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Do you really need to get a music industry degree to succeed in the music business?

The music industry of old is breathing its last few breaths.  The digital age has all but dismantled the massive skyscrapers and ivory towers of the record industry. Standing in the middle of the rubble of what USED to be the music business is little ole YOU!  Congratulations are in order for your promotion to CEO of your own record label, publishing company, social media and marketing company, artist development firm and financial management agency!  On top of that, you own your own recording studio.  YOU are now the BOSS!  As great as that sounds on paper, it can be pretty overwhelming to say the least.  That said, there are still artists making a decent living touring and selling merch but what is a decent living?  When you are 20 years old, you might be able to convince yourself that living in a van down by the river and eating ramen noodles and peanut butter on bargain white bread is a small exchange to be out on the road, playing in front of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.  Your middle age self might look back fondly at those times when you end up having to get a day job and do what almost everybody else in the rat race finds themselves doing. If you wait a little longer, you might end up like me,  trying hard in your 40s to break out of the day job and push your way into entrepreneurship before you end up giving up on your dream to live your passions as an artist.  You don’t want to wait that long, it is very hard to make the time for a second or third job when you are in your 30s or 40s and have a family or even worse, medical issues.

That said, in my (mid-life) sacred quest for the holy grail of being my own boss and making a decent living wage, I have discovered the amazing medium of Podcasting.  Podcasting may sound like the medieval reinvention of the almost ancient technology of the radio broadcast but it has quickly developed into one of the most portable and useful learning tools in existence today. Sure you could spend four years in a reputable music college and get a music industry degree but wouldn’t you rather learn the really important parts and skip the rest?  As a college graduate with several degrees and certificates fro Berklee School of Music, I can honestly say that I wish I had discovered podcasts before I spent all of that money!  There are podcasts on ANY subject you want to learn about and many of them are VERY good!  The other cool thing about listening to a podcast (as opposed to watching a video or reading a book or article) is that you can do it while driving, folding the laundry, cooking dinner and working out.  This makes many of the menial tasks that we all (mostly) hate doing, extremely educational and valuable. You may even be lucky enough to have a job that allows you to listen to podcasts on your phone while you are doing mindless tasks like cleaning or sitting at your desk on autopilot.

If you decide to take my advice and step up your game by listening to podcasts, I have discovered 7 business podcasts that I have found to contain extremely valuable information that will help you get smarter about the business side of the music business.  Except for #1, these podcasts are not ranked in any particular order because they all contain unique elements that will be valuable in your journey to success as a music entrepreneur.

The Dave Ramsey Show

The Dave Ramsey Show – Let’s face it, the stereotype of an artist does not usually include being responsible with personal finance.  You may or may not be financially responsible but I can promise you, being debt free gives you a lot of flexibility.  As Dave frequently says, “Your income is your most powerful wealth building resource.”.  If you have a bunch of maxed out credit cards and student loan debt, let’s be honest – it makes your life suck!  Dave is really good at providing great techniques for getting to the freedom of a debt free life.  As a guy that has amassed a pretty large amount of debt, I can tell you it is the most crippling element of my current situation.  Make being debt free your #1 priority and you won’t regret it!


The Smart Passive Income Podcast: Online Business | Blogging | Passive Income | Pat Flynn

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn – Pat’s podcast is a great resource to help you think outside of the traditional music industry box of make a record, build a fanbase, tour and sell merch. Pat interviews successful digital entrepreneurs and subject matter experts that will take your knowledge to the next level when it comes to thinking of creative ways to bring in income with a minimal time investment by using the power of the internet.  Pat is a super nice guy and his show is pretty conversational and easy to listen to.  It will definitely give you a laugh or two 😉


Build Your Tribe | Creating Community | Email List Building | Internet Marketing Social Media

Build Your Tribe with Chalene Johnson – Chalene’s inspirational and informative podcast will help you with your self confidence and she also delivers the goods when it comes to making the transition from having a day job to owning a company.  Her vibrant personality will draw you in and get you thinking about the possibilities of a different life as an entrepreneur and will challenge you to take that 1st step!  Chalene is also very big on being an early adopter of emerging internet social tools like Periscope to build your fan base and make lifelong connections with people.


Social Media Marketing Podcast helps your business thrive with social media

Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner – This informative podcast touches on emerging trends in social media and helps you to wrap your head around what might work for YOUR business.  The element I like most about Michael’s podcast is he seems to have a knack for getting people on his show that KNOW what they are talking about when it comes to what is working today.  There are way too many self proclaimed experts out there but Michael does a good job at getting the cream of the crop!


EOFire | Daily chats with Entrepreneurs On Fire

Entrepreneur on Fire with John Lee Dumas – This show is one of my favorites simply because it was the show that caused the light bulb to go off in my head that I didn’t have to follow the traditional path of the touring musician to be successful and pursue my dreams.  John Lee is a super nice guy and he attracts some great guests on his show.  The interview format he uses is the same every time but if you like to learn about the nuts and bolts of what makes every business tick, it is a great show to help you think outside of the box.  The most useful thing that I have learned from JLD is from his monthly income report on his website.  He breaks everything down and shows you exactly what he is doing to generate revenue.  JLD makes about 300k a month so his system is definitely working for him!  As always, you have to tailor other people’s business models to fit YOUR business but it is really useful to see a little behind the curtain.


The Top Entrepreneurs in Money, Marketing, Business and Life

The Top with Nathan Latka – Nathan’s show is similar to EOFire in format but it is much more condensed and to the point. It is definitely more entertaining and can be outrageously funny at times! There are very few (if any) advertisements so that you can learn as much as possible from his guests in a short period of time. Another thing I like about Nathan’s show is his diversity of guests and his ferocious tenacity at extracting useful information from them about their business that most podcasters would shy away from.  He is really passionate about providing value to his audience!  Nathan lives in my area and he was kind enough to let me be a fly on the wall during the production of some of his episodes.  His ability to create complex and efficient systems to streamline the production of the show were very impressive and I learned quite a bit from the experience.


Youpreneur.FM, with Chris Ducker

Youpreneur.FM with Chris Ducker – Chris Ducker is a master at outsourcing your business.  A musician does NOT want to be the head cook and bottle washer!  We want to create and perform music!  Chris helps you to put together a plan to delegate and outsource the tasks that YOU have no business doing if you are running a business.  If you don’t know what a virtual assistant is (VA) you need to find out soon before you get bogged down and lose your drive to create!




Matt Gibson is an aspiring professional musician and entrepreneur out of Roanoke, VA.  He is one of the most followed rock musicians on Google+ with over 1 million followers and 15 million page views.  Matt is endorsed by ESP Guitars, Mesa Boogie,  Breedlove Guitars, D’Addario and Ree’s Harps. You can check out his music (still working on the 1st record) at www.crimsonsymphony.com and his brand new podcast for music entrepreneurs (launching in October 2015) at www.kingdomofrock.com

Amazing illustration at the top of the post by Mark Molchan www.markmolchan.com