This was a thoroughly enjoyable conversation podcast interview, with David Hooper, a musician turned music marketer.
David, born in Nashville, has been involved in the music industry on some level for his entire life.
Although he started out performing music, it soon became apparent David’s true talents lied in the realm of music marketing.
David became very proficient promoting his own gigs using street marketing and direct response advertising. This in turn led to roles teaching others how to promote their music, consulting and eventually writing a book called the “Six Figure Musician“.
Can Creative People Give Away Their Work And Still Make Money?
Much of this interview focused on the idea of giving away your creative output – your music, or writing, or whatever it is you do – for free, and how that can lead to making an income.
I asked David in an era when music is mostly free, available on podcasts and YouTube to consume on mobiles whenever we want to, how can a musician make a living, or even more – six figures a year?
I was interested to hear his answer because as a writer, I am keen to hear how we might also give away all our writing in blog posts and free reports, and even possibly give away our training courses, and yet make a profit.
David’s answer focuses very much on ancillary opportunities that become available to you, once your music or your writing gets you exposure. Things like becoming a paid speaker, or paid to do gigs as a musician, or selling merchandise, or getting hired as a consultant.
There is an interesting topic and as a creative I just know you will love this interview. Go listen to it now. Of course, it is free.
What We Covered During The Interview
Here’s what we talked about during the interview -
- David talks about his background growing up in Nashville and what his original aspirations as a musician were.
- We discuss how he became a music marketer for himself, then a consultant/teacher for other musicians
- We dive into the big discussion of how the music industry has changed and what that means for people today who are trying to make a living from their music
- David shares plenty of examples from music artists who are making a living from their music but not predominately from sales of the music
- I ask David how he personally can make a living if he gives away his book, especially if he wants to make money beyond getting paid for services like consulting and speaking
This is a great podcast for any person who is creative and trying to make a living from their creativity, in a world where everything is free online.
Enjoy and stay musical!
Relevant Links Mentioned in this Interview
- Seth Godin
- Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans
- Big Bold Impact.com
- iTunes radio
- CD Baby
Where to Find David Online
YARO: Hello, this is Yaro Starak and welcome to an Entrepreneurs’ Journey podcast. Today, my guest came to me after I listened to his audio book from his print book. I’m an Audible subscriber and I was looking at my options and came across his book called, “The Six-Figure Musician.”
Now, I’m always keen to find anything to do with marketing online. In this case, the book was about how to basically market yourself as a musician including offline and online marketing and I figured, there had to be some overlap between musician marketing and of course, as an artist, a creative, as a writer, as anyone producing anything you’re trying to sell from your own creativity. Those are all similar things to being a musician.
So, I had listened to the book. I loved it and I thought, why not get the author, Mr David Hooper on the call to talk more about everything to do with music marketing, in particular online music marketing? I’d love to talk about it with you, David.
David, thank you for joining me today.
DAVID: Glad to be here. I love the blog and I’m very excited about doing this.
YARO: So, David, I don’t know much about your background beyond who I learned in the book, and as I was saying to you before we had started recording, the book is not really about you. It’s about how other people can learn how to market themselves as a musician and make a living from it which is obviously, a challenging thing, I think probably more so in music than possibly any other craft, except maybe writing might be a good parallel if you’re a book author. There’s a few big amazing success stories and a whole lot of people are just starting to get by and that’s a parallel with music for sure.
So, is that your story as well? Which side of the fence..? Have you been a musician all your life which led to music marketing?
DAVID: It absolutely did. I was born in Nashville, just kind of locked out into that and Nashville, as you know, even in Australia, it’s Music City, USA, worldwide we are known as the music epicenter. That’s all we do.
We don’t have Broadway. We don’t have anything. We’ve got music.
So, it’s like being in Detroit where they call the Motor City, you’re going to walk at the factory when you get out of high school, right? That’s what you do when you’re in Nashville and I knew a lot of musicians, just they were in the community. Everybody play guitar here and I did as well.
I did my first session actually when I was only five years old on the children’s record and I have been doing music since I was pretty much born.
I thought I was going to be a professional musician, just being the culture here but, I didn’t really think much about the business end of it. Like I said, everybody that I knew was a musician and when you’re a kid, you don’t think about the business end of it.
When I started playing in bands, I went to school for commercial music. I was, I guess introduced to the music marketing element of things and that’s when I discovered that that was actually my gift, not the music itself.
YARO: So, what is, I guess, a career path expectation that a young guy born in Nashville thinking he is going to be a musician? What do you expect? Are you going to get discovered or are you going to do a hard slog of smaller gigs building up to larger gigs? How do you plan this?
DAVID: You know, I thought I was going to be discovered. This is a little bit embarrassing, a couple of embarrassing things. I’ll just double down on you.
One, I wanted to be Ozzy Osborne’s guitar player. He was always getting this teenage guitarists and kind of catapulting them into the spotlight, and I thought that was going to be me because I was a pretty good guitar player but, if you remember, I’m assuming that you’ve heard of all the same bands I have, there was a band called, New Edition and there was another band called, New Kids on the Block.
DAVID: Kind of boy bands, right? And, there was a guy, his name was Maurice Starr and he was working with all these young bands and he was making them famous.
I had a teenage band. We weren’t like a boy band. I just had a band. We were playing like rock and roll. I was getting my demos to Maurice Starr thinking like, “Oh yes, well we can do this, too. We’re 15. He could do something with us.”
I really didn’t have any idea about the music business. I saw the tall buildings of what we Call, Music Row here, 16th and 17th Avenue where the record labels were but, all I knew was musicians and I thought that’s how it worked.
I was really schooled in Music Marketing once I actually started playing out and that was a pretty fast learning curve and strangely enough, Yaro, this is kind of how I got into the direct marketing which got me into Internet marketing.
I made a living when I was in college. And, really I started in high school doing marketing, what you call a “direct mail” doing like postcard marketing and placing tiny classified ads kind of done the pretty style in magazines and selling what are now known online as like info products but, I would actually sell them via like a Kinko’s copy machine. We would tell people like how to make a machine, get free cable or something to get free long distance and I would sell these things out in the back of magazines. That was kind of my introduction to marketing and then, put the two together.
YARO: Okay, so I’m curious then, you’re introduced to marketing, your boy band didn’t exactly take off [laughs].
DAVID: Not at all [laughs].
YARO: So, were you thinking, “Okay, I better learn another skill then because this music career might not be my pathway to riches.” There must have been a flashpoint, I’m assuming, and it’s probably a bit of a challenging point in a young guy’s life where you’re thinking, “I’m going to be Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist,” to, “Maybe, that’s not going to happen and maybe this won’t even be your path. What do I do now?”
DAVID: [Laughs] Yes, there were a lot of funny things like that. I didn’t really have any idea how the music industry worked when I went to college. Like my freshman year, for example, I got a class in radio and I just thought that they would allow me to play my own music. I remember the first day, he told me, “No, no…” Because he was asking why we were there.
I said, “You can’t do that. That’s called playola and that’s illegal.”
So, it was kind of a trial by error. I had the marketing background. I eventually got a job as a street promotion guy, which is basically a guy that goes out and works with labels and artists that hands out CDs or, at that time, cassettes, flyer, the kind of people that are climbing telephone poles and putting like 12… the same poster on a telephone pole.
I kind of combined, what I had known, I mentioned the thing about the tiny classified ads and postcards, I combined that with my street promotion, the things that I was learning, and I combined that with music to do really well for myself as like a regional band.
And, other people started noticing that I was good at music marketing. They were asking me, “How are you doing this? You’re not that great a guitarist but, people are coming to see you. What is it that you’re doing?”
I learn from other people and that’s how I discovered my gift, and that’s eventually how I moved forward with music marketing.
YARO: Did you eventually just take on clients? Was there like a switch from doing your own promotions to, “Okay, I’ll start promoting other people and then, I’m a consultant now and so on?”
DAVID: Yes, I didn’t start out as a consultant. What I started out is doing the radio and street promotion. The reason I did is because simply just lack of money. At the time, somebody told me in college, the said, “The way to make money in the music business is what we call, music publishing,” which is basically owning a copyright so, when your song is played in the radio or it gets used in television, you make money on that.
So, I started a small publishing company but, I didn’t have money to promote my music to radio or to get it to film an MTV music supervisor. What I would do is I would have other people pay me money. We will put all in a compilation CD and I would just do like a group promotion. That’s really how the business was started, that along with the street promotion.
YARO: Okay, and what comes next after that? You must be thinking, “I want to grow this beyond that.”
DAVID: Yes, I had a team. We worked the South East. We would do various regions. We would promote bands that we’d come through and that was fun but, I was learning stuff and I was doing stuff and I had stuff to teach beyond just handing out flyers because, again, to take it back to that background, that’s how I made my money in college is I was placing these ads.
There’s another kind of funny story. I was so glad to go to college because I had a P.O. box finally. I didn’t have to do this thing for my house. And, I would go to the University post office and I was having like bins of mail delivered and they were all delivered to whatever the ad was called. We were tracking these ads.
And, they will say, “Who is this? This isn’t you.”
“Oh, that’s the name of my band. This is just fan mail.” But, it was actually orders and things coming in, right. So, I had learned that element of things and I was applying it to my music marketing and I wanted to get out there and teach people these things. I really just started writing about it and eventually, that became books and it became speaking in the engagements and it became not me doing the work but, me going into offices here on Music Row on Nashville and work with these companies and helping them to change up their promotion.
I was one of the first guys online that started the company actually in 1995 so, when I eventually moved back to Nashville in the late 1990s, I was one of the first guys that had a really good head on the shoulders about doing online marketing. That’s kind of how the whole consulting and the internet thing moved from just a simple street promotion.
YARO: I’m actually curious then, what did work after street promotion? So, once the Internet started becoming more of a part of the marketing puzzle, did you really dive in to studying Internet Marketing yourself more so?
DAVID: Well, for me, at first, I think it was just kind of an offshoot of the direct marketing things that I was doing. It was the same things that worked on the street or when I was in high school, like I had telemarketing jobs, the same things we would do just like a door-to-door telemarketer to get attention. The same things that we would do to get a post card read, to get somebody to respond but, we would put it online.
For example, one of the things we used to do as a street promoter, like I would go out to, I knew that women were kind of the decision makers and men would follow women wherever they would go. We would do sometimes promotions where all we would do would be to promote to women like if I had a hot band coming through, I would say, “Here’s a ticket for you and your friend knowing that if the women were going for free, the men would follow and they would pay.” Kind of like what you might see in ladies’ nights, have you ever seen that in like a local club where they have ladies’ night or ladies’ drink free. It’s the same kind of concept. I was learning those little things from either bars or the postcard things or the direct sales and I was transforming them into music and also transforming them online because the same stuff that you would do online is going to work for offline. The mistake I think that people make doing online marketing especially for musicians but, it would also work for authors, is they don’t go for a niched out list.
With musicians, if I’ve got a musician on tour, we don’t want to just send out an email for example that says, “Hey everybody! We’re playing in Nashville this weekend.”
That needs just to go to the people that are only in Nashville. So, I think, that would be one of the things that we brought over. It’s just the very niched out list.
In direct mail, it’s too expensive to do a big blast but, what I saw musicians do, is they were doing like this huge blast. I don’t know if it’s necessarily helpful to anybody now because I think it’s obvious now but, at the time, it was pretty ingenious because everybody thought the email was free and people were actually reading emails back then but, it was like, “Uh-uh. You got to get really specific and tell what your message is if you want people to read.”
YARO: That’s an interesting point because the product your selling is so geographically tied where for most of my work, I can sell to anyone around the world because it’s information plus like I’m assuming it’s the same thing for you with your actual training products. You don’t have to sell to people in Nashville. You can sell to musicians around the world. But, if you’re a musician, you actually play your gig in a city, and there’s no point promoting your entire list if you’re going to be in one city.
Although, I have people come to me and say, “Why segment your list?” Because maybe someone hasn’t been responding for the last ten emails but, the eleventh one happens to be the one that they do respond to. I kind of see the argument might be similar, “Okay, I’m not in Nashville but, I still want to know if the band I really love is playing in Nashville because maybe, I’ll decide just to catch a plane, just to go and see it.”
Do you find that sort of segment mentality is potentially like, well, what’s better? Have you had better results just getting very, very niche specific with people? Does it depend on the band, how rabid a following they have?
DAVID: I think you do have to be very specific. There is a chance that somebody on your list might catch a plane and they might come see you but, you’re also going to agitate the other 99% of them that wouldn’t do that. So, it’s kind of like, well, it’s kind of like flying across the country to play a gig.
I used to have bands tell me that, “Well, it’s worth it if we can just get one fan.”
I said, “No, it’s not worth it because you just had to hop four guys into a plane or drive across the country or take a bus over there. One person is not worth the expense or the time or the energy that you put into it.”
You talk about segment, we’re talking about geography here when it comes to bands or somebody that’s doing like a live gig but, you could probably segment your list in other ways. The concept would still work, for example, if you’ve got somebody who is interested in blogging, you’re going to want to hit them with blogging products. That may or may not be the same people that are interested in maybe, podcasting, or the same people that are interested in direct mail.
There are certainly going to be some kind of overlap but, I think it’s always a game of you’re going to agitate a portion of those people often and some people might come in there so, how do you kind of walk that line?
YARO: Yes, fair enough.
Okay now, what I’d love to do with you David, you’re the perfect person to talk about this. Now, the music industry has gone through obviously some massive changes in the last ten or fifteen or twenty years with the move away from, I guess, short tail where you’re selling albums and CDs and the big bands are getting lots of lion share of the sales, to the more long tail model where you got this smaller niches becoming viable because you can reach audiences in ways you couldn’t reach before.
I actually remember, correct me if I’m wrong, hearing that, was it N’Sync? Their album was the last big selling album before they sort of switched to MP3. It’s very likely they will stay the number one all-time selling album simply because of the long tail now, making it the biggest sellers and not as big as sellers they used to be because they don’t monopolize all the distribution channels. Does that sound right to you?
DAVID: Yes, that’s correct. And, I think that statistic was for the first week sales. What we’re seeing is even a couple of days ago. For example, Taylor Swift is the biggest artist right now in the world. She’s a country artist at Nashville. She was in town a couple of days ago and I was just thinking about Taylor in that 20 years ago, fifteen years ago, she would have been selling ten times as many records. It’s just a different business but, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s not making money. Yes, the business has changed and I would love to talk about that.
For one, it used to be like a broadcast business, I would call it, where there were a few outlets, mainly radio, MTV… It was a really, really big deal. If you got on MTV, that was equal to like 15,000 spins on radio. It was crazy.
Now, we have what you’re calling, the long tail. It’s customized for you. iTunes just released iTunes radio. We have Spotify. We have Pandora and it’s not for everybody but, it is for you. And, it’s a great opportunity for any bands.
The people that really like, let’s say, polka music. They are going to be much, much happier. Before, it was kind of what I was talking about your mailing list that some people are going to be happy. Some people are going to be agitated and you’re just trying to keep everybody happy, as best you can walk that line.
But, nowadays, everybody can not only be happy but, really, really happy but, for creators, for guys like you and me, we’re not going to have this big N’Sync type acts anymore. It’s kind of a… I don’t want to call it re-distribution of wealth but, it’s kind of spread out a little bit more.
YARO: Yes, and I think that’s great because for example, my taste in music is the electronic European trance progressive sort of movement and I just listen to podcasts because there’s a constant stream of new digital music thing produced by all the artists I like. They’re all free on iTunes and there’s too much I can’t keep up with it all coming at me.
Now, I’ve often been thinking, how do these artists make a living and it’s obviously been mostly events now. That’s where the money is coming from.
So, that was my next question for you. How does a musician in today’s world currently make six-figures? How can you become a six-figure earner as a musician?
DAVID: Before I get to that, let me just segue here, something you just said, you like a certain type of electronic music and you know what’s really exciting is that Spotify, for example, they analyze music electronically. There is some kind of algorithm. And, if you thumb up or thumb down what you like, you can filter all the other music that you don’t like out to get only what you want, and it’s easier than ever for you to get exactly what you like. That’s how we’re going to find out about new music. It doesn’t have to be broadcast. It doesn’t have to be like Pandora is which is a human element. They listen to songs three or four times for like 47 different properties or something like that. We’re getting better and better at getting to people exactly what it is that they want which is very exciting.
Now, as far as making the money, I think you’re on to something live experience is something that cannot be duplicated or shared via a Torrent site. If and I were at the same show, we’re going to have a different experience even though we’re standing there within maybe three feet of each other.
That’s something that is worth paying for and people are paying for that. I think it’s sad for the record labels but, as far as creators and musicians that are willing to get out there and do it live and give people an experience, it’s a very, very exciting time because no matter what happens with technology, people still want to connect. People still want to use all their senses, not just their ears. They want to see it, taste it, feel it, touch it, smell it, and that’s what a lot of experience does and if you can as an Internet marketer bring that to your business, you’re not going to ever have to worry about Torrent sites or the piracy and Kinko’s.
We used to be worried about this stuff. They said radio was going to kill live music. They said that radio would kill records. They said that records would kill whatever, home taping, I don’t know of you ever saw that famous campaign from England, “Home taping is killing music.”
What we found is that music has persisted beyond anything that we could have imagined and I think that’s good. That’s one of the reasons that I have been able to do well and people are starting to notice me outside the music industry because the music industry is so far ahead of things being copied and pirated. We are the first for digital distribution. We learned lessons the hard way, some of them but, we’re also really, really far ahead of everybody else.
I think that we’re going to be able to help the movie industry, the book industry, internet marketing industry,
Some of these people that are having issues with their things being copied now.
YARO: That’s funny because we often sort of look at the music industry as how not to do the transitions to digital because of all that period of time when the labels were suing their listeners for downloading illegally and how bizarre that idea really is.
I’d love to take your point, what you’re saying then is all these music, like for example, I watch film clips on YouTube, and I can get them straight away and I can watch them on my TV now using streaming there. It’s my new form of MTV or whatever the equivalent would be in your own country.
So, I can listen to anything I want anytime I like on any distribution mechanism I have — my TV, my phone, my computer, whatever I like, it’s all available. It’s all free. So, to go back to the original question, how on earth does an artist make money nowadays with the argument now, okay, the radio didn’t kill the musician and neither the tape recording and all that? So YouTube, you’re saying doesn’t and neither does all these free podcasts.
To get to a six-figure level as a small independent artist, how on earth can you do that if you’re giving away everything for free?
DAVID: Okay, I’m going to give you two answers. One, here’s the great thing about YouTube. I mentioned starting a music publishing company when I was little and that’s exactly who YouTube is paying when music is played.
So, they’ve got a deal with all these who we call performing rights organizations – ASCAP, BMI, and in Canada it’s SOCAN. I’m not sure what it is where you are in Australia but, every country has one. It simply means when music is played, these performing rights organizations collect money for it and they distribute it to the writers and to the people who own the copyright of the song.
So, there’s a great opportunity for people to make money via YouTube. I saw that… I can’t believe I can’t remember his name. Who is the Asian guy, the Gangnam Style guy?
YARO: Oh um, Gangnam Style, yes.
DAVID: Whatever his name is.
DAVID: Psy! [Laughs] I can’t think of his name but, I can’t get the song out of my head.
So, this guy got a lot of plays and you say, “Well, he didn’t make any money for that.” But, he did because whoever wrote the song did.” But, here’s the exciting part. If your product is everywhere, I want you to think about Microsoft. How many people have a copy, a part of the copy of Microsoft, Windows, or Word, or Excel on your computer? A lot of people, right?
Is Microsoft Word worried about that? Well, I don’t know. But, not really because there’s value when everybody has your stuff, because then, you can have the auxiliary products.
For example, if everybody in the world were to get your music for free, I would love that. If you want to get into marketing of my new book, you mentioned that, the new book, you bought a copy on Audible but, the PDF is available for free and it’s not an edited version because I realize that people having my book for free was going to be valuable.
The biggest issue the musicians face and you hit on it is people, they’re not going to know that the music exists, same thing for authors. So, I would rather, people are going to steal it anyway, and I understand like a global economy, I want this information available to a guy in India, or a guy in the Philippines that maybe isn’t making fifteen or twenty bucks. That’s a lot of money to him and then, getting it to him physically is another drama because the postal service isn’t so great.
If they can download a digital copy for free, I’d rather have that because that makes what I do more valuable. It’s almost like your blog content. It’s great to read it on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com but, if you think about guest posts and how people have great luck with that, it’s more valuable sometimes when other people have it because they can send it out to their audience and it gets it out to new people, same concept.
YARO: Okay, to continue then down this track, you’re giving away your book now as a free PDF. We’re talking about it on this podcast. Some people from the listeners here are going to grab it and listen to it.
Now, you’re saying that we should be giving away as much as we can and then, how do you make money after this process, David? How do you make a living, not even just as a musician but, as a teacher now, a coach? What’s your sales funnel? I still want you to answer the question though. How does a musician today make money too?
DAVID: You know, thank you for keeping me on track with that because I didn’t follow through that. Let me go back to that first of all. So, if everybody has your music in the world, if you’re doing your music similar to how a lot of people do like Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Word, where they’ve pirated that, that can be copied.
When somebody takes a copy of that, it’s not like a chair. If I took your chair, you don’t have a chair anymore. But, if I can make a digital copy of that chair, you would keep your chair and I would have a chair as well. So, music is “replicatable” like that and they’re making it through the live events which what we talked about earlier. The stuff that can’t be pirated, they’re making it through t-shirt sales and merchandising. I’ve several examples in the book which are people that sell more merchandise and make more money via merchandise than they actually do music.
If you think about bands like Danzig, Iron Maiden, if you think about… I mean, there are some bands that are just unbelievable when it comes to merchandising and Motor Head is the other one.
I see people [Randy MC?], that’s another one. I remember talking to a woman “Oh, [Randy MC!?] I know these guys.” She didn’t even know who they were. She just like the t-shirt. And, it’s an example of that because you can’t copy a t-shirt.
I guess, it was like bootleg and things of that nature but, it’s not like the same as music.
YARO: So, what you’re saying then is, it’s really, your music is a free value giveaway in order to get attention and gain exposure and then, it’s everything ancillary to that whether it’s a live performance or products and everything you can put your name to. That is how musicians will make money going forward at the moment.
DAVID: Yes, music puts you on the map. I think about Jennifer Lopez, for example, started her career as a dancer but, we’re just going to say just for this that it’s a musician. That’s how a lot of people know her.
And, if you go to Amazon.com, you can buy used copies of her CDs for one cent. If you buy it brand new, you know, maybe she makes a buck or two. It’s not enough to live her lifestyle but, if she gets a television or a film role, she can make ten or twenty million dollars on that.
So, sometimes music is just the gateway and that’s what boosts you up to where it makes the other things that makes you do better. Now, you ask about me and that’s the same thing.
When I go to speak at like a music conference, I’m a whole lot more viable having had that book and having people know who I am because I come in with a platform than I would be just a guy with good ideas, a guy that I started out as, just a guy basically on the street doing street promotion, putting up a bunch of flyers on the phone pole.
YARO: But, what do you get these for?
DAVID: Because I’m the David Hooper now not just some guy.
YARO: Who gives you money though, David?
DAVID: Well, I do a lot of promotion and marketing consulting for labels so, my business is funded… I mean, I make money off like the audio books and things of that nature but, people call me in because they want me to help them some more records, give more people their shows, make more money and I come in as a consultant.
YARO: Do you have t-shirts?
DAVID: [Laughs] I did have the t-shirt one time just as a joke. It’s a My Band is Big in Japan [laughs] but, it was just a fun thing to do.
Okay. It’s really not about me and I’m glad you said that about the book because that’s one of the things that we wanted to make it about and I think this is another big takeaway is that I’m telling stories on this podcast because I think stories are fun and I think they can sell the point but, in the end, it’s really about the listener. It’s what they feel when they hear music. It’s what they are able to do when they read a blog post. Nobody goes to Entrepreneurs’ Journey because of you, Yaro. You know that. They go to Entrepreneurs’ Journey because they feel good when they read the articles, or they learn something, or they make money.
I think that’s something that it’s easy to lose track of especially when you’re in a very ego-driven business like music business where we’ve got these artists that they think because they wrote twelve good songs that the world all of a sudden revolves around them.
The ones that have really kept it together for years and years are the ones that make it about the fans. Kiss is a great example. Kiss has been around for forty years. Believe it. I mean, that’s unbelievable to me.
And, the way they do that is they think the fans every time, they are out there signing autographs. I mentioned Taylor Swift. People don’t see Taylor Swift when she’s exhausted. She will sit there for ten to twelve hours sometimes, signing autographs. Nobody talks about that but, she makes it about the fans. She brings them into the show.
I’ll give you another one, Jimmy Buffet. I just had his producer on the radio show last week and he has the most successful American produced song ever, Margarita Ville and the reason it is because there’s a line of blenders called Margarita Ville Blenders. There’s a restaurant chain, Margarita Ville. He’s got successful too every summer. And, he has a rule. He never puts himself up on the big screen, only, what he calls, parrot heads, only the audience. He makes the show about them, and I think that’s one of the reasons why live music is so important. That’s why the music that you listen to is so important.
It’s not really about the DJ. It’s dance music is about you getting in there and dancing and you become the superstar. It’s not about what’s going on onstage but, what’s going on in your heart, in your mind, in your body.
YARO: I have to say, that was the one underlying principle that came through in your book more than anything else is that, in a nutshell, what you sell as an artist is feelings. What you can create in your audience is the value.
Like you were saying before, I could argue that people do come to my blog because of me but, you’re quite right. If you distill that, it’s not because of me. It’s because of what I write and how that makes them feel. So, it’s a feeling that we all generate as creative artists in other people that creates value, and that’s how we can derive value in terms of getting a financial return on that. That’s the tricky part, I think and that the rest of it that keeps changing but, the actual value proposition hasn’t changed in its entire time frame. That clearly came through in your book, I think.
DAVID: Thank you for that. Let me give you another thing that’s related to that because people think that, we use my book as an example. I’m not selling a book. What I’m selling, the book actually stands in the way out, what I’m selling is a way for a musician to go out and market themselves successfully and make money and be able to do music for a living.
I’m not selling books. I’m selling a way for you to make a living. I think, any Internet marketer thinks about that, sometimes, your product is standing in the way of the goal people want. We’re not selling pills. We’re not selling a weight loss supplement. We’re selling a happy life because you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve lost all that weight.
And, if you can understand that, that’s the psychology behind why people buy and the closer you can get directly to that, it’s like going riding to the van. It’s like mainlining marketing and you’ll sell more products because of that.
YARO: I do have I think a really important question, David for anyone listening to this because some of these we’re talking about has been a bit abstract and I think people understand what we’re saying here providing value, creating emotional experiences…
When it comes to actually return on investment though as an artist, one of the biggest things right now in particular, and this is really, I think is important for musicians is longevity of income streams in particular, the possibility of potentially some kind of passive income stream from what you do.
Now, it’s obvious for a band like Kiss that their longevity is continuing to fuel their product sales as well as the merchandise being sold and also the gigs. They still get people buying tickets to their shows but, they’re still doing shows too, you know. There’s work required there.
And also, with you talking about your example giving away your materials which is leading to consulting and providing and teaching and coaching and working with big companies and still you doing, I guess, a labor job which, at some point, you’re probably going to go, you know what? I am just tired of talking about music marketing and helping these bands. I want to do something different but, if I’d stop, my income dries up.
And, as a blogger, it’s the same sort of question. If I stop writing my blog, will my income stop, as well? What do you recommend or even teach your client musicians especially the smaller ones, we’re talking about long tail, that polka dance artist who’s making $5000 to $10,000 a month but, it’s purely based on gigs they’re doing and they’re giving away lots of free music and they’re doing everything you talk about really, working closely with their fans but, let’s face it…
DAVID: It’s dollars for hours though.
YARO: Yes and it’s small too. You’re not going to be able to retire on one or two or three really good years like a big hit will. Like Justin Bieber gets discovered off YouTube and then, suddenly becomes what he is now. He’s obviously set for life but, that’s not going to happen to all those people.
So, what do you suggest and even for your own business, how do you plan for a future in an industry like music?
DAVID: Well, you hit on a couple of things and I think, you gave great examples with Kiss and Justin Bieber.
Let’s talk about Kiss first of all. Kiss, you probably know this but, the guys that are all dressed up, there are only two of them that are the original people. The drummer and the guitar player are just guys they put in and the original people’s make up. That’s one of the ways of waiting what I would call, “The key man issue” where it’s personality driven. A lot of these, I mean the Buckle of the Bible Belt, some of these like a church reference, and say I love these preachers or motivational speakers. There’s a key man issue and when they die, everything dies with him.
Somebody like Kiss or Blue Men Group, think about Blue Men Group. You just put blue paint on you and you know how many blue men groups there are. There are probably a dozen of them touring the world at any given time. Cirque de Soleil is like that. Kiss is going to be like that. There’s going to be, I’m convinced like a robotic Kiss, some guy dressed up as Gene Simmons.
YARO: Is this going to happen with David Hooper too, though? Is it going to be… [laughs]
DAVID: Well, no, not really but, what I can do is I can do DVDs. You replicate yourselves in other ways. Now, what I could do, do you know a guy named Dave Ramsey? He’s huge in United States, five hundred stations. Dave Ramsey is a great example because a very personality driven brand but, one of the things he’s doing, he’s going out and finding other lifestyle people such as him.
He helps you get out of debt but, let’s say, he wanted to go out and find somebody who could maybe have a better marriage or maybe who got drug addiction. He’s got somebody that can help you with that or, maybe he’s got somebody that’s going to help you quit your job.
He finds people that would be good for his audience and then, he puts them on the road and you could do the same thing, Yaro. Eben Pagan, you probably know that name, he’s an internet marketer and he’s done that. He has, and don’t quote me on this, but I’m just going to say it anyway, he made his name is David DeAngelo and he was giving dating advice but, he also had a guy who was giving dating advice to women. It wasn’t him. It was just somebody he hired. He had somebody with –
YARO: Christian Carter.
DAVID: Yes. There was somebody he had working for him with an astrology background and he basically took his model. He replicated it. If you look at any business, CD Baby famous online CD store, they did the same thing with something called Film Baby. I don’t know how successful that was but, the end structure was already there so, they could change up things and replicate themselves.
There are various different ways to replicate yourself. Here are the things: One, you don’t want to be a key man. You don’t want to be tied to everything. So, see what you can do. Who else would your audience be interested and what are the kind of information and introduce them to that.
And, if you own part of that, that gets me to my second element that you hit on was copyright. One of the reasons that Justin Bieber is making so much money is because he owns the copyright on that and he has replicated it. He’s getting so much airplay that he can make money anytime his music gets played as long as he’s written it. That’s how it works.
It’s not the artist that gets paid on airplay but, it’s the person who writes it and the person who owns the copyright. So, if you can do that with your content, like you talk about blogging, I certainly understand that. I’ve often wondered about some of the passive income blogs, if they could just literally stop and still have that passive income from the blog itself.
Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know but, if you own the copyright, there’s certainly ways to repurpose that and if you’re talking about the emotion that we talked about earlier about just getting into the reason people buy and letting them have that experience, that’s something that if let’s say, blogs go away, well, whatever the next thing is, you’re going to be able to change that.
We had paper newsletters then we had email newsletters and now, we got blogs and we have video newsletters and the hologram newsletter. The content more or less is going to be the same and as long as you own your copyright, to take it back to Kiss, Kiss owns that logo and I think there’s something like, it’s hundreds if not thousands of licensees that they have licensed that, too– the Kiss casket, the Kiss cigarette lighters, the Kiss phone, Kiss energy drink… So, those are the two things that I would say for longevity. We don’t know where things are going to go but, if you own the copyright and if you don’t become attached.
A lot of people I know like to be the brand and there’s advantages to that but, there is also disadvantages as far as replication.
YARO: The way I’m hearing what you’re saying too if I was to apply this to the long tail in a greater majority of artists would be, well, two parts of this, you want to establish that raving fan base and I think you referenced it in the book with like Seth Godin’s Tribes or Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans, those two concepts. And, even if you’re a smaller artist but, you still have that really hard core following, they’re the ones who are going to buy the David Hooper casket if there were such a thing.
YARO: And, understanding that it’s nurturing the small group and buy everything you do in no matter what format you produce it in, that really matters but, also marrying that with understanding that what you are doing as building up a base of attention, you can make that attention transferrable to income streams that you don’t personally have to create.
That’s how you can avoid that key man issue, like you said and potentially start building some income streams that aren’t dependent on you personally doing the work, like a David Hooper casket business at one stage in the future.
DAVID: You know, something else I think that I have recently started thinking about from work with artists all these years and from talking with people like you who are outside the industry but, have read the book is just the general goal of what people want.
It’s one thing to sell a lot of pieces in our business, for example, of plastic with ones and zeroes and coded it on with the laser beam. But, it’s a totally other thing, I think, to have impact and I think, that’s something else to look at because you don’t necessarily have to be the biggest person in the world to have a great impact and if you sell 2000 widgets instead of 1000 widgets, that’s not necessarily going to be more impact for people.
You can have impact on one person if I adopted a […] right now, I could make a huge impact on him probably more than I have made on any musician personally.
So, I think that’s something else to think about. It’s like, “What do you want out of this?” Because once you achieve a certain level of success and maybe it’s my age. I just turned 41 a couple of days ago. You go through that midlife crisis. But, once you get the money where it needs to be and you’ve got the house, there have been studies done that say, after $60,000, your life doesn’t get a whole lot better once you got your basic needs taken care of.
I would suggest to think about that beyond just a number and beyond just quoting a job, what is it that you really want to do with your life. Maybe I’m going too deep, Yaro but, I think it’s something that’s eventually going to catch up for people and if you can think about it now, it will lead you to a more fulfilling career.
YARO: I think when musicians are coming at you right now, David.
DAVID: Okay, I just pulled a plug on me.
YARO: No, that’s a whole lot of discussion there too about what’s valuable in life. I think everyone goes through a process of figuring that out from the early twenties to thirties and beyond.
It’s probably best for me to start wrapping this up, I think. Unfortunately, I have some other stuff coming up. I’d love to be talking about this but–
DAVID: Was there anything you wanted to ask that you didn’t or have I not hit on because I want to make sure you walk away with your needs because I really appreciate the opportunity here.
YARO: No, I was going to obviously, first of all, let’s tell everyone where your website is, David for more information.
DAVID: Well, the website, if you want the book, the book is free at musicianbook.com. If you just want to follow the way that I’m doing it, I think it’s a great marketing lesson. If you’re thinking about giving information away, how you can do it and how you can follow up, I blog about music at a site called MusicMarketing.com.
Yaro, because of people like you, I’ve decided to talk about non-music marketing and I just put out a site called Big Bold Impact.com. It may have some stuff that’s a little bit more relevant to Internet Marketers specifically.
YARO: I certainly encourage people to go download your book and grab that. As I said, I went for the audio version from start to finish and there was so much overlap for anyone who creates anything really and is looking to sell something that’s their creation and build up an audience that was very, very relevant content there.
I was curious too because I have a romanticized view of what it means to be a musician because the top of the field, it’s like this strange world that we idolize. I think movie stars and musicians at the top of their field, it is a strange place that to be like Lady Gaga, something like that where you are defining cultural aspects and influencing so many people just because you essentially have a lot of exposure and you create a lot of emotional chemistry with those people. So, you sway a lot of attention and then, it’s got some just strange people. I mean we talked about Kiss and Justine Bieber and Lady Gaga… There’s not a lot of normal things going on in there.
DAVID: No, I think you have to be a little bit weird. Weird wins in the music industry but, it’s funny to look at it from the outside because I go to blogging conferences or writer conferences and you probably don’t see it because you are in the inside Yaro, but you’re having that same impact on people. Bloggers are the new rock stars, you know.
YARO: A little bit. I’m not wearing makeup yet for it.
DAVID: [Laughs] Come out in a meat suit.
YARO: Yes. The scary thing is I think we’ll probably do positive things for my reach you know. It would actually be a good marketing technique.
DAVID: Well, if we can just maybe finish up with this, think about Lady Gaga. It’s not about the meat. It’s about self-expression. It’s about being who you are and she is telling young girls that it’s okay to be who you are and you feel like you don’t fit in, well, let’s embrace that. Let’s throw some gas on it. Let’s hit the gas and let’s put a NASCAR engine on it.
That is really what she’s doing to kind of take it back full circle. And, I think anybody can do that, maybe not in the same way that she’s doing because weird for weird’s sake doesn’t really work. We’ve seen some major music business jus screw ups lately and I’ll just leave it at that. They don’t really connect with people but, when they do connect, when you take the time to find out what your audience wants and what their needs are, what their emotional thoughts are, that’s when it really connects.
She’s not wearing a meat suit just because of that. She’s telling young girls, it’s okay. Be a little bit weird. You will be embraced and that’s how she built that tribe.
YARO: Oh yes, and there’s obviously a level of expectation around what she does and can do to get away with that sort of thing, too. I doubt certain other artists like if, I don’t know, I’m trying to think of someone classically trained.
DAVID: Kenny G.
YARO: Yes, Kenny G or whose doing a lot of the… King Jing? I can’t remember the […] that’s going around a lot lately from China. I don’t think he would be quite accepted the same way if he came out in a meat suit with his audience. But, you know, congruency with your brand image is very important I think once you establish it.
DAVID: And, people can spot fake. People can spot fake. This is one of the great things that I think we’re seeing in blogging. It’s just the transparency and the authenticity. People, they know when it’s real. They know when it’s not. You can fool them for a little while but, you’re not going to fool them for long and it has to have some kind of level of authenticity.
I think that Gaga has done that. I don’t care for her music but, as an artist, man, I appreciate her.
YARO: Okay, David, let’s wrap it up. Thank you for jumping on this call with me. Again, those websites for people one more time.
DAVID: Well, if you want the book, just go to musicmarketing.com. You can read about my blog about musicians’ experiences and how to sell more music. I think any of that stuff is going to work with info product or internet marketer or blogger.
And, if you’re interested in some non-music stuff, I just put up a blog at BigBoldImpact.com. That gets more into the Internet Marketing, just general marketing space.
YARO: Okay, thank you David. Any last minute words before I hit the stop button?
DAVID: I just appreciate the opportunity. I’ve loved your site for long time. It’s an honor that somebody would actually read the book. Thank you very much.
YARO: Yes. All right David, thank you for joining me today. Thank you everyone for listening in to this episode of the Entrepreneurs’ Journey podcast. If you want more like this, you can head to my blog, Entrepreneurs-Journey.com or google my name, YARO and I can well and truly say, after this podcast that I am going for a one-name fame much like Madonna or a Gaga. That’s what YARO is going to work at.
I hope you enjoyed this interview. Thanks again for listening. Bye!
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My name is Yaro. Thanks again for listening and I’ll talk to you on a future interview. Bye!