www.jenniferlynmusic.com/ 

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 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 once again, I get the privilege to sit across from the wonderful one, Miss Leah McHenry. Always a pleasure. How are you doing?

00:42 Leah: I’m doing great. How are you?

00:43 CJ: I am outstanding. 

00:46 Leah: Whenever we say we’re bad though, it’s not like we’re going to say, “I’m having a bad day.” 

00:50 CJ: That’s bad form. 

00:51 Leah: Yeah. 

00:51 CJ: No. I’m the metal motivator, man. There’s no bad days for the metal motivator. 

00:55 Leah: That’s right. 

00:56 CJ: No. Of course, we all have our challenges. But we try to believe the best. Of course, we all get on our funks, but the issue is not whether or not you have bad days. The issue is how quick you spring back from those bad days or those bad attitudes. We all have them, ladies and gentlemen. Anybody who tells you they don’t is probably lying to you. 

01:18 Leah: Yeah, exactly. 

01:21 CJ: Life is rough, especially when you’re trying to do something bigger than yourself, and life is going to resist you in every front. Not always easy. So, with that come the challenges. But today we’re going to talk about something really, really cool. And it may sound basic, but the way we’re going to approach it, I think it’s going to be relevant to you, and that’s about how to grow your music career when you can’t tour. But first, our student spotlight. 

Again, another elite student, Jennifer Kessler, who I had the pleasure of working with one-on-one on a coaching call, sometime back, and I was really impressed with her branding, Leah, when I first saw her stuff. Very talented woman, guitar player and singer, but to really just had her branding dialled in all of that. So been a joy to watch her growth. 

She writes, “#win. I hope you’re kicking ass and taking names,” talking to the fellow students. “Now that I’m officially through the 16 weeks of Elite and I’m implementing and tracking all that the course has to offer. I just want to say, ‘wow!’ What a difference this has made and will continue to make as I keep pressing on as a musician. Before this course, I went from, ‘please someone buy something from my online store,’ to selling products online in the middle of a gig. Literally had online sales last night during a show.” 

She said, “my official win after taking Steve Morgan’s advice, from my hot seat and focusing on getting more people on my email list, I adjusted my Facebook Ad priorities and I’m getting almost 300 people opting to my email list per week. I also broke my online sales record this month, which tells me I’m well on my way to reaching the goals I’ve set for myself, using the lessons taught in this course. I now have sales from my nurture funnel, Facebook ads and e-commerce funnel. Yay! I literally feel like the scene in the movie Rocky where he went 16 rounds with the champ. I’m actually doing it.” 

She says, “sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to give a big thank you to you all for the support, encouragement, ideas and feedback. It truly takes a village to raise an artist, and you all have been fabulous to learn with and learn from. Keep on rocking.”

03:39 Leah: That’s so great. This is why I get up every day to do this. 

03:42 CJ: Ain’t that amazing?

03:43 Leah: Yeah. When you have the principles and you have the basics, understand the fundamentals, there’s no reason why you can’t replicate this. It takes a lot of hard work. Ask her how hard she’s been working to do this though. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s never going to be an overnight thing, and if it is, expect that to go away because overnight successes can also go away overnight. This is something that you’re investing in long-term, for yourself. Once you have these skills, they’re there to stay and you’re going to build upon them. 

And then like we’ve talked about in previous episodes, you can launch anything. You can do anything. A lot of our students also are entrepreneurs. They have side businesses. Some of them are personal trainers and hairdressers and other things and they are applying things in this course into their businesses and saying, “oh my goodness! We’ve increased our profits, like we’re doing things. We’re now marketing our other businesses in ways we had no idea. We were not doing this before.” 

So that’s what I love, is that’s why stopped studying the music business and start studying online marketing, is because I couldn’t find the stuff that would actually make me successful in the music business, in the typical industry. So that’s why we do this. I’m so thankful that you shared, Jennifer. Thank you for encouraging everyone. We can never have too many wins. 

04:55 CJ: Yeah. Couple things I love about what she said. Number one, is she talks about the benefit of the whole group. So, she’s not just talking about Leah or her coaches, but she’s talking about the other members of the group. So, when we say that this is an elite group, it means that you’re in there with people who have as much in the game or on the line as you do. They have great input and encouragement to give you. So, you are not alone. Like she says, “takes a village to raise an artist,” and it literally is a village of positivity for someone trying to build a music career. Then when she said that she was literally selling products online, which we’re going to get into today, but literally selling products online while she was playing music on stage. 

05:48 Leah: That’s right. So, it’s automated. 

05:50 CJ: It’s automated. So that’s a pretty amazing thing. So good things. If she keeps it up, she’s only going to grow from here, and that’s really powerful. So, again, if anybody out there is ready to take their career up to the next level, please go to SMA. 

06:07 Leah: Call sma.com, yeah.

06:08 CJ: Call sma.com if you like to learn more about the elite program. It’s not for everybody, right? We don’t just take anybody into this program. You got to be ready for it. But if you’re at that place where you been recording music, if you’re at that place where you just kind of built yourself a little following and you feel like you’ve gone as far as you can go. The elite program may be exactly what you need. So, call sma.com. 

06:32 Leah: Yeah. If you’re not ready for it, by the way, we’re not to leave you hanging. We’ve got some other amazing things that might be right for you. So our goal is just to help you and serve you. How can we serve you? So just call and we’ll help you. 

06:45 CJ: Yeah, we’ll direct you where you need to be, what’s good for you right now. So, again, talking about today; How to grow your music career when you can’t tour? 

Leah, I was just visiting Dallas Texas here. I saw a lot of local bands there. They’re all good friends of mine, was staying with a guy who is in two popular local bands. Here’s the problem that I hear all of the time when I talk to these musicians because they’re people of age. They have jobs that they depend on. They have families that depend on them being at those jobs. Well, they can’t tour. They can’t go on the road. People aren’t making that much money on the road, and it’s got to be divvied four ways, however many people in your band. And they just can’t leave town. They don’t want to necessarily leave town. Put their financial livelihood at risk. 

But yet they have this burning creative drive to make music, to produce music, and they’d love a way. Of course, I was talking to the gentleman I was staying with, he knows about you, and talked to him a little bit more about the Savvy Musician Academy. And he keeps saying, “I met with one of these bands. I need to do that. I need to take that one in that direction.” 

So, growing your music career, Leah, when you can’t tour is probably more common than we realize. So that’s the starting point where somebody is where are they going to go? How are they going to make money when they can’t – How are they going to have a music career, Leah, if they can’t tour?

08:20 Leah: It’s funny. Now that this is all that I’ve been doing and I haven’t been doing any touring, I can’t imagine how I would grow a music career without doing the things that I’m doing. It’s actually really hard for me to picture how that would even be possible. I was in the same boat where I’ve got five little kids at home and at one point, I had three and then four and then five, and then realizing, “yeah, touring is really off the table for me, at least for a long period of time. Maybe when they get older, we could all go together. I don’t know.” But if I’m going to get my music out there, it’s going to have to be online. That’s the only thing I have. That’s the only thing I have. I have the internet. So what am I going to do with it?

So, there’re so many people in different situations that I run into, people who are just working full-time or they’re in the corporate world. They can’t just up and leave. People who are students. People who are full-time parents. There’re a number of scenarios out there where touring is not a good option right now. People have health issues, and for that reason, they can’t tour. 

So I’m realizing I thought I was one of only a few artists who wouldn’t be touring, but it turns out this is actually pretty common, and there’s a lot of people who are just so busy that this is not a viable option, but they still – Like you said, they still have this burning desire in them to get their music out into the world. They still want to make music. They still want to record music. They still want to launch music, and they still want to make money from it. So, what are we going to do?

And there a lot that could be said about this. I mean, really, ultimately, that’s why I created our first flagship course. It was called The Online Musician for this very reason. And when I made the course, I made it kind of with a specific person in mind. I was picturing – Well, I was making it for myself, because nothing existed for what I needed. But I was also thinking of some of the other mom-musician friends that I know who are maybe homeschooling their kids as well and really talented, but they weren’t going to get up and tour either, but they’re pretty Internet savvy. So, I thought, “what could I put together in a systematic way that could allow them to do this also?” So, that’s how I created it. 

Actually, I created The Online Musician for the non-touring artists really in mind. That was my original thought process. Then as it turns out, it’s massively beneficial for people who do tour as well. Because, really, we’re at a point where if you want a music career, you need to be doing all of these things regardless if you tour or you don’t tour. 

But for the person who is non-touring, you have all the more focus to put into your online efforts. I know I’m talking really broad right now, but I just wanted to get that out of the way, that the principle, the things that we’re going to talk about in this podcast, they apply to everyone. Even if you are a touring artist, you should be doing these things also. But for the person who doesn’t tour, you have even more energy and resources, so to speak, at your disposal put into this, because touring takes a massive amount of energy and time to even making that happen. 

So, with that in mind, there’s a lot involved with being an online musician. I do want to reference the previous podcast that we recorded on how to be an online musician, becoming one. I want to go back and listen to that after this. 

11:49 CJ: Yeah, I think people – Obviously, we can’t go into details. You have courses about this stuff. So, we can’t go in all the great details in a single podcast episode that it takes. But I think like, again, with my visit with my friend. People are just at that place, Leah, where they just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that you can actually make money doing this sort of thing online, because there’s so much competition out there. Where do they even begin? So, if you were just going to give a basic skeleton outline, where would they start? 

12:25 Leah: Yeah. The first place you would start is with the music itself. It always has to begin with the music. So, you would ask yourself, “what is different about my music?” We got to think about differentiation. So, what’s unique about what I make? How does it stand out? I like to dial it into something we call a micro-niche, which is you got your umbrella genre. You have a sub-genre. You have a niche. The funnel is getting smaller and smaller, and then maybe even a micro-niche, if you can go down that small. 

And we have a lot of free training on this. We have episodes on this on the podcast. We have downloadable worksheets, resources on our website, savvymusicianacademy.com if you want to delve into that little more. But having that niche is really where it’s all going to begin because the niche will inform your branding. It will inform the type of culture that you’re going to create around your music. It’s going to inform the way you show up in social media, which if you’re not doing that, you need to be. 

It’s going to inform the albums you put out after that. It’s going to form your imagery, your fonts, logos, colour schemes, all of these staff. It informs kind of everything. We have to start with the music. And then there’s a lot involved, like I said. But starting with that niche, it’s going to give you clarity. Once you have clarity, now you have something you can build upon, something you can work with. So, I know it sounds very simple because it is. It’s very simple. We’ll just start there.

13:54 CJ: Again, I think people don’t understand this concept of differentiation. This concept of what is it that makes you different. I have a friend who’s middle-aged and he’s a fantastic songwriter. He’s in the country music genre. He has two boys that play and write songs and they’re Nashville. So, he looks at himself as out of the loop. He’s too old, and I said, “no, you’re not too old, because there are people who are our age that still listen to the music.” You may have a more classic sound or something like that, but there’s people out there just like you, that age bracket, that share the same culture that you do, like the same things, and alls you have to do is target them. We’re not targeting everybody else. We’re not targeting the general country music community and hoping to hit those few people. It’s not a billboard on the side of the highway. It is a direct advertisement to somebody’s mailbox. It is something very direct. 

And I think people, when we say things like advertising or marketing, they don’t understand that difference. We’re talking about marketing, direct marketing. Meaning we’re targeting not a general audience, like getting a pizza coupon in the mail. 

15:05 Leah: Yeah, laundry detergent. 

15:08 CJ: Yeah. These are just general things. If they knew the kind of diet I was on, they wouldn’t send me half the stuff that they send me, right? So, if they knew that I didn’t do that, but if they knew instead that I buy something else, then I would get mail based on that. That’s direct marketing. So, we don’t need it. 

As Leas has said before, with a thousand super fans, you could create a six-figure online music career, just with a thousand fans that are really radical about your music, and you’re plugged into a few billion on social media. The key then is going to be how good are you at differentiating yourself? That means, as Leah said, beginning with that music, narrowing it down to your micro-niche, right?

For example, in his case, it’s country music is the umbrella, working it down to maybe a specific, more kind of neoclassical type of country music and then finding that audience. But then it takes her to that next thing, which is culture, as you said.

16:06 Leah: That’s right. And I want to say too about that targeting thing, is what’s really nice about not having to worry about being world-famous to everyone even if you are in an older age bracket than you think is acceptable. 

One amazing thing is that your target audience, they’re ageing with you. They’re ageing too. So, you’re not trying to reach 18-year-olds necessarily, unless you are 18. So, my fans are typically – I just know from the demographics. They’re aged 30 and up. They’re between like 30 and 55. That’s like my main demographic, like 70% male, and that’s just the nature of symphonic metal. That’s just the way it is. I’m not the only artist in that genre that has that demographic, but I can see from all my insights that that’s the case. And guess what? They’re going to age with me and they’re going to come along with me. I don’t have to worry about trying to appeal to someone who’s not into my music or someone who is not my demographic. 

So that’s the beauty of online marketing, is you’re not trying to be commercial. You are trying to find your tribe of fans. People who love you enough to spend $50 or $100 a year. And you only needed a thousand of those people to make a six-figure income. That’s why it’s so doable. When people think, “I don’t know how you did it. You must be scamming.” It’s not that hard. It’s very simple math actually, if you do it. You just need a good quality product, right? Good quality music. Know your niche. Make sure your branding, your imaging matches that niche. If I walked around wearing cowboy hats and I’m doing Celtic metal, that would be pretty confusing to people unless I had some kind of really strange hybrid of niches. 

But the look matches the sound. A lot of people will look at my cover art and they can kind of figure out what kind of music I make from looking at the cover art, and I think that’s a really good sign that you’re doing your cover art right when people can kind of get a feeling, vibe just from looking at without even hearing it. That’s my goal. So, when those things align, it’s not very hard to make a hundred thousand a year. It’s not. I do hundreds of thousands now. So –

[00:18:18] CJ: Boom! There you go. I mean, I think as we like to say, the less you understand about the way something is achieved, the more you think it happens because of magic, or theft, or something else for somebody else just because you don’t know how she does it. It’s like people watching the street magicians and they think they have some real magical power. 

18:37 Leah: Yeah. 

18:38 CJ: Once you see how the trick is done, you’re going to feel stupid. 

18:41 Leah: Yeah. It’s right there in front of you. 

18:43 CJ: Right there in front of you. Just because you don’t understand the way something is done doesn’t mean you have to immediately jump to stupid accusations about, “well, she must be scamming somebody.” No. I guarantee you. 

Go to her website. Go to her store and look at the fan stuff. Look at all the people who’ve bought all her albums and all her stuff and they’re collecting Leah Gear. They’re collecting Leah accessories. They’re collecting Leah music. Tell me those guys were defrauded out of something. No. They willingly. They’re super friends, ladies and gentlemen. It’s really not that hard to figure out. 

Well, if you’ve got a micro-niche, you know what your music is, you know who your audience pretty much is. So, you’re building something around the culture. Well, this has to take place somewhere. So, this takes us into the realm of social media, which I think is important, Leah, because prior to social media, Facebook, and that sort of thing, online marketing was happening, right? People were buying things online. People were selling things online. There was e-commerce. There was stuff transpiring. 

But social media changed the game so much because it put us in direct personal contact where we had to become more relational and that sort of thing. 

Leah, the most common thing that I see, and I believe this is going to fit a lot of people who are listening to this podcast. The most common thing I see when it comes to social media is a musician or a band, they have a Facebook page, right? They’ve done that. They may have had that Facebook page for years now. But all they do with it is post an event. They’re going to be at this bar and they just post an event. So, you go to their page and that’s all there is. How are they going to do something? When you say doing something with the niche and culture and advertising on social media, that’s not what you mean. 

20:38 Leah: No. I don’t mean just posting events to your next gig. If that’s all I did, nobody would be talking about me. Nobody would be listening to my music like crazy, because that’s just self-promotion constantly. So, what I figured out early on was I figured out who my ideal fan was. I figured out things that interested them, and a lot of the things that interested them were the things that interested me. I was like, “okay. We have this in common.” This kind creates a community type situation. 

And if I post a lot about that on social, whatever the platform is at the time and show my interest and like let them see the nerdy side of me, and they’re going to relate to me and they’re going to feel like they know me and they’re going to like me, and that will build trust. And people buy from people that they know, like and trust, and not something I want you to write down. If you’ve never heard this thing before, when you get into the world of marketing, you will hear this over and over again. People buy from those they know, like and trust. 

And so, the more you can be on the social platforms where your fans are, for most of us, it’s Facebook and Instagram, maybe some of you, YouTube, maybe some of you, Snapchat, hmmm, maybe Twitter. Yeah, that’s another thing. But for most of us, these main platforms, it’s not rocket science. You only need to pick one or two just dominate there and like really get to know your fans there and show them the vulnerable side of you. Show them behind the scenes. Stop trying to be mysterious. There is no such thing as mystique, a celebrity mystique anymore in the social media age. 

There’re so many celebrities that you can follow now that they show you all kinds of intimate details about their life. Their pets, and their smoothies, and like the things that they’re doing. I mean, you are getting an intimate look into people’s lives like you’ve never seen before. Get rid of that, and show your fans who you really are. Build a community around the culture that surrounds your music. That’s a big idea and it’s a big concept and I think it’s going to take a while for it to sink in if this is the first time you’ve ever heard that concept, building a culture around your music. We have some exercises that we do in our course is to really flesh this out and help you figure out what your culture even is, because it’s not sometimes obvious to you. 

But we can use me as an example. I typically make Celtic and fantasy inspired metal, and sometimes if I’m at the doctor or something, they say, “oh, what kind of music do you make?” I say, “Well, if you were to take Enya and Lord of the Rings and put it in the blender and then add some metal on it, that’s kind of what you get.” They’re like, “oh! Okay, I get it.” They get it. They just get it right away, because they understand that everybody knows who Enya is. They understand what Lord of the Rings is. They’ve all seen that. So, they instantly get pictures of orcs and wizards and stuff. Then they know what heavy-metal is. They think of Metallica or something, and you just put that together and you’ve got kind of a culture and a sound in a very visual idea of what I’m talking about. 

So, from there I would think about what are some of the cultural characteristics of people who liked those things. So, for example, Lord of the Rings. Who are the type of people who are obsessed with Lord of the Rings? Not just people who casually went to the theatre. Who are the people who collect all the figurines of Lord of the Rings? 

I recently joined a Facebook group, and it’s all people who collect Lord of the Rings paraphernalia. It was suggested to me in my feed. Facebook suggested it to me and I thought, “this would be really interesting.” These are like most diehard collectors like on the internet. This is a buy-sell group. So, it’s like a Craigslist on Facebook just for people who are into Lord of the Rings collector items. 

You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that people have. I mean, I saw people sharing their displays, these pictures. I think I saw like $100,000 worth of like collectible figurines and swords and stuff that people had. It was unbelievable. I was like, “this is like a museum.” And this is just like somebody’s living room that they have. It’s crazy to me. 

So, I want to take these people – I mean, part of me, I was just curious, like, “what kind of people are these?” I know that there’s some data and some things I can learn about collector fans by being in this group. So, there’s a little tip for you. You can go join some collector groups. Maybe your fans will be more inclined to Star Wars or something else. But surely your fans are into something. They collect something. I’m pretty sure that they do. So, figure out what that is. This is just a way for me to observe and just like casually learn without really trying too hard. It’s just Facebook showing me stuff in my feed. 

Yeah, I learned that these people spend a lot of money on the things that they love to collect because it’s a hobby. So why is it a hobby for them? What is it about it they love? What can I learn here? I got to get those people on to my music.

25:53 CJ: That’s so awesome. We’re taking you guys a little bit behind the curtain to show you how the sauce gets made, but that’s a really great example of how the cultural aspect plays into your social media influence. 

Not to brag, but I think with me Leah, as long as we both been doing this with our own respective communities, we’ve done a pretty good job at figuring out the culture of things and how to lead in that culture because that’s what you’re going to be doing. You’re going to be leading. But you’re as much a participant in the culture as they are, and that’s what, as Leah said, gives you this sense of community, and you have to start thinking that way. It’s not just posting events. 

Now, you need to do that if you’re having gigs. It’s not just advertising your music. You need to do that, obviously, to sell. But to create a following of passionate super fans, you have to celebrate the things that they celebrate. That your music plays a part, and music is a part of culture, right? It’s a manifestation expression of culture. And so, tied to that, as you said, there are things that they’re interested in. There are things that they collect, and it doesn’t matter what the genre may be. 

I also delve into the metal side, and mine is more about personal development and motivation. But in that, I know that the people who follow me on social media, they’re going to want to hear about the fact that it was a Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden just went off in his recent show out in Seattle or Washington, whatever, something like that. And he was rebuking some security guards for beating on a fan too much. So, these things get on Blabbermouth and Metal Injection. They go viral, etc. 

So, we share these type of things, and we can make some commentary about it, because my page is Metal Motivation. So, we can talk about those things, or if somebody creates a really cool chair or a throne full of skulls or they have these cool little bracelets or something. There’s stuff that you can share. There are so many things. If you think about the stuff that you are interested in yourself, then you’re going to find that your followers are into it. If you say, “well, what does that have to do with music?” Well, it has to do with community. 

28:09 Leah: That’s right. 

28:10 CJ: If you can create that and you’re doing it with people that you’ve really targeted, and for the most part, guys, this is free. This is accessing people free. And so now, you’re getting this engaged audience who just like in Leah’s case, because she celebrates the culture and she celebrates them, they return the favour. There’s almost a sense of obligation that gets built-in, and they just say, “I’m going to get whatever it is that she produces. I don’t care what it is.” They want to collect these things. 

28:43 Leah: Yeah. The only thing I would say, like you want to share about your interest, your opinions, your worldview, the things you’re interested in, but I do keep it fairly themed. So, I’m not completely random. I will say like if you go to my Instagram, it’s very themed. 

Now on Instagram stories, those little 15-second video clips, there you have a lot more permission to adjust show a little more random stuff because they disappear so quickly. But if you go to my feed and you scroll through, you’ll really see a theme, and it really makes sense. You’ll see some promotional stuff around crowdfunding, but the rest is pictures of things, or selfies, or the other things I know my fans want to see that are of interest to them, but also in the theme of my Celtic fantasy, metal stuff. Instagram stories, I show them behind-the-scenes, or if I’m going for a walk or I want to share something, or this morning I was in my kitchen making coffee. I’ll do more of that. 

I will say, for most musicians, I would stay away from some of the more polarizing topics, such as politics. It always disappoints me when I am following a celebrity or an actor or something. I really, really like them and then they go off the hinges about some political thing. I’m like, “ah! Now I have to unfollow you.” I was like so enjoying watching it. Now, I don’t like you anymore. They just take such an extreme view or wherever, and you don’t have to share everything, okay? 

So, I would just say just a little wisdom here unless your band is like of a political nature. Some people, their music is political. Well, in my case, you’re only going to attract people who share the same views for the most part and then you’ll also attract some trolls, of course. Unless you have that kind of a band, just stick with the theme of the culture of your music. Again, just use some common sense there. I just wanted to give that caveat just in case the question arose. 

30:40 CJ: Yeah, and it’s not a place for you to vent your bad day either. These are times that you can be a little vulnerable about something, but only in the sense of to get, again, that sense of community rallying around that sort of thing. Otherwise, keep it positive. Again, focus on the primary elements of the culture. The things that they celebrate, that’ll keep them engaged. 

So, again, if your niche is dialled in, you’re differentiating yourself, you know who your audience is, you know what the cultural things are, surrounding that community. That’s what you’re executing on on social media. This is kind of the – This is your way in. This is the foothold that you’re getting into building an online music career, so you don’t have to tour.

31:27 Leah: That’s right. Then I would say after the culture stuff and learning how to have relationships with fans at an internet world, that’s its own thing. Again, there’s a fine line. You want to be vulnerable. You want to let them in behind-the-scenes and you want to stay professional at the same time. So, you have to figure out how that works for you. How it feels for you. 

I feel like I could be more vulnerable than I am, currently. I feel like I can go outside my comfort zone more than I do because I’m always worried about being professional. But I do want to let my fans feel like they really know me like when we get together. There’re some YouTube channels that I watch. Sometimes on Sunday, I like to watch travel videos of families who travel around the world and I just like to watch their vlogs. And for me, that’s fun. 

I was just telling my kids, we’re talking about YouTube channels and stuff and I said, “don’t you feel like you kind of know this family?” You’ve seen their kids travelling through Greece and Spain and Italy and you feel like you really know them. They’re traveling around in an RV or whatever they’re doing, and it really feels like if you met them in person you’d be like, “I already know you,” and they’ve done a good job of that. That’s how I want my fans to feel about me, that by the time they meet me, there’s not really any big surprises about my personality. They already know my personality. 

It’s funny because there are some celebrities or actors that I’ve seen in movies and you see them in a character and you think, “well, I wonder if that’s what they’re like off-camera.” And then you see them on Instagram. I was like, “whoa! That is totally a different personality than I was expecting.” Like Jason Momoa, Aquaman. First time I’ve seen him in Game of Thrones and I was just like, “he seemed like so – I don’t know, tribal –” 

33:03 CJ: Mean. 

33:04 Leah: Yeah, mean and everything. Then you see him like – And he’s like the most family dude that ever lived. He’s like a super passionate father, super passionate husband. Really outgoing, like life of the party. Like totally different than I had any idea. So that’s what social media is meant to do. It’s meant to let us in and get to know you. So, you got to do that. 

And then having said that, if you’re going to do this without touring, we can’t forget to talk about the money part. How are you going to make the income part? Well, that is going to come from the opportunities that you give. 

Now, there’s organic ways we can go about this, and then there’s paid traffic ways we can go about this. Obviously, we have courses all about this that go into great detail. But the organic stuff is really going to come from your social media. It’s going to come from the people who are following you, who love what you do, and you’re going to probably 10% of the time promote something, 10% of the time. So out of every 10 posts, maybe one of them I’m promoting my new t-shirt or the new album or whatever I’m doing. 

Unless I’m going hardcore during a campaign, at that point, I kind of go all-in on promoting. It’s not 100%, but a lot of it, right? People understand. This is a campaign. It’s a short period of time. They get it. 

But outside of that, there’s social media. So, there’s the platforms and the various platforms within the platforms. So, like some people say Instagram’s like five platforms in one. You have the feed. You have Instagram stories. You have IG TV where you can post longer clips in vertical. You have direct messages. There are so many different ways. 

34:45 CJ: Hashtags, yeah. 

34:47 Leah: Yeah. So, you’ve got a plethora of platforms in which you can offer your music. Really, this is not so much about where do I do this and how. It’s more about do you know how to sell anything?  Can you sell without any guilt? Without feeling bad about it, and without wondering if your fans are annoyed. When you can get over that, you will make significantly more money. 

35:13 CJ: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s a funny thing. We’ve talked in recent episodes about sort of the psychology of creatives, that can be self-limiting beliefs. And that’s another one, which is, “I’m not a salesperson. I don’t know how to sell. That’s not me feel. I feed bad trying to ask people for money. So, I sell my CDs for $2 or whatever you can pay sort of thing.” 

They’re not doing that for the benefit of the person. They’re doing that to ease their own conscience because people can pay for things. I think what we all have to understand is that to some degree, we are all salespeople. It just depends on what exactly it is you’re selling. If you love your little schnauzer and we get on the subject of schnauzers. You’re going to sell your dog to me. Not literally sell your dog to me, but you’re going to be so excited and talkative about that little schnauzer that you have and how much you love him or her, that it’s, in essence, selling me on that schnauzer, or maybe you’re a vegan. 

36:16 Leah: Oh boy! Or a CrossFitter. 

36:18 CJ: Or a CrossFitter, or these sorts of things, or you’re talking about your kids, or whatever, your favourite football team, the state that you live in. There’re so many things that we’re passionate –

36:28 Leah: You know how to sell. You know do know how to –

36:29 CJ: We know how to sell. You know how to sell. Feeling that way about your music has to change, because everything is exchanged, and people are more than happy to exchange money, just like you do. You are more than happy to exchange money for those things that you really want. And so, it’s a necessary part of this. So, there’s no gimmick here. We’re creating community so that we have the people that are enthusiastic. So that when you do offer something, then, boom! You’re able to do that. So, organic and paid. 

37:04 Leah: I think it’s really important that people learn how to sell organically before they ever get into paid traffic because throwing money at Facebook ads or Instagram ads without knowing how to sell, you know what’s going to happen. It’s money down the drain. So, learning how to get comfortable with showing your merchandise, your albums, telling them what’s in it for them. We’ll do another episode on copywriting and stuff. 

But the most important thing I ever learned about copywriting, which is the text you’re going to use that’s skin and motivate people to take an action, like buy your album or whatever, is this; nobody cares about you. They only care about themselves. Just repeat that 10 times until it gets so stuck in your brain. Nobody cares about you. They only care about themselves. Nobody cares about me. They only care about themselves, and what maybe my product can do for them.

And I know it gets awkward when you’re talking about art and music. It’s like, “yeah. Well, what does it do for them?” I don’t know. It’s very subjective. This is why we have the Academy, is because it’s not easy navigating this stuff. If it was, we wouldn’t exist, and we’d all be rich. 

38:13 CJ: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. People do – I think they do again stumble over the stumbling stone. It’s like we said before if you could get past half the stuff that’s just happening in your head, the rest of this would really be downhill. But that’s a big one, is that it’s hard for you to accept the fact that – when we say people don’t care about, they care. It’s like we used to say in marketing years ago. Don’t tell me about your lawn business. Tell me about my lawn. 

38:41 Leah: Right. Tell me about my lawn. Yeah. 

38:43 CJ: My lawn. Tell me how I can get the benefit that I’m looking for. This a great example, and I always use this. There was a friend who owns a tree service company, and he was adding a new service, which was a yard service, not cutting grass. But because there were tree experts, they were going to going into all your shrubs and everything and help you take care of everything, because they were finding a lot of shrubs were dying. People didn’t know how to really take care of all of their foliage and all the source stuff. So, they offered this service for them to have a richer, greener, more vibrant, more beautiful landscape and yard. So, I said, “well, give me your existing marketing.” So, they gave me these door hangers and little direct mail pieces, and they all said, “make your neighbours green with envy.” 

So, the first thing I did was get rid of that. Why? Because nobody sits around thinking, “I want to make my neighbours green with envy.” That’s cute, but it’s ineffective. So what we eventually got to was I changed it to, “now you can have a healthier, richer, more beautiful yard and more time for yourself.” 

So, they want the end result. They want the outcome, but they don’t want it to cost so much. Spend their all weekend in the yard. So, we had to find what that pain point was. But you can only do that when you’re not thinking so much about your music or your service, but you’re thinking more about the needs and wants of the individual. Music is our escape. Music is our mood changer. Music is like – Think of it like a vitamin supplement. Think of it like a little drug, a legal drug that you can have. Music changes moods. It gives them an experience that people are looking for. Again, music is entertainment, ladies and gentlemen. Imagine life without entertainment at all. 

40:34 Leah: Yeah. It’s never existed. Life has never existed without entertainment. The oldest – I mean, they were drawing stuff on the walls and doing plays, and entertainment has always been around. So, there will always be a market. 

I heard even that entertainment is even recession-proof, that people will still spend money on booze and entertainment during any economies. So, there you go. Musicians, you’re probably better off than most bankers. 

41:03 CJ: Yeah, and you’re not selling anything that’s a high-ticket item, a CD, a shirt, these sorts of things. Even the little bundle packages of CDs, shirts or something else, a mug. That’s not going to break the bank. We’re selling very inexpensive ways to keep people really, really happy. You’re in the happiness business. That’s what you do. You sell people happiness, because how many times have you listened to music and it lifted you out of a bad spot? Don’t you want to do that for somebody else? Don’t you want to help them get that experience? Well, that’s the value of your music. 

So, yeah, it’s not worth a thousand dollars for your CD. It may just be worth 19.97 for that CD, but someone will gladly exchange that 19.97 for a lifetime worth of uplifting, because – A lifetime? Yeah, because I still listen to music that I bought back in the 70s and 80s, right? So, it doesn’t go out of style. There, again, it takes you back into knowing your micro-niche, knowing your culture. If you got that dialled in, man, they’re going to want what you have. 

42:10 Leah: That’s right. And then when you’ve got those things dialled in, the sales are pretty easy. You think that might be the hardest part. I think the hardest part is all the other things we talked about. By the time you have that dialled in or even remotely close, sales are not going to be a big deal. You still need to learn the skill though of how to sell. So, use it as practice. 

I mean, I would look at it as ‘I’m going to fail 10 times. Let’s see if I can fail 10 times, and maybe get a sale out of it.” Instead of trying to be like, “ooh, I have to get this perfect, and if I don’t get any sales and I’ve messed up.” No, just make a goal of getting 10 FUs or whatever. That’s an old sales tactic, right? It’s like if I can get 10 noes, I’ll probably get one yes, right? 

42:57 CJ: Right. Yeah. Again, giving your friends those regular opportunities to buy from you. 

43:02 Leah: Yeah, and to give you the middle finger. 

43:04 CJ: Yeah. Giving your fans plenty of opportunities to buy from you. I mean, this is the basics. Obviously, any one of these points we could go into gory detail about, and that’s what’s covered in the courses. The reason why we don’t cover that in the podcast is because we don’t have the time, number one. Then number two, we have to do it methodically step by step. 

So, you want to try to do something challenging? Try to create a course. So, to sit down and outline the things that you know and to focus on the things that really make a difference, that really move the needle forward for somebody, is a very challenging thing to do. For that, again, that’s what the courses are for. But this gives you a good idea. You could start on what we talked about just today. Anybody can set up a Facebook page. Anybody can think about their culture. Anybody can think about their micro-niche. Anybody can begin to post online and engage with friends and figure out what your fans like. What they don’t like. You’ve got little insights and some things on your business Facebook page maybe you haven’t even delved into before. 

Press some of those darn buttons at the top. Look at the settings and stuff and get information. You may not realize the age bracket of your fans. You may not realize where they live and some of these other things. So, you’ve got so much that you can begin to explore. But if you get these fundamentals down, then you’re going to realize that there is a way of not just hit and miss, but there’s a way for you to have a music career without touring. 

44:35 Leah: There is definitely a way. 

44:38 CJ: Anyway. Guys, seriously, I do want you to go to the website. And as we’ve said in the past, there are so many different things that you can plug into when it comes to the Savvy Musician Academy. Not everybody is for the Elite. Not everybody is ready for the online musician. There may be another thing that you need to do, but there’s always something. So, I do want you to go to the website today, savvymusicianacademy.com. If you would like to talk to somebody about what’s a good fit, then go to callsma.com. But please do us a favour today, if you don’t mind. As soon as you get finished listening here, go to your podcast player, the app that you’re using, whether it’s iTunes or Spotify or whatever and leave us a review. If they give the option for stars, click five or as many as they will give you. 

45:23 Leah: 10. 

45:24 CJ: We love the feedback. Click 10. Yeah. Go to the groups if you’re in one of our free mastermind groups or in the paid groups, like Online Musician and Elite Group. Please, leave us a comment. If there’s a question about something you’d like for us to cover down in a future podcast, we’d love to hear from you. 

Again, Leah, you’re awesome, man. Thank you so much for sharing your –

45:45 Leah: Yeah, always a pleasure. I love doing these episodes, and I do want to hear your suggestions, you guys, who are looking for what it is you’d like for us to cover. I love talking about it. We love doing these. So thanks and we’ll see you next time. 

45:58 CJ: Take care. 

Episode #065: Biggest Fears Musicians Have & How To Overcome Them

All of us struggle with fear: fear of rejection, failure and even fear of success. The only difference between those who are successful and those who are not is that successful people choose to pursue their goals despite the fear. It’s not that they don’t experience those same emotions, it’s only that their desire for the dream is bigger and they stop at nothing to get there. Today we continue with our psychological perspective on making it in the music industry, talking about those mindsets that cripple you and that you essentially give far too much power to. The first step to overcoming fear is to tackle them head-on instead of avoiding them, and by allowing yourself to go through those unpleasant emotions of trepidation. Not only are you giving yourself an opportunity to succeed, but you are investing in your personal development and building out your experience and skillset. The recipe of success is quite simple: to believe that the principles of success are out there in the world – that they exist and that you are able to apply them consistently. If you truly believe that, you will be unstoppable! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • How fear is paralyzing you and stopping you from reaching your potential. 
  • Realizing that there are people out there who need to hear your music. 
  • Why fear is both a massively powerful yet powerless thing. 
  • The only thing that sets successful people apart from everyone else. 
  • The importance of taking little steps forward, even if you cannot see the full picture yet. 
  • Why you can sell anything once you understand the fundamentals of online marketing. 
  • The powerful effect of visualizing and mentally preparing before a big event. 
  • Making the decision beforehand not to be controlled by fear. 
  • The physiological reactions to something that happens in our imaginations. 
  • The difference between the fear of failure and fear of success. 
  • Believing that all the principles for success are out there and that you can apply them.  
  • Accepting that you will mess up sometimes and that hard times will come. 
  • And much more! 

Tweetables:

“This fear, in general, is completely paralyzing you and it’s stopping you from reaching your potential, from doing the thing that you are supposed to do.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:05:12]

“Fear is a powerless force but it’s still the most powerful powerless force you’re ever going to face, and it’s robbing you of the only life you’ve got.” —  @metalmotivation [0:08:02]

“Do not let fear make the decision. Your brain needs to make the decision and then you can train your body to do what you want it to after the fact.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:20:40] 

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Call Savvy Musician Academy — www.callsma.com

Savvy Musician Inner Circle — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle 

Welter — https://www.weltermusic.com/

Tony Robbins — https://www.tonyrobbins.com/

David Williams (Student Spotlight) — https://www.weltermusic.com/

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Well, welcome once again to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz and I am the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy and I am joined once again by her eminence as I love to call her. The lovely Leah McHenry, so good to see you, how are you doing?

00:39 Leah: I’m good CJ, how are you?

00:41 CJ: Wonderful. We have fun doing this, don’t we?

00:46 Leah: Yeah, it’s always a blast.

00:48 CJ: We have more fun than we deserve. No, deserve has got nothing to do with it. Today we’re going to talk about biggest fears musicians have and how to overcome them, if you were listening to our last episode, we kind of delved into the little bit of the subject of fear and our discussion of a poverty mentality. If you haven’t heard that episode, people are raving about it so go to their archives and go to listen to Episode 64 on overcoming a poverty mentality but today we’re going to talk about some big fears that musicians have and because fears and as we said in that last podcast, Leah.

It’s what people believe or don’t believe that really holds them back. We want to try and eliminate as much of that as we possibly can, not just give you the ins and outs of the gory details of how to in terms of online marketing but also some of the psychology. But we love to do also our student spotlights in these episodes, we’re talking about an Elite student today, David Williams who I’ve had the pleasure of talking to on a couple of occasions. He’s from Australia, a band called Welter and he writes in our elite group #win. 

He says, “We are almost at our first $1,000 in sales on our shop. This could not have been possible if it wasn’t for this incredible Elite Academy. We still have so much to learn but at the same time, feel so ahead of the game. Thank you, Leah and your amazing team, for what you do, words can’t express the gratitude.

We can’t wait for the next 12 months and as Steven said in a previous post, now is the time to dig deeper and push harder, cheers to you all.”

02:32 Leah: That’s awesome David, we love that you shared your win.

02:35 CJ: Isn’t it great? If you’ve never made money with your music online – 

02:39 Leah: That’s a big deal.

02:40 CJ: Yeah, you’ve spent some money to get into an elite program and you’re hoping this sort of thing works. Now, you’ve seen it and of course, Leah and I see the interaction with students all the time. I spent coaching calls with David just on some of his branding stuff early on when he got started but I see the questions, I’ve seen him wrestle over his opt-ins and his ads and get frustrated and trying to make things work and didn’t have a breakthrough and then you go to that next level thing and he got frustrated with that.

To see this effort and then for him to say hey man, we got our first thousand dollars online. That’s not a live event ladies and gentlemen, okay? That is selling music merchandise online and like you said, it wouldn’t have been possible for the incredible elite academy. Now, that may sound like we’re tooting our own horn but guys, no. Because I’m staring at a woman right now who did that very thing a hundred-fold in her own business.

It’s those very principles that she teaches in the Elite Academy and I’m just going to say this as a byword here, I don’t know where you are as a listener, I don’t know whether you’ve just seen an ad, stumbled on this podcast, or you’re in maybe the free mastermind group, maybe you’re Tom’s student. I don’t know where you are.

But it’s time for you to go to the next level. It’s time for you to stop and even talk a little bit more about some of the things that stop you today but we got to get past these fears, we got to get past your limiting beliefs and you have to take a step on yourself. You have to invest in yourself whether it’s a course, our inner circle newsletter, jumping from Tom to the Elite program, something needs to happen to get you to move forward. 

Find out what that is, go to savvymusicianacademy.com and take advantage of what your next level is. But as I said at the outset, Leah, biggest fears musicians have and how to overcome them. Are musicians laden with fears? Is that even possible?

04:42 Leah: Yeah. I mean, that sounds like a silly question for us because we see and are dealing and interacting with musicians every day, but if you’re a musician listening to this, thinking you’re the only one, almost paralyzing fear, you need to know that this is really a very common, very normal experience and musicians everywhere across the world right now are all terrified and they’re all stuck and sometimes, that fear of – we’ll talk about the different things people are afraid of but this fear, in general, is completely paralyzing you and it’s stopping you from reaching your potential, from doing the thing that you are supposed to do.

This is part of your destiny. I believe it’s part of your calling if music is in your life, if it is in your heart and it is in your soul and you know that you were born to do this and you’re not doing it. You’re doing a major disservice to the rest of the world, there’s people out there I believe who are meant to hear your music and I’m not trying to just be romantic about it.

I’ve gotten messages from people, every year I get messages from people who have said that song of yours got me through a really dark time, I was suicidal. I was this and that and they’re not trying to flatter me, this is just them telling the story, your music really got me through that dark time. I get goosebumps thinking about it because you’re just like holy crap. I mean, I’m just trying to create art here. I had no idea it was going to have this kind of impact on other people in the world.

When I say there are people who are meant to hear your music, I don’t care if it’s black metal, I mean, the studies have been shown that even, a lot of people who listen to heavy metal, it makes them feel calm, it doesn’t actually make them feel angry, it has the opposite effect. It makes them feel calm and motivated and different things. Whatever music it is you’re making, don’t think that because you’re making something different or obscure or not mainstream that it doesn’t have a significant place I people’s lives because it really does.

06:41 CJ: That’s awesome. When I talk about fear and I talk about fear a lot in my coaching stuff, but I’ll often tell people, Leah, that facing your fears means confronting the powerless force that’s robbing you of the only life that you’ve got.

[0:06:57.4] LM: Yeah.

06:58 CJ: It’s important to understand that, you’ve got to get to the place where you finally confront the powerless force and I’ve always said, the fear is the most powerful yet powerless force you will ever face. It’s powerless. It can’t stop you. Only you give power and it’s like the scarecrow effect. You put the scarecrow out in the middle of the field, it’s obviously not a person.

But the crow gives life to the scarecrow through fear. We give life to the scarecrows in our life that keep us from feeding on the harvest that we could have in our creative expression and our music business and whatever it is that you’re doing, there is a harvest there for you because if you’re producing content, if you’re producing these creative expressions that people can enjoy. Like Leah said, this is your calling, you’re supposed to do this.

Then the only thing that’s going to stop you is going to be fear. You’re like that crow who gives life to the scarecrow. Fear is a powerless force but it’s still the most powerful powerless force you’re ever going to face and it’s robbing you of the only life you’ve got and so I don’t ever really advise people to be angry but if you’re going to be ticked off about something, well please, be ticked off about that. 

08:19 Leah: Yeah.

08:19 CJ: Please be ticked off about the fact that something a simple as fear is robbing you of the only life that you’ve got. That’s a tragedy to see, you know what I mean?

08:32 Leah: Yeah, I just think about – if I had let fear stop me from producing my first album when nobody knew who I was, I was completely at ground zero, many people know my story but for those who don’t know it, I started with absolutely nothing, no fan base, no contacts, no industry connections, no understanding of the music business, I still really don’t, I don’t really care anymore but just no advantages at all.

Not only that, I think I was like eight months pregnant when I sang my first album so you know, when I was already a mom of three other kids at home. I was like the least cool rock star ever. Least cool ever like huge pregnant whale trying to sing high notes in the vocal booth and like making this rock metal-ish type album. I’m a joke, I feel like a joke right now and no one’s going to care but that’s okay, I’m doing it for me, I’m not doing it for anybody, I’m doing it for me so that’s why I did it.

If I had let fear rule me then, we wouldn’t have Savvy Musician Academy. This podcast wouldn’t exist. My music career wouldn’t exist, those people who were going to be dark times wouldn’t have heard those songs. So many things and the future things that will unravel even now, things that I’m working on, none of these things would really happen if it weren’t for – you know, just taking a bold step in a certain direction and it’s going to take boldness to do this. 

It’s going to take guts, It takes guts to be a musician and to put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable in front of the whole world, you know? The internet era is so different than the rest of history where yeah, you put yourself out there, it’s 30, 40 people, maybe a hundred people or a few thousand people.  At the end of the day, they go home, don’t forget about you and now the internet’s forever.

Anything you put out there is there to stay, not to mention the trolls that are out, I mean, there’s so many. It feels like a much bigger deal because it is. At the same time, it’s the biggest opportunity that we’ve ever had and so it does take guts to put yourself out there. What I can tell you is that if you do have fear, you need to want what it is that you want more than the fear. It has to outweigh the fear. That’s all it is.

I spent a lot of time studying successful people, reading a lot of books by successful people and I found out and this should comfort you. That everybody’s scared. Everybody’s terrified. The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do it anyway. That’s the only difference between the two.

They feel the same emotions, the successful people, they’re also afraid of rejection, they’re also afraid of failure, they’re also afraid of success, they’re also afraid of all kinds of things happening, we can talk about those specifics, but they do it anyway. They just have, I don’t know what is that missing ingredient. I think it’s just they’re willing to take a risk.

11:45 CJ: Right, well, II think what you said earlier. To me, it’s the crux of all of this which is, your scales are out of balance and any sort of pain in life is that, it’s scales out of balance and we all want justice which means equalizing the balance. Think of that pair of ancient scales. If you’re focusing so much on the pain or what it is that you’re afraid of then your scale is lopsided. 

We have to put something on the other side of the scale to even it out and it’s what you just said. You know, which is focusing on the thing that you really want to do which is how you described your own personal story I think which is so important and such a great example. Because out of your step, even though we’re seeing through a glass darkly, you didn’t have a full semblance of where you were headed, you didn’t know where things were headed.

Either was so much out there, you just were going to take a step on yourself, believe in yourself and take a step out for yourself, past your fear but out of that came Savvy Musician Academy, several albums, hundreds of thousands of people and fans all over the world, changing the lives of musicians and I mean, you name it.

You’re still not even done yet. It’s like, we can’t see everything contained in a seed of what is potential. We know at least it can produce a forest. The more you meditate on the fact that so much can come out of your investment in yourself, so much can come out of you doing what you fear, then the more you think about that and the more you can envision that then the more you’re going to throw weight on the other side of that scale and suddenly, that pain from fear is not so painful anymore.

The greater pain will be I want what I want and the fact that it’s not there yet, you haven’t put that album out yet, you haven’t done the things that you said you were going to do. That’s again, it’s a powerfulness force but move forward into a knowing. Because like Leah described, so much came out of that simple step of faith we’ll call it, that she took and it continues to grow it, continues to work for her because with each new challenge, with each new barrier, she’s got to push past fear again.

We all have to do that and it’s the ongoing fear of failure, you know? You and I talk a lot about business and some of you might not know this but Leah is not just all about music, she has multiplicity of interests and she’s often telling me about little things that she’s doing on the side or thinking about doing and what not, we were talking about something earlier.

Without going into the details of it all, I thought it was just a great example of again, just putting yourself on a position where you’ve got to overcome the potential resistance that comes naturally from fear. Fears of failure, fears of success, et cetera.

14:38 Leah: That’s’ right. Yeah. I won’t get into it too much now but basically, I was trying to think of ways I can teach my kids about business and I know that kids, since we home school, it’s got to be hands-on, they’ve got to have some kind of a stake in it, some kind of ownership, some kind of expression so we’re coming up with some craft ideas and things like that that we can do together and this is really going to be fun and I could see it actually taking on a life of its own.

I’ll share more in the future ones we kind of get things of the ground, I’ll share about that story when the time is right but you still face the same things that’s going from idea. Hey, I’ve never done this before, I don’t know anything about it, I better start researching to from that idea to okay, now I’m going to take an action, let’s see what supplies do we need, let’s go to the craft store, let’s get what we need so putting some skin in the game right out of the gate and then testing a whole bunch of testing.

We’ll find out what works if it’s going to work out the way we think it’s going to and we’ll probably have some failures and then you know, we’ll put it out there and we’re going to learn together and this again teaching my kids and I get to learn with them which is going to be super fun.

And then, I get to teach my kids about marketing, we get to probably put something up on a Shopify store and teach them about this, that and the other thing. The whole thing is like, could it fail? Yeah, could it also succeed? Yes, it could. I mean I have an advantage now that I never had before, which is I understand online marketing. This is what I’ve always been telling our students this whole time especially our elite program and even those in the Tom program. You understand online marketing, you can sell anything. You can sell handmade soap, you can sell Kleenex. It doesn’t even matter what it is. 

If you understand those fundamentals and those principles anything can work for you now because you understand it. So you have an advantage over everybody else. So just putting whatever handcrafted stuff they made in their garage on Etsy and think that “Well the platform has the customer so I don’t have to do anything.” That’s the big difference and so my kids are going to get a hands-on experience learning about research, taking ownership in something. 

Risk, putting it out there and yeah, do I sit around thinking about all the ways it could fail and all the ways that we could get screwed and the way that we could lose our money from the supplies we have invested in? Like if I did that, what do you think the outcome would be? 

17:05 CJ: Right. 

17:06 Leah: I mean there are people that this is what’s tripping them up. They are just thinking about all the ways it could go wrong, all the ways they could get screwed, all the ways that it won’t work out and there is something to be said about what you dwell upon is probably going to happen, right? You don’t want to sit there and dwell on things that you don’t want. You should instead dwell on the things you do want to happen. 

And this actually, I did have a nice experience with this. My first ever live speaking engagement that I had and it was – I do so many live events online but in person is a totally different thing and I was really nervous. I had a lot of nerves just in my stomach because it was weird because my mind was saying one thing, my body was doing something else. It took me a while to get control of my body. If we are talking about fear here so one of the things that I want people to know is that I spent quite a bit of time. 

Leading up to this speaking event, visualizing and almost like frame by frame, picturing how exactly I wanted it to go, how I wanted myself to feel in the moment. So instead of feeling like I had major butterflies in my stomach, I imagined myself feeling completely confident and this is, “I am at home right now” like this is where I am supposed to be. I am at home, this is normal, there is nothing unusual about this.” So I just rehearsed that feeling over and over and over. 

I spent – I’d wake up and I would just spend 20 minutes just lying there doing that and I would get my body to a point where that adrenaline and stuff would leave and I would come back later in the day but I would just go back to that place and it was really cool on the plane ride over. Before this speaking engagement, I wrote down a list of how I wanted to feel afterwards with like when I am done these are the things that I want to feel. 

And I was just being very intentional and very purposeful in how I want my body to react and what I want my brain to do and it was really cool because the speaking engagement went almost exactly how I imagined it to go. Almost exactly and it was the first 30 seconds was like, “Oh holy crap” you know? And then it was gone and then it was like I am at home now. Okay, I have done this 100 times because it was all rehearsed in my mind and this is not a new concept. 

I think Tony Robbins and NLP and whatever these things are called, I am pretty sure this is like athletes do this. I know they do that, you know Olympic athletes they rehearse mentality, you know golfers and stuff before they ever get on the field. So, I think that it is really powerful. I am amazed at what the brain can do. I am amazed at how powerful the mind is. So you know when it comes to fear and taking risks and being uncomfortable, there is a lot of layers to this. 

Number one I think you need to first believe that it is not going to control you or make the decision that is it not going to control your outcome. It is not going to control your decisions. It is not the end-all of your future. You can have fear, you can experience it like I said my body was doing one thing. My mind was doing another, but I didn’t let my body make the decision. I could have cancelled the speaking engagement because my body was freaking out. 

I had butterflies and I couldn’t stop that would be dumb. So you know that is a big one is do not let the fear make the decision. Your brain needs to make the decision and then you can train your body to do what you want it to after the fact. 

20:50 CJ: Yeah that is so true. Again, this is something that happens in the mind and so that can be changed. If what you are afraid of is actually real, if the scarecrow was actually real then there is something to be afraid of, but the farmer is relying on the fact that the crow can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination. So fear is actually based on the imagination, which is why we can scare ourselves to death. You know we can imagine. 

We torment ourselves with our imagination and so you can hear thunder and lightning outside and the lightning is flashing and suddenly the coat rack looks like there is somebody in the room, what happens? Your heart rate goes up, your body temperature increases, right? You have actual – 

21:38 Leah: Cortisol. 

21:38 CJ: Right, physical changes to something that’s not even there. So you know two people can approach an airplane or a roller coaster or whatever. For one person that rollercoaster releases endorphins because they love that experience. The other person is releasing adrenalin and cortisol because they are scared to death of it. They are going to experience the same physical thing. They’re both going to be rocked at the same way. 

They are both going to go at the same speed. It is the exact same rollercoaster but their body is released completely different chemicals not based on anything that’s tangibly real. Simply based on what is going on in their mind that’s your power of fear and yeah, you want to move into those fears. You want to move into the thing that you are afraid of because again, it is a powerless force and probably the two ones that people most know about Leah are the fear of failure and the fear of success. 

The one that we understand I think the best is the fear of failure as you have described it and I think one reason why people are afraid of failure is because they begin with this starting point that they are a loser, you know what I mean? That they have made too many mistakes. They’ve had too many failures. That is the way they see their personal narrative. So they are afraid to try something too big because they feel that they will fail and that that failure will prove what they have always told themselves that they are a loser. 

So they are scared of that judgment. Fear of success has a similar form of judgment because you’re afraid, at that point not at failure but you are afraid of the criticism that success will bring because you are putting yourself out especially with this stuff that you teach where somebody is creating the social media following and engagement and they’re doing Facebook live videos and sharing their heart that sort of thing. They are scared to death of the trolls. 

They are scared to death of the critics. Well we see this in the elite group where someone is getting negative comments and they are asking us what to do about that. We had to get past that as people being online a long time ago but for them it is new and there is that fear element there whether it a fear of failure in front of others, which confirms the fact that you are a loser or a fear of success where you’re afraid of the criticism. 

24:20 Leah: I think with fear of success, I also think that there could be a fear of screwing it up once you have a little bit of success. I can speak to that one. Well, we had some explosive success in growth with Savvy Musician Academy like immediately after we launched it, it was very unexpected. It was the last thing I expected, in fact, I had no idea that it would resonate the way it did very strange experience to have and because we had struggled in our marriage and financially for so long. 

And because I come from a background of never having money or anything and then this explosive growth, the first feeling I had was not like, “Oh we won the lottery” far from it. It was I don’t want to screw this up. Now there are customers depending on us, we have so much responsibility now. There is that and then I also have this weird feeling that came on me like I feel like something bad is going to happen now like I don’t know what that was. That was weird and I couldn’t shake it for six months. 

It was just this explosive growth and then that must mean something bad. I don’t even enjoy it for a second Leah, don’t even enjoy it and I feel like that made a little devil in my shoulder or something but it was like, “Don’t even enjoy any of this because it is all going to be taken from you tomorrow” and so there is a weird thing that happens and I don’t know if it is just in creative people or all entrepreneurs but I found out later on that this is not unique to me. 

That a lot of people do experience that. So, it is a fear of screwing it up. It is a fear of especially if you have any success that is rather quick and some people in our programs they are experiencing some quick growth and you just think, “Oh geez” I have never actually talked about this before publically or just like delved into it and I am sure there is a lot of layers underneath that one particular fear of it is all going to go away but I think there is something to be said about a fear of success there. 

So I was never afraid to be successful. It was more like I don’t want to ruin things. I don’t want to disappoint people. I don’t want to be a bad steward of any of what we have of this company, of our staff. All of a sudden it requires you to level up to a new place in your character and if you are not prepared for that, I think that’s scary. What do you think when I tell you that? 

26:51 CJ: You know I think you’re exactly right. I think the keyword you just said there is character, which is part of the problem with overnight successes is that they don’t have the character to sustain that sort of growth, which is why things like the courses that you teach specifically this elite academy are good because there is a process to it. It is not easy. We mentioned David Williams at the outset talking about some of the struggles that he had and voiced as he was working through the process. 

But what it does is it gives you this appreciation for the growth that you experienced in anything that takes a long time to achieve because it gives you then the character to sustain that success. We don’t trust ourselves, you know? So it is ultimately coming back to that sense of insecurity, which is why again you have to have a firm belief in two fundamental things. Number one, that there are principles that exists in this world to create any desired outcome that you have. 

27:50 Leah: Yeah. 

27:51 CJ: If you are dreaming about sending a rocket into space, if you are dreaming about whatever it may be, the principles are there to achieve any outcome that you want especially selling music online. So the principles exist to achieve any outcome that you want and then secondly, you have to believe that you are fully able to apply those principles consistently to create that outcome. If you doubt either one of those, right? 

If you say no I am really good at what I do but the universe is just against me, that’s not going to work or if you say, “No, I know the principles out there and they work but I don’t trust myself” well then that is not going to work either. You got to fully convince that the principles exist, and you got to be fully convinced that you have the power and the capacity to do it and I guarantee you that you do. You might say, “Well CJ, Leah, I haven’t ever done it in the past.” 

So I have tried before and then I give up or I tried before I get discouraged. I tried before and I fell off the wagon, you know got off course, whatever it may be well, so what? I mean if I could show up to your house every day and point a gun to your head, I could get you to do everything you needed to do to become a billionaire, right? Well, I am not going to show up every day but what it tells you is, you have that potential. What you don’t have necessarily is the pressure or the motivation. 

Or whatever it takes to get you to enact that out and so, CJ well what’s the difference? Well, the difference is there is good news because as we said before, we can change you. If the musical gods are just against you, if the powers that be, if the powers of the force just hates you and don’t want you to succeed and it is going to block your success no matter how hard you try or how good you are, if the universe is against you, well then we are helpless. 

We’re hopeless, there is nothing that we can do. So what’s going to have to happen then for you is a simple change in your beliefs. Fear is the most powerful yet powerless force you are facing and don’t let it rob you of the life that you’ve got. 

30:03 Leah: We’re done here now. 

30:05 CJ: That settles that.

30:06 Leah: Yeah, no that’s so good. It’s so true and knowing that one last point here, you’re going to screw up. You are going to mess it up. It is not going to go well all the time and just be okay with that, just get over it. I accept the fact that in some future speaking engagement I am going to screw up. I fumble on my words sometimes. Sometimes I think one thing and my mouth doesn’t want to work correctly, whatever. Who cares? 

At the end of the day, nobody freaking cares and I think that if we realize that people don’t think about us as much as we think they do, we would do a whole lot more.

30:44 CJ: Ain’t that funny? That is so funny. Well guys listen, I know we’ve gotten psychological on you in the last couple of episodes, but I think this stuff is so necessary. Like I’ve said before, you could achieve tremendous success with half of the stuff Leah teaches you but you can’t do anything with a 100% of what she teaches you if you’re stopping yourself and so that is why psychology here is just so important and let me just say again, we’ve got so many great reviews from you guys. 

So we are kind of addicted now so we want to hear more from you guys. So please, take the time right now to go and leave us a review on whatever player you are listening on. Give us some stars if they gave you that option. Go into the group if you are in our free mastermind group or in our student group for Tom or even Elite, please give us feedback and if there is something you’d like for us to cover, maybe have some good ideas for a show, feel free to leave that as well but always a pleasure Leah, good to see you. 

31:46 Leah: Yeah, you too. Thanks guys and take care.