The Working Musician Playbook


Lesson Info


So what do you guys think I'm like cool? Was it helpful? What did you get from it? I mean, it feels like a lot of this information is is really intuitive it's stuff that you you kind of know it once he says it oh yeah, those are those are things that I know about life but like taking the opportunity to be a conduit between talented people is I think something that a lot of us is a lot of us sort of concentrate on is a matter of course just in our social lives and and thinking about it in terms of your professional life I think is really helpful in really empowering this is like a lot of these things I think a lot of us I already have a skill set out it's not like we're building from scratch, you know, and to think about it in terms of applying it to your you know, your professional creative development is really, really exciting um and you know, I don't know I thought it was what what ah, what ryan was saying about um about sorry about the differences between the different forms of com...

munication that's so simple but that's so helpful email versus text versus fallen versus in person what's most appropriate for a given you know, forgiven needed given interaction it's super super helpful yeah that's something that you know, I've seen make or break relationships in this business, you know, the way that something comes across on email can change everything, and then when you talk to that person it's, you can set a tone so fast to make things smooth if you want teo so and it's very important, you know, in this day and age, when everybody's on their phones sending text messages, you have to remember that when it comes to human interaction, a little emoticon isn't going to get that point across the same way. It's just picking up the phone and having a conversation, you know? Sure, yeah, yeah, it got to the point my band has, like, we weekly skype sessions now if we can't get together, you know, it's just it's just so important. One of the thing too, I really liked. Well, I'm noticing kind of noticing a pattern, and I assume you'll probably see it more as we get more more guests. But the idea that these guys want to work, they won't have longevity in their clients. They wanted people they can work with for five, ten, twenty years. Um, I think that's definitely where they've note if you're a band like that, maybe figure a way to kind of think about that or show them that or just kind of kind of like a mind frame like, you know, like, I'm doing this, you know, it's just, you know, like, write it so it sze being in it for the long haul, right? And not being in it for the quick return on things, you know, and it really is about every day you make a little bit of progress, you know? And I said this before it's about this small victories and things like that, I mean, it really is about the slow steps that you take that really will get you further down the line, and you may not even see it for what it is initially, but, you know, like I said, I mean, it's it's really been within the past year or two that mike and I have gotten a lot closer as friends, but also him actually referring bands to me that I can work with and help with van happy and me referring bands to him that he could potentially manage because we've established that trust, and you can't just say, okay, I just met you. I'm going to trust you, I mean, you hope. There's always that you hope that you're going to trust the people you work with, but you have to build trust that you have to earn trust you have to earn the respect and that's what I think we're talking about today and the way you do that is to just is to really have a solid connection with people and tio, try your best to really be be helpful let let me move onto my next section will do will do question at the end um, and this really ties into the next thing, and we talked about a lot of this stuff with mike, but you're helping others really is more important and you saw with me and mike how that works, okay? And it's a simple is I met somebody I was impressed, I put them in touch same thing that I would do with it with you guys if if you came to me and you said, hey, man, like, I'm working really hard on my music just keep me in mind, I would say awesome because I like the vibe I got from you I see that you're committed, I see you're serious, that will be something that I will keep in mind same thing's happened for my students and I'm not saying this because like, oh, I'm this amazing connecting guy, I'm just saying I'm always speaking from my experience you know I've had students that say to me hey you know I'm working with this person and try to get my band out there or I'm made this video that I really I think is good and I want to get it out there would you mind watching it if not totally cool and if I watch it and it's great and they're really putting their effort into it I will share it with my friends and share with other people in other drummers or something like that because it's not even about necessary the playing but the hard work and if someone's really giving their all to something then that is worthy of promoting and sharing because it's not necessarily about the specific talent or the specific video itself it's about as like said promoting the underlying thing which is hard work perseverance you know these these values that we need tohave in order to succeed in any kind of business but so let's let's talk a little bit about helping others I mean how can you help each other how what can we do so I mean for me I think about this every day all day how can I help more people that that ties into what I do with ban happy how can I help musicians? How can I help fans? How can I help you know the whole landscape of the industry become better and I always have this thing I say it's like with band happy I have this vision to create better fans, more educated fans and that's the point of this class too is, you know, hopefully the people that are watching understand how it works better so they can, even if they never work in the industry, if they're a fan, they could be better fans to help support their their favorite artists better and hopefully the artists that are watching this understand that they can be better artist by doing more things to help their fans and to help other artists and to help they're people in business, you know, you don't just start working with the manager and say, okay, do this for me bands can help their managers to and vice versa it's it's a given take that you need to be aware of but it sze things like that, you know you may not benefit directly from something that's fine if it helps people you care about, do it, why not? And it will help you might maybe not monetarily or maybe not immediately, but the reason that my relationship is so good with mike and why I value his opinions is because we do help each other and why I would go to him versus someone else because I know he has my best interests in mind and I have his best interests in mind and there's a lot of people out there that you should build that type of relationship with you know and it's friends to like I don't know if you have a friend that if you have like, an amazing guitar or like let me rephrase that you have like an extra guitar lying around and your friend is a struggling musician and you don't need that guitar but he does or she does either loan it to me give him the guitar little things like that or if you know you play a show somewhere and there's a fan who needs a pair of drumsticks because there were broke and they can't play drums give him some drumsticks I'm just saying it's little things like that little teeny good deeds that you would do everyday like opening a door for somebody or saying hi to someone on the street or when you like I said order food don't just say give me this piece of food say hey, how are you how's your day it's just little helpful things like that that can make such a big difference and you know that's really I think ah huge value of mine that I really want to try toe have other people adopt I really want everybody to try to figure out ways to help each other you know, even if you're in different areas of business just sit down and say, hey, listen, I'm here if you need anything, maybe I can't help you right now, but please, if there's anything that I'm doing that you see that could benefit you just give me a call my door's open it's simple is that have that conversation, you know, cause I want to do it even like I think about this class, you know, like maybe mike will be a presenter creative live one day because I brought him in, and now he's introduced and that'll be great for him. It would be great for creative live, so it's, like little things like that that we can all do. Um, it's, not about succeeding and keeping that guarded and be like I made it, and you didn't it's about hopefully you're trying to succeed, and the other people you're working with her trying to succeed, and we all help each other. If you do that, you will get to where you're trying to go a lot faster, then, if you were to just keep it all to yourself and be selfish, be selfless, that that's the point, and, you know, this is this is something that, you know, I wanted to just briefly talk about because I think being a good middleman is the the key teo hopefully good business that's funny there's a movie called layer cake I'm sure people have seen it in the audience you may have seen it but there's a part part where one of the guys says the art of good business is being a good middleman putting people together and I firmly believe that you know that's stuck with me when I saw that was like years ago and I saw that and I said, you know what? Wow that's really true and I thought about after seeing that movie again and I was working a band have I thought about it that's the whole point of my business my company is positioned to be a middleman between fans and artists and musicians and to put those people together for mutually beneficial reasons and to create a mutually beneficial relationship. And if you can create as many of those things, those type relationships is you can then you are doing good business and it will benefit you even if right away like mike said, like I'm saying, if it doesn't make you money right away that's fine, you are doing it for a mutually beneficial reason you're connecting people and that is so good it's so important um you know and along with that there's times when being a middleman means being sometimes a mediator okay and not just connecting people but you know someone who met someone else and they're not communicating well but they need to work together you can be a mediator between those two sides say hey listen, I know I know this I know this why don't you let me talk to this person and maybe we'll make a little bit better you know, ties into that good cop bad cop thing in some ways but you know, there's certain relationships like I'm thinking about with my company where two people that are to my partners and ban happy had a specific argument that what that was about us, you know, important business topic and I was sort of in the middle but I wasn't in the middle in a neutral sense like I didn't care I just wasn't involved in it, but I could look at it from an outside perspective and I could communicate for one side to the next side and help solve the problem. And I think we probably all do that in relationships with our friends with our family. I mean, how many times has like your mom and dad got in an argument and maybe you're there to kind of come everything down her brother and sister or I don't know I've always been a mediator what's that a band exactly I mean and that's a huge point so for me thank you for bringing that up in my band um I hope I don't I hope I don't shoot myself in the foot saying this, but I really like to think that I've been able to take that role more than any other role with periphery aside from being the drummer, you know when there are when you have six people as like said with strong personalities, you bad heads someone needs to step up even if they're tired even if they don't want to deal with it to help mediate that argument because if not it can escalate there needs to be the voice of reason that needs to be that person there that's calm now believe me, I've been the one battling before where I'm not the mediator and I'm the aggressor sometimes on on the defensive side it's happened, but I think through having a mediator you actually learn how to communicate better because what a mediator does it says, okay, we have two sides here's, the fax here's what's being talked about let's get to the bottom of it because we're all in this together and the more that you, the more that you're part of those kind of conversations that well that you are the mediator, the better at communicating you become when it's time for you to be in that combative situation or argumentative situation or even just negotiating situation so you know I can think of tons of times when at first, in my band, me and, like, honestly, me and misha with bad heads a bunch just because we're both drummers were both, like, really, really strong headed, and we were bad heads, and at first we would like getting these yelling matches and arguing like and really get into it. And then over time, because of mediators, we were able at com points to save each other. Hey, listen, we obviously both had this tendency, tito, are you in certain ways into bad heads? But we know we're on the same team. So how about this? If we ever feel like we're getting to that point, let's, take a step back, let's, calm down, and then let's talk together calmly because we know we're on the same team, and now when it comes to things like that, the communication between the two of us has and improved so much. And in my band, the communication between band members has improved so much because you sort of see what works and what doesn't, you know? So if you have friends that you argue with your band mates that you argue with or industry people or whatever it is that you're working with, and there's there's, you know, arguments one try to argue in a positive way tryto tryto communicate like we talked about in a positive way but if you could be the mediator and help to parties come together for a mutually beneficial reason then that is really, really, really important to do so you know that's something I want you guys to think about so before we before we get into like I wanted to take some questions from from the online audience too but before we get into that I want to ask you guys I mean are there times when you've been the mediator or where you've put together people as a middleman or their specific like situations that you can think of sure yeah definitely having gone on tour a couple times with different bands ah I'm usually the guy that's in the van and I can tell when there's tension building between people and ah your manager was very adamant about hammering home the idea of empathy and I was really good at being able tto take each one of those people aside at the right moment when we could be alone and just be like, hey do you know what's going on in their head right now you may not be aware of this but they're going through this you know, back home with their girlfriend or you know, the other day somebody said this to them after the show and they've been really sensitive about it and that's super important by by getting them to understand each other and and build that bridge they were ableto you know, start communicating better and avoid any further arguments down the road and I've been really fortunate in working with a lot of the people that I do play with that when when I upset somebody they don't internalize it they're pretty quick to say hey, you know, when you said this it was kind of upsetting and I feel, you know, kind of put out and it allows me the opportunity to apologize and you're no express myself in a different way what I really intended um so that's good and as faras connecting people even if it's not for your benefit like a situation I'm going to like right at the moment you just pop this in my head I had worked really hard to put a bill together at a particular club here in seattle and justus I finally got everybody on board that gave the data way to ah different touring package and you know, I understand the club would definitely, you know, so out it twice the price so it's it's good for them so we lost the date but we picked it up at another club for the package but half the band didn't want to play they're so like half half the bill disappeared but the first clothe actually had an opening the night before and that didn't work for half of us but I actually wrote an email to the booker and said, hey, we can't do this we definitely want to set something up in the air future but some of the bands on my bill that were really strong draws might be available and she really appreciated me giving her something else to fill the friday instead of the saturday sure so it doesn't help me immediately but it sells those other guys out and those other bands they play around here they're successful there very well connected and I know that they'll appreciate the favor and even if it doesn't turn into anything personally for me or for my band it's good for for all of us overall in the long run if you feel good too yeah you know yeah well I I want I want my friends to be successful I want other bands in my my scene to be successful um and you know we all deal with our where their own egos of course we all want to be you know, at the top of the game but we do it by, um by helping others yeah, you know, we're providing a service like you said well it's on and you had a good point which is all about the scene itself if you're in a music scene you know everywhere there, everywhere you go, there's there's a music scene you know, in baltimore there's music scene in new york is a music scene. You know, the more positive stuff going on in that scene, the better it is for all the bands. So if you can contribute to your music scene by promoting shows for your fellow man fellow bands, whether you khun go to shows and just support them, whatever it is, I mean, share their music, get out there and just do it because it is better for everybody and that's a huge thing is, you know, for for, you know, for a lot of bands they feel sometimes or even musician they feel stuck in one place, you know? But there is a scene there is a group of people that are trying to do what you're doing, even if you're not like the same style of music it's all part of a music scene and some of the best music scenes out there, the ones that are the most diverse, you know, you can go to certain cities and you can see so many different styles of music, but everybody goes out and support each other. You know, when that happens, I think seattle is one of those places where where everybody hopefully supports each other, but there's so much, uh excuse me there's so many different styles of music and they're so so much art and creativity going around that if you didn't support it it might not be directly connected but that support is the common threat you know and that is really important you know it's very important to do that I will come back izing exactly without just real quick and you were talking about making a relationship and you never know when it'll pay off several years ago I was posting an open mic on sunday nights and my friend michael wants lee came out and he had never actually saying in public and it was you know, a quiet night and I encouraged michael who's tremendous bass player and I said you don't get up and sing I know you can do it and so he got up and he's saying for the first time he has a great great baritone voice and so it was it was great I was really encouraging to him honor michael went on to be in the studio eventually a couple years later working on his new solo project which is a big step forward and he got asked to come in the studio and sing a track for macklemore so wan zi got a grammy this year and macklemore brought a whole bunch of attention and you know and I I ran into him last I think it was february before they took off on their own big world tour and he was like yeah man I can't believe I ran into you I just wanted to say thanks you know you're the one that got me to actually sing and to me that's that's like an amazing situation because go we're hanging out in little bars upon queen and just you know doing jam nights together and now he's got a grammy and they're like the biggest band of the year you never know who's going to like pop it's all right that's that's how seattle that's a thing I mean help help your fellow musicians pushing yeah sounds good you know logan city to be in for that and there are other cities that are no absolutely absolutely so do you want to weigh one question one question here I was just kind of going to say it's it's getting easier and easier and I think that your company really speaks to this to become an advocate for the things that you love and if you're bringing passion even if it's just a za fan you know you can help create the kind of scene or the kind of industry like michael was saying that you want to see and I think that that's you know being an advocate as opposed to being like a hater is a really really important thing out there in like in the online community and I think that it's it's really cool to hear about you know bringing bringing as much positivity is you can and bringing as much passion as you can to the things that you believe in it makes it much bigger difference than you might think absolutely yeah don't don't be a hater for the sake of being a hater there's no reason to and if you do dislike something keep it to yourself you know and think about why you just like it why do you why do you dislike it? Maybe you just it's not your cup of tea that's fine but you need to go tell the world that start this negative vibe um something that that will talk about tomorrow with my johnson is he actually created this whole thing called the positive post campaign where you go on youtube and you find a video of someone and you even if it's not the best video that what you post something positive okay and it's that is an example of helping people on michael talk about that tomorrow but that is an example of how you can help someone just feel more confident about what they're doing. Maybe that one comment like pushing someone to go on stage makes a huge difference in their confidence to go doom or of that so I think supporting each other is a great way to help yourself I mean if a lot of people are watching this single how does that help me? Well, if you support others you're going to be able to support your you're goingto help yourself a lot better I should say because you're going to have more people that are willing to support you and there's another book out there called digging your well before it's thirsty I'm sorry digging your well before you're thirsty excuse me and that's what it's about it's it's you know go and and make these relationships before you really are looking for things for yourself because you know what? Like you may not need a favor right now but if you can help someone else and you can really like, you know, improve someone else's life or pushed them to do something you never know when they're going to be able to help you and that one little thing could mean everything in the world to that you know so you check that out it's another good good book did you have a question? Teo just real quick comment about the the people trying to I'm not arguing but just kind of get into a that thing whenever that does happen I try in my band for example, trying really media or whatever I usually try to think not so much who should like if it's like an argument about a certain decision or something it's not so much who wins, but where's progress happened like what? What is what khun we benefit from this, you know, like how are we going to move forward? It's not who wins and if I'm in the argument to it's not who wins is how do we progress as a pandora's a company or whatever? And I think that a lot of people, if they kept that in mind, it's a lot easier because you kind of take yourself out of the equation that and you make it personal. It's not barry said something about the greater good it's about good yeah being on the same team, you know, that's, that's, that's the trick, it's it's shouldn't ever argue with the people that you that you work with, people you love with the intention of winning, you know, maybe if you're playing us like a board game or like a card game and you want to win something but that's, not that's, not what we do in business business isn't about winning in that regard it's about let's get to the bottom of it and find a solution so we can all move ahead together productively and make progress. So that's that's what it's about? So hopefully this you know, this segment was was really good in regards to relationship building I know mike is, you know, is it hopefully very contributor hopefully he gave you guys some good stuff he's very, very cool. We have a lot of fun he uh he came to mexico with periphery last year we did it three or four day tour there and that was one of the defining moments of our relationship with him as a band because just the fact that he came to mexico just for no other reason than just to be there and support us and to show that he that he gave a crap about the band, you know, which seems like that's obvious but, you know, a lot of people in the industry and this is something for people that want to get into the music business as a manager whatever like you need to do little things like that because it builds trust it builds, you know that that relationship between you and your clients just him coming made it so much better we became friends. He was he stepped into the tour manager role here and there and was like, battling with thes promoters toe get us more money or to get us better accommodations or to get us a better whatever it was, you know, more more bottles of water, you know, he really stuck his neck out and that shows and it goes miles with the band that is in a new territory that needs help that, you know, just one of those things so always put your foot, put your neck out there if you believe in something in your passionate about it and and work really hard, and that actually is the next segment that will get into to wrap up the day is hard work and commitment, but that really is sort of that the next step in the process, you know, you start by establishing your goals, and then you work on your communication skills to build good relationships, and within that you have to work hard so that those relationships can can continue to grow because people respect you for your persistence, your perseverance, your hard work and the commitment to what you're doing so that's how this all ties together. So before we get into that next segment, want to take some questions online, we really get to in the other safe, and so are there any coming through there's a ten, so just so you know, I mean, it was cool. We talked about seattle on how seattle's a music town but let's talk about the people that are in a city like seattle. So in the just in the chat room alone, we have people from belgian, sweden, india, netherlands, australia, europe, lea, you know, way have some people that stay up around the clock, but we have a real international crowd, so w drums had asked, and you know, this was when you're talking to mike, he says a lot of the matters that you're talking about are very helpful for us residents. So what about advice for international bands in europe is etcetera, how do you promote yourself in a management label environment from another country? Do you have any advice for our international? Well, I to be honest, you know, I'm not international, I don't live in those countries, so I don't know how works, but I will say this from what I do know, I do know in a lot of countries specifically I know in sweden, um, I know in even australia, the government's really support art and music to the point where they actually supply grants to a lot of the bands on dh there was a student who has question before adam jan's e his band actually got ah, they were took part like this this competition, it wasn't even a competition, but it was more so he was telling me that a panel of industry people in that country actually reviewed their bed and gave them feedback, and then because that they were able to get a grant from their government to record an album, so I don't know how the relationships work there, but I would assume being a good person is something that's universal you know, helping each other is something that's universal so I think the values and the morals that we're talking about are things that transcend any, um any geography but I do think that it's very important to look around and see what opportunities are available for you you know whether it's getting involved with your government or whether it's getting involved booking bands or doing doing all the things we talked about it's just put yourself out there on biff if the question is more so focused on as an international ban, how do you get to the united states? How do you or go to other countries? I think that you know, first you have to start where you're from and build a building audience there, make noise there, go on play, go outside place shows do what you need to do to build an audience locally so that you can then think globally you know and and really get out there and don't just hope that because if you stay in one place that that's just going to be it you know I mean you need to get yourself out there. Look, there is international record labels there's international managers there's international booking agents we work with them periphery works of them, we were assigned toe other labels outside this country we work with booking agent said take us outside of this country not just nick who handles us in the united states? We go everywhere so the people are there you just have to do the same things and make noise but like I said, look at what your governments have to offer because unlike the united states, a lot of these international governments are more supportive ofthe arts and music and the things that we all are passionate about so you can really get more more opportunities there, you know? Yeah, yeah I've actually been touring internationally over in europe ah a couple times a year and I'm building my solo presence over there and that is entirely been built upon networking relationships I met some italians that brought me over on my first tour and was able to get into germany through a few friends there and then all the places that I played I made sure that I made connections with the bookers built relationships that went on to get me hooked up with an agency and holland on dh he's kept me very busy um and I'm expanding every time I go out and tour and so it's it's really a relationship and networking kind of situation anywhere you go um and and you're right in holland I know that some friends of mine were looking into a grant for I think up to ten thousand euro if you were a dutch band and you wanted to tour, they would support you to give you the ability to go out on the road so I would say from for any country that you're in there he should probably check with your local arts foundations cause there they are supportive of the arts over there that's why it's so fun to play in europe wei have another question? L vert online asked to relationships build faster and stronger for those who go out of their way to make a relationship so like what length do you go to to pursue a relationship and help people out their example was like flying across the country are traveling to have lunch with someone like I mean, how much energy do you focus on building relationships and how much do you reserve for working on your craft? Uh I think it depends really that's a great question, but I think it just depends on where you are in your career for one or on your timeline and also what is the relationship you're trying to build? I mean, I don't necessarily think that, um you know, I don't know I don't have to say this but just to fly across the country to have lunch with someone might not be as beneficial as you know being there when you're in town and making an effort to see them unless there's an opportunity of some kind that you need to get there for like an audition or like a conference some sort of meeting of the minds where you have to be there to be a part of it, but I think a lot of times it can even come off is like too much if you go too far it's almost like to push you're almost creepy in some ways if you were to push yourself that far because really I think at the end of the day no one else no relationship um flying somewhere to meet somebody or maid or taking a giant step isn't going to change what you're doing at home just from one meeting anyway, you know you can go meet someone and get on the radar and they're going to be cool and they're going to go about their business go do their own thing, but you working hard and keeping in contact with that person and updating that person from where you are and then when you happen to see that person making a point to say, hey, let me buy you coffee or let me go let's go eat lunch that's a different thing. So I think it's all just about the importance of the relationship in the type of setting that you would actually be going too to you know, to attend the type of event you'll be going to attend, I just think that you need toe focus on what you're doing on dh take advantage of timing as mike said, you know, if timing works out where you're both in the same city, fantastic. But if it doesn't, you're better off keeping in touch and keeping, keeping the payment, what you're doing and letting them know, you know.

Class Description

It takes more than raw talent to make a living as a musician – and it doesn’t happen overnight. In this online course, Modern Drummer’s 2013 Best Metal Drummer of the Year and founder of BandHappy Matt Halpern will show you how to break out of the garage and build a lasting career in the music industry.

Drawing on his own successful experience with the award-winning band Periphery, Matt will walk you through the everything you need to know about breaking into the industry, improving your technical skills, and making the right moves to ensure long-term success. You’ll learn how to get your foot in the door, build a sustainable career as a working musician, and keep growing your career from there. From finding the right management, agent, and label to building relationships with sponsors and key industry players, you’ll learn it all from one of this generation’s most respected minds in the business.

Special industry guests include:

  • Ash Avildsen - Sumerian Records Founder/CEO
  • Mike Mowery - Outerloop MGMT Founder/CEO
  • Mark Scribner - Business Manager for Killswitch Engage, Periphery, Animals as Leaders
  • Mike Johnston - Drummer, Clinician and Founder of
  • Chris Brewer - Head of Artist Relations for Meinl Cymbals USA
  • J.P. Bouvet - Drummer, Clinician and winner of Guitar Center Drum Off 2011

By the end of this class, you’ll have a comprehensive, actionable playbook for breaking into the music industry and putting in the right work.