I’ve had a burning desire inside me for as long as I could remember. When I was young, my parents used to ask me if I was going to be poor. I would stick my tongue out and “PPFFFFFTTTTT!” No way. Me, poor? You’re crazy.
I went through most of my adult life trying different hustles with the sole purpose of making money. eBay, digital products, promoting bands, selling porn, you name it; I tried to make money doing it. Always with the least amount of effort. Always, with so-so results. I never knew if it was the idea that was flawed or myself that stopped me from making more money. I would see some of my friends make much better money with their hustles than I did and wonder why.
That’s what we call it, by the way. The Hustle. The Hustle is the every day process of managing resources in order to build or acquire more resources. That might sound vague and that’s because it is. The Hustle cannot be defined and yet, is all around us. Kinda like The Matrix.
For some of us, The Hustle is all we know. It’s not a job, it’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle really. The Hustle lifestyle is about getting yours. Whatever it is “yours” means to you: money, power, women toys, whatever it is that gets you excited.
For me, The Hustle was started after I finished reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Kiyosaki believes that if you wanted to become wealthy in this world, you couldn’t have a job, you must own a business and then finally become an invenstor in other businesses. I book changed my life so profoundly that in college, I instantly knew what I was going to do in order to become wealthy: I was going to start my own record label!
As retarded as that might sound now, at the time it sounded like a great idea! I didn’t know anything about the music business except that I really loved music. I was in my early 20’s at the time, this is like early 2000’s for those keeping score. I was into stuff like alternative and indie rock, as well as then-up and coming genres like emo and hardcore. Embarassing stuff to admit now, but hey whatever, I was in my early 20’s. Of course I liked that stuff. FML.
Anyways, I started in the music world, by working with bands that I knew. There was a local band that I went to the same high school as called A Bitter End (or was it The Bitter End when I met them, who knows). Anyways, these guys were a few years younger than me and they played kinda like a mixture of metal, hardcore and emo so I was like, “Hey fuck it, why not?” So I decided that I would be their record label.
That meant that I’d record, produce and sell their music. That was my ultimate plan. What a genius idea on my part, right? Let’s invest a ton of time and resources into an unproven, local band, made up of dudes that you didn’t even really hang out with at all in high school. Sounds great, let’s do it!!
But hey, I was young, dumb and had a lot of energy. So I took it upon myself to learn all aspects of the business. I learned how to record and promote their music through taking the time to read and then apply and execute. It was through this process of both the technical side of these things as well as the promotional, I learned the ins and outs of digital audio production. Although I wasn’t really that good, through the help of being able to access any audio software I wanted (through various, underground interweb dealings), I was able to successfully record a 4-piece rock band with real instruments.
I did this all with barebones gear that was about as cheap as you could get. I got the absolute cheapest microphones, computer, cables, everything. All expenses were spared in the making of my recording rig. But the point is that I learned how to do it. And that recording audio would become relevant again just a few years down the road.
Through my time with A Bitter End (and one other local band who shall remain nameless), I also learned about the marketing of music. It was through a site called Get Signed, which contained a plethora of articles and interviews by various music industry professionals that discussed the finer points of, you guessed it, getting signed. This included how to interact with your fans, how to build a mailing list, the pros and cons of giving away your music, etc.
For A Bitter End, I put together a mailing list and a web site, with which we would use to let our audience know what shows were coming up next, as well as providing links to download their music. This was in the early 2000’s, when putting up all your music for free wasn’t the norm, it was the exception. Most local bands were not even able to record their own stuff, much less put it up for free on the web. But we also did stuff like burn a TON of free CDs to give away to people.
We were the first guys in our area to actively promote our shows with physical CDs. Not only were we GIVING away the music on the site, we were also GIVING away hard copies of the music of the bands that were playing the next show on actual CDs that people could listen to in their cars on the way home.
It was here that I learned the value of interacting with people as I gave them my work.
Eventually I realized that I was wasting my time. I had a new girlfriend and after spending time with her, I realized that spending time slaving over recordings that not that many people would hear (due to the band’s limited audience/visibility) and it was time to call it quits.
And I’m gonna call it quits on this post and come back to this another time.