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The Gate Keepers

Lesson 4 from: Dream it, Do it: Breaking Into The Music Industry

Steve Rennie

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4. The Gate Keepers

Next Lesson: Picking Partners

Lesson Info

The Gate Keepers

Ok, you know, we talked about a couple of those lessons in the dream and in doing and uh finding your true north okay? So that once you've sort of that out you figured out who you are you decided you know, having heard all the reasons why this is going to be tough but you're going to continue on I will make the case that if you want to succeed in today's music business not that the old music business was that easy, but in today's music business in particular you need to have a different head on you need to get a different attitude on and the way I describe that attitude is a little saltier than will present today, so I'm just going to say that attitude is tio hack with those gatekeepers ok? Um let's talk about that whole notion what the hack this back with the gatekeepers main I'm going to blow this guy could be lively over there thiss f t g k all referred to it now is an attitude right is what I'm talking about ft g k is my personal acknowledgment of the obstacles you'll face it's it'...

s ah it's my battle cry if you will that as we talked about in the first segment here um there's no shortage of obstacles to overcome in the music business right? You can cry about it, you can call mom and try to find your blue blankie or a little teddy bear to tuck you in and I was not going to do anything right, so if you're worried about, you know, getting somebody on the phone, you're worried about getting your record on the radio or you're worried about how you're going to do this and you're worried about how to do that and you need some inspiration to blow past that. Okay, I get all that, but I have I've chosen to be a do our right, okay, how do I get through? So I'm saying for me, it's all it's been this little bit of a battle cry in me that says, you know, f those gatekeepers, I'm doing this, okay? I don't care what you think. I heard your editorial that's great that's we doing this and you'll find that not just in the music business, but in all over the world and industry and people that have that mentality of not to be wind checkers and poll takers they move because they are motivated to do it. That is where great great stuff happening weaken that we talked about a line must we talked, you could think about the, you know, our friend steve jobs, who who may not amongst his peers have been the nicest and had the greatest, you know, you know general touch with everybody, but he had an f g k mentality that I'm going to do something. I'm going to put something out there and it's going to be so great, so unbelievable that people are going to see the light it right? So that's, what this f g k mentalities about? Okay, so who are these gatekeepers I've been asking? You thought these gatekeepers you're referring to right there's, some tangible ones depending on what your mission is. But I would say that on the most general level, that in life that gatekeepers or anything or anybody that's standing between you where you are today and where you need to be, right and so as long as there is a way around the wall, a crack in the dike or whatever it might be that's what you need to be looking for so let's put it in practical terms, you know, it might if you're not in the music business, it could be your boss, the guy, this whole new back that's protecting his own position, you know, trying to cut your thing down to size so that he can look bigger analogy of use for years, you know? That you know there's there's choppers and there's growers out there in the world and what is that all that I said there's people to go out there want to chop down all the trees in the force so they could be the biggest tree standing and then they're people that really want to grow to be the biggest tree in the forest right? So the chopper's ultimately run out of cheese the job that you want to be the one that's growing right maybe it's a friend of yours that's giving you some editorial that person that you know my friend and the incubus would worry about the rock critic instead of the people that have all the way in and so that twisted his mentality got him spending energy in places it wasn't productive it's office politics whatever it might be in the context of the rial music business right somebody mentioned here I have a tough time getting and a and r person that when I have a tough time getting this person on the phone so I have a tough time you know, getting booking studio time or whatever those those tangible things are f g k is that battle cry to remind yourself I'm doing this is that this when soldiers used to run into battle you ever heard the old term rebel yell right over that rebel yell came from back in the civil civil war right where the union guys were there and they have been trained and know it was all these other rebel guys in the reason rebel yell came up is because when the rebels started running at the union guys, they knew there were going to get shots of where they do they started screaming bloody murder, the rebel yell right? And it was it was a motivating thing is the same thing you see what those football players when they all get in what we did before the show david waded, you are the gatekeepers, didn't we? True eso that's you know, that's it. So if I ask you guys, I'll start with you, brad, who were the gatekeepers today between you in something you want to do? Who will love that too acidic parts a grant was good wasn't prepared for this one I'm trying to think of ah, I think of people, but they make me not only I don't think that I don't think that's the issue with me um, I think part of it is kind of going back to your paranoia and back there. Yep, that those factors I think a lot of times when when I'm working on projects, I can't undercut myself and I need to get around that you need yeah, I am, why one gatekeeper and you know we'll conquer rise up and and and the chief yeah sometimes you know I'll speak for myself your your best friend your worst enemy is in the mirror you know and you need to summon the friend to get rid of the enemy and it's not easy. So the gatekeeper if that's you at least acknowledging the obstacle is the first step to finding a way around over through whatever it might be anthony we got it. We got it that's good. Tell me I was going to call him andrew again. You know what I would say? It's probably, uh one of the classic gatekeeper scenarios but I would say, um I would say the label not getting back to you is that you know, the person not getting back to you is the gatekeeper the lack of contact thanks, but no thanks even you know, the you know, lack of initiative from others when you when you're taking that step out yeah, the labels we're going to talk about this and there are four segment to talk about some of the what we'll call the classic challenges that artists and people in the business face getting a job getting a label deal but the labels are one of those gatekeepers one of my favorites or least favorite depending when working with artists some of the gatekeepers I've struggled with coaching people how to overcome them is like music writers publicists booking agents like opening those doors so that they can get those opportunities to get to the next level they can relate their music yeah and one of the things that I've really worked with artist talking to them is this ideas you're so right dead on is f the gatekeepers but also keep an eye out for the goalkeeper's because there are feel that from jess because there are those people in those opportunities that really really matter on and then you do have to pay attention to him but that doesn't mean that you can't get into the stadium so you can just kind of jump over the gate keepers to get to the goal you remind me of something that you know well we talked about you don't ask you don't get one of the great reasons to keep asking even if it's a lot of knows is that it only takes a couple of great yes is in your life to change everything right and I think if you're afraid of going out and asking the question for fear that you'll get to know right then you won't ask the question so if I try to put this f the gatekeeper in context right if you have the slightly different answer which is if it's a thousand knows to get to the yes and I better start asking right is opposed to well what see by my good nine hundred knows and you might stop before the yes ok, so that's when when we're trying to put some practical how does this make sense it's that little mindset thing again and again it's not a practical it's ahead thing but I keep talking about this idea of getting your head in the right place right? So insightful comment sandra I have to agree with how how brad put it but also kind of what you're saying to definitely for me at my station I imagine people farther along that maybe getting that booking agent or getting that article is hugely important and that could be a gatekeeper but for me it's it's all mental I mean there's I could say oh well these people give me this advice and I'm all turn up yes I'm all torn up they give advice it's my decision what ideal exactly exactly and you know what? Life is not easy you know and some days are better than others, right? You know you know so but understanding that because for lots of us that's what the gatekeeper is the one in the mirror ok, but that one's manageable okay? And if even if you manage that then you're gonna meet all these other ones so get in that first person getting yourself out of the gate keep remote I would say is probably critical michael you know we are all here today for different reasons and so, you know, my reason is a little difference of my responses is option is different because, you know, I came to this because it's really a discussion about the music business and and a good overview and a good detail because really, truly I don't really understand the nature of sort of it's, almost like it's turned into kind of a chaotic, more of a chaotic there, the less the model is broken down quite a bit. I don't really see any gatekeepers from my perspective in today's world because you can make the music on your own and you can get it out there on your own and so it's more about for me, it's it's like, well, I don't really see any real gatekeepers, so, you know, my first response is is that, you know, well, for me personally, I don't see gatekeepers that are keeping me from anything, you know, and I'm making the music I want I want to make, you know, but, um, in terms ofthe how you get started, how you network, I so agree, you know, it's, you it's me like, you know, and I'm the person who, you know, either does it or doesn't do it s so you know, I can certainly be my own gatekeeper, and you still got a f t g even magic keeper it's interesting too because when we talked about that notion and setting a target and when you set a target you you set up a score card you set up some expectation so you're in a wonderful place where the target that you're looking at in the golfing terms is I got the clean look they call might the middle of fair I'm looking right down the barrel I can see the shot in my mind versus your over in the trees and now you got a bend in there's water so year we'll talk about this a little later this idea the scoring zone so for you and part of it's a function a job in some ways I feel a similar thing where people asking why do you do this say I go I do it because it makes me feel good I don't do it because I have to make the money you know the missiles have also some of those things were taken care of so now it's back to this idea of what's going to get you up in the morning what it might what's going to fire me up and so forth so that's a good place to be let's talk about some of them gatekeepers in the music biz e a touchdown record companies you know for all of this idea about being in the musicians and I want to be an indie musician I'm here to tell you that that's, mostly fairy tale and that all the indy records you see showing up on the charts. Macklemore and lewis from right in the neighborhood here talk a lot about being in these, and they did a deal that was fairly independent. That was stacked in their favor because they did a lot of things right to get to that point. But please take note of the fact that they plugged into one, those major big time organizations, that when you plug into versus signing to a label, you go into the priority list and here's what I learned working at a label, these guys are all mercenaries, and we're gonna shit about the bands. They give a shit about what's happening right now. Why, for the rso, the orders can feel good. No, they do it because they want to get their contract with you. They want to get their boats and for all my label, but he's watching god bless you, get it. But they plugged in and got into that machine there, right? Radio programmers of the classic. Um, you know, gatekeeper, you know, infamous can get on the radio, but brandon boyd singer think this might not get on the radio as easily is incubus or the singer of another band that does a solo project? We've all seen it play out in order to have a tough time, so that's a gatekeeper, all these media outlets it used to be rolling stone and you know, and you tried to get on all these big now that gatekeeper has been mitigated, but now there's blog's that we're happy to talk to you now they got a little thing going on and now they're getting the same attitude is rolling, so now they're gatekeepers, right? Um itunes, you know, anybody can put their meat I my music's on items that kids tell me this all the time I go really? So if I go on the front page of itunes, I can see your music well, no, but I go that's the only place that matters it's no different than being in the front window of tower records or whatever it was bef four right? So that's a gay key because those are the records they're selling, they're not trying to break acts up there, they're trying to sell acts up there right? Youtube in effect is starting to become a gatekeeper as they try to fold their business plan and it starts to smack a lot. And I say this, my youtube friends is starting to feel a lot like all the other gate keepers the music business create start when we're going to help you, we're going to help you. We're going to help you now. We're going to tell you what to d'oh, right? You will play by our rules. You'll give it to us for our streaming they want. Then you go. Whoa, dude, I thought we were on the same team. Google. You know, microsoft used to be the favorite bad boy, though. The uber bad boys and microsoft you worked there. Does anybody consider microsoft bad boys now? Who's. The new big bad boy in town. Go, go right because they got too much might. So they're a gatekeeper, right? So those are the ones that are in the business. As I told you this, this f g k is really just a battle cry, right? And I think if you were an independent artist today that are out there trying to make something happen. Okay, you need more than ever to embrace your version of ft g k whatever it might be years might be god bless america whatever it is I just have to be a grizzly you know, cranky you know, profane former manager so that's how I fire myself up I would have been a good third base coach you know you don't hug you slap everybody on the ass right? Um this bet this ft geek aping is also a reminder to innovate right? To go out there and come up with some new solutions you know, google did that they there was a million search engines why there is because they made it better, they challenged that status quo they they were in this mindset which I don't care about, whatever I want to do it better, right? That's that's a key part of this? And so if you're out there being an independent artist, you know you're competing out there so adding your own personal touch and being, you know, liberated enough to go take some shots that you might fail on right because you've already figured out failing is part of the process is an important stuff, right? There was a great artist guy I met through oh my goings on a guy by the name of jack content you ever heard a pop lomu's he wrote a patriot okay, you've heard of patron you know I'll give you so jack content you can see his interview on our web site goto guest lists or red man live and you'll see it jack was an indie artists right stanford graduate clearly could have done self the ads I asked him why jack you went to stanford alleging is randy same thing is ready I'm not sure I chose to do this I had to do this right and he did it and so what he did never got a record deals for zeno doesn't have a publishing deal he started on this youtube world of posting videos and doing covers and bringing attention to his own stuff and he figured out very clued quickly that some kid in front of a guitar high on you know I'm gonna dio doing that it was okay and that's what all those early youtube kids were doing so jack decided to take it up a notch and came up with these wildly creative videos right? And so he's now gone a step further and he's taken his passion for enabling and helping artist himself because he was very much part of the community now he started a web site called patriotic right just raised fifteen twenty million dollars where creators can go out and raise money through pages a little bit different twist on the indiegogo kickstarted things right? But I said to jack, you are my poster boy ok, of the ft g k mantra, right? Because you took some things that somebody we're doing you innovated on this life you didn't pay attention to all this other crap and you just did your own thing and he's now into the business world a little bit it, but I told my said you might represent this mythical middle class of musicians because in my way of thinking there were only two states of being you were either nowhere broke fired up, right? Or you were big time rock star, and if anybody saw a picture of something that looked like it was in between, I always start you it wasn't really they were either on their way down snapshot on the way down or snapshot on the way up but there was no middle ground, right? So jack is make me believe that there might actually be a middle class, and for people like yourselves they say, I just want to feel good about the process I'd like to make a buck cover my expenses, then there's some hope out there for you, right he's, the poster boy of ft g k how are artists working around these gatekeepers used to be one of the big gatekeepers to making music michael remember, you had to go to a studio now you guys air kind of an interesting place because studios is we know them in the past, the record plants that henson and all these big steel lots of you have gone broke or had their business trim, miley, because technology people can make music and home so that's how artists are getting around used to have to wait to get three hundred thousand recording advance from sony music. Not now, you could make some great music on your own. I kind of wonder sometimes when I hear a lot of this kind of synth ish pop stuff on alternative radio, which I still listen to a lot, if that is in a product of this generation where kids can play with that, then gets sound they want and make the music themselves, that when they go in the studio, they only just polish up what they did at home, because the technology they're right thiss digital distribution, the biggest problem in getting your music out was he had to get it into a record store, the only people the record stores pay were major labels. Why? Because if you didn't have another hit coming, they weren't going to pay for the one that they just saw him by making some sense here, michael, that was the reality of the business, so you had to be with somebody who had a big swinging tool right to go on, get paid ok now you can put your music up there out on the web and is distributed around the world you don't have to worry about yeah broken goods returned items and allowances all of things that are still built into record deals because they're from a day gone by but there's no broken digital goods there's no warehouse for goods that's just what it is the issue though is now everybody khun distribute it so we're back to that original premise which is making the music was easy now distributing the music is easy that was a big gatekeeper gone but now how do you stand out from two million records question I would completely agree with like the gatekeepers almost your peers in a certain sense it's become a shouting contest you know everybody everybody can do it and everybody does do it and so at that point that it becomes like well what you know what the baseline was before you know ten, fifteen years ago being innovator putting your music out there online is the status quo and that's the standard nobody expects less so it's ah it's been interesting ah paradigm shift in that in that sense but it's a challenge to innovate again right because the baseline the crossbar always gets raised up what was the ceiling becomes the floor right you get started get gone start again it's it's it's inevitable part of life so that crossbars always raising up some people don't have the stamina to try to raise the bar some people don't have the idea to raise the bar, but the bar keeps being raised by some way so I've said to people in there I don't see how it all happens I don't see how I get a record I don't see how I get all these things done see if I go look around, somebody is doing it right now all the things you said couldn't happen somebody figured it out okay? Are they a genius or they smarter than you may be ok, but somebody's figuring it out so you know this is part of that mentality of constantly staying at it requires stamina it's a little easier when you're younger and all these things we just talked about, right? So those were some of the things that artists are doing out there labels are adjusting everybody's, figuring it out people that consumers are saying f the gatekeepers I went by your record on tuesday sony music I don't want to pay nineteen, ninety nine for one freaking song I don't care about the glider notes and all that crap I want to just have the music strange enough, the sixteen year old me goes I agree with that kid I don't need the record I don't my wife puts in cds that come undone they're all over the freakin place streaming I just want to type in led zeppelin rain song and I do it on my nice tesla's and the song comes up I don't give a rat's ass where it's coming from. Okay, so the consumers air talking that scared the living daylights out of the record industry and that's why the record industry got where we were because they had gatekeepers. They were trying to protect the franchise in the face of a title wave. Some guys sees this tire wave coming. He's gone. I want to get my surfboard surfboard. Do you better get to high ground this aid surf in time? And this is you gonna get crushed by this? That was the record business that's, right? So the gatekeepers air all around this and getting a mentality if those gatekeepers whether you guys buy it or not, I don't know. There are all kinds of things that there there's no entitlements. You got none of that stuff going. Um, you can call it what you want. Your battle quite mine is f the gatekeepers, right? Questions? Yeah, we've got a couple questions once from lori. How can you stand out in millions of youtube? So there's a there's? We're getting a couple questions from people about because there is so much content out there now, how do you level up how did when that bars set how do you keep okay well I go back to fundamentals if she's a musician too she if he's a musician and you don't have great songs or great performances I'll quote one of my old clients a gentleman named miles hunt was in this band called the wonder said to go steve you can't polish a turd into a diamond okay so you gotta have something to work with right but if there's millions of people out there she can figure out who what the winners air doing and I would start with one of the winners doing let me see if I can look inside there and see if something that works for me and then do what the japanese have done so well over the years reverse engineer they did this this and this I'm going take this feature this feature this feature this feature and I'm gonna put this new one on top is everybody capable of doing that clearly not okay is she one of them? I don't know but the more time you spend talking about it instead of fixing it or trying to innovate instead of looking doing your homework figure out what's working out there can I do better the same reason I read all those getting started story something what part of richard branson's story might work for me what part of this person so I might work for me and and the truth is, I made a bunch of decision, she'll make decisions, some will work in some wow, if you cry about the ones that won't work, you won't get to the next one, right? You need to know about get over the failures, take the lesson and then forget it. We're going to talk about that later on this little bit of call focusing on the winds. Ok, another question over there? Um, no, well, actually from reaper junkie reefer junking reaper wear in washington right yet, gentlemen, that's where I'm at and I would like to try something different, but I don't know what that is. So you spoke to that a little bit it sounded like when you said look at what she's in order for people yeah, I assume so look at what's working for people and then take it and then I'll go back to you find out what's working, but back to what it is, other ones here, you've got to ask yourself who you really are, what it is you're doing ok and then be able to assess that thing. Okay, now, how would I highlight that right now? If I was your manager, we could sit around the campfire and talk about it, but the creators okay, the grain ones aren't doing it with calculation it's inspiration. Ok, my job's to calculate years is tio inspiration? Is that the word? Okay, that's? Probably not, but you get my drift. So if you're true creator just create and then and then figure it out. And if you're wrong, stay true to who you are take a different tack, right? If that there were doesn't work and that doesn't work and a fire breaks out, we're all trying to bust through that thing. And if that doesn't work, we're crawling through this ceiling until we're at a guess, right? That's the mentality that's backto after g k, right? So I know somebody would expect I checked with see everybody wants the tidy answer good award for an insurance company. People are dying, you make money when they die, actually pay when they die, you make me before they die, so make sure they're a little little line. So I'm being flip about it because the point is you've chosen to be in a creative business where there is no right and wrong. So you gotta have the coho needs to chart your own path, understand who you are and accept the fact that you could be wrong, and then you are gonna die, get the next one, I'm wrong all the time. But I've been right more than I've been wrong, or the winds were much bigger than all the loses that's. The record business three or four big winners paid for the fifty acts that were important. That didn't sell michael right. You didn't need fifty winners. You just need some big ones. You don't need one hundred. Yes, it's, just me good ones, right?

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Hands down the best music course I've ever seen. I couldn't have asked for a better "realistic" explanation of how the music industry really works. The analogies and stories were awesome! Thank you to Steve Rennie and the CreativeLive team for an awesome production, straight teamwork! -SkyPoint

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