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Episode #054: Growing Your Music Business With Less Stress

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

Key Points from This Episode:

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

Tweetables:

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

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

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Fiverr — https://www.fiverr.com/

Upwork — https://www.upwork.com/

99designs — https://99designs.com/

Rob Hulford (Student Spotlight) — https://www.robhulford.com/ 

Click For Full Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

01:39 Leah: I know, me too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

03:55 Leah: Good job, Rob.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

09:40 Leah: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:44 Leah: Yup.

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

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

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

14:51 Leah: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31:35 Leah: Yeah, exactly. 

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

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

31:41 CJ: You did cover a lot. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode #053: Why We Charge For Information

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

Key Points from This Episode:

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

Tweetables:

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

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

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

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Join Savvy Musician Academy — www.callsma.com

Berklee College of Music — https://www.berklee.edu/

Click For Full Transcript

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

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

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

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

00:48Leah: It does.

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

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

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

01:25 Leah: That’s so true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

03:47 Leah: Right.

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

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

04:22 CJ: Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07:01 Leah: Yup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10:58 Leah: It’s lead gen.

11:01 CJ: That’s a marketing term.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17:41 Leah: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

19:33 Leah: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26:01 CJ: Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29:21 CJ: None so – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Points From This Episode:

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

Tweetables:

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

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

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

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Suzanne Paulinski — https://therockstaradvocate.com/

Marie Forleo — https://www.marieforleo.com/

The War of Art on Amazon — https://amzn.to/2KjKoqS 

Click For Full Transcript

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

00:39 Leah: Fantastic, how are you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

05:03 Leah: Fantastic, yeah.

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

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

06:03 Suz: Yeah, absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you help people accomplish things like that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know that’s a big deal. It’s got to be something you encounter a lot yourself, right?

15:25 Suz: Absolutely. I’m so glad you said fear of success because so many say, fear of failure and we’re not afraid of failure, we’ll take that any day of the week because we were comfortable with it. We know what that looks like no matter what you’re aiming for, failure’s always going to feel the same no matter what. But when your goals are different, each time it’s higher, each time it’s a new thing. Success is always going to feel unknown because you’ve never been at that next level.

We fear the unknown and that is success is what’s unknown to us in each step of the way and so, yeah, I encounter that constantly and you know, a lot of it and as you were basically explaining fraud talk which is that imposter syndrome of I’m not good at this, somebody else is going to do it better, people are going to say nasty things about me online and we talk ourselves out of things. 

The micro-tasking also helps break it down like you said, taking that first step up the mountain. What I also like to do with them is to do an exercise to look back at what you’ve already accomplished that you never thought you did. Even if you think you haven’t accomplished anything. I bet when you were little, you didn’t think you could tie your shoes or you never thought you’d learn how to ride a bike or there are always things that we overcome.

We forget that. We forget to celebrate the small wins. I’m a big proponent of number one, always being in a place of gratitude and definitely being thankful for what you already have but to also celebrate the small wins. If you’re in a bad spot right now and you got up out of bed today, that’s awesome.

If you were able to put on a clean set of clothes and go outside and take on the day, even if it didn’t go your way, that’s awesome, celebrate that like each time you can celebrate something, even if it’s sometimes if I’m really scared to start something, I’ll add to my list, things I’ve already done like brush my teeth, ate breakfast, walk the dog, just so I can start crossing things off and then I’m like I like that feeling. I want to continue that.

I think that’s a big thing is that as you said, we look at the mountain and there’s so many things that we do that we take for granted that we should be celebrating.

17:29 CJ: Yeah, we have a very similar perspective, it’s almost scary. Because I’ll often tell my people, you know, we’ve got to celebrate the little victories. Just like it may seem like you clear off your desk or you rearrange a space or you clean out a closet.

To really get excited about that, make a big deal about it and why would you make a big deal about it, well, I said, it’s – I had small kids at one time and we made a big deal when they first ate their broccoli, that was a big deal. When they first did it, we’re like yay, you ate your broccoli. Because then we wanted to associate that this was a big accomplishment, you know? You do because you didn’t get to this lack of confidence overnight, it wasn’t a single even that gave you a traumatic experience.

It’s the adding up of little defeats. You reverse engineer that to say okay, well, let’s add a new thing, just a multiplicity of little victories to create this greater sense of self-confidence. They want it so fast, I understand because you know, the democratization of media means you can get started today. You can launch that YouTube channel today and that’s kind of frightening and I guess, there is that security in something like a label because it’s like okay, well, there’s already a process in place and there’s people in place and there’s other people that they’re going to have to do all that.

That’s now all on me. It kind of also gives you a bunch of stuff to stay busy with and not have to put yourself out there.

18:53 Suz: I’ve noticed the other thing is too and it all gets tied into fear of success but if it’s a label and they mess up or your album doesn’t sell or you’re show doesn’t sell out, well, they messed up, it’s not on you. If you can build a team and when things go wrong, you’re so willing to just get out, well they messed up. 

First of all, no matter what team you have or what labels signs you, the buck still ends with you. No matter what, it’s going to be your brand and your name and your career that’s at stake. A label’s not going to make that go away but that’s what we tell ourselves.

Another thing is too is the decision fatigue and I’m actually writing a book on that now is you know, when musicians just, okay, you just do it, can’t you do it for me, you know this stuff, just tell me what to do and it’s like, well, I don’t know because I’m not choosing your dream but you need to make the decision but I just did a podcast episode on the streets of me where it’s just, when we have so many decisions to make all the time constantly day after day. You’re not only many of our friends and family might go to a job and their boss says, I need this by this time and here’s the work and just do it. 

As a musicpreneur, you have to invent the work, create the work, set the deadlines, carry out the work, fix the work. Promote the work, there is so many decisions along the way that we do get fatigued and so when we’re not mono tasking, when we’re multitasking or we’re doing so many different things at once, trying to get it all done in a rush, you’re actually contextually shifting.

That contextual shifting like say, creating your social media graphics while you’re also writing your newsletter, why you’re also taking a call and your brain is doing so many different contextual tasks at once. Then you’re not, you’re exhausting yourself on top of that. There’s a whole lot of things that go into this one and this is why mono tasking is so important and the last thing I’ll say about it is when we do all that stuff, another thing I like to tell people is okay, I get that you’re trying to be productive.

What’s better and you’ll see this once you’re micro tasking out your list, you’ll start to see things that you can batch together, when you batch things, that means you’re taking things that use the same contextual focus. Maybe you need graphics score at your CD release but you also need it for something else you’re promoting and you also need to figure YouTube cover photos and you also like, fine, you have different projects you might be working on but they all need graphics. Do all the graphics. I do all the graphics at once.

If there are a bunch of videos you want to set up the camera, lights and microphone one time and then do record all of them. But then edit them all separately or delegate the editing to somebody else. Don’t constantly shift back and forth between different types of mental focuses because that’s going to exhaust you and overwhelm you very quickly.

21:42 Leah: Man, I can really relate to what you just said there because in fact, with me running two businesses, my music business and then SMA. I’ve learned this. That’s exactly what I learned. That I cannot context switch between like even if I’m working on networking, I’m working on a new album right now. I do not work on my album in the morning and then work on Savvy Musician Academy later the same day because it’s a completely different frame of mind, a different mindset, all of it.

What we’ve done right now, I don’t recommend running two businesses but, it’s really hard. The way we did it is, I have literally full designated days for music like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday right now because I’m working on an album. Those days are all in, I’m all in music, there’s nothing else on my schedule at all except work on that.

There’s a lot, that can be anything music-related, whether we’re working on my album or music business or my eCommerce shop. All of it, it’s just that brand that I’m working on and then the other days of the week, it’s only Savvy Musician Academy. I’m coaching, I’m podcasting, creating content, writing emails, all of it, all in.

That helps me because I wake up and I can be focused and I’m like in a certain mindset. I can mentally prepare before I go into the day and the night before. I just found that made a huge world of difference and then I even do the same thing like I want to talk about your experience with musicians who have children because that’s a lot of us.

We do a lot of batching, in terms of just think like meal prep as well. We do some meal prep on Sundays, I love the Instapot, I don’t know if you were instant pot or Instapot, I don’t know. It’s like a pressure cooker, we just like do all the chicken at once, you know? Then it goes in the fridge or the freezer. That kind of thing. It really helps, it just categorize these different things and then batch them, it makes a big difference.

23:33 Suz: Absolutely, yeah, I love that you time block because it’s a big thing of what I teach and I’m also happy to share, I have a free audio tutorial on how to time block and I’m happy to share that with your audience. It’s basically taking all that stuff and saying it. Boundaries give you freedom, that’s what I say all the time.

23:52 Leah: Totally, yeah.

23:54 Suz: If you again, helping your decision fatigue, if you’re somebody that feels like I don’t want to make another decision. Time blocking, which is basically what you described, is so important because I always say too, there’s like the shiny object syndrome. I see musicians constantly where they’re working on something and then they’ve got their email open and the email comes along and says hey, I need this. Okay, they drop what they’re doing and then they go do that because we’ve learned, with technology in the last 15 years is this false urgency, everything is urgent.

I hear a beep and I must respond to it, right now. It’s like, really? Because I remember life without cellphones and when you got to the office, they couldn’t reach you, that was it. This is a job and as much as you love it and it’s a passion and maybe, whether you have kids or not, you wish you could devote 24/7 to it, that’s not realistic and it also doesn’t – it’s not sustainable for your health but also for your creativity.

You need to close the books on that and walk away from what you’re doing. If you say to yourself, I do the same thing with my business, I say okay, clients, I only work with clients from Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Obviously, if something happens and it’s important they need to schedule a call on a Tuesday. Okay, we work that out but if somebody says to me, hey, I’d love to hop on a call with you, when are you free?

I say, well, here is my calendar link and pick one and they’ll be Monday, Wednesday and Friday available that they can choose from. You know, rather than say, I don’t know what’s better for you and then I turn myself into a pretzel. You know, I think doing that insane no to things and saying I’ll answer – I’ll look at emails once in the morning and once at night and that’s it. 

Giving yourself that permission is a huge game changer and that’s definitely something that I say to my clients who have children where it’s – I tell them to schedule it just as if they would have another day job too. It’s like being a parent is a job, it’s a full-time job. You have to carve out, okay, here are my time for my kids and my family, here’s what I’m responsible for. I walk through that in the time blocking exercise.

First goes on, what are your responsibilities? Where are you needed and when and that in that free time, we plan in a 24 hour day, we don’t have the 24 hour day. You have maybe a four-hour day and what happens is you plan for 24 hour day, you get disappointed because you didn’t get half your stuff done and it’s not because you’re not good enough, it’s because you were just being unrealistic. 

You can’t stop the time continuum, you have to work with a realistic timetable and once you start blocking out your schedule, you realize, I can only really get one extra task done tomorrow. Let me plan for that and finish it and feel good. Because that was realistic. If there’s one meme I hate more than anything out there, it’s the, you have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé because you absolutely do not. Beyoncé doesn’t even have 24 hours in the day and she has an endless stream of people helping her to be the incredible person that she is.

26:58 Leah: She has a massive team.

27:00 Suz: Yeah, it is unrealistic and it is unhealthy for us to say, “I am not Beyoncé yet so I must not want it badly enough.” It is like, no when she sleeps, believe me, she gets a whole night’s rest, believe me. So you can’t compare apples to oranges in that way. 

27:16 Leah: Oh my gosh, yeah. You said so many things there that I resonate with and even with the shiny object syndrome problem, wow. I mean I think everybody has that a little bit even with social media. Anybody can reach us at any time all day long. It is even hard for me because I log into Facebook on my personal account and I have all the notifications not just from my personal life but from all my students, all my Facebook groups like my fans on top of that. 

There is so much going on like I have to put – I mean that is actually a weakness of mine. It is like I go to log in for personal reasons and then there is all these non-personal stuff. There is work and fun and music in everything there. We are just inundated with this and then the other shiny object syndrome I see a lot is with programs. I mean I feel it myself but I try to tell my students, if you are going through a program just focus on that one program. 

Don’t get sidetracked with like signing up for another program or even another one of my other programs. Do one at a time, just stay focused. One of our students, actually it was Lauren, she came up with the acronym, what was it, FTFC, Follow the Freaking Course because she shared the story on our coaching call because we are so easily sidetracked. We so easily go off the path that we know we’re supposed to be on. So many resonate with a lot of what you are saying but shiny object syndrome, man yeah this is full of good stuff here. 

28:53 Suz: And as you said, yeah I have actually turned students away if I ask them how many other courses that you are currently signed up for and I will say because I don’t want you to get crappy results from working with me and you are not going to get the results you want if you have already committed to other things. So yeah, I totally feel that. 

29:11 Leah: Yeah, for sure. Can you speak a little bit on specifics of musicians who do have kids? I can chime in as well but what are the main obstacles that you are finding with people that have kids or say like a very, maybe they’re in school fulltime or they have a lot of obligations but they have to do music. So what is the main piece of advice that you have for them? 

29:33 Suz: Yeah, it is a two-part with those types of clients that usually it is a lot of guilt mixed with a lot of resentment and then it is an endless cycle and then I feel guilty for being resentful and then it is like this whole big thing instead of again realizing you can still make progress. You are already being very unrealistic about how fast that progress is going to happen. So rather than being so consumed with it is going to take me longer, yeah it probably will. 

But you will do it rather than sitting there complaining that it is going to take you longer and you haven’t taken that first step yet. If you can get a schedule down where you are maybe most people could have six hours in a day to give to their career, maybe you only have one or two but if you can commit to that and be boundary with that and treat that as sacred time, treat it like it is your own child then that will work and I think with the guilt, you know I always talk about the oxygen mask principle. 

You know we have been on planes before and they say when the oxygen mask comes down even if a baby is next to you, you put your mask on first because you have to be able to help them and if you’re gasping for air and you are running out of breath you are not going to be able to help them correctly. So it is the same thing where it is our instinct especially as women I have to say. I notice it is so much more of my female clients it’s, “Let me drop that. It is not worth it. Let me help them.” 

But then the resentment comes up and it’s like, yes because we have to be able to give ourselves permission to want what we want and draw that boundary in and both my parents worked and my mom went back to school after I was born and I was already in a daycare and she would have to bring me to class sometimes and you know I am going to be quiet in the back of the room and sit there and then she would have to come home and she needed that night out with her girlfriends. 

So she’d say, “You know you are with your grandma or you are with your dad tonight and I am going out” and no matter how much we cried and we wanted her it’s like, “No this is my time. I am entitled to it and this is what I am going to go do” and I think as parents in general I think it is important to have that and obviously every stage of being a parent maybe you have infants, maybe you have teenagers, the responsibilities are going to be different. 

But you can still find something to draw a boundary around and say this is my time because you are also going to be a great example to your kids going after what you’re passionate about and you are going to be a better parent who is happy and you are fulfilled and it has such a great domino effect. 

32:00 CJ: Yeah, that does really. You are a better version of yourself, you know? There is a good reason for you to succeed and do what it is that you want to do with your life because you are so much easier to live with. You have so much more to give, right? You have so much to give, you’ll be so much more encouraging, so much more of an example, et cetera. There is nothing but incentive to do that and I think you’re dead right to say that this is a handicap for a lot of women.

Especially once they get into that wife and mother role because it is so in your nature to put others above yourself. It’s just it. 

32:36 Suz: Yeah and I have to say another quick thing about that is that I am not a parent. Every single one of my friends is basically on their second kid by now just from a lot of observing of this. Another thing is too and I’ve learned this myself just being an entrepreneur, but you’ve got to live in the mess. Obviously when you have children especially some of my friends is so type A and everything is organized and everything is scheduled and then the kids you can’t predict who is going to get sick. 

Or who is going to need you or who’s going to fall and hurt themselves or all of that stuff. So you know you are learning as a parent to live in the mess and you have to learn that for your career as well. You know I am a time management expert. I still struggle sometimes where things pop up and they have to take priority, you know family comes first obviously and there is boundaries but then there is also realizing, “Okay my kid is sick and I have to stay home and take care of them” and that’s that. 

And so, some of my clients would beat themselves up. “I didn’t get to finish that song, I didn’t do my social media this week as much as I want to because my child was sick and I had to take them to the doctor” and I say, “Okay but you did what you had to do right? I mean you were proactive and taking care of what was in front of you and you did that.” so you have to embrace the mess and no, maybe I don’t keep to the schedule all the time but I know that’s my structure to go back to. 

That is what I aim for and that is what you work towards. You are not always going to get it and then that is okay. Acknowledgement over judgment and I think we just have to keep repeating that to ourselves.

34:08 CJ: Yeah, guilt is a handicap, man. It really is. 

34:13 Leah: Yeah and that scenario happens to me all the time by the way because I have five kids, not just one but there is a lot of variables in my household. A lot of variables and I work with my husband too. So there is a lot going on and I think having some time management skills and programs, you know there is lots of different project management type software, Asana and they really help because and I always say the tool doesn’t really matter right? 

It doesn’t matter that you have something, you have a plan and that is the whole reason why it is useful because life is going to throw a curveball and if you have kids, you have a lot of curveballs and then you just get right back on track to where you were, right? If you are on a diet or something and then you go out to eat and you have something you don’t normally have, “I don’t normally have this” and then you go back to what you are doing right after that, right? 

It’s just getting back on track and then it doesn’t have to be so stressful. It’s like I have the plan, something came up that it doesn’t normally happen and whatever, I am going to get back on track. I know where I am going. I know what I am doing. I know what my goal is and it’s great and so I just feel like it relieves some of that pressure to have that in place. So I mean CJ and I did a podcast recently on annual planning actually and so some of the things I am doing – 

I mean I do an annual plan but then I also do some quarterly planning. So I am sticking to the 90 day thing because I feel like beyond 90 days starts to be a little unrealistic and I have found you probably can tell me about this that, I mean so many things come up even in a 90 day period of time that completely change what you thought you were going to do and so I mean I have learned that both in business and personal life and in my music life that I plan on reaching this goal. 

And if I say I want to be this place a year from now, it is really tough to actually see that happen whereas a 90-day goal is within a close enough reach that is actually kind of attainable but even then, I got to be willing to pivot and adapt, be very adaptable. I mean that is the one piece of advice I have. So what have you noticed in terms of like goal setting, in terms of timelines and stuff? 

36:26 Suz: Absolutely. I am 100% with you. I first heard of the 90-day sprints from Todd Herman and – 

36:33 Leah: I love Todd, he’s great. 

36:34 Suz: Yeah, I love his stuff and I am the same way. I have been creating the rock star life planner for about four years now and this past year we finally put in front of the book a section about why should I plan out my year if I can’t predict it and I guess I was having a lot of clients say, “Well I spend this time to think about my goals and plan out how my year is going to go and it never goes as planned. So why should I bother?” and all of that stuff. 

Here is the thing, I like to plan in pencil for the year. I don’t need to spend too much time doing it but I spend a little bit of time thinking what would I like to accomplish in the year and then doing that as I am sure you’ll find too, I like to do the quarterly just as you said because then I could work backwards and say, “Well then what could I take on this quarter and then what can I take on this month and what needs to be done this week and tomorrow and right now?” 

And what I always say to that is yes, I understand the frustrations when you have to pivot or things don’t go as planned and then musicians usually like to be more in the moment but if you are not working backwards and you don’t know what the first step to take. So if you are just going to blindly say, “Oh well I’d do this now but you don’t have an intention of what impact that is going to have, then you are not really doing for physical action with it. 

So I like to start with a year, get just basic structure, basic hopes and dreams for it and then as you said, once I get to a quarter let’s get real specific and then every week, at the end of every week I always reflect on what’s happened. What worked, what didn’t, let me look at my monthly goal, am I still on track, do I need to change my goal because we are learning every day. I’m sure like your students take your course and they learn something new. 

And in order for them to not make it a shiny object syndrome, they are going to have to take a moment and say, “Wow that is some really great information. Where do I work that into my plan right now? Do I do that now or do I finish what I was doing and then I act on what I just learned?” You know it is understanding where things fall in your list of priorities. So it is very important to be okay with the mess, be okay with the pivoting and it’s not that you were wrong. 

We blame ourselves, “Well I was wrong. I planned for the year and I didn’t do what I set out to do and I stink because I couldn’t predict it” You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. So as you go, it is not about being wrong, it is just about collecting more data points and being able to make a smarter vision as you go and it is all about that science experiment mentality of like, “I’m going to give it an educated guess. I am going to experiment and then I’m going to look at my data and then redo it and do it again in a more specific manner.”

39:10 CJ: It’s funny how we introduce the moral question to all of these things you don’t do it and so I must be something wrong as if guilt and self-condemnation are going to get you any quicker to your goal. We could probably go all day with extremely practical and helpful tips about time management organization and planning and you still come back to this initial hurdle of just how much people trip, you know? Life is hard enough as it is. 

You compound the problem when you are adding this anxiousness about it you know? That has to be frustrating a bit for you as a coach because you are like, “Okay these tips that you are giving them could help them so much if you could get them to chill out.” Don’t take it so seriously, it’s not the end of the world. 

40:02 Suz: Right, I was lucky enough when I worked at Atlantic Records. My boss would always say, “We’re not curing cancer.” Like if you make a mistake, you know yes, what we can do is very impactful. Music can be very impactful but you know it is okay, the world will live if I mess up on my podcast or if I write a blog post and if I leave out a tip or I don’t include something or maybe it is not as clear as I hoped it could be. It’s like, okay I have another shot to clarify it or to edit it or to go back and update it. 

There are always things – you know Marie Forleo, I am a big fan of hers and she always says everything is figure-outable and I spent a year literally every morning repeating that to myself and it did wonders for my mind because I have anxiety too and I get that way the minute the plan doesn’t go as planned. It’s like, “Well why? What did I do wrong or why can’t the universe work in my favour?” You know I merely in my what are three things I am grateful for and I am going to repeat to myself I will figure this out. There will be a solution just keep going. Just keep swimming. 

41:08 CJ: Yeah, you know why, I guess asking yourself why is never a great way to start a question, you know always better to say how “How can I get it?” from not “Why am I…” because the obvious answer is going to be is well because you are a loser or at least that is what we’ll tell ourselves. Why can’t I get this figured out? Because you’re a loser. We don’t ask why and so, “How can I get this figured out?” You know I’ll often tell people that because of the concept of worry and anxiousness, which pervades anybody who’s trying to do anything great. 

And it’s not used to that going to this next levels of achievement, that worry is just there. It’s just there and I’ll often say that worry is self-prayer and you make a terrible god because it’s as if you’re constantly going over these anxious thoughts in your mind as if somehow, you are going to produce an answer that way. So you are almost petitioning yourself and it never ever seems to work out. I love what you said about what the record label said. 

You are not curing cancer. This is again, we are bringing all of this to the table. We are bringing all of this extra baggage to something that is actually just very practical. It is a very practical thing. You know we dress it up like it is. We put the makeup on the dress and everything on and make it more than it is but it is funny how we do that now, but especially creative souls because they are so sensitive. 

42:28 Leah: Do you find musicians and creative people resist these kinds of methods at first? Like are they afraid of structure and boundaries and routine and productivity or do you find like okay, once they got over the hurdle of that, they just fly like what is your experience in that regard? 

42:48 Suz: Yeah, that is a great question. One of the first things that ends up happening is they are resisting at first because they look at boundaries or routines as, “It will stifle me and I am a musician, I don’t know when I am going to create and I don’t know when I am going to hit that flow and so I can’t live in these boxes.” one of the things I always say is boundaries, you have the power to move them and you can always change them and alter them but you should have them up. 

Again, it is all about giving yourself freedom to have a starting point and if you give yourself too many options and it is a blank canvas that you are working on, you are never going to take that first step because again, I mean we are still animals and animals fear the unknown. So if you don’t know what direction or when you’re going to make a decision to work on something and put your focus on it, yeah maybe you’ll say Saturday for two hours. 

I’m going to lock myself in the studio and write a song and maybe you do that and it doesn’t work out. Okay but you tried it and then you learn from it and maybe Saturday afternoons aren’t my sweet spot or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood that day, whatever happens, you can then work around it but you got to first try it and take action and the other thing I say to them too is with time blocking. I have my blocks of time all set up. I can always move them. 

I could always say, “Oh that two hour thing I am going to break it up into one hour chunks for these two days for this week” because that is what this calls for and that’s what I am going to do and I have the power to give myself permission to do that but I am not deleting the time blocks. The reason time blocking is so important is because you are giving space to the things that matter and if you start deleting them and replacing them with stuff, I always say to people it is like when you have a kid. 

And they want your attention and you say, “Not now. I am doing this other thing” and you don’t give them attention eventually. What happens is they start screaming, “Mom!” 

44:43 Leah: Or they light the house on fire. 

44:44 Suz: Right, exactly. You need to pay attention and that’s that resentment. That’s, “Oh I don’t have time for that” or “Oh I know I said I’d write for two hours on Saturday but I decided to go do this other collaboration” or go to this networking event and so if you are not moving those two hours somewhere else will eventually give attention. If you are just deleting it that resentment is growing and you’re at that networking event not focusing on making connections. 

But you are focusing on, “I can’t believe I have to be here. I should be in my studio. I wanted to be in my studio. I don’t want to be here” rather than, “Okay I am going to do this now and I will do my studio later this evening rather than this afternoon because this was also important. You know understanding that there is a compromise and that there is a lot more flexibility in routines than people think and one of my clients, Corina Corina. 

She is a wonderful singer and songwriter, we spoke a lot. She is one of my first clients with the Rock Star Advocate here and we talked a lot about toward depression and what a real thing it is and how you’re on the road and every day is different living out of pace and then you come home and it is the daily grind. The responsibilities waiting for you and all of that stuff and that transition is really difficult. What she started to do after 12 national tours that she booked for herself, she realized well I need a routine. 

I need to be centred and grounded because again, we might find it fun and exhilaration in the different day to days but again, we’re creatures and creatures need habits and creatures need structure. You got to get your baby on a sleep schedule, kids go to school for the same hours every day, they have math and gym and science at the same times every day. There is a reason for that so we don’t just grow out of needing that. 

So doing routines like every morning, she does yoga, she meditates for 10 minutes and she journals for 20 minutes and that stays the same and that enables her to ground herself while she is changing environments, while she’s on tour, while she is taking on other projects. So routines can be more freeing than they initially seem to be. 

46:50 Leah: Yeah, oh my gosh you described me so much like I am that. To give everybody hope, I am the artist that says, “I hate schedules. I don’t like routine. I have no idea what I am going to create.” In fact over the last few years when I have been trying to make albums and grow Savvy Musician Academy, this was a huge conundrum because I am like, my brain is going to internally combust because I am trying to – I am in different headspaces all the time. 

I am trying to make an album. How the heck do we make this work? So I have really been there and yes, routine is everything and actually what really impacted me is Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, where he said in regards to blocking time and to showing up and doing it, you know the difference between an amateur and a professional is the professional shows up no matter what they feel like and they sit down and they do their work. 

Even if not a single word came out of your pen, if you sat down to write, you sit down and think and you just be there, right? So within that still having flexibility to this day that’s it. So I got my major time blocks right now, I started working on my album and SMA but within there, there’s flexibility. There is some days where I am like, “So normally Wednesday would be a music day. Today I actually have to do an extra thing for Savvy Musician Academy. No big deal.” 

I just carry on and then we’d pick up where we were the next week and we don’t delete the time blocks just like you said. So guys just to give you hope out there, you know I am that artist where I feel extremely artsy-fartsy. If I could do it, have my way I would do everything on the fly and on the seat of my pants. That is how I roll but you know the boundaries have given me freedom and just like an artist, an artist needs to work on a canvass. 

There are borders around the canvas. They are not just like painting in infinity. There is structure to it, there is a border around the edge, there is edges where they go off the canvas and now you are on nothing. So within the boundaries comes creativity that is what I found. So I just love everything you are saying. It is really cool. I feel like you got this nailed down. 

49:02 Suz: Yeah, I mean I have spent my whole life around musicians and I have such respect and always so in awe how vulnerable musicians are and you know I try to be vulnerable to them with the lessons that I have learned through mental health and with other things in my life but to take something so intimate and put it out there for people to share, I am just in awe of it. So I learn from musicians every day and if there is anything I could ever give back to them, awesome. 

49:30 Leah: That is awesome. Well if you could leave us with one main tip, if you have to leave people one big thing that they can do right now that would make a big difference, what would that be? 

49:41 Suz: I would say to give themselves permission to be kinder to themselves. I think a lot of people like when they hire me they expect me to be all tough love and kick their butts and sometimes I do but a lot of it is just I am always reminding them to forgive themselves and you know, give yourself and understand you are not planning a 24-hour day. Understand that you are going to do the best you can and maybe just plan to get one thing done tomorrow. 

That is important too, that is going to move your career forward and then go from there and I think that’s the most you should do rather than, “You know if I really want this I have to grind, grind, grind and hustle, hustle, hustle” it’s like just take a breath and I think you will get a lot further than you think you will. 

[0:50:23.6] Leah: That’s awesome and if someone was interested, you mentioned you have a planner and everything. Actually I’ve got it right here on my desk. Yeah, it is really cool and I really enjoyed going through it and just seeing everything you have in there. I think you could really help a lot of people for sure who need that, the physical write it down kind of planner, life planner and it is really comprehensive. So you did a great job on that. If people are interested in learning more about that and what you do, where can they go? 

50:50 Suz: Yes, so you will find all of that and more on my home page at the rockstaradvocate.com and thank you so much for those kind words because I am a big fan so that means a lot coming from you. So thank you for that. 

51:02 Leah: Yeah, absolutely. It was a real pleasure having you. I’d love to have you back and do some follow up because man, you’ve got us nailed down to a tee but you know us. So yeah, I would love to have you back. Any closing thoughts CJ? 

51:16 CJ: No, I think this is wonderful Suzanne. Like I said, I can just jive so much about your approach and because I think it is practical and you are focusing on those things that really trip everybody up and it is really the simple stuff you know? We got tripped up about the simple stuff and just the fact that your alleviating these things, you know I kind of put you then in a category with Leah where I think I have often said about Leah and what she’s doing with SMA. 

This is the most important thing to develop since Napster, since Napster initiated the collabs if you will of the music industry, she is the first thing to come about that produces a real change and gives musicians hope again that they can do them, but with that comes a tremendous amount of work and when I first joined her in her group as a coach, the first thing she said to me was ‘overwhelmed’ that that was the main thing that was just really doing a job on these students. 

And so I love your approach to it and because it is such a practical way for them to hack their own little psychology and move forward that they can. They can achieve success. They can experience so much more than they even imagined and it is something to be excited about not something to be anxious about or worried about or as you said, stand in your own way with self-sabotage so I think that is awesome. 

52:47 Suz: Thank you so much and I would love to have you on my podcast as well. I’m just a big fan of what you both do and yeah, I am just very excited to have had a chance to speak with you. 

52:59 Leah: Yeah, it was a pleasure. Absolutely, we’ll definitely set that up. So thank you again Suzanne and I hope everybody listening in that you got something out of this and know that you are not alone feeling some of these challenges and facing these challenges. This is part and parcel of who we are and what we are doing in today’s music business. So thanks again for joining us. 

53:22 Suz: Thank you. 

53:23 CJ: Well, thanks once again for joining us here on the Savvy Musician Show. So please go and like and review this podcast. Help us get up in the rankings and we will see you online. Take care.

Episode #051: Micro-Niche VS. Branding

On today’s show we are breaking down the difference between a micro-niche and a brand! Leah and CJ systematically look at each and how it relates to your own music career and especially how to use them to your advantage. They talk about how to differentiate and categorize yourself with these concepts and how they should not be confused with each other. Leah makes the point that using her audience’s own interests and ideas around genre has made a world of difference in her success. Owning a niche and taking charge of the conversation around topics can make impact how and audience responds to your content very meaningfully and really pursuing this path to the best of your abilities will have amazing rewards for you. The episode ends off with some reminders about the importance of support through these processes and why that is such a focus at the Savvy Musician Academy. For all this and more, join us today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A special message of thanks from Chad!
  • Defining micro-niches and sub-genres in the music world.
  • Differentiating brand from micro-niche and genre. 
  • Tying your brand to an audience’s interests and deeper desires. 
  • Owning your niche and the conversation and perceptions around it. 
  • The support that is offered inside of Savvy Musician Academy. 
  • Why Leah stays in the trenches of the music industry. 
  • Today’s simple action step to do with your branding. 
  • And much more! 

Tweetables:

“I am not concerned about being world famous. It always makes me laugh.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:05:24]

“I am blessed with a little bit of intuition before I understood the theory of any of this. I’m still learning so much.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:17:59]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/onlinemusician/ 

The Superfan System Elite Program — www.callsma.com

Leah on Twitter — https://twitter.com/leahthemusic 

CJ on Twitter — https://twitter.com/metalmotivation

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

Chad Anderson (student spotlight) — https://www.fromtheseruins.com/

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 CJ: Hello and welcome once again to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I am the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy and grateful to serve alongside and be able to talk to, in this podcast, the lovely Leah McHenry. Good to see you.

00:42 Leah: Good to see you. Looking forward to this episode.

00:46 CJ: Yeah, this is pretty cool. Now, depending upon where you are in your knowledge of The Online Musician, this may or may not make sense to you but for those who are working at it in particularly, the students of the Savvy Musician Academy, this is something that is a point of confusion. Because terminology plays a role.

We’re going to be talking about micro-niche versus branding. It’s an important thing because for those of you who really understand the success that Leah has experienced, you have heard her talk about both of them and you might be wondering, which is it? Is it micro-niche, is it a brand or are they the same thing? Where do I need to place an emphasis on.

She’s one of the best examples that I’ve ever seen of how these two things work together and I think you’re really going to have some coins drop during this particular episode, you’re going to better understand this and so I’m excited for each one of our listeners. Leah, I would like to start with the student spotlight and I love it when you share these and she sends this to me to be able to share with you guys and this one’s pretty powerful. This one’s from Chad and this is one of our Elite students and he says #win. “I’m really excited about the revamp to our websites and even more excited to get feedback on it,” so we encourage students to do that in the group to get feedback.

He says, “Things that I have changed, I gave to my whole website a complete overhaul to fall in line with the high conversion theme or principles.” That’s something that Leah teaches. In other words, designing a site to be high converting and you can do that, there are principles to this. He says, “I was able to give this site a more uniformed look based on my branding board and based on the feedback I’ve gotten in the past. I also up the prices in my current shop. This has brought my LCV, what is that?

02:40 Leah: Actually, I’m not sure what LCV is, LTV would be like a lifetime value. I think he’s talking about his average order or something like that.

02:50 CJ: He says, “This has brought my LCV from 107 to 125 without adding any additional items.” That would be what the potential of a particular customer is for a year I would imagine, right?

03:03 Leah: Yeah. It’s probably an LTV.

03:06 CJ: Yeah, he was able to raise that based on – without adding any additional items. Again, these are all some of the techniques and things which we can’t go into today but these are the techniques and things you teach in that elite group, very amazing stuff.

But, he’s thinking through the impression that he’s giving his customer, his fan, you like to call it the customer journey. Because they’re coming to a site for the first time and so you do something with the students that you call the five-second test. You know, to see what the impression is that somebody gets within five seconds, where do their eyes go, you get them in, where do you put certain items on the page.

All of these things being always cognizant of the impression that you’re leaving on your customer and that does take us into the branding, that does take us into this whole aspect of who you’re targeting based on who you are as an artist, et cetera. Let’s start from the beginning so we can make it really simple for everybody Leah. 

First of all, define for the listener what is a micro-niche?

04:18 Leah: Yeah, I know, depending on where you live in the world, you might call it niche or niche, it doesn’t really matter. Basically, I don’t even know where I originally learned about niches. Somewhere in my studies of marketing, I came across this idea of niche marketing and how powerful it is and how businesses were able to succeed so much more.

Instead of trying to appeal to everybody, they just appealed to a certain small demographic and how becoming a specialist instead of a generalist would increase their sales and their profitability and their overall revenue, like crazy. So I started applying that in my music and going, hey, instead of me trying to appeal to the world and try to be famous around the world with my music. Why don’t I just stop trying to do that and just get really good at what I’m really good at and try to appeal to a smaller group of people who are probably diehard fans.

That introduced me to the whole concept of niching down and it also – what’s amazing about that is it really takes the pressure off of you to, when you look at what you’re trying to accomplish in your lifetime. I am not concerned about being world-famous. It always makes me laugh. Look, we’ve talked about this in the past when people see our ads and they say, “Leah, I’ve never heard of you,” and I’m always saying, “Yeah, of course, you haven’t because you’re probably not a fan of Celtic fantasy metal, are you?”

“Otherwise, why would you have heard of me? You’re not in my target market, you’re not seeing my ads, I only target people who like Celtic fantasy metal and I know all their interests and stuff. If you’re into country music, yeah, you won’t have heard of me, this is the internet age. I don’t need to be a household name to be successful. 

Until people understand that, they don’t get it. The whole concept of a micro-niche is just really going deeper into that niche. Now, you know, I see people all the time get really caught up in this and we have a little process, a little system for how you can discover yours and actually, we have a PDF download, we’ll put in the shownotes for you to work through this yourself.

The basics, the way it works is really, there’s an umbrella genre which we call just a big main category, it’s like rock, pop, country, blues. Very general, okay? It’s the stuff that on iTunes or Amazon, they kind of have these big categories. Below that, there’s a sub-genre. You know within, say, the rock category, there’s probably hundreds of maybe dozens of sub-genres of rock. Alt-rock, blues rock, you know, country rock, there’s all of that. Now, below that.

06:54 CJ: Heavy metal is the same, year.

06:56 Leah: yeah, heavy metal is like bazillions of these little niches. Umbrella genre, and then there’s a sub-genre and then I would say, the third level is your niche. This is like where we’re getting a little more granular here. It’s a smaller group of people. That’s the whole point, it’s a smaller group of people.

At this point, let’s say you’re in the rock genre, it could be like folk-rock at that point. Folk-rock or you know, I don’t know all the genres out there. It’s just an example. Then below that, if there’s room, if it even makes sense, you could get into a micro-niche and this is where I see people get caught up all the time.

Mine, guys is right now, it’s Celtic fantasy metal. My umbrella genre is metal, sub-genre for me is symphonic metal, niche is like female-fronted, symphonic metal because that’s like a thing or folk metal kind of a thing and then my niche is like Celtic fantasy metal. Now, there’s so much I could say about this but one thing I will say out of the gate is like, if you just get the first three, you’re good for so many things.

I don’t want people obsessing or getting hung up or stuck, the fact that they don’t know what their micro-niche is. This is not meant to cause you stress, all that exercise is meant to do is to help you just get a little more clear on your identity as an artist and for targeting purposes. 

So you can identify who your superfans are. If it happens to be language they’re already using, you can use it in your social media and in your advertising and stuff. That’s what I do. Actually, some of the words I’m using in my micro-niche are words that my fans already told me and so that gave me freedom to kind of use it back to them.

Kind of repeat it back to them, the thing they were already saying to me and so that ended up becoming a powerful thing. That doesn’t always work for every artist in every case, in every scenario. Listen, if you get your umbrella genre, your sub-genre and your niche, you are already miles ahead, you’re going to be already so much more clear than many other artists out there. Let’s start with that.

09:11 CJ: Yeah, I think that’s, A, that’s been a huge key to your success, is niching down and like you said, as you were talking, I stopped to write that down, I don’t need to be a household name to be successful. That’s such a great summary statement of your entire approach and it makes the point. It makes the point that yeah, a household name, we know all sorts of household names and we don’t pay any attention to who those household name —

We just know them because everybody says them. That’s the definition of a household name. But we’re interested in creating successful music businesses. When it comes to creating a successful music business, it’s not about ego, it’s not about everybody knowing you, it’s about the right people knowing you. It’s about having like what you say, super fans. Having people that you’re able to go directly to, who like your specific style of music. 

Granted, even if you’re an innovative player and maybe you believe you’re more innovative than you think you are, still, there are – everybody likes to think that, right? They’re completely original.

10:28 Leah: Yes.

10:28 CJ: I guarantee you, there are genres and niches that you can fit in and that you’re going to be able to identify with people who would absolutely love your music. That’s the first thing is understanding who you are musically. Now, this is still not the brand though. This is where people get their wires crossed. 

When I first came into Leah’s group, her Elite group as a coach. That was the first thing I saw was people were struggling with getting results and so because they were learning so much in-depth information about the tools that Leah uses and the technology and some of the ad copyrighting techniques and all these new software and emails and opt-ins and page, all this stuff. They kept thinking that it was something there that they were missing when there was a problem at the outset.

That problem was they didn’t understand that difference, A, between micro-niche and branding. But then B, branding was suffering because they were so focused on the micro-niche and so when I go to their page, I would see their artist name and right below would be this very descriptive, very long, very descriptive statement. Which is great for you to have hanging next to your computer or your keyboard to remind you of what you’re targeting.

But it’s not necessarily going to be the thing that people remember you for, it’s not necessarily going to be your strongest selling point, it’s not going to necessarily be what you want to create as that brand. That was a huge eye-opener for people once you and I started to talk about these things more in the group. We actually – we felt so strongly about it that Leah asked that I do a branding boot camp which is now a part of the actual curriculum now.

12:27 Leah: We have it in the modules now. Now, since we’ve added that, since you did the workshop and then since we’ve added that, people have had so many breakthroughs and just getting the results. I was so glad we did that, I’m so glad we had you – yeah.

12:41 CJ: For people, I think to get those two – it’s like a two-edged sword, you know? One edge of the sword is the micro-niche and then the other edge of the sword is the branding because you have to know who you’re targeting. You can’t target with a brand, you don’t know who you’re targeting.

You got to know your niche, you got to know comparable artists and the culture and all of that to be able to put into some of these powerful features in Facebook’s ad manager in order to run your ads. That’s where the niche is going to really help you targeting those audiences.

But then, what you become to those people, you know, that’s a whole different thing and of course, you know, you’re such an easy one, Leah, to use as an example and you know, I have a whole thing in that branding boot camp just focused on you because it’s just so many teachable lessons from your particular testimony. I remember when, because I was there when she first started this and she sent me her first album and I remember saying to myself because I had a good friend of mine who did a lot of work with.

He’s a total musician and totally knows what I’m into and so I shared it with him and we were talking about it and I said, “You know what she sounds like?” Because at that time, it was odd Leah, it’s very odd because at that time, prior to me hearing your music, something had gotten me into a lot of the Windham Hill ambient music stuff.

I heard a lot of Enya during all of that. The artist Enya. Then, I heard your first album and I said, “Dude, you know what she is, she’s a heavy metal version of Enya,” you know? It was just – in other words, now, if I was to share one of your CD’s with somebody. I would simply tell them what she’s like. “She’s like a heavy metal Enya,” and they’d be like, “Oh. I know exactly what that must sound like.”

They can picture it. It’s going to have a whole lot more guitar, it’s going to be more in the rhythm section of things like that and the themes will be a little bit different.

14:50 Leah: But they already know, it’s not going to have aggressive vocals.

14:53 CJ: Yeah, they know that, they know it’s not going to be country, right? That’s really cool. When she goes out into that now, she becomes literally a personage to people, she becomes now this – I love it because if you look at her album covers and I would challenge you to do that if you’ve got one close by you and if not, go to her Instagram page or her webpage and take a look at the album cover.

You’re going to see exactly what I mean here and this is really powerful, I almost want to charge people for this right now, Leah. But Leah, one of the real secrets to what she does is – and this is so creative. Her culture, the Celtic fantasy metal, you can see that somebody who listens to her music may be very interested in a show like Game of Thrones and when you get into that fantasy element in storytelling and myths and lore and legend.

There is no need for feminism there because women are exalted in these stories. Women are heroes in these stories, whether you’re watching something like The Hobbit or anything else, women are exalted figurines in a lot of these stories. The concept of the queen, the princess, you know, the warrior type thing. All of these – 

16:17 Leah: Xena.

16:18 CJ: Yeah. They are archetypes, right? Within these stories. When you look at Leah’s album covers. She’s got one called Kings and Queens. That’s what you literally see. It says if you’re looking at a promotional poster for something like a character from Game of Thrones. You could literally pass for a character on game of thrones in a sense.

For those who are listening to that music. She fits an archetype that they understand very well. Now we’re beyond just a particular musical style, we’re beyond a niche now. Now we’re into something that is much deeper, much more psychological that plays to the reasons why they listen to that music. The reasons why they love that music.

It’s a part of if somebody’s really into the Game of Thrones and they read Tolkien and they read all these fantasy type literatures. They’re probably not listening to pop-country, right?

17:17 Leah: Right.

17:18 CJ: They’re going to be listening to music that’s going to be germane to what their interest is. That’s the difference and that’s what you have to understand is that now, she becomes this figure, she becomes this archetype and her music fills that role but it’s targeted to – this is not Coca-Cola branding. This is not Coke is the real thing, you know what I mean?

No, this is so targeted to her micro-niche. The brand and the micro-niche are working together, they’re working hand in hand to create just – Leah, just probably one of the best examples of anything in terms of the new online space that I’ve ever seen.

17:56 Leah: That’s cool, yeah. Some of that stuff was – I am blessed with a little bit of intuition before I understood the theory of any of this. I’m still learning so much from you on it. Even now. It kind of blows my mind but I was blessed to have some just intuition as I created this career and I was learning on the way.

Yeah, I want people to understand that your micro-niche, it’s about targeting, it’s about identification and it’s about, really it’s like ad copy. When I know my micro-niche, I really know what kind of copy to write in my ads and you know, what kind of emojis are going to communicate and enhance my ad copy to be honest, right? 

People don’t even think about that but I know if I put a little green tree and a little bow and arrow and the little castle emoji and then I have my headline, that will make sense to the people in my micro niche who do follow, they’re obsessed with Game of Thrones and they read J.R. Tolkien and a whole bunch, all of the other targetings I know about my audience. It is going to make sense. So the micro-niche is meant for you. 

Again, don’t stress out about it. It is just going to help you clarify your brand as we teach in our academy and in past episodes. It is like owning a word. So I have in a way become owning, there is not a lot of Celtic fantasy artists out there with the combined metal. So I am trying to own something in the market. I am trying to own a feeling. I am trying to own a word. 

Like you always talk about Kleenex and BandAids how people refer to that as like the category when really it is a single brand and so I am trying to own Celtic fantasy metal or Celtic metal. I am trying to own that in the market place so when people think of it they think of me and they will think of some other band and so it is hard to do that if you are not in a niche. It is hard. 

19:59 CJ: Yeah. 

20:00 Leah: So understanding those two things and that branding like you’ve called positioning and I love that and so is there a word that you can own when people think of you and your band in the marketplace. So even though Celtic metal is a niche I am owning that and like you said, it is working alongside of my brand. The brand is the imagery, it’s everything. It’s the vibe, it’s really the consistent feeling I am trying to give my fans when I am not around. 

When they think of me and whatever impression comes to mind that’s the brand and I want to give an accurate – whatever I put out there is contributing to their perception and my positioning. So I want to be purposeful with it, so it doesn’t accidentally happen, right? I think that is the key in the academy and what you teach in the bootcamp is really being purposeful with it, identifying who you are, shifting your positioning a little bit for where you wanted to be and then how can we control people’s perceptions of our brand a little bit. So there’s a lot of meat and potatoes to dive into there. 

21:10 CJ: Yeah there is and let’s say that we can talk a lot about this. I want to give you guys the essence of what this is in the branding boot camp, I define branding to me is when you incarnate an idea. That’s what branding is, so whatever the big idea is behind your music like in Leah’s case these Celtic fantasy themes, she embodies that, which is why the imagery is so important and the more that she can do that, the more that she can embody that. 

That’s what incarnation means to become something that is abstract becomes flesh. It takes on a fleshly form that we know from religion for example, Jesus would be the incarnation, right? Incarnate meaning something from heaven took a physical form here on earth that we can interact with. So you become that brand. This is what I did with my personal motivational project being the Metal Motivator. Metal Motivation. You know Tony Robbins meets Metallica but I get it to where people. 

They’ll say oftentimes, they will write on a post, they will say to me, “Hey I was going through a hard time CJ and I thought to myself I was going to react the way I normally do but then I thought, What would CJ do?” Well, who knows what CJ would do. Maybe CJ would go and fly off the handle, right? But the point is that they think now when they think of Metal Up when they hear the phrases and things they think of me. They think of the person. They think of the individual. 

So anybody in their grandmother can try to join the space that I am in. They can call themselves rock and roll this or they can say whatever they want but alls that does is build my piece of the pie even bigger because I have already claimed that space because I claimed that niche. I claimed it when nobody else was claiming it and so there has been motivational speakers around forever. Plenty of them, male, female, young, old, all different kinds of sorts but still to this day 10 years removed there is still only one Metal Motivator, you know? 

23:17 Leah: You own it. You own the word.

23:20 CJ: Yep, so that is what we are talking about and it may not be to the degree or as simplistic maybe as in Leah’s case or my case. But it can still be done. It is not that complicated and I think what she just said is so important, relax about this, you know? Yes, there is a lot to learn but if you are doing what we are suggesting then you are going to get a lot of great feedback from your followers and the more intentional you are about this. 

And Leah, you know what the hard part is? The hard part is trying to be objective about yourself. That is the hard part. 

23:56 Leah: Yeah it is. 

23:57 CJ: You know – understand. 

23:58 Leah: Put some clothes to it. 

23:59 CJ: Yeah, it is and that is one of the great things about the group now because of the fact that we introduced the new branding aspect to the course. We didn’t leave it there, we did create an option for people to schedule coaching calls to talk more about the branding because we wanted to make it more specific to each individual person. So granted, you can obviously spend a lot of time on somebody’s particular case or what have you. 

But that takes you into a whole different – now you are talking about an advertising agency and all of that but all to say is that, you know it was a great example because Leah really let me lose to work with her students one on one beyond the actual just one bootcamp that I did and so it just goes I think to show Leah that they understand your heart in terms of the commitment that you have to making sure that people don’t fall through the cracks. 

We’re making every opportunity we can available, from the podcast to the one on one calls in the Elite Group. Everything that we can to make sure everybody fully understands these things and puts them into practice. Because we have seen the results. We have seen others experience the results and there’s a lot to be confused about. We are trying to clear that up. 

25:20 Leah: Yeah, absolutely and I think it is just good for everyone to hear that and just because I know we’ll probably get emails about it, we are not offering one on one stuff outside of our programs. This is something like you need to be all in, fully committed, going through the program to have that kind of access to our coaches. So just in case you are wondering, we don’t offer it. I don’t do one on one stuff. Our coaches don’t do one on one stuff outside of Savvy Musician Academy. 

We offer all the support we can possibly give you and feedback inside of this coaching program. So I mean we don’t want anybody falling through the cracks and I literary spent hours in my week thinking about how can I help these people be more successful. Really, I truly do spend time if I’m ever awake in the night this stuff is on my mind. You know I am not losing sleep about it but I am always actively thinking about what is — is there anything missing that I could communicate better? 

And we literally just had a conversation in our staff meeting yesterday about, is there anything we can streamline in this Elite Program? Is there anything we need to take away? Is there anything we can add? What can we do to help people get better results? You know what we actually came up within our coaching program? We actually talked to everybody on the phone. So one of our head coaches actually calls you every few weeks and you get check-in calls so you are not left on your own. 

You don’t sign up for this thing and then you are floundering around trying to figure it out. We actually call you, see how you are doing, are you struggling, are you hitting any walls? And one of the biggest things that we found where people aren’t getting results is just a lack of – they will fall off the wagon because of the lack of accountability. So we are actually putting in more effort into calling people more often, text messaging, emailing. 

I mean we are going to be – you are going to be attacked by us, you know? Because that is where we found where people just you know you can lose momentum when you sometimes have a steep learning curve. So I just want you guys to hear that we are really trying to help you guys. We are looking at all the different obstacles you might be having and accountability is unbelievably effective and so we are looking at ways we can even up our game to help you with that accountability. 

So I just want to put that out there that I don’t know too many other companies that go to that length to call you, check in on you, how are you doing? How can we help you? What can we improve? I mean we really want to know this stuff. So we got thick skin, if there is something that you didn’t like or you had a bad experience, we want to know about it because we will do everything we can to fix it and help you. 

27:58 CJ: Yeah, that is interesting. I’ve talked to a number of students in the group in my sessions with them and I always ask them questions about when they first discovered you, Leah, and when they finally decide how long was it before they decided to join the group and why did they join the Elite Program. And I could say I mean 99% of the answers because they have taken some other courses and things and they implemented those and they’ve really progressed. 

But they are like this is not the level I want to go to the next level. I want to get to Leah’s level and so you know, what was it that was the thing that made you say I am going to go all-in and they said support. That was it. You know it wasn’t not just getting some okay in the elite group, we are going to get some super-secret information, you know? Yeah, you are going to get a whole lot more in-depth information. Absolutely you are. But what’s the game-changer? Support. 

28:59 Leah: Yeah and we are looking to up our game on that in any way we can because we are committed to results. I mean that is the driving point of any business. You can’t actually survive on the internet with a business these days unless you are really helping people. You will go away very, very fast if you aren’t genuine and you aren’t actually delivering results for people. We are still around, we are thriving, we are growing and I am very proud of not just the company I’ve built. 

But just like the amazing people and the transformations and yeah, it’s incredible. It is what keeps getting up every day doing this and in case people have no idea and you wondering like how much is Leah even working on her music, my schedule right now, the way we’ve got it laid out is three days a week I am working on my music, my music business. The other two days, I am doing coaching. I am doing this podcasting, I am doing content, I am doing marketing, writing ad copy, all emails, things like that. 

So I am actually working on my music business more than I am in Savvy Musician Academy at the moment. It is really tight, it is really hard to make it happen but it is something that I told my husband, Steve, who is a huge part of the business and our whole company that listen guys, the whole reason SMA exists is because I experiment and I am in the trenches. I am in the trenches with our students and I am learning, I am experimenting and I love – 

I mean I am just a sucker for new information and trying the latest and greatest stuff and I’ve got to make sure that it is always a part of what I am doing for a number of reasons, personally I have to. I have to be an artist or I don’t feel happy in life at all. And then also, it is part of our USP, our unique selling proposition for Savvy Musician Academy. The bottom line is a lot of gurus and people out there aren’t doing it. They are teaching it but they are not doing it. 

And I think that I can speak with more of an authority, the fact that I am doing it and doing it well. Hey, sometimes I fail so not every ad works and I tell you guys about it. But the fact that I am in the trenches I am doing it with you, I am reporting results and I am also pretty darn good at teaching it and helping people and figure out where the holes in the bucket are. 

So just so you guys know, I am actively doing this stuff. Every time I release a new album, I am also having to think of my micro-niche. And the branding and positioning thing that doesn’t go away. It is not like you set it and forget it, you know? We evolve as artists, so I just want you guys to know I am working on this more that I am actually working on my academy because I want to build my music career to places, I have some big goals. So I just want to throw it out there. So hopefully you can appreciate it. 

31:55 CJ: No, I think it is great. I think again that is part of the element of why Savvy Musician Academy is as good as it is, Leah, because of what you are doing and how you have chosen to live. You didn’t stop making the music. I think I have said this before and you had a couple of successful albums and then you’re just devoting yourself to this because this is more profitable or something like that. No, you are very much in the trenches on every front. 

From recording, from marketing, from self-education and all of the above, always pushing the boundaries, there is a lot of stuff that we talked about offline that she’s considering doing. She’s never mentioned here, so I could tell you it is either more than hearing but that’s what creates greatness and I think for people to – if you really want to experience something at a higher level, you got to get around people that think like that. 

You got to get around people that have that next level kind of attitude and that is part of the Savvy Musician Academy. It is one of the great things I love being in that Elite Group is because I am surrounded with very, very serious people who have skin in the game, financially they have skin in the game. You know it is not an inexpensive thing but the results you are going to get are going to so far exceed anything that they are investing in right now. 

It’s mind-boggling but you got to take that step. You got to be fearless. You have one life to live. There is no do-over, you will not be able to come and do this over again and the clock is ticking. 

33:27 Leah: You won’t come back as a cow or a plant, sorry. 

33:30 CJ: No and the clock is ticking on the only life that you’ve got. So Leah, let us leave them with a simple action step. What can they do today? 

33:39 Leah: Yeah, I want to encourage you guys, I’ve got a little exercise for you to help you with your branding. It is not a micro-niche exercise, it is a little branding exercise. I want you post a photo that represents you or your music. Most of the time it will be a selfie but it could be a nice image from a photo session and I want you to post it on Instagram, do it on Facebook wherever you fans are and I want you to tell them, “Hey guys, in one word describe what comes to mind when you think about me or you hear my music.” 

And then pay attention to what they tell you. It will be so revealing and you are going to get all kinds of ideas and you’ll be shocked and you’ll be surprised and some of them will be like, yeah that is obvious and this is just a powerful exercise to show you what your current positioning is and it might also reveal ways in which you might want to shift it or tweak it a little bit as you go through this. 

So that is kind of a freebie exercise that you can go through. Outside of that, if you want more in-depth coaching and training accountability like we talked about, go to callsma.com and one of us are going to speak with you on the phone and actually help you figure out where you’re at and where you need to go. That’s callsma.com and we would love to talk to you. 

34:58 CJ: That is so awesome. Well guys, once again please be sure to rate and review this show. Give it stars on Spotify, Stitcher and iTunes and Google Play and help us raise up in the ranks and leave a sweet comment about how much this show is impacting your life because I know it is. 

How could it not? It has to be the most information-packed music marketing podcast out there. I have heard a few out there and I haven’t seen anything that touches this. And I know that sounds like bragging but I am late to the game like I said, we’re what? 51 episodes in now and I wasn’t on at all 51 of those. So I have seen growth. 

35:40 Leah: Absolutely and guys, if you leave us a really nice review send us a screenshot of it and email it to [email protected] and you will be put into a draw for a prize. So send us that screenshot.

35:55 CJ: Awesome. Leah, thank you once again. 

35:57 Leah: Thanks and we’ll see you guys next time.

Episode #050: When You Don’t Have Fans To Release Your First Album

On today’s episode, Leah and CJ talk about the commonly faced dilemma of how to release an album when you don’t have fans yet and take you through some of the steps to build this fanbase. You have to have some music, even if it’s not professionally recorded, in order to engage and grab people’s attention in some way. There are so many free tools at your disposal that allow you to be creative when starting out, that a small budget should not stop you. Instead, you have to start by putting yourself out there, without waiting for what you have done to be perfect. People will be drawn in by real life, vulnerability and authenticity, rather than an overly polished person that is not easy to relate to. By being real, potential fans will feel involved in your life and much more likely to stick with you and show great loyalty throughout your career. Letting people into your life is not easy, but it is necessary to create a relationship and build rapport with your fan base. Once you have started putting yourself out there and begun to engage with people, it is important to use that momentum to actually record something professionally that fans can get their hands on and that you can use as a starting point for building your email list, your brand and your culture. To learn how to get started on all of this and more, join us today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • You have to start with some music in order to build a fan base.
  • Some things you can do for free to generate a fan base. 
  • You don’t have to be perfect to release your music. 
  • Realness, rawness and authenticity are very relatable. 
  • What Leah does to let her fans into her life. 
  • Where to go after you’ve started building your fan base
  • Why email lists are so important. 
  • How to start building your brand and creating culture after gaining fans.
  • And much more!

Tweetables:

“You’re giving people a taste of something and they’re going to follow.” — CJ Ortiz   [0:10:20]

“Let people fall in love with you.” — CJ Ortiz [0:33:48]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Savvy Musicians Mastermind on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/groups/savvymusician/

Book A Call With Our Team — www.callsma.com

Jessi Frey (student spotlight) — https://jessifrey.com/ 

Click For Full Transcript

00:23 CJ: Welcome to The Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz, and I am the branding and mindset coach for the Savvy Musician Academy, headed up by the lovely Leah McHenry, who is with me today again for Episode 50, Leah, your platinum episode.

00:39 Leah: Hey. Yeah, I’m so excited. I’m so glad that we’re doing these episodes weekly now. I mean, obviously we got to episode 50 a lot faster, but I had no idea if the podcast was even – if anyone was even going to listen to it when we first started it. I didn’t know, like are musicians even listening to podcasts? It was a bit of a test, but yeah, we’re getting increased downloads every single month. Thank you, guys, for subscribing. Thank you for leaving us reviews.

And we are starting some prizes, by the way, for people who leave us reviews. It’s definitely a benefit. If you leave us a review and then e-mail us at [email protected], send us a screenshot of your review and we’re going to put you in a draw to win something very good.

01:22 CJ: How about that? I didn’t even know that. Look at all the stuff you learn on The Savvy Musician Show, even when you co-host it. Well again, such a joy to be with you, Leah. And we can go long on any particular subject, and she showed me some time back a list of some of the things that she was still wanting to cover. The list was still very, very long and that doesn’t include all the stuff we come up with just in our conversations.

So, yeah, this particular area of thought is just absolutely huge, because it’s in an ever-changing, ever-evolving state, right? The technology is always changing. The media is always changing. The rules are always changing. And so, one of the great things about the Savvy Musician Academy is that everything is happening real-time, so you’re able to get information, such as we share on this podcast of just the latest things. Because Leah, this is not something you did a few years ago and you’ve been teaching on it ever since.

You are literally doing it, practicing it every single day, way ahead of your own students, going far more than your own students, working harder than your own students. I see it all the time, you’ll come in, chime in, show some results, talk about what you’ve been doing, some of the tests and different. You’re always experimenting with things, not afraid, not intimidated at all, always staying plugged into the new information. And so, I like to keep up with her, even though I am doing very similar things in a different space, the more the coaching and personal development industry, the rules are exactly the same. 

And so, Leah is a huge resource for me as well. I mean, I get to double-dip here when I get to participate and have these conversations with her. But Leah, it’s been great to watch this history. One of the big this, we can’t get around the fact that for a musician, everything centers around an album. We want to talk about today about releasing an album when you don’t have any fans, so I think you guys are really going to enjoy what Leah’s got to say, because I think that’s a dilemma where everybody’s in, right? They have something they want to write and produce, but they don’t have an audience.

03:43 Leah: Yeah. It’s a common question I get all the time, which is why this became a podcast episode. Just so you know guys, if you’re listening, if you have a question, write in to us, or write in the Facebook group and that could become a podcast episode. We pay attention.

03:58 CJ: There you go. Well, in each episode we love to start with a student spotlight; one of the folks that are in the actual Savvy Musician Academy, or the elite group. Today’s is by Jesse Frey, who writes #win. That means that they’re going to report a good testimony about how they’re getting results.

Jesse writes, “I recently closed a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. It was a fixed campaign with a goal of £3,000, that would be 4,000 over here. In 28 days, I raised £4,690, which is about $5,461 – however. I guess, you’re converting into –

04:38 Leah: $6,100 American.

04:40 CJ: American. From 44 backers and reached 156% of my goal.

04:48 Leah: That’s fantastic.

04:49 CJ: That’s pretty good results for crowdfunding campaign.

04:51 Leah: That’s amazing.

04:53 CJ: Because that’s what you did, right?

04:55 Leah: Yeah. It all starts with these smaller campaigns too. Just this morning, I was reading in our student group, a woman had an amazing successful crowdfunding campaign. She just raised $30,000 too. So, the amazing thing is that once you learn these principles of online marketing and just how to engage your fans and build a buzz, you can start with a small crowdfunding campaign like this and the next one will be bigger and the next one after that will be bigger than that. And you can really bring your fans along for the ride, but you’re also going to gain a lot of confidence that you can do something bigger than the last time.

I love that that was our student spotlight today, because today we’re talking about the chicken or the egg scenario. When you don’t have fans to release your first album, should you release music first? And, crowdfunding is going to play a part in that discussion, what we’re talking about today.

05:40 CJ: All right, well let’s get them started. What can they do, Leah? Right now, they don’t have any fans, but they’ve got music, they’ve got ability. What do they do?

05:50 Leah: Yeah. So, if I’m talking to somebody, a musician and they’re asking me a question in our group or something, “Leah, I don’t have fans yet. I don’t even have an album yet. What should I focus on first?”

My response is always the same. You have to start with some kind of music. A lot of them are telling me, hey. Or a lot of them have heard me say, “guys, you need fans to release your music to.” That’s very true, and so that’s why we do focus on fan building year-round. 365 days a year, I’m building my fan base. Now that’s true. But if you don’t even have music yet, it’s pretty hard to build a fan base off of nothing.

The question then becomes, what’s your situation? Do you have a budget to create some singles, or an EP? Because that would be my first thing. If you’re really on a shoestring budget, I would say there’s stuff you can even do totally for free to start building a fan base, such as live videos; Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, those are all – and even short little clips on Snapchat, or whatever you’re using. Now when I say live videos, it could be of you playing live, or just singing into your phone. Or it could be somebody else recording you playing a gig or something. I mean, the options are endless. Be creative.

But the point is you can certainly showcase your talent. You can play your music. People can hear it for free without you ever even being in the studio. You can bet that people have gained tens of thousands of fans overnight when some of these live videos go viral. One of them is – a perfect example is one of our students, Ted Yoder. Ted Yoder did this very thing. He went through The Online Musician, that was our flagship course a few years ago, like really popular, and he was encouraged. I was encouraging them to do live videos.

Now he had albums and everything, but he was just being faithful. He told us later in an interview that he was intimidated. He didn’t really want to do live videos, but Leah said to do it, so he was doing them. He plays the hammered dulcimer. He just did this one video in his backyard and it was such a casual setting. His kids are running around. There’s a raccoon running around somewhere in his backyard and he just played this song Tears for Fears on his hammered dulcimer.

And that thing went so viral in 2016, I believe it was. It was the most viral video on all of Facebook, second to Chewbacca Mom. Now you guys remember that that video Chewbacca Mom with – she put on the mask and she was laughing hysterically? That video was the top live video in all of Facebook and I can’t remember I mean, what it was, a 100 or 200 million views or something crazy. Ted’s was second. Ted’s was second.

So, from that live video, I mean, that’s not even professional recorded, he even messes up a few notes in there. It was not perfect. It was so unique, so cool, so raw, real and different that people shared and shared and shared and shared and he literally – I mean, he had brand-new fans coming to his Facebook page. I think he had like 200,000 people on his Facebook page in a week. It was crazy.

If you want to talk about like, “I don’t have music yet, or I don’t have a budget Leah,” you need to start putting yourself out there in this way. Now, I’m not guaranteeing you’re going to go viral. That’s really an unpredictable thing. If you don’t do that, you’re never going to have that opportunity. So, the point is start doing stuff like that. That’s one of the main things I would start with.

09:26 CJ: Yeah. I think, I’ve seen people even sponsored ads and things of people singing into the little iPhone headphone microphones and trying to build an audience that way. It was a similar thing, when I got started, I was going to put out a book originally. Then I thought, “well, yeah. I really don’t have anybody to sell to.” So, I said, “okay, well, let me just take portions of this book and start putting it on a blog and then posting that on Facebook.” Now this was 2008. It was a long time ago. At the time, I knew I had to build that audience first and I could use some of the things that I was writing for something larger as means to get out and whatnot. And then once video became more of a thing, I could use it that way as well.

But what you’re saying is you’re giving people something to get their hands around. You’re giving people a taste of something and they’re going to follow. That’s important because that’s going to give you that person to build this ongoing relationship, which we’re going to talk more about. But how is somebody then, Leah, going to – because if they’re going to start building fans, right, you’re bringing somebody along, you’re creating followers. What does this musician now who’s getting all of these fans need to keep in mind? Because this is a bunch of people they don’t know that are coming to their page.

10:53 Leah: Yeah. I think this is going to tie into everything that you apply later on as you build a fanbase and as you keep going. I want you to keep in mind that perfectionism is not what people are looking for. It’s not what your fans are looking for. Like I said, Ted Yoder had millions and millions of views. His video was not perfect. He screws up in a couple of times and I don’t mean that as a criticism. You can hear he played a wrong note.

11:21 CJ: No, he told me he wishes you’d quit bringing that up that he messed up in his video. No, he didn’t say that.

11:28 Leah: Yeah. The point is that it wasn’t perfect and people ate it up. The first thing I want you to keep in mind is to be raw, real and authentic. That’s what people want these days. I think of the majority of the population, we’re so over airbrushed Britney Spears. We’re so over that fake perfectionism. If you guys watch The Voice, or American Idol, any of these, most of the contestants, they look like real human beings. They don’t all look like models. They’re real humans and they have flaws and that’s part of what is makes us attractive, to be honest.

Somebody who just looks like a Ken or a Barbie doll, it makes us feel bad about ourselves because people do the comparison thing. As you are building an audience from nothing, I want you to continue being raw, real, authentic, and especially being vulnerable. I mentioned I think in the last podcast episode about even me, just being real and opening up to my fans about my health journey and things that I’ve been really struggling with. It’s not easy. It’s scary, you guys. Realize that it’s going to be scary.

And just know that that’s a normal feeling and everything’s going to be fine and you’re probably not going to get nearly the trolls or the hate that you think you’re going to. And when people see that you are really being yourself, there’s nothing more attractive than that. So, be willing to be vulnerable.

13:05 CJ: Yeah. We have to highlight the fact that social media has changed things. When you say online, for example, it’s like, what do you mean? Well Google, a search engine is online just as much as a social media channel is online, but they’re two totally different things when it comes to how information is accessed.

In Google, you are searching for information. In social media and like in Facebook in particular, it tends to be shared. And that’s a really big difference. When we are encouraging people to go online, social media is playing such a huge role in this, the viral videos, etc. You don’t get a viral video on a Google search, right? These are the things that happen in social media, where you can have that viral effect, that little share button that they can click. They’re sharing it with other people, people that they know.

And so because of that, your whole approach has to be different than the way things used to be. Because I think what a lot of people are imagining, Leah, when they think of what you do, they think it’s just an online version of what record labels used to do, which is you sign an artist, record a record, you get your marketing people and you put the album out and that’s it, right? And you’re pushing music out to a market. If that band, or musician ever meets fans, it will be at a show, a venue or something like that, record signing, that kind of thing.

What we’re talking about is so beyond that. You mentioned the vulnerability. You mentioned some of the ways that you’ve been vulnerable yourself and the support that you’ve received from your followers. This is a whole different thing. You’re coming out from behind the keyboard, so to speak, from behind the drum set, behind that studio. And you’re engaging with an ever-growing audience that you’re being very intentional about this. And so, that requires then, you can’t – there’s no place for you to hide, right?

15:02 Leah: Right.

15:03 CJ: You’re broadcasting live, you’re writing something, you’re sharing something. Yeah, you can throw some makeup on if you’re a woman, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot you can do. All the physical attributes are going to be there, your kids running around in the background, whatever it is, noise, all of that, it’s just – it’s real, it’s raw, it’s authentic. But, like you said, that’s what people want. If you can connect with an audience that loves your music and loves your niche, man, you can do wonders with that.

15:33 Leah: Yeah. I think you need to look at it like doing life with your fans. That’s what a lot of churches and communities, that’s what they do together. It’s like, we’re doing life together. You need to do life together with your fans. So, I’m incorporating a lot more of my life in my Instagram stories. I’m using a lot more Instagram stories lately. But little clips of just my kid rocking out to a song in his car seat.

And actually, what I share on Instagram stories are a lot different than what I’m sharing in the feed. This is not in our notes, but my feed is very branded and on point, because when people go there, it’s important that there’s consistency there. My Instagram stories is a little bit different. It’s like a different platform really. I’m sharing snapshots. I’m really mixing things up there. So, I might promote a t-shirt there and then the next minute, I’m showing how we just juiced two big bins of spinach and I’m going to drink it. So, I did that this morning.

Then the next one, I actually posted – I talked about raw and real. I actually posted Instagram stories, a clip of a demo of one of my songs in the making right now. Now for a lot of artists, that is out of bounds. You should never share your demo in the demo format with people. They’re going to judge it. They don’t hear it in whatever. I didn’t care. I just knew my fans would really like it. I just knew they would. I say, “hey, it’s a demo.” A lot of them were just like, “ah, I can’t wait for that to be produced. I can’t wait to have that on Spotify. I’m going to play that on repeat.” I got really good feedback from it.

So, I’m really letting them in behind the scenes, showing them my family, showing them me. Sometimes I’m wearing makeup, sometimes not very much at all. Showing them, just like the other day I did a little Instagram live, giving them a little tour around my house and in my studio, just showing them where the magic happens. So, I think that’s really important. When you don’t have – I mean, whether you have a huge fan base, or no fan base at all, it’s just something you need to start doing; let people in, let them see behind the scenes. That is going to make them feel so connected to you so fast. And this is why no label can ever do that for you. No PR service, no artist development company can ever, ever, ever do that for you. You have to do it.

17:42 CJ: That’s powerful guys. You don’t need a record yet. We’re not even out of – you our recordless at this point. You’ve already got music out there. You’ve already got fans that are learning to know you and trust you, even love you to that degree. You’re being your real self. You’re getting to share a life with them. And again, we still haven’t gotten to a record yet. That’s the big issue here is what do you do if you don’t have that?

So, now that we’re building this culture, this life, this shared life, this community, Leah, where can they go from there?

18:18 Leah: Well, as soon as you’re able to, you need to get a recording, right? So, I think that if you’re doing live videos, and this is a scenario, right? So, let’s say somebody is just – they’re just getting started. Let’s say you’re doing live videos. You’re putting stuff out there. Building a fan base with the little that you have, it’s always about doing as much as you can with the little you have. You can really squeeze that so much value out of that, if that makes any sense.

But as you’re building that fan base, you can crowdfund your very first EP. That doesn’t need to be very expensive, right? You don’t need to raise $10,000. We’re talking about $2,000 or $3,000 maybe, and get an EP done. Or at least a few singles. You could probably do three singles, or an EP. From there, you can really work off of that. Actually, one of my EPs, typically, EPs don’t sell as well as a full album. One of my EPs sells really, really well. It’s because, I don’t know, the artwork is right, the songs on it are really good and people just really liked that one.

Typically, I’m going to encourage you to if you can, do a full album. If you can’t, get something out there. 

Now once you have music, you’ve got something you can work with for the future. You can start selling it. Now, if you only have two or three singles, you’re not going to make a lot of money with it, okay? You’re not going to make a lot of money off of singles in general. You can make some money on Spotify and streaming platforms if you write a really good song and you take our Spotify course and learn how to work it and get on all the playlists, trigger the Spotify algorithm to put you on Spotify’s playlist. I mean, you could definitely earn some significant income with that.

But as far as doing everything, I’m talking about building an e-mail list, marketing, advertising, really building a brand, you’re going to want a full album. So, as soon as you’re able to do that, go for it. At the very beginning, just start crowdfunding a small amount to get that EP.

20:17 CJ: Now, it’s good for them to have this growing social media community, but you always said that that’s real estate you don’t own, right? They need to get, people to that list. And they could use even some of the recorded music that they do, a sample or whatever is a way to get people on an e-mail list.

20:37 Leah: Exactly. I always want to encourage you guys, as soon as humanly possible – I mean, the minute you decide you want to be a professional recording artist or musician, you want to make a career out of this, you better start building your e-mail list ASAP. Now we did in an extensive podcast episode a few back on e-mail lists and why it’s so important. So, make sure you go back and listen to that for a lot more details. We share a ton of advice. I would encourage you right now, start building your e-mail list aggressively.

I mean, when you want to be aggressive, you want to do some exchange, right? Where you’re giving someone something and in exchange, they’re going to give you their e-mail address to get that something. So, there’s an exchange of value happening. To this day, free song downloads absolutely still work. Like I said, I’m running ads right now, building my list every single day, trying to get a thousand new people on my e-mail list every single month. That’s my goal. I’m using free songs to do it.

It works in every genre, because we have students in every single genre across the board from hip hop, to country, classical. And it works for everybody right now. In the future, that could change. It could change, but I’m not worried about it at all, because we’ll just switch it to something else. We’ll offer something else that they want. Doesn’t really matter. So, people out there who are recommending that you don’t do – free song downloads don’t work anymore, that’s hogwash, absolutely it still works. Like I said, I’ve built my list of 50,000 people with it. It works.

And even young people. I think, sometimes you have to be savvy, because if your demographic, they’re all 18, they still use e-mail, but you might want to also – you can be creative. You can offer something behind the scenes, or a video clip, or something that nobody else has seen. Like get creative. They want something from you and they want to be on – it’s not like you have to bribe people. If they’re interested in your music, they’re going to want to hear about what’s going on behind the scenes. Start building your e-mail list and actually e-mail people.

At Savvy Musician Academy, we love an e-mail service provider called Drip. And we actually have a special link that if you sign up for drip, that I think you get 60 days for free. I’m not entirely sure of the details, but we’ll put that in the show notes. We’ll put our special link in there if you want to give it a try. If you for some reason it’s over your price range, you can start with MailChimp, you can start with something like that. I know MailChimp is free to start when you get up to a certain number of subscribers. I think you get up to 2,000 subscribers and then they make you pay. You can get started with that, no problem. And when you’re ready to switch over to something a little more advanced, robust, that’s really going to help you sell more online, switch to Drip later.

But I tell all my musicians, all our students, “if you’re dead serious about making money, go to Drip.” Seriously, they’ve done some incredible things, especially for e-commerce that I love. It’s making me more money.

23:38 CJ: Yeah. As you’ve mentioned in the past, it’s owned by the same company who does Leadpages, which is for those who don’t know what that is, you see those sales pages, and if you click on an ad or something, you’re taken to a page where you can put in your e-mail address and take advantage of an offer, Leadpages is the premier company and software for that. They own Drip. And so that means those get to be integrated.

You also teach, Leah, in your course, which we’re not going to cover today, but you have covered it before. We’ll cover it again, I’m sure. The e-commerce end of things, selling shirts and mugs and jewelry and things like that through the Shopify store. And very well integrated also with Drip. There’s a ton and ton of things that you’ll learn over time that you’re going to need something like Drip for.

But to get started, again we’re just trying to get you through the door to use something like MailChimp or what have you, just to start building up a list and again, get in this habit like Leah said, of writing to – imagine if you had, and I’m just asking any musician or band that’s listening right now, imagine if you had a 100 new people that were interested in your music and you met them in a small hotel conference room for the very first time and you could sit up there and talk to these 100 new people, what are you going to say to them, right? It’s your meeting. And this is what it’s going to be like for you. You’re going to have more and more people getting to know you and they’re going to want. As Leah said, they’re going to want to hear from you. They’re going to want to live life with you.

And so, these tools, these technological tools that we have online are so much easier to use nowadays. It should be anathema to anybody, not to take advantage of them. What she’s saying is you’ve got to start right away building that e-mail list, because in essence, this is going to be A very, very personal, because you’re not writing to someone who sees a comment, or makes a comment on Facebook. You are in their inbox, so it is very, very intimate and it’s something that you own. So, if Facebook goes away, something happens, you still have people that you’re connected to.

25:55 Leah: That’s right. I call it cross-pollination, where once in a while, or once a week on Instagram I’ll say, “Hey, go download this free song. I’ve got something for you.” Or I have it like, I use Linktree in my Instagram bio. I love Linktree. So, it’s a great little tip for you guys, where you only get one link in your profile. Linktree. There are other ones out there, Link in Profile and Link.Bio, but this one is my favourite so far.

And you can put a bunch of different links in there for people to go and do things. I’ve got YouTube and all that. At the top, I’ve got get a free five days of Celtic metal. I’ll tell people on Instagram, “go sign up for this song.” And so, I’m cross-pollinating. Getting people from that platform onto my e-mail list, because again, I own it. I own that data. Nobody can take it away from me. If the algorithms change and I lose all contact with every single one of my fans, I’ve got my e-mail list. And those people are extremely valuable to me. Really important guys.

26:52 CJ: And from there then, as you’re going to now be creating this relationship with e-mail on social media, Instagram, Facebook, you’ve got to start thinking about who you are to them, which we often refer to as the brand aspect. And there’s a whole lot more we could say about any of these things, guys. We’re just covering it in cursory fashion. You got to start thinking now, Leah, about brand and culture. You’re great at this. Why don’t you share a little bit about that?

27:23 Leah: Yeah. I mean, we’ve done an amazing episode in the past about branding and culture. So, I want you guys to also refer back to that. We will cover it at a high-level here. For a little more in-depth conversation on that where we’re just dedicating our whole time to it, go back to the culture episode and branding episode. But culture and branding, they’re very synonymous in a lot of ways. They work hand in hand.

Culture is something I want you to start thinking about, which is why do people come together for your music? Why would people sit around a campfire and congregate around your music? So, I want you to think in terms of lifestyle. Whenever I take musicians through this exercise, I always ask them, “if your music was a soundtrack to a magazine, what magazine would that be?” If you go check out at Barnes and Noble, you can find every magazine. One’s on log cabins, quilting, horse racing, cars. I mean, backpacking through Europe. They’re all niches, tiny little micro-niches some of them. There’s a magazine for that, for lawn care or whatever.

And so, I always think if your music was a soundtrack, which one would it be? Because if you open up one of those magazines, you start looking at what are the articles in this magazine? What are the ads they’re posting? What are the common colours? What are the fonts they’re using? It will tell you so much about what your potential culture could be for your music. I love that exercise. I love taking people through that. It’s very enlightening. And it’s something that you can really start to imagine.

Now you don’t have to have it nailed down after the first week. This is something – it’s a process. You might take a year to really dial it in and hone in on that, what that culture is. If when you’re starting out, I want you to start thinking about it and start thinking about what magazine your music would be a soundtrack to. Now, what do you without information once you have an idea? Well, that’s going to determine your social posts, it’s going to determine the topics you’re talking about.

And I mean, because my posts are on my Facebook for example, we’re making movie references, we post memes that are really funny, Lord of the Rings type stuff. I’m not always posting about my music. My music is maybe 10%, 20% of my posts. The rest are culture building type of posts. That’s important to build camaraderie, a community based around a common lifestyle. And my music just happens to be part of it.

29:53 CJ: That’s pretty amazing that again, nobody’s saying that you’re building something that’s never existed before. These niches are a combination of elements. And that there are these people who think just like you, who love the same things that you love and getting – you watch the same shows, read the same magazines as you said.

Even though you all do that, you as the artist, you as the one who’s communicating, the better you understand those things, the better you understand even your own interests, your own motives the more skills you’re going to be at creating content online that people want to engage with. The more they engage with your content, the more the algorithms are going to like you. Everything is so much easier, the more you learn about your audience.

And this is something that was – and we’ve said this before is was difficult to do prior to the internet. You had very, very limited demographics is really all you pretty much had. Just basic things about gender, or homeownership, or a zipcode, or they’ve bought this in the past. I mean, it was very, very limited and very, very expensive.

Now for pennies on the dollar, you can get down and find somebody who loves this music and reads this book and watches this TV show and likes to go out to eat and lives in this particular zip code. You can literally get that specific. And if you’re going to bring in people that are that specific to your music and that particular lifestyle, the more you understand about what makes them tick, what interests them, what they’re passionate about, what their pains are, and you can speak to those, you can address those, man, the relationship is going to be off the charts. Bands and musicians have never had this ability.

That’s why people are shocked when they finally meet their rock star because they’re like, “he’s nothing like they thought they were, or she was nothing like they thought they were.” yeah, because you never knew them. All you knew was their poster, was their album cover.

31:59 Leah: Right. My fans know me. I feel they really know me. The more vulnerable I am in social, the more they’re going to know me and that’s going to create a bond. You bet, when I go to release my next album, they’re going to buy it. They’re going to buy a whole bunch of other merch in between those albums because I’m marketing to them. But they know me, they trust me, they feel we’re already friends.

Especially if you can put your face on camera, some of us are so camera shy. I am definitely somebody who struggled with being camera shy. When I look back at my videos, for the first videos ever made for Savvy Musician Academy, I was so camera shy. Our graphic girl said to me, “Leah, it’s like you were a totally different person back then compared to who you are now.” I said, “yeah. It took me that long to just open up and get over myself and get comfortable.” That’s the nature of the beast guys. It’s a little bit uncomfortable doing it sometimes, but it’s so worth it. So, you’ll get over it and you’ll get better.

33:02 CJ: Well, so there it is guys. If you don’t have an album out yet and you’re in that catch-22, you’re in that rock and a hard place, well this is what you’re going to do. You’re going to release something. You’re going to use the tools that are there; Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram, grab your phone, play some music, which Leah has already described, the viral videos that are just raw and have millions and millions of views. Not again that you need to do that, but it’s just showing you the capacity.

For some of you, if you just got a thousand people to see it, you’d be amazed at that. That is a place to begin, get to know those people, get them on an e-mail list, communicate with them regularly, study the culture that you’re all a part of, share your heart, be vulnerable as she says, let people fall in love with you. Then when it becomes time for you to do an album release, you will be positioned so well and you’ll come out of the gates in a way that nobody ever has and you’ll be the story, you’ll be the example, you’ll be the one everyone appeals to.

And even though this takes time to learn, as Leah said, you can spend a year doing some of this stuff, but how quick does a year go by? Wouldn’t you rather be them much further down the road, right?

34:18 Leah: That’s right. Thanks for summing that up so nicely.

34:23 CJ: Well guys, thanks again. Leah, let’s leave them with something simple they can do today.

34:28 Leah: Yeah. If you’re listening to this and you are just at the very beginning of your music career and you’re just wanting to launch this stuff online, I would love for you to join our free Facebook group. You can just look up Savvy Musicians Mastermind in Facebook and join that, and we will start coaching you right in that group. We’re going to give you amazing content. We’re going to give you some challenges and you’re going to get a lot of support from other people there. Go ahead and join that group and I can’t wait to see you in there.

34:57 CJ: Amazing. If you’re listening to us on iTunes, or Spotify, or Stitcher or Google Play, or whatever, be sure to leave a review on this show and give us some stars because it helps us to rise in the rankings and helps other people just like you to discover this amazing show. Believe me, I’m a listener too. I’m a fan. Such a big fan that I somehow weaseled my way into becoming a co-host.

35:26 Leah: We’re so glad that you are.

35:27 CJ: It’s good to be here. Well Leah, thanks again. Guys, we will see you next time.

Episode #049: Becoming an Online Musician: Your Key To Future Success

On the show today, CJ and Leah look at what it really means to become an online musician in today’s music industry, talking about what it takes, the buy-in and commitment to achieve the results you have always wanted. Leah starts off giving a brief definition of what she thinks being an online musician is and from there they look at ways in which you can add this branch of activities and income to your current setup. Leah runs through just how much this can help you and the multitude of benefits you can get from relatively low overheads once you commit to the goal of becoming an online musician. They talk scaling, social media formats, time constraints and adaptability. All things you should be clear and aware of going into this. Leah shares a bit of her personal story and how she overcame great odds and a difficult situation to get to where she is today, helping others do the same. For this, be sure to join us on the Savvy Musician Show!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A student spotlight message from Steven! 
  • Simply defining what an online musician is. 
  • How to add the online component to what you are doing right now. 
  • The amazing benefits of adding this dimension to your repertoire. 
  • Understanding the important concepts of scaling and adaptability.  
  • Reports about the changing format of Facebook’s newsfeed. 
  • Getting ahead of the game and becoming an online musician now! 
  • Common misconceptions and misunderstanding about this field. 
  • The time you put in contributes to the results you get.
  • If Leah can do it, so can you! 
  • Some action steps that you can take today!  
  • And much more! 

Tweetables:

“Without touring then, you are doing better than some of the more successful touring bands in terms of each member, what they earn.” — @metalmotivation [0:09:05]

“If you’re an indie artist, you don’t have a label with a huge amount of capital to do it for you. This is an easy, economical, affordable, doable way to do it.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:13:13]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/onlinemusician/ 

The Superfan System Elite Program — www.callsma.com

Savvy Musician Mastermind — https://www.facebook.com/groups/savvymusician/

Crossing the Chasmhttps://amzn.to/2WdFcpT 

Blue Ocean Strategy https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/what-is-blue-ocean-strategy/

Steven Vrancken (student spotlight) — https://stevenvrancken.com/   

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome again to the Savvy Musician Show, this is CJ Ortiz and I am a branding and mindset coach here in the Savvy Musician Academy and I’m delighted to be joined once again by the lovely lady herself, Leah McHenry. It’s good to see you.

00:38 Leah: Hey, good to see you too.

00:40 CJ: Isn’t this awesome?

00:40 Leah: Even though we’ve been chatting for an hour already.

00:44 CJ: Yeah, there’s a lot of – there’s the offline podcast that nobody gets to see or hear. Was telling somebody just the other day, again, this is a conversation that you and I have had Leah, about just that what you want in a podcast is for someone to feel like a fly on the wall as they say. 

You know, people they respect and say, “Boy, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when those two meet up,” or what have you. That’s been more or less the sentiment from the students in the Elite Group. Even though they hear from both of us separately, they’re like, “Well, this would be fun.”

01:18 Leah: Yeah.

01:18 CJ: Let’s hear them talk together and that’s actually really flattering coming from them Leah, because I have been through some of your other courses, they’re going through the Elite Course and they have monthly coaching calls with you and whatnot. 

So they know so much in detail that the general public doesn’t know about what you teach but yet they are still so interested to hear you and I chat about these things because there’s just certain things that come out through a conversation that maybe they didn’t catch, you know? In a particular module or what have you. That’s really pretty cool.

01:56 Leah: Yeah, exactly. There’s so much that happens organically in conversation that it’s not in the notes and that’s great. We’ve always said we’re never going to run out of things to talk about, surprisingly, when it comes to the music industry or just mindset or success or business. We’re just never going to run out of topics.

02:17 CJ: No, that’s why – like you just said, we kind of kick ourselves because we – or shoot ourselves on the foot as they say because we end up catching up before and we end up eating into our podcast recording time. 

Here we are even now trying to get to the podcast but I think it’s all again part of that dynamic of just – we’re both very passionate about these subjects and I know Leah that you have such a heart for seeing musicians succeed in this new era of the music industry.

A lot of people are saying that now, a lot of people are saying new era this and I’m – Leah, in all honesty, I see ads all the time from people who would be within your niche market in terms of the Savvy Musician Academy and I’m looking into their copy, I’m seeing what they’re talking about and I’m not seeing even anything remotely close to some of the stuff that we’ve talked about. 

That’s your main I think now, even to what we’re talking about today which is being an online musician because that’s really what we’re saying. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about that, you know? There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what that means, I can find – you can ask the average band or single artist, Leah, “Do you have a Facebook Page for example?”

They’ll say, “Sure.” Then we go to their Facebook page and all you see is a bunch of posted events, you know? There’s no engagement, there’s no intentionality to anything that they’re really doing, it’s just a place for them to post. It’s not any different than putting up flyers back in the 80s on Sunset Boulevard. The exact same thing. 

When people say online musician, they don’t necessarily know what you mean, Leah. When you say, online musician but – we’re going to talk about that today ladies and gentlemen. First I want to share with you a student spotlight which is something we like to do in the savvy musician show. 

Today is by Steven and he writes, “#win. A little while before the course started, I was already busy contacting user-generated playlist curators. I never asked them to consider placing my song in the top five to 10. This helped me with one specific playlist of plus 8,000 followers to get one of my six songs in this playlist, moved to position three. This approach is definitively helping.” 

Now, he’s referring to the Spotify course, right? That you recently put out.

04:39 Leah: Yes, we have a brand new Spotify course to help people learn how to take advantage of it. Spotify is your friend, it’s not your enemy. Streaming and just how to increase revenue, that’s awesome, He’s applying it and it’s working, that’s great.

04:52 CJ: Yeah, he said, “Yesterday I got 914 streams and 584 listens,” highest numbers he had gotten so far. He’s excited about moving forward, he finishes by saying, he’s so grateful to be a part of this community and community is truly right, in fact, that’s one of the benefits that I’m seeing in any sort of group coaching thing is not just having that support but having that sense of community, well, you’re filled with people who are just like you.

Motivated people that are trying to create an online music business. You’ve got a couple of groups, right? You got the – 

05:28 Leah: Yes, we have a free group, it’s called the Savvy Musician Mastermind and that’s for anybody can join that. Whether you have ever taken a program from us or not, we welcome you there, we’re going to give you our podcast content, it’s kind of a nice convenient place to get it and we post free stuff in there all the time and we just have amazing discussions and if you want help with anything, we’ve got amazing admins there to answer your questions, it’s a great place to be.

Then we have our official student groups. If you are in one of our programs, you can ask course-related questions there and we also have great admins there as well.

06:03 CJ: Online musician. Leah, first of all, let me just ask you. Simply stated, how would you define what an online musician is.

06:12 Leah: Of the top my head, this is not in my notes. Of the top of my head, an online musician is adding an online component to your music career. If you’re even like a full time touring musician, that’s awesome, I’m not saying to quit that, I would never tell you that.

It’s literally distributing your music, marketing your music, growing your fan base doing all the different online digital marketing activities and adding that component to your career. Thereby leveraging your time, leveraging your talent, growing your brand worldwide, while you’re sleeping. So that’s how I define it.

06:51 CJ: That’s really good because I think, this goes back to mentioning what I did about the other people that are doing something similar and as the Savvy Musician Academy, marketing your music and things online. Is that people, when they think that the rules have changed, because of the internet and social media that you know, from the old days of the record labels. 

It really hasn’t changed in terms the way people are still trying to approach this. Until they learn that they really have to do a lot of the things that you just described, you’re going to talk more about what some of these things are.

07:28 Leah: Yeah.

07:28 CJ: It’s really not an online musician thing yet. You mentioned something I thought was really key which is setting over against a touring only musician, you know what I mean? To somebody need then, if somebody’s going to make this decision, to become an online musician.

Are you saying they’re just adding this component to it or in your case, you don’t tour, you’re doing more success, you’re doing – you’re having more success, Leah, then probably, I’m going to speak only from the metal community, there’s a lot of popular bands but I guarantee you, there’s not a single member of any of these recorded artists who are touring and playing in all the big shows not anyone of them are making the money that you’re making. And you don’t tour.

08:12 Leah: Yeah, let’s just distinguish, this is just my music sales, this is not from my coaching academy. I always have to make that distinguishment because people always on my ads, people are so original, not. They’re just like, “I know how you make six figures, you just teach courses on it.” I’m like, “Wow, so original, no one’s ever said that to me before.”

No, it’s all separate, yeah. You were going to ask me a question about that or I just kind of butted in.

08:41 CJ: No, I think it’s an important point of distinction here that you, without touring, okay, are earning more just through your music and again, to make that point all the haters and everything that are going to accuse you of saying, well, you’re just telling all these, how they do this and so that’s how you’re making your money. No, she’s doing that now because she’s making that money from her music and merchandise sales.

Without touring then, you are doing better than some of the more successful touring bands in terms of each member, what they earn because I know a lot of guys that are in big bands and I follow them on social media and they’re right back at the day job when they get off the road from touring.

They do it for the love and they’re hoping for obviously something better. But, you know, as I exclusively touring musician, that’ s a very difficult nut to crack. How then can somebody add this online component to what they’re doing right now?

09:40 Leah: There’s so many things to add. I mean, you can start with the basics with social media and that sort of thing. I think every band out there realizes they need to have that but I don’t know if they understand to the extent that they need to add it. I was just telling you, before we got on this podcast episode, about, I recently made a very kind of vulnerable scary post to my fans about some of the health issues I’ve faced.

If any of my students know that I’m really into health, I’m really into fitness and I’ve just struggled so bad to meet my goals and you know, I’ve been doing lab tests and all the stuff to try and figure it out. I’ve never really expressed this to my fans before, I’ve always tried to maintain an appearance of – I’m the same as I was five years ago. I look a certain way, I’m very careful about the photos I post. I just told them, “Guys, this is what I’ve been struggling with. I just have to be transparent and honest with you guys.” 

I really let them into my vulnerability and I told them, it’s difficult for me to post this, it’s scary for me to post this but I feel that I cannot be an authentic artist without sharing with you what I’m going through. That’s the extent I’m talking about, when I say social media, I don’t mean posting posters and little graphics to your next tour. You can do that and you should. But going so much further with it, letting them into who you are for real and being vulnerable with them, it’s not easy, it’s the internet, so it’s very foreign feeling to kind of wear your heart on your sleeve and just put yourself out there.

Beyond social media, there’s so much more to it than adding the online component. I mean, we’ve talked about this in the previous series. From everything from list building, advertising, all the email marketing. There’s so much you can do where once that system is running, it works for you. I just posted a brand new opt-in ad to build my email list. I’m getting very aggressive about building my email list again.

I want to add a thousand people a month to my email list and brand new fresh people. The reason is because I plan on doing another album launch at the end of this year and I’m going to give myself a nice, long, runway with fresh new people who are interested in what I’ve got to offer. I’ve got that running, I’m getting opt-ins at less than 40 cents each for people to get on to my email list which in the marketing world is an unbelievable, amazing price and I always get these prices.

That’s always what I’m paying for even a brand new ad. It’s because I know my audience online, these are cold by the way, these are not current followers or cold traffic, they never heard of me before. They’re opting in, I’m sending them emails, all about who I am, I’m sending them free music, I’m taking them to, hey, here’s YouTube. I’m getting them multiple touch points is what we call it. 

I’m doing all of this and it’s all happening while I’m sleeping. Of course, I monitor it. I never want to say it’s completely passive, I don’t really think that’s accurate. You have to monitor it, you have to tweak things, you have to keep your eye on it but adding this online component, I cannot – I don’t have the time – there’s not enough time in the day or the week or the year for me to go out and literally shake every single person’s hand compared to how many tens of thousands of people are seeing my ad every day. That’s not humanly possible and yet I’m building a brand by doing this. 

When I say adding an online component, there’s many things you can do but this is just one example is having something continually running where it’s basically a huge awareness campaign, we need mass exposure, if you’re an indie artist, you don’t have a label with a huge amount of capital to do it for you. This is an easy, economical, affordable, doable way to do it.

13:24 CJ: List some of the benefits that this – people, the obvious thing that people are going to think of is just well, I could sell more CDs or maybe I can sell some shirts. But there’s a lot more to it that someone, especially as a touring musician can add by just having this online component working for them.

13:41 Leah: Yeah, for sure. First of all, like I just said, I’m always building my audience, right? The fact, if you’re a touring musician, you could just put two and two together here. If you can reach tens of thousands of new people who have never heard your music before and you can do it for pennies every single day, do you think that that will have an impact on your ticket sales when it comes time to sell that?

Do you think that if you learn digital marketing and advertising that you could sell more tickets or more VIP experiences or more merchandise? Do you think that if you just add two plus two equals four? I can only say that it will enhance everything else you’re doing offline. Hands down.

14:31 CJ: If you have a lot of competition. Because I run a venue before and in Dallas Fort Worth, that’s a very competitive space and if you have a following and if you are prolific on social media and you’ve got great brand awareness. Then you’re going to get more of the gigs, you’re going to get more of the slots, venues, promoters are going to take you seriously because again, in a very competitive space, lots of bands and artists are out there, all competing for the same stage time.

What can really differentiate you is if you have a crowd. Doesn’t necessarily – there might be other bands who might be better than you but you’ll get the gigs because you’ve got the audience. Remember, the vendor and the venue is not – they’re not selling music per se. What they’re selling is warm bodies in there, drinking beer and you know, to them, like I used to say to people when I get original artists who would come and criticize me for running cover bands.

I’d say, “Hey, listen, man, I’m just a glorified jukebox. I’m here to sell Bud Lite, I’m not here to – I’m with you offline, we can talk about your music all day long. I’d love to hear your CD but when it comes to what we’ve got to do to make money, I need bodies in the door. If you can’t bring me bodies in the door, I can’t put you on that stage.”

15:50 Leah: Right.

15:50 CJ: Somebody’s got that following, they can do that.

15:54 Leah: Absolutely. I mean, I think that’s probably the easiest sell ever. That’s probably why I built my career backwards in a sense, for one reason, I had to because I couldn’t be a touring musician with my little kids at home and homeschooling, all that. Although, now that they’re a little older, we’re extremely mobile. We spent five months kind of going through Ireland and the UK and we were able to bring our kids and they were doing home school on the computer.

Hey, never say never, I definitely plan on touring one day. The other reason, I just saw the advantage of being able to build my fan base online first and build my – basically, create a demand before I ever go on tour. 

When I do tour, I’m going to be able to sell out my shows and I’ll also create more opportunity because now I’ve actually made a name for myself if I want to get ton like a bigger tour with maybe a much bigger band than me, hey probably have heard of me by now. The opportunities it is going to create for me in the long run by having built my fan base online, by having a huge email list, by having a YouTube audience, by having an Instagram audience and all of this. It’s only going to benefit me in the future for anything I want to do.

17:03 CJ: Tell me, you mentioned something a little while ago about scaling. I know that’s one of the benefits that somebody can explain what that means.

17:10 Leah: Right, scaling just means that whatever little thing you’re doing that’s working. If you add more budget to it, you can increase the results of that current result. That means, for example, anything I’m doing online, let’s talk about my opt-in add right now that it’s really cheap, I’m adding new people to my email list every single day. 

If I want to scale the ad and it’s working well, I can add more budget to it and it gets more people on my list. I can do that with advertising, I can do that with email, I can do that with – mostly it’s an advertising scenario, that’s usually when we’re talking about scaling something we’re referring to advertising. You can apply it to other things as well.

The point is that you can’t scale something that’s not working, you can only scale something that’s already working. It will only – that’s why I don’t recommend boosting posts. I know there’s other competitors out there that actually tell people to boost posts and I’m like, “Dude, you do not run a large business then, because – maybe even a small one. Because you wouldn’t be telling people that.”

Because again, it’s like – boosting post is only going to force people to see something that the algorithm already deemed was not worth showing people. Why would you throw money at that?

18:25 CJ: I think, Leah, in all honesty, the average band or musician that has a Facebook Page in a little website and what have you and is doing their best to be an original artist, probably when they think of what we’re talking about, they think, well that means I got to boost posts because that’s the button they see on their little – they see those buttons.

18:44 Leah: I mean, Facebook.

18:45 CJ: They’ve never been in the ad manager.

18:45 Leah: That’s just a cash machine.

18:46 CJ: You know what I mean?

18:47 Leah: That’s right, yeah, that little boost post button, that’s just a little ATM for Facebook. That’s not really going to help – that’s not real advertising. There’s so many limitations to it. 

That’s literally just going to force it into the newsfeed and by the way, there are rumours and not just rumours, there are reports that the newsfeed as we know it right now is going to be going away like the top — I think Facebook’s newsfeed guy, I forget his name but he’s actually left Facebook now. He is gone and the newsfeed as we know it is going away. 

We don’t really know exactly, it looks like it is going to become more and more like Facebook stories. Where it is going to be not vertical but like a horizontal experience swiping left and right sort of thing. We don’t know what exactly it looks like but the bottom line is that it is going to be ever-changing. We don’t know exactly and you have to be able to adapt and this is why you need to know the ads manager and you don’t want to be boosting posts. Like who knows if that feature isn’t going to be there and then what are people going to do?

So you have to be adaptable. You have to be on your toes and need the latest information and that is not something you can get even at marketing school. I heard a stat the other day that said, “When a university course is launched or released, by year three, that information is obsolete.” It is literary irrelevant and especially in the marketing world. So that it why I tell people “Yeah, you can go to Berkeley online and spent 20 to $50,000 on a music marketing degree, that would be completely irrelevant to you or you can work with us and we actually give the latest and greatest information.” 

And I think that is a huge decision or part of the decision of becoming an online musician is understanding what that means, what does that even mean in terms of your headspace, your mindset around this. It means you have to be open to constant change and that is something people are not always prepared for. Constant change, especially with technology things, are changing so fast. 

Like I just said the newsfeed as we know it is going to be going away. They are replacing it with a different kind of format. They are already making changes right now and I just saw some new things on my mobile newsfeed yesterday. They are different, they are really heavily promoting groups and all that sort of thing. But adaptability and knowing what the latest trends are where things are going and going, “Hey, cool they made a change. How can I make that work for me?” 

Instead of freaking out. And I think all the bands out there that are not willing to be adaptable and not willing to be a student of it, they are going to seriously lose out. They are going to leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table over the course of a year or two and they’re just going to hurt their music business. So I think you got to have an attitude of adaptability. 

21:33 CJ: Yeah and these things that we don’t know will hurt us in the long run and people are somewhat embittered when it comes to things like social media especially Facebook. Facebook obviously gets a lot of heat, some of it deserved. But yeah, I mean these are the things where we are forced to adapt because we can say, “Okay, well now I am just going to get off online.” Well fine, now what? 

21:58 Leah: Right, now you are back to gigs and playing in front of 30 people and hoping that somebody buys an album? 

22:04 CJ: Yeah, so you don’t have a choice. I mean there is that. There’s the fact that you have to move forward into this online space. So better to be equipped, better to put the emotional reaction aside and just say, “Okay, well let me see how I can start to master this,” and again, you know going back to what you said about scaling is you can get some of these basic components down, how to properly run a Facebook page, how to run some basic ads as opposed to boosting posts. 

How to engage with your followers, you know what kind of post, learning the culture and all of the things that you talk about, Leah. Just those simple things alone, would so revolutionize the average musicians I hate to say profession because they are still working on it but you know what I mean. What they are doing musically would be so enhanced. 

22:53 Leah: Yeah and it is interesting too, where we are and this episode is about making the decision to become an online musician, we are really laying the groundwork and not just me but we have lots of other colleagues out there in the music industry and business people I never heard of before, people I haven’t met but we’re laying a groundwork here in the marketplace in general for a collective awareness of the fact that they even need to make this decision to add this online component. 

And to become wise and become an entrepreneur in some sense and I was explaining too in our staff meeting yesterday just to our – I have to cast vision a little bit for our Savvy Musician team and I was just telling them, “Listen guys, there is a book called Crossing the Chasm and it is all about – it is more a book written for technological trends and market places but it is so applicable to what we are seeing right now and there is basically a bell curve in market awareness of something. 

We’re at the very, very bottom of the curve where people don’t even realize that they need to make this decision to become an online musician. To add this component that they should be leveraging their time and their talent and learning new skillset here. Five to 10 years from now, I believe that every musician will be a digital marketer. I believe that then that will be what we called kind of like – there is going to be a general awareness. 

Right now, people who are studying with us and learning right now they are what we call the early adopters. They are also probably the same people that go out and buy the new iPhone and they don’t care that it has bugs. They don’t really care, they are going to just get it. They stand in line for 24 hours to get access to the latest technology because they want the latest and the greatest. 99% of musicians I would say are not these people. So the people in our programs are way ahead of the game. 

Way, way ahead and 10 years from now they will be making a lot more money than anybody else but 10 years from now, most musicians will know that they should be doing this and by then, it is going to be a very crowded extremely competitive place. So the decision to become an online musician can be very prudent to make that decision now and jump in with two feet and say, “What do I need to learn? What skills do I need to learn and create and improve on to get a head start now?”

25:19 CJ: Yeah, I think that has to be heeded as a warning and so in a sense, guys, you are being called to this. She is beckoning to you to come join because she wants you to do well. She wants you to thrive. She wants you because you can do it. She did it. 

And that is the important point. So you got to believe it is possible, right? These are all the misconceptions that we have and why don’t you address some of those? When you try to explain this sort of thing, what do people normally misunderstand about it? 

25:53 Leah: I think with some of our students I’ve heard complaints about, “Oh, I didn’t know it was going to cost me this tool and that tool and these ongoing monthly expenses and everything,” and I am going, “What are you even complaining about?” First of all, this is a business. If you are running a McDonalds or any kind of business, you are going to have expenses like what did you think this was. I mean this is not entertainment where you just sit back and relax and let things happen to you. This is a pro-active business-minded approach. 

So yes, you are going to have tools, you are going to have landing pages. You are going to need website hosting. You are going to have advertising, you are going to need a little advertising budget. But it is so much less expensive than the alternative or compared to the old school model. What were our options before the internet? That is my question and what would it cost to get on the radio? What would it cost to go on tour? 

It is still extremely expensive. What would it cost to get a billboard or TV spot? Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the venue, you know? It is so less expensive. I mean the fact that I can run a Facebook ad for $10 a day and get 50 people to join my email list that day, incredible. You don’t even appreciate how inexpensive this is. So that is one thing. It is a huge thing that I always want to address. 

And I always tell our students, don’t cheap out on crappy tools and try to get everything for free online. It will hurt your business. You know, sell an extra pair of shoes in your closet on Bidding Wars on Facebook. Do what you got to do, get that extra 50 bucks a month so you can get proper tools. Like really, you’re creative, think outside the box. I don’t really have a lot of tolerance for people who say they can’t afford these tools. 

You can, you are just spending your money somewhere else or you have a bunch of crap that you don’t want to sell and you are lazy. So you know, you just say it the way it is. It is very inexpensive. 

27:51 CJ: Now what about time? I mean that is a big deal, right? How much time is this going to take Leah? 

27:57 Leah: Yeah, it does take time. I mean do you ask yourself that question when you want to learn an instrument or do anything? I mean yeah, it is going to take time. If you want a six-pack of abs, is that going to happen in a week? No. That is going to take some time and it is going to take consistency and dedication and not falling off the wagon and a whole lot of other things. It is the same thing with anything, right? 

Yes, it is going to take time but again, the advantage of being an online musician is the time leverage you get. So again, I am not out there, I am not even talking to a single person and yet they are joining my email list, listening to music and buying stuff. You know I think I made $500 by the time it was 10:00 this morning. So without having to talk to a single person or having to leave my house or still in my pyjamas I was doing my workout this morning and it was sales were rolling in. 

So you know, time-consuming? Yeah, it takes a little time especially the learning curve to learn how to do this stuff but once you know it, I mean think about all the time I am saving now and think about the leverage I am getting. So that is really amazing. 

29:04 CJ: So now it is just something that I see a lot, Leah, is people think, “Oh, well it is going to work for her because she is this or she has that,” or what have you, does this work for everybody or are they just going to keep comparing themselves to you?

29:18 Leah: Yeah, I think sometimes people do and I think more even so our students who think, “Oh well, Leah is successful because she has this really special little niche and everything and I admit, I have kind of carved out something unique and special but I encourage everybody to do that. I mean this goes back to branding in some of the episodes we have talked about in the last few episodes here. You know I have created a – you know it is The Red Ocean, Blue Ocean. 

I don’t know if you guys have read that book. The Red Ocean, it is very crowded and the sharks are feasting and there is blood in the water. The Blue Ocean is where there’s not a whole lot of competition, the sharks is not really circling and there is a lot of space and so that is why I like micro niches. That is why I like niching. That is the whole idea behind niche marketing and so I would say besides the fact that yes, I worked very hard to find a blue ocean for my music and get into a niche, based on what my fans are telling me and feedback and all of that. 

But I would say outside of that you guys, I’ve had every disadvantage that you could have when it comes to building a brand and you might look at me and say, “She is so successful, so it is easy for her.” I was not successful before. Like I said, some of you guys know my story but I had no connection in the music industry, whatsoever. I had no fans. I had one album really that I had help creating. 

I had kids, babies in diapers. I sang that first album nine months pregnant with very limited diaphragm space and no extra budget. I was doing this, it took me two years to make that album because I would record it on the weekends when my husband could watch the kids when he was home from his construction job and that was the only time I could do it, right? So I had no advantage in the music industry. I didn’t even know anything about business, I knew nothing about it. 

So you know I would say if it worked for me, it can work for anybody because I guarantee you, most of you don’t have five kids. Most of you aren’t homeschooling. Most of you have more time on your hands than I did and I just didn’t have any extra help guys so. 

31:32 CJ: You didn’t have any band members to do anything.

31:35 Leah: No, there you go. Yeah, exactly so I had to compose everything. I had to hire people and I did it on a shoestring budget. I’ve had an enormous challenge in front of me to accomplish everything I have. But it also served as an advantage and that I was forced to bootstrap and I think bootstrapping, there’s entire books in the business world written about bootstrapping and what a useful advantageous situation that is. When you are forced to bootstrap it, I mean there is something psychologically, especially if you are all in and you have that switch turned on that says, “I am going to succeed no matter what.” 

If you have that switch turned on nothing can stop you and that is what I am looking for in working with people. I am really not interested in working with people who are like, “I want to pursue this but it is a little thing on the side. I am not really all in.” You’re never going to see results. You have to have that switch turned on where you are almost mad. 

You almost have to get a little angry and have that little bit of an aggression behind your decision just like, “I am angry that I haven’t seen results and I am going to find out how to make it happen.” That is what happened to me and long before Savvy Musician Academy was created, I remember sitting in a chair in the living room and Steve telling me, we were just advised by the government. The government told us because we are so far behind in taxes that we should file bankruptcy. 

And when the government advises you to file bankruptcy because of your taxes, you know it is bad. And I just looked at it. I was so angry not at him but just the situation because I knew it was bad. The Canadian government by the way pretty much rapes businesses who we were very lower middle class. One income household and it was like pay for groceries or pay taxes, which one are we going to do? Well we have kids to feed. 

So I got angry in that moment and I said, “Like hell are we going bankrupt. That will not happen.” So a switch turned on in me and I said, “I will find a way. I will find a way to use whatever gift is inside of me. Whatever I have and whatever I can do at home, I will take this little and I will turn it into much.” I don’t know how and I made a decision. My first decision, I am going to make a $100,000 with my music and I am going to somehow figure out how I’m going to do that. 

I just think I know there will be expenses, I know that that might not all be profit but I am going to figure out how am I going to make a $100,000. So I made a decision out of anger and frustration in a good way, in an aggressive way, that I am going to change our family situation and I am going to do it with my music and from that moment on, it happened. Literally months later, I started making incredible progress with my music just by using social media. 

So before I knew anything about advertising and just putting in the effort making the decision, declaring a number saying this is the number I am going to hit and I will reverse engineer how it is going to happen. That changed everything, that changed our entire lives. So that is the story behind how Savvy Musician even ever came about guys. 

34:51 CJ: Wow, I don’t even want to add in because I want people to just meditate on what you just said because that’s this whole episode is about deciding to become an online musician and the key thing of what you said was you were brought to that place where you had to make that decision. “This is what I am going to do.” Now you didn’t have necessarily a Savvy Musician Academy to lean on. So it was double — you described with doing all of this on your own. 

Being pregnant and struggling financially so let us add to it the fact that you don’t have any resources to figure out how to do this and so this is several years ago and so look at where social media was at that time. So to be able to do this now and for someone to make that decision now it is so much better to make that decision now and before things change too much and everybody starts crowding this online space now is the best time guys. 

Now is the best time for you to decide to become an online musician, what action step would you give them, Leah? 

35:52 Leah: Well today, if you haven’t fully, fully committed to yourself, your music your career I want you to make that decision right now. I mean you know there are some sayings out there, “Crap and get off the pot.” Whatever you want to say but it is just like, make the decision. Are you all in or are you out? There is no in-between, you can’t dabble in this stuff and get a result that you really are looking for. You got to be fully committed, all in. 

Educate yourself and you know if this is something that you really want to pursue and you would like our help, we are here for you. So number one, the fact that you are listening to this podcast is a very wise decision. So the first thing that I want to tell you is subscribe, make sure you are getting these podcasts. What we are delivering to you is the best advice that we could give for free. We have a lot of advice that is not free and it will give you 10X what is on this podcast. It will 10X the results. 

You can’t get everything you need here but the other thing I would have you do is book a call with us, so we can help you see if and how we are able to help depending on where you’re at in your music career. You can go to callsma.com and somebody, myself or one of our team members will help you. We are going to help you get some clarity on where you’re at. So that is what I am going to leave you with today. 

37:23 CJ: That is awesome. So, guys, I hope you are going to make that decision today. There is again, minimal things that you can do right now but it is important that you do something right now. If you put it off, you are going to keep putting it off. So do something today, sign up, do something today, make that phone call and I guarantee you good things can happen when you begin to take action. 

Leah, thank you so much once again for all your counsel, wisdom and advice and it is always a joy to be with you and do one of these. 

37:50 Leah: Thanks CJ. We’ll see you guys next time. 

Episode #048: Bonus: Leah Answers Your Facebook Ad Questions

Today on the show Leah and CJ are tackling your questions on Facebook ads! That’s right they are fielding exactly what you asked and giving you the best answers they can muster so you can get rolling with better ad strategies and getting your music and merchandise moving! Facebook and other social media advertising done right can take you from floundering uncertainty to a blossoming career under your own personal control. Leah stresses the importance of copywriting, metrics and getting into the nitty gritty of what works and what does not, you need to learn your way around it all if you want to master it. We discuss the evolving algorithms and how best to stay up to date with them, how to balance your advertising strategy between what is happening now and long term goals and which shop platforms are best. Leah also answers questions on location targeting for events, marketing merchandise compared with music, calling it quits on an ad cycle and more! So be sure to join us today on the Savvy Musician Show!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A special student spotlight message from Mia!
  • A little bit about Instagram ads and how to use them to increase purchases. 
  • Staying up to date with the ever changing Facebook algorithms.  
  • Balancing general, long term ads with specific new content promotion. 
  • The importance of copywriting in promoting and selling your products. 
  • Why to use Shopify instead of Bandcamp.
  • Targeting specific areas and Facebook’s location targeting.
  • Should you market your merchandise differently to your music? 
  • The different types of of ads you can run and which are most effective.
  • The basics of great Instagram ads!
  • How to know when to end your running of a particular ad.
  • Making the most of what you have and getting some skin in the game. 
  • And much more! 

Tweetables:

“hat’s most important is that you know and understand your audience and your brand and everything ahead of time.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:05:38]

“That’s the kind of stuff that you do in marketing and advertising is you just test this stuff.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:11:03]

“Some people look at the Image and they don’t even read the text. You want to use all those different assets they’re giving you to the full potential.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:14:58]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/onlinemusician/ 

The Superfan System Elite Program — www.callsma.com

Leah on Twitter — https://twitter.com/leahthemusic

DotComSecrets — https://www.dotcomsecrets.com

Exactly What to Say — https://amzn.to/2HhCDyO 

Shopify – https://www.shopify.com/?ref=savvy-musician-academy 

Mia Ramer (Student Spotlight) – https://www.mia-music.com

Episode #047: Why Your Music Isn’t Making Any Money: Paid Traffic

On today’s show, Leah and CJ are talking all about paid traffic. This is the last official episode in the five-part series we’ve been doing called why your music isn’t making any money. We’ve been focusing on all the different ways you might not be marketing your music or implementing and hopefully, it’s going to help you. This last episode is all about paid traffic. Advertising. We’re discussing the dos and don’ts as well as some of the best performing ads that are killing it year round, why Leah is able to do all of this as a stay at home mom, five kids who are home schooled and an artist that never tours. This is the secret sauce. So for all this and more, keep listening!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Defining organic reach versus paid traffic.
  • When paid traffic is appropriate to use.
  • What is meant by pixeling your audience.
  • Targeting your bullseye audience.
  • Using paid traffic for anything and everything related to the fan journey. 
  • The fan journey – awareness, engagement and then a sale.
  • Reaching thousands of people through Facebook.
  • The dos and don’ts of paid traffic.
  • Stop boosting your post – it not achieving anything productive.
  • Why you shouldn’t be running ads from your phone – use a desktop.
  • Keeping your ads separate – don’t run it from your personal profile.
  • Marketing 101 – The importance of understanding Facebook Pixel.
  • Don’t run ads unless your Pixel is installed everywhere.
  • Having a clear objective before posting ads.
  • Why not to run Instagram ads from Instagram.
  • Using Chrome browser and Chrome pixel helper when creating ads.
  • Getting proper training on exactly how to use ads for Facebook and Instagram.
  • Understanding effective targeting and knowing your target audience.
  • Using customized dimensions for different placements.
  • Leah’s 3 main ads: a like campaign, an opt in ad and a video view ad.
  • Building a page to create awareness, having social proof and a bullseye audience.
  • The multi touch point process.
  • And so much more!

Tweetables:

“Paid traffic is going to be your shortcut to the desired result.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:05:03]

“It’s appropriate to use paid traffic anytime, any way related to the fan journey.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:11:19]

“Get clarity on your niche and your brand and the culture of your music. You need this for effective targeting.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:25:20]

“Don’t underestimate the power of social proof.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:31:49]

“No matter what I’m doing I am constantly building my music business no matter what.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:37:01]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/onlinemusician/ 

The Superfan System Elite Program — www.callsma.com

Leah on Twitter — https://twitter.com/leahthemusic

Facebook Ad Manager — https://www.facebook.com/business/tools/ads-manager

Facebook Pixel — https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/facebook-ads-pixel

Fiverr — https://www.fiverr.com/

Episode #046: Why Your Music Isn’t Making Any Money: Email Marketing

On today’s show, we are talking all about email marketing, email in general and why it’s a huge missing ingredient for most musicians. This forms part of the series we have undertaken on the Savvy Musician Show, on how to make more money through your music! We all know how important marketing is, and marketing yourself and your own music even more so. People often have different ideas about whether something is relevant and how it actually gets done. But Leah and CJ are here today to help you realize why building an email list is so important and how to go about it in the correct way. They also go into extensive detail on all of the features inside of their programs. So for all this and more, keep listening!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The longevity of email, especially on a transactional level.
  • How e-commerce is growing – as long as there is e-commerce there is email.
  • Why you should be building your email list.
  • Being able to control, customize and personalize the experience for your fans.
  • Email being considered a powerful asset for you as a musician entrepreneur.
  • Immersing people in what you’re all about and adding value to their life.
  • Email as the number one source of revenue in e-commerce.
  • Direct response marketing approaches in email.
  • Uploading your email list to the Facebook platforms and showing ads.
  • Methods that increase revenue – pre-purchase and post purchase campaigns.
  • Using your email for cart abandonment – getting the buyer back.
  • Best tools for email marketing.
  • Using a professional email service provider and landing page provider.
  • Why it’s all about optimization.
  • And so much more!

Tweetables:

“There should be a huge importance and urgency for every musician to be building their list.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:06:43]

“The longer someone stays with you on your list and is a customer with you, the greater the lifetime value.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:11:42]

“It’s really important that you engage with people on the platform the way people like to engage on it.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:18:26]

“If it doesn’t have pixel integration, run away. You need this to make money. It is online marketing 101. You always use a Facebook pixel, you always track the traffic on any of your pages or websites.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:34:18]

“Stop cheapening out on tools and trying to get free this and free that everything.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:34:49]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/onlinemusician/ 

Superfan System Elite Program — www.callsma.com

Leah on Twitter — https://twitter.com/leahthemusic

Shopify — https://www.shopify.com/?ref=savvy-musician-academy

Drip (60-Day Free Trial) — https://drip.com/savvymusician 

Lead Pages — https://leadpages.net/savvymusician 

Episode #045: Why Your Music Isn’t Making Any Money: How To Ask For The Sale

On today’s show, we are tackling the question of how to ask for a sale. This forms part of the series we have undertaken on The Savvy Musician Show, on how to make more money through your music and selling is as important a part as any! Leah and CJ are giving you the inside scoop on the simple ways to convert fans and admirers into paying customers, in ways that don’t feel slimy or coercive. This is a big problem for a lot of musicians, feeling like they are not and do not want to be, salespeople. But with this easy to follow introductory episode you can see how easy it is to start turning a profit and take positive action towards it. The discussion covers direct and passive promotion, approaching a warm audience, email and copywriting and why so many of your audience will be excited to pay you something for the value you offer. For all this and a great conversation on the nature of selling, be sure to tune in!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • A special student message from Wendy Nicole Hall 
  • Leah’s own journey to learning to be a better seller 
  • The central role that selling plays in our lives
  • Direct promotion and response marketing
  • Pitching to a warm audience and leaning into your advertising
  • Why to treat your music career more like e-commerce
  • Taking control of your own musical destiny!
  • Passive promotion and where to find your fans
  • The psychological desire to support someone who offers you value 
  • What to look forward to in the next episode! 
  • And much more! 

Tweetables:

“It was actually copyrighting that taught me how to sell. I didn’t have to read a book on how to sell.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:06:16]

“Direct promotion has a huge place. I spend at least 50% of my time doing this sort of thing.” — @LEAHthemusic  [0:19:10]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Savvy Musician Academy on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/onlinemusician/ 

The Super Fan System Elite Program — www.callsma.com

Leah on Twitter — https://twitter.com/leahthemusic

CD Baby — https://cdbaby.com

Bandcamp — https://bandcamp.com

Nightwish — http://nightwish.com/en

Epica — http://www.epica.nl

Game of Thrones  — https://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones 

Elder Scrolls — https://elderscrolls.bethesda.net