Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 94 · 11 months ago

94: How to Be a Successful Musician with Jenny Powers

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Perhaps this is no surprise to you, but the music industry is COMPLEX. There's a lot that goes into things behind the scenes, beyond just a catchy hook (though that part is kind of important, too). What does it take to be a successful musician?

Jenny Powers is the founder of Blue Avenue Music Group, an artist, management, marketing, and label services provider. She created her company after seeing the challenges artists face within the wildly confusing business parts of the music industry—and now she's helping these artists get the money they deserve. 

We're talking all about these elements to a successful music career, from the boring unsexy stuff like setting up your performing rights organization (PRO) info to cool merch ideas. All of it ties back to Blue Avenue Music's principle: Be Creative, Be Artistic, and Be Valued as a human and artist. Now let's get to that success!

Good people cool things as a podcast feature and conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. Get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing, and here's your host, Joey held. Welcome to good people, cool things. Today's guest is Jenny powers, founder of Blue Avenue Music Group, an artist management, marketing and label services provider. Jenny created Blue Avenue Music Group after realize that there's quite a bit that goes on in the music industry that isn't as obvious, isn't as fun, a lot of business ee royalty types of stuff, but all of it goes back to getting musicians the money and really at tension that they deserve for the music that they're creating, and Jenny works with artists to make sure that they are getting paid for the work that they are putting out, monetizing their efforts in the industry and having a solid business foundation, which is the key to all ensuing success. I mean we're seeing right now Taylor swift a great example of this. She's taking her old albums re releasing them in new glory, and it starts with a solid business foundation of this plan, making sure everything's in place. Now that she is free from scooter bronze tentacles and can make some good music for all of us to BOP and jam to. Jenny's drop in all sorts of advice in this episode. So get out your notepads, get out your your laptops, your post it notes, whatever you take notes on, your notes APP even on your phone, and make sure that you're listening up, because there is a lot of goodness in this episode. You'd like to get in touch with the show, you can reach out via facebook, twitter or Instagram at GPCT podcast. Someday I'll probably say reach out via Meta but, and I'm going to happen now, I'm still on a facebook. You can also send an email joey at good people, cool thingscom and you can also support the show and a couple of different ways. Head on over to apple podcast of a five star review. That helps more people hear the show. You can also support via the merch shop or by buying my new book kind but kind of weird, short stories on life's relationships. It's got horses on the cover. It's got several nice reviews so far already, which is very lovely to hear, and any purchase of the book helps support the show, so I definitely appreciate it, just like I appreciated this conversation with Jenny. For people who don't know who you are and what you do, can you give us your elevator pitch? Can you also tell us the type of elevator that we're riding on while you're telling us about yourself? Yeah, absolutely. My Name's Jenny powers and own Blue Avenue Music Group and we work with artists to build their fan bases. As far as what kind of elevator I would beyond it would be more like in the airport, those like walkways that move you along.

It would be that and we would have to get that done first to build a good foundation so that we can build up on. I love it. I love it. I as someone who's been traveling quite a bit over the past month, I would love to see moving walkways in other areas outside of airports. Like just you're on the street and it's like hey, they're, you know, the sidewalks busy. Let me hop on this moving walkway real quick. And the airport JFK at New York, I haven't seen this too often on moving walkways, but they had a preview for an upcoming Disney movie that was playing next to the moving walkways, so it was almost like an immersive experience as you're going through it, and I said this should be all the time. I had never heard of this movie. It's called in CONTO. It'll actually probably be out by the time this episode are so maybe folks listening will have heard it or that's seen it already. But looks kind of looks kind of reminded me. Got Some Coco Vibes from it and that movie was delightful, so I'm excited for it, very delightful. My Kids love that movie. It's so good I might need to watch it again now. You grew up in a house full of music. From the the creeping that I've done, music is always kind of been a big thing in your life, but do you remember like the initial first song or a song that you heard really early on? We're like okay, like this is awesome, I need to make music a part of my life. No, I don't. I just know that our house was always filled with music, whether it was, you know, while my mom was cooking or while we were, you know, just hanging out, and then even like my brother and my sister are two worked. My sister was a touring musician and my brother is still a touring musician and just growing up we went to like the arts schools here locally. I majored in entertainment technology and it was in the band. And you know, I can play you a terrible flute solo if you like, but I'd rather not. But definitely, you know, just being around music and in music and supporting it, even locally. Like I just have this memory of my brother in the eighth grade where he passed out all these flyers at school, but he had told my mom that it was just a little band practice and a hundred kids showed up at our house out of nowhere and I'm just looking at my mom, mom like what are we going to do, and she's like we're going to make sandwiches. And we it's like...

...feeding everyone there because they showed up for this band practice that my brotherhood, you know, send all these flyers out for that. We had no idea was even happy. So what were the sandwiches then? What can you make a hundred of? Most quickly, just you you run to the store, grab some Ham and get to it. That's some that's some great hustling at an early edge. I like. I like to see that, and you you kind of tease this with your elevator of or, I I guess, moving walkway of Vader, of having a solid foundation, which I'm going to make the leap here to what you do with with Blue Avenue music, of building fan bases, and I think sometimes that can almost be like an overlooked part, as odd as it sounds that it's something that a lot of musicians maybe don't do as much. They're so focused just on the music itself and like getting it out there that taking the time to actually build and grow that fan base almost takes a back seat. So what do you say to musicians that maybe don't have fan base as their priority and how can they kind of focus on it to make it a priority? Well, the first thing that we absolutely have to focus on is the stuff that is just not fun, and that's making sure that you're signed up with your Prros and you're publishing is in place and your business structure is in place and your branding is in place, because if you don't have those things, then anything we do to try and build your fan base won't come back to you. So let's say that we do these campaigns to grow you on your DSP's. If you know, there's royalties that come along with that and if you're not properly registered you won't get your royalties. So that's our number one focus, is making sure those business structures are in place in order to build up a fan base. Yeah, I think there's so much that goes into that that I think, yeah, it's like very unknown to a lot of artists or, like you're saying, it's the unfun stuff, it's the stuff that's kind of behind the scenes that not everyone knows about and or has interest in. But, like you're saying, without that almost nothing else couldn't could happen successfully, exactly. And so once you get those in place, everything else, you would hope, is easy. But you know, there comes the recording and the I still like CDs, I like to touch stuff, you know, see it in a physical format, but you know, get your your albums out in your...

...your merch in place and going from there and and just having like good quality content on your socials to make sure that we can drive people to those things to get them interested in what you are doing. Is there a specific type of content that you've seen kind of perform the best? Or does it not totally matter as long as it is coming from a place of authenticity? So I'd say a year and a half ago, as long as you had a high quality, well produced video, you could get people to enjoy that content. And then, you know, the pandemic hit and we have everyone going to these live videos of the performances and so we've definitely seen a change in it doesn't have to be these high quality productions, as long as you are there being authentic. Yeah, I think it was. It was impressive to see some of the creativity coming out of the pandemic. I know at the beginning they're all the you know, quarantine concerts or however, however they fraid the phrase them, social sins in concerts, social things shows. I don't that's kind of hard to say. Social distancing shows, yes, but just seeing yea, like some of the it almost like opened up a new avenue of creativity of just like hey, we've got you know, we're all sitting at home like we've got maybe more time than we normally would have. What can we do to to continue engaging and working on music? Is One answer, but outside of that, like you still have to provide updates and it's been cool to see just some of the things people have I know one that comes to mind was for the offspring, which is a massive band, but I remember they are very nice or nice they've done. They did like a series on like the offspring educate you on things. So they had one about like surfing and then one about like bird watching, and it was very, you know, very, almost haphazardly thrown together, but still had accurate, like actual educational content to it, like it was still they were saying factual things, but it was done in such a you know kind of it is kind of like those old informational videos from like the s or s, where it's got it, you know, it's got the narrator and all that kind of cheesiness to it. But it was just a good way to kind of tide fans over while they were they were finishing up their album that came out earlier this year. But, like for all of two thousand and twenty people are hunger for stuff and to deliver something like that, I thought was a nice little way to kind of think outside the box. Yeah, we had some of ours sit down and just tell the stories of their their songs.

You know one of our artists, he creates his songs on a on the pedal board through his loops, and he went through the entire process of how he would build the songs before the shows and then went into like the storytelling aspect of each song and that was really cool. We were able to partner with convert kit on that and just really have a lot of engaging content that we've been able to slowly release throughout the year while he wasn't doing a lot of tour and I love seeing people's processes like that. Like I think it's so cool and it always makes me realize how how inferior I think my setup is. But it's always sad, just nuts to see. I think that's a guitar player thing, like it's there's always like pedal board, mv the think that goes on. But at the same time to like I see the amount of set up that some of these take and have played on somewhere, it's almost like I it's it almost feels like I have to do like computer coading just to to get it to function and I and sometimes I'm just like, you know what, I'll just die, you know, I'll have my maybe my tuner pedal and like one other one, or sometimes even just let's go right into run into like ahead or something, and keep it very simple and classic. It's like the CDs again, like sometimes you just the simplest. Is a fun time, fun time to do. So let's say you've got an artist that has a new song or a new album coming out. Is there kind of a blueprint that you you do with each artist for that that release, because obviously you don't want to just wait until the day it launches to start marketing it. So what what does that process kind of look like? One it is making sure that the songs have been registered, that we have all of the the creatives in place. If the even the album art, we like to get it animated, and then if they don't have a video, we need to work on figuring out the content that we're going to use to drive people to that song on those dsps. So that would be our first set up. And then a lot of our artists aren't doing physicals unless they're touring, so I deal mainly with a lot of digital and so in in that aspect we like to make sure that they have at least some sort of Merch to go with that item because, like you and I...

...both know that a t shirt is going to give you a better profit margin than a stream, you know. So you're going to get like what point, zero, zero seven cents from spotify or Chang, yeah, or hopefully a seven to ten dollar profit on a t shirt. So, you know, just making sure, like how are we going to get people interested in what you have and then making sure that we can have some sort of return on what you did put out. Are you ever involved in the T shirt design process? That is what I've done all day long today, like and I'm quite happy with it and very excited because we're doing limited edition jobs for this artist that I've been working with and it took US six months to get it approved by him for, you know what, what we wanted, the look of it, and it just it looks amazing. So I'm extremely excited about it. It's always so cool. I have, I would say, quite below average design skills and it's always amazing thing to see someone with good skills like you almost like give them like a cocktail Napkin with ideas that are just hastily jotted down and probably don't even make sense, and then they come back with exactly what you were envisioning and it's just so amazing. In some cases, I you've maybe had the opposite endything. So what I like to do is take the lyrics and find the best lyrics of that song and then I like to go into shutterstock and come up with keyword ideas of like the different images that are on there, and then I send it to my designer, you know, like a vision board of this is what I'm thinking in, this is kind of how I wanted to look, and that way there's no gray area of like that's not what I wanted. Is that something that you do? Because there was gray area before that, like maybe you didn't used to do that and it led to some maybe less than stellar experiences. I've had some less than stellar experiences, but I I really just like to be able to give people as much information as possible of what I'm thinking and and most of the time, especially my new designer that I've found, is he's on it. Like I send them exactly what I'm envisioning and then I get it back and it's awesome, Nice, Nice. So that Segue is nicely, I think, into another question that we always like to ask. This designer is on it. He's doing great, so I he will not be part of this answer. But we're talking beforehand that you've had a couple,...

...a couple less than ideal moments as a business owner. So can you tell us what's the worst moment that you've had running Blue Avenue Music? Yeah, so sometimes our artist come to us with unrealistic expectations and you know, recently we had an artist who kept telling everybody they wanted to work with us and finally I reached out and was like, Hey, here's our information, you can fill it out, we'd love to get to know you, and he sent me a message back that said I'm too busy to fill this out, I just want to tell you what I want and you go do it. And it was like well, clearly you and I are not going to have a working relationship because if you can't put in the time to, you know, work with us to achieve your business goals, it's not going to work out well in the long run. And that initial period when you're still getting to know each other, I feel like, is when you should go above and beyond and showing that you're excited to work together and it's it's like exactly the opposite exactly. So yeah, I would say that's a very interesting moment that we've had, but for the most part I work with really great people in all aspects of the music industry and I think what a lot of musicians don't realize is that, you know, the indie artist and and the grammy artists are all on the same playing field and if you have the rules then you know how to essentially win the game. And you know the the big major record labels have a lot of moneyy to promote those albums and things coming out, but it even like on the indie level, just starting with a small budget to help grow your fanbase and just measure it on your journey and not by a big labels journey. I think is really what these artists need to be doing. Yeah, and I was just going down a rabbit hole maybe a week or two ago of just the best selling singles and albums of all time, and please are not ask me to recite the list because I will not remember fight. I remember they were kind of talking about out how some of the especially in like the older, you know, beyond the last like five or ten years, how things would get counted just for being ordered. So, like you're saying, these rec the bigger labels have a ton of money, so they would put orders in for, you know, two or three million copies and maybe a million of them will get returned,...

...but that's still counted as part of the the initial sales and numbers. And so that had to get changed because it was like all right, we like we don't measure it like right after the album comes out. Now it needs to be. I think it was ninety days. Maybe you'd probably know better than I to fun. Yeah, and there was an interesting thing that happened recently with reporting as well. You were able to add digital downloads to your merch and have that so if someone bought that Merch item, it would count as the sale of your single and it would be in these like combinations. And so now with that, because it started like with just like soft March, and then it turned into just random things that weren't even music related, like energy drinks, by my case of energy drinks, and then that was being included into the music sales. And so they started making everyone categorize each like ln item thing, so that the sale of the energy drinks does not can like it can't be considered the sale of your digital downlone. I'd be pretty wild to see like red bull and the top, top one hundred Seli. That's why it is. It is fascinating and, like, like you're saying, there's so much that goes into it that, again, you would like. I would never even consider that, that that's a thing and it's something that the people again, that know the rules, they could take advantage of them. Yeah, that's that's definitely true. I mean, you know, even we had to go back and change because we would do like tshirt bundles, and so we just had to go in and change out how we would line item, each thing in the bundle so that it equaled the bundle amount, but the purchase for the item itself, you know, the song itself, has its own line so that people know what they're getting in in that full purchase. Is there an item that one of your artist is sold that it's more unusual, like will usually see, you know, shirts, t shirts, that's the same thing. Shirts and hats. It's what I'm to say, high shirts, hats, stickers like that kind of stuff. Heads there is energy drinks, the most kind of unusual thing you've seen. Or has a another artist that's about more creative. Yeah, I work with a lot of reggae artists in right now, selling coffee is a big thing and so, like with one of my artists, we have we decided not...

...to even do just one coffee item. We are drop shipping tons of coffee and it's like forty different flavors and it's named after one of their songs called the infinite grind. So he has this whole coffee business called the infinite grinds and it's, you know, coffee named after his songs. That's amazing. So yes, I would say that's one of the most interesting things. We do a lot of like yoga pants and leggings with like my conscious artists and eat. We're getting into like the yoga mats so that they can have those. Like we can bundle all of that together. And then I think we did a whole beach where line for one of my reggae bands, which went over very well, very nice. Yeah, beach where like quality beach where is hard fine. I mean I live, I think, the closest beaches well, there's one that's like technically a beach, but it's very rocky, so it's not like a hangout beach, but I think the closest one is maybe four hours from me. So I'm not at a beach a lot, but what I am I usually don't have very comfortable clothics, so that I would very much enjoy beach are lied. Yeah, it was very good. You've also done a lot of work with artist hub. Can you talk about how that platform has evolved over the years of what you've been doing with them? Yeah, so when I started marketing our artists, I was finding a lot of issues with like deep links and you know, all that stuff that you do when you're marketing, and I was like, okay, these things aren't working. Or you know, the facebook and these platforms just change like all the time and keeping up with that with multiple sites that you have to go to. You know, you have to pull your deep links from one site and build your landing pages on another, and I was and you have to have subscriptions to each of those as a label, and I was like we've got to do better, and so I had my developer setting up these really cool deep links that I was using, but I also needed those landing pages, and so I went to the developers at artist hub and I'm like we need to do this, and they were like this is amazing, you're going to do this, and so now we have and we have these beautiful landing pages and they have deep links for the marketing. We've been working with...

...facebook. We have the new API access tokens that allow us to get all of that apple data. That was a big to do recently and yeah, it's been great. So we're building out artist hub to be essentially that you can go there and get your deep links, your landing pages where integrating sms so that when you have new releases come out, your fans will get a text that day to go listen to it. Then we have a lot of really cool things coming up with it. So I'm excited about it. That's awesome. Can you give us a scoop on any of those things coming up, or is that still under wraps for not? I think those are a little under wraps for now. We have a lot of testing to do. So, as one you know, once we have that done, and I feel like really confident to come out and say everybody go do this. Then you know I can come back to you and say, Hey, we have these things. Love it, love it, we can update at that. Yeah, I think that's always I know I've talked with some companies before where they'll talk like yeah, we got this thing coming up. I'm like, Oh, when's that coming out there? Like well, like a year and a half, because there is, yeah, there's so much testing that goes into it. I goes into really any any product development. It's just like I am thankful that there are people that do that, because I feel like I would slowly go insane just free testing the same things to make sure that the working flawlessly. Well, I get it on the user end, so I don't have to worry about like the build, like the building of it, but on the like the user end, I get to go in and test it and make sure everything's working great. And Yeah, it's just it's a cool experience and hopefully no horrifying moments where you were testing something and an accidentally like, I don't know, it's spread perfume in your eyes something. No, actually, just get an air message like you can't do this. That's good, that makes more sense, but he ever know, sometimes things go rogue wildly row I. We talked a little bit about kind of how the pandemic shifted marketing a little bit and this episode is going to be airing were as we're heading into two thousand and twenty two. So we always like to be forward thinking on this podcast. So do you have a prediction for what the music industry is going to look like in two thousand and twenty two? I think it's going to be booming because people are going to get back to touring and having that social interaction with people is really important. Even even...

...facebook right now is like you can have social interactions in our metaverse at this concert with your friend and another city. You know, they see the importance of the social connection and I just think even with the the tours that I've seen go up lately, I mean everyone is excited to get back to it. Yes, I have not ventured into the metaverse, but I have have seen a couple of life chefs and I even without going I going on Facebook, I I'm a hundred percent confident the in person experience as much better. Oh my gosh, we had mother's Day. I remember it like it was the first show that we had back here locally and we had like five hundred people show up and it was amazing, so exciting and it just made you realize what you had been missing from that like live concert experience. Yeah, and it's like the Cathart, the the combined Catharsis of like five hundred people getting I assume they're all of those people. It was their first concert. So it's just like almost a huge sigh of relief that you're all exay, like at was that? It's just so cool. Yeah, yeah, it was cool, and it was like a stage on the waterway, so there were boats and all kinds of stuff. It was just awesome. It's like we're back that feeling. You get love, a good feeling, and you've almost got the feeling of being done with this podcast. But we've got one more question for you. We always like to wrap up with a top three and for you we're just going to call these your top three keys to life. Yeah, yeah, so, yeah, it's going to be coffee to get your day started, Tacos, because you know why not, and the relationships that you make with people, and and that's going to be your keys to success, those good quality relationships that you have with people. Love it, although I do have a couple follow ups. With the coffee. Are we talking like fancy, you know, triple pump vanilla syrup kind of a but I guess that's not really fancy. It's more just like loaded drinks where there's all kinds of additional add ons to it. Are you kind of more of like a classic? Maybe black coffee, a little bit of cream, that kind of stuff? Yeah, black coffee, a little bit of cream and I don't do sugar, but I do like like some Stevia. But yeah, and you know, if I'm feeling fancy, will go get fancy, but for the most part just give me my big cup of coffee and cream. So you can get your grind on, like yeah, the infinite...

...grind, grind. And of course, being I live in Austin, Tacos a huge deal out here, really in all of Texas. So do you have a go to Taco? Just a regular ground beef Taco with a little bit tomato and lettuce and some sour cream and I'm good. This is just for the Texas listeners. Hards Shell or softshell? Both? Yes, that is the correct answer. What a hard decision, I know. I'm like give me what I hate full we'll make a work or just, yeah, wrap a wrap some wrap the soft sheell around the hard shell and we're good to go. Or, if you really want to go extreme, wrap the hard shell around the softshell and that's I guess you just put the softshell inside the hard show, but I've never actually tried that. Now that I'm saying that out loud, I feel like you're just to be adding unnecessary straight and limiting what you can put it or talk at. Awesome. Well, Jenny, if people want to learn more about you and Blue Avenue Music, where can I find you? They can find me at Blue Avenue Musiccom. It's blue as musiccom on socials as I am Jenny powers, and you can also find me at artist hub dot I don't fantastical. Thank you so much for hopping on the PODCAST. This is great. Well, thank you. I've had a lovely time. Well, let me to me to him. Well, end with a Corny joke, as we always do. Why did the music teacher use a ladder in class? Why to reach all those high notes? Good afternsday people, good people, cool things. Is produced in Austin, Texas. If you were a fan of this episode. Go ahead and hit that follow button. That helps more people here the show. You can send me a message Joey at good people, cool thingscom. Thank you to all of the guests who have been on good people, cool things and check out all the old episodes via good people, cool thingscom. As always, thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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