Friday, December 9, 2022

The Renegade Musician Interview with David Andrew Wiebe

A few weeks ago, founder & CEO of Music Entrepreneur HQ and host of The New Music Industry Podcast sent us an early draft of his forthcoming book, The Renegade Musician.

As we dug into the book, we were taken aback by its no-nonsense message, demonstrated expertise, and treasure trove of marketing information independent artists can take advantage of to create the life they love through music. Wiebe’s method transforms a roll of the dice into cart counting surety.

Just as its title would suggest, the book and the philosophy espoused does not conform to norms. But as Wiebe hammers home in The Renegade Musician, only 5% of people will ever have what anyone considers a “successful” life. “That’s accurate thinking,” Wiebe stressed with us.

As with several of his previous entries, this book is destined for best-seller status. But we have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be so much more than that. Which is exactly why we insisted on catching up with Wiebe, despite his inhuman schedule consisting of an intensive, yearlong leadership program, daily blogging on his personal blog, hosting podcasts (he just added Adrenalize Def Leppard Fan Podcast to his stable), launching new programs on Content Marketing Musician, writing for innumerable music industry blogs (Bandzoogle, Music Industry How To, MIDI Nation, Musicians HQ, etc.), and more.

Here's our exclusive interview with the man, the influencer, the legend in making himself, David Andrew Wiebe to fill us in.


Thanks for joining us today, David, and for sharing your latest book with us.

Thanks for having me. It’s nice to be able to connect again.

What our readers may not know is that The Renegade Musician is the eighth book in a series of best-selling books written by you specifically for musicians and creatives with the mission of creating the life they love through their art…

You nailed it! Thank you for being so attentive and for acknowledging that.

I love that we’re making a difference for artists and musicians. That’s really what this journey has been all about from day one. When I started to see that there was not one way, but many ways to creating the life you love through music, I couldn’t help but share everything I was learning with artists along the way.

…and we think it might be one of your best books yet.

I tend to agree, though “best” is always kind of a subjective thing.

As creators, we’re always supposed to say our latest creation is our best creation, regardless of how it turned out, right? But I say this with the utmost sincerity that I do think this is the best book I’ve written, and I’m excited to see how readers respond to it and what they get out of it.

We are fully expecting that it will raise some eyebrows too, mind you.

Right. On that point, not to get too controversial off the bat, but are you fearful that your readers will outright dismiss the book because of its political leanings?

We all discard books for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes the book is boring, or long. Sometimes it’s not delivering on its promise. Sometimes we’re waiting for a “good” part that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.

I’m a little weird in that I can’t discard a book I’ve started reading, but if I don’t think it’s of much value, I will skim it.

Anyway, to focus on the political aspect of The Renegade Musician is to miss the forest for the trees. By definition, a renegade is someone who rejects the norms. What rejecting the norms does for people is that it helps them achieve more personal autonomy. A person with autonomy will accomplish immeasurably more than someone who feels constrained by the chains of societal rules, expectations, and laws – of course, I’m not saying that one should go out of their way to break the laws. That’s just foolish.

But the book is all about leading the reader on the journey, so they internalize the fact that even if they’ve failed dozens of times before, with the right guidance and direction, they can still succeed. That means going through an identity shift, and identity shifts require that our beliefs are shaken and challenged along the way. Without some upheaval, we won’t learn to adapt and believe in our capacity to overcome, which is critical to personal success.

The book itself is not political. It carries with it a strong message, but it’s not intended to be taken as “you’d better believe what I believe, or else.” I believe we can have unity in cause without the need for thought policing.

One of the biggest mistakes politics and science have made in the last few years is that their message has become “we’re right, or else.” This is dictatorial, even cultish behavior. Politics and science are supposed to be ever evolving.

But if you were cornered, and you had to define your political beliefs, would you say that it’s completely in alignment with what you’ve shared in The Renegade Musician?

Well, I know what you’re aiming at. The answer to it is a little complicated, but if you’ll indulge me a bit, I think I can offer a mostly satisfactory answer. And I know you’re probably going to ask about “dictatorial and cultish” later, so let me roll my answer into one.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt like politicians and the media were intentionally creating a rift among people – gender, race, masks or no masks, vaccinated or unvaccinated, and so on. I’ve also been using the term “team dynamic” to describe it, because it’s kind of the same animosity people feel for each other when they’re cheering for different hockey teams – Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers, as an example. There’s a history of rivalry between the two teams. I don’t mean to downplay what happened by pointing to it as “team dynamic,” mind you. I think we can agree that it was far more insidious during the pandemic than it is now.

What I’m saying is that it was hard not to take sides, because the whole thing was kind of a social experiment to see how people would respond to an array of compromising situations, engineered or not, intentional, or not. “The way it turned out in hindsight,” as it were.

But we do have a major problem in politics, namely that there are essentially two diametrically opposed parties whose message has been engineered to attract a specific type of audience. Sure, there are parties with shades of grey in between, but most of the time they are nothing more than swing votes.

What I realized is that there may be different parties with differing messages, but when push comes to shove, they’re all the same.

Prior to English missionaries arriving in Japan, hot spring bathing facilities were always coed. There were separate entrances for men and women, but on the inside… everyone bathed in the same water. And of course, in Japan, that means naked.

Politics are the same. The debates are there for show. There may be separate entrances for democrats and republicans, but at the end of the day, they’re entering the same political theatre. Which is why I say in the book that there is no political solution to the world’s problems, which are very much ongoing. If anything, politicians are increasingly becoming disconnected from reality.

And, to recall a point I raise in the book, I question everything, even my own perspective on the matter. So, to me, saying you “saw it on TV” and declaring it truth is insufficient, because you’re talking about companies and organizations that benefit from you clicking on their provocative headlines. For them, there’s a decided financial interest in spinning the truth and less of an incentive to deliver on the concrete facts.

Politicians, science, and media have never had a monopoly on truth. It simply doesn’t work that way. It’s horrifying to think to some, but even “experts” are acting on the best information available, not on an infallible set of unshakable facts and standards.

So, you continue to question your conclusions, even after entering a post-pandemic world? I heard that during the pandemic you were engaging in political commentary and research for three hours per night…?

That’s correct. I researched every “side,” every angle, every outlandish theory and so-called conspiracy… I learned that conspiracy means “a secret agenda kept between two or more parties,” and to that extent, you can’t deny that such a possibility exists in this world. There are probably many of them. I’ve made plans with people I’ve never revealed to anyone else, and best to my knowledge, no one knows about them. That’s a “conspiracy,” at least by definition, even if it has nothing to do with pandemics or the rich getting richer. I’m not talking about anything malicious here, just so we’re clear. I’m saying there are things about my business and projects only one other person knows about.

So, it’s not even hard to imagine there were some conspiracies playing out during the pandemic. Whether they were related to the pandemic, or some other agenda is a whole other matter.

But as it relates to the book, you really can’t become a renegade without questioning everything. There are many prevalent thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that people parrot without realizing they’re not the unique little snowflake they thought they were. They’re simply regurgitating the programming they were exposed to. It’s subtle, and overt, an attack from every direction. Independent thought is very hard to cultivate with all the programming going on.

At any given moment, 95% of people are all moving in the same general direction and will basically have the same outcomes in life, give or take a few. If you want a different life, you’ve got to do different things.

Which sounds like a harsh truth.

Right. But we do need to be mindful of the fact that many people don’t really aspire to more, and actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. It‘s okay to want comfort. It’s okay to spend your life on “Netflix and chill.” Who am I to judge?

But if you want to create the life you love through your art, well that’s a whole other thing, isn’t it? Like I said earlier about identity shifts, you can’t do this thinking the way you’ve always thought. You’re bound to get the same results you’ve always gotten. A definite, brute force attack must be perpetrated on your old life if you wish to be the 5% and not the 95%.

And that’s really the crux of Part I in The Renegade Musician. Part II expands on how we can initiate the necessary identity shift.

Thanks, you made the segue for me. In Part II of the book, you hold to the notion that a musician isn’t a musician, they’re a marketer. A baker isn’t a baker, they’re a marketer. I think this could be challenging for artists to accept, but what does this look like in practice?

First of all, it needs to be said that this realization comes directly from the genius mind of Dan Kennedy. In fact, The Renegade Musician would not have been possible if not for his book, Renegade Millionaire, though I think he referenced the idea that we’re all marketers in another resource.

Anyway, as the owner of Music Entrepreneur News, I think you understand well just how difficult it can be to cut through the noise, stand out, get your content or your products seen by the people who count. You know you have something worth sharing, but finding the right audience and getting your work in front of them? It’s really tough until you get a formula dialed in!

I’m a musician coach, and I’ve helped numerous musicians find an angle for their marketing. This can streamline their efforts, but as you can imagine, it can take a lot of digging to find the angle that’s going to work.

The only way I can offer hands-on advice like this is if I’m coaching someone directly. Otherwise, the best thing I can do is provide options, as I have done in The Renegade Musician. Part III is dedicated exclusively to the subject of marketing, and there are enough ideas packed into it that you would almost never run out of media, channels, or tactics.

So, the only thing left is this “acceptance” piece you speak of, right?

Well, the only way to take your career by the horns and gain control over it is with marketing. Your income depends entirely on your abilities as a marketer. And the most qualified person to market your work is you! You know it better than anyone else.

And if you’re still in doubt, check out the They Might Be Giants documentary Gigantic (A Tale Of Two Johns). Sometimes, even the most powerful labels have no idea how to handle you as an artist. So, waiting for a record contract is out. Becoming a marketer is in.

You address productivity in a pretty significant way in the book. I find your approach refreshing, and I don’t think I’ve seen it laid out the way you have before.

Thanks! I think it’s important that we look at tired ideas from fresh perspectives. And, importantly, productivity practices must be applicable to be worthwhile.

I don’t take issue with the Law of Attraction, but there is a lot of stuff out there that in effect says believe and it will happen, assume and it will happen, feel good and it will happen, so on and so forth. I can tell you categorically that’s not how I’ve managed to write eight books since 2015. It didn’t happen by accident!

The other extreme is dangerous too, though. If your plan involves working 24 hours per day and sleeping four, well, I hear some people can do that… Tommy Tallarico, for example. I got to interview him in my early days.

One theory is that these types of people are so driven by passion that they can’t help doing it, which I buy, at least to an extent. But the other theory is far more likely, which is that they have a sleep mutation most of us do not. So, following in their footsteps is more likely to land us in a hospital bed than the pinnacle of “ambitious creative mountain.” Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine and not sleeping will catch up with you, and in my experience, it catches up fast! Productivity hinges on your wellbeing.

Inhuman productivity is certainly a tenant of being a Renegade Musician, but let’s do it sustainably. Let’s look at time as a finite resource. Let’s take care of ourselves. Let’s move with speed and be satisfied with “good enough” so we can quickly move from project to project… these are but some of the things covered in more detail in the book. Some of it probably won’t make sense unless you read the book, though, so user beware.

To change the subject a bit, we heard about your efforts with the new Elite Players: Newsletter, but we didn’t hear much about the recently released book, The Music Entrepreneur Companion Guide. Is this the first major publicity push you’ve done for a book in a while?

Actually, they’re all kind of interconnected, so let me explain, and thanks for bringing this up!

I knew I would be launching Elite Players: Newsletter some time in 2022. But as we were getting ready for the launch, I realized I wanted to build up excitement for it instead of merely releasing it to the world.

There are different tracks of thought on this. Some marketers say launches are essential. Others say they don’t work. Still others talk about how unsustainable they can be because they require a huge upfront push. It’s all about the hustle! And of course, I have my own experience with them as well.

Well, either way, I felt there was good reason for us to tease the release, especially as I had been absent from the content game this past summer.

So, we set a launch date about two months into the future, and because The Music Entrepreneur Companion Guide was nearing completion, I thought it might be fun to do a simultaneous release – sorry for the weird visual there. But nowadays, when we come out with a new product, we generally offer a bonus stack, and the book, I knew, would be a shoo-in as a bonus.

But then I thought, “hold on a minute… The Renegade Musician is also waiting in the wings. If I put off working on the book, I don’t know when I’ll be able to launch next.” The Renegade Musician was about 30% done. So, I thought, “wouldn’t it be crazy if we launched two books at once?!”

I’m not sure if it had the impact, we wanted it to have, and as you know, The Renegade Musician has been slightly delayed… but launching everything together was a fun idea, and at the time, I was thinking to myself, “the more outrageous, the better!”

Plus, it meant that we could streamline our marketing efforts somewhat, pushing people towards one offer instead of three.

But to answer you more specifically, you’re right, I think the last publicity push we did was for The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship, although we did promote The Music Entrepreneur Code heavily to our audience.

Certainly, no one can argue with your work ethic…

No, I don’t think so. I mean, they could if they wanted to, but let’s just say I’ve had quite a bit of practice writing, editing, and formatting books by now, and I’ve got processes, templates, swipe files and more to help me get the job done faster. It’s not about doing it fast per se, but when you have things to say, messages you want to share with the world, you can’t afford to sit around waiting for tomorrow, you know what I mean?

You’re probably going to be seeing way more books from me in the coming months and years.

And I followed your story this past fall on Steemit. I mean, I caught bits and pieces of it. The journey to launching Elite Players: Newsletter didn’t exactly strike me as a good time, so it’s not surprising to me you didn’t get the response you hoped for. A lot of stuff happened to you, and I’m not sure I know the half of it.

That’s a big factor, yeah.

But all you can do is laugh about this type of stuff, right? When I started on this path, I had no idea what I might be going through on the journey to launching the newsletter. I was thinking it would mostly be smooth sailing. How wrong I was!

Probably most people in their right mind would have thrown in the towel and ran home to their parents if they had gone through the same sequence of events. It was nuts. I’m not in the right mind, which is probably how I managed to survive.

I’m not going to dwell on it though. The story is going to be chronicled in a future book.

Oh, awesome.

Yeah. It will probably be called Digital NO-Mad or something like that. No dash mad.

But to summarize, here’s what happened:

I was living with friends in South Surrey. They had to move back to China. At that point, I had been living out of Airbnbs for about three months, and now I was facing the possibility of returning to that lifestyle.

But I wanted to see if I could find a home. My prospective girlfriend at the time wasn’t going to go for anyone who wasn’t a little more settled, so I thought to myself, “maybe it’s time…” I went to apply for one suite in Surrey, and although I was apparently on the short list of people to be chosen for it, someone else found favor with the landlord first.

Then, I went to check out a different basement suite in Surrey. I didn’t notice it right away, but there was something a little off about the landlords. They’d chosen me to move in, but when I sent them an eTranfer – I was told later, by the way, that this is not how it’s done, you’re supposed to give your landlord post-dated checks in exchange for the keys to the suite – the transaction was marked fraud by my bank.

The next morning, I had to go to the bank to get a new card. But suddenly I couldn’t make any online transactions.

In the meantime, the fraud department at the bank was investigating the matter, and they marked the transaction fraud for a second time. At that point, I knew to back out of the tenancy agreement. I wasn’t sure at that point yet, but I’m pretty sure now the landlords were elaborate scammers, so I managed to escape that situation mostly unscathed… if not for what happened next.

I got my card replaced again, but I still couldn’t make payments online. I couldn’t book an Airbnb.

So, I booked a hotel for the weekend. It was a little more expensive, but I thought I would wait a couple of days to see if my card would start working.

No dice. I was quickly running out of money and options. I shot a text over to a friend in Vancouver and didn’t hear back. My last resort was to buy tenting gear and to find a place where I could camp for a couple of days. It didn’t pan out, and I was quickly losing daylight.

My mom sent me some money to find a hotel for the night. But it was September long weekend, so all the hotels on the east side of lower mainland – Hope, Harrison Hot Springs, etc. were all booked up. Plus, many places wouldn’t let me book without a credit card, which was proving a sticking point.

I think I finally found a hotel that let me book without a credit card around 2:00 AM that night, in Langley.

The next day, my friend in Vancouver got back to me, and she let me stay at her place for a few weeks, for a reasonable fee. I finally managed to get the issue with my card sorted out during my stay.

In the meantime, though, I was sued by a credit card company. So, that set my consumer proposal into motion.

Most of that happened between mid-September and mid-October, like maybe in a 30- to 50-day timeframe.


Yeah, life is unpredictable, especially when you make big commitments. I feel like it’s always been that way.

But that’s just the CliffsNotes version, so you know plenty of other things happened along the way.

By the way, Elite Players: Newsletter sounds awesome. I can’t wait to subscribe. What can you tell us about it?

Well, I know that in this day and age, people are going, “A print newsletter? Really?!”

But you can go back even just 10 or 20 years and see that this was a critical part of a business’ activity. The recurring income is part of it. But anyone looking to establish themselves as a celebrity, even if it was just among their existing followers, would give interviews, write books, start newsletters and magazines…

And there are still some notable personalities like Dan Kennedy and Russell Brunson putting out print newsletters, right? Like, not just one but they offer several newsletters on different topics and deliver fresh content every month?

Exactly. It’s not as outdated a concept as one might think. If anything, I think it’s becoming very now again. You can see the digital newsletter trend going crazy right now, of course, but I like to zag when others zig, so the print newsletter represents a good opportunity to stand out from the crowd. It costs more, and it’s not as easy to create, which is why a lot of people aren’t doing it.

I know people are quick to declare the death of print, but that’s simply not happening. People keep saying radio will be dead, too, and the stats show that something like 88% of Americans still listen to the radio.

Honestly, it’s just an attention-grabbing headline, right? Every other year, it seems like Mitch Joel is declaring the end of blogging. At this point, it’s probably strategy, not the true end of blogging. Maybe the end of specific aspects of blogging.

So, to get back to your question, we understand well the attraction to new things. Updated things are kind of cool, but they’re nowhere near as magnetic as new things. And the newsletter is the perfect medium for delivering a fresh dose of new to our subscribers every single month.

We also found that while educational content is good, it can tire people out and leave them feeling a little overwhelmed, so we’ve switched to injecting plenty of personal stories, examples, and emotion into the newsletters. It’s the adage that “people are more interested in your new kitten than your best how-to content,” you know what I mean?

So, most of the time, I think our subscribers are the first to hear about the latest occurrences in my life and our business. They’re getting an inside look into everything – something not everyone gets access to following my personal blog or even our various updates at Music Entrepreneur HQ.

There are so many private conversations happening, be it team meetings, before and after podcast interviews, coaching sessions, or otherwise. Obviously, I can’t reveal everything from these conversations, but it’s safe to say the newsletter comes with rich, vivid, juicy details you’re simply not going to find elsewhere.

Also, before I forget. I’m not the only one writing for Elite Players: Newsletter, and our skilled and knowledgeable partners and contributors are covering a variety of topics. It’s meant to be an extension of our independent musician academy, Elite Players: All Access Pass, so in many ways it’s just as valuable. And although it’s kind of a cheesy tagline, it’s like a paper seminar that arrives in your mail each month.

Speaking of which, we heard rumors that you were going to be setting up a three-tier subscription model for Elite Players: All Access Pass at different price points.

Wow, I don’t know how you could have possibly known that. You’re really in the know! That’s incredible.

So, here’s the deal:

Now that we have Elite Players: Newsletter, we feel the timing is right to launch a three-tier model for Elite Players. Of course, it won’t be called Elite Players: All Access Pass. Each tier will have its own name. As cliché as it is, it will probably be Platinum, Gold, and Silver or something along those lines.

We’ve had Members Only Audios for a while as a standalone product, and that is technically the entry point into the Elite Players ecosystem. So, we’ll be looking at making that our Silver plan, possibly with access to one or two other modules.

The Elite Players: Newsletter will be available only to Gold and Platinum members, though it will be available as a standalone product too. Platinum, of course, will be All Access Pass, so really the only thing we need to create is the Gold level. I think we have a reasonably good idea what that’s going to look like, and it shouldn’t prove too laborious to create.

But I have a lot on my plate, so I’m certainly not making any promises as to when it will be done.

So, you’ve got another book in the works, as well as a three-tier model for Elite Players on the docket. Is there anything else we should know about?

Business is all about making promises and delivering on them. We haven’t delivered on all our promises through the years, and we’re doing everything we can to make this right.

Which can only mean one thing, right?

Flashes of Elation?

Right. Again, I’m not committing to timeframes, but Flashes of Elation is definitely on the radar, and I think there’s a good reason to prioritize it now. That’s about all I’m going to reveal about it, but you’ll soon find out why it’s pretty top of mind for us.

As always, we appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. This is going to be a monster piece of content when all is said and done, and it’s loaded with value. Do you have any closing remarks you’d like to share with our audience?

Thank you for having me and thanks for doing what you do. Publishing takes effort no matter in what capacity, and most people doing it have a day job. Or they do it because it is their day job.

We’ve got a lot of great things coming at Music Entrepreneur HQ, but I really do want to emphasize that The Renegade Musician was a special project to me, and the book itself probably won’t be the end of it.

In the meantime, though, I really want to hear what people are accomplishing. What are they getting out of the book? What results are they producing? How has it helped them?

I encourage everyone with a story to reach out to me, because it will form the foundation of the work, we do with the book moving forward.

Thanks again for your time, David.

Thank you.


The Renegade Musician eBook should be available within the month, with paperback and hardcover versions soon to follow,” offered Wiebe.

Attractive, smart, hardworking, go-getting independent artists can still “pre-order” the hardcover version along with the Elite Player: Newsletter bundle, featuring over $3,000 in bonuses. But time is running out, so act fast.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Renegade Musician Interview with David Andrew Wiebe

A few weeks ago, founder & CEO of Music Entrepreneur HQ and host of The New Music Industry Podcast sent us an early draft of his forth...