You’re a DIY musician who's tired of the major label system… We feel your pain.
Or maybe you do want to get signed – in which case you should pay close attention.
Brian Mazzaferri and his band I Fight Dragons have been on both sides of the major label fence, and they've seen firsthand how hard it is for artists to get their work out there without being tied down by a label.
But, there’s good news as well.
There are methods that will allow you to keep your independence while still getting your music heard by millions of people all over the world!
Listen now to hear Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragon describe how you can use creative techniques to keep your band afloat and make music that your fans will love, without paying out of pocket!
What you’ll learn:
Click here to join the discussion in our Facebook community.
To help keep Bandhive going, we sometimes use affiliate links. This means that if you buy something using one of the links below we may get a small commission. This absolutely does not affect what you pay for any of the linked items – your price will be the same whether you use our links or not. This trickle of income is what helps us keep the free content flowing!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Get I Fight Dragons’ latest album for free!
Cyber PR article about 1,000 true fans
– Cool Is Just a Number (EP, 2009)
– Welcome to the Breakdown (EP, 2010)
– Project Atma (Kickstarter campaign)
Grou.ps (no longer exists)
J.J. Italiano (no active website)
Welcome to Episode 77 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. My name is James Cross and unfortunately I don't have Matt Hoos here with us tonight, but I do have a very special guest that I'm super excited to talk with, Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight. How are you doing? I'm doing well, thanks for having me. Glad to hear that. And uh yeah, like I said, it's a pleasure to have you here. I've been following, I Fight Dragons for over a decade now, since your first ep. And it's been really cool to see how I Fight Dragons has made things work for the most part without a record label. If you average it out over the decade, Yeah, we'll get there. Okay. But for those who aren't familiar with, I Fight Dragons, can you give us the 32nd pitch of who is I Fight Dragons?
What's your background in music, that kind of stuff? Yeah, sure. So it's funny for people that have never heard of it. Sometimes I just sort of say, you know, we're like nerdy rock or sometimes I'll say like, do you like Weezer? Imagine if one of the guys in the band was a Nintendo and like, I don't know, just being super reductive about it. But yeah, we've been around for over a decade now, which is crazy. Pretty much got together with the idea of a bunch of folks I knew from the Chicago music scene.
A couple of us just discovered chip tune and we're getting very into it. It was kind of a burgeoning scene at that time. And you know, discovered a few of the things you could sound cards you could find to make chip tune. So for those that don't know, chip tuna's new music made on old video game sound cards. So a lot of our stuff is primarily the old Nintendo Gameboy and the old Nintendo entertainment system. Sound chips repurposed to make music. Yeah, I remember back in the day when you guys were first starting out, you went all out you had youtube videos covering what game controllers you had converted into instruments.
So before we dive too deep into the business stuff here, because that's what this podcast is all about his business for D. I. Y. Bands. How much of that stuff are you still doing? Are you set with the systems you have or are you still innovating and figuring out new controllers that you can work into the I Fight Dragons workflow? Yeah. You know, so in the in the early days especially there was a ton of like you said, we're just finding all these old controllers and figuring out how to essentially hacked them into midi controllers.
We could trigger samples to be honest with you for our live performance. So one of the guys in the band, Bill, who was the main one that played a lot of the controllers end up leaving the band for a couple of years. And so during that time we kind of had to reinvent our our lives set without him because he was a he also sang a lot. And so for a couple years there Hari our bass player had to sing three part harmony. He didn't know how to do that.
But then since Bill has come back, frankly, we haven't been as active live, so he's mostly played guitar on stage and we've kind of rejiggered some things around. So I don't know, I wouldn't say that the controllers will never come back, but I will say that like, Yeah, a lot of that. We're hacking the power pad and the power glove into a setup that usually crashed at least once per show. It was largely in kind of our early days as a band. Yeah, it's interesting that you say that because a few weeks ago we did an episode about having backups for any vital system.
So it sounds like that's a lesson you've learned by now. Yeah. Yeah. Well actually, so it's funny one of in the early days, also, we used to do this cover of the Legend of Zelda theme, it was just mostly acapella, but then we would play with guitars and it actually never had any chip tune in it. And it's because we never had it in the set. We always just played it whenever the computer crashed and we needed to cover for a minute or two until it came back alive and if it crashed twice in the show, which sometimes it did, then we didn't have any more materials.
Uh, uncut acoustic track. Here we go. Yeah, exactly. Just we'll figure something out. Yeah, Or if any, I Fight Dragons fans are listening chad solo. Yes, yes. Is the silent ist of drum solos? Yes, I, I apologize to anyone who is not familiar with, I Fight Dragons. That was an awful, awful inside joke that any podcast host worth their salt would not make because half the audience won't understand it. Anyway, Moving on from there, the 1000 true fans model is something that people have been talking about on and off for probably the better part of 15 years or so.
And through my searching of 1000 true fans what should appear. But Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons, talking about the 1000 true fans model. Yeah. In an interview, I mean, this is back in the day. This is even before I Fight Dragons. It's funny. I remember you mentioned the thousands of fans and I was like, oh yeah, I remember kind of disagreeing with some of the sentiments of it. But it's funny. I don't even fully remember what I wrote because that would have been, Gosh, I don't know 12 plus years ago at this point.
Yeah, well, I dug it up again out of the memory banks somewhere and it's with cyber pr and I'll put a link to that article in the show notes at band, I've got rocks slash 77. And if you'd like, I can email you the link after we're done recording too, so you can read it. But yeah, you did essentially disagree. And so far is that your opinion was it might work for solo act or duos, but for bands, it would probably be 5 to 10 years before it comes viable.
Hey, here we are, 10 years later, we made it. Yeah. And so looking at I Fight Dragons now, everything you've done seems to be maybe not the 1000 true fans model, but 5000 true fans model. So, to kind of, adjust things there, what are your thoughts on that model now, a decade later, after that article? I feel like, yes, in that way, it was hard to scale at the time. But yeah, it's absolutely become viable in certain respects for artists. And it's funny because even even when you read, like, his initial thoughts on the idea, he wasn't anchored too strongly on the 1000 number.
But the idea was, if you find a certain number of true fans and even said, I think in the original article, like if you're a band of five people, maybe it's 5000 true fans or whatever it is, but I still think it's a great idea and I I'm friends with lots of artists that are that make it work right? EMC Lars, I think is a great example of that model and a guy that has done that. I mean, a lot of the nerd, core hip hop community is very much in that vein, Jonathan Colton is actually probably the truest in that vein, to, especially like when you think about the things he's done with the Joko Cruz and I think it's absolutely a viable model and much more so than when I feel like back when I wrote that response or that sort of disagreement, even the infrastructure wasn't there?
Right? Because I had even tried some early experiments with like Paypal subscriptions and things like that and it was just, you actually had to have a bigger fan base, like in order to get 1000 people that would subscribe because it was such a high barrier to entry. But I feel like Kickstarter is really the thing that, that broke a lot of those walls down and that was, gosh, you know, more than five years ago that a lot of that was really starting to blow up and yeah, I think that it's become much more viable and again, you've got to scale it.
It's funny, I don't think I Fight Dragons as of 1000 true fans banned because just to be honest with you, we don't make a living from it. Like we do it and it's it's 1000 true fans in the sense that we have our fans instead of a record label, right? Like when we when we want to do a new project, we get the funding from our fans and like that's how it works. But at the same time, I remember Reading and this is probably old too. But I remember Reading sort of a response to the early 1000 true fans stuff from an electronic musician who was like actually living the model and was like, it's a brutal life and some of that stuff really still does ring true.
There's an element of the 1000 true fans sort of like model in which you are like very much at the mercy of your fans and that can be challenging, especially for artists types that are, you know, think of themselves as creators. Like all of a sudden you you get very anxious about the customer service in a sense, right? Because it's no longer like, oh, I need you to buy uh I want you to buy a cd at my show. It's like, no, I need you you to be a big enough fan that I think that in the original model, that was someone that's going to spend 100 bucks a year on you. Right?
And so there's like a funny anxiety that can come with that too because like, I think it was a mental model that's ahead of its time and in a lot of ways this time has absolutely arrived and like the outlines are not exactly as he put it, but like the direction was absolutely right. Well, thanks so much for sharing the updated views on that again. Like a lot of what you're saying applied then as it does now, You know, it's it's changed like you mentioned, but at the same time there's still a lot of caveats to it.
It made me curious. I pulled up the I Fight Dragons Patreon here. I'm just going to share these numbers because they're right on the Patreon page. Sure, the public right now, you have 1597 patrons, true fans and you're raising yes, true fans, Advanced guardians and $46,000 or 46,140. Can't forget the $140 per album adventure, which is what you call each album cycle essentially. And you dabbled in Kickstarter. We'll get to that a little later. But I'm kind of going through chronological history of I Fight Dragons here. So just to throw that number out there while we're on the 1000 true fans topic or in your case, 1546 No, sorry, but who's counting?
I can't do my number is 1,597. Apologies to anyone who's not in the Patreon. We're not saying that you're not a true fan, that's just where I'm facing my numbers. So with that number, it seems like the gifts that you give out for each album cycle. A lot of it is going towards that. And so I can see why you're saying, you know, it's not making a living, but ballpark, would you say that the costs of production, both for the physical items and for the music are covered for the albums that you put out these days?
Yeah, absolutely. And that is the goal, like, frankly, it kind of scales when we were launching the Patreon, that was 100%. The goal is like, can we fund making an album the way we want to make it? Uh you know, and making something really cool, not skimping on the physical production, especially these days. It's really always just fun to make it cool vinyl as well. And yeah, it's absolutely like, it's, to me it's eerie almost how like close it is that we've we've it's been consistent for us over the years that like making an album without sort of major label budgets and stuff like on our own with studio, like it's going to cost us some low tens of thousands of dollars and then, you know, recording, mixing, mastering all that stuff.
And then yeah, we're going to press up vinyl and cds and chipping all of which does cost a chunk of money as well. So yeah, that is the goal, and that's pretty much where we're at. Okay, well, that's great. I think that's what a lot of artists strive for is. They want to create and have that creation paid for. So they're not paying out of pocket to make, you know, their baby, they don't want to say, okay, I'm gonna drop $40,000 in here and then 10 people are going to buy it, you know, they want to know that this is going to be covered up front.
We can do it, we're not gonna, you know, have to sell the farm to pay it off, that kind of stuff. So I think it's really great that you guys are hitting that and you've been able to consistently do that, Which is another thing we'll circle back to in the future now. I kind of wanted to steer this to something else that happened about 10 years ago, maybe 12 by now, you guys got signed True. It's true. You were one of the bands who, I guess back then, that was still the time when getting signed meant you quote unquote, made it.
Yeah, just ask us. We totally made it. Now. I know you've put out some videos about your experience with the label and all that kind of stuff, and even wrote a song about your experience with the label, which will also be linked in the show notes. Can you go over that? Because I don't want to ask specifics. I don't know how much you can and can't talk about. Can you just give us, you know, a rundown of what happened and how that felt. Of course, there was a lot of things that happened we the year 2000 and nine, we like, had a lot of the cosmic fates lined up for us and we had, you know, we had a great E. P. Out that we were super proud of and we were like hustling really hard, trying new things.
It was a crazy age of internet music. Like, there was no Spotify yet, actually, believe it or not, When the band first started, our big investment was doing a custom Myspace. We like, invested in a flash game on our Myspace, where you could like get a high score, you had like little dragons, and that was like part of our marketing strategy, right? Was like a custom Myspace just to like really date us. It was super effective. People had like really wanted to get the high score on our Myspace page and then they listen to our songs.
But I say all that because, like, yes to your point, it was a very different time that year. We had a lot of things, you know, line up for us and go, right, we ended up through a bunch of that hustle landing spot at, on the warped tour to stop in Chicago that year. There's like, it was a sonic bids thing that we submitted to and we got to play, you know, seven PM slot on the kevin says, stage, one of the, like, small stages on warped tour.
But again, we like hustle then we got, we had actually had a bunch of people, we like, stood around all day handing out like, free download cards for songs and got a bunch of people. And it just happened that one of the people in the audience was a friend of or referred us to a guy named Gabe Apodaca who was a booking agent and he was a fan of our music. He'd like, he found it and he had his, one of his bands, Check us Out and liked it.
And so look, this is like the longest story, but one thing led to another, he ended up introducing us to a guy named JJ Italiano who ended up liking our music and wanted to sign us as a manager and that was kind of our entree into the more proper music industry. We also then got the opportunity to open up for EMC chris on our first tour that fall. That was actually through a totally different kind of route of networking and a guy who posted on his facebook page I think.
But then as we got a manager, we got this tour, like the things kind of lined up and JJ especially had just had a big hit with the band called the Flow bots. That was really amazing name. Song called handlebars, which was, you know, giant on alternative radio. Especially in that like 2000 and 8, 2009 era. So I say, I say all that because he was, you know, had a ton of connections and traditional music industry and we got along super well. And so he shopped us around to see if there were labels that were interested.
And we had a bunch come out to see us throughout that tour, which was kind of crazy. We played a showcase at the Viper Room in L. A. On one of the stops. And it just so happened that, yeah, by the end of the tour, atlantic records and the folks from atlantic were interested a couple and our guys specifically had come out to see us on a couple stops. And then even a couple more guys up the chain came and saw us at the knitting factory, I think in uh in new york on that tour.
And yeah, one thing led to another. They were interested. They obviously like to go everything we were doing online and with our online marketing, they really like JJ. Like that was the other thing. They wanted to work with him. So everything kind of lined up and we signed a pretty small deal, you know, for the way those things go. But yeah, then spent a couple of years, I think, not even, might even be less than two years, but essentially like from there, the mission became okay. We need you to write a hit song, like no brainer, smash hit song.
So I was like, all right, let's try that. And it was an amazing experience in a lot of ways, like super frustrating and stereotypical in certain ways, but in other ways it was really fascinating. Like I got to do co writes, which I had never done before with a ton of different like professional songwriters. And I learned so much, even though ultimately I didn't like a lot of those songs, there were a ton that I like to, you know, we got to I got to work with Matt Mahaffey who produced Kaboom and co wrote a bunch of the songs on it with me and we got to gone are only really big like pop tour that we ever did.
Uh in 2010 we opened up for Cobra, Starship 303 and Trevi McCoy. We were like the fourth opener and that was like an amazing experience. We got to do Warped tour actually twice, but you know, we never would have gotten to do that if we weren't on the label and having that backing, you know, ultimately the they never felt like there was a hit on the album. And so they ended up, but that's it. They could have hung on to us, right? We had like a multi multi album deal locked in and uh JJ was able to negotiate for them to let us leave.
And we parted ways I think. And yeah, we signed the beginning of 2010 and parted ways before the end of 2012. It was kind of a crazy experience, Had a ton of ups and downs, but I don't know, it was also fascinating and we got a ton of opportunities that we never would have gotten otherwise. So lots of pluses, but also, you know, lots of minus is not not the least of which is like it kind of rules out that 1000 true fans model for a lot of the things that you make in that period because you just don't own them, right?
We still don't know actually as part of the deal, they bought our first ep, and then we put out another ep. Welcome to the breakdown and an album Kaboom. And we still don't own those masters. So, you know, it's interesting whenever you spend that stuff on Spotify, we don't we don't see a cent. Really, wow. That must have been difficult because I know you just re released the first two mps on vinyl, that must have taken quite a bit of work to get done. Yeah, it was interesting.
The uh part of when we got off of the label, JJ again was like able to work with them and they were really kind about certain things, and part of that was we got physical rights, so we don't have any distribution of digital on that stuff, but we were allowed to sell and and make physical copies, because they didn't they wouldn't want to have pressed more copies of our stuff anyway, like, they wouldn't want to be involved in that and stocking it. So, like, they essentially gave us back the right to make our own physical copies of stuff.
I got to say, that's very surprising, again, that's that's what I say, like, it's Judges Great, and they were they did not have to let us go and to let us go in the kind of, nice way they did. So, like, that's where I say, you know, it didn't work out for us in the in the grand scheme of things. Like, there was still a lot of things that did go right, and I don't feel like the music industry needs to burn or anything like that. Yeah.
It's not a record label Horror Story. It's just a record label breakup. Yeah. It didn't work out exactly knowing that experience that you have. Would you do it again? Oh man. Uh Like it's funny like with I think with a lot of people's lives, like looking back on my life, like. Yes, that again, I had some like amazing experiences and like, well, I didn't turn out that led to being, you know, making a living from my music forever as a rock god, or what not, You know, that was probably never gonna happen for me anyway.
I don't know, it's everyone's kind of got their own life story right? And I love that that's a part of mine, and I got to do a bunch of things and work with a bunch of people that would just not have happened if I hadn't taken that route. So I don't know. I'm sure there's a bunch of other paths that also could have been equally fulfilling in their own way. But it's hard to look back and say like, oh man, if only we hadn't signed, then things would have been so great.
Yeah, I guess it comes down to uh viewing the opportunity cost of it. And then also keeping in mind that you should ignore the sunk cost for anybody listening those terms. Basically the opportunity cost is you can do either option A or option B. And if you choose option A. Your opportunity cost is anything you would have gotten from option B. Or if you choose option B. It's anything you would've gotten from option A. Sometimes, you know, the opportunity cost, sometimes you don't. And then the sun cost is basically saying like if you made a bad decision, don't dwell on it.
Just say, you know what, okay. Like cool, we're going to let that go. And and that's not to say that signing with the label was a bad decision. That's just for the explanation here. Yeah. The other component of that is optionality. Which is like the thing that you are giving up when you go down the route of a label, right? And that's why I say like the 1000 true friends thing couldn't be a living for us because we do. Part of that is you have to have that ownership and signing that away.
You like close down a bunch of different potential options you could take. And it's again, it's not to say that overall, like more optionality is always better. It's just to say like, you know, in a given thing, there there are more avenues you can go down with more options. And like that is a very narrow tightrope to try and walk in the label world. Absolutely. Now, before we move on from the label, I think there was one city that they focused on and everything seemed to be going really well, but then they decided not to expand the campaign.
Oh, is that something you can talk about? Sure, Sure. Yeah. No, it was, it was JJ. So our managers was from Denver and new, the program director at the alternative radio station there who had more autonomy than your average program director. He had actually given floats a chance and was a big part of helping them break. And they ultimately had a number one alternative radio single, uh, with handlebars. And so he took another chance on us, tested us out with our song, The geeks will inherit the Earth optical boom.
And it tested really well. Like I I think some of the other things at the time, the Adele album was like coming out and there was one or two things and we tested like right up there with like the big hits at the time. So it was like, all right, I'll give you some spins and like, yeah, we made it all the way up their charts. I think this was like holidays of 2011. I'm trying to maybe getting my timeline wrong, but we just kept climbing all the way up to number one because people would request it and it's just like went really well.
But like, that was kind of the make or break moment for the label where it was like, you know, JJ had gotten that and we were testing well and the data was good. But like, at that point in order to go from like one station to national play somebody, you know, has to put some radio promotion dollars behind that essentially. Like if you're the label, you have to say like, all right, this is going to be one of the things we're going to push an alternative radio and it was kind of a, you know, not to be vulgar but a shit or get off the pot moment and the call was we're gonna get off the pot man.
That sounds like one of those opportunity cost moments where they said, well, we're not going to spend you now $100,000 on this. And they're like, we could have had a million, who knows? Yeah, I mean, it's what Yeah. One of those things that like, and there's a there's a billion factors that go into that, you know, like if you're if you're the person making the call in the A. And R. Department about what you're gonna go, there's a finite number of slots right that you're going to be able to take and push in this time and you're you're placing a bet.
And like while we had one station where we did well a bunch of the response was like, yeah, it's a little quirky of a song. I could see how it do well in Denver, but like, I don't know, we don't think it'll do well other places and oh no, it's not good in this way, it would have been a big bet for them to try and take it wide. And actually the the other weird element is so with flow bots, they weren't signed at the time. So J. J. Had been able to kind of do more of a guerilla tactic.
But ironically because we were signed, it kind of stopped it. Like we, we had to ride with the label or not at all, like you couldn't get other stations interested because it was kind of like, wait a minute, like, but these guys are on atlantic or actually, technically, so it's funny our, our contract with Atlantic, but they released us through an imprint called photo finish just because it was, that was where 303 was and the like we were working with the same booking agent. And it seemed like, you know, ultimately that they thought that it would be a place that would know how to market us a little bit better than like big atlantic, which is, you know, not not as much into the niche artists.
But anyway, so I say that because ultimately, like, the, the call from a lot of these folks was like, look, I have a weekly meeting with the radio promotion guys from Atlantic. How come they're not bringing you up? We couldn't really take it by ourselves because it was like, something doesn't square here. Yeah, that's that sounds like a really rough break. Yeah, it was a funny high because when the test stuff came back in off on geeks and it was like, off the charts, it was like, ah, this is it.
It's like vindication all this time. So, I'm making the album, it's going to be a hit. And then, like, yeah, within a couple months to see it like peak and then have it's time and the label not want to do anything with, it was just like, a little bit heartbreaking. For sure. Yeah, that sounds brutal. Well I will not make you dwell on that. I won't pour salt in your wounds. Moving on to happier notes. Uh You've always had a history of being very innovative as we mentioned earlier with Patreon and we'll get there.
I keep saying that, but we'll get there and uh you know with Kickstarter. But going back even before that You guys came up with something really really creative, which was the USB card, lifetime membership. And I believe you sold out of all of them in like a week, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yes. This was before there was any kickstart or anything like that. We were trying to find ways to do essentially direct to fan funding. And the idea was, we sold it for $100. You could buy a USB drive.
It wasn't really so much about the U. S. B. Drive, but you're buying a lifetime membership where you get any music we've ever released and a digital copy of any music we ever will release. And you can get into any I. F. D. Show for the rest of your life. Like well we'll just put you on the guest list and you can come in and yeah we sold 100 of them. It actually was really what funded our first tour with EMC chris because we were you know getting paid 100 bucks a night is just kind of standard as the opener.
You're you're basically having to pay your own way on the tour and you know sell merch and and stuff like that. But for most bands of any size it's gonna it's one thing if you're like one person you could tag along but if you're were six people at the time and you've got a bunch of gear and merch and stuff like that, like yeah, it's gonna cost you money. So yeah, we sold 100 of those. They sold out within a week. And that really, that $10,000 helped us to, to fund that tour.
Yeah, like I say the infrastructure just wasn't there because again, we sold those all on Paypal and like there was no really e commerce infrastructure for like do it yourself. We just found a way to do it. And yeah, we've always been just trying different things like that. And that stuff is actually still last. Like I'd say every show we've played, even to the last show we played before pandemic locked in. You know, a couple months before the lockdown, there were plenty of lifetime members in the audience.
That's amazing. And I think that shows a couple of things to me. The first important thing that anybody who's listening should take away from this is don't do whatever you want else is doing. Figure out what you can do, what unique selling proposition you can give say like, hey, we're gonna do this super cool thing that no one else is doing and people are going to want it in a way, that's what you've been doing. Even with the Kickstarter and Patreon campaigns you've done. So going a little bit further down the path of unique merchandise for every tour, at least the last eight years or so.
I think of tours, you've done dog tags. Can you talk about that a little bit? What, what inspired that idea? Like what sparked it, and is that kind of an extension of the lifetime memberships without it being a lifetime membership? It, it does seem like it's a way to fund the tours. It's related. Yeah, so it's funny, it used to be about the tours when we would do like full national tours, we haven't done a national tour in a long time, so now we've kind of switched it to be like one per album or at least one per crowdfunding campaign.
But yeah, at the time there was an element of funding the tours, but just an element also of, I don't know, it's really cool. I like to make collectible and limited edition things whenever we can, because not only do they, I don't know, not only do, I think that's cool when you're like, oh, well, you know, however many people buy these, there's only like 100 odd of this tour, and there's only, you know, 75 of this tour. But yeah, we made they've all pretty much been titanium laser inscribed dog tags, so they're like super durable and we inscribe people's names on the back too, so their personalized at the same time.
But yeah and then there are the ideas if you have a bunch because at this point I think we've released five or six of them over the years, there are people that will come to shows with like multiple on their dog tag chain. And it's it's uh I don't know, it's cool. I've lately I've been looking at a challenge coins to those are like a little bit more intense to make because they have like three D. Surfacing to them. But like I don't know, I love the, I love artifacts that you can like have with you and like show to other people and collect.
And I feel like that's not only is it a cool way to obviously raise money, but I like that as a consumer to that you can like have almost this like exclusive club type of feel to it. Yeah, it's like gives people the opportunity to buy a leveled up V. I. P. Access laminate that costs like a dollar to print. And then you don't look like an idiot wearing it because the laminates who wears a laminate around town, but you can wear a dog tag. It's cool, you know?
So yeah, I dig that. Um and again, that I think that goes back to showing like you thought of something unique that no one else is doing, but you knew your audience would eat up, you know? And that kind of innovation is something that I think a lot of artists kind of miss because they are looking at what everyone else is doing or they're looking at what The superstars are doing. It's like the superstars aren't trying to grow an audience, they have an audience, they're going to sell you the $200 merch package that comes with a quarter of the stuff that can I Fight Dragons $50 merch package would have in it, you know?
Yeah, Yeah, that was I always struggled with that. Especially when, when other people would talk or ask advice about like, you know, being a gorilla band or, you know, indie band, how to do it yourself, how to market how to like kind of try and and grow so many people fixate on what the superstars are doing, or even like when they're trying to tell other people what their music sounds like, So many people will be like, oh, it's john Mayer crossed with you two and your like, that doesn't actually tell people anything right, Like you're not going to be building your fan base with people who like john Mayer and you too.
If there's people who would like your music ideally you want to find somebody else who is a small band that those people like bigger than you. But like if you can, if you're, you know where your music fits into this larger ecosystem, that's where you can find the people that would actually like your music and might actually be your fans. Not by like saying if you like john Mayer, john Mayer's even a dated reference, I'm an old man at this point. You know, if you like Justin Bieber or like world famous star, X, Y. Z, then you'll love our music. Yeah.
It seems like people fix it on the pop star's because they think everyone knows that name and everyone does. But the music fans don't listen to that person. You know, the true fans that you want, they're not gonna listen to BTS or whatever. Right? It's funny I used to be very, especially in in the early days I was very into Seth Godin specifically, you know, it's kind of a guerilla marketing or viral marketing guru. And uh his his comment about that is the like fans of mass media always want the regular kind like they want that like is his phrase for all that stuff.
Like I just want the regular kind like that. There isn't even an awareness often that like there is a different kind of like they like music and you know the music they hear on the radio or tv or you know, wherever these days but you know, Youtube I guess. But point being like, yeah, there's different bands are different points in their life cycle to, it wasn't until I was in the music industry that I discovered the term heritage, which is like sort of derogatory, but it's like a term for bands that have like found their fan base and that is their fan base.
And now they have lots of them make just boatloads of money, but they're considered like heritage acts. And one of the things I learned was like, you actually really don't want to open for a heritage act on a tour because like, their fans really don't care about you. Like, these are not folks that are like looking for new music. These are folks that are whose music tastes are well established. And they are there to see like, I don't know, new folks that were opening up for the offspring, right?
And you feel like one hand, you're like, oh, man, that's an amazing tour. Like it's going to be huge. It's going to be lots of people there. On the other hand, like the people going to see the offspring, I've been going to see the offspring for 20 years and are not that interested in finding out about you. Yeah, absolutely. It's a tough line to toe because sometimes there's bands like, you know, I'm going to use Lincoln Park as an example where they have the older, dedicated fans, but then they also have the new fans because their sound has been evolving or maybe, you know, bring me the horizon as an even better example cause they're still active and their sound has changed so much.
So they still have the old school fans who have been with them for, I think they've been around 15 years or so, but they also have all the new fans who like the normal stuff, which is what, you know, bring me is now the regular kind. Yeah. Yeah. And it's funny, it's obviously these are these are we're talking reductive categories, right? It's not like there's nobody in an offspring concert that would want to hear new music. It's being reductive. But like at the same time it's funny because it's a useful mental model when you think about like trying to be like if you're targeting fans of some like giant act or some like very well established act, it's just not going to be as useful as if you're finding fans of a new band that's come out in the past few years that has like, you know, a couple 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify but is like touring and doing great stuff and like actually their, you know, their fans would really like your music.
And so you know, that's a lot more useful in my opinion than thinking about some giant established act. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's like to put it into perspective, as in my mind, what you're saying is who would you rather open for musical differences aside, Kiss Or Bring Me The Horizon? Imagine they sounded absolutely the same. The genre did not matter. Kiss or Bring Me, which is going to be more advantageous for you. Kiss is probably going to sell more tickets, you'll be in an arena, but Bring Me is going to have a much more appropriate audience.
Yes, and a larger percentage of people that are actually going to be interested in finding new music and listening to the opener. And yeah, to your point, like, actually, I think there are bands that have reputation for that, right, and their fan base has a reputation for that. And so it's like, but even understanding that already kind of gives you a leg up, right? You're not just thinking about man. If we could get an opening slot for Kiss Metallica will get so many Spotify streams. Oh, yeah, Well, so I've been saying we'll get to this throughout the whole interview, so I think it's time we should pivot over to Kickstarter and project ATma.
You guys set a really small goal 20 grand. That's that's been the goal man. So it's funny. That's why I say like it's been the same thing for a long time because that was in 2013 and now we're 2021 so it's like eight years later. But yeah, we figured, I figured at the time, like look bare bones, if we go like minimum minimum at least with 20 grand, we could record the album, make it high quality, and then we would still have to like pay to put it to manufacture and release it and all that stuff.
But like with 20 grand you can, you can make a decent album, maybe cut some corners in terms of like how we do the production, but like the end product would still be the same. And yeah, it definitely blew the, blew the lid off expectations there. And it's funny because it's always a mix to your point of like do what other people aren't doing. I like to be on the leading edge, but not the like bleeding edge sometimes. I mean, it depends, right? Because if you've got an idea and nobody's done it, like try it out awesome, see if, see what happens.
But like a lot of times when things are like waves that are cresting, there's a good reason. And so I was watching like, like many people, like I was keeping an eye on Kickstarter, seeing what was happening. Amanda Palmer did her gigantic when that I think was a lot of people's first exposure. But yeah, I mean, and I've kept an eye on Amanda Palmer what she's, she was doing a lot of that, really innovative stuff that was like a lot of my inspiration in the early days to, she did this thing like where she sold like the friday night t shirt club was a very famous thing amongst those like indie music promotion circles at the time.
This was even before twitter I think, or maybe like the early, early days of twitter and she tweeted out like, who else is home on a friday night and like got a bunch of responses. And so she had a bunch of t shirts pressed up for like people that were like the friday night social club or something like that and sold $10,000 for the t shirts and everyone was like, wow. But yeah, so, so I saw that and thought about how we could do that and put our own twist on it, and the biggest twist was like, we're gonna make a basic album and then if our funding goes past the stretch goals, the album itself that everybody gets, is going to get crazier and crazier and crazier to the point that the end product we made Was, yeah, this like crazy triple gatefold with a graphic novel inside and a fold out poster Ellen, like fluorescent blue green vinyl.
Yeah, we just went nuts. And you hit almost six times the goal, you came out to about 115,000 in a month. That must have been like insane to just see the numbers going up and up and up. It was mind blowing. Yeah. I think you hit the main goal in the 1st 24 hours or maybe even the 1st 12 hours. Put it that way. It was significantly more than our record advance from the major label. We still got to own the record and all that stuff. Take that atlantic. That makes me think how much of a boost in fans did you see while you were signed to the label?
Because I think it might be a little difficult to track how many came from being signed to the label, but you can probably kind of estimate how many came during that period. It's really hard to say just to be real with you. Like, the metrics themselves even changed so drastically. Like when we were first getting started, I used to keep an eye on a site called Last FM which was like, certain people could hook up their itunes to last FM and it would track what they play that was called a scrabble.
And like that was one of the only sources to like get a beat on how many people were actually listening to your music. And then like over time we would measure our email list subscribers. But like that fell off, especially in the air once facebook really took off like email list subscribers. Kind of wasn't as big a thing. Facebook fans was a big thing. But then like that really is falling off in the last few years as facebook is like an old people platform. And I just to be really, I haven't even kept track of it as much lately. Right?
I think these days I mostly tend to look at Spotify monthly listeners as like a good gauge and by those metrics, like we've been still steadily climbing like slowly and with spurts. But over time, I don't know, it's hard to say the impact of the label because those years were like so so much of our really active time, right? It's hard to say we we kind of made a living. We definitely did a full time. I don't know if you could say we made a living, but like all of us were doing it full time, right?
We did tours that lasted months at a time and we were, you know, dedicating so much of our time to to recording and that like just honestly in the time since since about like 2013 has not been the case right? Like most of us have had to work straight jobs too. And you know, we still make music with I. F. D. And tour on occasion. But it's it's hard to like compare apples to apples, if that makes sense. Myspace listeners, I forgot my space listeners was actually the real metric, the currency of the realm When we started back in 2000 and 3009. Yeah. Yeah.
And the I'm sure you had some kind of counter on the game that you coded or had coded. That's great. But yeah, I think also that happens to so many artists, like all the big established acts, They'll do a tour every two or three years and they'll do a big, you know, world tour, that's like, you know, 180 days long and they go everywhere and they're like, Okay, we're gonna see in 2. 5 years. And so comparing that to any D. I. Y. Band who's doing 200 shows a year for three years, it's only natural.
You can't keep that up, you grow up and you get a family. Exactly, that's a big piece of it. I mean like just to be real with you and I thought about like, you know, family was always something I wanted to do. And that's like, yeah, spending months and months of the year in a van. It's really hard to do when you start to have kids, like, you know, not seeing them for a length of time. Those are sacrifices you can make, but they're definitely you've got to want to make them.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, continuing down the path of creative fundraising, I think that's probably the best way to sum up all the different sources you figured out over the years. What was the moment like when you said, you know what? We're not going to use Kickstarter anymore? We're going to switch to Patreon. Was that like a conscious thing? Like a light bulb or how is that? Lightbulb? Lightbulb is strong. I'll say this Kickstarter was amazing. It blew my mind with sort of what we were able to raise.
But at the same time it was very bad for my mental health and for for the making of an album because like, so you have a 30 day funding period, right? And then you go do your thing and like it was well documented for a few years there especially, I feel like when Kickstarter was first blowing up about the number of creators that just cracked under the pressure and either never delivered their projects or like brand at a budget. Like so many things can go wrong. We I mean we were classic.
They're like, we basically had to record the album twice because we, I picked up producer that ultimately, like we didn't get along with and he was a super talented producer, but ultimately like didn't gel with the band. And so I ended up like pulling the plug and basically starting over again. We didn't get any of that money back. So like, you know, there were twists and turns. It took us way longer than we thought. Like people, people were generally patient with us, but they're still just like so much, I don't know, anxiety that comes with like people gave you their money two years ago and they're still waiting to get their stuff.
So that's one piece and then the other piece is Kickstarter and we very much embraced the medium is all about these sort of, especially at the time, was very much about these like outlandish special rewards. So like what crazy reward tiers can you get for 250 or 500 or seven, you know, whatever, like that's part and honestly that's like part of the 1000 true fans model going back to that is like you have some people who are willing to pay $500 instead of 15. And like that's part of how you make it work is that you don't have to find, you know, 100,000 people to give you 10 bucks each.
You can find, you know, whatever, I'm butchering the numbers, but you get the idea right, like there's some people that have more disposable income and that want to support you to that level. But the flip side of that is actually fulfilling that and we went nuts man. Like the there were all kinds of like framed lyric sheets and custom requests and like the I still remember the very last reward that I fulfilled on the Kickstarter wasn't until september after the album was released. So like a full nine months later and it was because one of the rewards was writing people's custom theme songs.
So I had to write seven different custom theme songs. And then like, we recorded them in the recording studio, like did it up fully and uh they came out great. But like, man, I tell you, it was like a three year journey to fulfill all that stuff and like the two things that I didn't love about it, we're one that anxiety up up front and to like the amount of focus that went on to these rewards that really had nothing to do with, with making music or with like, you know, making music for people like right there, like a lot of one off things which were, which were cool, but I just didn't want, I had at that time again, I wasn't doing it full time, and I didn't want to spend the limited time I had to work on music in my life, working on like some random chomsky, that was a reward that I thought up.
That was actually kind of a weird idea. So all of that to say, like, when we thought about making another album, like, honestly, after the Kickstarter was finally all done, we kind of like, were burned out for a little bit, and uh I don't think for a lot of like, 20 how am I gonna get my years wrong, but like, there was probably a solid like six months to a year where it's just like, we weren't weren't actively working on anything, and then when we came back around to it and everyone was like, kind of getting their mojo back, it was like, do we want to start all that over again?
Like, do we want to kind of start from Ground zero and think about a Kickstarter, and hope that people will like, sign up again and all this stuff. And because that's the other thing, like, you're just starting from zero with every Kickstarter, and obviously you still have some of the same fans, so like, you're going to tell them about it, all that fun stuff, like a lot of the same people will come back, but like, I've been keeping an eye on Patreon as a platform and it was one of those things where it's like, it's not really designed to do like what we did with the Kickstarter, but I don't know, I kind of love it.
Like there was I had the idea that if we mangled, Patreon, Patreon is really designed for like, people that make either web comics or videos, write something where you get like a monthly subscription and you're supporting some volume of work they do. And it was like, well I kind of want to do something that's a little bit like this Kickstarter, but a couple key differences. Like, first of all, people don't have to give you money up front, so you don't have anxiety about that. You haven't paid anything if you don't want to be here peace out.
And like ultimately, when we're done with the album, then you get to like locking your tear and choose what you want. So I like that. I also really liked the idea that there wasn't a set like timeline. Again, that kind of goes along with that like that we were like, look, we think it's going to take about this long, but if it doesn't, it doesn't and like, you haven't paid anything, so who cares? Like, we're just going to keep like working on it. Uh And then the other pieces that like very naturally let itself to weekly content, because it's like, well, we're going to be making an album, or that's the idea of Album Adventure, and like, we're going to let you into the process and you'll see behind the scenes, and it's like, honestly, it's a pretty small fraction of people that care that much that want to, like, be following along weekly, but those people really care and for everybody else, you can always go back, you know, and kind of just like, take a afternoon or whatever and kind of dive into all those other posts and get into it too.
So, I don't know, I liked a lot of the different ways of that. And the other thing is we, I wanted to refine the rewards, so they were all super focused on the album itself. So again, taking away this idea of like, we're going to write you a custom theme song which was like the ultimate of like tons of work totally unrelated, you know, for literally for one person, you know, a fun thing to try. But like I found that that was given the limited time we had, I wanted all the rewards to be about the album.
So like we kept the things like singing on the album, right? So ever for our last albums for the Near future and canonized people could have their voices on the album. Like on a track literally we have like a gang vocal require section and things like that where it's still like, yeah, you can have your name in the credits for a certain level, right? Those are like the types of rewards that I felt still lined up with this idea of like we're going on this adventure with people and then the, I suppose the last, the most important thing is because it's Patreon, it's not a one and done.
Like the idea is, you are, you are a patron, right? You're there and you're signed up and you can come and go at any time. But like we will continue having adventures and making, you know, we're just about to finish our second one now, which is kind of crazy that like we didn't have to start from scratch. We just kind of picked up where we left off and it's been amazing. Yeah. I think like I said before the interview, I like to describe it as an evergreen Kickstarter.
That's essentially what you're doing. Yeah. That's kind of how we're using it with some twists, right? Like you're, I think it's important that the funding period is not at the beginning. Yeah. And it gives people confidence too be able to adjust things as they go. Like you know, you start the album and then as they discover that they love the songs, they can say, oh you know what, I'm gonna bump up a tear, where's the Kickstarter? You lock in the tier before they hear any of the demos because you guys are really great about putting demos out there and in progress reports, the Kickstarter, they're kind of locked in.
They can't bump up the tear with Patreon. You can. So this episode is unfortunately going to come out until after your main paid post for the demos and B sides album that you're working on right now is going to drop. But I know you said that people can still sign up for the Patreon and can you tell people how to go back in and get whatever rewards are still possible? You know what hasn't been locked in yet? Yeah, so that's the amazing thing to me with Patreon too, is like, it's a very generous platform.
So like for instance, you only do one paid post per adventure, which is when people get charged and if you've got a physical reward, that's when you're actually locked in. But The awesome thing is at any time you can join and you get full access to the to the history of all content. So like, it's kind of a sweet deal in that, you know, it's whenever this comes out, we'll already be passed are paid post. But if you come and join our patreon, even for a dollar, like all of a sudden you'll unlock 150 posts of like everything from demos to like the full copy of the last two albums.
Well you digitally digitally, right? And that's like fine by me. Like yeah, come check it out and decide if you want to stick around for the next adventure and and to be real with you, people join and leave all the time. Like on an average, I have to like look at the numbers for real. But like on an average month we've got, you know, a good number of people joining and a good number of people leaving. Like people will leave based on their financial situation based on like taking a break.
It's totally fine. Like that is the organic ebb and flow of these things I think. Yeah, for sure. Well, first of all, if somebody wants to go sign up, go do that. It's a perfect way to spend 150 posts. I could see that being a good pandemic quarantine weekend going through everything. But did you see when the pandemic first hit? You weren't really at that time yet active on the new album cycle, the new album Adventure. Did you see a big shift in your numbers when the pandemic first hit?
Not really again, to to your point, like, we had just put out canonize our last full album in december, before the pandemic hit, you know, february march. So like, we were pretty much we weren't releasing new content or anything like that and so I don't think there was anybody like visiting our Patreon regularly and we weren't making much noise about it, so it wasn't a big surge for us, I don't know. But it's an interesting thought, like people could have been like, oh this is something to do, Better check it out.
Yeah, I was more so thinking and hoping that it was not the case that all of a sudden like there's a giant dip when everybody's like I don't have money. Oh sure sure. Right right. No, no we didn't see that either. It's great. That didn't happen like you weren't about to charge people so they didn't have any incentive to leave. Right? Exactly. There's no risk, there's nothing going on your credit card. And if when there is we're gonna like tell you and tell you and tell you like this whole month we've been like there's going to be a paid post bail out now if you don't want to pay.
Yeah I think you've worn people at least three times already. Yes exactly but you just can't over, it's one of the things I've learned of this is like you just got to over over communicate because like you know people are busy and maybe they read every fourth post or you know some people obviously read every post there like we get it, but then there's lots of people who are you know sometimes they miss it, sometimes they're not paying attention so you gotta let them know. I will admit I'm one of those people who has like 10 unread Patreon emails from, I Fight Dragons and I'm just like someday I'm going to go through those and that's fine.
That's the idea. There's no clock. Yeah and I know it will be there. That's the thing to like one other thing before we wrap this up here because I know it's getting late with Kickstarter if people join one Kickstarter and then two years later, four years later there's another Kickstarter. Guess what? They don't get access to all the old stuff from the original Kickstarter. Where's the Patreon? Like you were saying all the album adventures back to the very first post people get access to. So I think that's another really cool way to add value because the fans get all this extra stuff that normally they wouldn't get if you were doing a Kickstarter or any other type of crowdfunding campaign, like Indiegogo or whatever is out there these days.
Yeah, they're all standalone campaigns. I love that. Like, I sometimes I think about it this way, like my favorite band since I was in high school has been fountains of wayne. It's actually pretty sad. Adam Schlesinger just passed away in the early days of Covid, which absolutely awful. But I think about like, how much time I spent digging on the internet to find their like Visa hides and tracks, and like how how much I sifted through and like if I had had something where I could have just signed up, like gotten all this stuff like, yeah, I would have been there in a heartbeat and I would have loved to like sift through that.
And so that's like the perspective I try and take, like if we are someone's favorite band, you know, what, what kind of stuff would they want and how can I make it like a generous experience for them? Yeah, absolutely. And especially now, you know, a lot of the demos and decides that you're putting out for side quest on the Patreon where stuff that went out, you know, 10 years ago to the email list. But now it's becoming a library of your back catalogue to illustrate. I grew up as a big A. F I fan, everything was scattered and thankfully there was like a fans like that gathered everything and all kinds of set lists and information and this is before set list.
FM was big and then it would be like, hey we have this B side that's only on like the japanese cassette version of the album And it's like I feel bad for downloading this illegally. But then again, I literally can't get it unless I pay like $200 for a Japanese import, you know, fly to Japan. I think it's really good that you have that out there because one that gives fans an incentive to join the patreon and two, it makes it more accessible which is giving back to your fans far more value for like you said, people can join for a dollar, that's how far the industry has come.
You know, and I hate to say the industry as if you guys are like one of you know, the industry bands, but that's how it's changed. I honestly don't even know how the music industry works anymore. It's like funny because I've just been more focused on us like having fun. Like I have not really kept up with like I used to be very much an industry especially like in D. D. I. Y. Music industry nerd like back in the day. But yeah, I don't even know, I don't even know where it's going anymore to that.
I would just say there are so many artists who are quote unquote in the industry who are losing money hand over foot and they're just like growing money, good money after bad. You know? They're like we can buy onto this X. Y. Z. Tour and we'll all of a sudden be famous. Like no that's you gotta make your own fan base, you know, to go back to what we were talking about earlier. So arguably I would say that because you're able to cover the production costs of your records, you might actually be doing a lot better than many bands who think they're in the industry.
Who knows? I mean, it's it's funny, it's like such a because they're, you know, we bought on a tourist to you can you can bet your sweet dippy that that's a great phrase, I hope you don't edit that out, but you can bet your sweet dippy that, you know, the only reason we ended up on the that big pop tour we did with 33 Cobra starship was because, you know, we had a label that was going to contribute extra advertising money, like, right, we were brought onto that tour, but then the other side of that, that I think is also really important at the time.
Like I said you have to like hustle is like every stop man, we were working the crowd. Like all the band members after every show had to like have a box of cds and like just Hachem two people that were exiting like do you catch your set? You know $5 cd or you know whatever it is like just be like the chilliest. But like that's that's how you do it man. We we moved a few cds then and like we always obviously would be at the merch table and sign stuff and like I don't know you just got to get you just gotta be hustling because those opportunities are good but you also have to, you know you're paying for them, especially if you're buying into a tour.
So like remember especially work tour, you know, we'd see bands that was like that festival was whatever you made of it, right? It was a bunch of captive people. But like if you didn't go out and work that crowd to get people to come to your set, nobody came to your set. Yeah. For work toward the example. I love to use as the main and I think it was 2016, they were playing one of the main stages and they themselves personally went out into line every morning and there were a lot of artists that did that you guys did that.
I'm sure when you on Warped tour? Yeah, I saw you out there, even one of the year's uh, yeah, we, we were still trying to be innovative. We uh, had these big heater shields commissioned like with that said, I Fight Dragons on them, painted. And then we wore these like white suits with helmets and walked around just to like look ridiculous and people be like, who the hell is I Fight Dragons? And they came and checked out our set. I'm now remembering it was New Mexico and it was a billion degrees and I saw one of you walking around in this suit.
We still walked around, That must have been a nightmare. It was not great. Yeah, I will admit there were some of those days when, when we didn't get out there and do it because it was just physically impossible. But, but we did and then we actually had, so there were times when we let fans, we had like a giant flagpole with an I Fight Dragons flag and like you could be the flag bearer for the day, so there'll be a fan that just walked around with it.
You know, you just gotta get creative. Yeah, I swear I'll wrap it up here shortly. That my main point with the main and I Fight Dragons is, you know, you guys were on the Ernie Ball stage at least the year I was out there and for bands on the smaller stages, it was maybe not the norm, but much more common to see those artists out in line. I think the main is the only main stage band I ever saw out in the lines, some bands would send out, you know, emerged person.
Yeah, exactly. They send out someone from their crew. It's like, you go and the man would be like, no, we're actually here, it was like half the band, you know, the other half would be doing whatever, you know, interviews or whatever they have, but two or three of the guys will be out in lines with their merch, guy selling cds, signing stuff. That's the kind of dedication that you're talking about, essentially two more questions. I'll make them short. 1st 1 is you mentioned you have fans walking around to the flagpole, you guys had a very active street team back in the day.
How much of a role do you think that played in your overall growth as a band? It's so hard to tell. Like I wish I knew right because I tell you that was a big investment. Like especially we had the street team, we call the advanced guard. When it first started, I was on a site that was like call groups like grou dot ps. We moved it over to a ning which was like your own, it was a build your own social network. There was a lot of these types sites back in the day.
But yeah, it was based around like a point system where people like we would mail you posters or download cards and people could go and put up the posters and hand out the download cards at shows and different events and then people. Yeah, I got levels. So like it was a ton of money to produce that stuff to ship it out. And then even to like I was you know, manufacturing the cards myself. But you know, we make the cards that for people as they got ranks.
Like you could be a guardian and a night and all the stuff. Uh we would you know the whole band would sign the cards and make them for people. But you know, I wish if I wish I could tell you conclusively like that was money super well spent. But I don't know it was fun. It was a cool adventure I think. And I know I just know that for a lot of people that participated, they made great friendships to like, it's funny now we recently the past like six months ago or so started up a discord because we've kind of shut down the advanced guard as a, as a going concern years back the street team.
Um, but now there's like a private channel for folks in the discord that were in that. And so it's like cool to see people reconnect from years ago and uh, they had like had there on facebook group for a while and I don't know, it's, it's definitely an investment. I feel like I was always ambivalent, but the idea of street team was always very popular, I'd say, especially like 10 years ago, let me put it this way, the folks in their work, their butts off. So I'm gonna say that like, yes, they had a great impact and they contributed greatly because if nothing else, like they're they're, you know, some of the some of the biggest fans out there and like, they came to shows and, you know, are just awesome people.
I I know tons of them by name and I feel like a lot of them have contributed to the band and the band culture in big ways. You know, that I hate to do this. That brings me to one another thing I want to point out is all those people you added to the street team, that might have actually strengthened their their appreciation of the band because those connections, that's what people like about music is, they connect to it. So if all of a sudden there are three best friends, I'll listen to it as well.
That's going to just make a stronger connection with the music and that's I'm not even going to turn that into a question. I'm just going to move over to my last real question. No hold on because it's good. Okay go ahead go ahead. I want at least reinforce you because you're totally right. And like there's other stuff like I remember the very first guy to join the like street team site. It was a guy from the U. K. I just happened to have launched it at an hour when like he was one of the only ones awake and he was like remember popping in there and chatting with me uh I was like hey what's up?
He's like what's going on here? Is this a new thing? I was like yeah it's a new thing and you know I obviously never met him in person. We never played in the U. K. And then when we went on a tour a couple of years ago he flew all the way to Cleveland for our show and I met him in person and it was like crazy because of course I remembered his name and like we had met I mean I I did a job reference for one of the guys who was like really a big he helped like helped us administrate some of the stuff but he was pretty young at the time and so like he was applying for a job and he put me down as a reference, you know so that it's it's deepened it deepens connections but it's also just like I don't know it's great it's a good like part of life and it's a good way to remember that.
Like bands are human and fans are human like we're all just humans at the end. Yeah. That's amazing that the fans are that dedicated, that they fly from the UK. Like I think that's all that any band can really ask for. Exactly. I'm totally with you there. Yeah. Well, my last real question for you is if you had one piece of advice to give to an artist who's starting out these days, if not advice, some words of encouragement, what would you say to the D. I. Y. Artist who is getting their feet wet in music and they think the world is their oyster?
Yeah. I'll say the biggest mindset shift for me of all was I spent a couple of years when I first was trying to do music as a career. Thinking about all right, what's the music I want to make? And then once I made that music, how do I push that out in the world? And I didn't get anywhere. Like I've had early bands and solo solo stuff and like none of it made a dent, none of it did anything. And I think the biggest thing that changed for me was when I stopped thinking about All right, Me, me, me and then how do I push that out?
And started thinking more about what is the community out there that I want to be a part of? So what are whether that's, you know, the bands that I'm into, the music scenes that inspire me. Like we're thinking about where you fit in the broader kind of musical landscape and seen in community I think is is a different way to approach things and I found it far more rewarding and I think it applies to everything from making music to marketing music. Like it's funny because I think a lot of people still get stuck on that, like going back to what we said about the idea that like, it actually doesn't matter what Justin Bieber does or what like, you know, pop superstar does from a marketing perspective from any of it because it's just not going to apply.
But like if what about the bands you love that have 100,000 monthly Spotify listeners, and if you don't love any bands that have 100,000 Spotify monthly listeners, then you've got a big gap in your knowledge. Like you have no visibility to to who would actually like your music because like in my mind, those are the types of bands that are like, you know within the that have come out within the past five years and are like up and coming and have a small but dedicated fan base. Like not only are those the type of bands that you want to find, that whose fans might like yours, but like, also those are the band you want to tour with, right?
Like those are, that's the scene you want to be a part of. Like, if it boiled down to something, it's like thinking about finding your place in a musical community is far more effective than thinking about how to push your kind of internally focused stuff out into the world in a in a cannon. I don't know if that makes sense? Oh, absolutely. I think that is the perfect piece of advice to close this out on. I don't even know how to wrap that up. That's just so perfect.
That goes back to, like you said, finding what artists are similar to you, like what fan base you could kind of go after. But also just, it's the go give her mindset. I don't know. Have you read the go giver? No go give her. It's a great book that basically says uh you have to give more than you take and once you do that then you will receive in return. It's a great book. It's 100 and 1020 pages, Super quick read and it's a parable, I'll check it out, I recommend it on the podcast all the time.
It's that good. It's like probably my favorite, I don't want to say self health book because that's a loaded term, but it's one of my favorite mindset books. I love that. Like self improvement books. Yeah, I think that sums it up really as you are being ago giver, you said, I want to create something that I would want to be a part of That's so great. And bands, you should pay attention to that. That's what builds a community and that's what builds a band. So Brian, thank you so much for hanging out tonight and talking about.
I Fight Dragons and everything you've done with the band going really deep into. There's so much other stuff we could have talked about but going really deep into the business we've been around for a while now. Yeah. Oh yeah, so obviously you have your site which is I Fight Dragons dot com and plus, I'm pretty sure the first time you interviewed me was in the in the back of our van in uh boston, I want to say This is probably like 2012. It was the too fast for love tour. Really?
Okay. Because I remember trapping McCoy opened the door of the green room and hit me with the door and knocked me over and that was the end of the interview. That's amazing or not. Was it Travis? No, it was your tour manager saying Travis McCoy is coming, that's what it was. Okay. That's like a step down on the claim to fame, but too funny. So anyway, I Fight Dragons dot com is your website and then you have the Patreon which is patreon dot com slash I Fight Dragons.
Those links will both be in the show notes at band, I've got Rocks slash 77. Are there any other links you would like to shout out and put out there? No, I said just uh I Fight Dragons dot com has all the other links to, so like it's got the web store if you want to buy merch, it's got the discord like on there. So yeah, anything and we keep that up today email list, sign up, You can always get uh it's been funny people somehow like discover this over the years, but like we've always given away our latest release for free if you sign up for the email list and people are like, well you give it away for free.
It was like, yeah man, this is like over a decade old at this point, like since we started as a band, we were giving away our first ep for free if you signed up for the email list and we continue to do that. Well, cool Brian again, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I think this is going to be a really, really helpful listen for our listeners to uh glean lots of knowledge from my pleasure. Thanks for having me on. Mhm. Mhm. Mhm. Yes, that does it for another episode of the Bandhive podcast and talk about getting carpet bombed with knowledge bombs.
Brian has so much knowledge of being in a D. I. Y. Band who, like he said in the interview, they didn't make it, but they are able to consistently make music and have it paid for by their fans. They can cover their costs. And I think that's amazing because ultimately, if you're in a band, you can either strive to make it your full time career, which is great. I'm all for that. But if you can make the music you want to make and express yourself creatively and not have to pay out of pocket for that, that is amazing in of itself.
So I think that for a lot of artists, this is something that should be a really valuable lesson. I encourage you to go check out. I Fight Dragons music at I Fight Dragons dot com and you can also join our facebook group by searching for Bandhive and come into the group and discuss the episode with us. Tell us, what do you think? Do you think this is a good model where artists have their production paid for by their fans and they're not necessarily trying to make it their full time career, but they are able to have that creativity covered.
I think that's so important because essentially what that's saying is hey people value your art, they will pay for your art and you can go make the art that you want and I think that's amazing, like not having the stress of man wear man, I get all this money for my next album. That's amazing. So again, thank you so much to Brian for coming on this show. I really hope you all enjoy this episode and I'm looking forward to hearing what you all think of Brian's interview and uh the business model that I Fight Dragons has been following.
So yeah, we'll be back with another new episode next Tuesday at six a.m. It's gonna be tough to top this one, but we're going to do our best. Until then I hope you all have an awesome week, Stay safe and of course as always, keep rocking.
Find out how!