Tag Archives: Metal Core

What Musicians Can Learn From UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen


Sometimes it amazes me some of the stuff I read on social media. Musicians complaining about other musicians “being posers” on Facebook or wherever trying to act bigger than they are or cooler than other bands. Well #1 that is their job and #2 just because someone takes it that way doesn’t mean that is what they are doing. They are simply trying to build excitement with their fans and followers.

 

Musicians are many times so eager to tear each other down, especially other musicians that seem to be having more success then they are and they don’t understand why or think their band is better and the world just isn’t fair. Of course the music business has very little to do with talent and everything to do with a budget, work ethic and marketability. If talent was the key than most bands have no shot at ever making it and jazz, fusion, classical and opera would reign supreme as that is where most of the worlds best talent truly lies.

 

What musicians have to learn is the art of promoting themselves and some people really struggle with this. They might feel funny about tooting their own horn but unless you have a major PR budget no one is going to do it with out getting paid. Musicians need to quit expecting someone to just help them out on a spec deal as there is no real money in this business anymore for people to work on the “hopes” of a band making it. Learning the art of self-promotion is extremely vital to making it and developing a new audience, gaining advantageous spots on tours etc. This is where they could learn from the UFC fighters.

 

Chael Sonnen was a middle of the road UFC fighter. He was always a very good wrestler but he wasn’t winning the big ones and certainly not all his fights. He was a quite, respectful fighter and never caused any controversy then suddenly there was a transformation. Chael came back after some time off and was a completely different media presence. All the sudden he was a smack talker. He learned the art of self-promotion and has talked himself into title fights he didn’t deserve necessarily. Now I am not taking anything away from his talent, but looking at rankings and records, he probably normally wouldn’t have been the one picked for these fights.

 

However, Chael learned to promote himself in the media to such an extent he became a major Pay-Per-View sell. Chael also never backs down from a fight; he doesn’t care what anyone else says about him, what the other fighter’s think of him or anything except for accomplishing his career goals. Now some people have said that behind the scene Chael is nothing like his smack-talking persona, he is a nice guy and an extremely hard worker, not the hard worker part. Chael has proven himself to be ready to go to his promoter the UFC by always being prepared not only being in shape to fight at a moments notice but that he will kick the shit out of the media schedule. He is a marketing machine and that is exactly what promoters want and look for. Their job is to sell tickets and the talent needs to understand that and me a major presence in making that happen. It keeps Chael employed and bumps up his paycheck quite dramatically.

 

You see, musicians need to quit worrying about what their local musicians buddies say and think. It’s not their goal or dream, it’s yours. It’s not their image; it’s yours to worry about. Who the hell cares what band ABC says about you online or behind your back. This business is nothing but shit talkers talking behind your back. It is your job to put out the very best show, product every night and to somehow get people to notice you, talk about you and most important bring more people to your next gig.

 

Whether or not you chose to be as controversial as Chael Sonnen is not my point, my point is Chael learned what he needed to do to separate himself from all the other UFC fighters looking for their shot beyond his fight skill which was already considerable. Chael talked himself into positions he probably shouldn’t have been able to be in because he created those spots by his selfless self-promotion. Chael has now secured himself a very good future outside of fighting as he now also a very popular TV host due to his self-promotion efforts. This is every band or musicians job period, to separate your band from the mass of white noise from the millions of others bands vying for a spot in the limelight.

 

Let me warn you though, do not do this if you can’t back up your talk. If your band isn’t as good as you say or your live show is just average, don’t even bother. Work your product to be the best, most creative and original thing your fan base will experience and then go out and self-promote the hell out of yourself. Don’t worry about anyone else but you and your goals.

 

Pull up your bootstraps, dig deep in the trenches and become a self-promotion powerhouse. You owe yourself that much in order to achieve your dream. Anything else is a waste of time.

 

Good Luck!

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Stepping Over the Process…. is it Realistic?


First let me just say this blog is in response to what keeps coming across my email or phone conversations. This isn’t an attempt to come down on artists but an attempt at maybe setting some realistic expectations. I have been receiving a lot of phone calls from artists either out of frustration with other band members or from artists that think they can just step over the process of touring and building/rebuilding a fan base. I guess anything is possible but it’s not likely to happen even if you have had success in the past. This is not the same industry many of us grew up with and we can’t keep assuming that because 20 years ago the artists had a hit or toured the world with so and so band that people have any interest in us or care about our music at all. Artists call with no budget, no new music, no website or one that has been “in development” for years expecting that they can just go on the road and make thousands per show because 20 or more years ago they had a minor hit or two. It’s not going to happen. Current artists with hits on the radio are making $2,000 guarantees a lot of times and yet artists that haven’t had a hit since 1992 that want $8,000 or more a show. You better be a legacy act with huge hits from the past that are still played on the radio to demand that kind of money or more. I know how expensive touring is, but the money isn’t there for touring with artists with no active history or fan base that will support the necessary tour numbers for there to actually be a profit. This is when a band or artist has to suck it up and either rebuild for little money, try something completely different or maybe decide this isn’t for them anymore and do something in music that doesn’t require touring for small dollars.

For example, the first thing I am asked by anyone in a position of helping is “What do they have going on?” Many times the answer is nothing (note that when artists come to us or anyone else for help they have this notion that 3 months is an expected amount of time to make things happen), they have no new music, no tour dates, outdated photos and websites. How do you expect anyone to help you if this is your state of business and you don’t take the time to get it right before approaching anyone? The second thing is “Do they have a budget?” The answer is almost always no and people understand if times have been rough on the career but it’s amazing how many artists are not willing to put money into their own career but expect others to. If the artist doesn’t  have a budget then almost no one is willing to help and people can’t giving away their services for free. Video EPK’s cost money, photography costs money, etc… but artists are always hoping people will help them for free and then expect that things happen in a short time period. For the person that is connected like Irving Azoff and has his resources this is possible, for the rest of the “real” music world it probably isn’t. Music is a very speculative business to begin with and no one is looking to lose money on an artist no matter how much success he or she may have had in the past. As much as people love some of these artists, he or she needs to get paid as well and they can’t work for free or spend time with unrealistic artists that can’t or won’t rebuild career realistically if there is no interest in them at all.

Just because an artist may have had success in the past doesn’t mean they get a free pass of touring the bar circuit again and starting over. Yes that means rebuilding your fan base and getting paid very little most of the time. If you can’t do that then maybe playing isn’t for you anymore. I know we all have bills to pay but money is in short supply and investors want a return on investment. They don’t want to support an artist that hasn’t been on tour in 10 or more years and won’t draw 150+ people to a show. You as an artist are in the position you are in because you let yourself get there. You chose to not tour, you chose to not listen to your team or possibly choosing the wrong team. It could be a lot of different reasons for your situation and many of those may not be your fault, but it’s still your job to be realistic and make things happen with today’s current landscape, not what was possible 20 years ago when people were throwing money around like it was water.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself with unrealistic expectations. For example, if you think a major label is going to sign you, fund your tour and you’re a prog rock band, think again. No label is going to fund that tour unless you already have a huge fan base and more than likely you will just get shelved as prog rock probably isn’t there thing at this label. Most prog rock bands aren’t huge and most likely never will be. If you get a label interested in your music, at least entertain the idea and not shoot it down because you think a major is going to offer you something when you won’t even play shows because you don’t make any money on them. Do you know why you don’t make any money? Because you have absolutely NO FAN BASE at all. Who is going to fund a tour for a band with no fan base these days? Please tell me so I can call them up.

There are no shortcuts normally in this business. Take Mike Portnoy for example. One of the most popular and talented drummers in the world, who has a large fan base from his history as a musician and still he and his current project “Adrenaline Mob” are playing clubs to a couple hundred people a show. He knows he has to build this band no matter who he is and he is willing to put his money and time into it. Even someone as relevant as Mike has to work it the hard way sometimes.

If you are a musician reading this, please consider where you are at in your career. If you are in a band but won’t tour because your “cover gig” is paying more money, than back out of the band and let the band find someone hungry enough to make it happen. If you are an artist with a past but currently not where you were a long time ago, then ask yourself “how bad do I want this?” If you won’t play for smaller guarantees then you need to book yourself and stop making people’s lives difficult who are trying to help your career because you can’t be bothered with playing for smaller amounts of money. You are only as big as your last gig or chart success in the current times, not 20 years ago.

There is a process almost everyone has to go through. You are more than likely going to have to go through it as well. If you can’t or won’t, get out of the way for those that will and let your band move on with people who want it bad enough to put up with the crap of the road and bar tours.

Good luck!


The Difference Between Those That Do Make It and Those That Don’t


Often those of us in the business in any capacity have the opportunity to work with very successful artists or entertainers and those that are still trying to get there. Of course this applies to any type of successful business or entrepreneur but we are talking entertainment here so let’s leave it at that. We get to see and observe things that those that make it do and those that can’t seem to get any traction don’t do. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I am sure that there are many things that won’t be listed this blog but here are some things I want to point out to help make it easier for all who read this to hopefully put into action to make everyone’s job easier and make teams stronger and easier to work with.

Successful entertainers surround themselves with positive people and then they take care of them. They don’t look to get them to work as hard as possible for as little as possible. They reward them for their hard work. Any business owner knows you pay your people who are working to make you a success first not the other way around. They don’t bring people on board and then sit there waiting for something to happen. They bring people on board and keep busting their ass to give those people something to work with. They keep working as hard as possible to be able to create the opportunities to make things happen. They listen to advice and feedback from their team and those that the team interacts with and makes changes as needed. They don’t make excuses or avoid making the hard decisions for change. Whether it be personnel changes, style changes, business changes etc. Successful artists give positive feed back to their team. They show up for meetings and are a part of the overall vision and plan. They don’t sit around waiting for everyone to do it for them. They are proactive and constantly push for the next big thing.

Too often in this business, people rest on their laurels or they have something good happen and they sit back and coast. You cannot do that. You have to keep moving forward. You have to learn how to create opportunities out of what you have everyday. People who truly want to do this for a living find a way to make things happen. The others make excuses. This business is nothing but hard work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no other way. Not everything tried will work but they know that. They make adjustments and keep trying new things. Successful artists don’t take no for answer, they don’t blame everyone else for what isn’t happening for them. They know that they are the product and that it’s a constant work in progress. They know that not everyone will get them, their music or art and they keep trying to find the ones that do.

Unsuccessful entertainers listen to their 30 friends or fans and let that lull them into complacency and think that people aren’t working hard for them. They don’t understand that they have to work just as hard and actually harder than their team. They don’t understand it’s a business. They don’t understand it’s their responsibility to set the bar high. They don’t understand setting goals and working hard to achieve them. They don’t understand cutting out the people that are holding them back.

In most business books your will find examples like “every successful” business trims the bottom 20% of fat every year.” This means they get rid of the things not working, not making them money or holding them back. That could mean clients, marketing, personnel or anything preventing them from reaching their goals. You have to make hard decisions sometimes no matter whom it affects to be able to move forward. It sucks but it’s true.

Most entertainers especially it seems musical ones aren’t business minded and we all know that. They are creative people and in many ways avoid hard work. That is why they are artists or entertainers. They thrive in the creative and not the analytical or structured world. Unfortunately, if you are an entertainer, it is your business and you have to operate in both. There is no one to blame but you when things aren’t getting done and I guarantee you, if things aren’t getting done many times it’s because the entertainer isn’t doing it. They aren’t getting their work done on time. They aren’t showing up for meetings. They aren’t working all the time. The team won’t bust their ass for an artist that isn’t busting theirs.

I recently started working with an artist and we got more done in the first two weeks then we did with any other artist because that artist gets it. They work all day, all night. They have a vision and nothing will stop them from achieving it. They learn what they need to learn to get their career to the next level. They listen to advice, implement it and run with it as fast as they can. This is what people are looking for. Nothing else will do. You want to make a living at this business? You better get your head straight and learn from this artists example.

I know there are many artists that want this dream and work hard to achieve it. I know sometimes they are confused and overwhelmed. The first and best thing to do is to do something. Don’t sit there and do nothing. Learn to get done what needs to get done. Don’t skimp on your career by not investing in your self, your education and learning.  Research your career choice and the things you need to know to get things done. If you don’t have a budget for websites, graphic design, etc… you better learn how to do it. Every business has to do this, not just artists. We all have to do this at times. We all have worked with people that don’t get it done even when paid so sometimes we just have to learn to do it ourselves unfortunately.

This business is so extremely hard. It’s very hard to make money in and it’s very hard to get noticed. Nothing but excellence will do. Do you have it in you?

Get out there and get it done! You can do it if you put your mind to it.

Good luck!


Making the Most of Every Opportunity


In this crazy entertainment business there are so many people who are working at it, trying to make it as a musician, actor, model, voice over talent etc…. and there so few really good paying gigs. It’s a dogfight to get noticed and grab the attention of those decision makers with all those other entertainers competing for the same jobs. But here is the real truth, there maybe millions of entertainers going for it, but there are very few that go the extra mile every time to make sure they bring the best of what they got to each individual project and make it the best it can be. This makes it a little easier to stand out and develop a reputation for yourself so that when someone like a promoter, producer, agent or whomever brings you to the table, they can rely on you whenever they need you. This will allow you to demand payment down the road by having proved what you can do for them on many different levels.

What won’t work is this sense of entitlement that many artists seem to have developed. Many feel that since they are “this popular” or “that they aren’t getting paid for this” they aren’t going to put in the extra effort. Trust me, people can see this coming a mile away and I can pretty much guarantee you that you won’t be called on again if this is how you represent yourself. If you agree to do something, then you are giving your word that you are professional and you had better bring your best effort each time. Everyone is relying on you. Just remember, more than likely everyone at this event is probably in the same boat you are.  They are all trying to make something big happen so they can make it to the next phase of their career as well as make money too. Don’t blow it for them because you can’t be professional.

One of the ways to avoid not being able to do what you signed up for is to not over commit yourself to too many projects. If you want to make the most of your opportunities, you will be so busy you can’t take on very many. This happens all the time with artists of all types so try and be very careful about your reputation and work ethic because word travels fast if don’t deliver, you are difficult to deal with or are unprofessional for any reason.

With each opportunity, not only do you need to be punctual, be responsible and know exactly what’s going on when it’s going on, you need to be able to see the big picture or vision of what this can do for you. To see every angle that you can capitalize on not just for yourself but the opportunity you are working on. In any major production, no one is going to baby sit you. It’s your job to know who, what, when, where and why or least to know where to find out.  Don’t expect them to contact you the way you desire because it’s what you prefer. They have many people to contact and they don’t have time to email 20 people here, text 10 here, Facebook 8 there. You are there to be professional, so make sure you check daily at least whatever system they use to communicate. It’s your responsibility to find out what is going on as long as they are consistent and you know where to look.

If it’s your event then you need to get as much out of it as possible whether it be your sales numbers, new video possibilities, gathering email addresses, acquiring new fans, future ticket sales, new opportunities and new contacts. There is so much you can do to maximize these opportunities and that can be staggering to think about but it is the business minded entertainers and that see these things and ACT on them. Most entertainers don’t do this no matter how many times they are told. They are stuck in such a rut and instead of focusing on business they are more interested in partying, drinking or whatever. It’s quite disheartening sometimes to be at an event and watch them just stand around not working and missing every potential opportunity as it just passes them by.

So here are just a few thoughts for you to think about. For every opportunity you get involved with, take the time to really think it out and how you can best take advantage of this moment to shine. Even if you do it for free, you gave your word and accepted the gig so you need to be professional and treat it like a paying gig. Do your absolute best and then some. Go above and beyond what you were brought in to do, promotion, connections, networking for new opportunities, creating content etc….

Remember, those that shine and bring the most to the table are the ones that come away with the most from each opportunity. They are the ones that get remembered, called back next time and most important talked about recommended to others. They become first call for other opportunities and that also puts you in a position to help others next time as now your opinion will matter and in many cases you will be asked whom you know to help out in some sort of manner.

Work as hard as you can and bust your ass each and every time and great things will happen for you!

Good luck!

Note: You can also find this article on Metalholic Magazine here: http://metalholic.com/making-the-most-of-every-opportunity/