Get Schooled

Get Schooled: Why Confidence Matters

May 13, 2019

I was watching Everyday Struggle the other day and got particularly inspired by a story that their guest Steve Stoute shared about Lebron James. Yeah, I know, not normally the kind of thing you’d think I’d be talking about here, but don’t worry, it all connects.


If you just want to watch the episode yourself instead of reading my description of it, then click below and I’ll meet you back here in like an hour.



Normally the show’s format features a moderator and host, Nadeska, leading conversations on the latest hip hop and music industry news between Akademiks and Wayno. The show is up on YouTube every weekday and it’s really hit or miss, but like I said, this episode stood out to me and I figured why not share it with all of you.


Nadeska was out for this particular episode so they brought in Steve Stoute to fill in. So I did some quick research, and turns out he's got a really diverse background that spans across the music industry and brand marketing spaces, giving him a unique perspective on what’s truly important to breaking artists. He also formed UnitedMasters as a way to provide real distribution and branding opportunities to independent artists. All around, seems like a pretty legit dude.

me, researchin'

Anyway, about ten minutes into the episode, Akademiks starts talking about Lil Uzi Vert’s current label situation and how his new music is being held back due to issues with his deal, so naturally he asks Steve to weigh in. It’s sorta perfect how he replies; “this is what happens,” Stoute declares, going on to talk about how the flashy advances may draw you in but this is literally what you’re signing up for when you go into those types of deals.

The conversation continues from there, and it’s all really interesting if you’re into this sorta stuff, but Steve then tells a story about a time when he was representing Reebok at his marketing agency. Every single one of their competitors were all trying to sign a then 17-year-old Lebron James –– “$120 million” was the going rate –– but Reebok scored the first meeting.

Steve recalled offering Lebron an additional $10 million that night to not take any other meetings, but Lebron declined. “He did not take the $10 million, got back on the plane, and went to homeroom the next morning.”



It’s a simple story, but it’s also kinda wild when you think about it.

Imagine what it would’ve been like if you were 17 and someone offered you $10 million to do anything. Steve’s point was just that; what separates the 17-year-old Lebron from pretty much anyone else at that age is how much he believed in himself.

a real gif of 17-year-old me practically donating my part time Dunkin Donuts income to the mall and concert tickets


So that got me thinking about bands in our community and how hard it can be when you’re just getting started. Those early days can be some of the most difficult to navigate –– while $10 million branding contracts or record deals may not be our biggest concern, it’s still confusing to find your place in an industry hell bent on making money off of your talent at every corner.


Plus, it can be challenging to even know where to start. There are a lot of great resources out there to point bands in the right direction–– like CASH Music, David Turner's Penny Fractions newsletter, and Support Your Fellow Rockers, amongst others –– and I will also continue to write posts about similar topics, but all-in-all, unless you have a friend or hookup in the industry, it’s nearly impossible to know what your first moves should really be.


And that’s where Steve’s story about Lebron comes in. It inspired me to share a few specific things that you, as a developing band or artist, should consider before going any further in your career. In fact, if you master these three things, your chances of actually having a sustainable career in music could vastly improve.

Ready?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


1. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF


In that story, Lebron made an impossible decision because he had faith in himself. “If you believe in your talent early enough, you’re not gonna take some check that’s basically gonna mortgage the next 10 years of your life,” Steve explained.

For young bands and artists, it's so important to be your own biggest fan! If you want fans or industry to pay meaningful attention, you have to be confident in whatever it is you're trying to do or what kind of band you're trying to become.

Trust me, though, I get it. Self-esteem and confidence aren't my first languages, either. But knowing what you are capable of and have the ability to dream up as an artist will be crucial factors in getting your music out to more people, just like it's important for me to bring in new clients to No Earbuds.

When someone asks you what your dream is, don’t shuffle around and say “I don’t know, I just like playing with my friends.” I can't tell you how many bands gave me some kind of mumbled answer like that when I asked that same question, and you know what it told me every time? That the band's probably not really in it for the long haul, despite what they may say.

Instead, be real! Who cares how lofty the goals are? I'd rather hear you say your dream is to do a collab with Beyonce than for you to be unsure of what you want out of your career as an artist. If you're unsure, how am I supposed to be? But if you want the big duet with Beyonce, I may not be able to make that happen but I can work with the vision.

So for that earlier example, maybe a more confident reply would've been more like: “honestly we want to play for as many people as we can, all over the world." You’re basically getting the same message across about touring, except one sounds way more investable than the other.

And speaking of investments…


2. INVEST IN YOURSELF


Long before you ever expect someone else to invest in your band, you need to invest in yourself. AKA, you need to put in the work!


When you are looking to get signed, that’s like a record label investing in your music. When you are looking for a manager or publicist, or pitching blogs to cover your music, etc… that’s a major investment of their time, energy, and dedication. When you’re self-booking a tour and promoters trust you enough to put their name on your show and help you out, that’s their time but also their reputation that they’re investing in YOU.


Pretty much around every corner, you’re going to need other people to take chances on you if you truly want to grow and expand your audience, so if you want to increase your own chances of finding success, do the same thing you’re asking all of them.


Invest in practicing and writing often; consistently working on and releasing content will signal to others that you’re taking this seriously. Invest in yourselves mentally and emotionally, and make sure you’re taking care of you first and foremost. Invest in your presentation and channel your music into videos and photo projects that reflect who you are as an artist. Whatever your thing is, don’t wait for some big industry player to step in and make it a reality. Start chasing now.


3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

The final tip I think is super important, and comes up a lot towards the latter half of the Everyday Struggle episode I mentioned earlier. You’ve gotta trust your gut when it comes to being a professional, working musician. Whether you’re in conversations with different labels/managers/PR/agents, or get asked to open up for a local show on a Monday night, go with your instincts. You’ve gotta assume most people are just wrapped up in their own bullshit, so you have to be mindful of advocating for yourself effectively early on.


For example, if you feel like you’re not connecting with someone, don’t sign a deal or agree to work together. Not yet, at least. Just like all relationships, it shouldn't be difficult if it’s meant to happen, so feel out every single interaction and situation until you find someone you trust. And once you do, treat that relationship with the utmost care and respect you can because they could become a great resource for you in the future; a trusted ally in an industry full of sharks.


Ideally, you link up with a lawyer early on, too. Even just knowing someone to have on standby helps, in case you end up in a situation where you’d need their advice, like being offered a publishing deal or any kind of contractual agreement.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The combination of a confident, creative, dedicated, and well-informed band is basically the equivalent to the 17-year-old “phenomenon” of Lebron James. And it sounds a lot easier to achieve than it actually is, but once you’ve got those elements down, practically nothing can stand in your way.

If you want to talk more about this or suggest a topic for a future Get Schooled post, feel free to reach out: jamie@noearbuds.com

Get Schooled

Get Schooled: Why Confidence Matters

May 13, 2019

I was watching Everyday Struggle the other day and got particularly inspired by a story that their guest Steve Stoute shared about Lebron James. Yeah, I know, not normally the kind of thing you’d think I’d be talking about here, but don’t worry, it all connects.


If you just want to watch the episode yourself instead of reading my description of it, then click below and I’ll meet you back here in like an hour.



Normally the show’s format features a moderator and host, Nadeska, leading conversations on the latest hip hop and music industry news between Akademiks and Wayno. The show is up on YouTube every weekday and it’s really hit or miss, but like I said, this episode stood out to me and I figured why not share it with all of you.


Nadeska was out for this particular episode so they brought in Steve Stoute to fill in. So I did some quick research, and turns out he's got a really diverse background that spans across the music industry and brand marketing spaces, giving him a unique perspective on what’s truly important to breaking artists. He also formed UnitedMasters as a way to provide real distribution and branding opportunities to independent artists. All around, seems like a pretty legit dude.

me, researchin'

Anyway, about ten minutes into the episode, Akademiks starts talking about Lil Uzi Vert’s current label situation and how his new music is being held back due to issues with his deal, so naturally he asks Steve to weigh in. It’s sorta perfect how he replies; “this is what happens,” Stoute declares, going on to talk about how the flashy advances may draw you in but this is literally what you’re signing up for when you go into those types of deals.

The conversation continues from there, and it’s all really interesting if you’re into this sorta stuff, but Steve then tells a story about a time when he was representing Reebok at his marketing agency. Every single one of their competitors were all trying to sign a then 17-year-old Lebron James –– “$120 million” was the going rate –– but Reebok scored the first meeting.

Steve recalled offering Lebron an additional $10 million that night to not take any other meetings, but Lebron declined. “He did not take the $10 million, got back on the plane, and went to homeroom the next morning.”



It’s a simple story, but it’s also kinda wild when you think about it.

Imagine what it would’ve been like if you were 17 and someone offered you $10 million to do anything. Steve’s point was just that; what separates the 17-year-old Lebron from pretty much anyone else at that age is how much he believed in himself.

a real gif of 17-year-old me practically donating my part time Dunkin Donuts income to the mall and concert tickets


So that got me thinking about bands in our community and how hard it can be when you’re just getting started. Those early days can be some of the most difficult to navigate –– while $10 million branding contracts or record deals may not be our biggest concern, it’s still confusing to find your place in an industry hell bent on making money off of your talent at every corner.


Plus, it can be challenging to even know where to start. There are a lot of great resources out there to point bands in the right direction–– like CASH Music, David Turner's Penny Fractions newsletter, and Support Your Fellow Rockers, amongst others –– and I will also continue to write posts about similar topics, but all-in-all, unless you have a friend or hookup in the industry, it’s nearly impossible to know what your first moves should really be.


And that’s where Steve’s story about Lebron comes in. It inspired me to share a few specific things that you, as a developing band or artist, should consider before going any further in your career. In fact, if you master these three things, your chances of actually having a sustainable career in music could vastly improve.

Ready?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


1. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF


In that story, Lebron made an impossible decision because he had faith in himself. “If you believe in your talent early enough, you’re not gonna take some check that’s basically gonna mortgage the next 10 years of your life,” Steve explained.

For young bands and artists, it's so important to be your own biggest fan! If you want fans or industry to pay meaningful attention, you have to be confident in whatever it is you're trying to do or what kind of band you're trying to become.

Trust me, though, I get it. Self-esteem and confidence aren't my first languages, either. But knowing what you are capable of and have the ability to dream up as an artist will be crucial factors in getting your music out to more people, just like it's important for me to bring in new clients to No Earbuds.

When someone asks you what your dream is, don’t shuffle around and say “I don’t know, I just like playing with my friends.” I can't tell you how many bands gave me some kind of mumbled answer like that when I asked that same question, and you know what it told me every time? That the band's probably not really in it for the long haul, despite what they may say.

Instead, be real! Who cares how lofty the goals are? I'd rather hear you say your dream is to do a collab with Beyonce than for you to be unsure of what you want out of your career as an artist. If you're unsure, how am I supposed to be? But if you want the big duet with Beyonce, I may not be able to make that happen but I can work with the vision.

So for that earlier example, maybe a more confident reply would've been more like: “honestly we want to play for as many people as we can, all over the world." You’re basically getting the same message across about touring, except one sounds way more investable than the other.

And speaking of investments…


2. INVEST IN YOURSELF


Long before you ever expect someone else to invest in your band, you need to invest in yourself. AKA, you need to put in the work!


When you are looking to get signed, that’s like a record label investing in your music. When you are looking for a manager or publicist, or pitching blogs to cover your music, etc… that’s a major investment of their time, energy, and dedication. When you’re self-booking a tour and promoters trust you enough to put their name on your show and help you out, that’s their time but also their reputation that they’re investing in YOU.


Pretty much around every corner, you’re going to need other people to take chances on you if you truly want to grow and expand your audience, so if you want to increase your own chances of finding success, do the same thing you’re asking all of them.


Invest in practicing and writing often; consistently working on and releasing content will signal to others that you’re taking this seriously. Invest in yourselves mentally and emotionally, and make sure you’re taking care of you first and foremost. Invest in your presentation and channel your music into videos and photo projects that reflect who you are as an artist. Whatever your thing is, don’t wait for some big industry player to step in and make it a reality. Start chasing now.


3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

The final tip I think is super important, and comes up a lot towards the latter half of the Everyday Struggle episode I mentioned earlier. You’ve gotta trust your gut when it comes to being a professional, working musician. Whether you’re in conversations with different labels/managers/PR/agents, or get asked to open up for a local show on a Monday night, go with your instincts. You’ve gotta assume most people are just wrapped up in their own bullshit, so you have to be mindful of advocating for yourself effectively early on.


For example, if you feel like you’re not connecting with someone, don’t sign a deal or agree to work together. Not yet, at least. Just like all relationships, it shouldn't be difficult if it’s meant to happen, so feel out every single interaction and situation until you find someone you trust. And once you do, treat that relationship with the utmost care and respect you can because they could become a great resource for you in the future; a trusted ally in an industry full of sharks.


Ideally, you link up with a lawyer early on, too. Even just knowing someone to have on standby helps, in case you end up in a situation where you’d need their advice, like being offered a publishing deal or any kind of contractual agreement.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The combination of a confident, creative, dedicated, and well-informed band is basically the equivalent to the 17-year-old “phenomenon” of Lebron James. And it sounds a lot easier to achieve than it actually is, but once you’ve got those elements down, practically nothing can stand in your way.

If you want to talk more about this or suggest a topic for a future Get Schooled post, feel free to reach out: jamie@noearbuds.com

Get Schooled

Get Schooled: Why Confidence Matters

May 13, 2019

I was watching Everyday Struggle the other day and got particularly inspired by a story that their guest Steve Stoute shared about Lebron James. Yeah, I know, not normally the kind of thing you’d think I’d be talking about here, but don’t worry, it all connects.


If you just want to watch the episode yourself instead of reading my description of it, then click below and I’ll meet you back here in like an hour.



Normally the show’s format features a moderator and host, Nadeska, leading conversations on the latest hip hop and music industry news between Akademiks and Wayno. The show is up on YouTube every weekday and it’s really hit or miss, but like I said, this episode stood out to me and I figured why not share it with all of you.


Nadeska was out for this particular episode so they brought in Steve Stoute to fill in. So I did some quick research, and turns out he's got a really diverse background that spans across the music industry and brand marketing spaces, giving him a unique perspective on what’s truly important to breaking artists. He also formed UnitedMasters as a way to provide real distribution and branding opportunities to independent artists. All around, seems like a pretty legit dude.

me, researchin'

Anyway, about ten minutes into the episode, Akademiks starts talking about Lil Uzi Vert’s current label situation and how his new music is being held back due to issues with his deal, so naturally he asks Steve to weigh in. It’s sorta perfect how he replies; “this is what happens,” Stoute declares, going on to talk about how the flashy advances may draw you in but this is literally what you’re signing up for when you go into those types of deals.

The conversation continues from there, and it’s all really interesting if you’re into this sorta stuff, but Steve then tells a story about a time when he was representing Reebok at his marketing agency. Every single one of their competitors were all trying to sign a then 17-year-old Lebron James –– “$120 million” was the going rate –– but Reebok scored the first meeting.

Steve recalled offering Lebron an additional $10 million that night to not take any other meetings, but Lebron declined. “He did not take the $10 million, got back on the plane, and went to homeroom the next morning.”



It’s a simple story, but it’s also kinda wild when you think about it.

Imagine what it would’ve been like if you were 17 and someone offered you $10 million to do anything. Steve’s point was just that; what separates the 17-year-old Lebron from pretty much anyone else at that age is how much he believed in himself.

a real gif of 17-year-old me practically donating my part time Dunkin Donuts income to the mall and concert tickets


So that got me thinking about bands in our community and how hard it can be when you’re just getting started. Those early days can be some of the most difficult to navigate –– while $10 million branding contracts or record deals may not be our biggest concern, it’s still confusing to find your place in an industry hell bent on making money off of your talent at every corner.


Plus, it can be challenging to even know where to start. There are a lot of great resources out there to point bands in the right direction–– like CASH Music, David Turner's Penny Fractions newsletter, and Support Your Fellow Rockers, amongst others –– and I will also continue to write posts about similar topics, but all-in-all, unless you have a friend or hookup in the industry, it’s nearly impossible to know what your first moves should really be.


And that’s where Steve’s story about Lebron comes in. It inspired me to share a few specific things that you, as a developing band or artist, should consider before going any further in your career. In fact, if you master these three things, your chances of actually having a sustainable career in music could vastly improve.

Ready?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


1. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF


In that story, Lebron made an impossible decision because he had faith in himself. “If you believe in your talent early enough, you’re not gonna take some check that’s basically gonna mortgage the next 10 years of your life,” Steve explained.

For young bands and artists, it's so important to be your own biggest fan! If you want fans or industry to pay meaningful attention, you have to be confident in whatever it is you're trying to do or what kind of band you're trying to become.

Trust me, though, I get it. Self-esteem and confidence aren't my first languages, either. But knowing what you are capable of and have the ability to dream up as an artist will be crucial factors in getting your music out to more people, just like it's important for me to bring in new clients to No Earbuds.

When someone asks you what your dream is, don’t shuffle around and say “I don’t know, I just like playing with my friends.” I can't tell you how many bands gave me some kind of mumbled answer like that when I asked that same question, and you know what it told me every time? That the band's probably not really in it for the long haul, despite what they may say.

Instead, be real! Who cares how lofty the goals are? I'd rather hear you say your dream is to do a collab with Beyonce than for you to be unsure of what you want out of your career as an artist. If you're unsure, how am I supposed to be? But if you want the big duet with Beyonce, I may not be able to make that happen but I can work with the vision.

So for that earlier example, maybe a more confident reply would've been more like: “honestly we want to play for as many people as we can, all over the world." You’re basically getting the same message across about touring, except one sounds way more investable than the other.

And speaking of investments…


2. INVEST IN YOURSELF


Long before you ever expect someone else to invest in your band, you need to invest in yourself. AKA, you need to put in the work!


When you are looking to get signed, that’s like a record label investing in your music. When you are looking for a manager or publicist, or pitching blogs to cover your music, etc… that’s a major investment of their time, energy, and dedication. When you’re self-booking a tour and promoters trust you enough to put their name on your show and help you out, that’s their time but also their reputation that they’re investing in YOU.


Pretty much around every corner, you’re going to need other people to take chances on you if you truly want to grow and expand your audience, so if you want to increase your own chances of finding success, do the same thing you’re asking all of them.


Invest in practicing and writing often; consistently working on and releasing content will signal to others that you’re taking this seriously. Invest in yourselves mentally and emotionally, and make sure you’re taking care of you first and foremost. Invest in your presentation and channel your music into videos and photo projects that reflect who you are as an artist. Whatever your thing is, don’t wait for some big industry player to step in and make it a reality. Start chasing now.


3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

The final tip I think is super important, and comes up a lot towards the latter half of the Everyday Struggle episode I mentioned earlier. You’ve gotta trust your gut when it comes to being a professional, working musician. Whether you’re in conversations with different labels/managers/PR/agents, or get asked to open up for a local show on a Monday night, go with your instincts. You’ve gotta assume most people are just wrapped up in their own bullshit, so you have to be mindful of advocating for yourself effectively early on.


For example, if you feel like you’re not connecting with someone, don’t sign a deal or agree to work together. Not yet, at least. Just like all relationships, it shouldn't be difficult if it’s meant to happen, so feel out every single interaction and situation until you find someone you trust. And once you do, treat that relationship with the utmost care and respect you can because they could become a great resource for you in the future; a trusted ally in an industry full of sharks.


Ideally, you link up with a lawyer early on, too. Even just knowing someone to have on standby helps, in case you end up in a situation where you’d need their advice, like being offered a publishing deal or any kind of contractual agreement.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The combination of a confident, creative, dedicated, and well-informed band is basically the equivalent to the 17-year-old “phenomenon” of Lebron James. And it sounds a lot easier to achieve than it actually is, but once you’ve got those elements down, practically nothing can stand in your way.

If you want to talk more about this or suggest a topic for a future Get Schooled post, feel free to reach out: jamie@noearbuds.com