How did you first become involved with music?
I’ve been playing music for as long as I remember. I grew up with an upright piano in my house and was writing songs on there before I started walking. Throughout high school I played trumpet in my school’s various ensembles like concert band, jazz band, orchestra, pep band and I also played guitar and trumpet played in a ska/funk/rock/jam band (we had an identity crisis) outside of school with some friends. I initially went to the University of Minnesota to study classical trumpet and music education, but realized very quickly that path wasn’t for me. I started performing around campus as a singer/songwriter and transferred to a contemporary music industry school studying music business and songwriting. I got in and out in 3 semesters and realized very quickly that everything I was taught in school about the music industry was outdated and irrelevant (this was around 2005).
I was taught in school that the only way to be a successful musician was to get signed to a record deal. They never taught me how to get a deal, just that I needed one if I wanted to succeed. So I had two options: 1) sit around and wait for this record deal to magically appear in my lap or 2) start to figure out how to make a music career happen on my own. I chose the latter.
What’s been happening with recently with the New Music Business podcast?
I just had Imogen Heap on discussing how she envisions making the future of music metadata, credits and payment more transparent and equitable for musicians through blockchain technology. That was really interesting conversation. Also, recently I chatted with Ritt Momney who found success from his song going viral on TikTok. And I had the pop-punk, Australian band Stand Atlantic on the show who offered great perspective on how they build their fanbase live – in an internet driven industry. Very recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Nigerian Afrobeat guitarist Fiokee who gave me some insight into how the Nigerian music scene operates. And one of my favorite interviews most recently was with Cory Wong of Vulfpeck who discussed session musician and band leading etiquette. You can check out all the episodes here.
How has the changing landscape encouraged emerging musicians?
It is the best time in the history of the music industry to be a musician. Never before in the history of the business could a musician create a sustainable, life-long career without the help of a record label. Artists these days can choose to maintain 100% of their ownership and have wildly successful careers. But we’re also seeing a wider “middle class musician” class emerge. That’s the most exciting part to me. It’s no longer either you’re a superstar or a starving artist. There are literally thousands of artists who are making music careers happen in their own way. There’s nothing wrong making a healthy living doing what you love – even if you’re not famous. That’s not what a music career is about anymore.
Please tell us about you involvement with Fender Artist Playbook:
Fender and I have similar missions: to empower musicians with the tools to succeed. Fender approached me to write the Playbook because we align on our values and mission. It’s a natural partnership and I’m happy I’ve been able to work with them to get this super helpful resource out into the world and into the hands of musicians.
How does the Fender Artist Playbook help musicians navigate the changing landscape?
There is no longer one way to make a music career happen, there are literally as many ways to make a music career happen as there are musicians.
In the Playbook I outline a few of the ways musicians can make a music career work these days. This Playbook is a great starting point for any musician at any stage of their career to understand some of the avenues they can pursue to find success in 2021.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Bill Withers. Always.
What do you like to do away from music?
In the winter I like to ski. I really enjoy acting. And I can also make a mean Frittata.
What’s planned for the remainder of 2021?
I just wrapped up an immersive 1970s funk/soul concert theatrical experience Brassroots District. We performed 16 shows in Downtown LA (outside). I’m just about to start writing the 3rd edition of How To Make It in the New Music Business which is slated to come out Fall 2022!
Favourite food and place to Hangout?
Favorite food = Canters Pastrami Reuban. Favorite place to hangout = Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.