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« Do you have conference advice for musicians? Want to be in my SxSW talk? | Main | What Do You Pretend to NOT Know About the Music Biz? »
Wednesday
Feb242010

3 Music Biz Mindsets I Learned From My 3 Year Old

The other day I had the pleasure to spend the afternoon with my son Elijah.

After hanging out and playing with him for a while, the scene turned pretty nasty when the talk of a lollipop surfaced.

Now, anyone who has kids knows very well that when the discussion around candy hit’s the table, you know you’re in for a tough negotiation. They usually nag until that sugar stick is firmly wedged in their mouth without interruption.

Being that it was late in the afternoon and dinner was approaching, I had to pull out my deceptive ninja tricks to keep him from wanting that lollipop he was screaming so loudly for.

As you might imagine, as the standoff continued, the scene got pretty messy. It wasn’t until twenty minutes after a barrage of screams and cry’s, that I finally let him have his way.

Finally, as silence and calm hit our living room once again, I was able to breathe calmly again and re-gain my thoughts. I started watching him in his delight eating his lollipop and started thinking about the whole situation in a little more detail.

Other than realizing that my son is one heck of a negotiator, there were a few other thoughts I had that I think might help you and your band in those moments of panic and doubt though the up’s and down’s of your music career.

1. Never Take “NO” For An Answer


In this business persistence is everything.

I know so many bands that get disheartened by one sour review or one agent who doesn’t like them or one radio station that will never play their music.

Remember this fact and be inspired by it – The Beatles were turned down by every single major record label before they released their first single.

The Offspring recorded a bunch of albums and toured for ten years before having their breakthrough album Smash. TEN YEARS!!

The point is that there are so many times and cases where you just don’t know where or when that big moment is going to arrive and the key is to never stop and never ever, for any reason take NO for an answer.

You just have to keep going, just like my son, who’s father eventually caved in and gave him the lollipop.

Back in the day, our band Noise Addict sent our music to a radio station. We got a letter back and the first sentence they wrote was –

We think your band sucks!

Aside from being totally funny and comical, we took it with a grain of salt and kept going. About five years later that very radio station were playing our song on high rotation.

Once when there was a big push on that album, we took that letter in to them and had a good laugh about it. But the point is that getting a No or a You Suck should only strengthen your resolve, just like with my son persistence to get his lollipop.

2. Find That Little Wedge or Opening and Milk It


When my son went to war for his lollipop, he didn’t just kick and hit me until he got what he wanted (three year olds today are much smarter than that), He pulled reverse psychology tricks on me. He got his little sister to gang up on me and he also started running around the house making a mess until I conceded.

In short, he kept working all the angles until he found that little wedge that caused me to cave in – screaming and crying!

I’m not sure about you but one thing I cannot handle is the constant crying of a kid. It drives me crazy. So after five minutes of screaming and crying, his wedge of opportunity opened and delivered him exactly what he wanted.

The same holds true with the music business. There are so many ways to penetrate and get to the right people in this business. The first trick is to really know and understand who your prospect actually is. This is really a whole process in itself.

Once you’ve covered this ground, then it’s a matter of understanding how to pull their strings and find their soft spots. Finding that wedge or opening to lure them in and get whatever it is your looking for from them.

In most cases, it might just be the need to have a great story up your sleeve to suck them into your world or being able to rattle of some compelling statistics about your band to prick their ears up, but the key is to be able to find that wedge and milk it, just like my little boy did.

3 Frequency Frequency Frequency


I guess the most frustrating part of dealing with children sometimes is that when they don’t get what they want, they keep going at you like a broken record, and I think we all know that the concept of frequency really works.

When a message is thrown at you over and over again in a concentrated period of time, the chances of escaping is very hard.

Frequency works!

All successful ad agencies will tell you that a consumer needs to hear a message at least eight times until they’ll act or respond.

I guess for bands, it means that to really create any sort of ground swell you must be out there working all the angles in your music scene so potential fans and industry insiders cannot avoid you.

Play play play. Even if it’s to no-one at first. Even if it’s at your local library BBQ. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that your creating some sort of frequency and consistency.

Email your fans once a week, post on your facebook page every few days with updates. Whatever it is, just keep doing it….. If anything, just for the sake of frequency.

Once an A&R guy sees you in three or four places that he himself is already prowling for new acts, or hears about you from two of his trusted friends or see’s you in a trade journal he trusts, you’ll start to see how the tides turn and the interest in your band will take shape.

Frequency for your band’s profile also involves understanding the different types of “media” (radio, TV, online, print etc) that are out there and knowing how to get free exposure and frequency from them.

Again, there is so much to be said about each topic, however leveraging these “medias” and creating frequency is so important to help attract industry attention and build your fan base.

So there you have it, three innovative thoughts around my super stressful Sunday afternoon session with my son Elijah. I do have to say though that he’s not half as bad as I made out.

If his music career will be anything like his desire for lollipops, you’ll all be hearing much more about him very soon!

By Daniel Kohn 


Check out my blog - www.AskKohnny.com

Check out my new book - Inside The Music Biz

Reader Comments (20)

Thanks Daniel, This is great advice. Not just to use with my band with in every aspect of life. You just gotta be a bulldog and never give up!

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterShaun T

Daniel, you might be a great musician and music marketeer, but I'm not sure that the same applies to your parenting skills!

February 24 | Unregistered Commenteranon

Media is the plural form of medium. So you would only need to leverage many different types of media.

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Well you did good grabbing Elijah's 'negotiating' skills! Ahem....stay tuned as his prowess in the 'art of negotiating' continues. The application of theory is excellent as Shaun T. mentioned....I concur!! :)
It does work!!! Rawk on Elijah n Daniel!

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterGabrielle

Daniel, you're a good writer. In this case, the attempt to tie parenting in to perseverance doesn't work well, at least not to those of us who take parenting seriously. Reconsider whether you would use this angle in the future.

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Hogaboom

well, I thought it was an amusing and engaging angle from which to look at the business of negotiating.

Perhaps that means I'm a bad parent, but I shall try to avoid judging Daniel's home life nevertheless.

February 24 | Unregistered Commentered

Are you guys serious? You sound like a bunch of old farts. Give the guy a break. I think it was a great article. I really enjoyed it. I like the whole thing about frequency. It's so true!! Thanks Daniel

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterPaul J

These are great points. The persistence concept has been around a long time and so few actually take head. Just look at almost every success story throughout history in the music industry or otherwise. Finding the wedge, to me, is a metaphor for testing. This is something that seasoned direct marketers will tell you is absolutely fundamental to successful marketing. This is a direct to fan music industry these days. That means you are all direct marketers. So testing is absolutely key. Frequency is another good point. You've got to use all of the popular web 2.0 platforms and make sure you're everywhere. There was a great post the other day on MTT. Part VI in Ariel Hyatt's "in defense of 1,00 true fans" series where Josh Ryan is talking about getting a link to his website into the Yahoo Answers results. This is great stuff. Do the research and figure out what is working for others and then test it for yourself.

Thanks for the post

Tom Siegel
www.indieleap.com

Oh, and Daniel, I have totally been down that road with my kid and there is one point about their natural negotiating tactics that you didn't mention. They have excellent memories. Mark my words next time the lollipop issue comes up, he will begin with the wedge that worked last time and persue victory with the same persistence or more next time. Good Luck :)

February 24 | Registered CommenterTom Siegel

Local library BBQ! LOL!

That's a true story isn't it..??

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Guth

Great post Daniel... love the analogy.

Frequency....finding the wedge...beautiful.

Thanks!

E.

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterEric Daniel

As someone who enjoys reading the same article every day for his entire life, I thought your short, fluffy recap here was perfect. You managed to connect with your reader and provide encouragement without actually saying anything at all, which is a valuable skill in the social media world.

February 24 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

Really interesting post Daniel! Persistence is certainly a very important thing to master.

I was thinking about it and realised there is a slight difference between the persistence of a child and the persistence required by musicians in that the parent has an obligation to their child, the various facets of the music industry don't necessarily have an obligation to artists. An artist who kicks and screams until they get their own way might just really piss people off, like your child does at the time.

Your incentive with the child is to raise it/live with it/help it grow (unknown by the child), whereas with a kicking and screaming band they have to give you an incentive to give them something - they need to be aware of this because as I said, you have no obligation to their well being and development!

I hope that makes sense. Good work!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Justin - while I totally had a good laugh at your comment, I think you're the one missing the point.

Life isn't always about "The 7 Steps to...." or the "Fastest way to....." or here and now strategies that are constantly written about.

I've got a ton of them written on my website - www.askkohnny.com and have even posted a bunch on this site.

Yes, the content works and helps bands figure things out, but sometimes you also need to pull people back to basics, which in most cases are usually forgotten about and hidden in the subconscious.

From my own experience, most of the time it's these basic things that really hold most bands back from getting to where they'd like to be. Not thinking about the "fluffy" stuff, as you put it can sometimes be the biggest obstacle and mistake of all.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Kohn

on the contrary. LEARN to take NO for an answer. How else are you going to grow ? Never taking No for an answer results in misguided self belief that everyone else is wrong,and you have all the answers. Filter out the crap,but listen carefully and some of the "no's" will help you more than and endless stream of "yes" responses.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterThommo

Daniel and Justin - Abstract points/metaphors are really helpful, especially in music - every road is different. The moment you start marking the 'right path to success' with exactly how you do it, the moment you close that path because everyone does it and it becomes obsolete. The abstract encourages you to think for yourself and apply an encouraging message to what you are already doing.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Howdy all

Good article but I'm surprised how little people have pointed out that marketing style and it's success can be a very subjective thing. This relates to the Frequency Frequency Frequency point.

I'm no expert, so I'm not making claim to the following being true per se but I know a huge amount of people (incl myself) who are put off and eventually lost forever due to overbearing marketing emails/bulletins/connnections/status updates etc...there seems to be a fine line sometimes between purposeful and downright irritating.

I suppose the key thing here is product, if the music is good and the band are busy and there is genuinely stuff happening then the spam effect is minimised but an 'all guns blazing' technique can be a minefield if not done properly.

Perhaps I'm wrong about worrying about that kind of thing...but worry I do!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterGareth

"Email your fans once a week, post on your facebook page every few days with updates. Whatever it is, just keep doing it….. If anything, just for the sake of frequency."

SPAM is the main reason why MySpace is dying. If you have nothing interesting to say to your fans, don't say a word.

PS : Your kid needs discipline, and fast... lol

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterFebreze

thanks for all the comments and feedback guys!

I agree with what many of you are saying -

Febreze - 100% spot on - it's not about spam or emailing for the sake of emailing, it's about careful and subtle updates that don't piss people off - this is a whole art form in itself. Not a simple thing. People also mistake the idea of keeping in touch with their list to mean that it always has to be related to selling something or promoting something.

Sometimes, a funny viral video, or a digg article you just read or something that you thought was funny and would probably be appreciated by your fans, can also be a way to reach out to your fans.

Gareth - again, 100%, I totally agree.

Jeremy Guth - Yes, it is a true story. You know too much :-) Our bands first gig was at a local library BBQ - However it was there, that we got picked up by an A&R guy who got our deal with EMI so you never know when that moment will reveal itself.

February 26 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Kohn

I wanted to chime in on the SPAM versus actual content discussion. As a musician you absolutely have to understand that every point of contact with your fans involves some kind of offer. I'll give you X if you give me Y. Don't kid yourself that is the way it is. There were some comments above about sharing a video that you think is cool that your fans may enjoy or benefit from. This too is an offer. You are effectively saying to your fans I will share a piece of my life with you if you give me your loyalty as a fan. This kind of offer and exchange is important if you want to develop a loyal fan base that will eventually translate into music sales and concert attendance. You absolutely don't have to always try to sell something to your fans, email list, facebook fans, etc. But you should always be offering them something. Furthermore you should always be offering something that they want. There are simple ways to find out what they want but that is a discussion for a another time. I get into that in detail in some of my newsletters.

Tom Siegel
www.indieleap.com

February 26 | Registered CommenterTom Siegel

Nice analysis! Children are very good to learn from. We as humans become molded into being too much of pushovers. A child has all the conviction in the world of what he/she wants and doesn't care to be told differently.

February 27 | Unregistered CommenterDerek Jordan

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