My guest on this episode is music industry veteran, Jay Gilbert. Jay wears a lot of hats. He’s a musician, photographer, marketer, speaker, and music executive. Jay has worked as a creative consultant to many record companies and artists. He hosts The Music Biz Weekly Podcast, is a Co-founder of Label Logic, and runs the weekly music newsletter Your Morning Coffee.
Label Logic helps artists, managers, and labels grow their audience and optimize their presence across all platforms. Jay’s newsletter is curated to give a weekly snapshot of the new music business. It’s everything you need to know, delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.
I talk with Jay about his shift to being a content creator. We talk about life as a musician, working in the music industry, and being a photographer. We also talk about his management company, and his advice for creators wanting to build their audience. Jay also shares some behind the scenes stories, and much more.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Simple hacks to grow your newsletter
- Defining and reaching your target audience
- Low-budget tricks to instantly add new subscribers
- Jay’s #1 metric for becoming a successful creator
Links & Resources
- Ben Barnes
- Jeff Moskow
- Travis Tritt
- Ali Abdaal
- ConvertKit’s Creator Sessions
- Music Connect (MRC)
- Cherie Hu
- Amber Horsburgh
- Glenn Peoples
- Bobby Owsinski
- Bruce Houghton
- Sound & Vision
- Music Technology Policy
- Nancy Wilson
Jay Gilbert’s Links
- Follow Jay on Twitter
- Your Morning Coffee newsletter
- Ben Barnes 11:11 on People.com
- Label Logic
- The Music Biz Weekly Podcast
The harder I work, the luckier I get. You make your own luck. You see these people, and you’re like, “Wow, that guy just blew up on TikTok or, Twitch, or on Spotify, or Apple Music!” Sometimes that happens. Not very often, and usually it’s a lot of hard work.
In this episode, I talk to Jay Gilbert. Jay’s a music industry veteran. He’s been at it for a very long time. What I love is that he’s also made this shift into being a content creator, as well as being a musician and a photographer. So many incredible things. He’s got this newsletter about the music industry called Your Morning Coffee, and he’s grown into over 15,000 subscribers.
It’s the thing that everyone in the music industry is reading every Friday morning. We talk about how he grew that, his passion for the music industry, how the industry has shifted, what’s working, what’s not. He also runs a management company called Label Logic where they’re partnering with, artists and managers, and doing these album releases, and so much else.
He’s got all these behind the scenes stories, and a lot of advice that is not only for the music industry, but also for any creator looking to build an audience, and endure long enough to get noticed, and to build a brand and everything else. It’s really good towards the end.
I also sneak in some selfish questions about what would he do to grow ConvertKit; what’s his advice for ConvertKit entering the music industry.
Jay, welcome to the show.
Hey, thanks for having me, Nathan. Good morning.
We’ll dive into some of your background, what you’re working on now, but you actually had a pretty big project launch today.
What did you launch today?
Well, when you launch a big project, sometimes it’s like a wedding. You have all this planning, planning, planning, and then boom, there it is. It was pretty exciting this morning. We’ve had to keep quiet about this project. It’s Ben Barnes, who is a pretty famous actor, but most people don’t know he’s a brilliant singer songwriter and pianist.
We’ve recorded this really great record. We’ve got some amazing videos, given his relationships in that area. They’re quite special. We launched a window of exclusivity this morning with People Magazine.
So, if you go to People.com, you’ll see. the video is debuting. It’s pretty special, and we’re really excited about it. It gets released tomorrow. The song’s called 11:11, by Ben Barnes. It’s pretty cool. I think you’ll dig it.
Nice. Yeah. If anyone doesn’t recognize the name, Ben Barnes, he plays Prince Caspian. I’ve been a fan of the Narnia series and all that for a long time. I think my kids actually just rewatched Prince Caspian two weeks ago.
Have you seen shadow and bone yet?
You got to check out shadow and bone. My, my wife and I binged watched it. And he’s, he’s brilliant in that, but it’s a really cool series.
Nice. Okay. So maybe with that, of like a snapshot of, of what you just launched, Let’s talk about, a little bit about, logic
You know, what types of projects you do. And then we can go back to like the road to get.
Yeah, well, Label Logic was born out of my partner, Jeff Moscow, and I working in the major label ecosystem for years and years. And we finally got to a point where we were meeting one day for coffee and said, you know, we started our own.
So we both worked at universal for a long time. He was there 20 years.
I was there 18 years. I worked at Warner music, for five years managing Amazon’s business for we at ADA, globally, which was fantastic. but we decided to do our own things. It’s about seven years ago, give or take,
We started talking to. Some clients that we had at universal and we sort of became the label infrastructure for some management companies.
One of our long-term clients and friends is doc McGee, who you might know, manages kiss. And he managed, you know, Motley, Crue and Bon Jovi and Diana Ross and the Supremes. Anyway, doc is a mentor, a friend and a client. And we came in and one of our first projects was working with him and his stable of artists.
And what was exciting about that is that you’d have some artists that were new developing artists. They’re never played live before all the way to people filling up arenas. And so the release cycles would change out and it was very dynamic and very exciting. So. That’s what Label Logic is all about. We typically are sort of the label infrastructure, for managers, some artists, you know, we also work with some labels and distributors.
I think one of our most exciting projects was taking and creating this thing called resilience music Alliance, with the principals there and they signed the artists. We did, you know, the marketing and digital strategy and help them get all the planes flying in formation. And w you know, we won a Grammy last year, so it was really exciting just going from zero to 60, you know, just building something with your own two hands.
Yeah. So what is the, for someone who’s outside the music industry and they’re like this. Just magic. Somehow you find artists and then somehow that goes all the way through to your album releases. When he grabbed me, things like that, like, what are the specific things that, that you’re helping out on and playing in?
What, what’s your role there?
Yeah, good question. It really is the unsexy nuts and bolts things about setting up a release, everything from securing ISRC codes to shooting the album cover to making sure the, the album is recorded and delivered on time. It’s all the creative surrounding it. You know, all of the banners and videos and press release and bio, and there’s so much of this to do.
That we organize it all. And then we help, excuse me with partners. You may need a publicist. You may need somebody to work sync licensing. You may need somebody for March, right? There are all these different things that you need to do. And we basically, we like to say that we’re planners, but we’re also problem solvers because every single project is different and has different needs.
We recently launched a new album by Travis Tritt. Fantastic record. His team is button. They are experienced. So we took on really more of a, more of a planning role putting together the marketing plans. But then we have some artists that have never released music before. So it’s a little more handholding, you know, all those certain things, because it’s not about gaming the system today.
It’s really more about optimization. People always come to us and they say, well, I got to get on this plane. or I want my YouTube numbers to be up and we have t-shirts printed that say a playlist is not a marketing plan, right. Because our playlist important. Sure. They are, but that’s down the road.
There’s so much to do before that. And really when I talk about optimization, when it comes to YouTube or DSPs like Spotify, apple music, Pandora, Deezer, it’s not about gaming the system. It’s about optimum. Right. And when you do that optimization, whether it’s with your website, DSPs, press, any of that good things typically happen.
What’s an example of some of that optimization that, works rather than, you know, maybe what people are latching onto is is a magic bullet.
Yeah, couple of obvious ones. Let’s take YouTube and Spotify, Spotify, because you can do more with Spotify than any other DSP. As far as you can change out your image, your banner image, your, your avatar, your artist image. You can add, I think 140 images. to your profile, you can put your social links, you can put your bio, there’s, all these things that you can do that you can’t do.
Other places, not all of them.
So, you know, you’d be surprised how many times we’ll go look at somebody’s Spotify profile and it’s an old image and there’s somebody in the photo that’s not even in the band anymore, or it’s just, it’s just dated. And you look at the bio and it’s, it’s dated one of the first places we look, is someone’s Spotify profile.
Is it updated? YouTube is a really great example. Optimizing for YouTube is so easy and yet a lot of artists miss it. YouTube is not just a place to go drop your music. YouTube is something that, you know, through their community, through your, your artist page. So many things that you can do with that, the common mistakes we see is an obvious one.
You know, the name of the videos should be artists titled. Artists title version, and they’re mixed up and they’re all over the place you want to optimize for that search, right? You want to, for example, the thumbnail, sometimes you go in and look at people’s videos and there’s literally a picture of somebody blinking is the cover of the video.
Right. Cause this is what will, what YouTube selected randomly.
Yeah. And, and as you know, you can, they’ll give you like three or four choices and you can pick one of those, but you can upload any image you want to be on though. And so we have actually a deck that we put together on YouTube and we show these examples of like, here’s Lizzo and look at this. It’s perfect.
It’s a beautiful photo of her. And it’s, and then you look at the description, you know, is there a smart URL in there? You know, so. I don’t recommend people put Spotify, apple, Pandora, Deezer, Amazon music, just put a smart URL in there. Have somebody click on that and then they can choose the platform, whether it was.
Downloads, probably not physical, digital, YouTube website, all of that stuff. It’s so easy to do. And then also in that description, anything that somebody might care about, who, who shot it, who produced it? Show me the lyrics, you know, give me put all that information in there. So it’s, it’s searchable. there that’s, those are a couple of simple examples of optimization.
Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. one of the earlier guests that have the show, his name’s Ali doll, and he’s a YouTuber and he’s got 2 million subscribers who’s channel and he’s just built this incredible, business. And I always think about YouTube as like him optimizing, you know, video like thumbnails and all of those details.
Like obviously Lizzo is doing the same thing or really her team is doing that. Right. But it’s, it’s the exact same. game just in two different industries.
Yeah, it is. And another way to optimize YouTube, for example, and you can watch what you know, Justin Bieber’s doing, and you can learn a lot from those things. one of my favorite writers and marketers is Amber Horsburgh and she did kind of a breakdown of. Some of these marketing campaigns, including Justin Bieber.
And one of the things that you see is something we stress all the time. YouTube optimization. You don’t just post your concept video or whatever your music video, you still have like five videos, six videos, meaning, you know, you want to have that concept video, but you also may want to lyric video. You may want a stripped down video.
You may want a live video, right? there’s so many like a pseudo video. It goes by a bunch of different names, but I know you’ve seen these where it’s just the album art. And the audio bed. And sometimes people look at those and go, well, why that’s not a video? Why is that on YouTube? Well, that’s because YouTube is the number one destination to listen to music.
It’s not Spotify. Right? It’s, it’s YouTube people create playlists from those, you know? so it’s really important to. Optimized for all of these platforms. And that, that means socials, you know, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, as well as the DSPs, as well as all of these. And again, it’s not gaming the system.
The problem we run into sometimes is people will come to us and they’ll say, oh, well, you know, I, I bought these spins or I bought these lights. Well, now you’re in trouble because number one, you can get pulled off of Spotify, right? in January 750,000 tracks were pulled off of Spotify for using bots and spin farms.
Someone spinning up a whole bunch of computers and bots to go listen to the song on Spotify to be like, look, I now have a million plays.
Yeah. But they’re not real, right.
Yeah. Okay. I I’ve definitely seen that on Instagram, Twitter. But like, yeah, it makes sense that, that it exists on
First thing that you look at when, when I, like, when we’re looking to book an artist for a creator sessions or, or some, one of our other projects, you know, you’re, you’re, it’s that first source of credibility of like, oh, wow.
That has two to 2 million plays this. Person’s getting a lot of traction.
But what we look at instead of looking at those numbers, we look at engagement and when you look at engagement, sometimes you see the audience grow and that’s going up, up, up. But if you don’t see the engagement growing along with it, Then you know, that those aren’t real people, because when you use bots and spin farms to Jack up these numbers, yes, it’s dangerous because it can get you in trouble, but it screws with all of your, data, which is so important, right?
The, what you really want. is Engagement. You want people to like, yeah, you want people to follow, but you want people to listen, share comment. That’s real engagement, man. You get that. Uh that’s that’s the prize.
Yeah. So let’s go back. as you’re getting into music, what, like, in the, in the early days, what was the hook for you? What, what brought you to the whole industry?
Oh, my gosh. Well, my, my family’s musical, you know, my brother, you know, he’s a Writer record producer, graphic design artists. my mom played piano. My grandfather played sax and big band. You know, I started a little high school band and ended up, you know, touring in bands and playing, writing, recording. So I kind of got to know how the sausage was made and, and I loved working in record stores.
I worked for an indie record store. I worked for tower records for five years. There’s so much fun.
Been in the industry.
Yeah, I’ve always been in music and, working at universal was just such a joy. learned so much. yeah, I’ve always been surrounded by, by music ever since I was little kid.
What’s something as a,
If you’re talking to an outsider, maybe a common misconception they have, know, someone who’s a fan of music then you’re like, oh, this is actually how it works that you find yourself explaining or,
Oh, my gosh, we could talk for days.
I wish people understood that the harder I work, the luckier, I get, you make your own luck. You know, you see these people and you’re like, wow, that guy just blew up on TikTok or, you know, Twitch or on Spotify or apple music. Sometimes that happens not very often.
And it usually it’s a lot of hard work, you know? I asked an ANR person before the. You know, how do you choose who you signed to your label today with all of this data? And he said the same way. I always do. I look for that line up around the block for people to see him play, right? So it’s, it’s a new music business and we can now see with all this data what’s going on.
But I think the common misconception is there’s a similar. There isn’t a silver bullet, you know, it’s, it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of finding your tribe. And I say that a lot because you need to find your audience. I talk to people all the time about finding that audience and they think they know who their audience is.
If you talk to any manager, artists, they, they they’ll have a sense. Like, well, my demo, my artists or my, my fan base, I mean is 25 year old. But there are three audiences, right? There’s one sales streams and downloads. So the commerce side to the butts in the seats. So when you’re touring, who’s actually out in the crowd, right.
And then three, you know, kind of the social side of it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, those three audiences, rarely aligned completely. And there’s always something to learn. I was talking to an artist recently who thought that. Their crowd was 25 year old, females, because that’s who they saw in the crowd.
But if you look at the other data, that’s not who’s quote unquote consuming their music. So there are a lot of misconceptions, but, I heard this really great line about data and analytics. It’s like a lamppost. You can use it to aluminate or you can use it to lean on. And most people use it to lean on, like, see, I told you that’s, that’s what I thought my data is.
But really, if you go in and look at all this, analytics, you’ll find that there’s always something you can learn in there about your audience and how to reach your audience.
I like that because I catch myself doing that of like, Let me go dig for the data that proves the point that
I already my existing worldview and that they were having that debate. Yeah. See, this is what proves it. And you can go back and, and
The data say almost whatever you want.
If you come at it with that
Yeah, absolutely. And today there’s so many great places to find data like real great data. Like for example, you know, it used to be called SoundScan right now. It’s called MRC connect. Same thing. You can get real numbers for sales, streams, and downloads. That is so helpful. And you can see data from previous releases and kind of get a sense of that.
There are these great platforms like chart, metric and vibrate and sound charts, where you can go in and see what playlist was I added to which ones, where I dropped off of what position was I in? How many times was it skipped? You know, there’s so many great data platforms out there, but it’s almost like there’s too much, you know, you need to kind of focus on what, what do you want to do?
You know, some people want to route a tour, So that’s really easy. You can kind of see what markets you’re over-performing in. You can download data from Pollstar and see if you played in those markets before, you know, how did you perform? So we’re really big on data, but you kind of have to look at it carefully and decide what you’re trying to learn from it.
If that makes sense.
How do you think about the intersection, between the different platforms? Like, if you’re actually say we’re promoting it to her or, a new album release or something like that, what are you recommending as far as where artists build, you know, build their audience. and then, yeah. How do you think about the intersection when it actually comes time to drive?
Yeah. And that’s, that’s a great question because it’s so different for every artist in every release, right? So you kind of have to look where, where is my. You know, they may, maybe they’re still buying physical. Maybe you’re a jazz artist and that’s a, still a, an album format. So you want to look at Amazon.
You want to look at places, indie retail, where people are buying the full album and they want to experience that way. then you look at maybe EDM or country, every kind of genre and mood has its own nuances. I think it’s really important to find out who your audience is, what their behaviors are. And then a real simple thing is when it comes to social media, so many artists today, they have so many choices and it’s not just writing and recording and touring.
Now they got a post on socials and create videos and comment. I mean, it’s so much, so what we tell people is take a step back. What are you killing? Yeah, right. And a lot of them it’s Instagram, right? Some of them it’s TikTok focus on that. You don’t have to be all things to all people, you know, find out where that crowd is, where your audience is and really work that, and then kind of grow it from there.
And hopefully you’ll get to a point, like we were talking about Lizzo, where you have a team surrounding you that can attack all those different platforms.
Yeah, think there’s a tendency. I see this in founders and entrepreneurs and marketers, like all across the board. I’ve, we’re so used to failing at things like trying things and failing. They like tried this didn’t work and in order to continue to be a founder or a marketer and you have to try the next thing tried that didn’t work tried that didn’t work, this, it worked.
So then I tried this and it didn’t work and this, and it didn’t work. And you’re like, hold on. But what about the thing that did work and, you know, we move on so quickly and we see like every case study of
Yeah. And it’s so different per artists. So the thing that you just described as spot on, but let’s say we did that for Ben Barnes. Well, our next artist, we got to start from scratch because the things that worked for Ben probably aren’t going to work for Travis Tritt. There they’re totally different animals.
So I love trying things. I love trying new platforms and, you know, there are a handful of things that really work across everything. And so you kind of start with those in your marketing plan, like. Tools is bands in town. Now everybody knows bands in town. It’s got like 55 million people have this app on their phone and it says, Hey, Nathan, you know, the accidentals are coming to your town in a couple of weeks and you’re like, oh cool.
And then you can buy your ticket and stuff. They look at your music library, but what a lot of people don’t know is that you can go in there and look at how many people are attracting. Right. And usually it’s thousands. You know, you look at these artists, they don’t even know they have thousands of trackers and bands in town.
Well, you can reach out to them for free and say, Hey, I’ve got a new release coming out. or I’m going to be in a, there’s a tour and I’m going to be in your area. But what’s really exciting about bands in town is that I can look at like competitive artists fan bases. So if I know that my artists. You know, then maybe there, they would appeal to the Chainsmokers crowd.
I, for 5 cents an email, I can target them and say, Hey, you guys dig the chain smokers. You, you might dig this too. So there are a lot of little platforms like that, like you were talking about, which is so important. You got to try. All the time. And you know, as Paul Stanley said, the road to success, isn’t from here to success.
It’s failure, failure, failure, failure, success.
Yeah, for sure. Are there any trends going on in the music industry now that concern you things where like, as, as you’ve watched it develop, you’re like, I’m not sure where this is headed and I’m not sure that it’s going to be good for the artists. Good for the fans and any of those things.
Not a lot. I think it’s, it’s changed while we’ve been having this conversation. The music business is evolving so quickly and you know, I do a weekly podcast and newsletter for the music industry and we break down the stories every week and it’s so fascinating to me. How quickly it’s evolving. And, you know, for example, you see companies like hypnosis and primary wave and BMG buying up all of these rights.
And you’re wondering like, well, they’re paying these huge multiples what’s going on here. And some of these heritage artists are getting hundreds of millions of dollars. And then in the last couple of weeks, you’ve really seen these stories about interpolation. Coming out, meaning that instead of using a sample, they’re just using the melody of a Olivia Newton, John or Taylor swift song in a new song.
And it, no one’s getting sued because they’re crediting the writers and they’re paying the publishing and you may find two or three interpolations in one song. Olivia Rodriguez recently, there’s so many. Of these things that are evolving so quickly, TikTok, it just blows my mind sometimes how fast you can gain an audience there, but it’s one of the hardest platforms to gain real engagement.
So you can gain those numbers, but how do you hold onto them? It reminds me of some of these artists that are on these talent shows, you know, American idol, the voice America’s got talent, whatever you got to grab that audience. Once they’re off that show, you have to engage them quickly or it’s gone. cause you’ll have huge numbers from being on those shows.
But if you don’t engage with that crowd and keep them interested in, you’ll still have those big numbers of YouTube subscribers and followers. But the engagement just drops right off the cliff. So as far as the trends that concern me, I think the biggest thing we touched on, you know, people who try to buy likes, follows spins.
I just, I think that’s horrible and it’s so dangerous for their career. we always tell people. We manage 20 careers. you’re, you’re managing one yours. You need to take that really seriously. And, we, we advise against trying to game the system. I have a friend of mine who’s really big in SEO search engine optimization and, he’s very good at it.
And he always tells me. These people come to me and they’ve messed with their website, for example, to get it to come up in search. And he laughs and he says, look, Google’s got, Google has like 200 highly trained engineers working on this stuff. And you think you’re going to trick them with your little, you know, metadata trick, you know, maybe for 10 minutes, but it’s always best to have a plan, have a marketing plan.
Optimize for everything. you do that and avoid some of these pitfalls. Yeah. Those are the things that concerned me. It’s just people trying to, find a shortcut.
Yeah, that makes sense. you dropped a bunch of things in there that I, I want to talk about and dive into, but maybe starting with the music back catalogs that are being purchased, those rights, I’m always super curious about things like that, because. You know, as a creator, you’re working on things that feel like they’re in the moment.
And I have a few friends who are successful authors who are pretty prolific, like they’ll write a book year, a book every other year. one friend said like, basically like putting out annuities where you have this, this thing and add you as you add to your catalog. It just. Let’s say this book is going to sell $50,000 worth copies its long tail every year.
Like clockwork, time you come out with a new one, it adds that there’s another 50,000 a year, plus it gives it a little bump. And so you see creators who are these big spikes, and then that’s kind of it. You also see creators who are continually adding to the back.
Like explain more for anyone who doesn’t understand on the music side, why these catalogs are so valuable and why, you know, people are paying
Of millions, hundreds of
Yeah Well, it’s just math at this point. What’s happened is with streaming. Now there’s some predictable. There’s some planning involved. So if you have a catalog, you know, you look at like Stevie Nicks sold hers, or at least a big portion of it. And Bob Dylan, there’s a predictability now that there wasn’t before on how much revenue that’s going to generate on, on two sides, one the publishing, right?
For the, for the songwriters and then the master, you know, so with that predictability comes, some of them are just banging. You know, they come in there and they say, okay, this catalog is worth this much money. And this is how much it makes over a year. Let’s say it makes a hundred thousand dollars a year.
Well, we’re going to pay you for 10 years or 20 years worth and cut you a check right now. So we call those multiples and some of these companies are paying super high multiples and almost jacking up the price. It’s kind of a land grab in some respects. So. It really doesn’t help a new developing artist a lot right now.
But if you’ve co-written songs with people and you’ve got music out there, There, there is money to be had there. If you want that big payoff, some people are selling off their publishing. Some people are selling it off for a term. Some people are selling their masters off and it makes sense for somebody let’s say Stevie Nicks, cause she’s in her seventies.
Now it’s a state planning and she can, you know, get all of that money and help her family and whatever. So I’m not necessarily against. At all. but what I really love is watching how these companies are now going to exploit that catalog. And I mean that in the best possible way, exploited, how are they going to generate the right revenue?
And that interpolations that I talked about a minute ago. That is one way, you know, there was a story last week, and they talked about primary wave having, you know, these writer’s camp. And using their top 40 or 50 tracks that they have the rights to, and having these writers write songs surrounding those melodies.
And again, those writers will be credited those writers and the publishers and all of that, but that’s kind of the new trend too. So yeah
Yeah that’s fascinating. it’ll be interesting to see how it keeps developing Another thing that you talked about a little bit is, uh your newsletter, which I want to get into, what, like so many people consume content, what was the thing that made you switch and say Hey, I want to be to be one of the, people on the creator side, commenting on the industry and building an audience
That’s like, it feels like you’ve been more of a behind the scenes guy for a long time. And now there’s a little bit of at least you’re going to be a front of house for all the behind the scenes people.
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a good point. I think what happened was I had left Warner music group and I was deciding do I want to start my own company. Do I want to go back working for a major? And I got this email from Sean Rakowski who used to be the head of sales for ADA. And all it was was about a dozen of.
These songs and albums that he had found that were really good. And he was sharing it with a hundred people. So I called him up and I said, this is cool, but you know, why are you doing this? And he said, well, I’m kind of between jobs. I don’t know where I’m going to go right now. And I just don’t want people to forget me and the light bulb went on and I went, I’m going to do that.
So I did something you’re not supposed to do. And that is, I created an email and just basically sent it to a couple hundred people in my. my contacts, you’re typically supposed to ask for permission, but I just decided, you know what, I’m just going to do this and what do I love Well I love music and technology.
So I’ll just do a recap, every week and what I knew at the time. was that People don’t like to read. I love reading stories on technology and music, but not everybody does, but they want to know what’s going on. So I put an image and then just a two, to three sentence blurb. So even if you don’t read those top dozen stories in your morning coffee, you can read that little blurb and go, oh, okay.
Well, this is going on. You know, here’s some changes that here’s some platforms that are coming up. This is what’s going on with the music modernization act or NFTs or whatever. And. All of a sudden. It started to grow. And that little newsletter to a couple hundred people is now over 15,000 people and we have advertisers and now we have a weekly podcast, we’ve been doing for a year where we break down the stories.
So I didn’t have this grand plan of, I’m going to create this newsletter for the industry. And no, I just didn’t want people to forget me while I was deciding. What my next career path was going to be, and it was a happy accident. I just stumbled into it. And then next thing you know, some of my favorite artists subscribed to it.
Some of my favorite managers subscribed to it and they’ll send me notes. What do you think about this? And then. The last thing I’ll say on it is it wasn’t intended for business. It wasn’t intended for me to make money from, but what’s happened is people will read your morning coffee and then they’ll call me up and they’ll go.
I think I need to hire Label Logic to be my label infrastructure for this. And so it’s brought us business, but that, wasn’t what it was intended for originally.
Yeah, it’s fascinating how that worked. Cause you, you position yourself as the expert, the person with the pulse on the industry I mean, it’s not even like a deliberate thing. You don’t have to say that you just. Are the
Sent, like sending out the content and people are like great, thanks for doing that.
So I didn’t have to go compile it from different sources. And, and you find that you have your own platform.
Some, what are some of the things that worked as far as, growing it, maybe deliberate things that you put in, beyond the, organic growth and sharing
Yeah, I think that, the thing that really helped us is really like, if you’re a wedding photographer or a real estate agent, all of your business practically is word of mouth. And a lot of the growth that we have for your morning coffee comes from people just getting it, and forwarding it to their staff, you know, I’m saying, Hey, have you seen this?
And that’s where we’ve seen that growth.
I think the things that I did that really. helped Keeping it to those blurbs and not trying and having that image. People are very visual. I’ve seen other newsletters that are just a mountain of text.
Not many people are going to dig through that. So I wanted to make it.
Very accessible to somebody who’s really busy at an airport. They can just look at it on their device and and get a sense of what’s going on. The other thing that, again, by accident, I started reaching out to some of these writers, like you had mentioned earlier, speaking with Sherry who, I reached out to Sherry, you know, I’ve had her on the podcast, we’ve had conversations.
I have a great deal of respect for her in her writing people like, You know, Amber horsepower. I mentioned, Glen peoples, Bobby O Sinskey, you know, Bruce Hoten over at Hypebot. After a while I started developing these conversations in relationships and I would be on their Podcast. They would be on mine.
I would write articles for Hypebot Hypebot would promote your morning coffee of the newsletter, a very symbiotic kind of relationship with all of these writers. And the level of debate and the level of communication has just enriched my life. Having these conversations with people, you know, like Amber and Glen peoples and saying, well, what do you think of this?
I dunno, what do you think of this? You know, for example, I, I met this really smart young marketer, Maddie Elise, who runs her own company and she was doing some really great analysis on bots and spin farms. Like how can you tell if you’ve been bonded and we got into these conversations and she posted some really great articles online.
I put them in your morning coffee. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s, it was unexpected that I would have these conversations.
Well, It’s amazing how Yeah. Like in any industry, Like working in sales, the music industry has all connections and relationships.
Could spend forever people one on one Hey I’m I’m coming to your city I’m in LA I’m in Nashville I’m in Atlanta Like now we’re in a you know like trying to get one connection into the next and coffee and everything else to try to build up that now. Or you can kind of take take a step back and say, all just going to start a newsletter and then get like, thousands and then people that follow it. And then
You would like really slowly be like working up relationships to get to the point that you’ve talked to is like oh, Hey, I wrote this thing.
Would you mind throwing it in the newsletter And like,
Also come on on my podcast, let’s chat. And it’s just this shortcut to relationships and amazing.
Yes, absolutely. And I’m a big fan of networking, music business association conference, one of the best on the planet. You know, you go there. The, the great meetings are the ones, while you’re waiting in line at Starbucks, you know, you meet all of these people. And it’s then like at the last music business association conference, I was standing in line talking to some publicists.
Well, publicists are so great because they’re on the pulse of everything. There are people like, you know, over at shore fire or the great team at rock paper, scissors who matches technology and music in their publicity campaign. And now they’re sending things to me. Hey, have you heard about this new platform?
Hey, you might want to interview this person because they’ve got this new thing. And so it, it becomes this thing, but you had mentioned like sitting down and having coffee with people. That’s what I did with Amber Horsburgh I’ve. I read some of her deep cuts, things that she has online. She has done marketing at a high level.
My partner, Jeff and I have done marketing at a high level. We called her up, met at the one-on-one coffee shop and just had an amazing.
Chat, as you know, when you sit down with somebody who’s enthusiastic about the same things you are, whether it’s music, sports, whatever, you can talk all day. Right. And I love meeting these people and that’s kind of how, like the, your morning coffee Podcast.
My, my cohost is Mike Etchart, who did sound envisioned radio. He and I can sit and talk for hours about. This, these stories. So every week we do the podcast, we record it Sunday morning at nine 30 and it goes live on Mondays. We talk for a half hour to an hour before we hit record. We just sit there and, oh my gosh.
Did you see that documentary on 1971? No. Hey, have you heard that new record by, you know, Ben Barnes, whatever it is. And because we have such a passion for it. And I think that comes out in the newsletter. It’s not a dry kind of thing. and the last thing I’ll say on that is the other side, these relationships I’ve developed are like with attorneys who write stories.
There’s this one guy, Chris castle, who has a website called music technology policy. And I. You know, put some of his great articles in your morning coffee, cause they’re really smart ass, you know, sassy stuff and had him on the podcast. And now I’ll call him up from time to time, you know, like what do you think of this?
And it’s just, this whole kind of network is it’s really.
Yeah, that’s amazing. Is there a favorite moment or something like that, where, uh or opportunity that the newsletter has created for you? Like, we talked about a lot of connections and stuff like that, but one where, you know, you’re like, Oh wow, this is, this is a fantastic opportunity that wouldn’t have come.
If I hadn’t built it.
Oh my gosh, so many of them, but I’ll tell you, at a high level, getting to speak to people that I admire respect that that’s thrilling. But one great example recently was for our one-year anniversary of the, your morning coffee Podcast. we had Nancy Wilson from heart on and did an hour long interview with her.
Now I grew up in. I grew up on heart, Nancy and I shopped at the same record stores. I saw them play live many, many times, huge fan. so that was pretty cool and knowing her as well as I do her career, her music, all of that. Mike and I had an amazing, interview with her and that’s something that we just wouldn’t have had, without this via.
Yeah, that, that kind of thing is so fun of like, almost getting to have a conversation, you know, as peers and all of that with someone that you’re like
However many years ago would be freaking out Right. now
Right. I was in the, I was in the crowd, right. Cheering along, and now we’re having a conversation about things and that’s probably the most thrilling part of your morning coffee. The newsletter and Podcast is the level of debate. The level of people that will call me and say, I disagreed with that piece.
Or I’d like to write an op ed or, you know, Th that’s pretty thrilling because look like we said, this music industry’s changed while we’ve been on this call. So if you want to keep up with it, you can follow some of these great, writers. And, you know, you mentioned Sherry who, you know her, I subscribed to her Patrion.
I love the research that she does. And I’ve learned so much from that. But if you don’t want to read everything by all of these marketers, then there are. Vehicles like your morning coffee, where you get it for free every Friday, you just glance at it and get a sense of what’s going on. And then if there’s, there’s something that really interests you, you click on it and you can read deeper.
Yeah. Yep. I like that. Um what are some of the things that you’re looking to do next for your morning coffee of how to, how to grow it further? What’s sort of the milestone.
Yeah, we’re I really want to grow it. and we’re looking at, you know, networks that we could be a part of. we’ve got advertisers now, which is nice. you know, we’re not going to get rich from it, but it’s nice that we have, and we can pick and choose, you know, who those advertisers are. We’re not going to advertise for baked beans.
We have some really great digital music sponsors my goal. Two things. One, I really want to grow the audience. I’m thrilled with the growth that we’ve had. and the quality cause I use MailChimp. So I can go in there just like constant contact or any of these other great platforms. And I can see who’s who’s subscribing which ones they opening, you know, what are they clicking through?
What device are they on? And I love it when people who I admire and respect are. And I want to grow that as well. So grow it, grow the quality of it and, you know, just continue to build that audience.
Are there specific activities that you’re thinking of to grow it where you’re like, oh, this was working. So I’m going to do more of that, whether it’s ads or promotions or, any of those things
Yeah, I, it sounds pedantic, but we always say you do more of what’s working and less of what doesn’t And I know that sounds silly, but we do that with every platform. You look at YouTube or you look at your socials and go, wow, that post really over-performed, Well do more of things like that. And I’m looking at like with your morning coffee, there are certain articles that I just know are going to get high clicks.
People love lists. You know, here are the seven things that Nathan thinks you should do. People love bullet point lists, but I try not to, do the cheap applause thing, I could do the whole thing full of that, but there also has to be something in there for you to eat your vegetables.
There has to be a little bit of analysis. You know, the one that comes out tomorrow, there’s a breakdown of, you know, the first half of the year versus the first half of last year. Not everybody wants to dig into the data like that. So I try to make. it You know, balanced that way. the other thing I’d like to do is partner with.
Other people, for example, one of the reasons I have such a high, you know, viewership is the folks over at Hypebot every week they put my newsletter and Podcast in their newsletter that goes out to a lot of people. so they’re, a great partner for us. We love, we love HighSpot, but if I can get more people, you know, you’re standing on the shoulders of giants, so to speak, I would love to have, the.
Orchard Ingrooves ADA, you know, Warner music group, Group use your morning coffee and send that out to their artists, labels, and managers, that sort of thing. That would be the next step.
Yeah, that. makes sense. like those partnerships end up being so big. And I’ve seen that with a lot of newsletters where they’re doing cross-promotions or they’re saying,
Hey do a takeover Where, like,
You know, Jay’s writing the entire newsletter for us this week. If you want to follow more of what he does, you know, and you need to this newsletter swap or a bunch of things.
Yeah, those takeovers are really important. I did one last week with symphonic distribution, I did a little Instagram takeover and immediately had, hundreds of new subscribers to the newsletter. we always tell people there’s two reasons why nobody is buying or streaming your new release.
One is they’ve never heard. of you Two they’ve heard of you, but they didn’t know it was out. Those are two things that you can correct with proper marketing, touring advertising, those types of things. And it’s the same with the newsletter is I need to get it in front of people because, every week I get a note from somebody like, oh, I just discovered your podcast, or I just discovered your, newsletter.
You know, and I don’t have big budgets to advertise, you know, put it in billboard magazine or, whatever. but that’s my goal.
Yeah I like it. some of my favorite podcasts interviews are Witten. The host starts asking really selfish questions like
Direct advice that they want. So I’m going to do that now. So uh ConvertKit right So we’re creating a marketing platform, email marketing platform for creators where Uh like quick context We’re 70 people on the team
Year in revenue, in like mostly in the blogger podcast or newsletter space, but then the last year has been this push into, into music. So we’ve got a whole range of artists from Leon bridges to Tim McGraw. we bought, a platform called fan bridge, at the beginning of this year, but we’re like new to the space
And so coming in. What advice would you give either to, you know, ConvertKit or to any of these, you know, I’m sure there’s plenty of other players who are, trying to come into the music industry, really serve artists, be good citizens of the community. Like what advice would you give as far as how to grow, How to get more artists on the platform and
That’s a great question. I think the first thing you do is you collaborate and we tell people all the time, if, when we’re taking an artist in to meet with a digital service provider or a platform you listen first and you say, How can we partner? How can we collaborate? Not what can you do for me? So some of the obvious things, right, would be, the music business association, right?
Portion, her team over there are phenomenal. You have conversations with them, you sponsor their events, you get involved in their live streams and that community. Right. I think that’s, that’s kind of where you start, as you become. A partner, you know, you collaborate, people who, all these people that you mentioned that have these great, you know, newsletters, whether it’s, you know, Sherry who, or Amber Horsburgh or, you know, Bobby, Osinski, all of these things.
You, you reach out to them as you’re doing you partner with them, you see, like, how can we collaborate together? How can we work together? How can I help you to grow your audience? And once you become. Part of that network, part of that community. Let me back up. my old boss used to tell me, everybody wants to give you advice.
Nobody wants to give you a job. So when you go to somebody, don’t ask them for something, right? And this isn’t directed at you. This is at the larger audience. Don’t go in and say, Hey, I need this. Can you do this? For me? People are busy, right? They’ve got a thousand emails that they’re, they need to respond to.
But if you ask somebody for their advice, they’re like, well, hold on a second. What was that? You need my advice. I’ll give you my advice. I found, and I speak at colleges all the time and I mentor and I have interns. And one of the things I tell college students all the time is find someone who’s doing what you want to do.
Whether it’s be an engineer, producer, tour, agent, whatever, find the people that are doing it, reach out to them and say, Hey Nathan, I’m a college student. Can I just get 15 minutes of your time? Chat. I need your guidance. I need your advice on something nine times out of 10, they’ll say. Sure, absolutely. And that’s at your fingertips right now.
And as a company and as a platform, you need to let this community know what problems of theirs are you going to. You know, not your capabilities, not like the business speak while we’re a full service platform that, you know, these KPIs and blah, blah, blah. No, it’s gotta be, we’re going to help you grow your audience by doing this, we’re gonna help you, spend less money on your marketing and advertising by doing this, we’re going to help you put more butts in the seats by doing this.
If you can solve their problems and communicate that. quickly and easily, that’s a challenge. but joining all of these, like, like music business association, You know, and going to these panels, like at music tectonics and some of those, that’s where those people live and breathe. And, and let me just tie it up in a bow by saying that one of the things we did over the pandemic was we formed this artist management collective and there’s, I don’t know, give or take 25 managers and on any given zoom call, we’ll have probably half of that.
We, we talk about what, what publicist are you using now? What video editor are using now, you know, do you use it? Who, who should I call for a tour agent for Americana, you know, and we, we help each other, but we also will bring somebody on from TikTok or bring somebody on from roadblocks and tell us about your platform.
You know, w how can you help these artists managers? So that’s a long-winded way of saying there’s no silver bullet, but. Those relationships, those, those conversations, then that word of mouth will spread and that’ll help you build your platform.
Yeah Well, I mean, it’s exactly what we’ve been talking about of relationships in the community That’s what all of this comes down to and and you know podcasts are especially big for that right Because we have to have conversations like this, and that’s what you’ve seen on, on your Podcast.
Makes me wonder, do you think If you’re talking to a newsletter creator?
Who doesn’t have a Podcast. What’s the, message that you would say to them of, you know, you’re like, Yeah. the Podcast has been good because of these things. Or are you like, what are you doing? Like start
Newsletter, go hand in hand. He got us started both. What, what do you think?
It depends. I think here’s the thing. I was reading this article the other day, that the average Podcast, this is average, right? There’s 850,000 podcasts out there, but the average one is seven episodes long. That’s it. And reaches about 175. people That’s an average thing. I mean, yeah. You’ve got the New York times daily that has a staff of 75 people and it’s crazy.
And then you’ve got the Joe Rogans of the world that have these huge audiences, but that’s the outlier. That’s an anomaly. So I tell people are you really in this? Do you really want to do this? And do you enjoy doing it? So I do, two to three podcasts. every week And I love it. I absolutely love the conversations.
It’s something. I have a passion for most of the newsletters that I read. There is a Podcast, you know, Sherry who has a podcast, Amber Horsburgh has a podcast. Mike Warner, has a great podcast. Then you look at how often do you want to do it? You know, like your morning coffee is every single week music biz, weekly that I co-host is every single week.
You may not have the time to do that. So maybe you do one every two weeks or one every month. I’m a big fan of podcasts. I think that people go for walks, they exercise, they travel, they commute. They do a lot of things where they couldn’t necessarily read a newsletter. And this is kind of, you’re reading the newsletter to them.
So it’s so easy to get syndicated. But the only thing I would suggest for somebody who’s going to start that is stand on the shoulders of giants with us. We partnered with Hypebot So immediately out of the gate, we’ve got an audience. We didn’t have to start from zero So if you can partner with a brand or partner with another outlet to grow your audience, that’s the way to go.
Yeah. Yep. I like that. Some of that you said to kind of touched on the idea of longevity, you know, of the average Podcast being seven episodes long. sad, but not surprising, like
What’s your message to, creators about longevity. And it’s both the artists you’re working with, you’re giving advice to those college students who hit you up for the 15 minutes of advice all the way through to those building an audience online, in a newsletter type environment
Yeah. That’s a great question. I think the bottom line is you need to find what lights you. up And I tell, not just college students, but I tell professionals this all the time. What is that thing that you wake up in the morning and you just can’t wait to do, and you’d do it for free. If you could, is it photography?
Is it, it engineering or being a, you know, a manager, whatever it is. There’s some There’re things that are Personal to you that you love to do. And I always tell people, you have to do more of that. The money will come, but you have to add value first and then the money comes. You don’t go looking for the money.
That’s a common mistake. A lot of people make, I I started your morning coffee without any expectation of any business, money, ads, anything, and it’s just been a joy. And I look forward to doing. it Every single week, I’ve got it, like 90% ready to go. Cause it goes out at 4:00 AM on Friday. So tomorrow, I’ll be up with my coffee and I’ll hit that.
Send button to those lists. that’s not work to me. That’s I can’t wait to do that. And then Sunday morning, Mike Etchart and I are going to record the podcast. I can’t wait to do that. So if you can find something in your jobI love coaching. I love teaching. I love working with developing artists and showing them what’s worked in the past what hasn’t workedand to your point earlier, trying a lot of different things See, see what’s working. and What’s not, you know, I think that’s key because so many people are chasing the dollars and they’re miserable. You know, find what lights you up.
Yeah, cause chasing the dollars, especially cause they tend to take a long time to come. Any creative business is slow going. So, if you’re looking at the dollars as the metric that’s going to keep you going, then you are going to end up giving up after the seven episodes.
Something in that
I realized, we should start to wrap up, but I didn’t even ask you about photography. That’s a huge part of who you are as a creator. We don’t have time to get into it a lot, but I just love to hear how photography intersects with the rest of your creative work.
I’ve been shooting since I was a teenager. What happened was I went to a concert. I shot it and the images didn’t turn out well at all. And that put me on this quest of “Why don’t my photos look like the ones in the magazine?”
I got my own darkroom, started reading books. Long story short, I’ve been doing photography my entire life. I have a photo studio here. I’ve shot album covers from the Temptations, and John Wayne, and Rick Springfield, and many, many others. I absolutely love it. It’s my creative outlet. I can go in on the weekends, shut the door, turn off the phone.
My partner, Chris Schmidt and I, we do these shoots and we absolutely love it. It’s also intersected with the business. So, photo shoots for clients. We’ve done videos for clients. It’s a labor of love. It’s like you find what lights you up. Photography lights me up. I would do it for free if I could.
I absolutely love shooting live shows. I love shooting studio shoots. If you check out JayGilbert.net, you can see some of my work over the years. You’ll see photos from shooting Van Halen in 1978, all the way to shooting stuff last week with the immediate family.
So, thank you for bringing that up. I certainly have a passion for it, and I hope that your viewers and listeners know what their passion is. Even if they can’t do it for a living, continue to do it. Life is short.
Yeah, I love it. Well, I had a great time going through your whole collection over the years.
There’s some that are really, really fun.
Listeners should definitely check that out. Where else should people go to subscribe to the newsletter? Listen to the podcast? All of that?
It’s the easiest URL on the planet. It’s YourMorning.coffee. You can sign up for the newsletter. It’s free. You can sign up for the podcast. It’s free. If you ever want to dig deeper into what Label Logic’s all about, it’s Label-Logic.net. It might be kind of fun just to look through there.
Jeff and I have been doing this for decades, so you’ll see some of your favorite artists that we’ve done some campaigns with.
Yeah that’s good.
Well Jay, thanks so much.
Yeah, it’s my pleasure, Nathan. Thanks for having me.