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  • Episode 18: Secrets of Full-time Musicians with Benjamin Albert

Episode 18: Secrets of Full-time Musicians with Benjamin Albert

Ben Albert started podcasting in 2016 when he launched Rochester Groovecast Podcast, which highlights the local Rochester New York music scene (and also gets him into places for free). Over 120 episodes later, he has built the show into a top-ranked music podcast.

In 2020, Ben launched Rochester Business Connections, a podcast that highlights the Rochester business community. Over 70 episodes later, the podcast has been Ben’s best networking source while building his business, Balbert Marketing...

A company that has provided Ben massive freedom, putting more in his pocket than his previous role as a sales executive, just in the very first year!

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • Why So Many Musicians Are Broke
  • Should Your Band Play Covers or Originals?
  • Can Bands Make a Living Touring Regionally?
  • How to Start Your Own Music Festival
  • How To Make a Living As a Musician
  • The Secret To Building a Regional Fan Base

—Get the FREE "How To Sell More Merch" Course: https://members.musicmoney.tv/merch-course-registration/

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Transcription:

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Well, Hey today on the music money podcast, I'll be speaking with Ben Albert Ben started podcasting in 2016 when he launched Rochester groove cast podcast, which highlights the local Rochester New York music scene, and also gets them into places for free over 120 episodes later, he has built the show into a top ranked musical podcast in 2020 Ben lost Ben launched Rochester business connections, a podcast that highlights the Rochester business community over 70 episodes later, the podcast has been Ben's best networking source while building his business. Falbert marketing a company that has provided been massive freedom, putting more money in his pocket than his previous role as a sales executive, just in the very first year. Ben, it's great to have you on the podcast. How are you doing today?

Speaker 2 (00:46):

I'm doing great. I'm excited to be here, Barry. I don't know if I told you this it's my father's name. So, um, I like even more just because of the,

Speaker 1 (00:54):

Okay, cool. Cool. Well then you, you, you can't possibly forget my name. So that works out exactly. Well, I have to say I'm especially excited to have you on the show because we seem to have so much in common. Um, cause I, I noticed that you're super into watching local bands. Um, I'm a band guy. I have a band I've been in bands my whole life. You own a marketing agency. I've owned and operated marketing agencies, my whole career. Um, and I'm sure you see what bands are doing and what they're not doing to market and sell themselves. And you have a lot of advice you could give them. So I started the music money podcast because that's exactly what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to help artists and musicians learn how to better market and sell themselves so they can make more money and build a sustainable music career. So on that note, let's dive

Speaker 2 (01:40):

Out on. Yes, love it. Nice.

Speaker 1 (01:42):

Nice. So first of all, let's talk about your love for the Rochester local music scene. When, when, when, when did that all that start.

Speaker 2 (01:50):

So I'm born and raised Rochester, New York. And I started late. I was, I was an athlete. I was a sports guy when I was younger. Um, but funny, one thing I've learned through personality tests is I always score high on appreciation for beauty and excellence, appreciation for beauty and excellence. So it doesn't matter if it's sports Olympics taking a watch, walk in nature. And the very obvious one music I've always just been a promoter and an advocate and just a massive fan of sports. And then later on music, which came from the fact that I was nerdy and I was dorky and I was the shortest kid in class. So I wasn't really the top tier athlete. And I found my home in creativity, in music, actually starting with the weird out concert when I was really young, I got my start, but then it was the typical journey of just going to live shows locally and then suddenly traveling to see a band. And then you start to, uh, engage in the scene more and become part of it. Really just an guy, nothing surprising there.

Speaker 1 (03:01):

Yeah. Well it, I'm sorry. There's a reminds me of this hilarious meme. There's that? You've probably seen it. It's like this heavy metal band and then there's one guy standing like super close to them at the front of the stage and that's it. And the caption says, oh, we want to thank Anthony for coming out tonight

Speaker 2 (03:17):

Or something like that. I love it where you, that guy just hanging out front. Oh cool. So as I got older, cause I mean, when you're younger, you're going to what's cool and popular with friends. As I got older, I didn't care for was core popular if it was music. And I knew that it was going to be good. I I'm that guy I'm betting in the front row, make a meme, make a meme out of me. I don't care.

Speaker 1 (03:42):

Nice. Nice. And you, and I guess once you had a taste of weird Al you just couldn't get enough. Right. You had to hit the concert saying I've never seen him in concert. He's still out there doing it. And I think he does really well. I've heard he's he's pretty great. Purdue puts on a great show.

Speaker 2 (03:58):

Yeah. He'll, he'll put both his legs over his head and weird stuns. Uh it's again, it's, that's a great example about it being less about, Ooh, we're pretentious musicians that are going to do everything perfectly. It's more like, music's fun. I'm going to take songs you already know and make a joke out of them, you know?

Speaker 1 (04:20):

Yeah. Yeah. He's, he's, he's definitely unique in his drama. So this is a topic that I'm always very interested in cause it hits close to home of me. So are the bands in your area usually playing all covers originals or a mix of both? Do you, what, what do you see out there?

Speaker 2 (04:37):

There's a little bit of everything. Um, it's, it's hard to compare it to every city in the world. Cause I feel like the best music cities do have a little bit of everything, but it's funny because I'm sure you've seen this in the music business. Sometimes the band that can play a cover really, really well. They're the one that gets booked for the larger events and often gets paid better. So there are a lot of bands and I have friends that are actually in solo projects, but also cover bands because the cover band more pays the bills and the solo projects more like their passion project. Um, but it's mind blowing because we have bluegrass music. We have progressive metal, we have a lot of rappers like an undergrad or a rap scene, like crazy. Then we have jazz and we have the Eastman school of music and a ton of great colleges where there's so much original music out of lots of genres coming from Rochester. And that's where I get a little upset sometimes because it is the cover bands that actually drive the most traffic for, you know, good reason they're playing songs that everybody loves and they can get people dancing and sell tickets. So I mean, you can't complain, but there's definitely a little bit of everything.

Speaker 1 (05:54):

Yeah. That's uh, I mean we, my band and if you're unfamiliar, it's, it's a piece funk band with the three-piece horn section and you know, and so we started as a cover band, had no intention of playing originals. And then I always tell people, and this is a true story that I felt like we had covered all the well-known funk and soul stuff that, you know, people would know and we'd every now and then we try to play a little bit more obscure, funk tune and whatever, and the dance floor were clear and you know, and then we'd play something, you know, September by earth, wind and fire or something like that. And they've all come back on the dance floor. And I, I was like to break it down to the ridiculous. I was like, you know, if I'm going to play songs that clear the dance floor and might as well be my own, you know?

Speaker 1 (06:37):

And so I started writing originals and, and you know, and it just, so it wasn't, I mean, I'm half joking about that, but it really was the truth. And I still maintain that to this day and that, you know, cause every time somebody in the band was like, why don't we play, you know, fill in the blank with some obscure funk song. It's like, look, dude, I love that song too. But you know, if we're going to play something that people don't know, it might as well be our own song, at least that way, you know, we have a chance of maybe selling some CDs or some merchant, that kind of thing. Um, you know, so that's kinda how we morphed into it or an original band. And now we play about, you know what I mean? We do some festivals where it's all originals or we'll do some, some shows like that, but then, you know, we'll do other other tunes or their shows or which are more likely it's to be about 30% originals.

Speaker 1 (07:23):

Cause we have to cover three, four hours and we just don't have that much original material I'm working on it, man. But you know, you can't force the muse, you know, but I just, I'm always curious about that because you know, back in the day in the nineties, when I was doing the original thing, when the grunge scene was blowing up, you know, it was the sort of, it was sort of the opposite. I mean like in Dallas, where, at where I was, you know, there were four or five bands a night at any given club, but this, you know, I always tell people, I try to tell my son who's, you know, he's 22 now. Um, I'm like, dude, you gotta realize it was so different back then because it was so hyped. I mean, Nirvana was the biggest thing in the world and Soundgarden and Pearl jam and all that was just blowing up and record companies were signed in bands left and right, because they were trying to find the next one.

Speaker 1 (08:14):

Right. And um, you know, but it was that's where everybody was, you know, downtown Dallas. It was just like, there was just thousands and thousands of people because it was a hip scene. You know, the cover band scene was lame, you know, but now I think it's, it seems to have kind of morphed, you know, and I'm just, I see a lot of, I mean, there's some original music down here, but it's, I don't know, you know, cause I think a lot of people don't realize that some of the biggest bands in the world started as cover bands. I mean the Beatles were a cover band, you know, they kind of, they own their chops in Hamburg, Germany. I was watching a documentary on the, who, you know, it shows them 1965, you know, plan just, you know, covers and, and I mean the Eagles, I mean, there's, there's just tons of them that started that way, you know, just cause that, that way they at least get work, you know, heart, I know they were doing covers of like, but they were covering like yes and stuff. Yeah. They get booed off the stage. But um, so yeah, I'm always curious about how it's going and various scenes

Speaker 2 (09:20):

In the day, every band seemed to be a cover band. Everyone was covering something.

Speaker 1 (09:26):

Yeah. I mean, you know, it does, it does pay well in the, you know, this band, the music money podcast. I mean, I've, I've interviewed, I actually interviewed [inaudible] who, you know, up until recently was a full-time musician in New York, his band on average would get paid $15,000 to play a corporate event or like a, he did a lot of bar mitzvahs and stuff like that. And I mean, it just, it confounds the mind that these guys could get paid this much, but he's like, well, it's New York dude. It's, it's, it's a lot different than Florida, you know where we are now. But um, you know, he's made his entire career 30 years playing those types of gigs. And this is actually one of the first original, you know, projects that he's been a part of. So, um, you know, there's, there's lots of money to be made in that thing, but it's like, it's still, it's a tricky dance that you have to go between. The two of them,

Speaker 2 (10:18):

It is, it is a tricky one. I wouldn't discourage anybody though, because I almost feel like a misconception and this might actually upset people, but this is just my opinion is everyone believes that they need to follow their passion and do something that's 1000% authentic to them. And I feel like sometimes there has to be a balance. Maybe you play music in a band because you've got great chops and they need somebody in a pays you well, and it's not your 1000% passion, but that's what puts food on the table and allows you the autonomy to focus more on your creative endeavors. I see a lot of musicians that, um, they're broke and there's so many reasons why they're broke. I mean, the music business is really, really tough and they're really creative people that are really passionate and engaged and amazing at what they do, but the market's not buying what they do. And it kind of eats your soul a little bit, but if I'm getting paid $15,000 a gig as a musician, I mean, I don't know how many members are in the band, but that's a great paycheck. And I would take that money and I would funnel that into my solo project and fall it, funnel it into things that maybe I am a little bit more passionate about.

Speaker 1 (11:38):

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And Dave has done that to a certain degree and he's kind of doing that now, but, um, you know, and I, I do think that there is, I agree with you, there's sort of that all or nothing mindset. Like if you're, if you're playing a cover band or God forbid, you play in a band that plays weddings, you know, something like that, that you're selling your soul. And, um, you know, now what I have seen, I've seen, uh, there's another band that I'm thinking of that will remain nameless, but they pretty much do all weddings. I think the guy, you know, does it as a career, but then when he tries to have the same band come out and do mostly originals and, but they're busy every weekend doing the wedding thing pretty much, especially in snowbird season in Florida, that's when everybody gets booked and he, so when they come out and do their originals thing, people have no idea who they are and you know, it's a frustrated cause he's a great songwriter and it's frustrating cause he doesn't draw a crowd.

Speaker 1 (12:35):

And so I, I tend to get, you know, if, if ever the advice has ever asked of me, I tend to get real with musicians. I'm like, dude, this is business, you know? And, and you can't expect these club owners or um, you know, especially like theaters or whatever to want to book, book your act or even festival promoters. If, if you don't have a following, you don't have a draw. Um, you know, and, and most of the time the thing that's going to draw people in, at least from what I've told, what I've seen is if you're a really great cover band. And then, you know, in our case, just work in the originals, into it, you know, doing the all original thing from the get-go, that's a tough road, you know? Um, it certainly can be done and it has been done, but now you don't have, there's no major label support. I can't remember the last time I heard about a, a major label signing a band. Have you, can you, can you think of any, any recent you could prove me wrong, but I just, it just, it seems like it happens so rarely. Sure. You know? Yeah. Um, so with all the re with the all original bands in there in your area, I mean, are they, are they touring acts? If so, I mean, w how long are they going out?

Speaker 2 (13:51):

There's a little bit of everything, um, where we're lucky here because you know, Eastman school, music's one of the most prestigious music schools in the country. And we it's Rochester new, York's very liberal arts. It's very creative. It's very diverse. We're again, I mean, we've got music coming out of the finger lakes, which is traditional bluegrass and jam grass. That sounds like it's coming out of the middle of nowhere, but it's coming out of the Northeast. And, um, we've got jam bands such as equally as, as an example, out of Buffalo, New York that is now touring all the major jam festivals and sitting in with the big shots. And it's, it's funny because a lot of these bands aren't nationally renowned, but they tour the region and the tour of the west coast sometimes and make a good living, being that, you know, B list level, but with a massive following of people, that again, they, they sell tickets, all original, you know, people come attend the events, um, pickle, mafia, uh, friends of a friend of mine, Ben they're right out of here in Rochester, New York just played the New York state fair. Um, I'm drawing a blank, but Miley Cyrus, his sister was supposed to play. I forget her name and randomly, they replaced this, you know, young pop star with this like jazz fusion band, which was super cool for them, but they got their gig through just touring and networking and playing the circuit around the Northeast. So there's a lot of bands doing that. The question is how do you get that national recognition, uh, where you're a household name? I don't know if I have an answer for that one other than sometimes getting lucky.

Speaker 1 (15:35):

Yeah. I don't know that. I think the household name, that's an interesting, you use that terminology, although it's nowhere near as interesting as the term jam grass. I've never heard that before. Oh, really? Yeah. I mean, I, uh, I maybe I'm just stuck in the folk world. I love bluegrass. I'm assuming it's or I should say I love bluegrass. I'm impressed with it when I hear it. Cause it's usually like these blazing hot players, you know, just kinda trading riffs. Is that kinda, kinda what it's, what it's like?

Speaker 2 (16:03):

Yeah. So bluegrass is known for blazing hot picking, but it's very singer songwriter structured. The term jam grass is maybe bringing in some electrical elements. Maybe some psychedelic sounds or reverb may be a funk jam, but bluegrass instrumentation. And it's really taking that like grateful dead or Phish jam band aesthetic. And again, it's, you know, fans of jam bands and improvisation and funk and rock, but on bluegrass instruments. So you kind of have like a CRA I think you should look at it. There's, there's a lot of great bands I could show you. I think it's a cool genre. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (16:42):

I mean, cause you know, if you, if you appreciate great musicianship, um, you know, especially on sort of unique instruments, um, you know, w what was that band that, uh, years ago somebody mentioned them recently remember nickel Creek. Yeah. Yeah. You know, I mean, I remember when they first came out, they were such a breath of fresh air because they were these, you know, young, I mean, they were young kids at the time and they were just these Slaman players, but they had these great voices and very unique music. It was a, you know, a real breath of fresh air. But anyway, so back to that point that you made about, um, household names, it's interesting you use that terminology because it seems like we live in this alternate reality of at least of one, the one I grew up with that, where there were many household names when it came to bands, I mean, led Zeppelin pink Floyd.

Speaker 1 (17:33):

Cause it just was, you know, it's constantly on the radio. You, you probably, your, if you had older siblings, they probably had all those records that they had records and they had the CDs. And then, you know, but what we've seen with streaming is, I mean, they say that there's thousand tracks that are uploaded to Spotify every single day, which just blows the mind. Um, and you know, and it's like, how can, how do you get attention in a market like that? You know, imagine, imagine 60,000 people trying to get their song on the radio, just in your local market, you know, how would they even pick and who would they play? You know, it's like, but you know, yet there are touring acts that are out there making it, but are, are there really any true household names? Would there ever be another household name? I mean, you think of the food fighters are still out there doing it, but the food fighters have been around now for what? 30 years, you know? I mean, they're a household name, that's a current rock band. Um, think silence, maybe one

Speaker 2 (18:38):

That one, anyone under the age of 20 doesn't know, foo fighters or 21 pilots though. It's like, they're not even a household name anymore because it's hard to cross all age groups and all genres and have everybody know who like the Beatles, as an example, if you don't know the Beatles, that's ridiculous. But yeah, I could see a 19 year old, not knowing 21 pilots, you know? Yeah.

Speaker 1 (19:03):

I mean, and, and they, you know, my son constantly listens to new music, you know, and he listens to old music too, you know, but he's, you know, he's still a young, young kid and he'll have these bands that are kind of obscured or they're really obscure to me and then he'll play them in the car and stuff and we're together. And it's, it's cool. It's usually pretty like alternative or punk or whatever, or, um, you know, but it's rare to, to hear any, any rock bands that are overtly, um, sort of commercial or where I've even said is like, remember like the even adult contemporary. I remember like, you know, I mean, Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac, because they just were, they could just make hit after hit, after hit. And they were, you know, you think it's like, what current equivalent do we have of a, of a Fleetwood Mac that has, you know, different, um, you know, genders in the band they're writing very commercial friendly songs that, you know, it's, it's, I don't know, we just live in, uh, and I'm, I'm, I think I'm a little older than you, but it seems like I've, I've seen just an incredible change in the music industry in the last 20 years that I never would've seen coming.

Speaker 1 (20:14):

Um, so back to your th to the musicians that are in your market, I mean, you're, you seem to be friends with them. So I'm always curious to like, what are they, what are they doing when they get off tour? I mean, these guys are they, are they working day jobs? Are they, are they just playing local gigs? D do you know? I mean, how do they survive?

Speaker 2 (20:30):

I mean, as you know, it's all circumstantial, there's a little bit of everything. Um, I've got multiple buddies that play in four or five bands. Like there, they're just great musicians. So when you need a basis or you need a drummer, they get a call. Whether it's just blows my mind that someone could learn a three hour set just for a show or two, but, you know, they're, they're playing virtually every night, a week. I mean, definitely every Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Um, and then there's the people that give you a random example, a local band they're kind of in that jam grass genre. Um, they're called the honey smugglers and they've got such a, just beautiful local following, like the most supportive fans ever, everybody at the, you kind of feel the, oh, you're the odd one out the first time you see them live because everyone in the audience knows all the songs.

Speaker 2 (21:27):

They all know each other, they're all singing along, but this is a band that has no more than a few thousand likes on Facebook, but they've grasped the local market and built a niche and just the community around them. But these are guys also that aren't playing three times a week. There, they have full-time day jobs. They have a lot of other things going on. So again, every time they play is an occasion rather than a band that is gigging out all the time. And these guys all have full-time jobs. And that almost serves their benefit in a sense, because again, every time they play, it's like, we need to rally the troops because they haven't played in four to six months. So there's definitely a little bit of both going on, you know,

Speaker 1 (22:13):

Did they play other areas or they literally just play every four to six months. It just locally

Speaker 2 (22:18):

It's been less. So COVID really shook everything. But for the most part, you know, the Northeast, when, when you're up in Rochester, New York, we have Syracuse, we have Ithaca, we have Buffalo, we have Albany New York, city's like a six hour drive, but then like, Boston's a six hour drive and Vermont's a six hour drive. So it's really that whole Northeast culture there is where most of the bands play it's once you branch off west or you branch lower south of New York city, that it's pretty uncommon that people around here play those unless they're more established and going on those longer tours.

Speaker 1 (23:01):

I see. I see, because that's, we've done sort of that again, sort of by accident. No, I can say by accident. I mean, because we're from Sarasota, Florida, and unfortunately I've, I've really seen the Sarasota venue market kind of really go, I mean, I can name off probably three or four venues that used to exist five years ago that are no longer around. And, but haven't been replaced, which is bizarre because the population keeps growing. There's no lack of demand for live music. There's just a lack of venues. So we've been forced to kind of branch out and we've, you know, we'll go two hours north and, you know, two hours south, basically, and everywhere in between, we're serving the Florida, everything's on the coasts, you know, so we're playing along the beach or in a downtown area somewhere, um, on a coastal city. But, um, you know, so that's interesting, but it, but you know, definitely it's, it's a slow supply and demand issue.

Speaker 1 (23:58):

So it sounds like these guys are playing it smart. So they may be playing pretty often. They're just not playing any one market that often. Right. Sounds. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, and, and, but yet there's some bands that, you know, like, especially cover bands that I see, they don't really necessarily feel the need to do that. Or like, look, you know, if we're playing a show and, and you know, there's a hundred people there and we get paid, they'll play the same market. I mean, I have friends that do that. They'll, they're like these Chris, that's a little different here in Florida because of the beaches you have tourists, you know that. So I have these guys that play down in the, in the beach area. So they're probably playing for different, different set of faces every single day. And they'll play four or five times a week in the same, literally within the same block at different venues. Yeah. You know, and it's like, but they're, but they, you know, they get decent tips and all that because tourists have a tendency to drink and like, oh, I love that song. And they'll tip you 20 bucks or something. Um, you know, so it's, it's interesting how the, the markets are all different. Um,

Speaker 2 (25:01):

Yeah, if you're in a tourist area, I mean, when I'm in Nashville, certain bands have residencies and they're, they're ultimately playing the same venue multiple times a week. And then other bands I was in Nashville, six days recently, I saw the same band. I didn't watch them, but through the window, I saw him playing at three separate venues, all within like a block. I mean like 10 venues from each other, but they're just hopping around. And since it's cover music, everyone's a tourist. No one's ever seen them before anyways. So it's, as long as it's new to the audience, you go to something like a, I mean, Rochester is an example, but a lot of the Northeast in general, other than the big cities, like New York city, I mean, people aren't really visiting Rochester, New York on a long vacation, you know, everyone in the area knows the music. And so there there's a need for authenticity and there's a need for bands to play original music or else it just quickly gets stale. That's just my opinion though. There's a complete segment of people that would totally disagree with me. It just that these bands, again, after travel around you, can't just be playing the same venue with the same songs regularly, or people pick up on that pretty quickly. Yeah. Yeah. That's

Speaker 1 (26:22):

One added benefit of, of traveling around is that, you know, I mean, cause we're, again, we're, we're always working on originals. We don't really focus that much on picking up new covers. Cause there's not a lot of new stuff to pick up, but since we do spread ourselves,

Speaker 2 (26:36):

I could give you some new stuff to pick up.

Speaker 1 (26:39):

I'm sure he probably could. Maybe we should, we should talk about it. You know,

Speaker 2 (26:43):

New stuff I'd recommend probably would be that situation where people don't know it that well, so you might as well play the original. So it goes back to

Speaker 1 (26:53):

Yeah. Yeah. Um, but we, we just definitely picked up on the cycle. Look, what's the one thing that most bar, uh, bar goers love to do most, most of the time I love to dance. And if, if you know, that's what we're, that's what the women love to do. And so that's what we picked up on early. And not that that's any kind of grand revelation, but you know, so that, that style of music of course is super danceable. And this is an older demographic down here in Sarasota, Florida. And so it just, I mean, we hit the ground running. There was 150 people that paid a cover charge to see us on our first night. And I didn't know any of them, you know, I was just as shocked as anybody else. And it's, hasn't slowed really slowed down since because the style of music is, you know, is, is just very popular to dance to, and, you know, and, and as long as the bars doing well, the club owners happy they're going to, they're going to continue to pay you more. And then of course you could book for private events and stuff. We are seeing that starting to pick up again, thank God. Um, because that, that can also really help paying the bills for sure. Cause the clubs just don't pay that much. Okay. Um, so let's talk about the festival senior in your area. What's, what's that like up in, uh, I mean, do you, do you guys have people doing their own festivals? You just have really big, big ones or almost everything in between. Yeah. For

Speaker 2 (28:14):

Everything in between. There, there isn't many huge ones. Um, um, but there's a lot of small ones. It's one of those things where any weekend and when we're getting into the, everything in between or the smaller, I mean, any weekend there's two or three it's within two hours of me. Um, because one thing that's interesting is, you know, Rochester is a small city, but a lot of people just hear New York and just have that image of New York city. When if you get up to upstate New York, it's tremendously rural. There's a lot of land and there's a lot of people, you know, in the Catskills and then over in Ohio and Pennsylvania and then upstate New York over towards Vermont, just a ton of land and a ton of music festivals on private properties. You know, some of the festivals are 200 people, some are 2000, but not many of those 10 50, $100,000 festival dollars capacity festivals.

Speaker 2 (29:19):

Um, but a lot of small ones, I mean, I could say it a million times, the music and cultures just really abundant here. And there's that starter mindset where I have friends that throw music festivals in their backyard on a 20 acre property. You know, it's not a ton of space, but you can set up a stage. Hand-built had people camp put up a couple of Porter potties, tell the health department, you have a music festival. And I love supporting those small ones because you get to know everybody. Um, and the music's quite good as well. You don't have to go to, uh, a major festival to get incredible music. You just got to know the right people and, uh, listen to your local bands. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (30:04):

Yeah. Well, that's interesting. It sounds like our cultures are very different. Um, so let's, let's talk about your, your podcast, the Rochester group cast. W why did you start that?

Speaker 2 (30:15):

So 2016 and the best explanation I have is I was just a massive music fan. I was going out minimum three, sometimes 5, 6, 7 nights a week. Like this was like just after college did in a relaxed with the amount of energy and partying I wanted to do and music. And it occurred to me one day that, okay, so I'm, I'm buying the ticket. I'm spending money at the bar. I'm a body dancing. And honestly, a warm body is always something, the more people in the audience the better, but what am I contributing? It was my big question. What am I contributing here? Other than, you know, capitalism, I have money. I'm going to spend money, bring me in. I wasn't adding anything to the scene. And that's where the idea of the podcast came into play because I've always been music. You know, I've always loved music, but I've always been an adequate musician.

Speaker 2 (31:15):

And I was always the one watching or behind the scenes, never the one on stage. So I was like, let's start this podcast and just ask questions and highlight the local music scene and give a voice to these local musicians and start building the local community, that local brand, you know, you, I talk about the honey smugglers before they've got such a great local community of supporters that, that know each other, loved them, know all the songs let's give them a microphone. So we can dive a little bit deeper into the story behind their lyrics, into the story behind their lives and to the story behind naming the band. And so it really was just me, one being tremendously curious and to kind of shaming myself that I didn't think that I was contributing much, but I loved podcasts. And there wasn't any music podcasts at all that I knew there still is like virtually none in the area. So I was like, let's start one. Let's be the first. I'm not even the best data, but I'm the one doing it. So something's better than nothing. So I guess it's, I'm the guy, I'm the guy Barry, you know? Yeah, yeah,

Speaker 1 (32:24):

Yeah. You're the one you took, you took it on. So let's talk about successful bands. I mean, at least in your mind. Um, and so maybe some of the ones that you've talked to you, I mean, what do you, what do you consider a successful band and, and what have you seen any, um, traits that they have in common as to how they've retrieved to achieve that success? So

Speaker 2 (32:47):

This is a complicated one and not to get too like meta on it, but we'd have to first define success. And I think it's banned abandoned person to person based on your goals and your expectation. But if your expectation is to pick up an instrument practice once a week for one year, and then be collecting a 50 to 100, a hundred thousand dollars paycheck with your original music in your dream, that expectation is often not met if probably 90 something percent of the time not met. I don't even know the numbers, but they're not good. So we got to define success because let, let's start there. What, what is our metric for success? Do we have a taking off point? It can be financial, it can be spiritual. It can be just a hobby version. I mean, what, what are we looking to accomplish? I

Speaker 1 (33:40):

Can speak for myself. Um, and that some of the, you know, on personal, not even struggles, I should say, just kind of, uh, you know, dreams that I've had or what have you, I think, I think to a lot of guys that write original music, it, it is exactly that it's, you know, I would like to be able to make a living doing this so I don't have to do anything else. I don't need a full-time job. Um, you know, now can, can you do that in a cover band type of situation? Absolutely. My, my guitarist Dave has done it for his entire career, but it's, it's a more, um, unique situation. When you have somebody who's been able to write their own stuff or have their own creation, their own band, which is a creation it's, you're creating something from nothing and you're writing something from nothing, right. And you're able to make that, you know, you can feed yourself and, and have, uh, you know, a house over your head if you will.

Speaker 2 (34:40):

Yeah. And so obviously I don't do the financial statements of everyone, but from my observation, so it was around oh 6 0 7 0 8 around oh six, actually that I started really attending music locally all the time. And I was very young and the musicians on the stage were just like icons and gods. And just the, the amount of appreciation they get is success in itself. The fact that people are agreeing that they're doing something great. And a lot of those musicians, I still know today and they still are doing music full-time and a lot of them are in that category where they might be in three bands full time. They might fill in all the time. I mean, they're working on 3, 4, 5, 6 projects all at the same time. And that's where it gets to this kind of confusing thing. Because if your metric is start one band and be, and make a living doing just that, I'm actually seeing very few musicians do that.

Speaker 2 (35:43):

But the ones that are really, really engaged. And, and again, this is maybe just regionally specific or city specific, the ones that are really engaged. I mean, they're in the studio on their free time. They're playing in multiple bands and they have the autonomy of being a professional musician for 15 years or how literally I've watched them be a professional musician, their entire career. And my intuition is they're not rich, but they have autonomy in their life. They have creativity in their life. They have a social support group. They get to be a breaking barriers in terms of their creativity and their understanding of how to play music. So it gets into that weird, what is success question? Because the guy that goes into a sales organization and maybe does a lot of money selling and maybe a rips, a lot of people often maybe as a sad, lonely life that doesn't have creativity, he's going to be bringing more income when the musician is potentially working more hours.

Speaker 2 (36:45):

But every moment that they work is something new and enjoyable and a new challenge. And I see more and more of that, um, than just the full-time musician, one band guy. I see more and more of these like chameleons of musicians just mastering their craft and the fact that they can do music full time and spend their free time in the studio, creating something completely new. So always continue to level up. I think they would tell you, I don't even know if they've looked as deeply into it, but I think they would tell you that that's success in itself. Um, regardless of the, the amount of money in their pocket at the end of the day. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (37:25):

Well, I think it's funny when you're describing that. I'm I have these guys in my mind that I know that kind of fit that description. Um, you know, it's not the path that I've chosen, but I know that I can, they're the animal that you're describing. I know it does exist, you know, definitely in this market. And it sounds like maybe even a, quite a bit more in your market, um, you know, which that's good cause that's, that's inspiring. And I, um, you know, for, for those, cause I want, you know, I'm hoping that there'll be some people listening to this who, um, they just don't, um, you know, maybe there's a young, young people, they just don't know how they don't know how they can make a career in music. And what you just described is one way of doing it. You know, what I described and maybe a much more difficult way of doing it, you know, I've just been a one man guy, you know, for most of I get involved in one thing.

Speaker 1 (38:18):

Uh, but I also have a day gig, you know, and, and I've always had a day gig, but, you know, I just, I just wanted my band to sound and be the best, you know, and I, I haven't played with anybody else unless I'm just going and, you know, I go and have a beer somewhere and a friend calls me on stage and I play a couple songs, that's it? You know, but yet I'm still gigging every weekend, you know, I'm not making a full-time living at it and don't know if I could. And, but that's not my measure of success for me, at least not at this juncture, you know, I'm somehow still, still focusing on writing and building a national fan base. Um, and then whenever it, when the time comes, maybe, you know, we'll we'll tour and do do all that kind of thing.

Speaker 2 (39:00):

Yeah. Right. That's a tremendous example because you know, your metric of success is very different. I mean, you have the full-time gig, but you have this autonomy to continue. You don't have to become a hero overnight. It sounds like you're always working on your craft and mastering the skill set in this band that your, your path is may way different than the person that's in six bands. And it probably is a little less low stress. Cause you, you have a little bit of sustainability in knowing what each is going to look like.

Speaker 1 (39:35):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we, I tend to cause I'm the marketing guy too, I'm doing all the marketing for the band and it's always this thing of, you know, trying to figure out how to, how to sell more TCU t-shirts and, and how to sell more CDs and get more people to stream our stuff. And, and, you know, just, um, I, thankfully I have somebody else that's booking the band who's does a great job, so I don't have to do that anymore. Um, but it's, it's a lot of work. I mean, it's a tremendous amount of work and it's then especially having eight people in the band, just the more humans you have, the more, you know, things can be great. You know, we have that big band sound, which is awesome. And we do have some great people in the band now. And, um, you know, but, but still, there's always the human element there. Um, you know, and, and people, you know, they're unable to play certain shows and you've got to find subs and all this kind of thing. It's um, you know, but it, it certainly as a labor of love. Um, so let's talk a little bit about on that top talk, topic of marketing. So for the, for the successful, um, more established bands in your area, what do you think they're doing right from a marketing perspective? Yeah. So

Speaker 2 (40:46):

I've, I've already kind of hinted at it. It's building a fan base, it's building a community. It's not needing to be everything for everyone, but having fans that will throw a music festival in their backyard sell 300 tickets. And you're the headliner on the bill. You're walking around, you're meeting people after the show, you're camping together, you're coming to other people's shows, it's being a member of the community. It's really just being a likable member of the community. That just happens to be an incredible musician at the same time. Um, it's hard to do both. There's there's people like me. That's very supportive, supportive of music. And then there's musicians that are absolutely incredible, but they show up, plug in and leave. And the people that I've seen personally, that show up, plug in and leave, get a little less momentum in my local market.

Speaker 2 (41:47):

Then the people at the merge table, shaking hands, um, selling the CDs themselves, handing out the CS for CDs, for free. Maybe if someone loves your music, but doesn't have a ton of money on them. You give them the t-shirt for free it's those bands that are focusing on their community first, because we're in Rochester, New York, Buffalo, Syracuse, they're both 90 minutes or less of a drive. So what happens is when you go to Syracuse, so you go to Buffalo, you bring people with you and there's people wearing your shirt in the audience. And the farther you go, the farther people start to travel with you. And the more momentum you get, and it's really like starting at that micro level, that you don't have to be everyone, everything for everyone. How am I going to treat the P the, the one gentleman standing in front of me, the only person at my show, am I, am I going to give him 100% or am I going to be upset that he's the only one there?

Speaker 2 (42:46):

How can I treat everyone that comes to my shows as a member of my tribe as, uh, ultimately mutually beneficial and not, not just a high horse on the stage. And they're my fans, they're members of the community as well. They're they're partners in this endeavor. They're going to help bring me to the top, the best bands I've seen, or maybe that this may have favorite bands, ultimately too, are the ones that are going to other shows and are engaging their fans. And this is a really small thing that it doesn't matter if you have five fans at your show or 500, if you can get the, treating the human in front of you as a kick-ass person, you want to meet. If you can get that right from the start and not lose it, as you get bigger, I just see like, you're, you're almost like radiating this energy that every it's infectious and everybody grabs it. And then you're just like wooing them back to your shows just because they like you and like to watch you on stage because they like you as a person. And this is getting kind of in the psychology, but I see so many people plug in and then leave and they're really missing a great opportunity there to get to know their fan base.

Speaker 1 (44:01):

That is so true. And it's funny when you were saying that I'm thinking about my history and, and, um, some of the things that I've done right. And things that I've done wrong. And I, and, and when I think about, you know, back in the nineties, when I was trying to get a record deal in Dallas with my band and, um, you know, that everything was blowing up in that music scene, uh, we literally were lived on the outskirts of town. You know, I don't know if you've ever been to the Dallas Fort worth area, but it's enormous. Um, and it's, you know, so we lived on the outskirts and, and, but what I noticed is the successful bands that really seem to take off. They literally, some of them live down there, you know, they would be the guy that, oh, that's the guitar player for so-and-so.

Speaker 1 (44:42):

And he works at the tattoo shop, or he works at the, at the record store cause they had them back then, um, you know, and you would see him or work in the door at the club on the off nights or some stuff like that. And, and you could just tell that they, everybody kind of knew each other, but we didn't know those, those guys, you know, and we, we literally felt like the outside looking in now we were more jealous. I think we should have just kind of got a clue and been like, maybe we should go get to know them or maybe show them to their show, you know, and, and actually be interested. Um, but one thing that I, that happened, um, is we had these, these people that started coming to our shows, these guys are, I don't know if you remember the, the game Dungeons and dragons

Speaker 2 (45:26):

And I'll play it. But I know, I know

Speaker 1 (45:29):

These guys were real into this like D and D kind of stuff. And they were like, literally guys that will had like fake sword fights out, out in parks and stuff. And they just got real turned on to our, our music. And they started showing up about this group of like 10 guys and then, you know, and so we got to know them and then we noticed every show, we did, it got to be 15, 20, 25. And it was, it was, you know, and then we we'd have like parties and we'd invite those guys to come over. This was before the internet, this is all that stuff, you know, and, and it got to be a scene, you know, and, and it, it, you know, and then if they didn't show up, we thought something was really wrong, you know? I mean, it's, and it was so you're a hundred percent right in, in that, you know, if you, if you build that scene and you get out there and you be, uh, you know, cause to us or to them, you know, especially like our lead singer, we had this really cute girl, female singer that she was like a goddess to them and, and, you know, and, and just, but, but she would come down and be, so she was super friendly and, um, you know, so you're right.

Speaker 1 (46:36):

I mean that the fans love that type of interaction. And then they'll go to the wall for, if you, if you give them that, that attention

Speaker 2 (46:43):

On add one thing, Barry. Cause I feel like I missed it. And in like the lead singer, she's a great example. There's a lot of people that might be listening and they're like, well, I'm not super social. And this is overwhelming. Just think about it. And again, everyone in the band doesn't have to be everything for everyone. Um, this is a tough position. If everyone in your band is very introverted and quiet and is kind of getting anxiety, thinking about it, all you really need is one, obviously two or threes butter, but one member to kind of do that PR and people will love you. You might not be the person, but you might be thinking to yourself, oh, this is the person that should doing the PR, just having at least one member to do that PR um, and be at the merch booth goes a long way or have kick people around you, uh, to do that for you and, and kind of be advocates on your behalf. So I think any band can pull it off.

Speaker 1 (47:46):

Yeah, no, I think that's, that's really good advice because, you know, especially even like with our band, I mean there's eight of us. So if we all stand up at the merge table, we can, we can be a little intimidating and like, Hey, how are you? I mean, it's so, you know, we tend to have like, just like two or three of us that tend to go up there on a regular basis. Um, you know, but no, that's, that's great advice. So let's do a little role play here. So if say there was a new band who hired you as a consultant, uh, not, you don't do that kind of thing. I know, but, but before, but if you seem really knowledgeable about this, so they hired you as a consultant before they ever played their first gig. And they said to you one year from now, we want to be full time. Where would you start? And what would your advice be? Okay.

Speaker 2 (48:30):

Um, so this is coming, it's coming from a little bit of a different place. Cause I network and ultimately are involved with a lot of financial advisors, insurance agents, real estate agents, a lot of people that work for a company, but at the end of the day, they're their own boss. If you're an agent, you need to get the listing, you need to sell the listing. If you're a financial advisor, you need to find the clients, you need to deal, educate them and bring them on board and keep them as a client for life. So it's a little different than music, but my thought is each individual member needs to start seeing themselves as an entrepreneur, seeing themselves as a brand themselves. So they want to set up an Instagram account that isn't just for their band. They want to set it up for their name.

Speaker 2 (49:20):

They want to post music as they go. They want calf photos, anything that they're, uh, they love and they enjoy and they should start building their brand and connect it to the band itself. Each one of them should start seeing themselves as their own entity that the band could fail. They could decide to leave a lot could happen, but if they start branding themselves today and you've got five members of a band that are all individually building their own brand and their own network and doing their own networking and conversations and wooing the bass player, a Wu, the other bass players, the drummer, or will the other drummers and all lead to that hole. The reason I say this is I can't guarantee an end result because it's incredibly circumstantial based on market style of music, whether the market wants that style of music, whether you guys are actually tremendously good or not.

Speaker 2 (50:21):

There's so many different running variables. However, if you start building your brand and it to your band, if the band disappears, the brand will not. So you might not hit that goal that we are talking about for the year. I forget the exact goal. We might not hit that one this year, but we can hit it next year because we can pivot out of the band that maybe let go of us into another band that recognizes our skillset because they've been following us. Um, and you're empowered to ultimately take control of your career. And if everyone in the band takes a little bit more control of their own careers, and then you mesh well together as a band, you you've got multiple ways to bring people in and you do have an exit strategy. I hate people. Don't like to think about this, but you have an exit strategy. If you're let go, or if you decide to leave, you're not just the drummer in band name. You are yourself and that'll always come with you as you go.

Speaker 1 (51:26):

That's excellent advice. And that's something I hadn't really thought of, but we tend to have do that naturally. Uh, actually some of us do, I shouldn't Mart my singer, yada does that cause she's also a podcast personality. So, but I, and our sec, you know, some of our guys do that, cause I'm sitting here thinking, I was like, man, we have eight people. If everybody did that, you know, how much more traction would we get here? You know, locally? Um, I mean it's, is that different than just, Hey, inviting friends to the show or is, I mean, how does that differ in a building a personal brand versus

Speaker 3 (52:01):

It is not much different.

Speaker 2 (52:04):

It's not a ton different in the fact that if I come to your show Berry and you invited me, you invited me. If another band mate is the one that cast the invite, then they kind of get credit for the invite. Or I might show up on my own, but just that, Hey, I'd love for you to come to my show or Hey, send me that, send me a download of your track. When St talking to another band, send me a download of your track. As soon as it comes out, just, just being a kind person is branding itself, just being the person that extends the invite. You don't want to be spammy. It's, it's, it's hard not to be spammy sometimes, but taking 20 minutes the day before the show and sending DMS that maybe just aren't a copy paste message. But, uh, you know, Barry, it's been a long time. I want to buy you a beer. I'm playing the show tomorrow and sending 20 of those, maybe not 20 of those, cause that's a lot of beer. Um, but that is building, that's building a brand in itself. You know, your brand could be the quiet person. That's not online, but is likable and likes to bring people in and attend other music. You know, it depends on what's authentic to the individual and it'll, it'll make the band stronger and I'm sure people would see that.

Speaker 1 (53:29):

Absolutely. Well, Ben, it's been a pleasure. Um, I wanted to give you, give you a chance if anybody wants to get ahold of you, if they're listening to you and they're thinking this guy is really sharp or I'd like to be I'm in the Rochester area. Or do you just do mark? You do marketing, you have a whole entire marketing company. Tell them how how'd they get ahold of you. Yeah, so

Speaker 2 (53:46):

I, marketing is my number one. The, the music podcast is more like a hobby on the side. I've done marketing for musicians, but my, my, my strong points, more of the small to medium sized businesses, the real estate financial advisors, a lot of my clients are musicians on the side, but, um, the marketing companies, bowel Burt marketing B as in B, um, Ben or Barry, Albert marketing. So bowerbird marketing.com. If you go there, you can catch my business podcast. You can catch my music podcast. I don't know if you'd be interested or not. Cause they're hyper-local, but this is a small tip. I put together a local business show and a local music show because I knew that I was a, I'd be a small fish in a huge pond if I tried to go national. So again, I focused on my local community building relationships with the people around me, and then as those relationships grow, I can start pivoting to a more national level. So, um, what I'm doing is business is really what I'd recommend most musicians do as well. But again, Battleborn marketing.com.

Speaker 1 (54:58):

Nice. Well, again, thank you so much, Ben. I really appreciate your time. It's been fun talking to you. Thanks so much. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (55:04):

YouTube area. It's been a, it's been a blast. [inaudible].

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Barry Nicholson


Barry Nicholson is the host & founder of The Music Money Podcast & Youtube Channel. He is the bandleader, bassist & lead singer for Reverend Barry & The Funk, as well as the Marketing Director for PS Group Holdings.

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