Welcome to the Mountain.
What a music career actually looks like.
MIC is “Music Industry Connected” because we connect the puzzle pieces of what a music career actually looks like,
revealing the industry & human secrets you didn’t know that you didn’t know.
Founder Emily Plazek here. Welcome to the Covid-World Update to The Mountain, focusing on helping musicians polish up their Foundation (Steps 1, 2, 3) so they can pounce on live music when it returns (in Step 4 & 5). I wrote this letter for you, to answer your questions:
Let’s begin - first question: Am I in the right place?
- The Mountain will appeal to you whether you’re a new or veteran front-line musician (artist or band), a manager, or a label. Why are we so sure of this? Because at this point in history, music careers are possible for pretty much everybody thanks to technology, and this has changed the whole industry: every musician starts indie now (meaning independent, not the genre), whether they sign to a label later or not. This means that those who get a firm grip on “how” to run a music career, win.
- How do you get that firm grip? You use The Mountain to set up your music career well at the beginning, making sure you’re not missing anything that you’ll need later on. Then you set up structured, simple ways to upkeep it. It’s your only shot at warding off personal blockages like the illusion of failure, burnout, and lost expectation management, while protecting yourself from business blockages that you don’t even know about (and hopefully never need to.)
- And trust us, The Mountain is the only method in the world that nails this - because it’s made by successful indies & indie managers around the world, in real time. (Meet our team here, then learn more about why our brains work so uniquely here.)
Next question: Is getting a firm grip really that rare in the music industry?
- Yes. Look, music careers are tools that can be used or abused, like most things in life. Being successful isn’t about being “good enough” or getting “lucky enough", those are illusions created by gaps in mental health. Music careers are tools to improve your quality of life, on a daily basis. First you create your vision of a truly great music product, through increasing self-awareness. Then, business is applied to share that product with the public, and support your efforts financially. That’s it. That’s all a music career is.
- Unbelievably, in one of the most ironic and saddest life plot twists, a majority of musicians suffer their music careers instead of enjoying the dream that’s come true right in front of them - and this applies for all stages of a music career across the spectrum, from anonymity to fame. Consider how many celebrities lament the woes of stardom - they live the dream so many dream of, and aside from reasonable human-life struggles, so many of them still aren’t satisfied. (Have you ever paused and noticed this? Does it not blow your mind?)
- Not just celebrities though - many indie musicians feel undue pressure because a lot of the "how to be a musician" materials out there carry an implied message of what a music career "should" look like. Clickbait about how to "go viral", "get your big break", "write the next big hit song!", or "get thousands of streams now!" are misleading and theoretical myths without realistic context. They not only imply that these things are the things musicians "should" pursue - but also, they're usually empty promises because they don't address the actual how of how to do them. Meaning, they don't consider an indie's limited resources (time/energy/money), combined with the fact that we've all got human lives to spend time and energy living, too. A music career is a big ask of anyone, it's a fully immersive lifestyle - and unfortunately many indies are nailing this lifestyle, but not appreciating the fact they're doing so because of outside, immature pressure like this.
- It doesn’t have to be this way. Music careers can improve quality of life, not detract from it - it comes down to the musician’s perspective: Objectively, it’s amazing that you’re in a music career at all in the first place - few people get to, can, or are brave enough to pursue dreams. It really comes down to the appreciation of doing it, because the doing of the thing is the thing itself. Vague trophies like "blowing up" or "getting rich & famous" miss the whole point: A music career is a venture, not a mere end-goal. Being present in the moment and conceptualizing that you’re already successful because you’re enjoying the “how” is the meta secret to all of this. It’s all in our heads, hasn’t anyone told you yet?
Okay, next up: then why & how does MIC think it can help me?
- MIC is "Music Industry Connected" because we connect the puzzle pieces of what a music career actually looks like, revealing the industry and human secrets you didn't know that you didn't know. There's a lot to unpack here, so you can visualize your relationship options with MIC like this:
MIC for Free:
· Read the Mountain's 6 Steps on our website - here
· Soak up human insight & industry secrets on Social Media (@theMICmountain)
· Join The Mountain Climber Club for our special newsletters & discounts
· Request what you want to learn about at our "Contact Us" page
· Enjoy the behind-the-scenes of our research in our Sanctuary blog - here
MIC for Purchase:
· Use the same highly optimized Process Manuals we use - here
· Plan One-on-One Consulting or Group Workshops - here
· Sport your body in some Mountain Merch
- Travel through those Free & Purchase MIC options to suit your needs, but definitely start by reading The Mountain's 6 Steps. Here's why: The Mountain itself structures the actual "how" of how to go about approaching a music career into 3 Prep Steps & 3 Climbing Steps, so you can zoom out to see the Big Picture & gain peace of mind knowing where you currently stand. This industry/self-awareness will be your competitive advantage, big time.
Also, sprinkled throughout The Mountain you'll find incredibly important Principles like the theory of the “First Circle Conundrum” that shed light on why the people already in your life often can't be your fans - and how that makes sense, and is okay.
- We should also note that musicians choose different Mountain Routes: Career, Hobby, and Dead-ends. Careers are Hobbies that want to use business goals to go full-time, and Dead-ends are shortcuts that result in the “15 mins of fame” phenomenon (which is getting increasingly more common nowadays). The Mountain’s specialty is Careers, and helping Dead-ends turn around into Careers - but we often consult on Hobbies, especially those musicians who simply want to record & release an album, not the full-time business of a Career.
Go ahead and ask the next one: What’s MIC’s deal?
- I started creating The Mountain in 2009 because the world needs a simple way to visually conceptualize both the realistic human timeline, and the industry truths about music careers. Keyword: realistic. I knew this because I’m an indie musician and I couldn't find this answer out there, in all my years of voracious research (I'm pretty intense, if you can't tell yet). So, since I need it, I knew other musicians need it, too. In that spirit, our research experiments focus on the forgotten ones in our industry: the true indie musicians with day jobs & small teams, not massive budgets & ample gatekeeper resources. For this reason, it made sense for me to start MIC as MIC PGH back in 2013, in a true indie music city, Pittsburgh, PA.
Fast-forward to now in 2021, MIC is international. I lead our 19-intern team spanning the globe from Seattle to the Philippines, from my Bloomington, IN, USA office.
- What makes The Mountain so unique? It starts with the fact that every musician & manager developing The Mountain is setting up, practicing, and actively working through conceptualizing how to allow ourselves to enjoy our music careers, on a daily basis. You’d be surprised how rare this is in our “how to be a musician” education industry - at the very least, how rare satisfaction is. Satisfaction matters, it’s a serious neuroscience secret - enjoying the journey along the way creates surprising physical rewards, not just mental. Also, both the body & brain absolutely need satisfaction, and they won't rest till they get it - they'll haunt.
So, since dishing out advice that we don’t also follow ourselves makes no sense to us, I practice my music career as Millaze, and our interns, intern managers, and clients pursue their careers, all with the goal of satisfaction - because satisfaction fuels a Mountain climb, leading you efficiently to more and more success.
- Along the way, we’re tracking what we do, optimizing how we do it, and then always asking why we’re doing it, to connect it to our personal Definitions of Success. To accompany The Mountain's 6 Step Method, we create “Process Manuals” of best practices for optimizing our time/energy/money between the different activities and fields, like Music Releases & Promotion, Touring, Sync Licensing, and PR & Press. Our Process Manuals get consistently updated in real time as the industry & world changes.
Final question: Okay, I'm on board! What are my next steps?
Step 1) Read The 6 Step Mountain Theory on our website - here.
This is The Mountain, at its core. It’s a simple 6 Step theory that conceptualizes how to “climb” your music career Mountain. Simply reading the 6 Steps helps most musicians get a firmer mental grip on how to tackle some of their deeper issues and troubles, so we keep The Mountain here in our Sanctuary blog for free. Our mission is to make success possible in every music career, worldwide, so offering the theory for free on our site is how we’re helping the most musicians we can
Also, we know what it’s like to operate without the luxury of a big budget, so this is how we ensure that The Mountain remains in the realistic parameters of what true indie musicians actually have at their disposal (we make sure all our research stays in these realistic parameters, as well).
Step 2) If you want a more detailed "how-to" than the website's version of The Mountain, purchase our Process Manuals - here (coming soon).
It’s simple, but not easy, so we created these snapshots of exactly how we’re executing our successful careers, and how you can, too. We optimized them - meaning, we cross-reference all music career Events & Activities so the Process Manuals set you up for success & ease later on down the line. Optimizing means no duplicating your efforts or wasting your time on moot points & non-issues - it's kinda like foreseeing the future, & prepping "future you" up for success ("thanks, past me!" you'll say later on). Also, we’ll be updating these in real-time and making the new editions available - follow us on social media for those announcements.
Step 3) Follow @theMICMountain on social media, sign up for the Newsletter, and explore the Sanctuary Blog - we take requests for which human insights & industry secrets you want to learn more about!
We have fun with this: our social media is where we share the secrets of the industry that we sneak around like secret agents/scientists to find and reveal to indies. In fact, we take requests! If something about the music industry or your career is baffling you, send us your burning questions here on our "Contact Us" page - then keep an eye out for us to answer it!
Step 4) If you want more personal help, plan One-on-One Consulting or Group Workshops with fellow music friends, the artists you manage, or an indie label roster - here.
As The Mountain’s Lead Strategy Expert, I personally work with musicians, managers, and labels, too. Consulting isn’t for everyone, so I’ll help us both understand if it makes sense for you, and I’ll offer some other solutions. I’m pretty hell-bent on not making indies dependent on us through contracts and percentage deals - so I get creative on how we step in to help, then step out and let you go free.
Thank you, all my interns, freelancers, and musician friends over the years. We did what no one else has ever done. We created a holistic approach to conceptualizing a dream that helps improve the quality of peoples' lives, instead of the pocket-digging the way most of our industry does. We are the living proof, writing/recording/performing music on the regular, and living our best lives while working with the realities of our human bodies & brains.
We stand in the next music world that's already begun: the amount of true indie musicians will only continue to rise, at the benefit of all of us (hello, more music to listen to & artist friends to make!). So many humans across history dreamed of this day, and we're the lucky ones who get to live it.
And to whoever you are, fellow musician, welcome to The Mountain, too - begin, or continue, your adventure here.
- Emily Plazek
Creator of The Mountain
Founder/Lead Strategy Expert
MIC: Music Industry Connected
February 19, 2021