Producer Joe Solo on Music Biz Success

Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! Podcast Episode 021

Today’s episode is an interview that I did during Canadian Music Week with producer and songwriter Joe Solo. Known for developing Macy Gray for 17 years before she hit it big with her debut album in 1999, Joe’s credits include Michael Jackson, Fergie, will i. am, Quincy Jones, and many others. Joe was very generous with his time, shared valuable advice for musicians and told some great stories of some of the talent he has worked with.


Producer Joe Solo Show Notes:

As I am a one-woman show, I have finally given into the saying “Done is better than perfect” that I have resisted for so long.  I want to include transcripts of the episodes but I can’t dedicate the time and resources to transcribe them perfectly so here is the unedited transcript from


Diane Foy  0:04

Welcome to sing dance act thrive, featuring conversations with performing artists and industry influencers on what it takes to succeed in the arts. I am your host Diane Foy and I believe that you really can make a living from your creative talents. As a publicist, podcaster and coach. My mission is to educate, motivate and empower you to thrive with authenticity, creativity, and purpose.

Hello, and welcome to episode number 21 of sing dance act thrive. Today’s episode is an interview I did during Canadian Music Week with producer and songwriter Joe solo. Joe is very generous with his time and shared some valuable advice for musicians, including some great on music licensing and how to make it in the industry. He has some great stories of some of the talent that he’s worked with, including Macy Gray of how he met her and developed her for 17 years before she hit a big with her debut album in 1999. Joe’s other credits include Michael Jackson, or he will I am Quincy Jones, and many others. And now he’s spending a lot of time coaching other artists through workshops and books and guest speaking. So I won’t talk too much. I’ll just get to it, because we talked for over an hour, and I hope you enjoy it. So what are some of the highlights of your career?

Joe Solo  1:44

Yeah, I’m glad you said someone not like your favorite because there’s so many I couldn’t possibly, you know, yeah, decide. What was really neat about the music business is it’s an adventure. Well, definitely the highlight is like the day I broke through from fancy on the fringes of the big time to being a complete rookie, smack dab in the middle of the big time. Right. I had been developing from scratch, Macy Gray for 17 years. And before she broke, right, and when she broke, I got calls from like every major music publisher in the world, like all in one day total Cinderella story. Yeah, kind of thing. And over the next it’s a month and a half. And I whittle down who I wanted to be with down to three, and a little bidding war started. This is all because the song I wrote with Macy called Sweet baby was going to be the first single our second record. That was really nice. Because not not only breaking through and signed a half a million dollar deal, a publishing deal. Which sounds like a lot. But then if you take 17 years of work and divided by all those hours, I don’t know if I was doing better hourly than like a McDonald’s french fry cook after taxes. Yeah. But, but it was cool. I’ll take it. probably the coolest thing was the first time I heard my music on somebody else’s radio. And what happened was I was live in Los Angeles, I was driving and my my windows were down. And this car pulls up next to me. It’s convertible. Dream. Yes. Couple of you know how much younger there’s a couple of few ladies in the car and their list their list. The song is blasting out of their stereo. And I’m like, hey, ladies, they look at me like I’m some crap. And I’m like, Hey, I wrote that. We’re like, really? Like, yeah, this is awesome. Yeah. Anyway, so that’s really highlight. You know, hearing your music in a public forum is very, very satisfying. That’s why I do what I do now, which is venture people on both a large scale and a one on one basis on how to break through and music because I feel so blessed to have gotten the music dream. I want that for others. There’s so many common mistakes people make. That can be avoided if they just knew about them, right?

Diane Foy  4:37

Oh, and 17 years with Macy Gray. That’s a good lesson that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lot of work to get there. So maybe Can you tell us a bit about the journey from meeting her to when she broke the type of work that you did with her?

Joe Solo  4:53

Yeah, and it wasn’t just her I was working with all kinds of artists. I serendipitously met her at this. Or she was a cashier and I was eating I was paying my bill. And just out of nowhere. She says Hey, are you musician or guitarist or something like yeah, play guitar, I produce a bunch of other instruments I play write songs. And she said, Well, I’m a singer. And I’m looking for someone to work with. So why don’t we try working together? Like completely out of the blue?

Diane Foy  5:20

She hasn’t even seen you play.

Joe Solo  5:22

No, no, I’m just paying my bill. And so I was like, sure, you know, I’m not. The next day she comes over. And she’s like warming up in the vocal booth. And of course, at this time, the vocal booth is a euphemism for bathroom. But I’m listening to her voice. And it’s just becoming obvious to me. This is a unique voice. And after about five minutes, I got on the talkback mic. And I’m like, Did you come out here for a second, I want to talk with you just comes out. And he said, I will commit right now. No matter how long it takes no matter what. It’s to be your producer and develop you be your songwriting partner until we make it and I will never quit. I will never quit on you. Which is 17 years. Yeah. Now, it doesn’t always take that long now. But back then I was just starting out too. Yeah, you’re learning together so much. Yeah.

Diane Foy  6:20

So I saw on your website, you have quite a few credits. Can I maybe throw some names at you? And you tell me a little story?


Joe Solo  6:27

Yeah. Quincy Jones, Quincy Jones, couple things. He has, he had this foundation called 5 million kids, which is a foundation that brings in well known industry people to speak to high school students and inspire them to follow their dream and their path and not get into the drugs and the gangs. And all this is all I can South federal la type places. So I got involved with that. And that’s very satisfying. And then also got a publishing company. And I wrote a lot of music. Quincy Jones publishing. And those are the two areas where we were. But what’s really, what’s really cool is like, it’s such a small, small, small industry. And everyone knows everyone, no matter where I go on the planet, I’m going to somebody I know. You know, my business partner, Matt, those places when I do it, everywhere he goes, no matter what country what cities have lived.

Diane Foy  7:40

In seconds of us meeting someone stopped him.

Joe Solo  7:42

We can’t walk through the hallways without like, you know, can’t get to the other side of the room and time. without, you know, meeting somebody that we met last year here, we’re and yours go somewhere else, wherever. But it all kind of comes together. Which is why I don’t inspire artists to just never ever quit has all these little seeds that you plant. Some of them start growing into flowers and trees later on in life. And it all comes together a very nice way. And that song sweet at we wrote in 1994 didn’t come out to 2001. Right now the night we wrote it was a couple hours to write it. We were excited. We knew we had a hit. And but it didn’t actually become one for you know, another seven years. Yeah. So be patient never quit.

Diane Foy  8:40

That’s it. And it’s sometimes hard to when you are in those down times to not quit, like if you can’t pay rent, and things like that, you need to have that passion that you’re going to do it no matter what. And that’s kind of what keeps you going.

Joe Solo  8:57

Yeah, and that doesn’t mean you can’t change direction. I mean, the whole industry is is populated with people who started out as artists or in a band or something like that. And then he discovered that, for whatever reason, it wasn’t going to happen for them artistically. But maybe they still have so much passion for music, that they went to law school and became a music attorney, or a publicist like yourself, or, you know, a publisher or a promoter, concert promoter. a&r person record label executive

Diane Foy  9:29

is a struggle no matter what there’s but there’s so many

Joe Solo  9:31

industry there’s so many areas where you could be satisfied in part of the music business. It doesn’t have to be Beyonce, Jay Z level of success superstar, you know, that happens for a very few and it’s lottery. The lottery on top of the lottery actually. But just to go first full circle with your question from before I was talking about how like the such a small world. Alright, so I was selected to be Michael Jackson’s music director, or the 45th birthday extravaganza that he threw at the Neverland Ranch. And there’s all these celebrities there and also invited all these kids from like, you know, orphanages, and hospitals, all kinds of stuff is really great event, thousands of people there. And so it was really, visually, you know, it was cool. To be the light. I was the live stage music director for that. It is really cool to work from Michael Jackson to meet him and come full circle. So yeah, it does work with your producer Quincy Jones. That’s all Yeah, I love I love q that’s what we call you. And so that’s small world thing happens a lot. And then that turns into other contacts and networking and networking, such a vital part, being successful in this business. Be the greatest artists in the world. But if you don’t know anyone that nobody knows you. You’re not going to get very far. Yeah,

Diane Foy  11:11

That would have been the next name I throw at you Michael Jackson. I’m a fan. I need to know. What’s the deal?

Joe Solo  11:17

Well, here’s what was it. Like, here’s probably the best Michael Jackson story. All right. During that weekend, you know he has a zoo on his property. Yeah, this is not just like cage with a couple of monkeys. All right. He’s got tigers and lions and elephants and giraffe. He’s got a serpent from the snakes and scorpions and tarantulas and including North America’s largest albino Anaconda. Wow. Now it’s also got some llamas. So I’m talking to a bunch of people. And in the zoo area, right next to this fence. And that I feel this slimy sensation. wipe up the back of my neck and I turned around and Michael Jackson’s mama had just left me on the neck. Head came over the fence of the legs me on the neck. Now, that morning, if you told me before the day is over, you’re gonna get licked on the neck by Michael Jackson’s la la. I wouldn’t have said this zero percent chance of that happening. And I would have been wrong. Yeah. You never know what each day brings. But it really is an adventure. Yeah.

Diane Foy  12:30

And for that event, is that where maybe some of the artists, other artists that you worked with, like were there? I guess I assume there’s a lot of performers for that event.

Joe Solo  12:38

There’s a lot of performers and other celebrities to it. Was this performer a shot? I don’t know if you remember her. She was there. And Macaulay Culkin was there. I mean, all kinds of celebrities. Mike Tyson was there. I got, I got to meet Mike Tyson. I don’t know if you know who he is. He’s He’s a EDM guy. He’s like one of the original pioneers of electronic dance music. He was there. And free businesses. So it was Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon. I met him. And I was kind of like, Oh, so you’re the one is just destroy just taking all the money. Right? Not not like telling him Come on. Like, oh, that’s enough. Yeah. Or maybe he did. And Michael. So anyway, I don’t know.Yeah. But yeah, yeah, that’s really cool. It’s just interesting. Michael Jackson story I have nothing to do with this was a really inspirational story. After thriller was recorded. Michael, when he listened to the final mixes, he thought it was awful. And I mean, you literally cried because it puts so much time and emotional in that investment into this record. And he thought he thought it just didn’t translate well. So Quincy says, Well, why don’t we do this? Why don’t we go back in the studio. And we’re going to take each song, one day per song, the tweak the mixes, or remixes do what it takes to make that emotional campaigns happen. They whether they did exactly that. And that’s the record that we all know. It never surprises me, making your record how sometimes it’s just the last couple final tweaks and moves that glue everything together. Yeah,

Diane Foy  14:40

you know, the perfectionist geniuses, they always are very particular.

Joe Solo  14:47

I’m an admitted workaholic. But the thing is, is that I may spend 100, hundred and 25 hours on a single song. That’s average. But those professions that you create, once they’re done, they last forever, without any additional effort. Yeah, so it’s worth taking that extra time to really nail it, and making sure just every possible thing is undeniable. No weak links,

Diane Foy  15:23

when do you know when to let go? With perfection we could tweak things forever

Joe Solo  15:29

We Are you also just as a professional, you have to also say, you know, you have to make decisions, that’s the thing is, a lot of times a lot of times you make a decision, and just trust that the future decisions you make, on the song, the music, tweaking the mastering mixing will work, I got it, I got a real strong gut sense of that time. And usually, I’m going too far with something for some reason, my computer crashes, that like interrupt the process in my head, I’m like, all right, you know, it computer got like a sign from from the other world. But it’s more like an interruption of being stuck in that over perfectionist the process. And then also, there’s just time constraints in terms of budget costs a lot of money to work with me, and go on forever, you know, with us with a single budget with a single number there. So decisions have to be made. And that’s part of being professionals is making decisions about what to let go what not us. A lot of times, artists like for producing themselves will record every idea that you think of and then in the mix, try and squeeze every idea into the mix. And you can’t it’s just it’s just becomes too much. So you have to let go of your little babies got to kill some of your babies to make room for the others to grow. That’s a terrible analogy. But hope the point is made. Yeah, for sure. I also saw that you did some work with the shows like American Idol. see you dance dancing the stars. What is it that you did there? I didn’t work with them. These these are shows where music of mine was used on the show. Okay. Well, there it is. Yeah, yeah. So I’ve had the last count, maybe somewhere around 2600 placements around the globe. That was about a year ago. So this is a handful more now. And a lot of these placements are placed by my publisher, which is tentatively Sony. But they don’t call to say, Hey, we got a placement for you. Because they work with so many songwriters, they can’t spend their day all day long, just calling single placement the way you find out. is you get your royalty statement. Six months or a year later, you find out Oh, oh, looks like my music was the dog whisperer. Yeah. Or, you know, American Idol. One of the funds that they were saying, so and so forth. So a lot of times, that’s how I find out where the music was used, especially internationally. Yeah, you can’t keep up with it all, you know. So every time you know, there’s just a new show that my musics been featured on I just Well, not every time but it’s recognizable. I’ll add it to the list of credentials. Over time, your list is looking like a crazy alphabet. Because you’ve got all these different channels was called letters and callsign.

Diane Foy  19:02

Do you get into creating music specifically for film or TV?

Joe Solo  19:07

I do I do. What I’m doing right now is I’ve been composing a cinematic EDM library, specifically for placement in film and TV. And he thing there is that the whole point of the music, well, if it’s for like a TV show, the whole point of the music is to keep the adrenaline high. So somebody doesn’t feel like changing the channel, if they’re watching and broadcast TV, during the commercial. That’s the point. But for a more dramatic thing, or film, the job the music isn’t to show off your music. It’s to support the story. And the director’s vision of a movie, for example, tell the audience how to feel any particular scene. So let’s take for example, like you got a Batman movie in the Joker’s killing all these people as you’re playing like this dark horrific, just in in score that’s going to make you feel dark and feel like you know, the evil of the Joker. But let’s say you took the same scene where he’s killing all these people been played circus left, and you would feel you feel the joy and the folly of the Joker. So the music tells the audience how to feel the a particular scene. So it’s important to look at it as serve the director’s vision and the stories vision in that way. As opposed to I’m going to show off how great my music is. And hopefully, hopefully it will be great within that context. Then also, you know, a lot of times people want to get a song placed in film or TV, which is, in my opinion, right now like the best way to break through. Because you get upfront money, long term royalties, and you get instant, hopefully worldwide recognition. If the TV show of the movie is a hit, that one song can make your career. And if you do a TV show, like a theme, get paid for a theme of the show goes into syndication, like Seinfeld or something like that. You’re set for life. I know the composer Seinfeld’s out the wall is a friend of mine, he retired at 43. You make so much money off the royalties of reruns, yeah. That he got out of the game basically bought a mansion in eastern United States, about four kids and is living his life. And he still speaks like I do, to give back. But one show made his you know, financial security, real thing, just life. And of course, that show turned into other shows, you’re doing a lot of different situation comedies, and known as like the situation comedy composer. So I’m having a very good career. Or you take those films like a few mash, the opening song is an instrumental version of a vocal song called suicides, papers. And mash was made in like the late 70s, or something, but it’s still runs all over the world, and all these different territories and all these different channels that we have. I don’t know the writers name, but I do know that the writer probably is the two $300,000 a year in performance royalties, and still, you know, making money for time passing. So your songs, it’s like owning stock in a company. If the company does well, you make money for time passing. It’s the same thing. So as a music business person, it’s important to think that way as well as the artistic. What I mean by that is, let’s say you want to have what I call a universal appeal, meaning appeal to the large, wide set of cultures and demographics. You might have to let go of certain things. For example, Heaven, I had an artist who wanted to be known as like, great singer and great harmonica player. When he brought me his demos, the songs had a 64 bar harmonica solo at the beginning of the song,

I see you smiling, like dude, no disrespect to your harmonica. But if you really want to, if you really want to break through on a universal level, we shorten that to like maybe two bars, and then have a maybe like a eight or 16 bar harmonica feature towards the end. And let it be a component of a great song as opposed to the one to focus on. As I doubt you’ll ever get radio play, bar harmonicas beginning, situations like that sometimes artists ego will get in the way and say no, that’s how the music goes. And that’s how it’s going to be. And sometimes they say, Okay, well, that makes sense. Let’s let’s try it that way. And there is no one knows for sure. If that usual version of that song would have done better or not. I think there’s things that you can do. Let me backtrack for some things successful is a big component is luck. But there’s so many things you could do built luck, to your favor, to maximize the chances of being successful. That’s why I’m out here. talking to people, products, and speaking all over the planet, trying to help people get their music dream as best as I can.

Diane Foy  25:31

Yeah. So you spent a lot of time songwriting producing, when did you kind of transition to coaching artists?

Joe Solo  25:43

About 7 years ago, my kids, my kids, I have two girls. And it occurred to me that I’m spending so much time in the studio, that I’m missing experience of them growing up. So I wanted to reinvent myself, I came up. And I’ve always wanted to be able to like help people, I love helping people. I love making people laugh to crack as many jokes as possible during my talk, you know, have fun with it, want to make good money. So I reinvented myself, because of the, you know, 125 hours per song It takes in studio is missing out of them growing up. So I wanted to come up with a business that I could give back, have fun and make decent money or time passing I started was called the music success workshop. You know, create a good product, he put it online and promote it properly, then people can check it out if they want to buy it. And you don’t have to be right there hands on doing everything like we’re producing. I’m here for every single second of the production. Not in every case, sometimes I if the budget can’t afford me, I’ll have a co producer do part of the production. And I’ll do the beginning focus on the vocals in the end and focus on the final mix. But when I’m doing everything hands on, it’s it’s all consuming because I’m putting not just the time into it. But every ounce of passion I have, you know the songs with these artists they become but my little stepchildren like, all in love with. I live with it. And even even when I’m not directly working on it, my brain still is, it’s almost like impossible not to because you’re in the studio, you’re working on the same part listening to the same little or bar section over and over and over, then you do that all day. And then when after 12 hours of that it’s kind of hard to turn that fall off and your head keeps going and going to your head while you’re sleeping and your brain is working things out the next day, wake up with new ideas. You work on those and talking is all consuming. Which is why if I’m gonna, if I’m going to work with somebody, I mean, yeah, they have to have the budget, but I have to like them to as a person. Yeah. Because it’s such an emotional process, everyone is airing their soul, these songs are born out of their life experiences. And in some cases, they need the song to be partially written, maybe they have great verses and choruses, but weren’t able to come up with a bridge that is was as great as the other parts that I wrote, well, you don’t want to have an entire section via weekly. So maybe I’ll write the bridge. And we’ll call the song at some level. Or maybe they are writing with me from scratch. You split everything 5050. And we’re starting with just nothing like music, ideas, ideas out of the ether.

that’s even more time and more consuming. Because now they’re not little stepchildren of mine. But we’re actually making these babies together. But the real magic is when I’ve got ideas, and the artist has ideas. And somehow those ideas get hybridize and little baby ideas that are better than what either one of us alone would come up with. That’s where like the magic of collaboration is. So I really enjoy collaboration I want to enjoy the person who I’m going to be working with for so many hours and putting so much emotional investment into. And I think who you are character is a big part of being successful. Yeah. Because all about relationships in the Exactly. Which means you’ve got to have have a stellar reputation. Yes, any any of my buddies has been in the business, you know, for 2030 years, is it Well, what do you got? Everyone says the same answer. All I got is my reputation. So have character Don’t lie. Don’t BS.

Diane Foy  30:19

And the industry talks.

Joe Solo  30:21

Everyone knows everyone. Yeah. You know, just just be real be authentic artists. Yeah, nobody wants to work with a nightmare know how no matter how great they are. Because at a certain point, your life is short. So be cool. Be authentic Yeah.

Diane Foy  30:42

So what is some of the advice that you give to a young artist starting out?

Joe Solo  30:48

I may have mentioned this earlier, but the best piece of advice is just never quit. Ever. Quitting is not an option, change direction. If one day you discover that you’re miserable, but you can’t quit. I mean miserable for years at a time. Okay, then maybe musics not your thing. And you know, having a meaningful and happy life is more important than making it making it isn’t the solution to all problems. Once you make it, you just have a whole new set of problems the problems is so it is successful. Everyone’s got problems. But there will be ups and downs there will be minor and major heartbreaks along the way. And as you just simply stay with it, don’t quit eventually something breaks opportunity that you see how many extra falls in your lap. You know, I got it, I got a buddy is playing with corn, the bunch of a bunch of other bands. But he also this is really cool. video game music is really good at it. Really high adrenaline. And guess what Electronic Arts number one video game for the world has music called and said, We want you to do a whole library of music for us. And then that ended up becoming successful and became his thing. Now when he set out to be rock star guitar player, you know, the idea of being this top composer of video music was not in his vision. But that’s where the success for him started to go. So we went with it not comes up. Right.

So that’s not giving up. But yeah, but instruction exactly be look Be on the lookout for opportunity that might be different from what your original vision is. And you might want to go with it or at least test the waters. I’m same thing I started out as a guitar player. My vision was to be a very well known and successful guitar player in a band. And when I came out to LA, I was like 18 years old had a year of college under me and I’m going to go for music to my parents. I’m leaving school going for it. every parent’s dream. Well, in this case. My dad’s father is 10 or 11. Brothers and sisters are vaudeville performers. family involved performers back in the day. So my dad was like, Yeah, go for it, you know, keep the entertainment, the family entertainment going? What kind of things did they do and everything. That’s how it is? Yeah, I mean, for a lot of kids, they don’t know it is but it’s basically just proud traveling entertainers going from city to city and tour to these variety shows. And you had to be good, you had to kill every night. And every night was different, just like touring, you know, live, every show is different. But anyway, so I was very lucky to have parents that were behind me. And when I moved out when I moved out to LA that’s that’s what I was going for was was just be, you know, well known successful guitar player touring records the whole thing. And the thing is, is that the band that I put together was kind of sucked. not technically, we were all very proficient. But the ingredients were not put together in a way that people could relate to. We had this singer who was very androgynous, and sang in the super high falsetto and I’m sort of combination of old school font and big guitar. Then we had a pop drummer in basis he, you know, did the best he could. But we just never, we never went anywhere. Meanwhile, I’m developing Lacey. And we’re getting lots of attention and producing other artists and different styles and writing, writing writing all the time, different people, and then different styles and songwriter, producer, I started I started to you know, make some decent money and get my name around a certain point that’s like, Okay, I need side I’m I gotta continue pounding the pavement on this band thing, which is going nowhere and costing me a ton of money. Yeah. Or can I be satisfied having a career as a songwriter producer?

Sure, I’d be satisfied doing that. So I made the decision to stop the band thing, and, and more the director that was already being successful. And it was like the most liberating moment was liberating moment, right? Because I had to let go of my original vision, something that’s hard. Sometimes it takes time to get there, it’s very hard. But then once you make the decision to free,

yeah, it’s an adventure. The funny thing is, as a as a public speaker, and I’ve been told thought leader in the music industry, starting to get a lot of followers, people on my email list and everything like that. So several thousand, I was thinking, I could probably put out a record of my own music right now, and do even better than before, to an audience right. Now, even though it says a mentor and not, you know, not as a artist, maybe I’ll do that someday, right now. And still just focusing on helping as many people as I can break through

Diane Foy  36:59

What are some of the products and services that you offer

Joe Solo  37:02

primary product, the best one, I have, I find that people can shave off years and years of trial there. If they just have someone from the inside, show them the ropes, each from the secret handshakes, crack the code of the music business, the new music book, music success book, which will be coming out soon at fine bookstores everywhere. So this product is called make it big in a box. And it’s hundreds of video clips of me speaking, where I’m rendering advice to artists, of all stripes and types. Some of them are long form videos where I’m speaking for an hour and a half to three hours. And some of them are little clips were one minute, you get a piece of advice that that could potentially shave years off your success. And then there’s hundreds of written tips to all drawn from my experience, and my observation of the experience of others. Because, you know, when I started out, I a lot of buddies moved out to LA and they were going for it. And that a lot of people went away. And I can see he’s been successful, who is still pounding away at it, but hasn’t been a success. But they’re still doing the same thing that changes. And or the people who are starting to achieve some success and the story is building. You can look back and see doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look back and see what tends to be working for myself and for all these other people. And what is it working? Now nobody tell you exactly how to make I can tell you many, many ways, how to not make it. Yeah, a lot of people have this idea of how the industry works without this is where ego kind of comes in without actually knowing whether their idea is actually how this really work or not. So I try and teach that. You know, people think if you go into the big time studio, that you’re going to make a record. And they book eight hours, and they plan to do five songs. And that’s not, that’s not going to yield anything remotely useful. Other the experience of realizing that takes a lot longer than eight hours to do. I thought, you know, artists often takes six months, a year to three years making a record. You know, when I tell people 800 225 hours per song, just for a minute song, we’re thinking about a two hour movie spend two years making it a time. Everything is done, it’s whittled down to a two hour movie. That’s what Jason is saying with a record. It’s not that long for every style of music. You know, if you’re doing a more raw hip hop thing, or EDM were a lot of it’s programmed ahead of time, it’s not going to take this long. But if you got a lot of live drums and live instruments, layers of experimentation with arrangement, it does take a long

way back to make it big in a box. Just so much experience and observation that can help other people, I had to put it all into one package. If people want to find out, you know more about it, or get it they go to Joe solo calm my website, and they can make it bigger box. Right now, normally 2000 bucks. Right now we’re selling it for 995. And here’s the cool thing. In addition to all that video and written information, it comes with a live one on one consultations with the music industry professional from my company, or if they want to pay a little extra, I’ll do their consultation with you do it by phone, Skype or in person. So it doesn’t matter where in the world you are in person is the best you’re in LA. And we just come over to my place we sit down we talk at one on one consultation is a chance for the artists to answer all the questions or have their music analyzed, and develop a roadmap of where to go from here, where to go from where they are. That is included with the naked big in the box package. And right now Now, since we’re just releasing this, the first 25 people who order are going to get me as their consultant without having to pay the extra $700 passport. Also, I know that musicians don’t have 1000 bucks just lying around. So you could do a payment plan. charge extra for a payment plan where you spread it out over 12 months, yeah, ends up being like 79 bucks a month, which is like Starbucks money. They can handle that. Yeah. If you think you know, all there is to know about the industry, you don’t need any additional help or guidance or advice and you know, great. But if you want to get a lot of inside tips and direction and motivation and inspiration, and the 79 bucks a month and change your life forever.Auto resources totally that artist and keep going back.

Oh yeah, this is you go to And if you just want to test, test the waters, get on my email list, and I send out right away. Once you sign up, it’s free. You get a music success video nugget series, which are like a series of these three minute video nuggets. And also you get written tips every week, couple times a week, actually. And each one of these things you could put she start putting it to use on your career that very nice. Yeah. So instant change. But probably the best thing that comes with signing up to the email list is I’ve created a list of the nine music career killing mistakes, and how to avoid them here to give us a couple minutes or you gotta sign up. But just to entice you. I for example, one of them is people don’t understand this until they read it is those having your music on iTunes, you go to Joel solo, calm and sign up, you find out how that could be detrimental to your career, and a handful of other things that will hopefully avoid making very common errors that up and coming artists make. And it’s not their fault that they make these things. You know what, you know? Yeah, you have to realize that there are things that you don’t know, that you need to know, to be successful. And there are the quirkiest things to for example, if you’re trying to get your music, and film and TV, and you send your entire library of a 30 songs to some music supervisor, thinking, Okay, they’re going to see how versatile I am and what my talent is not realizing that, that doesn’t matter to music supervisor because their job is to find appropriate music for the shows and films they’re working on. And for the specific scenes that need music. Yeah,

Diane Foy  45:12

you gotta do your research.

Joe Solo  45:13

When you contact, your supervisor is asking ignore your email. So if they’re working on us on a space adventure, and you’re selling your hillbilly cowboy music, yeah, you know, you’re just what you’re just wasted there, you’re just telling them, I didn’t do my research. And these people are so busy, have so much responsibility. And they don’t, they don’t have time to listen to your 30 songs. In fact, it bogs down the emails, especially if like you send the actual send files, unless they request it. never send files always links unless they request something specific. And many of the music supervisors in Hollywood do have specific preferences. And you’ve got to get to know that. So how do you get to know something is personal is that well, that’s where networking comes into place. conferences, you gotta do your research, you can go to places like the Guild of music supervisors website has a lot of great information,

Diane Foy  46:15

watch the shows that you want your music on.

Joe Solo  46:17

Yeah, make sure your music makes sense for that show. Although everyone will say, everyone, including myself, well, thank Well, there’s so many different emotions in the show that they can use any kind of music, but if you look at if you look at TV shows, they really have sort of a certain style that fits within that show. And there’s a real good piece of advice, real good piece of advice. Industry, people are extremely busy, especially music supervisors, but extremely busy. So if you’re going to write them, first of all, never send out bulk email that says, Hello, or you’re industry person, or hot. I mean, I see that. And it’s like, that’s, I don’t even bother reading it. Because I already know that they didn’t take the time at all, to research what I’m doing or what I’m all about. And the first thing you’re right, is right, this verbatim, thank you for taking the time to read this. So before you get into who you are, how you think you can make their job easier, all kinds of things like that, which is awesome. You got to put right, they have to catch fish. And you only got which which, which is another thing I teach is how the various the people in the various roles in history think because like music attorney and a publisher and a publicist, in our person, music supervisors, they all have different ways of thinking that are focused on what they do and what they need. So it’s good to learn that too. So you know how to approach these people. And then when you know how to approach these people, you have more confidence, because you know what you’re doing. And they sense that confidence is that is a big factor in success, too. Because they want to work with a professional, the professional knows, the business, knows how to network, how to talk, how to speak the language of the person, they’re talking to teach all this stuff. And it’s all it’s all the make it bigger the box package, which by the way, is not an actual box, it’s all online, and you get a password, and then you can access it whenever you want.

Diane Foy  48:37

Yeah, have you come up here a lot? I know you were here last year and this year for CMW.

Joe Solo  48:45

Last year was the first year they flew me out to speak. And I loved it. I was ignorant of how much Toronto is, is a major Music Center in the me. There is so much talent here. And there’s so much support for artists here. The country supports artists with all kinds of brands, after grants. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really amazing. And the people are great. So when they asked me to speak again this year, I say yes, this is like a really good energy. The other thing I do is a before and after session, where I’ll play a portion of this demo that artists brought me to produce that they created or create with another producer, whatever, and then play the broadcast quality finished master that’s been handling, technically, please perfection. But more important, has the emotional conveyance of the lyric in the spirit of the song and artist. That’s all part of being a broadcast quality Master, not just engineering master goes all the way back to the initial performances that you capture. Anyway, so I’ll play before and afters so people can hear the difference that a seasoned producer can make. And it doesn’t just make a difference in how the song is perceived, how well it’s perceived, which is significant. But then it also sets. When you have professional quality master. It says a lot of things about the artist it says and ready. It says this is this is my music to to record company, it says here’s the record, it’s already done. You don’t need to finance it. And guess what it’s going to sound like and take that risk. Here it is. Let’s do like a distribution deal. Or something like that. So having having that finished mastered master changes, the most positive way the perception of us professional, the difference. So I can say that it doesn’t mean anything to people. here that makes all the difference. And I have some before and afters on my website as well. We’ll check that out. Joe solo calm. So you get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Diane Foy  51:17

Thanks for joining me any final words of wisdom?

Joe Solo  51:21

Yeah, he make it big in a box and get thousands of final words of wisdom. Yes,, but I’ll give you a real one to there’s a good one a lot of people struggle with, do I? Do I do the music that’s authentically in my heart and soul? Or do I do the music that I think maximize chances of success? Because maybe that’s the style of the moment? And the answer is you your authentic, you use it. That’s actually from my perspective, that increases your chances of success more than hopping the style moment. Because when you’re authentic, and when you’re real, when that translates, comes out of the speakers and touches the hearts of somebody and move somebody that’s what inspires people. That’s what inspires people and your job as an artist is to move them some way, whether it’s in a dance, or to let them know hey, there’s we all go through heartbreak and loss of various clients or, and everything in between. So do the music that’s in your soul. Not what you think is the one that’s quote unquote likely to make it because it’s the style of the moment. And by the way, by the time, make a record and do a marketing campaign. Especially if you get signed with a label. It’s going to be two years later, that style of a moment will have changed anyway. So just do your authentic music. This could be very liberating for anyone who’s struggling with this streaming. So that’s one final piece of advice. Thank you. My pleasure.

Diane Foy  53:05

It was so great talking to Joe.  He has he’s a wealth of information, definitely check out his website. And now during CMW i sent some artists to different panels and workshops to report back what they learned and how they’ll incorporate it into their career. For Joe solo, I have Canadian singer songwriter Tamara Maddalen, she attended Joe’s asked me anything panel. So I’ll let her tell us what her takeaways were. For links and show notes visit Diane

Tamara Maddalen  53:39 

So one of the things that he talked about, which I really resonated with me was that you need to have a music business mentality and be professional and prepared. Because when you’re ready, the business will come to you, you won’t have to be knocking on doors. So you really want to position yourself to be ready. And that this industry, the music industry is a small world, everyone talks to everyone else. And you need to learn how to network, you need to know your core business, so that you can identify the obstacles that you meet along the way and be prepared to confront them. So being proactive, seeing where opportunities come up, and then being ready to capitalize on them.

He also talked about a lot of things that you shouldn’t be doing. So things that you would be a detriment to your progress. And he gave a really great example of music supervisors, there’s only a small group of them and they all talk, they all hang out one another with one another, and they’re quite competitive with each other. They’re all trying to break the next best thing. So when an artist has a catalogue of songs, and they just mass email, a bunch of music supervisors, what they end up doing, and you know, in their mind and in their intention is they think, okay, I’ve covered all my basis, I’ve sent everything out to everyone I possibly know, surely someone will think one of my songs is great enough to feature in a film or commercial. But by not doing their due diligence and not understanding who they’re sending their music to and tailoring their approach, they’ve actually done more damage to their chances of being heard. Because I’m music supervisor will see this massive large file bogging down their inbox, and just delete it. And then they’ll share that experience, maybe when they’re golfing or hanging out with their buddies. And they’ll all say, yeah, we saw that email come through and we we to deleted it.

So here you are thinking as an artist that you’ve done yourself, you know, some some good, and you’ve actually damaged your your chances are blown your chances. So that that goes back to being ready and knowing who your audiences. And then Joe talked about taking your time and working on your craft. And he gave the analogy of when he produces, he’s averaging about 100 an hour hundred hours of production time, per song, you know, to evolve it to the point where it is studio on radio quality ready.

So I feel like myself over the last four years, I’ve really done that without even knowing I’ve always really put the music first and wanted to put first a quality product out and then figure out how to get it to market. But I couldn’t do it until I had a good product. Joe talked about being authentic as an artist. And I think that that goes with with just being an authentic person in general, but also in any business that you’re in. If you’re not authentic, that’s going to come through in short order. If you’re trying to sell yourself as being something you’re not, as soon as you’re pushed put on the spot, you’re there going to rise to that occasion and deliver or you’re going to be seen as someone who’s not prepared and wasn’t genuinely authentic and what they were trying to deliver. He talked about getting to know the music business. And that’s where I think that I needed to work on it strengthening my weakness and knowing business language in the in the music biz, such as what a copyright is, and what a copyright does for you as a songwriter, corporate licensing, I need to get to know a bit more about how to get in to film and into potentially commercials and using my my music and other avenues that I didn’t think about earlier. You know, just what a music supervisor does, I didn’t realize there was a whole segment of professionals that do just that.

He talked about when you are reaching out and you made those Connect connections and your networking, that you’re going to always want to be humble, polite, and not pushy. And he talked about experiences of his own, where when he’s doing a business deal or a networking with someone in the biz, they’re spending 95% of the time, you know, just talking about life and their own experiences and general conversations about one another that have nothing to do with music. And then they’re going to do about 5% of the time will be focused on business. But that’s unlike that’s not unlike most things and most businesses, where you you want to you want to spend time with your colleagues having fun, and then you do a bit of work. But it’s really the relationships that are being built that that you know, open the doors and push push things further. He talked about finance, financing a good product as well, which is really important. And it is expensive. It’s it’s been expensive for me to put this record out. Because I want to do the songs justice and I want I want them produced the way I hear them in my mind. So you know not cutting corners. And if that means getting a second job or allocating money from other things, other luxuries that you might have to forgo in order to make your dream a reality, then that’s what’s going to take and taking your time to do that.

So I didn’t rush into this record, because I knew that I wanted to hire good people and collaborate with really great musicians. So I waited until I could afford it. And that’s when I brought them in. And then he, you know, we talked about once you’ve got a great product, how do you get it out? Well, you know, male database is really important is to build a fan base slowly over time. And he even talked about doing it with a chunk of 1000 fans at a time. Which when you break it down to those smaller segments of numbers, it doesn’t feel so daunting and overwhelming as an artist, because I think how am I going to appeal to all these massive people? Well, I don’t, I need to just do what I do slowly, methodically, and then build my fan base, a small chunk of people at a time. And as I’m doing that, and I’m engaging, I’m going to get to know my fans better, I’m going to get to know what their needs, their wants, and their likes are. And I think that the music will just follow suit. They talked about also offering music related products and services. So I need to expand my creativity, and looking outside of the box as well. So now that the album is getting close to conclusion, and I know that I’m going to be printing CDs, and also some vinyl, what else can I offer. So I need to start getting creative about how to use my website, and how to use my streaming services, to find a niche product that represents me as the brand but also gives my fans what they want.

And I think that that’s going to take time to develop, so that it’s unique to me, and I am going to take my time to get it right, I’m not in a rush on that front, I really want to get that part, right, you talked about when you hit a wall and your creative process, you should look at potentially writing in different ways. So maybe take a song apart of how you had originally written it, and maybe utilize the verses as the chorus, or write a new song around a bridge, which is very, very cool. Because sometimes we do get into writer’s block, or we tend to use the same formula over and over and over again. So to stop the songwriting starts to become a little bit redundant. And I know that now that I’ve wrapped up this record, and it certainly has a signature Americana, Americana roots rock sound.

For the follow-up record, I think that I need to get a little bit more adventurous and creative. So I’m going to definitely take those tips that Joe provided in the workshop, when I sit down to you know, start crafting the next album, and maybe pulling segments of a verse apart or a bridge and rewriting it completely differently, to see what I come up with. He said something really interesting about when you have completed your work, and you want to see, you know, you take it to market and you sort of test it to see, is it any good? Because you think it’s good? Because you’ve been working so hard at producing it. But what is what are your fans think? Or what are your friends think that are like-minded in that type of music genre. And he said a trick to do is to sneak be sneaky and just play it at a party without anyone knowing that it’s you. And he said, if your song is good, no one will say anything. But if it’s not good, you to take it off with him or someone will start complaining about or stating what is this crap within about 30 seconds. So I’m going to try that. See what I come up with, which is unsolicited feedback, which is like gold, right. And I’m a little fearful of doing it. But at the same time, I think it’s important to do because then you’re going to get honest feedback on what people think. Joe talked about self-doubt.

And I think we all have that, in general, certainly artists do I know I’ve, I’ve suffered with it, it kept me from putting out new music for a very, very long time. And I’ve worked really hard at getting over that. When I do have a moment where I’m thinking negatively, even Joe addressed. He said I’ve had self-doubt myself, all successful artists do. And you know, we start out in this business, not knowing anything. And we are literally finding our own path, pathway to market, which will be different from every other artist. So we said when those moments of self-doubt calm, allow yourself to ponder on it for about 90 seconds. That’s about it. You need to grow from it. But then be prepared to answer back with something that’s positive, that reinforces the opposite. And that’s going to build your strength and your character.

Diane: Hey, that’s my coaching.

Tamara: It is your coaching. And in fact, I wanted to bring it back around to your coaching because we worked on that very exercise having an actual statement that was self-destructive, but having an immediate response to that. That was the opposite. And in doing so, I’m prepared now with actual narratives in my mind that I’ve pondered on. And when those moments of self-doubt come, I’m ready to walk myself off the ledge as it were, and reinforce that note, I’m on the right path. And I’m setting myself up for success. I thought that that was really great that he, you know, brought that up because he’s extremely successful. And yet here is a person that has we all climb the mountain as it were in the music industry and work with the greatest artists there are. Yet he still succumbs to that sometimes, yeah, we all do. It’s human nature. It is Yeah. But he said learn the ropes because that’s the most important thing that’s going to serve you learn the music ropes, not just musically artistically, but of the music industry as well. And then never quit, no matter how hard it gets, never quit. And that’s really where I’m at. Now I’ve started this. It’s four years in, and I don’t know what this album will do for me as an artist, and what level of success I will have commercially with this record. But I can tell you, that everything that I’ve accomplished, even to the point of even being invited to be on this podcast with you, Diane, those are all successes for me. And whatever this album was meant to do. It’s already done for me, and then some. So I’m completely blessed every day that I get to work with amazing collaborators, such talented people, and I’m just so excited about the future. And I really want to take advantage of every opportunity that comes.

Diane Foy  1:05:09

Thanks for listening to sing dance act thrive. Be sure to join the mailing list at Diane Foy. com, to gain access to exclusive bonus content, a weekly newsletter and an invitation to our private Facebook group of purpose-driven performing artists and industry influencers