On this episode Nick sits down with Gabe Schillinger, one of the best-known music producers on the San Francisco Bay area and founder of Legion Beats and Midi Money. Gabe has worked with legendary artists such as Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Too $hort throughout his production career. He has also started his own platform to educate music entrepreneurs on how to build and grow their business with an emphasis on effective marketing strategies.
Gabe Schillinger has shared the stage in numerous occasions with icons of the marketing industry such as Tony Robbins, Russell Branson and Frank Kern. Now he joins The Label Machine founder Nick Sadler in our podcast's twentieth episode for a no-nonsense discussion on marketing funnels, paid advertising, social media metrics, Web3 and NFT's in the future of music business - and much more!
NICK SADLER: Welcome to The Label Machine series, where we discuss with our guests how artists and record labels sell music. Today's guest is Gabe Schillinger. Gabe is a music producer, digital marketer and public speaker with an endless passion for teaching music entrepreneurs, how to grow and scale their business. He's worked with artists like Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Killah Priest from Wu-Tang Clan and in his professional marketing career, he's one of the first music niches to have a six-figure launch sales funnel. And as a public speaker, he shared the stage with titans of the marketing industry, such as Tony Robbins, Russell Brunson and Frank Kern. Gabe is an expert in deploying sales funnels to create financial success in the music industry. And I am super stoked to have him here today. Gabe, how are you going?
GABE SCHILLINGER: Nick, what's up, man? Great to talk to you. Thanks for that intro. I like. Can you send me that? I like that.
NS: I will! I like to do my research and always prepare a nice intro for people.
GS: That's great. I need, I need that. Thank you. I'm serious. If you don't mind sending me that that we are.
NS: You know what? I'll copy and paste it now into my-
GS: I appreciate it.
NS: My thing to remember. So yeah. Don't worry. I'll send that over to you now. So we, we've just been discussing, this is going to be like super tight and fast because I've got a, a limited time here. So with that in mind, let's start with the back story, how you got started in the industry to where you are now. As quickly as you can do it.
GS: As quickly as I can do it? “I used to be broke and now…”
NS: “… I’m not!”
GS: A little more details... So I'm a producer, an engineer, mainly, you know, hip-hop, R&B, pop, that kind of world. And so, you know, started out making beats and then opened up my own little recording studio and was kind of trying to play like the industry game, you know, which for a producer, especially in hip-hop world, is to try to get placements, make beats and try to get those beats to, you know, first maybe the local rappers and hip-hop artists and stuff in the area and then work your way up to, you know, whoever.
So that was kind of the game that I played for like 10+ years. And it's, it's a really rough one, super competitive and that I did better than a lot of people, you know, I had some really fun times where I got to hear, you know, songs that I did on regular rotation on the radio. I went to see the (Golden State) Warriors play and heard my music in that arena and got to work with some of the, you know, the local rappers that I grew up listening to. Or if you happen to be from the Bay Area in California, you'll know these names like E-40 and Too Short and Mr. Bad Snake. If not, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.
NS: No, no, I… although I grew up in New Zealand, I listen to a lot of West Coast, so I do know those names.
GS: Yeah, OK, great, great, great. And so, you know, so I did OK and I had some, some, some fun moments and stuff like that. But, you know, about 10+ years in, I started to realize, OK, you know, at that time I'm getting to be about 30 years old. I might, you know, move back into my dad's house. I've got this day job that I'm not any good at. I was trying to be a person what's it called? A personal trainer. I was like, terrible at that job and whatever, you know, realizing that this is probably not going to be sustainable as a career. Like even though I've had some of these things where maybe somebody from the outside looking in would be like, “oh, you made it.” You worked with this artist or been on the radio or whatever it is, like, I was broke. I was making almost no money. And so then it was pretty much coming down to like, “OK, it's probably time to pick a real job and build a music for fun or whatever. But it's, you know, thing is probably not going to be my career path.”
And almost as like a Hail Mary, a last ditch effort, you know, some, some last thing to try. I thought, well, maybe I'll try selling beats online, which is definitely not a new idea, not one that I came up with. Producers have been selling it online, you know, for a couple of decades now. It just hasn't been something that I had done.
And that ultimately set off a chain of events that basically changed my life, which is once I started doing that, started selling beats online. And I was like, well, how do I, how can I get a couple more sales? I can get a little more traffic. And I started kind of looking up some marketing stuff and learning a little about marketing and then seeing what all the other producers were doing and how they were kind of, you know, getting some traffic and getting some sales and stuff like that.
GS: And that opened up my eyes to this whole new world of marketing, of direct response, marketing, of funnels, of, you know, all these different things. I came across somebody who's now a close friend of mine, Anno Domini, who's a producer in the States, who was actually using funnels, and his whole process looked completely different. Every producer had the same thing, it was like, they post up their beats on YouTube and there's a link in the description on the video that goes to their beats store and their beats store looks exactly the same.
But he had something where he had a video at the top and he's telling a story and he had a whole offer that he put together that wasn't just one beat least like everybody else. And I was just like really fascinated by that. And then from there I found out about Russell Brunson, who sort of became my next mentor and also very, very grateful to say is somebody that I, you know, speak to and I've been able to work with a little bit.
NS: You can call a friend.
GS: Yeah, I think I can call him a friend. I think that's fair. I just, I just watched him yesterday. He hit me back, so I feel pretty good about that. And basically the important part here is that what I realized is, you know, up until that point, all I focused on was my craft, you know, producing, engineering. I wanted to be in the studio working on my art. And I thought if I just got good enough at my art, if I just got good enough for my craft, then the right manager would come save me. The right label would come save me, the, you know, a pub deal would come through. Somebody would write me a check.
I thought somebody was going to come save me but obviously that didn't happen. But when I started focusing on my marketing, that's when things changed. And I didn't, I thought, like, business and marketing was something that was really boring, that was for other people, that I wasn't good at. And once I started actually doing it and learning these cool new ways to do things like, you know, funnels and direct response marketing and all that, then I realized I could actually take some of the, the creativity, the passion, the excitement, the energy, the focus, all that stuff that I put into my music. I could start putting that into my marketing. And it was actually fun and fulfilling and I was actually pretty good at it. And now my music started getting out to more people, started making more money, and ultimately was able to do like you mentioned, you know, the first six-figure launch for Beat Pack ultimately got my first Two Comma Club award for doing $1,000,000 in sales selling beats online, which anybody is listening who sells beats online, they know it's hard to, it's hard to make a dollar.
So I'm very proud of that. And, and then, and then from there, I started a second business basically teaching producers about how to, you know, do that and was able to get a second Two Comma Club award for that, was able to build that business to seven figures and just been going ever since.
NS: Amazing. I, you know, I've got some pre-prepared questions, but I actually want to jump back to that part of the story. When you said, you know, you were you did have some beats you had on high rotation on the radio. You know, so for all intents and purposes, from the outside, it does seem… why, like why do you think when you did have those opportunities that the money wasn't there? Like, do you think that you would you were holding yourself back and you thought you weren't worth and you wouldn't negotiating a high enough cut like… because, you know, that's a pretty good springboard. Like, I mean, I know people who have done this and that that have managed to kind of carve out a career where they can pay a mortgage and have a family. Can you kind of like talk back on that and like and now and how you maybe your attitudes changed to now, when you have made a lot of money and looking back on it?
GS: Yeah. I mean, I think it's a nuanced thing. I think when you're outside of it, you almost look at like if somebody says, “oh, yeah, I'm a musician, I'm a producer, I'm in the music business,” then they basically think either you’re, I don't know, Drake and you're a millionaire and you're popping champagne, or you're completely broke. And those are like the two options I feel like from the you know, I feel like that's a that's what most people kind of, kind of think of.
And I think I probably thought that, too, you know? And the reality is there's a million levels in between. I mean, just I'll tell a quick story about not about myself, but just to kind of bring it back. I was doing a session probably about five years ago, so I was already you know, getting pretty, pretty good into making money online and doing all this kind of stuff.
And I had a producer come in on a session, and he just got a placement on Drake's last album. Which I think at that time was maybe “Views” and whatever. It doesn't matter. You got a placement on Drake’s album!
NS: Yeah, huge.
GS: Basically, if you're a producer, you know, it's about as big as it's going to get, right? And we're doing a session and he's looking around. He's like, “Well, how did you do this? Like, you have a you have a team here, you're working full time and… he still had a day job, he’s, you know, was definitely not doing music full time.
And so the reality is like, yeah, just because you got a Drake placement doesn't mean you're on. Right. And it depends on your situation, right? If you're the top of the food chain and you're the producer who's, you know, work with A&R’s for a long time and you're tied in with the management and they're all- you know what I mean?
There's, there's just so many levels and so many layers. So yes, I did get some songs on the radio and the ones that were on, you know, regular rotation were really on, KMEL, like the, the local stations here, the big, big hip-hop stations – the biggest ones here but it wasn't national. So even if I maybe I was getting some publishing money, but you know, I was like, pennies.
And also I think, I mean I can speak to the Bay Area hip-hop scene specifically, it's like, it's got this very like, individual hustler mindset. And so basically what I'll say is there just wasn't a lot of money to go around. Like, it was like if I was working, the artists who were on enough that I would want, that any producer would want to work with them because they're getting on the radio would want stuff for free or out of big discount.
And so most of the money was coming from, you know, the other artists. So yeah, I don't know if that exactly answered your question, but it's just there's so many levels and layers. I don't know that it was a belief of mine. I think it was just I wasn't in a position to make money. I was just, you know, the dude who happened to make the beat, but I didn't, I didn't know, you know. Yeah. I didn't know how to, how to actually monetize it.
NS: I think that “levels” is, is actually a really good point as well. And there are so many musicians out there who do have a day job or a part time job. And… but they're also like, you know, they do regular gigging. They go on tour around the country, maybe even do some international tours and things like that. But, you know, they do have that, that kind of side job.
And I actually, what I say to people is, you know, unless you are going to be that half per cent at the top, you are probably going to have to have another job outside to support your music, which is perfectly acceptable. And I think it's becoming more and more acceptable these days. And, but if you can have that job in the music industry, then you're winning, right?
You can be producing, you can be doing music and then maybe you do art for other that, maybe you help people sell music, maybe you, you know, run a PR company, whatever that is. I personally, that is the dream that I sell to people because I think it's a realistic dream and it's and it's exactly what you're doing, right? It's exactly what you're doing. Living the dream.
GS: Absolutely. Yeah. And really, you know, if you look at it, certainly that second business, Midi Money. It's a business where I teach. It's I you know there's courses and stuff. So that's technically that's not a music thing, but it's very much related because I'm teaching producers, you know, how to make money from the music. So yeah, exactly what you're talking about that sometimes you can make money from your music.
It happens to be, if you're a producer selling beats, you're in one of the best positions to actually make money directly from your music because there is still a market of artists who will pay for those. It's, I think it's harder as an actual artist who's, you know, selling music to consumers because why would I, you know, I just go on Spotify and have all the songs.
It's all, so the music itself, you know, is not necessarily value but the music itself is the way that you develop that relationship. You, you know, accrue that audience. And then from there now you leverage that relationship into, you know, different experiences, products, services, merch, shows, etc. And that's, that's the model that I've seen work you know, for artists make money.
NS: Yeah. And this is this is a perfect segue to get into the weeds. So from your point of view, what is some creative ways to generate revenue that you're finding working for artists and labels today that don't rely on streaming revenue?
GS: Yeah, I think I think the streaming is tough, right? Because there's just there's just only so much to go around. What I've seen the best is a couple of things. So one is sort of an understanding of traffic and owning your relationship with your audience. So this is really a concept I learned from Russell Brunson where it's basically traffic, which just means attention, you know, you know, people paying attention to you, talking to you, doing your content, et cetera.
Right. You can either, you know, you can borrow it, you can own it. Right. And when you have, let's say, Instagram, right? You have Facebook, you've got a bunch of followers on there. That's great. But you don't own that traffic, right? Mark Zuckerberg owns that traffic. And if he decides tomorrow he's going to change the algorithm and you're not going to get any more organic reach than you, you no longer can reach those people. Or you get booted off the platform, which happens all the time. Right. If you've got a big following on YouTube, that's awesome. That's great. But that's not your traffic. That's Larry and Sergey and the dude running Google, that's their traffic. They can do with it what they want. Again, they can shut down your account. They can change the algorithm.
They can do, you know, do whatever they want. So that's the first thing that I say is learn to own your traffic. The way you do that is get people's phone numbers, get people's email addresses, right? These things that are not platform-specific where even if you know right now I send out a lot of my emails through ActiveCampaign, for example, ActiveCampaign could shut me down, it doesn't matter.
I have that list of emails, and now I can, I can directly contact my audience. I can nurture that relationship, and then I can send them up to the next thing that we can talk about, which is actually, OK, how do we, you know, how do we make some money? So that but to me, that's almost like the first step because I think there's a danger in believing that the goal of social media and all these things is to get likes and followers and subscribers. And, you know, none of that. I don't want to say it doesn't matter, but it kind of doesn't. Right. It's really about how many of the like using that leveraging that platform to get people onto your own platform, so that you can, you can nurture that relationship directly.
"... I thought if I just got good enough at my art, if I just got good enough for my craft, then the right manager would come save me. The right label would come save me, the, you know, a pub deal would come through. Somebody would write me a check.
I thought somebody was going to come save me but obviously that didn't happen. But when I started focusing on my marketing, that's when things changed."
NS: Yeah. I mean, that's like top, top, top of funnel. Like it's a social media. And I completely agree, that is what I preach. I mean, number one, just build up your email addresses and every single artist or label I've worked with that is making serious cash over 100,000 emails in the email minimum. 100,000 emails and they're in the email list and the subscriber list. Yeah. You know, and it's like, it's, you know, it's not rocket science, like just build up the email list!
GS: Yeah. And by the way, I'm more and more into phone numbers too. Like email. Absolutely. But yeah, text message also is huge.
NS: I, you know what, 2022 has been phone numbers for me as well because I think it's become cheap enough to do it internationally. That was a problem I think found like five, six years ago if I was based in the UK it was very difficult to do all the phone number stuff with the US. Whereas I think the companies now is, a phone number is treated almost like an email address which is, which I think is awesome for music marketers.
So yeah, so we're talking about your own your own traffic, which is awesome. So you've got these email addresses, you've got these phone numbers. How do you, like, what are some examples that you've seen where people are successfully monetizing their music and like, yeah, let's, I mean, you know, like let's start with, let's start with a hip-hop artist, say.
GS: Yeah, yeah. So then from there it's, basically it's products, services, right? Experiences. So what does that mean? It could be some, some kind of physical merchandise, right? Obvious one, but I will say an angle that I like to put on that is the importance of telling your story and connecting with your audience in a way that goes beyond just the music, right? So maybe that's because of some other shared interests like you're really into, I don't know, sneakers or sports or…
NS: Snowboarding. (A nod to SIREN’s release campaign for her single “Advent,” which Nick helped put together)
GS: Snowboarding. There we go. Or your message is really about having, you know, self-esteem and feeling good about yourself, or your message is about partying and doing drugs or, you know, like, I don't know, whatever it is, there's, people are going to come to you because they want to get a certain feeling right. That's kind of how I think of brand or your story or whatever you want to call it. So when you really build that well and you build that well by just telling your story and getting better and better at telling your story, like I you know, you asked me tell your story. I've now told that a bunch of times and each time hopefully gets a little bit better.
Or I can adjust it depending on, you know, what makes sense. So same thing if you're an artist, get better at telling your story. What is the story that you want to tell that you want to connect with people? What are the other interests you want to bring in? And now you start building this community around that, now people come to you and they become a part of this tribe.
They're a part of something bigger, right? People want to be a part of something that feels bigger than themselves. They want that community, right? Now all of a sudden, it's not just, “oh, let me, you know, slap my logo on a T-shirt and hopefully somebody wants it.” Now, it's “when somebody puts on that t shirt, it transforms who they are.” They put on that T- shirt and it's like putting on a superhero costume or something. They're like, “yes, this is like, this is my tribe. I rep it, I get this feeling when I put this shirt on, I feel that,” or this hat or whatever. And so… it's like a subtle difference because it could just be the logo. It's fine. It doesn't, you know, but the importance is building the brand and the story around that thing. So now your merchandise has real, real feeling to it so that people actually want it. So that would be one piece.
NS: Yeah. I mean, and you know, as a record label as well, that is your I guess you are a tribe of a collection of artists. Especially, I think if you're a genre-based label. Right. I'm putting out, I mean, you know, like any of the rise of the big EDM labels, you know, that, you know, the kind of music they're putting out, it's a collection of those artists, you know, like the drum-and-bass scene, the dubstep scene or any of that kind of stuff that they're and so when you wear that t-shirt, you're part of that label's tribe and you know. And, and there is that value in it. So if you are a label, I think it is that you've sort of got a default story to go to. But if you are an artist, I yeah, I completely agree. You've got to find what your story is and that's one of the hardest things, I've done, I did music management for years as well. I think that's one of the hardest things is, is helping artists find them their story, because in a way, you're helping them trying to find themselves.
GS: Yes. Right. And I think a big part of that is just experimenting and just not being afraid to hop on whatever Instagram social media where it doesn't matter where, you know, and just start talking and just tell different stories and talk about different things and you never know what is the thing that people are going to connect to or what's going to feel good, you know, to you about talking about. And actually, one interesting thing, I don't, I haven't gotten a chance yet to like deep-dive into the stuff that that you teach. I'd love to, but I feel like if you're talking about merch and stuff for a record label, then I would want to have some personal brand for that record label. I'd want to know who is the CEO of that record label. And I want to get that feeling from that person, you know what I mean? And that's, that's and that's what we see a lot is that a lot of times they happen to be artists. They don't have to be, right?
NS: They don't. But I have to say, almost all labels I've worked with, they were.
GS: Yeah, it's pretty common!
NS: ‘Cause you know, you get older, you're like, “hey, I now gotta A&R all the young kids coming through.” And it's, it's a very natural progression. So that does make but it doesn't, it doesn't have to be. But I think, you know, at the end of the day, even if you're not an artist but you started a label, you're a music lover, right? Like, you know, that's at least the first step in your story. Like, you know, why do you love music? What's your story behind there? So you're right. It is important.
Going back on to that, you know, going on to the merch thing and say, you've got a story and you know, you might say some t-shirt or sticker pack, say I'm into snowboarding. So I do all snowboard style kind of stuff. Do you find worth, do you find digital merch packs? So like creating, I guess, a digital download of something unique, like maybe a remix or something works as well as say doing like a, you know, a free shipping, like, you know, like a little pop badge, a sticker, a signed kind of card that actually gets sent in the post. Like what, in your experience, what works better or you know, I just love to hear your thoughts on it.
GS: Yeah, I think I think there is something magical about physical stuff that definitely, that definitely helps but of course, you can do digital stuff. Again, It's just tricky because, you know, I've seen artists do a funnel where the, you know, they say, “hey, I'll give you a free download of my song” and I've seen it work. You know, to me it feels a little bit like, you know, it's almost an inconvenience, right? Because again, if I want to listen to a song, I'd probably just go to Spotify not to figure out how to download, but even that can work. What I would imagine might be a little bit, a little bit better is like, hey, here's the, here's an exclusive behind-the-scenes, you know, video content of me creating this song, or I'm going to do, like, a live, you know, question, you know, Q&A thing where, you know, you can kind of get to know me and maybe I'll play some music, too, or, you know, something like that.
And I guess that's, that's getting more into experiences. But yeah, as far as digital merch, I think different content. Like if you have some, some content that is exclusive to the people who care enough to get on your list like that behind-the-scenes stuff or, you know, early access maybe to songs or music videos or things before everybody else gets to see them. You know, there's something that feels kind of cool about that. So I think that stuff can work as well.
NS: Nice. Nice. It's awesome to see the insight. So we do talk about one of the I mean, I talk a lot about paid advertising as a, as a great way to generate leads. You know, if you've got a budget, you can get started straight away. Google, you've got Facebook/Instagram, you've got YouTube – YouTube, so I guess kind of like, under Google as well. You've got TikTok. Where do you think it would be best to focus in 2022?
GS: Paid traffic?
GS: Facebook and Instagram.
NS: Still Facebook and Instagram?
GS: Yeah. So like two years ago, Facebook and Instagram was the best advertising platform in the history of the universe. And maybe, maybe will be of all time. Maybe we'll study it and be like, Oh my God, I can't believe that was true.
NS: The golden years.
GS: Yeah, it was insane! And, and there's a lot of complaining because it's, it's a lot worse than it was two years ago. But it's, it still can work. It's still pretty amazing, you know, it's, it's, it's it's, it's a lot harder for sure than it was. You can't just kind of throw something up there and, you know, whatever, you got to, you got to try more creative, meaning, you know, test a bunch of different videos and different pictures and different copy, you know, the text, the stuff that you write on there because you have to just test more and, you know, so it takes more effort than it used to, but it's still works. And in my experience, I've tried a little bit of paid TikTok ads. I've tried a little bit of paid Snapchat. I think YouTube and Google are probably second, but still definitely it's not, it's not Facebook and Instagram. So to me, that's still as of right now, you know, summer 2022. To me that's still number one.
NS: That's good to hear because that's what most of my courses and programs still teach. Yeah. Yeah. It's all TikTok. I better go do the TikTok course then.
GS: I will say if you're asking where can you get the most organic reach right now…
NS: That was my next question.
GS: TikTok, yeah.
NS: So what advice would you give to someone that simply just wants to make a living making music? They don't want to or they don't have the capacity to be an entrepreneur.
GS: Sorry. You have something here to add to it?
NS: No, no, I was just going to just yeah, I was going to say, I think I was just trying to define, like, what entrepreneur means, and I sort of I mean, like, a music entrepreneur and that, you know, the kind of doing all the creative and all the marketing side of it. Just to kind of clarify what that means.
GS: Yeah, I don't know. I don't have a great, that's… a lot of my message in what I teach. And what worked for me is, is embracing entrepreneurship so it's a tough one for me to answer. But I will say this. I have, you know, listened to a lot of entrepreneurs and business people and been on a lot of podcasts and stuff. And so often you hear the story of like, yeah, “when I was a kid, I used to hustle candy to the other kids. And I've always been entrepreneurial, you know?” And so I think that there's maybe feeling that some people just have that and some people don't. Now, I can tell you that was not my story at all.
I had no, I never, I never sold any candy as a kid. I never had any interest in marketing or business literally till I was about 30 years old. You know, it just wasn't on my radar as anything I could imagine being interested in, is boring. It sounded horrible. And it wasn't until I actually dove in and learned some of the cool new stuff that was going on and then and then start applying that to my music. And then got some results. I was like, “Oh my God, I just made some money for my music. Oh my God. I just got, you know, somebody in Germany just bought my beat. That's really cool.” And like, “Oh, wow. Now I've got, you know, 10,000 new people that just heard my music” or whatever. You start getting those results that also helps, right?
And so it becomes, it becomes more fun. So I guess maybe I'll twist that around a little bit to maybe a mindset shift to where maybe if you are an artist and you think entrepreneurship and marketing is boring and dumb, be more creative and actually not only be more creative, but use the skill set that you acquired by being a musician, an artist, a producer, and just apply that to your entrepreneurship. It's crazy how like as artists a lot of times we're so creative with our art, right? But then it comes to our marketing and business and it's no creativity. It's just, I'm just going to do the same dumb thing that I've been doing or I saw one person do or whatever, right? But once you shift your mindset, then it's like, “Oh, wait, actually, let me be creative. Let me think what, what kind of experience do I want my fans to have? Not just for the 3 minutes they're listening to the song, but how do I want them to come across me in the first place? How where do I want to go from there? How am I going to tell my story through maybe a series of emails or videos or different things? And then from there, how can I turn that into maybe like some of the merch, whether it's digital, physical that we talked about or turn that into some experiences” you know, we haven't talked about yet, but like, like, you know, like a traditional concert or a concert where some of the VIPs can come backstage and hang out or something off the wall, like you mentioned, you know, maybe a common interest is snowboarding.
“Hey, I'm going to take ten people snowboarding and it's, you know, whatever cost, $2,000 each, $10,000 each.” I don't know, but your super, super fans are going to like are going to are going to pay for that thing. Right. And so that's, that's the creativity and the fun that you can start having and, and apply that skill set over, over to your music.So I kind of, I kind of sidestepped your question.
"You've got to find what your story is and that's one of the hardest things, I've done, I did music management for years as well. I think that's one of the hardest things is, is helping artists find them their story, because in a way, you're helping them trying to find themselves."
NS: No, no. I know it's a tough question and that's why I ask it. And, you know, and personally, I completely agree. I'm like, you have to be, you have to embrace it. If you don't want embrace it, then you've got to go and get a best friend to be your manager. Or get someone else to do it for you or pay someone else to do it for you.
There is there is no other way around it. And I agree. Like, I… what's really weird is a lot of the labels I've I found it and worked with other artists. The way we approach marketing is like, “hey, cool. Like what's, like what's like something awesome we can do, like what's an Easter egg that we can put in the music video, that's going to go to a website and you're going to get a free download and like, you know, we're like, that's totally cool. And we're going to do like a USB card that looks like the artwork. And when you put it in a secret thing comes out,” like you can just go so creative. And it is bizarre when people say, I'm not interested in that. It's like, you know, like an advertising company, the head of the advertising company is the creative director, creative. It's literally in his name. And, you know, if you went to an advertising company, marketing company, you know, and ask them are they creative, they’re like, “Hell fucking yeah, I am!” Like, yeah. All right. So yeah, I mean, I completely agree with what you're yeah, what you're saying as well.
So I've got a, I've got a case study here I'm a hip hop producer in Philadelphia. I work part time in a fast food joint, and I have an automobile bill of three grand I need to pay in 90 days. What are the exact steps I should take to make that money in 90 days?
GS: OK, well go watch my webinar.
NS: Yeah, I'm mean yeah like so yeah, Midi Money. Like we'll put a link to that as well. If we Google it, just google Midi Money.
GS: Midi Money. I'll get you an affiliate link or something. So, so wait, wait and click on next link. But yeah, so, so I have a whole process. So, so basically, you know…
NS: Do I quit my job? Do I quit my, my part time job in fast food?
GS: I mean, no, don't quit your job. You're trying to get more income sources, not less. So if you've got one, go ahead and stick with that. Let's try to add a few. First of all, right? So more income sources, the better. As far as if you're trying to make money from your beats, then really if you're do the traditional thing, which is I'm going to try to put them up on YouTube, trying to going to try to, you know, rank for these keywords.
This is pretty specific to hip-hop, but like rappers will go on to YouTube. They'll search for like, you know, whatever “Jay-Z type beat,” “Drake type beat,” whatever, you try to rank high, then hopefully they click play and they like it enough to click that link, go to beats, do it right. That model is really, really, really hard to be successful with.
So the model that I teach is a little bit different it's more about, OK, let me connect with those people, whether it is through pay traffic or maybe it is organic, like doing, let's say, TikTok, which was the best for organic. This person doesn't have a lot of money to spend so get on TikTok, show some behind the scenes if you making beats, you know, you talking about who you are, playing your beats and then have a link that's going to go and say, “Hey, I'd love to start off this relationship right? How would you like five free beats to get started?” Bam. That link goes to a very simple page where they put in their name, their email and hopefully their phone number. Then, now you're building in that list. And what I would do is literally immediately right on the next page, give them a very special offer where you've got a video and you're telling your story.
“Hey, what's up? Here's my-“ so you could even be super honest, right? “Here's my story. I got to make $3,000. I think my beats are really good. I've gotten a lot of really good feedback, blah, blah, blah. You let me know what you think. Here's the thing. Most producers, they sell a beat least for, you know, $30 each, I've been making beats for this many years. I've got 50 beats right here. This is going to sound stupid, but you can have all 50 of these beats right now for, you know, whatever. 47 bucks and the reason I'm doing this is one, honestly, I just need the money. And also I really believe in a long-term relationship in this business, and I think that this will be the start of that.”
Right? And then and we can get deep into how you can then add or to form bumps and upsells and follow ups and all that kind of stuff. Go watch the training. But that's, that's sort of the, the core, you know, “nutshelled” version.
NS: So you get them in there and then, and you're, now you've got the email in front of you can start building that relationship over time. And, and, you know, I've read Russell's book as well. And I know there's the, you know, the tiers that you want to take people through. And I think, you know, you mentioned one of them was experiences as well. And yeah, I mean, actually because it's something I've sort of… I guess the artists I've worked with, I guess the equivalent of experiences is they start doing gigs and people come to their live shows and then they get paid, you know, they're, you know, they get paid their fees to play their shows. So in a way, that's kind of the default experience.
I mean, what are some quite cool examples that you've seen with some of the artists you've worked with? You don't have to say names, but what are some kind of things they've done where, you know, they do have these like three, you know, two, $3,000 kind of figure experiences?
GS: Yeah. So that that is definitely when it helps to have something else in your brand and your identity, right? Like we mentioned the snowboarding thing, right? That was a random one. Like, Well, I'll go snowboarding – cool. Maybe it's kind of think of some good examples. Maybe you, you have maybe your background is in graphic design or something and that sort of your day job and you're going to do a graphic design, a little workshop where it's just like, hey, it's informal, but I'm going to hop on Zoom, you know, once a week for four weeks. And, you know, if you're interested in that, you know, come hop on there. That's not like amazing but you know, be great.
NS: So that's maybe not too grand about. But would you then maybe go, yeah, you know what? And it's going to be 100 bucks. So 200 bucks can be part of this for a month.
GS: For something like that, yeah. You could also do, let's see if you have, you know, a little home studio or whatever, you could say, hey, I'm going to pick one fan or I'm literally offering this to just one fan to actually come in and produce a song with me. I love, you know, you can just hang out as much input as you want. Or if you just want to hang out, cool. You know, maybe that's something you charge a thousand bucks for or something. You know, if you, if you've grown a little bit of relationship.
NS: That's a great one. Yeah, I like that. Yeah. I mean, yeah. And I guess and I'm just going to get into the nitty gritty as well. Like, how long do you think it takes when someone say, joins your list? Maybe that the, the 50 beats or something? How long do you think it takes to nurture somebody before they will be like, “Yeah, I'm going to give over like more than $1,000?”
GS: It really depends on the person. I mean, there are people who will come in and spend $1,000 on day one. There. There's just certain people that will. And there are like, I've had people on my list who didn't buy something for three years and then all of a sudden they buy something. So, so there's, there's a huge range. And that's another reason. Don't underestimate the value of that list, right? You might be like, “Man, I got a hundred people on my email list already, but nobody bought!” like, you're fine. Keep going. That's, that's worth money. Like, that is money in the bank. Those emails, you know, keep nurturing it. Don't just let them sit there. Make sure you keep reaching out to them.
But yeah, so it's tough to say as far as that very specific version that I talked about, if you happen to sell beats and there's that offer… We do, we find that if people are going to buy, it's that, that first offer, it is usually in the first couple of days for that, but then maybe they don't, but then maybe they're on your list for six months and then you know, and then they buy the next one.
So yeah, it varies. It varies really widely. And, and it's a numbers game, you know, and you don't know how well something works until you have enough people, right? Like you might be… again. I see this all the time where I teach producers how to kind of put this this final together and be like, again, I had, you know, I had 100 people and they came in and nobody bought, it's like, OK, well, here's the thing. Like, a good conversion rate on a sales page is like 3%. Like, that's great. You know what I mean? And so the reality is, is if you have 100 people, you might not have enough data to know yet, right? If the first person buys now you're at 1% you know what I mean? Like, it'll be very easy to get to 3%. You just don't have enough data yet. So sometimes you just need to keep going, get more traffic. If you can afford it, try some paid traffic. If you can't do, you know, focus on organic only at first. And best is to do a little bit of both and just keep getting people in, keep practicing, keep getting those numbers up. And then it's more of a snowball effect really than anything, as that list continues to grow.
NS: And if you are being honest in your story, people will find and connect with you. They always will always. There's always people out there love you. And I think that's a really important thing to make. And it's something even I've learned, you know, like as a business owner, like there are people out there that will give you a thousand or $3,000 to have an experience with you, which if you, you know, if no one's ever given you that for an experience, you just think it's bonkers but if people just, if they love you, they will do it. And I think that and you don't know, also, people have different financial situations. You know, some people have like, you know, they're like, I live a humble life, but they inherited a bunch of money and they want to spend it somewhere. Like, you know, not everyone, not everyone is struggling.
GS: Yeah, it's true. Absolutely. And by the way, just another quick thing, like with entrepreneurship, it ties into that in money is like I think another reason why sometimes buyers are don't like to get into entrepreneurship is because it's almost like money is evil and it's like, it ruins art or whatever. But I guess that to me, that's a false belief. It's like, I don't know, money's cool. You can like it's fun to buy stuff, like that's great. You know, if somebody can buy that type of experience, they're going to feel good about it. Like if you like selling something to somebody, sometimes people think they got over on them. It's like, no, like how many times have you bought something you were excited about?
And then it's just a great feeling, like even the anticipation of like, “yes, I'm going to go get that new I don't know, iPhone or whatever. And then you open it up, open up the box,” and, you know, it's great, you're doing them a favor by selling them that.
NS: I mean, the easiest way is just ask someone who's your favorite band or, you know, like for me, I love The Prodigy, right? I'm like if The Prodigy offered me this thing and you got to like have a signed thing from there, meet them up, be like, yeah, I’ll give them $100 for that tomorrow. I'd love them. Like, course I want to give them money because I support them, like.
GS: Yeah. And how much would you pay to hang out and have dinner and jam with them and record a song with them, right? Like you can keep going and going.
NS: Yeah, I'm going to be I'm going to be taking a loan out.
GS: There you go. Maybe you will.
NS: So… I'm just conscious of time. How quickly can we go? OK, I always ask-
GS: We can go a few minutes over, it's, I'll be OK.
NS: What are some rookie mistakes or common problems you see over and over again that new or early career artists make? And just pick one of them.
GS: Yeah, cos the first one that comes to mind, I think already said, just focusing too much on the social media vanity metrics. Meaning like how many followers you have, how many likes instead focus on growing that list, that email and or text message list, that, that's probably the, the first one. And I'll give one more, which is being afraid to put your music out and being like, “OK, the next song is going to be better, the next song is going to be better, I'm going to wait to put it out.” That's not the process. The process is make the shit, put it out, get feedback, and then make the next one and then make the next one. But keep putting it out. Don't wait, don't stockpile old beats or finish songs or whatever. Put it out, don't wait. You know, have some kind of strategy. Sure. But for the most part, people lean way more towards I'm going to hoard this. It's precious. I'm waiting for the exact right time to put it… Like no, put it out. Keep putting it out. That's the process.
NS: Yeah, I completely agree. Just consistently put out music and don't worry about the metrics. SIREN, when you're listening to this… ‘Cause she, she’s an artist I deal with and she's often going, “Oh, but what are these other artists that are like? You know, they're same level as me. And I've got like 30,000 more followers.” It's like, it doesn't matter. Just build up your email list. That's the most important thing you can do. And, and, you know, I bang on every single day and it's so hard to get through sometimes with artists… yeah. So one thing I realized about your, your last name is, is it Schillinger? Is it how I said?
GS: Yeah! You got it perfect. Most people don't get the hard “G”.
NS: So are you moving into Web3 because what's kind of funny is now a common term for if you pushing a Web3 project is you’re “shilling” your project and it's like, if you get into Web3 and you're a marketing expert, you've got like the perfect last name… I mean, what's. Yeah. What's your take on… I mean, I have a film production company and we've just launched a financing platform for short films on the blockchain. So I'm sort of, and I only got into it last November but it's something like I'm looking at it from that point of view and bring into the music world. And I'd love to get your thoughts on that. Like, is it something you're going to embrace? You think it's the future?
GS: Yeah, definitely. I think I think whatever it was about a year ago when everybody started talking about NFT’s, at first I was a little bit like, “OK, a lot of smart people are saying this is going to change everything. So I think that's possible that it will.” But I was having trouble seeing what's the value to me right now? How can I apply this in my business right now? And I didn't, I didn't quite see it at first. Then I started to kind of come across a little bit more and do a little more research and be like, “OK, I kind of see how maybe I could apply this. And now it's really recent. But the last few months, I've really, I really dove in. I went to, I went to VeeCon, which is Gary Vee's NFT conference just a couple of weeks ago, and.
NS: What was it like?
GS: It was cool. It was cool. It was, it was basically a big party.
NS: That's what they all are at the moment!
GS: Yeah. I mean…
NS: Wake me, wake me!
GS: I was hoping to learn more, to be perfectly honest. I don't know, as nerdy as that sounds, you know, when I go to Funnel Hacking Live, for example, like, I got my notepad out, I'm learning. I'm getting like the sauce. Like, I'm learning. This was more like, you know, it's a bunch of celebrities. It's cool. People are hanging out, networking. It was fun. It's fun. So, yeah, so I guess to answer your question, absolutely, I'm now more and more embracing it and seeing that the possibilities are endless. And talk about that idea of creativity. Now it's just, wow, there's a whole new world to be creative in and how can we apply this and how can we do cool things as artists, as producers, as record labels, as, you know, as consumers and… God, there's yeah, this could be a whole another conversation, I'm sure.
NS: Yeah, I'm on board as well. I think the first part as well as educating people about it, educating music, people who make music, people who listen to music, you know, which you and I are in a fantastic place to do so. Yeah, well, that was a little bell going off to remind us for our time! Gabe, it's been amazing. I'm sure we could go on for hours about all this stuff, but it's amazing having you on and sharing your views and your time with me. Very quickly, I mean, we have a link down the bottom. Is there any particular social media profiles you'd like people to follow you on?
GS: Yeah, probably. Instagram @legiongabe is probably the best, best one to find me at the moment, although I'm starting to get more on Twitter now. That, that's where all the Web3 stuff.
NS: What's your Twitter feed?
GS: @legiongabe. It was chat collecting dust for like three years. Like I literally did nothing and then got back on a few months ago.
NS: I mean, it's clear to say I did nothing for three years and now I'm like on it constantly.
GS: I know it's funny. So starting to get a little more active there, but probably the best one is @legiongabe on Instagram. If you're, you know, an artist looking for beats: Legion Beats; a producer want to learn about stuff: Midi Money. I will you know, I'll get you some links to stuff for that and man, thank you. It's been great to connect. This is our first time actually getting to to chat and I look forward to having more conversations and figuring out how we can creatively figure out ways to work together. And I just, I love the opportunity to talk about this stuff and hopefully inspire somebody or at least get them thinking a slightly different way or whatever. And I love that people like you are out here, you know, doing that and give me a chance to hop on. So thank you. Appreciate it.NS: Awesome, man. Thank you so much. That was great.