Half a year ago, I hosted a webinar for musicians about communicating your brand with the help of DiscMakers (maker of CDs and merch for indie musicians). The people who signed up for the webinar ended up on my mailing list. Not the mailing list for my music fans, but the one I have for musicians who are interested in growing their careers and may be interested in what I have to say.

After all, they signed up to listen to me talk for an hour. Since the webinar, I’ve sent approximately one email a month to this list. Sometimes the emails have industry tips and ideas, sometimes they share a resource I have created. This includes a course, a blog post, a live training. Some are free, some are not (they take many hours to create, as you can imagine).

Yesterday, I sent one such email, with the subject “you asked for it…. ;)”.  Hundreds of musicians had been asking me to create a version of my [awesome, if I do say so myself] course MX4 which runs between $1500  and $2000 (because it’s awesome and seriously don’t just take my word for it) at a lower price point. I’ve been working on this for TWO months. My email talks about the strategy behind setting big goals for the next few months [note: free value], AND lets the reader know about the new version of my course. But by adding a third limb to my career (songwriter, composer, and now resource-creator), apparently I asked for it…

Then I get called a “pathetic rip off”.

Here’s what I woke up to this morning, an email from a hater guy who seemed to think my existance was threatening his. I’d like to share his email and my response.

Because sometimes you gotta be straight with people, kill ’em with kindness and all that.

Note: I don’t normally reply to the few hater emails I’ve gotten, ESPECIALLY when it’s about my music. But this… intrigued me. I do like a good paradigm shift, and I’ve been known to give a rebuttal or two, like this response to a Derek Siver’s article (which he tweeted). So responding here at 6am felt natural. Plus it’s a good time to demonstrate putting my money where my mouth is regarding my campaign to #shutitdownrealtime.

Here is my response, verbatim:

Hi John. Thanks for writing, and congratulations on being a pro for 40 years and all of your recording success!

I’m happy to answer your question “what am I offering”:

First off, I’m not sure what part of my email to you leads you to believe I think I can do better than you. I am of the opinion there is no competition in the music industry, that there are enough ears, fans, and money to go around. The most successful musicians I know do not harbor anger towards other musicians and what they’re doing to contribute to the industry. That being said, yes, I charge a fee for a few of the resourses and services I’ve created, and here’s why…

I took me 5 years but I finally started making a living as a freelance composer and touring indie artist (I’ve since been doing it for 13). I was asked to speak at a music conference about how I made that happen. I started to get many of the same questions from other musicians. The CEO of Reverbnation heard my talk and said I should create a course, I had helpful info. I didn’t want to stop doing my music full time. But I found myself answering a lot of the same emails and spending a lot of time doing so. So I went and got training as a career coach, so I could answer questions, not just from MY own experience, but from a place of listening and understanding the actual block that each musician has (though the questions were the same, the block is always different) and be more effective when I did present to musicians. (I’m not sure ANYone else offering courses to musicians a) is also a musician and b) is trained in career coaching!)

So I created that course, and a free blog and a free podcast, and other things that allowed me to explore the music industry while also providing content to musicians who wanted it, and yes, were able to pay for it. Because my time is valuable just like yours.

Now, I don’t expect to make money from people who do not have money (sounds like a terrible business plan!). My courses say that they are for people who are working towards a full time music career, which means they are ready to invest in themselves. If they cannot at this time, then I definitely encourage people to listen to the podcast (interviews with great music business experts) or read the blog, both free.

To be super clear: I am still a full time musician AND I am one of VERY few willing to share what works and what didn’t for me, AND listen to those who want to really dig in and work through how to get to the next step.

To answer your question now: I sell resources for musicians with a focus on workflow, goal setting, taking actions, and branding (I got my start in the ad industry, writing for commercials, and closely studied messaging and branding). Much of my success came when I got out of my way and had accountability and new ideas. I provide both.

My records show that you signed up for a webinar I hosted through DiscMakers earlier in the year, so my emails sent to you and the other musicians who signed up for that webinar make the assumption that you are interested in growth, branding, and/or creating new results for yourself.

So that’s that, hopefully I’ve answered your question. What I do NOT appreciate is being called pathetic when I am LITERALLY creating and selling what I’ve been asked to, and it is only a small part of what I do in this music industry. The way you told me about your success, your session rate, how many people you’ve played for, while it sounds like you’re convincing ME you are successful, to my trained ear, it makes me think there’s still something you’d like to see happen in your music career and that you’re trying to convince YOURSELF that you are successful (in my opinion, success is VERY personal and defined by each individual musician).

AND… in my experience, the most successful musicians most certainly do not care if another musician is out there creating resources for others, let alone write nasty emails about it.

I do hope my response has shifted your view.

Cheryl B. Engelhardt
Composer, Songwriter, Consultant
CBE Music LLC  |  @cbe
Website: CBEmusic.com
“Inevitably” on iTunes
Musician Resources: InTheKeyOfSuccess.com

Watching the voices

As you read these emails, his… mine… you may be forming your own opinions of both of us. Supprting him, booing me, booing him, agreeing with me. Either way, this guy had some strong voices in his head when reading my initial email.

The takeaway for me is this: if I can extract any value in every piece of content I consume, I will be better off.

I’m on so many mailing lists, and sure, I don’t read every email, but I trust the person who signed up for them in the first place (ME!). There’s a nugget here and there that will help me grow. The second I stop growing is when I will truly be stagnant (and probably start writing emails like this guy).

The value for me reading this hater’s email? I need to be super clear on who I want to be supporting… Musicians, who are hard-working, hopeful, talented, and remind me of myself in the sense that sometimes you just need a little outside push to get to the next level.