The music industry is full of people with varied backgrounds and experiences, and our guest this week is no exception.
With 20 years of experience under his belt as an artist in a touring band, as the tour manager for an artist opening for KISS, and as a mixing engineer and educator, Mike Indovina has tons of knowledge to share.
If you want to learn how to sell more merch at shows or how to make solid connections within your network, this is an episode you don’t want to miss.
Listen now to learn more about Mike and how his two decades of experience can benefit your band!
What you’ll learn:
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Welcome to Episode 71 of the Bandhive podcast.
It is time for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. My name is James Cross, and I'm here with Matt Hoos of Alive in Barcelona. How are you doing today, Matt?
I'm doing pretty awesome. James has everything over there on the East Side. That is great to hear. I'm also doing well. I'm trying to convince myself that a G&L ASAT is not the same as a Telecaster because even though they look the same and they're both designed by fender, they are not. So that's my struggle right now, because as of today it's the musician's friend deal of the day, and I'm like, Oh, I want to get a Telecaster. But no, it's it's not happening. I'm not getting a knock off.
Even if it's a Fender design knockoff, it's probably Mexican made anyway. so I mean, unless it's the American made, it's not the real thing. Could be. Who knows? Who knows. But either way, man the power of resistance. Right now, I just gotta meditate and say, Oh, anyway, I'm also really stoked because we have a special guest today. Mike Indovina of masteryourmix dot com, who has a very vast and storied history in the music industry, is joining us to talk about his experience as well as master your mix, which is a site dedicated to teaching D. I. Y artists how they can get the best results possible from their home recordings.
In addition to being a mixing and mastering engineer, though, Mike is also a drummer and has spent a considerable amount of time on the road either playing in bands or as an engineer or even a tour manager. So please join me in welcoming Mike. How are you doing, man? What's going on, guys? Thank you so much for having me. Oh, our pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us. I spoke to do this. This will be good to have a lot of fun. Yeah, I'm looking forward to hearing some crazy stories.
I know we're going to get to that later. By the way, James, to your point of the G N l As far as I know, they are basically telecasters. I I think I'm in the same boat as you. I mean, they were designed by Leo Fender. And as far as I know, even their Mexican made models still have American electronics in them. So that's kind of their advantage. Yeah, the differences. Because I looked up a YouTube review to figure this out. I was like, Are they the same?
Are they? And they sound a little different because fender, when he moved on to G N l didn't like the super harsh top end on on telly, which is what makes the sound of a telly. So when he designed the asset, he rolled off that top end, and it's a little more controlled. It's got more low mids and less of the the high mids there, So, unfortunately it looks the same, but it sounds a little different. Probably doesn't have that signature fender patented neck either. That wonderful, rounded, so easy to play and glide across neck.
That's the magic of offender. I'm a drummer. I can't play anyway. So all I know is I really want to tell you for those nice, beautiful, popping cleans. And the exact comparison I saw sounded good, but it wasn't a telly, so I must resist, but yeah. So, Mike again, Thank you for joining us and just to jump right in and get things started. You've been doing this for almost 20 years in various forms. Do you want to just tell us what inspired you to get into the music world in the first place?
Yeah. So my start in music was kind of just like I got into it out of competition, actually. So when I was in fifth grade, I had a friend of mine who he was, like, the cool guy in school. And I remember there was a school talent show and he played drums with the band. And after that, all of the girls were swooning over him, and I was like, Screw this guy, I got to show him up. I'm gonna learn drums to. And so my puberty jealousy kicked in and got me into drumming.
And so, um, yeah, ultimately, like I started drumming, I signed up with the same instructor he had and everything. You know, it's just like so childish. But immediately I fell in love with drumming and it was just amazing, like it was just like a really fun hobby. And as I got into high school, I joined my first band, and I was very fortunate, like I was. I was always in bands with people who are older than me, who, for whatever reason, like felt like a band, needed to be taken seriously and treated like a business as opposed to just like a bunch of guys hanging out and having fun.
So that was like my experience and being in bands like I didn't really know anything other than, like, you're in a band to be serious and to make music and, like, tour and do your own merchandise and, like, book your own gigs and do your own promotion. All this that kind of stuff, So but I just loved it like it was so much fun playing in bands and that was my goal for the longest time was just like How do I become a professional musician? And, you know, finding the right band to do that with and meeting the right people.
And so So basically, that was my career path for the longest time was just like I'm gonna just become a professional musician. And, um, at some point along the way, I got really interested in recording as well. And I think that was just because I was really frustrated with the process of writing songs because our bands, we would like spend hours and hours working on songs and like perfecting the arrangements and getting the parts down and nailing it all. And then we would leave practice just relying on our memories to piece everything together the next time we got together.
And inevitably, we'd always forget half the cool stuff we came up with. So I was just so frustrated with, like, kind of taking a step backwards and trying to relearn these awesome songs that we had just created. So I was like, I'm gonna get into recording. And that way I can, like, capture these moments and and have these songs recorded. And I was always interested in like, every time we played a live show, I'd always watch the sound guy like I just thought like Well, the band thing doesn't work out.
Like what a cool job to just like working a venue and watch bands play live and like, play with these like cool looking toys, that with all these lights and stuff like I don't know, I just really fascinated me. So that's what got me into the audio side, you know, just I thought it was fascinating and combine that with the fact that I wanted to record our material and then eventually went to college for music, business and music production stuff. And when I graduated from there, I kind of just started like it was like an experimental phase in my life where I just started working in lots of different areas of the audio industry just to kind of get my feet wet and get a lot of different experiences.
So I worked in like audio postproduction. I worked in recording studios. I worked in live sound. I did tour managing like a whole bunch of stuff, just to kind of see what I liked. It was it was really awesome, Like I I loved doing all of those things. But recording was always like the one thing that I kept coming back to and like whenever my band wasn't active like I was recording another band or like messing around with my own stuff. I was very fortunate that I eventually moved into a house with a bunch of guys who we had a studio in the house.
So for me, it was like, You know, why not use this amazing facility that we have, like in our attic and like, I'll record bands and like, I'll just get my feet wet and like, you know, network and do that kind of thing. So recording just kind of took over, like and as my bands broke up, it was just okay, I'll dedicate more time to this and and that's kind of where it went. And then that leads me to where I'm at today where, like, I'm still doing the recording stuff and not really doing the live sound stuff or even playing in a band right now.
But I've moved to teaching music production online. One of my roommates at that same house he had kind of He asked me what I was like, Hey, man, like you're really good at what you do and you're really good at explaining what you do like, Why don't you teach this stuff online? And he had an online guitar business, so he kind of showed me the ropes and that that was kind of the start of master your mix, which is what I currently run. So for me, it's just like that's been a really fun way, too, because even though my bands are done, I still get to be creative.
I get to work with a lot of creative people and help them make more music. And to me, that's like my goal is just put more music out there and help help people be proud of the work that they're doing and especially these days with, like, covid and all this stuff, like people are just locked in their houses and writing songs and needing to put it out there. And most of them want to spend the money to go to a big studio, either. So why not help these people and at least get more music out there?
So that's kind of like my my long winded answer of like how I got to where I'm at right now. But yeah, lots of different things along the way. I love that, first of all, I mean, we're gonna have to go back and dig into some of the things that you've done in the past. But I think with master Mix, this is something you've been working on for a while now. And I think two years ago you put out a book, right? The end of 2019. I want to say, Yeah, I put it in a book called The Mixing Mindset.
And, uh, pretty crazy like, I mean, I put it out there not knowing really what it would do, but it ended up becoming an Amazon number one seller, which was pretty crazy. So, yeah, I was like, You know, I'm distinguished. I have the number one selling book. That's amazing. Congratulations on that. Thanks, man. Yeah, no joke. That's a huge feet, man. That's definitely something to be proud of You. It was just something to, like, document my process more than anything. Really. One of the fun parts of teaching this stuff has been that as I teach it, I find that I'm getting better at my craft because I have to dissect my process more and like realize, like all these things that I was doing out of habit or just doing it like second nature.
It's like, Well, is there a better way? Like, if I was to teach somebody that stuff like, could I strip it down a different way or make it simpler? And so that was really like one of the coolest parts of making that book was it just forced me to really simplify and dial everything back and just get clear on, like a process that really works for me. Yeah, I really like that approach and I mean having read the book a while ago, so I might be a little rusty on it.
But I think that's something that engineers who are already established will still pick up some drinks from it. But it's not over the top that somebody who has no experience would just be confused and lost. You know, you did a really great job of explaining what you're doing, like you said, breaking down your process. And so I can't say I'm a member of master your mix. But from that I can imagine it's relatively the same where people of all skill levels even though it's focused on the D I Y. Folks will be able to come in and learn something.
And what better time to have a site like that than during a pandemic? Like you said, when artists are stuck at home but still want to make music? So before we wrap on, master your mix too much, let's dive back into your history and talk about your tour management experience a little bit because you've been on some pretty massive tours, and I'm sure there are things you've learned that even though you learn them at a high level would also be applicable to D. I. Y. Artists who are on their first tour or their fifth tour or whatever.
You know, they're playing basements and bars and that kind of stuff. What kind of lessons do you think you can share that artists should pay attention to? But typically don't if they're just a D i y band? So as far as to managing goes, I did it for a couple of years. I was fortunate. I mean, I did it with my own bands, obviously, and then I did it with, like some some bands that were signed to major labels and and the major label world really opened up my eyes to what was actually possible with it.
So I think to answer your question, I can come from both sides of it to see, like, you know, what, what worked for me as an independent and what worked for me as someone who was working in a major situation. The biggest thing I can say is just like if I had to sum it up, it's like treat yourself as a business like that is the most simplest way. It's like look around at what other businesses do and mimic that. You know, like most bands, it's just like they go to a show and they play and they leave.
Or maybe they have emerged table and, like, you know, whatever they sell, they sell and, you know, it's very like casual people don't think about. It is there's no like there's no art to it. There's no thought process behind it. Whereas like once I started tour managing, I realized like Okay, well, this is our livelihood. This is how we make money. This is how we can make it to the next stop So like we need to, like, fill the tank with gas. And we need to have that money and, like, how do we How do we do that?
So as far as like running it like a business like, we're very mindful of what was going on around us and how that impacted our bottom line. So, like one example was on one of the tours I was on, I noticed that whenever the band happened to be by the merch table after a show, we would sell more merch because people wanted to meet the band and they come and, like, you know, they wanted to support the ban because they now met them and they thought they were fun or whatever and like people wanted autographs or whatever.
And so, like, this was just something that happened by mistake, like the band would just come to, like, hang out with me and, like, grab a beer or something. And I was like, Wait a minute like this is actually working. So from now on, after every show, you guys go to the merch table even like go and we started selling so much more merged like it was it was crazy and we started networking a lot more because, like, we would meet a lot of cool people along the way.
So, like, that was just like one example of something that to me, it just it really, like, changed the game. It was just like that was a strategy. It wasn't just like a band hanging out of the show. It was It was like, This is how we run this business. This is part of our process. So, yeah, that was definitely a really interesting part. Another one to like. Another fun story I could share is. So I was on tour with Kiss. I guess now it was like 10 years ago, and I was working for this band that Gene Simmons had signed.
They were called the Envy. When we first got on that tour, I remember feeling like we were kind of the outsiders, and I could tell, like the whole crew kind of just looked at us like, Oh, it's like jeans band, you know, whatever. Like they kind of like brushed us off. And I remember feeling that way for about like, the first week or so, and nobody took a serious. It was just like a pet project that they thought we were along for the ride. Right? But then, like very quickly, we started to realize like, Well, why don't we just become friends with these people, you know, like so we we went out of our way to do things to, like, make the band connect with these people on a different level.
One day in particular, we had this idea. We're like, why don't we hire a masseuse for the day? So, like, we just hired a misuse for the day. And we put her in this, like, just empty room in, like, the amphitheater backstage area. And we put up a sign on the on the wall that was like free massages for anyone in the kiss crew. Take advantage of it. Like, whatever book book, your time slot. Now and then we started walking around telling everyone they like we we hired him a suit for the day.
Like, go get a massage, whatever. And like, we just made friends with so many people that day and like, they had, like, a whole new respect for us because they were like, Oh, like you're one of us like you get that Like we get sore after the show was like, We need this kind of thing and like from there it was like that changed the game for us like they wanted to help us like we had, like, they're lighting Guy would like do our lights for us every night.
They, like, volunteered to help us get our stage set up every night like they help put up our banners and, like, do all the stuff that like they didn't have to do and they weren't supposed to do it. But just because they had a new appreciation for us, they did it. And through that, like we met so many people and like it was just like another great networking things. So So, yeah, it's just like the other realized like it's a combination of networking and just like paying attention to the little details that are going to grow your business and and help connect you more.
That's just like the biggest thing. It's like just network. Be cool. Don't be a dick, and you'll have a lot of success when you do that. If you're just if you're going to just say to yourself, That's where nothing's going to happen. It's like you might be the best band ever and you might win some fans through your music. But it's gonna be a harder hill to climb if you're just not really doing anything to get up there, you know? Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I love that because you took an outside the box approach to a problem that the crew had the problem that, you know, their backs were sore.
And instead of saying, Oh, you know, like, we'll buy you a beer Thanks for doing what you do, he said. No, we're going to get you a masseuse like That's amazing. And I'm sure that's probably the only time that's ever happened to them, that an opener treats them like that. And if that's the case, which, like I said, I'm sure it is, they're going to remember that forever. They're gonna be like, Oh, yeah, that band that got us the masseuse, like in that one city that was so cool. Totally.
And it was funny, too, because like it was obvious that they cared about us because there was always, like an opener band, like a local opener and then we would have our gig. There was another band that would follow, and then kiss would go on and the crew did nothing for those other bands. So it was very obvious that it was favoritism, like, just because they liked us, you know? But like, I mean technically on the bill, like there was this bigger band that should have gotten more treatment than us or whatever, you know, and like they didn't get that.
And so just like little things like that go a long way. And I remember even like I was on a tour with collective soul years ago to it was like American Thanksgiving and we were touring in Canada. So we're like, Well, let's just have, like, let's throw American Thanksgiving dinner for them like they're they're not with their families, like, let's just buy a ton of food And we'll just, like, get all the bands together and, like, just have like, this big meal before the show. And it was just such a cool thing, like after that again, like they just had this newfound appreciation for us because they were like, Oh, these are like these are cool dudes that, like, actually look out for us and respect us as humans.
And it wasn't just like, uh, it was not a competitive thing, or it's instead of that, it's just like, let's just all be friends and and be cool. So, yeah, like doing those kind of things. It was a really long way. It just allows you to, like, become friends with people in a different way. It's not. You're not just the opening band or something like that. It's It's a way to just connect. Yeah, the music industry is kind of like high school, and it's very cliquey. The people that have been in it the longest are definitely less receptive to the, you know, to the younger people, and and rightfully so.
You know, it's like when you have somebody knew that joins in what you're doing on a regular basis, and they're like stepping on all that, you know. They're always in the wrong place. They're always doing the wrong thing. It's like, uh, this is frustrating. But when you actually reach out and develop a relationship with people, you're essentially creating a value at in their life, you know when you're When you're more invested in your interactions with people, it definitely ends up being quality. I can't remember who it was off the top of my head, but we weren't on tour at the time.
We were just up in Spokane and Big Tour package was coming through. And so the Knitting Factory through us on as the opener. And I remember thinking like Okay, guys like let's make sure, you know, at this particular venue, like we're at home, make sure none of our wives are backstage or anything like that, make sure everybody staying out of their way. And then the tour manager actually came up and was like, Hey, guys, we bought everybody on the tour package pizza. So help yourselves and I remember thinking This is the weirdest paradigm shift ever.
Like all the tours I've ever been on, there's. There's very few times when the headliner is going to the opener and saying, Hey, man, we bought you guys food and when they did that for us, it was like, Hey, guys, let's make sure that no matter what we're doing, we're not stepping on any of the band mates toes like we're not stepping on the tour managers toes. We're not stepping on the venues. Toast the stage managers, anybody. Let's make sure that like and this is a venue that we frequent all the time, but purely because of that interaction that we had with them, you know?
And that was kind of a different one where they were appealing to us, which was incredible and will always look back and be like, Dude, those I wish I could remember the band name off the top of my head because they're pretty big band. I'm just drawing a blank right now. But that relationship that was created between us and between them, like at the end of the show, we found ourselves like talking about life, not about music. You know, we found ourselves like cracking jokes and talking about local places in Spokane with, you know, with everyone in the band and those are wonderful things that I think that too often get lost in the music industry because it's so cliquey.
We're competing at this level of the game, and you guys are competing at this level of the game like do professional MLB players go and play, you know, to a baseball. No, they don't. It's the same type of professionalism and an industry standard type of thing. And so if you can break that wall, if you can break that stigma and you can actually just create quality relationships with people, that's that's gold. Yeah, and I don't think that it always has to be that big dynamic of, like the professional and the amateur.
You know, it isn't like the headliner on the open earth. You can do it on a smaller scale. Like I remember even just when I was first starting out in bands one of my first bands, we we made all our own merge like we we built the printing. We built a like a shirt, press, uh, in our basement and like, we did all our own shirts and we like, got button makers. And, like we did all all sorts of crap. And I remember, just like we use that as another way to just be cool and network with other bands.
And it was like, you know, when we played our local rec center shows, we would talk to all the bands after and like be like Oh, you know who makes you emerge or they would ask us that. And then we get into a cool discussion of, you know, like, Oh, we we do our own stuff and like it was just like at a D I Y level, like people appreciated that right? And they'd be like, Oh, cool, like, why don't we work together like, Let's let's do some stuff together Like we would do split records with other bands.
We would design their shirts and buttons for them like that was just like another way of, like, us keeping in contact with people and we'd get shows out of it and we help each other. And it was just like that was like, another great way to grow. I was very fortunate that the area that I grew up in that was the whole like ethos of the music scene. It was just like everyone wanted to help each other and grow and and be friendly, and as long as you were cool and as long as you network with people like you could probably have grown with that scene like we had some pretty big bands like we had, like I grew up with the guys in Silverstein we had, like some 41 around us boys and it out, we're like part of our city.
Like I knew that I was a simple plan. Like I just like all these bands that we were all growing up at the same time, like working with each other and like just shooting emails back and forth just casually as friends And then, like, some bands blew up, you know, and they brought other bands with them, and it was like the people who you kept in contact with, like, if you were a regular, you you grew with it, I guess you know, that's awesome. Yeah, I think there's a few things that we can dig into an unpacked their mike.
You mentioned that there was no competition, and I love that because that's kind of showing that Hey, we're not worried that you're going to steal our fans our income because you're gonna take money from us because I know there's some headliners out there who will say, Oh, the opener. You have to charge, you know, 40 bucks for a T shirt, because that's what we charge, and we don't want you to charge less, because then we won't get as many sales. It's like, Well, no. If people want to buy a shirt, they're going to buy a shirt like it's not the price.
It's whose name is on the shirt. And so then, if anything, if people haven't heard of the opener before, they're less likely to buy that shirt because they're like I just heard of them tonight. I'm not going to drop $40 on a band I've never heard of. But they might have bought both if they had $60 and said $40 for the headliner, 20 for the opener, you know, And so having the scarcity mindset, thinking there's not enough to go around is going to be damaging to everyone in the long run, whereas the abundance mindset saying, Hey, you know what?
We're going to be able to help each other out. We can all share like there's enough to go around. That's great. That's kind of what was going on with math example of the headliner sharing pizza. They said, Hey, you know what? There's enough food to go around like please have some join us and the same thing when Mike you're on tour with collective soul. When you got Thanksgiving dinner for them, that's like saying, Hey, you're part of the family now You're part of the crew. We did this for you.
You weren't saying. I don't know. We don't have the money for that. You're saying hey, like they're going to remember this If we blow their Thanksgiving out of the water and, like, make it amazing, Yeah, And even when we didn't have the money, we still did it. It was like that was just part of the thing we did. It was like, How do we make every tour a special tour? How do we do something special for that band? And like, yeah, even if we can't afford it, necessarily, like these are connections into the industry And, like, let's just be cool and like, let's just work with what we can, you know.
And it goes a long way. Yeah, that's going to pay off tenfold in the years to come, you know, even though you might spend, you know, a couple 100 bucks. Now think about the next tour you get, like they're going to say, Hey, who we want to take on tour So let's take those guys like they were super chill to us and it's it's all about an investment. And I think a lot of people don't realize that when you're in a band who is just starting out, you have to be ready to spend money before you get anything.
Because like you said Mike, it's a business and that's what the podcast is for. Like we're talking about taking your band seriously and running it as a business. And if you say Oh, you know what? I'd love to get T shirts made, but I don't have 300 bucks to get shirts printed. It's like, Dude, it's $300. You're never going to get anywhere with that attitude because you get those shirts printed and you sell them and then guess what? Now you have 600 or $750. That's how business works and you can go to the next gig and make more money.
Yeah, exactly like people who think that way aren't going to make it. The people who think Hey, I'm going to put in $300 and in a month I'm going to have 700. Those are the people who will succeed because they understand what's going on. And now, obviously, that's no guarantee of success, but it shows that at least they're thinking about it. They're willing to invest and in combination with the networking and just being ago giver in general. I think that's one of the key things because, like you said, you know, people will gravitate towards the other artists that they want to help, Just like with the envy Gene Simmons took them out on tour because he liked them.
He signed them. That's how the music world works. People want to be around people that they enjoy hanging out with. That's really what it comes down to. And obviously there's so many tours that have by ons and this and that Now it's like, yeah, you know, you can do that or you can become friends with them and then you won't need to buy on because they're going to say, Hey, you're our friends. Come on the road with us But even still okay, Like even even on the topic of by ons, I don't know too many people that have done it.
I I know one person who did it on a big scale, and they botched it. They bought onto the tour, and then they did nothing to nurture that relationship and they were forgotten about. So it's like if you're gonna buy onto a tour, at least see that as an investment but, like have a strategy behind it. Don't just think like, Oh, I'm going to play in front of thousands of people and become famous like That's not how it happens like you have to work harder. As much as I hate to say it, we're not in the music industry.
We're in the entertainment industry and, like we have to realize that entertainment is our business. And however you can entertain people, you need to do that. You just have to be thinking of creative ways to stand out and connect with people and grow your fan base. And it's not just a matter of putting out music anymore. You can write great songs, but I don't think a great song is enough. These days, I think you need to put yourself out there in a lot of different ways to get that song noticed.
Yeah, it's really come down to holding attention. There are so many great bands who put out a record every three years, and people forget about them in the 2. 5 years that they're writing and recording. Then you see artists who are putting out a song every few months and all of a sudden like those artists, are doing way better than the major label artists who put out an album every three years. We had, uh, Howie from Ballyhoo on Episode 48 he was talking about how they've been dropping a song almost every month, and it's taken them 25 years to get there.
But they're making a living on their creativity, and obviously there's major label artists who are making a living on their creativity, tons of them. But are they making a consistent living on that creativity? Or are they saying, Hey, we'll tour every three years and then they get a bunch of money and then they need to live off of that for three years because the royalties and residuals and all that stuff that's coming in doesn't fully pay the bills, so they need to save up. It's like, well, you need something that's going to be consistent and coming in all the time, not something that you get a big windfall three years from one to another because you did a big tour.
That's not how the industry works these days, like you're saying like you have to be a constant creator. So you know, you've talked a little bit about your experience on both sides, both as a tour manager and as an artist. As an artist, when you were just starting out, you mentioned you're so lucky that all your bands took business seriously. What were some of the things that you saw other artists outside of that tight knit seen doing that you kind of were thinking like, That's not the way you do it?
That's not right, like that's not going to work out for them. I think I can sum it up as laziness. That's really it. There's a lot of bands that again just make music, get a gig because they happen to know somebody and then they don't do anything or, like they're like, super egotistical and like you just can't stand being around them and you have no desire to help them. As a result of that, I saw that happen a lot too. And, you know, just you're rooting against them at that point Because, like, just like you don't want to see people that are dicks like succeeding.
And maybe that's just me being jealous, I guess. But even, like on a smaller scale, it's like if you're gonna be a jerk to people, if you're going to have you go, If you're not gonna like, do anything, you're not going to grow that network. You're gonna try to grow. It's not gonna happen because most people don't want to be around that. So to me, it's just like always, always put your best foot forward and be friendly with people. And in hindsight, like, I wish that I had made these observations back then, too.
Like I I think I if I can go back and be like, actually like network minded like I am now, I think I would have had a much different career trajectory. But I was just a quiet guy. I wasn't I wasn't a dick, but I was just like a quiet guy who's shy and afraid to talk to people, and that and that worked against me in some ways, you know. But it was like the relationships that I did build. Those were the ones that helped propel me.
That's why I like now I can look back at it and be like, Okay, yeah, like this is why you should do this because I've seen it, Yeah, learning from experience. That's what it all comes down to. And it's tough because I want to help people learn from the mistakes others have made myself, Matt you. Anyone who's listening is welcome to share their experiences, too. But a lot of people won't listen, and they need to learn from their own mistakes. And I think that's also ties into kind of what you were saying about laziness, like People are like, No, no, I know better, like I can do this And then 10 years, Man, I wish I would have listened to Mike and what he was saying about not being lazy.
I'm sure there's going to be somebody who has that epiphany 10 years from now. I think part of the problem is that like we are in a creative field and I don't think a lot of people go into this creative field thinking that it's a business. It's not like you decide to be a doctor because you just have a passion for, like, doing surgery. You know, like you don't know that until you become a doctor and you do it right. Like whereas music it's like you get into it cause it's a hobby.
It's something you can just do for fun and like it's like a form of expression or whatever. So I think a lot of people just get into it for that reason. And it's just like something fun. And then, like, there's another fun opportunity that comes up when they get to play their first gig and like another gig comes up and it's just more fun, right? It's like this, like fun is like the underlying thing, and then they never realized like, Oh, wait a minute, we can turn this into something.
This could be a business like it's just like we want more fun, but they don't realize like, Hey, you can create this fun. You know you can create this like business that will help you have more of that. I hope that makes sense. But yeah, I just think that like people are lazy. They want to write music and writing music. Not easy, I'll say that. But you can't just write a song and hope that you're going to blow up like you have. You have to put yourself out there.
Yeah, especially now, with so many millions of artists, you have to do something to stand out. You know, it's 30 40 years ago when the number of artists who were getting their names out there was so much smaller, you could go out and be the Ramones or the Misfits and put out something that sounded like it was recorded in a basement, just like super low fi and get it out there. And now those bands are famous and even those guys That was all about the experience of the show.
When you think about the Ramones, I never think about their songs. Their songs never come to my ear when I think about the Ramones. But you know what does I think about cops showing up to venues to try to shut venues down? There are so many iconic pictures of, you know, SWAT teams literally coming in to try to shut down these old punk rock shows and that was the entertainment. It was one of those things were just like, Hey, man, like, what are we going to see tonight?
You know what walls are we gonna break down? What's going to get caught on fire? Are the cops gonna get called? And and And like Mike was saying earlier, you know, we're entertainers. That has been true since people started putting on shows. And so I was like, Yeah, the music is good, but really, it was the event. It was the moment it was like, Oh, yeah, that guy got punched in the face, and then the cops had to come and this guy got arrested. And then, like, oh, then the other band tipped the cop car like those types of things did.
You don't hear stories like that in the music industry anymore, you know, now, like all these old punk rockers who were like, Yeah, we're throwing TVs at a hotel. Rooms are all like, yeah, man, Like I got this awesome high r o I on my marketing, you know, strategy, which you know, it's like everybody turned from entertainers to entertainers and businessmen. The people who succeed in the industry are the ones who can find that perfect balance. You know, the people who their business doesn't have to suffer while they're being entertainers.
Part of me wonders how much of the business like Franz from Attila does. Like he's very obviously business oriented. He has his own label. He's been successful in multiple, different endeavors, and he constantly is innovating and trying to do new, weird things in different industries in order to stay relevant and in order to bring new attention. But he also so perfectly nailed the I'm a partier he's branded as a partier, and so, like now with such a demand on artists in the industry for being not just entertainers but also a businessman, you know, it's like That's why you know, James, you and I talked about constantly about everybody in the band having a job, you know, because the demands of the industry are way, way, way more intense than they were, you know, 30 years ago.
I know. I think it was Nicky. Six said if you had played the whiskey a go go 30 years ago, you had made it. You were the band, you know. And now It's like the whiskey a go Go's just a novelty piece. It's It's another, you know, notch on the bedpost, so to speak. And that's just due to the, you know, the constant changing, ever flowing ebb and flow of the music industry. And so, like his artists to all our listeners, this is why we constantly talk about exactly what Mike has been saying about developing relationships with people like making yourself known inside the music industry.
Inside the community, in the network, you're building relationships with people. You're building relationships with fans. You're building relationships with other artists to go on tour with, and maybe along the way. You meet a few guys that suck and you don't want them to succeed. But the only way that you know that is by developing that relationship first and so like it always starts with that interaction, and that's what I think is like so, so important. There's so much of like what you just said there that even I want to unpack.
Sorry, I'm gonna take over and do the question. Ask her now, but like there's a lot to it, I think first off, just even like on the topic of like entertainment, going back to like what I said about people being lazy and people just going on stage, putting on their show and they're done, they're done. And that's the band, right? If you want to grow yourself and even if you're not in that business headspace yet, but you're you're thinking that like your music is enough to help you grow, then like you need to work on your show.
That's like the next step, like that's part of your business as well and, like, learn how to be a better entertainer. So, like, yeah, forget about the merge and all that stuff for now, just like focus on being the best entertainer, you can be work on your craft, become a better musician, become like a stronger singer you can like, play night after night and like, not blow your voice out, you know, take care of yourself. I was very fortunate that one of the bands that I played with we have this opportunity there was in Canada.
We have like Canadian Music Week, and it's just like a big conference that, like everyone, gets together in Toronto for a week, and you know, just, like shoot the shit of a whole bunch of stuff with music. We were like a demo band, like there was this guy who his I think his name is Tom Jackson. It's been a long time. He's a live music producer, so his job is to make your band look better live and not like through stylist or whatever. But like we were the band and he's like a cool play your song and he's like, Okay, cool like, yeah, you sound good.
Whatever he's like, we're going to now spend two hours work, shopping one song so that, like when you get up on stage, this is like the best performance of your life, and the audience is like eating every second of this. Like it was almost like choreographing our songs. It was like we were extending things to like, you know, Dr Suspense And, you know, like the singer would move to this side of stage with a guitar player, would move up front and like it was just like even our keyboard player in the band, like he was like, You're not sitting because that's boring, like you're going to stand up and you're gonna do this and like going to be uncomfortable.
But like we learned how to just be a better band live because of that whole experience, like, literally spent, like two hours playing the same song over and over and over again in like, a billion different ways to make it work for a live show. And I always remember that because that was just like I thought about that. It was like, Cool, like we have great songs on the record, But now how do we make great songs live like That's part of it, like That's That's the entertainment side of it because people can listen to our records.
So why do they come to the shows? They need that experience, They need those moments that connect with people. So that was definitely one thing that, like as well as we were talking about, just like entertainment that struck me. And the other thing, too, is the idea of every member having their own role in the band. And I think that that is like so, so so key, you know, because if you have, ever, if there's only one person and you guys probably talked about this on the show a billion times.
But like if you have one person in the band who's in charge of all that, the band's gonna break up because that person cares more than everyone else. And it's unfair to that person. And I've been that person bands and it sucks. But when you have a band where, like everybody has their role, whether it's like one person's merchandise guy, one person is like the show booking guy. One person is like the writer, you know, if you can divide up these roles and it gives everyone an equal investment into the band, and because of that, you're all going to grow together And, you know, like from for one of my bands, like our band practice was like we split.
It was 50% working on music, 50% working on business, you know, even if we only got together once a week, we would spend like hours just talking like we would go in a circle like Okay, cool booking guy like what have you worked on this week? Like, Who have you talked to like we did that kind of thing. It was just like everyone had the role, and it just changed the dynamics of working in the band. And I think that's why we were able to, like, grow. And, you know, we eventually landed a major distribution deal and stuff like that.
It's like because we took it seriously, and I and I and every other band that I've been in, where it's unequal, it crumbles because inevitably, like one guy wants out because he's just bored of it or, you know, or like he's not putting in his weight. And so then everyone else gets frustrated like that just causes problems. So it's really important to pick your bandmates wisely and to make sure you all have the same shared vision. I really like that. Or you talked about, you know, 50% of your time together being working on business.
It actually directly relates to what you said earlier where you were saying, Look at what businesses do and then try to mimic it, try to emulate their formula. You know, I'm sure that every single person who's listening to this podcast at some point or another has worked for a business or a company that has team meetings. I've worked at countless different places where a regular team meeting was something you know, they're all called something different in each individual industry. But actually, we just recently had an episode about goals and about clearly outlining your goals.
And I think that this is exactly why you spend part of your time for band practice working on business because you actually have to say like, Hey, this is where we've come. This is our goal, and this is where we're at. This is the process that we've done in order to make it here. These parts aren't working. These parts are. Let's double down on the parts that are and let's grow When you're looking at these major corporations, major businesses like, yeah, a lot of them have, like daily team member meetings where they, you know, at Walmart they're saying, Oh, you know, these prices are going to be rolled back and and we're gonna move that section over here and, oh, it's the Super Bowl, you know, next week.
So we need to set out all these big giant stacks of sodas and beers because people are gonna want to buy soda and beer and they have a strategy and they have a plan and they implement it. And each and every cog in the machine has their own specific thing that they need to do. Everybody knows it. That only happens when you actually sit down and have those conversations. When you actually sit down and say, Hey, like we're all together here. Is this 50% of business, like, how goes the booking?
How goes the merch? Okay, you know what's our next plan? If it's only about the music, then you don't want to be in music business. You want to be in a jam band. If it's only about the business, then you probably don't want to be in music anyway, because it's a really hard business and it's very competitive. And so, like. It really combines that passion for music with that cutthroat dog eat dog type of business where it's like, look like we got to get out there and, like, let's be as cool as we can to everybody we can.
But in the process, maybe we have to go like intimidate a promoter because he didn't advance the show and didn't pay us. It's about having both ends of the spectrum and I love everything you're saying, man. I think it's hitting the nail right on the head. Yeah, And it's also like if you don't have that mentality, what do you think is gonna happen if you somehow magically blew up like you think you are like? Do you think that, like you're going to live this life where, like, just things happen for you and you don't have to do anything like No, there's a lot of moving pieces to a big tour to, you know, being a professional musician.
So do you need to still be aware of the fact that there's gonna be a business attached to you at some point? So why not be in control of it now rather than get in bed with a whole bunch of people who are going to manipulate that business for their benefits? Probably not yours. It's way better to be in control of building your team from the ground up rather than like being an emergency vote of like trying to piece together something and not picking the right people.
Yep, absolutely. You know, I mean, and it's you find that as you take the reins and you become proactive rather than reactive. You learn a lot more, and then you get to those places where, like maybe you're playing the biggest show or the biggest tour you've ever been on in your entire life. And the sound guy walks up and says, Hey, do you have a stage plot? And you're like, I have no idea what that is and you're like, Well, maybe have you taken the reins for your business earlier than you would know that?
And then you can say, Oh, yeah, you want it in a pdf, You know, I'll send it right over What's your email? Things like that, or it's just like you might not even know because different levels of the industry compete. You know, there's different competitions and levels. There's different requirements for different levels. So taking the reins of your business and actually getting your head deep inside of it is going to teach you those next level things and the things that are going to make you professional enough to where you can actually be doing worldwide tours and the other artists, the headliner isn't gonna bat an eye when they say, Oh yeah, let's bring them you know, it's like, Oh, no, we can't bring them.
They've never traveled internationally before, so they don't understand. Maybe they don't even know if they need passports. Like, who knows? Maybe they've taken the reins. Maybe they're on top of the game and they know everything that they need to do. But maybe they haven't. Maybe they're lazy. Also, to take another step further, it's like Think about the rules of what's going on in the industry. So, like, just take like an opening act. For example, an opening act isn't just there to provide entertainment. An opening act is there to boost the status of the tour or boost the status of the show.
So when bands are looking for an opener, they're looking for who's a band that is going to bring in a crowd of people who, like actually promote themselves and and like, could elevate our status as well. So you need to be that band that is professional so that people do take you serious and want you on their tours. It's not just they don't just like your music that doesn't do anything that's a disservice to them to actually just get a band on their shows just because they like the music.
But like a band that can draw a crowd. Yeah, of course they want that because it just makes everyone's life better. And you know, it brings in more money to the tour to the show, and that is the situation. So, like, always be thinking of like, What role are you supposed to be playing in the bigger picture here and think about it from that angle and you'll start to work on your business a lot more. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, even on the local front, the artists who can bring people out to shows are going to be the ones that get the opening slots for any tour that's coming through.
Because if there's a tour coming through and it's not selling well, you know, let's say it's like a 500 cap room and they said, Oh, we can sell 400 tickets and they've only sold 200 Then all of a sudden it's like we need 300 more sales to sell this out. Well, hey, you know what X y Z local band can sell 100 and 50 and the other local band over there, they can sell 50 so that's an extra 200. We're at 400 like that's good enough. And that credit goes to the headliner for, you know, selling 400 tickets.
But really, it's the local openers who made that happen and caused the venue to be able to cover the guarantee for the headliner. And because of that, if you sell as many tickets as the touring band coming through town, that promoter is going to remember you, and they're gonna bring you back any time. There's a show that you fit on and especially like if all of a sudden there's a show that's coming through and they need an opener, but it's already sold out. If it's a fit, they're going to give it to you because you helped them out, and now they're going to help you out.
So that goes back to what you were saying about just building relationships, and I want to also come back around and mention something that Matt says all the time, which is when you are at band practice, you are rehearsing. You practice at home and you rehearse at practice, and that should be the same thing for the 50% business that you're doing. It should be like you're saying like a meeting where you're going around saying, What's the status on this? What's the status on that? It shouldn't be saying, Oh, yeah, like I'm going to sit down for half an hour and send out a bunch of emails.
It's like No, you did that at home and now you're telling us how that went and that's how it should be the same as with your music. I love all of that so much. It's like people should not be coming to practice to practice, you know, like, yeah, it's it's rehearsal. Hopefully, you know your parts already. Yeah, there's nothing more frustrating than being in a room with people who, like you've played the same songs like 500 times already. And they're still learning the song. That reminds me we I had a guitarist years ago.
Actually, I thought about this earlier when you were mentioning wanting to be able to remember your songs that you had written after you had come together. It's like that's why you started audio engineering and recording. In general, we had a guitarist who was phenomenal guitarist. But he would write something and that instantly forget what he wrote. So we did the same thing where it's like, Oh, let's start recording it. And there was actually a couple times where another guitarist had to learn his part by ear on our recording and teach it back to him so that he could play it when we actually went and recorded.
And it was always mind boggling to us. I mean, the dude was still to this day, fantastic guitarist, but, I mean, we would sit down and start to play it and then be like, That's something totally different than you played. He could ad lib whatever you wanted to, but he couldn't ad lib the same thing twice. And it was it was that same thing. It was just like, Hey, man, you haven't practiced this enough. You haven't committed it to memory. And so when we come together, we're spending more of our time actually practicing.
We're you know, we're trying to get you to learn the part that you wrote, and so you know it's practicing at home and making sure you know your parts and really getting your head in your business when you're not around your business partners is that's where the magic lives. That's where you start to fall in love, and I think to like with practice, it's almost like when you're when you're rehearsing and playing those parts, you should actually be focusing on learning the parts of everyone else in your band as well.
Part of it for me was like as the drummer. I wanted to know exactly what everyone was playing. I wanted to know the rhythms that they were playing so that I can point that out and be like, Okay, we're not tight because you're playing this rhythm. I'm playing this one and it took me a while to learn that, too. Like I remember a big learning lesson for me was that, like one of our bands, we worked with a producer, and this was like in my early days of like trying to be a flashy drummer, and I remember him having like a private meeting with the rest of the band, being like You gotta kick Mike out of your band because he's just like in his own world, and he's not paying attention to everything you guys are playing.
And to me I was like, I'm wicked drummer, like I'm playing these cool parts And I wasn't listening to the song. I wasn't serving the song. And so finally the band told me about it, and they're like, This guy wants to get out of the band So why don't we try to, like, please him and just simplify things, you know? And I was like, all angry and whatever, but I tried it and I was like, Oh, shit, this works. These songs sound better because now I'm listening to everyone else.
I'm not focused on my own shit. I'm like I can simplify these and learn what everyone else is doing. This will make our band tighter, and we became a way better band because of that. And now, like that's what I listened for. That's like when we practice, it's whenever I hear a band or producing a band. I'm like I'm listening to everyone's parts and like, are they listening to each other or they just serving themselves and it goes a long way. You have to. Everyone needs to have their role in the band, but you also need to know what everyone else is doing and be invested in that to make it work as a cohesive unit. Absolutely.
I always used to say that about all the shred head guitarists like, you know, in my mom, Steen and Joe Satriani and Steve, I said, You know, these guys are really good But in my opinion, the mark of a good songwriter is knowing when to shut up, and I still very truly believe that. It's like, you know, some of these guys, they never know when to stop playing because they're so good at playing. They think that they should be playing constantly. But it's like Listen to David Gilmour.
David Gilmour can play like three notes over the course of two minutes, and you're like, Holy cow that punched me in the soul, you know? And so I think it's important for every artist when they're when they're writing and working as a collective to realize, you know, like you're saying, realize your role. It's like, Hey, I don't need to have a crazy drum feel right here, because I can just extent these three hits, and that's going to hit way, way harder, like my favorite drum fill ever is in.
Make damn sure by taking back Sunday, and it's just right before the course. It's really simple, and it's just literally a run down the Toms. But it's so powerful because of everything else that's going on in the song now. He could have gone absolutely nuts, but instead he just chose to hit four times. Right down. Run right down the toms and it sounds incredible. It's like musical rhetoric. I love quotes. So, to quote Mark Twain, you know, don't use five words When three words will do. Don't use five notes when three notes will do.
Yeah, simplicity is definitely key, and that applies to so many areas of of life. You know, like I think, one reason why a lot of bands don't get into businesses because they think that it's going to be something super complicated. But it can be as complicated as you want it to be. Sometimes, just simple is better, you know, don't have 30 designs for your merch table. Maybe like finding to that are the best sellers, and focusing on doubling down on those is the best way, you know, like that's just like a simple way there, too.
Like optimize your business and your life Exactly. And always make sure that at least one of your shirts is black. We talked about that on an episode a while ago. I think it was number 18. Otherwise, James won't buy it. Not only me at venue says most people want a black shirt. It was Episode 18. No money in music. Think again. Start selling your merchandise. And on that note, Mike, I think something else that's really important that you mentioned is yes. You change your playing style because you were told about that.
And listening is incredibly important to what other people are playing, but also listening to what people are telling you. Because at first I thought you were going to say, you know, yeah, I just told them to go screw themselves and get them out of the band like I was expecting. Like since that was your first band, like That's like Okay, cool. See you. And that's how I left my first band and that it was a learning experience. But instead you didn't need that learning experience because he just said, Okay, cool.
I'll try it. Well, Yeah, because for me, I could have lost my band at that point. You know, like I I realized like I believe in this band so much and like I've worked for this band. So if I'm going to just drop everything because of my own ego, then that's very telling of the person I am. And I don't like that, you know. So it was like, I have to at least listen to people and try and I learned something from it, and it stuck with me forever.
It's just knowing your role. It's like understanding how you fit into the bigger picture. It's such an important part, and if you want to be a business, you always need to be listening to what what other input people have. And and there's things are going to learn from things. You like some things you hate, but you can grow a lot as a result of just listening. Absolutely. I think that emotional maturity is something that every artist needs to have, because if you can't take constructive criticism, you're not going to make it as an artist because it might not be your band.
Saying that might not be your producer saying that you know who's going to say it? Some hater on the Internet. And Matt, I know you've talked about this. How? Even if they're a hater, you just thank them for their feedback. And you move on. You know, you think about it and say, Hey, does this make sense? Is there truth to this? There might be. Okay, well, let's give it a shot or No, they're just a hater. Well, oh, well, but having the emotional maturity to process feedback and not immediately just say Nope, nope.
I don't want to hear it. Don't tell me I don't want to hear it. No, thanks. No, just shut up. Like that's not how it works. And it's a combination of having thick skin and being able to take it. But also not having the ego, like you said Mike, just saying, Hey, you know what? This is something that I need to listen to because otherwise something that means a lot to me isn't going to work out for sure. And I also think too, like when I think about all of the rules that I've played in my bands, I think part of it has also been that I don't consider myself a great songwriter, you know, like I'm not the guy that comes to the band with, like, Here's my Here's my song, My melody and Whatever I'm the drummer like you know, I could play some drumbeats for them and be like, Here's something cool but I'm not going to like they might write a song based on that but like I'm not coming in with a bunch of ideas.
So for me, maybe that's why I got into the rules. I did because I was like, I need to do something I need to contribute to this band because I don't want to just be like the guy who makes no percentage of anything or like, And I don't want to ask for a percentage of songwriting if I was doing nothing, you know. But I felt that, like I could ask for something when I showed my value to that band as well. So you know, I was just listening and contributing.
And so, yeah, like when when I found out that my band wanted to kick me out, I was like, Okay, well, my role in this band is to, like help the band with, like, a lot of our business stuff like That's That's an important part that they need and I need them for this other stuff. So let's work together. Yeah, I think that's an amazing way to handle it in a very grown up way to handle it, that most people at the age you were at back then, you know, this is probably, what, 15, 20 years ago?
So you would have been like early twenties. I want to say that's really impressive for someone in their early twenties to handle a situation like that in that way, not just saying You guys want to kick me out Fine. I quit. Like most people I know who are D I Y artists would handle it that way, and that's just not the right way to do it. Just to wrap things up here. We said we were going to circle back and talk about master your mix, so I want to give you the floor and let you talk about that and let people know what you want them to know about the site.
So basically all of this tour managing and band experiences lead to kind of where where eventually ended up with recording and working with bands. And I've always just had a passion for helping my own bands and and then getting to work with other bands was a really, really great thing. So when my band split up, recording was definitely important to me. And I just wanted to contribute to music as much as I could and put more music out there. So yeah, just, uh, as I said earlier, like, you know, my friend kind of convinced me to get into teaching bands online, and I think part of that also came from whenever I recorded a band.
There was always like one guy in the band who would pay attention to what I was doing and ask questions. And I realized that, like people want to do this and be able to do it on their own, you know, like they're fascinated by it, or or also like they want, maybe want the same experience that I had of like just wanting to record my own stuff so I can remember things, And if I can make it sound usable, then why not? Right? That's kind of what led me to starting Master your mix.
So yeah, basically, the focus of that website is just helping musicians create pro recordings from their home studios. I've got the book, which we mentioned earlier courses, memberships. I have a coaching program as well, where I work one on one with artists and help them actually work on their records. So if people have a specific project, but they're working on like, I'll work with them on that and almost like a virtual producer role. But instead of like me being the guy who was recording and mixing, I'm teaching them to do it.
So it's a really fun, fun thing, and it's been a great experience to work with. So many musicians who are putting out amazing music and, uh, have a to have a small part of that is pretty awesome. So, yeah, if anyone's interested in learning more about that visit, master your mix dot com and, um, yeah, hit me up. I'm always I'm always open to having conversations with people about what music they're working on and what their goals are and how it can be done great, and all those links will be in the show notes as well at Bandhive dot rocks slash 71.
So you know we'll drop in Mike's social media, the master, your mix, YouTube and the site and any kind of links that you might want to find Mike on will be in there. So again, that's band. I've got rocks slash 71. Or if you just want to see everything about Mike all at once, master your mix dot com. Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us this week. Man, this has been so enlightening. It's been really a wonderful chat. Thank you so much.
Thanks for having me, guys. This was a lot of fun. I love these kind of conversations. They're just get me excited to make me want to be in a band again. First just noting out about business. And then it's like getting philosophical. I love it. Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. Yeah. Mhm. Mhm, Mhm, Mhm. That does it for this episode of the Bandhive podcast. Thanks so much, Mike, for taking the time to chat with us. It was truly a pleasure to hear all of the advice and the stories he had about his time both as an artist and a tour manager and even now as a recording and mixing engineer who is helping D. I. Y artists learn their craft so they can record and produce at home.
It was really great to have Mike here talking about being in a band and why you should take business seriously. So thank you again. And of course, we always welcome anyone who wants to be in the Bandhive Facebook Group. You can find us by searching for Bandhive on Facebook or going to better dot band slash group. And there's tons of people there who share your passion to make music your career. So please feel free to join us. Bandhive dot rocks slash group will get you there and we can talk about business, production, all that kind of stuff.
We look forward to chatting with you. We'll be back with another new episode next Tuesday at 6 a.m. You can find it in your favorite podcasting app. Until then, have a great week stay safe And, of course, as always, keep rocking
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