There’s a chance that you’re still looking for something: you may also want to compete in the industry, in addition to enjoying the Doing of the Thing in Step 4. If that doesn’t sound like you, then you can skip Step 5 and head to Step 6 (a surprise awaits you there). But if that is exactly what you want, then welcome to Step 5: Data Climb, The Mountain’s answer to the unique journey musicians face when they don’t have the luxury of a big budget, gatekeeper connections on the inside, or massive random luck.
The secret weaponry of Step 5 is three-fold: (1) strategize your Map’s journey specifically into 3 phases, (2) hunt almost exclusively for Lifts, and (3) don’t fight, but instead work with the reality of the illusion that is the First Circle (FCBO). FCBO is the most revolutionary and unique part of The Mountain. You'll see.
Hold onto your freaking hats because Step 5 is by far the most revolutionary perspective The Mountain will bring to you. At the time of publishing this version of The Mountain, such a method for indies to methodically pursue industry competition with realistic time/energy/financial budgets doesn’t exist anywhere else. We are positive about that because we spent years hunting for something like this and couldn’t find it - so we made it ourselves. Through years of observant experiments and countless hours of team discussion, gathering feedback from our musicians & outside artists & bands, we combined our street smart, business expertise, failures, passions, and self/other-awareness to conceptualize something that no one else has yet: a 3-Phase, step-by-step, simple process to defeat the biggest pain points & business enigmas that indies experience when trying to grow their careers to industry-competition level with their limited, realistic budgets & timelines. We don't mean to brag, but this is a very big deal and we’re seriously excited to share it with you.
Before we begin Step 5, here is an urgent reality check that we believe we feel obligated to start with: it’s not a surefire, straight climb up in this music career world, in the sense that hard work does not always pay off proportionally. There are many, many musicians who follow all the "rules" and bust their butts working hard, and then don’t end up participating in that mystical “next level” they envisioned. It's not inherently a bad thing to not get to some "next level" (it's what we're getting at with Step 4 - life is bigger than this one potential metric of success), but when musicians set up their Expectation Management to hyper-focus on it, they end up bitter or super disappointed in themselves if it doesn't happen, even when it was powers outside of their control that prevented it. That bitterness and disappointment often follows people their entire lives - which is one of the main reasons we at MIC work so hard on The Mountain: we see the massive long-term damage that's been happening, and will continue to happen across human history if musicians aren't given some new perspective & solutions.
We explain all of that because, in light of it, people came up with and fall back on the vague term “big break", implying an air of privilege and destiny to those who happen upon one - and a shoulder shrug to those who don’t luck out.
We at MIC don’t like using the term ”break” because of the pressure and sadness its connotation carries across history - instead we use the word “Lift” (recall that section in Step 4) for a similar concept, but with a visualization of boosting you up The Mountain more quickly, yet still with a need to keep climbing once you get off the Lift car, and the understanding that you must hunt them down yourself, but you indeed can do it. Lifts are within your power to go find, unlike elusive “big breaks”. All said, what we’re trying to say here is this: the bitter world is almost right, you can work super hard your entire music career and never land in that “next level” you dreamed of - hard work usually isn’t enough, you need some Lifts.
Accepting reality is important, so that’s why we had to get that out of the way - but do not mistake that reality check for doom & gloom, because MIC does believe the best in humanity wins out, and success can and should be on your own terms. We have solutions to offer you: specifically, strategy to rise above the unfortunate darker sides of our industry, while avoiding the potential disappointment of waiting for a miracle.
There are simply a few tricks and illusions to work around, and we’re about to offer to you the fruits of years of scientific method and psychological contemplation, in our greatest attempt to help every musician who reads this. This is why we said we’re so excited to share this with you. We can barely hold this in. We have theories we’re finding are universally true, and our musicians, managers, interns, and clients all currently test them out - and Step 5 depends heavily on a theory of ours that we call the First Circle Break Out (FCBO), that no one else in the industry has yet both observed and also offered strategic solutions to combat.
Before we get to that all-important FCBO, let us take you on a hot air balloon up and above, so you can survey the big picture of Step 5’s landscape:
∆ “Data Climb” is a 3-Phase process based heavily on consumer psychology and observations about our collective experiences as both indie musicians and also music fans. This Data Climb process is the indie’s shot to compete where the the odds are stacked up against them: labels or other more advantaged indies churn out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for marketing budgets, use inside connections to the gatekeepers (i.e., nepotism), or luck out in non-replicable ways with Lifts. Non-replicable as in, it's comparing apples and oranges to other indies, yet those indies often do conduct the comparison and feel terrible about themselves.
This is the iceberg tip of what indies don't know they don't know about what goes on behind the scenes in our industry. Indie careers are simply incomparable in these business measures - and this all has very little to do with the music product itself (any music is marketable, because every niche for music exists, you only need to find & pursue it through big data analytics, strategy, and tools).
The only way to compete is to also play the psychological marketing game everyone else is playing, at the beginning of your Data Climb, so you can break out of an illusion no one out there is talking about (because we're the first to notice and call attention to this illusion: "The First Circle Conundrum") before you even have a chance to hit that magical “Tipping Point”, at which point you can virtually ease back on the marketing, allowing natural laws to play their course. We repeat: You must break out of the First Circle before you even have a shot at hitting your Tipping Point. We'll explain all of this in a moment.
This 3-Phase Data Climb is a solid example of a dialectic balance in life (dialectic in the sense of two opposites being true at the same time): though few of us respect or like the game that the entertainment industry plays, if you can accept it for what it is, then you can learn it, play it, and win it -- at least at the beginning of your career, so you can break the rules and change the game later on.
“Change the game later on” means that some of the tactics in Data Climb may be marketing tips you didn’t want to do before - but we’re here to say that there is a time and a place to harness the opportunities that your Digital World gives you, so you can hit some specific & undeniably important goals, and then you can back off later after that goal is met, if you so choose. Yes, we’re mostly referring to Social Media because we get a lot of feedback complaining about it, and we also know the pain points ourselves in our own case studies - so we understand, trust us, but we’ve got a killer method to the madness here. Once you trust in the process and accept that growing your fan base is going to be potentially a little awkward or uncomfortable for you or the First Circle that already follows (or possibly not!), just for a while at the beginning until you achieve FCBO, you can come to understand that you’re not alone in this struggle, and it’s definitely short term pain for massive long term gain.
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That was meaty. You deserve credit for learning so much. Keep going.