Tag Archives: BAnds

Freedom From the Fear of Failure

failurelight

Firstly, as an Aspiring #Aluxer, I Am Not A Champion of Failure.

Like You, I Love to Win, Maintain Advantages, Remain Competitive and Constantly Seek New Ways to Improve. Losing, Quitting, Throwing In the Towel and Similar Derivatives are Not in My Active Vocabulary, but the Invaluable Education I have Received from the Many, Plenty Failures I have Experienced have proven to be Treasures which have Molded and Forged Me into the Man I Am, On the Path I Am. I would Not Trade Any One of Them. For Each Failure was just as Valuable as Every Win I’ve Attained.

Click Here To Read The Lessons I Have Learned :

Don’t Forget to Download My Free E-Book!

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Seven Major Mistakes I’ve Made As A Bandleader

smashed drums

Author & Speaker Dennis Waitley once said, “Mistakes are Painful when they Happen, but Years Later a Collection of Mistakes is what is called Experience!”

So it is with a measure of honor and some distinction that I count myself among the most ‘experienced’ leaders out there, as a result of  the many humdingers I’ve cast upon my various band mates over the last 16 years with my current band, SounDoctrine and other projects. While I am grateful to still call 97% of my associates Great Friends to this day, I am confident the remaining 3% are calling me several other adjectives!

Today I Bear My Soul & Confess My Sins to You in the hopes that My Blunders Create Stepping Stones for You wherever You May Be on Your Musical Journey!

 

1) Failed to Plan 

Although I have blogged on this point several times, it continues to climb to the #1Spot for things going wrong for the EntreMusician. There will be many times where True Emergencies surface and the “Unexpected” rears its head, but most often it’s our failure to look at our Projects & Performances from a 360° angle and dissect all of its components. Checklists are as much a Best Friend to an EntreMusician as is a Rehearsal. Ask Questions of Your Team and Then Ask More. Have You Considered Everything? Many Times I Didn’t and I Fumbled Every Time! Dr. Steven Covey’s Book“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” marks as Habit #2 ‘Begin With The End In Mind’.

 

2) Didn’t Pay Attention To The Numbers

Not Being A Numbers Guy (At All), I didn’t get the adage that they don’t lie! So I would usually rely on what my gut was telling me. I did not budget. I underestimated costs and overestimated profits. I halfheartedly listened to my accountant (an obsessive numbers guy) who warned me, cautioned me and chided me when I disobeyed his advice and did the gig anyway…Further, It Cost Me In Taxes, although I had software which would calculate inventory for me, but was relying on me to punch in the data – and I was too lazy, slow and stupid to do it myself, or hire someone to do it for me. So I LOST Huge $$

 

3) Did TOO Many Promotional Gigs

“Exposure” Can Be a Very Tricky (read Dirty) Word for the EntreMusician, Especially As You Are Just Starting Out. Most Promoters and Venue Owners Will Say that Word 12 Times Or More on Your First Phone Call, Cementing Into Your Psyche that You Actually Need Them to Reach the Audience You’re After. Most Often You Will. But You Should Know When You Don’t. I Didn’t. So, I Spent the Better Part of Our First Two Years Counting on Free Gigs To Get Our Name Out There, Often Very Afraid To Ask for Money. Promoters would Promise us that If We Did a particular Event  for them THIS Year, for“Exposure”  they’d pay us the NEXT Year, But It Would NEVER, Ever Happen!

Finally, When I Began to Actually Charge Some Real Money for the Group, I Felt Stupid that I had Gone So Far Down The Road Without Requesting Moola! Unless the Performance was related to the right Radio or TV audience, I have eschewed the Dirty Word. (More Below on Point #6)

 

4) I Didn’t Sign Agreements

Repeat After Me: “I Can’t Repossess My Performance!” Once You’ve Sung Your Song and Played Your Kazoo, That’s It.

If the Venue Owner has stiffed you on the Sheckels, you better have sold a ton of merch so you can get back home – provided you had an agreement which allowed for you to keep 100%…And the Answer is YES! I Did Drive the SounDoctrine Van All The Way to Philly on a mere Verbal Agreement, just so the Promoter could explain every reason why he couldn’t pay me what he promised…Of Course Now, We Don’t Even Start the Van, Until We Get It In Writing

 

5) I Didn’t Promote Often or Accurately

Obviously, this specific Flaw began before the Now Normal Social Media Blitz, but my Earlier Methods Morphed Into Big Mistakes because I kept attempting to make Our Social Media Platforms behave like Traditional Marketing & Promotion. Early On, to Save Money, I Didn’t Do Enough Promotion, trying to get by with sub par Posters and Flyers that didn’t properly convey our brand (or much else). I became a little more savvy with getting SounDoctrine on Radio & TV segments, but the hours of our appearances were unsustainable – no one was awake and those who were, were on their way to work!! It took me a while to build a base socially, but even when I did grab a foothold, it seemed I was always on the back end of what was trending months earlier. Now I subcontract work to a professional!

 

6) I Didn’t Charge Enough $$

This point is actually an extension of numbers #2 & #3 above, as we had moved beyond the phase of promotional to paid performances – BUT, It wasn’t much Beyond Gas Money! I hadn’t gauged our popularity nor the momentum we were building, so instead of calculating actual costs and asking accordingly, I also didn’t possess the confidence to push back on the first bid. I felt I should settle for what I was being offered, lucky to have the opportunity to perform. While some of that is true, a Real Win-Win, especially for your band, is that everyone can feel great about doing a wonderful job which also profits them financially.

Allow me to say here, that the Venue Owner and/or Promoter needs to make a profit too – and there are some very reputable, honest ones who want to see the Artist and His/Her Music Expand. They have overhead, expenses and employees and should receive appropriate fees for their hard work. But many of them are so focused on their bottom line that nothing else matters. Neophyte Musicians are usually operating on advanced emotional stimuli and can’t see beyond the stage. The Objective is to be as passionate about receiving the income you deserve as you are for the Incredible Experience You are offering them. And Don’t be Afraid to Say “No, Thank You” to any deal that is not the best for You and Your Artistry.

 

7) I Didn’t Stay Focused

With Complete Transparency, I Must Say that This is an area Which I continue to Work On.

If I am not Absolutely Careful, I Can Allow a Variety of Interest to Capture My Attention. All are Musical and Each offer their own level of reward. It’s Important that I Maintain My Focus, Prioritize the Goal and then become Brutally Intentional about seeing the project from Conception to Completion. As I Review, each time I’ve Lost Focus, I’ve Lost Consistency. Conversely, All Gains I have been blessed to accomplish, without a doubt were the instances where I held a laser light focus on what was Most Important  and Worked It Off until it Worked Out. I am a firm believer that Every EntreMusician CAN Do It All. Many Times We Must – But We Cannot Do It All At Once, so the Next Time We are Faced with 12 Simultaneous Ideas, Pull Out the Scribble Board and begin asking some the Serious WHY Questions and move into the HOW with Careful Planning (read #1)

 

These Seven Rabbits have proven to be Major Mistakes which have most led to my Career Detours which could have completely derailed me. I am grateful to have learned from these experiences.

I am sure you have your own set of criteria to look to as what “Not To Do” in Your Artistry. Please Share Your Advice So We All Grow Together. Remember to Sign Up & Download My Free E-Book “50 Engaging Ways to Transform Your Fans Into Family!”

 

Watch The Video!

Peace & Blessings!

Jere B

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Always in Advance

Last Week We Discussed the Importance of Always Making All of Your Agreements with Promoters & Venue Owners In Writing. Today, I want to emphasize, Especially to Younger EntreMusicians the Seriousness of Always Getting PAID in Advance.

The First Step to Achieving this Objective Immediately after Negotiating a Fair Price (based upon Your Experience, Reputation & Sales) is to gently Reaffirm the Date Your Deposit is Due. Remember it’s Printed in the Agreement.

The Second Step Stipulates the Time Your Balance is Due. And It’s Always Prior to the Start of Your Performance. Sound Check is an Ideal Time. All the Equipment is out of the Van, You’re Plugged in and Properly Preparing, On Their Stage! There is No Argument or Sign of a Breach on Your Part – Now is the Perfect Time for Them to Complete Their End of the Deal. Specify This is You Somehow Failed to Reach a Prior Understanding, or if Mrs. Club Owner suddenly comes down with a case of ‘Forgetfulness.’ If Your Written Agreement is Clear & Concise, then Stand Your Ground and Refuse to Go On Until You’re Paid – but Leave Your Equipment Intact, Plugged In, On Their Stage.

If You are a Younger Performer, these types of Standoffs may seem Intimidating, Unnecessary and are Not Why You Got Into the Biz – Besides Your Older Cousin Bobby (who taught you how to play drums) is coming to tonight’s show, so You just wanna Play!

But Remember You Cannot Repossess a Performance…

If Mr. Promoter should Weasel Out of Any or All of Your Payment, That Incredible Sax Solo and Ultra-Phat Rhythm Section Cannot be Recalled or Resold (unless you’ve recorded the hit and plan on selling CDs, but I digress…) It’s Worth Everything to Wait Before Potentially Giving Your Show Away. Again, I’m Assuming You Already Have A Written Agreement in Place.

This is Not the Time to Begin a Whining or Screaming Session. Remain Professional.     Order Food from the Bar or Order Out. Chill Backstage and Wait Till the Hall Fills Up.         The Closer it gets to Showtime, the More You Will See the Balance Shift. Be Prepared to Hold Out Until the Money is In Your Hand. Then Go Out There and KILL!

For Many Years, I have Also Made it a Habit to Always Pay My Fellow Band Members in Advance. As a Bandleader, I Set a Precedent that Allows My Partners to Concentrate Only on the Music and Not On Whether They Will Hear A Sob Story from Me, Quite Possibly Blaming the Club Owner because I Did Not Do Due Diligence.

Headaches are not Something You Need on Game Day, So Prepare Accordingly.                 This Practice Not Only Increases Your Business Acumen, but Solidifies Your Stature among Your Musical Peers as a Serious Professional.

Download My Free E-Book “50 Engaging Ways to Transform Your Fans Into Family” at TheEntreMusician.com and Join the Conversation!

I Was Listening to Various Prince and The Time Prime Cuts on Vinyl while Writing this Blog

 

 

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THE HIGH PRICE OF EXPOSURE

One of the greatest EntreMusician moments I’ve experienced occurred in Summer 2010, Downtown Youngstown, when SounDoctrine released “Inspire.” I was sharing with Wilma that the CD was finally out. While talking, she was toying with her phone and then flatly refused to purchase the CD I’d reached into my bag to hand her. Noting my awkward surprise, she turned her phone around to show me the album artwork, smiling, “I just bought it from iTunes!”

“Very Cool!” I thought. “The New Music Biz is Working Great!

I had always utilized the aggregate CD Baby since our first release, “Perseverance” in 2002. As the technology expanded, I would sign up for the new music services – blithely agreeing to them all. The Wilma moment convinced me I had made the right decision.

When we released “Endurance” in 2006, I noticed that CD Baby offered more options, including signing up for services which ‘Did Not Pay,’ implying those sites would increase our Exposure…

Now there’s a word I’d wrestled with before, mostly with promoters, asking us to travel, pay for our own gas, food & lodging, play multiple sets, sometimes multiple venues for ‘showcases,’ ‘workshops’ and ‘conventions,’ all in the Almighty Name of EXPOSURE…Sometimes I flatly refused, but most often I’d jumped at the chance, hoping and a wishin’ and losing more than a few band members along the way. Money Talks. Dreams Scream.

The download and streaming thing, however, seemed fresh and exciting. You know, ‘The Long Tail’ leading to the Grammy acceptance speech and all. But watching companies like Pandora, Spotify & ITunes Radio boast profits in the Millions* and Billions** on the backs of Songwriters & Artists who look at royalty statements that compute to about $0.00087 a track, even with a couple thousand Wilmas listening, means your day job IS far more promising.

I’ve seen cats dial up SounDoctrine on Spotify and listen to our songs with glee. It’s bittersweet to know you’re immediately accessible but won’t be paid for the access. It’s not so sweet watching your manager refuse to add up zeros to try and make a penny. It’s akin to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s hands are crinkled and sore from signing all of those foreign 12 cent checks. Most bands would kill for one million 12 cent checks.

On the performance side of the coin, companies like Sonicbids take the Promoter thing to an entirely new level by making the Artist pay for the right to be be exposed to knowledge of the gig and then pay again for asking for the opportunity to play. Gigmasters acts more like an online booking agent, but unlike living, breathing agents (unscrupulous as some can be), you can’t see them fight for you. Radio Play charges you directly for ‘plays’ and in no time at all, you can amass a spitload of email addresses of “fans” who never email you back. Ever.

Needless to say, I’ve been over & over this issue of EXPOSURE. Having done all of this, I’m not comfortable telling you Not To. I am very confident in saying that the price of Exposure cost you real money, real time for very little ROI. Stay Creative. Be Vigilant and Persevere. Build Your Friendship from the Ground Up and make Your Website the main stop for your artistry.

*http://goo.gl/2YMw92
**http://goo.gl/pIqmIt
**http://goo.gl/yUPmI3

I’ve been listening to mixes I’m preparing for Janis Jones. We begin recording next week.

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