To those Musicians (& Managers) who...
√ want to spend as much time as possible on the Art of a music career, by getting all the truly-necessary Business items efficiently completed.
√ prefer to not waste their own precious energy and days/weeks/months/years figuring this out on their own by trial and error.
√ understand that the industry expects all musicians to start the process by launching careers independently first (as an "indie").
√ lack the rare luxury of a big budget or connections within the entertainment industry that would give them a leg up.
√ prefer building consistent momentum instead of crossing fingers at shrugged shoulders and shots thrown in the dark.
√ value freedom and enjoyment in creating music, playing shows, developing creative strategy, setting timelines, and everything else that goes into living an artist’s lifestyle.
√ get that this is the greatest era of music history: a world where anyone who wants to be a musician can "Do the Thing" and actually be one, and then also make a living from it if they want to, simply by learning how to balance the Art, Business, and Personal of a music career.
Welcome to MIC.
Everything you just read above are the ingredients to the blood we bleed here at MIC, and it's all centered around our pièce de résistance product called The Mountain, a 6-step Process Manual (a short book) here on our website that teaches how to get all the boring Business stuff completed, and your Personal life balanced, so you can get to your Art. Art+Business+Personal is the name of the game. Basically, the Mountain is a mental strategy tool we use every day to improve our lives & music careers, and you can have it in your head, too.
However, we're currently working on publishing The Mountain into a book, so it's not open to the public to read here on our website like it use to be (gasp). This left us with a decision in the meantime: we've decided to offer the secret password to read The Mountain here on our website to a select group of people:
- our Consulting clients,
- anyone who purchases our "Publishing Manager Mini-Course" (coming soon in 2023),
- and our Team (of course, they helped create it.)
If you want to be one of those people, absolutely welcome aboard! Go on and click here. Or, what are we saying, you most likely need more information than this:
Yeah, more info please, duh -
Why would I want to be in this "select group of people"?
For sure, for sure, let's cut straight to what we think are probably your hot, steaming questions, but even better, with some TLDR answers to those questions (if you keep scrolling down you'll find full answers):
1) Who the heck is MIC?
We're a research/consulting company called MIC: Music Industry Connected because we connect the puzzle pieces of what a music career actually looks like, through consulting, the Publishing mini-course, and The Mountain process manual.
2) Why should you trust us?
You should trust us because not only are we an ever-evolving group of strategy experts and independent musicians around the world led by one active musician in the USA (that's me, Emily, why hello there) conducting research together since 2013, but also we insert a lot of levity and fun energy into what we do because we have heart, and you'll see that in everything we do.
3) Why would you want our products - consulting, that publishing mini-course, or this all-important "Mountain"?
You'll want our products because they'll improve your quality of life and help you tackle your specific issues without being upsold/beholden to us. We've been doing this a long time, and we'll continue to do it a long time, and we don't need sneaky sales strategies for our bottom-line. Our products are excellent, our clients are happy, and that's what keeps us going.
4) What gall do we have to type out so many words instead of giving you videos galore?
We have so much gall it's disgusting.
Now if you want the full answers to those questions, we got you. Actually, we get a lot more questions than those four because what we do is rather unheard of, so allow us to welcome you into our universe with a little unconventional FAQ-on-the-homepage. (Unconventional is quite fun for us, if you haven't gleaned that yet.) Also, here's our email-signup as a friendly jab in the ribs, too. Oh and guess what else we're burying sneakily in this little red paragraph - everything you read below is actually free consulting material from us, not just a sales pitch for The Mountain. We can't help ourselves, we simply must share our research here at the get-go because we want you to really get us. See you at the bottom of this page!
CLick the following HEADINGS TO OPEN/CLOSE the SECTIONS:
What is MIC's deal?
We're a research/consulting company called MIC: Music Industry Connected because we connect the puzzle pieces of what a music career actually looks like, through consulting, courses, and The Mountain process manual. We shed light on some behind-the-scenes industry secrets (like major label budgets & politics that sure put things into perspective), and psychological illusions that hold musicians back (like "The First Circle Conundrum" we coined to explain why friends & family are so often insensitive about our music careers), and other things that you maybe didn't know that you didn't know, but you need to know so you can pace this marathon.
Our goal is to strengthen your ability to stay present and enjoy this music career dream the whole time you're in it because that's how any type of success you're looking for is achieved.
We pursue this goal by going on and on about the music career trifecta of Art+Business+Personal, and in this group, Business woes are what brings most people to our doorsteps, so all our products simplify & streamline its necessities, to prioritize the Art & Personal.
Sometimes we'll call Business "boring" as a way of comically leveling with you because we get that it can be a drag - but we actually believe it's got the potential to be not that bad, because when it's done right, it has the greatest payoff. "Business" in the context of your music career is, simply, effective strategic organization to scale your efforts and results, so you can hit your goals. That's a lot of vague verbiage, so here's clearer language: Business is what helps you share your music to the biggest section of the world as possible.
Unfortunately though, Business is chock full of people who want to make money off of you, and distractions that don't help you reach your goals -- this often sucks up way too much of music careers. We help musicians cut down the Business to only the bare bones needed. Through our services, we cut straight through the fluff to the meat of what you need to do with tools like seasoned-veteran-approved checklists for music career setup and upkeep items so you don't have to scramble around - or, worse, risk missing something important that roadblocks you later.
Okay that sounds great and all, but I meant what is MIC?
How about that, we couldn't help ourselves, had cut straight to our passion about making Business digestible, huh. Here's more of what you wanted to know:
MIC: Music Industry Connected is a music career research and consulting company, founded as "MIC PGH" in 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA, USA by market research expert and indie musician Emily Plazek and the internship classes she hosts to sift through experiments and case studies. In 2017, MIC went national with a move to Bloomington, IN, USA. In 2021, MIC went international through the first intern classes via zoom, with worldwide talent ranging from Seattle to the Philippines.
Basically, MIC is the Home of The Mountain and many, many wonderful people. By working as a team, we're able to cut out a ton of fluff and bias in our Mountain research, instead of regurgitating biased, untested opinions. We try to be research scientists in this way by testing out hypotheses and gather quantitative and qualitative data to inform our conclusions. We're like a little laboratory, testing out our music industry experiments in real-time and updating our findings here on our website all the time so we can use it in our own musician (or manager) careers.
WHy ARE you talking about the Mountain so Much?
Your logo looks great by the way (hey thanks!)
The Mountain is one of the only tools, if not the only tool out there, that tackles a topic most people don't talk about: how to balance the way careers bleed into our everyday lives. We value humility, so that's a big brag, but we really believe it's necessary to point it out. We say "balance the Art, the Business, and the Personal" because creating music & running an entrepreneurial venture means you don't get to clock out at the end of the day; this career takes incredible organization and self-discipline to get things done. Other tools out there teach you some specific Art or Business topics, which is seriously great & definitely needed, but The Mountain is the only one that holistically balances the whole shebang with some basic human Personal needs, very quickly & efficiently.
And by we, I mean me, the writer of The Mountain, Emily Plazek, but also the spirit of all my many interns & clients & freelancers since 2013 that helped me test out all this research. MIC is a "we" at this point, it's been really fun work. Our experiences as indie (independent) front-line musicians (artists/bands) working with other indie musicians consistently gives us real-time insight into what it’s like to create and share Art in the music industry at this point in history. Then, we combine this insight with our expert Business research, especially through case studies and experiments. Finally and most uniquely, we use our psychological, philosophical, neuroscience, and fitness research to incorporate the Personal: how to work with the human body and brain as our vehicle. Like I said, really fun work.
The #1 question, we get it. It’s not just that people need help with music careers, it’s that they don’t know they’re at massive risk.
Every musician who truly wants a music career is at risk for getting screwed over by a life-altering bad contract, or for a lifetime of potential bitterness and disappointment if they don't approach this topic with perspective and education.
It's more than a trend, it's a massive problem. Although there are surely some exceptions to the rule who feel satisfied with their careers, they're not the norm. Millions of musicians across history (including many famous ones) are unsatisfied by whatever their music career brought or didn't bring them, and they cradle that burden of a heartbreak for the rest of their lives. It's dramatic but it's true; we've gone out there and found this tragedy in action, in grand scale. No one is immune to this problem, because everyone is human, and the human brain is often wired for disappointment unless you work with it. This is quite the doom and gloom note to start off on, but it's the heart of why I started MIC in the first place - it's a damn shame, and it doesn't have to be this way.
The Mountain offers the weapons of perspective and education to combat this problem:
Perspective means you've gone out and collected insight from other peoples' true stories of living through what you want to also live through (in this case, a music career).
Education means you learned about this world/industry you want to enter.
You need both of these in your arsenal to set up your "Expectation Management" so you're less likely to be disappointed. Here's an example of Expectation Management at work: imagine the potential satisfaction difference between one child who wakes up on Christmas morning expecting specific gifts under the tree, and another child who has no specific expectations and is simply excited to open any gifts at all. The first child set expectations on a very high bar and risks not being satisfied if the gifts aren't exactly what she imagined; the second child is still happily in awe, dreaming big and excitedly, but with less paralyzing, ultra-high measures of success she's counting on to be happy. Whatever she opens will likely be amazing to her because she set her expectations appropriately. The second child's "Expectation Management" set her up with a higher probability of happiness, or "success."
We're not going to sugarcoat it, if you (1) often dream of a music career and (2) also want to live a happier life in general, you need to know that there's a chance a music career won't bring you happiness inherently. It's a minefield out there in the industry, and inside your head. So you have a choice to make between 2 options to make "happiness" happen in regards to your music career dream:
1) You can go after a music career by putting in significant amounts of hard work, patience, grit, financial investment, and continuing education, while continuously paying attention to your "Expectation Management" and personal "Definition of Success". The key is self-awareness, pacing yourself, and efficiently strategic moves.
2) You can pick another path in life with a good, healthy acceptance that a music career isn't for you. There is nothing wrong with this option - many people don't want a full career out of their music, they think it kills the music for them in some ways. We get that.
There really isn't an option 3 that offers a happy, satisfied ending because if you choose anything else, you're setting yourself up with unrealistic expectations that are bound to leave you disappointed. Music careers are not easy. They're arguably one the most complex careers: they're an entrepreneurial venture to create businesses with backwards sales/production processes, tricky psychological traps in both creator and consumer behavior, and massive investment requirements of not only money but also time and energy (both tactical daily energy and also deeply personal feelings) - not to mention how they attract a wide range of negativity in jealousy and the illusion of "competition". So, The Mountain is here to make music careers more simple, but this whole thing is not easy.
So to answer your original question: You will be interested in MIC at all if you choose option 1, because The Mountain is the tool we made for you to speed up your perspective and education. You're welcome in advance, we really are glad you're here.
That's the right question to ask next, well done. Maybe you asked it because you've been here before, trying to achieve your music career success goals, and you have a salty taste in your mouth from someone who didn't deliver on helping you. There's actually a very big chance you're one of the many people who has gotten taken advantage of by those in our industry that want to keep outsiders out, and raid your wallet in exchange for false hope. We're sorry that happened to you, it's happened to many of us, and we're honestly pretty fiery about the fact that this problem is so widespread.
In fact, hand us the MIC for a moment, we're going to use some necessary generalizations for a moment (with a reminder that there are many wise, loving exceptions to this rule): It's absurd how many people inside the entertainment industry dangle impressive-sounding accolades and associations (accurately or otherwise), offering to "help" outsiders with advice or connections for a hefty fee, without expertise in how to give career advice effectively (by analyzing unique scenarios in a scientific method, trauma-informed, consulting manner), instead sharing only bias and random anecdotes.
More and more music career degree programs are popping up, and some of them do offer truly a wonderful education, but others are way more shady - like some of the new ones popping up that are created by major record labels (dangling that impressive company name) that hold no accountability for job-acquisition upon graduation because they simply don't need that stat to impress people. People will flock to them regardless, in the intoxicating shimmer of this industry and its brand names. So many companies and people prey on the hopes and dreams of this massive market of music-career-hopefuls, luring them in with empty promises, dishing out biased & anecdotal opinions with no basis in research - they pocket the money and walk away.
All of that is to say that you should know we put our money where our mouth is:
We spent over 10 years creating The Mountain through research among many different populations of music career case studies, on a worldwide scale, using the scientific method to avoid bias & create a non-cookie-cutter approach for anyone to find their personal Definition of Success.
We're incredibly serious about what we do here, and The Mountain is a resource you should add to your arsenal of tools. It's not that you "should listen to us" though, because that's sassy and forceful, it's more that you should trust us. We promise you that what we're offering you in The Mountain will significantly help you, without stepping on your artistic toes or trying to trick you into spending extra, unnecessary money. That's all to say, we genuinely care about your careers, and while we'll definitely make time for you with our Consulting if you need us, we're just not going to push ourselves on you.
None of us come out of the womb knowing how to create a successful music career - and part of the fun of life is that learning is always endless, right? So, yeah, there are probably a few things not on your mind at the moment that could help you out a good deal. Here's our guess as to what those things may be:
First off, this is a long game. You're about to invest not just time, money, and energy but also a ton of *patience* over many years - which will make sense to you, because you said you wanted a career, and careers are usually many years long, sometimes life-long. This is an industry where the squeaky wheels get the grease: you're going to have to keep chugging away hour after hour, for days, weeks, months, and years, because even though we'll teach you how to be efficient, it's still a ton of work.
Also, you'll need to keep building yourself up in your head when you feel discouraged, reminding yourself that everyone in this front-line section of our industry (meaning, performing artists/bands) had to make something out of nothing on their own. No one else can get in your head and shout back at the bad voices for you - that's a muscle for you to grow by yourself. It's a muscle that grows with wise movement, self-observation, and rest - not force or strain. You'll see what we mean.
Second off, this is a startup that requires financial investment. You'll need at least a few hundred dollars over the first few months. We keep costs as low as possible for you here in The Mountain, and you can definitely expand your timeline to fit how long it will take you to raise your funds, but you will definitely need some money to make a music career. (Some, not an insane amount!)
Third off, this is a mind game. The Mountain is not a quick fix or a magical trick to make you rich and famous. This journey is so much bigger than that. You're going to gain something so much greater than the simple riches and fame most people start off focusing on. You'll see. Heck, you might also get riches and fame, but that's not the end game here, for good reason. We know self-awareness isn't the easiest thing for everyone, so if you aren't ready to challenge your own beliefs yet, we hope you come back someday when you are!
Let's get a few other myths out of the way:
No, you will not immediately make your money back from putting your music onto DSPs like Spotify. No one does, it's a little more complex than that.
No, you're not going to immediately attract thousands of fans simply because your music is inherently that good. No one does, it's a little more complex than that.
No, you won't likely luck into a "big break" because someone discovers you and does all the Business work so you can be comfortably rich and enjoy touring the world with no complications. No one does, it's a little more complex than that.
But all of this is okay - The Mountain will show you why.
*Cracks knuckles.* Why, no problem:
Simply put, The Mountain is a 6-step Process Manual for setting up a music career's Business efficiently so you can get to the Art of your music as much as possible. Some interns and clients also call it a "perspective".
Musicians & managers use The Mountain to create successful “front line” music careers (artist/band) very seriously and long term, pointing towards unique Definitions of Success (measured by 3 goal categories: financial, fun, and fulfillment), without sacrificing quality of life, by balancing the Art, Business and Personal. A music career can and should be a tool to improve quality of life, not detract from it. Unfortunately, that’s not the norm. Most people are very dissatisfied and disappointed by whatever their music career brought them. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Mountain helps combat this.
Until we publish it as a book, The Mountain is offered for our Publishing and Consulting clients to read here on our website with a secret password. It's 6 pages of our website, with outlined checklists in 6 Steps (The Preparation Steps [1-3], and The Climb Steps [4-6]) that simplify, in an optimized order, all of the steps you have to take to pursue a professional, long-term music career efficiently. We give it to you in this written way first (not videos, a common request), because we found that this was the only means of sharing it that worked to cover such a sheerly massive amount of material. We have to update it often to keep it relevant. There’s a lot to go through. It’s a whole industry and career integrated into your lifestyle, so of course it’s a lot.
The Mountain zooms out to give musicians an "overview effect" (like astronauts looking back at Planet Earth and feeling the big picture of it all dawn on them) on how to set up music careers, so they can either pitch themselves to sign to labels one day, or remain independent - all while seamlessly integrating Art, Business, and Personal to create a satisfying lifestyle.
A perspective like this does not exist anywhere else in our industry, and it never has - it’s why we’ve been working to make it since 2013.
Here's what we mean by that: there are tons of helpful educational materials in our industry, but we've found they usually zero in on one expert topic - understandably so! Yet while trying to find other materials that cover "the entire music career", we've been disappointed at how they end up being rather overwhelming and impossible to act upon, due to their encyclopedic fact-explaining styles, because they fail to address sequence, prioritization, every sector of the industry, and what to exclude (because very often what you choose *not* to do is as important as what you choose *to* do.) So, while those resources are still truly helpful for the nuggets of golden information they provide, it was that feeling of overwhelm and disappointment that drove us to create The Mountain.
See, the thing is, you’re about to set up a business. That's what a music career is. It takes time and learning to build any business (a pizza joint, Apple, a nail salon, etc.) if you want it to be sturdy at all. We said this earlier but let's reiterate a fun nugget: No one emerges from the womb knowing how to do this, and even years of experience in the industry usually misses the integration of some pieces of the puzzle unless you're doing what MIC does: deliberately trying to cover all the ground for the sake of teaching it. So of course everyone has to learn, there's zero shame in learning, some cultures value learning & find it more fun than others so we feel it's worth mentioning this.
Also, we want to shave years off your startup time, saving you valuable time so you can jump ahead in your career more quickly. Please don't recreate the wheel. We've all got to stop doing that and just get on with our careers.
However, we do feel obligated to emphasize again that it is not easy. It’s simple, but not easy. Anyone can do this, but not everyone will. If you matched the description of our introduction poem "To Those Musicians (& Managers) Who..." at the top of this homepage, there's a chance you're one of the elite in this world that The Mountain was made for - and we look forward to being your music fans.
The Mountain is password-protected for our Consulting & Publishing clients, here on our website, on 6 separative & consecutive pages, one per each of the 6 steps.
It's also in our hearts. Aw.
You'll see we talk about this a lot. The entire Mountain begins with this in Step 1, because most people don’t even think of pausing to ask what success means to them. Instead, they follow an undefined goal of “making it” which is too vague to ever satisfy. Hence, endless dissatisfaction and unnecessarily decreased quality of life follow their efforts, no matter what they do. This is the norm, until you learn otherwise.
As different as "Success" is for everyone, we suggest measuring it in 3 goal categories: Financial, Fun, and Fulfillment. Go ahead, free-form, aim for what you want, but remember that all 3 goal categories are valid, reasonable, and expected.
(A quick note on Financial goals, because we run across this a lot: If you don't want to make money from your music, then you're doing it as a hobby not a career, which is just as valuable - there are even some camps of philosophy that believe hobbyists are some of the wisest of all people, because they're doing their hobby for the sake of doing the hobby, not monetization reasons, so kudos to you. However, music hobbies are a different venture and The Mountain won't help you. Enjoy your music!)
Let's talk more about arguably the most important measure of Success, "The Doing of The Thing":
If you're pursuing a music career because you truly love the Art of music, that means one part of your personal Definition of Success will also definitely include what we refer to as "The Doing of the Thing" (see Step 4: Climb). Credits for this phrase go to SNL comedian Amy Poehler for sharing the concept in her book, "Yes Please"; comedians and other entertainers may not be musicians, but there are many common threads in our experiences. So in a music career, "The Doing of the Thing" means the functions of a music career: playing music, writing music, recording music, sharing music, performing music, etc. This is what people dream of doing daily when they dream of a music career, right?
And here's the lucky part: at this point in history, "The Doing of the Thing" in a music career is possible for pretty much everybody thanks to technology, and anyone who pursues this is incredibly successful in our books - because most people don't go after their dreams at all. The gatekeepers that used to rule the land are still out there - but they don't rule the entire kingdom anymore. Thanks for beginning to carve that path, indie musical predecessors across history (we salute you, punk rock!). Now, anyone who dreams of playing, writing, recording, sharing, performing music, etc, can do it, with a worldwide reach, without a label or anyone else.
This is big. Big time stuff. Let it dawn on you. If you were born before now, you probably couldn't "Do the Thing". Go enjoy this thing, you're so lucky.
Yet, a lot of musicians haven't (yet!) grasped this profound truth because they're distracted by the illusions and tricks rampant in our industry due to low levels of self-awareness, abused mental health, and the general drug of ego that all humans suffer to some extent, which the entertainment industry exacerbates extremely through outdated belief cultures. We at MIC are human too, so we relate to this struggle in different ways - but we work together to live in this world, but not of it. And we offer The Mountain to bring others with us together into this cool, bright, transformed future.
On another urgent note, concerning why perspective is what will make or break your music career: We urge you to remember that every disadvantage has its advantage, so there are pros and cons to every place on the music career timeline. Wherever you are right now in your career has strengths - no exceptions. There are the obvious examples of pros/cons of celebrity musician life (lack of privacy vs. access to opportunities, etc.), but have you ever thought about the other end of the spectrum? There's a lot of power in being at the beginning of your career, when it feels like no one is watching you: you have complete freedom to scurry around and try new things that established artists who are indeed heavily-watched cannot enjoy themselves. You also completely own your product, set your deadlines, and can do whatever you want with your Art. The list of examples goes on.
This perspective is exciting. It can consistently and endlessly fuel you with energy, which is important because a climb needs such fuel. (It's pretty impossible to pursue a truly great dream if your mental and emotional tanks are emptied out.) By accepting and then working with this reality, you'll uncover something most people don't ever find out: satisfaction every step of the way fuels the next step.
Yes: what about the musicians who do appreciate "The Doing of the Thing", but they also want to "compete" and get more listeners, book the big shows, etc? Well done, you're interested in Step 5: Data Climb, which is The Mountain's answer to an issue you may not have learned yet: at this point in history, pretty much every single label only signs acts that have already done all the business setup and pursued marketing strategies to claim a fanbase.
Sure there’s an exception here and there for some indie labels, but those are either incredibly rare or risky because not every indie label is made equal & does good work for your music - not all of them can deliver on your career expectations simply because they call themselves a "label", some aren't helpful at all to your career, and many musicians find that out the hard way, often too late.
If you really want to sign to a label, The Mountain will first set you up to look attractive & catch their eye by playing their game (crafting EPKs, guaranteeing ticket sales in strategic markets, getting your stats to certain levels, etc). Then, it will help you be street smart by knowing what to ask for (publishing, marketing, production, etc.) in exchange for what currency you have to negotiate (% ownership of product itself for NFTs, credits, royalties, other profits, publishing permissions, along with social media promotional leverage and so much more). You have currency - learn it! Use it!
In regards to the magical glimmer of major labels, please keep an open mind, because while some labels can rock, signing to a major label will not necessarily guarantee fame and riches. Over 99% of artists that sign to majors get dropped. 99%. They gain zero profit because they don't recoup advances, and/or they get shelved & prevented from doing more music projects. Nope, it's too important, one more time, pay attention: you can be prevented from doing music if you didn't know what you were doing and you sign a bad deal. Some labels will own any song or little diddy you ever write in the future (see the 30 Seconds to Mars movie "Artifact"). Some will be able to say "no, you can't perform at that event". Some will blacklist you outright, or leave you with that stigmatized "dropped" sticker on your forehead so other labels won't touch you. All of this can happen even if it's not your/your music's fault in any way, it was simply about money. What on earth is this industry.
Speaking of this industry, the process for signing onto a label has changed significantly anyway, but a lot of people don't know that. For perspective:
The recorded music industry isn't all that old in the first place (Thomas Edison finalized the invention of the Phonograph in 1878, and then nickel-a-listen "phonograph parlors" in San Francisco in 1889 officially began the history of the music recording industry - so not even 150 years old yet), and this current era of technology completely transformed the record-label-talent-search that used to be the norm: A&R scouts don't really hunt down raw talent in nightclubs anymore (at least that's not the decision-maker), instead they crunch your social media and streaming service data to see if you've got something going already so they can jump on the bandwagon and elevate your momentum. It's hard to blame them - big data is incredibly helpful to mitigate risk, and it's risky for them to invest their money in new artists.
That means that now virtually every musician starts indie whether they sign to a label later or not (remember: indie meaning independent, not the genre). Yes, even if you want to sign with a label, you have to start indie first, then pitch your product to them, much like an entrepreneur pitching their business plan to investors (record labels are truly financial institutions at the end of the day). How you even get in the door to give this pitch is its own enigma & creative problem-solving project that involves a lot of luck and grit, but without data on your side, labels (both majors and often indies, too) won't give you a chance even if you do get their attention. Sorry if that bums you out, it's just what it is at this point of history. Fear not, The Mountain will help you accept this reality and work with it, not fight it.
Although there are some examples out there of nepotism and big money creating music careers without all the hard work that The Mountain is going to take you through, those examples are rare outliers and/or unsustainable & tend to die out quickly, like a "flash in the pan". The high majority of the hundreds of thousands of musicians in the world start out DIY, on their own, with realistic average-person budgets of time, energy & money to spend creating their dream. All of this means that those who get a firm grip on “how” to run a music career, win. The Mountain will help you get that grip. It's helped us do so.
We understand how important this question is. Nowhere in The Mountain will you find advice on how to create Art, or what Art "is". You'll find no "how to write a hit" tutorials, or "what makes great 'art'?" editorials. We skip this part. That kind of stuff is out there on the internet for you to find if you want it.
Instead, we assume that you had a firm and evolving grip on your music before you even arrived here; it’s not our place. The Mountain is for you to create the career and lifestyle you crave to support that Art that you already have going.
This is a big goal for us. The Mountain uses the United States of America for its primary example because that's where the majority of our baseline research takes place. However, we do have interns all around the world always available to help extend our research to your specific situation, such as Publishing's Royalty Collection companies, legal entity options (other than LLC's), Distributor and DSP preferences among different populations, marketing expectations & opportunities (Step 5's Phase 3 - Expansion), and more.
We include as much reference as possible to these geographic differences within the written 6 Steps, and our Consulting Sessions offer personalized attention and extra research to dive into your unique situation and find solutions for your location. We'll always help you with performing extra research, whenever we can. We're kind of nerds and love the thrill of an information quest.
This will be one part of your Definition of Success, because all human beings need money to live, and it's what distinguishes a music career versus a hobby. It makes sense you want to understand this early on. Your answer lies in understanding 3 things: (1) your options for Revenue-Generation (see Step 4), (2) the difference between Passive & Active Income, and (3) the fact that money spent is a part of the equation, so keeping costs low is important. Since (1) is explained in Step 4 in "Revenue Generation", let's address the others:
Passive Income (money that comes flowing in consistently without extra effort) is different from Active Income (money you earn from a specific activity you had to work towards).
First, let's look at Passive Income in action with one example: Once you release and distribute your music, royalties will be generated that you'll collect in a Passive Income manner by fully publishing your music (as you’ll also see in Step 4.) Then, the more marketing you pursue (Social Media, PR, Playlisting, Lifestyle Branding, etc) to get your music listened to, the more royalties that will be generated, which will be automatically (passively) collected by all the publishing you set up. Meaning, you don't have to do extra work; it goes on by itself in the background. Furthermore, the more strategic your marketing, the more efficiently this can all ramp up to make you more and more passive income from that publishing, as you’ll see in Step 5. (For even more perspective: this royalty system of payment through continued use/purchase of your product exists in other industries, like writers and their book sales. )
Next, Active Income: You’ll also pursue Active Income streams from Touring, Merch Sales, Sync Licensing, and some other exclusive, later-earned forms of Lifestyle Branding (like licensing.) The word "active" in Active Income implies you’ll need to invest time and energy into each of these income streams, so a lot of The Mountain is created to free up time and energy for you to be able to do so.
But, most importantly, money coming in the door doesn’t mean you get to keep money in your pocket if you let costs get out of control. In case you didn’t know: revenue (money generated) becomes profit (money you get to keep) only after costs (anything you spend money on). Therefore The Mountain’s goal is to keep your costs low; we understand that musicians starting out usually have realistically low budgets (unless you’re super lucky, cheers to you if you are). Anything The Mountain insists you spend money on is actually definitely what we determine to be a true need, not optional like a lot of other decisions you’ll get to make for yourself. Skip our recommendations at your own future risk of not being able to nail a rare opportunity, or collect the most possible income from your efforts.
Hard to say because everyone and every location is different, but here’s a good gist:
Once you become a Consulting and Publishing client and acquire the password, we recommend that you skim-read The Mountain the entire way through one time to get a gist for the overall picture first. Read it while waiting for your cookies to bake, or across one bus ride to work. Sit under a tree at the park, read it, then take a nap. It's meaty but surf through it without stopping first - skip chunks, surf! Get its aromatic taste on your palate first - don't get bogged down trying to super-understand everything on your first read through.
Then, we recommend you go back and take each of the 6 Steps one at a time, reading it thoroughly for comprehension.
Give yourself at least 1-4 weeks to gnaw on and complete each of The Preparation Steps (1-3).
Then, The Climb Steps (4-6) will begin chapters of your career that will last months or years - it’ll be up to you how long you want to lead your career.
If you want to have a sustainable, long-term music career, this amount of time should totally make sense to you - you’re about to build a business, of course it will take a little while. Government agencies, banks, royalty collection agencies and other businesses you’ll need for some services are often the reasons this timeline takes months, because you have to wait on them to process applications and registrations. All of those parties aside though, we highly recommend you don’t rush your process anyway, because greatness is built, not binged, and the journey is part of the fun.
If you mean Consulting, we offer differently priced packages based on your budget. (Yeah that's vague, and we know vagueness can be annoying, so if it helps: our hourly consulting rate is currently $162 and we build packages based around that.)
If you mean the Publishing Manager Mini-Course, we'll share more information on that very soon in 2023.
If you mean setting up a music career, this also is different for everyone and every location, but it costs a baseline of around $200-500 or more, depending on your international location to set up your infrastructure properly through The Mountain's process (The Preparation Steps [1-3]). Then, you'll need to pay any monthly/yearly subscription costs for your music career related services (like cloud storage, distributor services, etc.), potentially keep some extra liquid cash in your business bank account to avoid fees (unlike personal bank accounts), and build budgets for your next projects (recording albums, filming music videos, planning tours, etc.)
(Side note: Do yourself a favor and remember a lesson passed down from generations of entrepreneurs: the moment that you start a business, tons of other businesses are going to assume you have a lot of funds, and they're going to try to convince you to spend those funds on their products and services - so hold onto your wallet with an eye of discernment and avoid such traps. For example, when musicians establish their protective legal entities [usually LLCs], they'll get both snail-mail and email pressuring them into small business loans or credit score reports, etc.; we rarely suggest most of these for musicians, they're more for other types of businesses, but holy moly will people try to talk you into these services. They're just doing their jobs, we get it. Use our Consulting sessions, or interact with @theMICmountain on social media if you need help navigating through what you think are more traps.)
Well, if you want to spend some more time with us in the MIC universe, absolutely welcome aboard! We've spent a lot of time and a lot of heart on MIC -- we’re glad you’re here.
Now it's time for you to acquire the password to read The Mountain here on our website by either planning a Consulting session, or purchasing our "Publishing Manager Mini-Course" (more information coming in 2023).
Once you have the password, you'll go read Step 1 and it'll take care of you with all the information you need. Please remember you can always reach out with questions via the website contact form or social media. We are human beings interested in conversing with you, fellow human beings.
Also, sign up for our email list below (and get a fun tidbit for signing up) and follow us @theMICmountain on social media to enjoy our slightly atypical non-influencer approach (we're busy with MIC research most of the time).
Most importantly, tell us how your music career went - because, yes, it helps our research to learn about your career, too, and also, this is all really just a complex ploy for us to get more truly great music for our iPods.
Enjoy your Climb.
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