If you're a subscriber, be sure to check the show notes at the bottom of this page! Daren references some great resources in this episode and I've included links to them there.

Transcript (unedited)

[00:00:00] Anything you want to hear? No hits. Deep tracks only. Okay. Woo. Set up. Hello and welcome to Deep Track. Today's episode is a little bit different than the usual historical narrative that I've been sharing each week. In today's episode, I will be interviewing Darren Smith, the CEO and founder and Supreme overlord of Craftsman Creative.

Darren has had whole plethora of experiences within. The realm of music and film and just has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share within those topics as well as just the creative process and building a business especially building a business built on your creative pursuits that felt redundant.

Building a business built on. Creative pursuits. I don't know. I, there's probably a better way to phrase that. Creating a business that is established upon the pillars of your creativity. All right, we'll pretend that's how I said it the first time. Anyway, so, [00:01:00] today's interview, we talk about all kinds of things.

We talk about jazz, we talk about the creative process. We talk about just the landscape for artists these days, particularly with local bands, with new musicians or new artists who are trying to make their way in the world, how they. Navigate the landscape nowadays. That is the music industry with, so many different streaming services and platforms and all kinds of things.

How is it different than it was traditionally? And what are the things to consider if you're trying to just create a life for yourself as an artist in this brave new world we live in? So, sit back and enjoy the interview. The video of this interview will be posted on my website as well, so you can watch.

Beautiful faces talk while you listen to our beautiful voices. Talk if you so desire. I will warn you though, I because my space that I have here in my little home studio is I set it up for audio. I never really set it up for video, so I kind of scrambled to make. It's video capable in preparation for this [00:02:00] interview and my ring light was not set up very well, and so it falls several times during the interview.

So if you watch the video, you'll actually see the lighting. Kind of shift and I frantically reach up and several times have to grab it and fix it in the audio, you'll just hear me, cursing under my breath every once in a while about my stupid ring light. So either way please enjoy this episode and take notes cuz Darren has a lot of phenomenal things to say about building a creative space for yourself as a content creator.

Actually, wait, hold that thought. One more thing before I begin the interview. You'll notice in the beginning of this interview I can't remember how long it lasts, but for a little while in the beginning, there's an echo in the audio that unfortunately we didn't notice until after we had finished the interview and had already exported the audio and all of that.

So I apologize for the annoying echo in the beginning. I'm going to say since this is my show and Darren's not here to [00:03:00] argue with me, I'm gonna say it's his fault. Although he's gonna be posting this on his podcast as well, and he'll probably say that it's my fault. And then this will lead to a rift in our friendship and we'll end up dueling on top of a mountain in the rain with Katana.

To the death. But until that happens once again, I apologize for the weird audio echo thing going on in the beginning. It does clear up eventually, so don't worry about that. Enjoy. All right. Welcome to the show. I'm super excited to have with me today in. The Deep Track Studio, Virtual Studio. Yeah.

Darren Smith from Craftsman Creative. Welcome, Darren. Hey, thanks so much, Doug. It is so good to see ya. Yeah, I'm excited. I'm you, anyone who's listened to any of my episodes will know that I make a plug for Darren and Craftsman Creative each episode. It's been super helpful and I can't recommend it enough to everyone out there.

So. I don't know. Should we make more small talk or should we just dive into the [00:04:00] questions? , you can always trim out small talk, but that is great. . Alright. And I do wanna ask you, I do wanna have you talk more about crafts being creative. I was thinking we could save that for the end cuz kind of my.

my last question I have in mind is kind of related to it anyway, so I thought that would be a good segue, but I figured we could start off with just some background about who you are and where you come from. Yeah, no, that's good too, because then I have to earn the audience's attention through the episode in order to get to the call to action.

That's right. So background, let's specifically talk about music background, shall we? So I started listening to jazz music in the. My family would attend the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee every Memorial weekend, and so from the time I was literally like in utero, to the time I was about 18 when I left for college, every single year I attended the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee.

So I grew up listening to jazz music. I played in bands. I played jazz saxophone, so I played alto and tenor sax growing up. [00:05:00] And my goodness, I just loved jazz music so much that when I got into high school I did not listen to alternative music almost at all, . So it was a rude awakening and just kind of a blossoming of my musical literacy when I got to college and people introduced me to like Ben Folds and all other alternative music, This music's good too.

I didn't know , so I really like just listened to jazz. Throughout all the way up until, like when I was 19, I went and left on a two year mission for the church and then came back to school at Brigham Young University here in Provo, Utah, where I still live. Yeah. And I went on a saxophone performance scholarship, believe it or not, and was playing in a bunch of bands there.

And also discovering that there's more to life than just jazz music and. Really just that informed like the next steps for me, how, where I entered my career, where I entered my passions in my adult life. So while I was at university, I got a job doing live sound for all the gigs on campus. So I was running [00:06:00] sound for like the Spring and the fall fest, and the guitar is unplugged at the Marriott Center.

But you know, as a 20 or 21 year, I guess 21, 22 year old student, I was running sound in like a. 15,000 seat venue of the Marriott Center. That's was amazing. And so I love, love, loved it. And then got into news. How did you get that to begin with? Like, what was your, did you just kind of know somebody or did you, because you didn't have like a lot of background before that, right?

Not in live sound or in sound reinforcement or anything like that. And so I was friends with a guy named Russell and Russell Lloyd, and he knew the, he was friends with the senior. Audio. At, basically at at byu. And so I hopped in and said, that sounds amazing. I would love to do that. Cuz at the time I was working at the bowling alley at BYU in the Wilkinson Center and, which was also fun.

I got really good at bowling. I was like a 180 5 average bowling and started a bowling league and all that stuff. Besides the point , [00:07:00] Mr. Bowling I left. and started doing live sound on campus. And within a year I was the senior person there cuz I just loved it. I loved everything about it. And that led to doing live sound here in Provo, Utah at a venue called Val Lord Live Music Gallery.

Yeah. There was a band called Corey Man in the Starlight Gospel. I ran sound at the Rex Lee Run, which is like an annual, fun run kind of thing. I, they were the band that was set up to play at the finish. and they came up to me afterwards. They're like, dude, you're really good. You should come run down at Velo.

And I was like, what's velo ? Which is silly because Velo is eight blocks away from campus, but nobody really knew that it existed except for the cool music people. So, but I'm kinda, yeah. What was their like, what is it that you did that they, for them was like, oh, he's really good at running. Sound like that they approached you on that?

Yeah. I didn. Cause any feedback. So that's like step one, that's, yeah, there you go. To this day there are still like quote unquote professional [00:08:00] sound people that like allow things to feedback and like you can cause things to feedback intentionally when you're doing soundcheck, but then they should never feedback after that.

So I think they appreciated that they could hear themselves on stage. I knew how to like mix the monitors. They sounded good in, in the audience. So they had friends and family that were like, you guys sounded amazing. And they're like we didn't do anything different, so let's go talk to this sound guy.

And I was, I think, same age, same kind of like interests and. Kind of personalities, like we just jived. My friend Corey, he was again, the first musician I met in Provo, outside of B byu. And we're friends to this day. We go to lunch every other month or so. Like we hang out all the time. So I formed really, lifelong friendships through working at Valore for 10 years.

The picture that's here on my, I can't, you can't see my finger, but if you're watching the video of this and hey, there might be a video of this This photo that's on my wall is like 30 musicians, and they've all signed their name on their [00:09:00] pictures of the 10 years that I worked at this venue. And so I ran sound for bands like Imagine Dragons when they were just starting out and doing Battle of the Bands.

I toured and ran sound for bands like Neon Trees. Moth in the flame. Joshua James, Mindy Gladhill, like that led to touring and it led to recording. I was, I'm a recording engineer on one of Mindy Gladhill albums. I was a member and recording engineer on the lower lights albums like. , it just led to this really cool decade or 15 years of having music be a big part of my life.

So the story doesn't end there because that was maybe five years ago when that story ends. Along the way I expanded music into post-production sound, which I started a post sound company and then started a video production company and then started working full-time as a feature film and TV producer.

So that's what I do. Now when I'm not doing craftsman creative stuff. But man, I just gave you a whole mouthful. So like we can dive into any part that you want, , that's the the long sorted history of Darren [00:10:00] Smith. Yeah. I actually, I do have a lot of que I am kind of curious what are some of the differences in, I'm just trying to think.

Even if like someone's listening to this and they are interested in getting into sound in some way. Right. But they're. Maybe they haven't even thought, like, do I wanna do live sound or like, work in a studio? For you, do you have preferences or what are the differences, or are there any that, that are really significant enough to make it a life decision kind of a thing?

Yeah. Man, there's a lot of decisions and all these decisions played into why I no longer do sound stupid light . So when I left college, I started my own sound company. It was called Sound Smith Studios, and I had the, I had a few routes that I could go. I could do live sound, and I did about six months of touring with Neon Trees.

I did, I worked at a studio called June Audio, which still exists here in pro. It's probably the premier studio and Scott Wiley, the owners, the premier recording engineer in the state slash producer, and then there was post-production sound for film. And so I kind of weighed my options because I loved all three of these things [00:11:00] equal.

But I realized that in a, in order to make a career to this, I kind of had to pick a lane and decide for myself, like, okay, what am I gonna become the best at? Right? Because I felt at the time that. , I was surrounded by a dozen other recording engineers who wanted to work in Utah, and I knew there was not that much recording work in Utah.

So I looked at the possibility of doing a recording studio or being a recording engineer and realized it took lots and lots of money and initial investment. And although today, 15, 20 years later, the equipment's a lot cheaper. There's a lot more digital tools that can do the job. But at the time, I was looking at tens of thousands of dollars worth of investment into microphones and pre amps and compressors and sound gear, and then you need a space to record in.

Yeah. And I didn't want to compete with the best studio in town because I liked working there, and Scott was a friend, and it just felt like that wasn't really the way I wanted to go. and at the time the only gigs that really were coming in, even for Scott, were like [00:12:00] bands that had $500 budgets to record an entire album.

like, that does not provide the kind of lifestyle I want. . And I saw like, this is a theme that you'll probably see run through all of my story of my last 20 years, whenever I see a cap on the potential that I could earn or that I could do. , then I kind of don't like that option. So I saw that like even the best studios in the world, they charge maybe $250 an hour, but Scott was charging like 75 or 85, maybe.

Now he charges a hundred or 150 an hour, but that's it. Like you're not charging a thousand an hour or 500 an hour. And so I saw the cap and I saw the investment and I. There wasn't enough demand for more supply, and I didn't want to contribute to that sort of imbalance. So that ruled out. It sounds like he was trying to, I mean, that, that kind of comes back to like the business model of quantity over quality, right?

Like he's just trying to bring in as many artists as possible, right, to try and cover his overhead [00:13:00] as opposed to some studios where they're just looking for a few artists who are a little bit further along in their career. And that sounds like that's almost like what you. have to decide as well. I was like, am I going to be at the level where artists who are just starting off and like you said, like a shoestring budget, like they have no money, versus those who are looking for artists who are maybe a little bit further along, they can afford a little bit more.

I don't even know where I'm going with this question, but that sounds like that's kinda like part of the decision process though, right? Yeah. That you're like, okay, what kind of, where am I gonna work with artists? Like what stage of their career and what kind of budget they have? Yeah and you might want to work with, the billboard top 100 artists, but if you're not in LA or Nashville or New York, you're probably not going to, unless you've got some sort of compound, some place that's really cool.

Where it's like what did you see that thing Taylor Swift had where she just like built a, Woodland Forest recording studio and then invited people out and they were drinking drinks at the campfire outside. It's like, okay, but you could do that, but you have to be a world renowned Yeah.

Producer or engineer [00:14:00] in order to have that sort of thing. It all comes down to that balance of supply and demand. So just to quickly get through the rest of this answer oh yeah. I also looked at touring and I did that for six months. With neon trees. We did a national tour on their first album and it was amazing.

It was an incredible opportunity. I saw that there was potential to be making, 10, 12, 15 grand a month, but that was kind of the cap. And I'm like, okay, that's a lot for right where I'm at right now, but like maybe in the future. I don't wanna be on the road 11 months out of the year and limited to what I can make and what I can do.

I like variety. I like being able to do different things every day. And so it was right around the time April, my wife was pregnant with our first son. I was out for six months and came back and he was due in the next like month or two. I ev, I think I even did a gig, like a one-off county fair type thing in Louisiana or something like two weeks before he was born

And they came to me, neon Trees came to me and said, Hey, we're gonna do another tour. and we want you to come be our sound guy [00:15:00] again. I was like, that's amazing. What does that look like? They're like we're literally gonna be gone 10 outta the next 11 months. I was like, but my son's gonna be born in two weeks.

Like I, that was not the way I wanted my, my first son's first year of life to be like, no, dad around. Plus it seemed unfair to April plus. I really like her. She's my favorite person, so I wanna be around her more than this band. Right. . And they were great people, but I had to turn it down and I was just like, guys, it's, that's, The lifestyle I want so, Turn that down.

And that really just narrowed it down to, okay, post-production sound is what I'm gonna dive into. And over the next few years, I, doubled my hourly rate. I became one of the top, probably three people in the state. As far as post-production sound goes. I did a dozen movies basically by myself or with a small team, and really became known as like a very in.

Sound engineer. So I went from making 25 an hour when I started, or 20 an hour when I started to, like two years later, I was charging [00:16:00] 75 to a hundred an hour for the same work because I chose a lane and I said, this is what I'm gonna do. But then I bumped up against that same ceiling of, oh, there's only so much I can charge.

Oh, there's only so much work. , that's when I partnered with a another partner who was a director and editor. We formed a video production company, and that's where I started becoming a producer, and that's where I really loved. Just the vibe of like, I can do anything. There's unlimited budgets, there's unlimited potential, unlimited reach, every project's different.

And that's really where I found my groove career-wise. Yeah. Yeah, Yeah. And now you're doing, I mean, this is like completely different than sound stuff, what you're doing now, right? I mean, actually just layout what is, I mean, what is the difference, what you're doing now with production work?

Because it's a completely different field, completely different lane. Like, is there anything, like, how do you make that jump? I know you were initially kind of doing sound on like [00:17:00] movies and shows but then somewhere along the way you saw like, okay, I want to start doing producing and then you're a producer, right?

And I, I. . So I don't know, how'd you make that jump and what's the difference now? Like what, how are things different for you now with what you were doing before? There's, oh, that's a big question. , you probably didn't know that, but that's a big question, . So let me answer the first one because it's probably most applicable to people listening, right?

Which is, everybody knew me as a sound person. They knew me as a sound engineer, and they knew me as a movie sound guy. And in order to fully become a producer, I had to change my identity, not just personally, but in the minds. Hundreds of people who knew me as a sound person. And so for about two years, probably took about two, two and a half years where people would call me and say, Hey, I got a gig.

I'm looking, I would love to have you do it. And grab a sound system and set it up. And I was like, I don't do sound anymore. pH and it was hard. Yeah, because that was work and that was income. But I knew that if people forever saw me as a [00:18:00] sound person who also does movies, then I would never make it in the industry.

I would never be able to break out as a producer. And so they were literally like, Two, maybe three people that I would say yes to. Ryan Inez was one of 'em, and he, to this day, if he called me tomorrow and said, Hey, I got a gig this week and I need you to run sound. I would call my dozen contacts and say, who has the sound system?

And I would figure it out. The other person that I say yes to is Cory Fox. He's the owner of Lore. Like last year when they reopened after the. Was it last year or 2021? I think it was last year. Yeah. He had two shows and they were kind of bigger shows and he called me. I hadn't done sound there in like two years.

They had a brand new board I'd never used. Like, it was just like, okay, I'm gonna come in at two instead of my normal time, an hour before. I'm gonna come in four hours before so I can make sure it's gonna be good. And I ran sound for two nights in a row at Velo last summer. . So those are really like the two people who can call me and get a yes.

Everybody else. I'm just like, I don't do that anymore. I turned down a filming job last, [00:19:00] last month for the same reason. I don't do. Like guy with a camera filming anymore. I'm a producer. Producers don't hold the camera. That's not my job. That's so like the last scene in Gatica where he's like, how did you win?

Where they're like, ra like swimming out into the ocean. He's like, I didn't save anything for the swim back. , that's you. You're like, I've. Saving nothing for the swim back . That's a very apt analogy. Yeah. You, I cut off the person I was in order to become the person I wanted to be. And so if you're finding yourself in the same situation, listening or watching to this like, and you're going, man, do I wanna be a musician or a producer or this or a this?

Like there are a few people that have managed to do. , all of the things. Scott Wiley's a good example. He's a musician, he's a producer, he's an engineer, and he's like world class at all of them. But there's one of those in the entire state of Utah, right? Everybody else is like either you're, if you choose to do two or three things, you're like an okay bass player and an okay engineer and an okay producer.

Yeah. And no one's coming to you for. [00:20:00] The thing, you're never growing your demand, and so you can never increase your prices, and so a decade later, you're still doing the same gigs with the same people. Maybe that works for a lot of people. There's nothing wrong with that. For me and my personality, I needed that progress and that growth day after day week here after week, year after year, in order to feel alive, in order to feel fulfilled.

So I knew that I had to kind of cut, cut off the sound guy. and, disavow sound, Smith Studios and become, Darren Smith, the producer that is, yeah. For those listening who don't know, Darren actually used to be a woman. He completely changed his identity Totally. All the way . So, are you happy now?

I mean, do you feel like, like this is the right trajectory, like everything. . That's all right. I actually, I guess if you weren't happy, that'd be like a bad question to ask . You start breakdown crying in the . Doug, I'm so , so sad. Every day I wake up sad. , what [00:21:00] was I thinking? I'd save nothing for the swim back.

Yeah, no I'm extremely happy and fulfilled every single day. And, we haven't even gotten to the crafts and creative bit yet. But now I've added that to the mix, right? So I do this producing thing, and then the thing I. when I was in between feature film projects, was going to lunch with my musician and artist friends and talking business because they didn't know how to do it.

And I was over here building six figure bus businesses since, from the time of the pandemic, I built three six figure businesses. And people were like, what are you doing and how do you do this? And blah, blah blah. And I was just like, you know what? I can teach this. I love teaching and talking to people and going to lunch.

And it started with that. So now I have this other business called Crafton Creative, which literally is it. It exists to help artists and creators and musicians and filmmakers and all types of creative people build what I call bespoke creative businesses that allow them to do their creative work full-time.

So I get a ton of fulfillment from that too. And if at some point a year or [00:22:00] 10 or whatever from now I'm not fulfilled as much as I think I could be, then I'll add something else to the mix or I'll stop doing this other thing and I'll do something else cuz that's how I like to live my life. So, yeah I think joy and fulfillment are paramount and really what I optimize my life around.

Like I need a certain amount of financial freedom in order to feel fulfilled and happy and be in a position to pursue these different things. But once that's in place, it's like, okay, what really? gives me the most, fulfillment and like, fills my cup and makes me feel like I'm leaving a mark on the world or doing good things, or creating leverage where I can help lots and lots of people.

Like those are the things that really excite me. Yeah, and it seems like, I mean, for as long as I've known you, I mean, you've definitely never been short on ideas, right? Like, you never the, what's that saying? You never let the grass grow under your feet or however the saying goes, . I definitely, I see in you too, like you.

y you enjoy just the creative process. Like it's [00:23:00] not even like, obviously not specific to any kind of medium or. or Lane or whatever, right. But it just seems like just the creative process overall is something that fascinates you and you like to jump in and just, kind of roll up your sleeves and get like whatever the project is that somebody's working on, you have like ideas of just how to take that and kind of move to the next level or to.

To do something with it. Right. I think for a lot of creatives myself in particular we kind of hover in this realm of big ideas and no implementation, but you're definitely an implementation guy. I still, , I always think about like going over to your house and seeing on your piano, like the lead sheets for it was like some jazz.

Tune probably . Yeah. Yeah. And I, and it's funny. And I was like, oh my gosh, I didn't know you had played piano. And you're like I just decided I wanna learn how to play jazz piano . Right? And I was like, yeah that's very Darren. It's like you wake up one morning, you're like, I wanna do this. All right.

I'm gonna do it. It's not just talk, but, all right. I had another question that I feel like [00:24:00] is It is kind of a good one for, I'm hoping for my podcast, and it's kind of along the lines of, it seems like artists nowadays okay, in this new world we are in it's not so much about the big audience or the big.

Yeah, like the big audience, the big clientele, right. But everyone's kind of picking their niche that they're gonna focus on. Like, this is what I mean, cuz there's enough people, there's enough stuff out there, right? That you can kind of say like, this is what I'm gonna do. And you're focusing on kind of your local or your virtual audience.

So like for musicians nowadays or performers who are trying. , get a band off the ground or get like some kind of performance career off the ground. What would you say is, cuz you've worked with a lot of like local talent and then also talent that's not so local, right? Like, you talk about neon trees and Imagine Dragons.

So there's some differences. So I mean, what is it like now for local artists? Like what do they have to do now to get their career off the. Yeah that's a big question and I love it because I've spent a lot of the last probably six [00:25:00] months really diving into how does that work for an individual or a small group of three to five people, how do you create a career out of this thing where it doesn't fizzle out because you gave it your, all in your early twenties, but then everybody got married and then got jobs, and now they're moving across country to pursue their careers and the band.

When anywhere, like if you look at this poster on my wall, this collection of photos, 80% of the musicians on that don't play music anymore, and that's why it's on my wall because I want a future that exists. with lots and lots of art and music in it. Not one that's completely, everything's generated by AI and run by big, massive companies.

Right. That's not interesting to me. It's a scary new world. Yeah. I've never had an AI make me feel something. Right. So that's why we, that's why we rely on art and why we turn to art in moments where we need it. . So let me try to give the short answer. The short answer is that you can look for a [00:26:00] minimum viable audience that can support your creative work.

People have written about this, there's a gentleman named Kevin Kelly. He's kind of a techno futurist. He's the co-founder of Wired Magazine and just is an ama amazing. He's like the the world's most interesting man, like in Carnet . But he wrote this article called A thousand True. and the, basically the gist of that is that if you can find a thousand people who are willing to give you a hundred dollars a year, for your art, whether it's going to shows, buying your merch, buying tickets, buying your music, whatever it might be, supporting you on Patreon, then you only need a thousand of those at a hundred bucks a year to have a six figure revenue stream.

Right? Yeah. And the numbers are starting to get a little bit old. It's probably a 10 or 15 year old article, so maybe the new number is 120 or 150, but still you need 1200 or 1500 people, right? , but in that context, I always ask, the very first question I ask is, what's the [00:27:00] outcome? What is it that you're really after?

Because. Some musicians will say, I really want to make a lot of money for my music, but I don't want to tour. I would rather not have fan bases at all. It's like, okay, maybe you need to get into licensing or you need to get into songwriting, or you need to get into music composition, or whatever it might be.

Because those people are not necessarily famous, but there are plenty that make six and seven figures a year. Oh yeah. Doing that kind of work at a high. So what's the outcome? If the outcome is I want to tour the world and make enough, for not just me, but my four band mates and my crew of 10 people, it's like, okay, you need to be neon trees at the very low end and Imagine Dragons.

I apologize that I said that because like they're both very talented groups of musicians. No, none. No group is better than the other. But Imagine Dragons is fan base, is massive. Yeah. Right. And one of the biggest fans on the planet of the last decade. So, , yeah. They have to make millions of dollars a year from their touring and their music streaming and their licensing and everything in order to support that [00:28:00] apparatus.

Yeah. So what's the outcome? Because unless you know what the outcome is, you can't you can't align your daily actions to get to a destination. And so if you know what the outcome is, say for example, that the outcome is, I really love writing what I wanna write when I wanna. . It's not necessarily for anybody.

It just gives me fulfillment, and it would be great to make a little bit of extra money on it. Okay? Then you're probably not gonna build a business that's gonna make six figures a year, right? Because there's no real structure to it and there's whatever, but you can still optimize your quote unquote business to get you that outcome.

You have freedom of time, freedom of location, freedom of creativity. You have all the things that you really were set out to get, and you're massively fulfilled. , the last thing you want is to be touring the world. A 150 dates a year and never seeing your family, right? Yeah. So one person's outcome doesn't necessarily make it your outcome.

You gotta figure out what it is for you [00:29:00] first, and then it's about systematically going after that in a direct way of possible. And that's kind of what I built crafts and creative for, is to say, okay, instead of you taking 10 years to figure out what that direct path is, I've already got it. Here it is.

Come here and I'll help you walk that path. Yeah. And it seems like it's, artists these days are, it's, I mean, it's different even than just like a, like five, 10 years ago. With the traditional model of you create a product and you're just kind of looking for an agent or a manager or someone who's gonna kind of, but nowadays it feels like you have to kind of almost become your own manager, your own agent, because there are so many there's just so many things out there that are vehicles for people to be able to access, which is great.

It's like there's never been a. . I don't know. There's never been more avenues for people to be able to get their art or their creations out there into the world, right? But it also kind of puts it back on the artist to wear more than one hat, right? If they really [00:30:00] wanna make it happen, they have to kind of learn how these things work and they really have to learn the business.

And it's not just, like I said, like you're just kind of this talent who just finds. Some guy, who's gonna plug it for you, but you have to just figure out. Okay. But yeah, that's where like, things like Craftsman, creative this interview is definitely like an elongated commercial, but that's okay because , why do you think I came and I can't say good enough, enough good things about it anyway.

But yeah, like it is just things like that, that are gonna be the vehicle for you. Yeah. It's just, it's a different realm, with. , even things like SoundCloud or just Spotify or just these different avenues for. being able to reach an audience is some way that no one's ever had before.

And so it's beautiful, it's great. But it's also like, okay, it's not how things used to be. You have to kind of learn a few new things, a few new tricks if you want to be able to make this happen. But, and I like that what your point as well, just, you have to have your end goal in mind. Like what do I really want to accomplish with this?

Or where do I want to go with this? And, until you kind of figure that out you're sort of spinning your wheels. . Are there any things you do that, that, in your, I mean, you're one of the most goal-driven people I've ever [00:31:00] known. Is there anything you do that kind of helps you stay on that path, that whatever goal you have set up for yourself?

Yeah. I mean, the vision and the long-term thinking and the outcome focused approach is very much central to what crafts and creative is and what it teaches. The term craftsman mindset comes from a book called So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport. It talks about it's not just pursuing your passion, that really won't get you what you want.

You have to have this outcome focused approach. And so I kind of built the whole business around that cuz it was a very impactful book that came right around the time that I was, shifting from sound to producing. But there's a few things I wanted to bring up. One is I wrote this as a chapter of my book, which is called their the Three Personas that Every Business Needs.

It's true. Even if you're a company of one, you have to have an entrepreneur, you have to have a manager, and you have to have an artist. And if you only ever live, if you spend 99 or a hundred percent of your time as the artist, , then you're never making any [00:32:00] progress cuz you're not optimizing and maximizing and figuring out what's working as a manager.

And you're never thinking big. You're never looking at what's my outcome or what's my big vision? Or what's the goal for the next 3, 5, 10 years? Because you don't shift into that entrepreneur mindset. . And so at strategic times you have to really just like literally like put on a different hat and go, okay, I'm not gonna be artist for the next hour.

I'm gonna be a manager. I'm gonna do my taxes, I'm gonna do my finances, I'm gonna send 20 emails, and I'm going to, manage a couple of systems that aren't working as well. And then once a month or once a week, you're gonna step into that entrepreneur hat and go, okay, what were my big goals and how am I gonna accomplish those this month?

And what are the big milestones and all those things. The people that can figure out how to do that are the ones that progress and can get those big outcomes. Whereas the thing that I constantly see is my artistic friends who have been doing music or art or filmmaking for 5, 10, 15 years, and they're still making 60, 70 grand a year, they're still have the same type [00:33:00] of work, the same type of jobs, the same number of days that they get on set or number of gigs.

And they haven't progressed at all. And that's really hard because most creatives that I've met are driven by a need to contribute to like share their art, to make the world a better place and to grow and progress. They wanna get better at their craft, they wanna grow their size of their audience. They want more people showing up every week.

We had a friend who came back after 12 years and played at Velo, and the room was 25 people, and the last time I saw 'em there, it was 250 and it was sold out and they had to add a second night. That can't be, that can't feel good, right? No. But he hadn't done anything over those 10 years to engage that audience and to et cetera, et cetera.

So that's one thing I wanted to bring up. But to answer your question there's a concept that I've recently spent a. A lot of time researching and figuring out and thinking through for my business and for those that I help. How do you cr how do you cr how do you apply this? How do you get it to show up in your business?

And the concept is [00:34:00] one called Oversubscribed. There's a book by the same name, written by a guy named Daniel Priestley, and it's the subtitle I think, is how to get people lining up to Do Business with You and. That's in every business, but specifically in artist driven businesses like musicians or filmmakers, if we have infinite supply, because our music is digital and it doesn't cost anything to reproduce another copy or have another person stream it or watch it or listen to it, then we always have this imbalance between supply and demand.

There's always more supply than there is demand, and so that makes it near impossible. to grow your audience or raise your rates or charge more , especially when you're reliant on platforms. Yeah. And so the idea of being like, oh, I would rather charge $5 per stream than 0 cents per stream on Spotify.

You can't do that because you don't own the algorithm. You can't go in and change the pricing model of [00:35:00] how it pays out. So you're reliant. These big, massive platforms like Facebook and Instagram and YouTube and Spotify to grow your revenue . And the problem is they make more money the more people they onboard and turn into creators on their platform.

So Instagram is looking to have hundreds and thousands of new. Creators on the platform every single day posting more stuff. Same with YouTube, same with Spotify. Cuz the more they make, the more audience that they're gonna bring in. And since they take whatever it is, 90% of whatever revenue they're gonna make more money the more people they bring on.

So that's bad for you, , because if you are one of the billion or whatever people on Spotify, it's just gonna progressively get less and less because their overhead at Spotify is gonna increase. Cuz there's more artists they have to support. and more listeners that they have to make sure the experience is good for.

And granted, they do a good job, but nobody that I know makes money from Spotify. I think that [00:36:00] band that have even done Let Stream farming or whatever they call it, right? Or gosh, yeah, , I don't know. So how do you do this? It's thinking small. It's thinking about the audience as individuals and going, okay, how can I increase the value of my offer or offer?

for the individual that really cares because the casual listener that listens to one song one time on Spotify is not your ideal customer. The super. Who comes to every single show, owns three of your shirts, has physical copies of the LPs of your, like the vinyl version of your albums that you did in a limited release.

That person who spent a hundred or 150 or $200 on your business this year, how do you turn that one into 10? Into a hundred into a thousand? That's huge. Yeah. What was it like? Your interview on your podcast with Brian, what's his name? He called him his maniacs, his 2000 maniacs or something like that, right?

His, yeah. Brian. Yeah. But you, that's probably more of the number now. It's like more like 2000 than a [00:37:00] thousand. But it's thinking about that. It's how do you, how can you get more, it's like, don't think of it as like a, As a businessman, like an economist, like, monopoly type character, right?

Where you're like, how can I get more money out of every single person? Right? Right. It's not that, but it's how can I add more value so that it's worth more? So instead of just doing shows where you're doing 10 bucks a pop and you're, you've got a hundred people showing up, so you can make $500 after you're split with the venue, how can you make that a $50 experience?

How could you get in front of 2,500? How can you do it fi five nights a month instead of one? Like, these are questions that you could ask and those could lead to interesting answers to where all of a sudden you're not just making 500 bucks a month, you're making five grand or 50 grand. Yeah. Instead of just doing it for your audience for $10 a pop or $50 a pop, what if you did it for a company?

at one of their events, four or $5,000 [00:38:00] and you did four of those a month that's 20 grand a month. So all of a sudden it's the same offer. It's, I'm gonna perform my music for you. It just in four or five different contexts. and then you gotta really just rationalize or think through like, okay, how does that align with the business I want to have and the outcomes that I've set for myself?

Cuz if one of your outcomes is, I don't ever wanna do corporate gigs, it's like, okay, you're probably gonna be limited in how much money you can make. I don't ever wanna license my music cuz it degrades the art. You're probably gonna be limited in how much money you can make, but if one of your outcomes is, I.

I wanna be doing 500,000 a year for this band so that all four of us and our manager can make six figure salaries. Okay? You probably, first of all, you probably need more than 500 K for that, but let's easy math. So let's say you need to make 500 K a year. That's 10 grand a month, or sorry, 10 grand a week.

How are you gonna do that? It's probably not gonna be from Spotify, . I don't even think the Taylor Swift of the world or the whatevers of the world. Make 10 grand a week from Spotify? I don't know. Yeah, [00:39:00] maybe they do, but I don't think they're churning out millionaires over there. I think it's like the 0.03% that are making more than a million dollars a year from their streaming revenue.

So that's not the answer. So the answer is don't try to go broad and don't try to increase supply. , the opposite option is to increase demand, right? You have to figure out how to get those things in balance, where you've got limited offers and you've got high ticket offers, and you've got high value offers that you can put in front of people and say, look, there's one of these this year, maybe you're on.

Maybe you are only gonna license. Your song twice, and you could say that on your website, like this new hit song that is on the radio, we're only gonna license it twice, so it costs $50,000. But you've never licensed anything for more than a thousand dollars before. Look, you just took control of the reins there and you said, I am going to be in charge or be in control of that balance between supply and demand, just by saying I'm gonna do it twice or.

you made 50 [00:40:00] instead of trying to get 50 people to give you a thousand. Yeah. So that's such a big thing that I've been focused a lot on over the last six months or 12 months, is like, how do I do that for my businesses, which are like digital product based? And it led me to creating new offers and it led me to rethink how I'm involved in the film world, where I'm not just a vendor anymore, I'm a partner like you.

It costs a lot more to hire me as a, gun for hire producer now than it did two years ago on my first movie, because I don't want to just be a vendor trading time for dollars. That's like, not as high leverage as it could be. So the next thing I'm doing is going and raising a fund because I want to be in control of the supply and demand.

Right. Yeah. I'm, I want to basically become unhireable where you can't hire me, you can only work with me if you're an investor and I am the one who hires everybody. I'm shifting the balance between supply and demand by doing that. So it's a little bit of like economics and a little bit of business thinking, but that's, I think what [00:41:00] is required for artists to make a full-time living doing what they love is to have a little bit of that mindset of a business owner I integrated in their artist lifestyle.

Oh yeah. And I think that, , it never hurts to also just surround yourself with people who, who can kind of either wear those hats, if not for you, but at least help you. I mean, like that Clint Eastwood line, like a man's got to know his limitations, and I know, like I definitely know where my limitations are, right?

So that's where I'm like, okay, I. , I need to have somebody who can help me with this side of things because like I'm okay with the content. Like that's obviously why I do what I do, because I'm passionate about it and I have experience in it and education. But here's the things where I'm weak in, and so, , like I'll kind of wear my hat in those areas as far as I can, and then recognize like, okay, I need to bring in some kind of help in this regard of this.

Right? So identifying a [00:42:00] community or a people that you can surround you with or just networking, which that's something I hate doing. Like, I'm not shy at all, but I'm kind of an introvert, . So I tend to like avoid. Human contact rather than seek it. So that's my, like, always been my big issue is like, okay, I gotta really do more networking with people and talk to people and connect with people.

But it's you, it's true. You gotta bring people in your life who are gonna help you kind of, maximize those parts of what maybe you're weak, right? And kind of help fill that gap that you need to help fill. I wanna link in the show notes, these books that you mentioned in these articles. So I'll have to hit you up for that or go back through.

Yeah. And re-listen to everything you've mentioned. , maybe two more questions. I'll try to keep my answers shorter now. . I , this is what I can go all day long on these things, man. , I love talking about this stuff. I know. Honestly, I've been like, I mean, some of this stuff we've discussed before as well, just in, but I'm like kind of also like mentally taking notes.

I'm like, oh, this is good stuff for my my own creative business, . But some I've been thinking about since the beginning of the [00:43:00] podcast, or I'm sorry, beginning of this episode is, name, maybe your top three favorite jazz artists. . Oh, they're all gonna be saxophone players. That's the problem. year and half.

Most of my, most of mine are piano. Are piano players. Yeah. So I'll, I'll keep it easy to just do that. Cannonball Adderley be my favorite. Then Charlie Parker and then John Coltran. . Most people would put Coltrane at the top, but I think that's just cuz he is such a big game. I think you don't have Coltrane unless you had Charlie Parker.

That's true. And I just like playing Cannonball Adderly music more than I like Charlie Park music. It feels a little bit more controlled and intentional, whereas Charlie Parker feels a little bit frantic at times. Not to say that you shouldn't list to it, that's not good. But like, if I'm gonna turn on one of those three, I'm usually turning on cannibal.

Oh, cool. And listening to Stars Fell in Alabama or something like that. Right. Or Limehouse Blues. So those are it for me. Like I can definitely listen to Miles Davis. [00:44:00] The John Mayer Trio album that he did like, has a lot of great blues and great, like, was it Steve Jordan on drums? And I forget who the bass player was, but my gosh.

If you listen to that on a good sound system, you're just like, that's artistry recorded right there. Like, that's insane. Nice. So to think of a more recent one, like John Mayer's, freaking really good blues guitar player, . I feel like I I always feel like I haven't listened enough to, I, he's one of those artists that come up a lot where I'm like, man, like I just, I don't listen to him very often.

But like he's just come to us so often like, oh, he's a great artist for this or for this. And then whenever I do listen to him, I'm like, yeah, he actually really is good. . Yeah. I'll put Nora Jones in the mix too. Oh, okay. As a more modern one. Cause I feel like she did some interesting stuff piano wise with her first album.

That was just like, what's going on there? And you realize she's playing left hand and Octa low and you're like, oh, that's different. So that one just kind of hit me really nice. I love the, Sinatra, generations that came descended from Jana Sinatra. So I [00:45:00] love like the Michael Bules of the world and stuff too.

Like, I kind of put that a little bit in the jazz world. But yeah, I mean, really it's those that were in the fifties and sixties that just have my heart , oh my gosh. Yeah. Yeah. There's like, definitely during the sixties there's like, Generation of artists in the jazz world. That just, I feel like if I could ever go back and do another let's see.

Let's see how deep tracks, how well it does. Because if I could ever go back in, like if I wanna do another music history podcast, I think jazz history, it'd be really, would really fun. All right, cool. Oh my gosh, my green light's falling over again. I think that's the signal that this is good. . Thank you.

Thank you for your time and thank you for. Helping me realize that my whole workspace is not really set up very well for video to revamp my little recording studio. . I'm here to help . Yeah. Yeah, that's right. . And that's Darren Smith. Everyone, the man who puts crafts. Who? The man who puts man in Craftsman.

I don't know. I'll work on that. On that tagline. He puts the man and craftsmen. Yeah. And they're [00:46:00] creative. And creative. . There we go. Yeah. All right. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it. And yeah, any sign off you wanna give everyone as we head. . Yeah. If anything I mentioned today resonated go to craftsman creative.co.

Check out my book. You can actually read it for free there. And I've got a whole bunch of ways that I can support you as a creative individual who's seeking to do this work full-time. So come connect with me over there. Shoot me a message, follow me on Twitter, whatever. It's easy for you, but like, I'm here to help.

So I love getting messages from people that hurt me on a podcast and have become a coaching client or become, a consulting client or whatever it might be, because it means. What I said online resonated and that I'm, able to help them. Or at least they feel like I can help them, but usually works out pretty well.

That's right. And I should mention, yeah. That you also podcast. I know you're on the Joe Pulitz. , but then you have your own as well, right? Yeah, I just kickstarted it again, I'd been dark since like June of last year because I [00:47:00] went and did a movie overseas over the summer, so I wasn't recording any episodes.

And then when I was out there, I pitched Joe Pulitz from the Tilt on doing a podcast together called The 10 K Creators. So that's a great like starting point to kind of get a little bit more context around kind of. outlook on creative work and also Joe's mixed in there. And so that's 10k creator show.com.

And then if you just go to podcast dot crafton creative.co, that's mine. I've just started, like literally yesterday posted the first new episode and I'm just basically sharing three ideas every Friday to help you with your creative business. And so yesterday was three ideas around sales. I realized after doing a, an event the last few weeks, That was the area most creators and artists struggled with sales.

That was like out of a hundred percent. They got 27, 20 7% on average with when, oh gosh. Came sales. Everything else was, 40, 50%. And so I was like, all right, we need to talk about sales. So we did a lot of [00:48:00] posts in the community this week, and then I took those posts and picked three of 'em. Turn them into a podcast.

So that's that. You can get it over at podcast dot craft and creative dot Go. Cool. And I'll definitely link that as well as and the Joe Pulitz. . Lots of links in the show notes for this episode. Lots of links. That's how we like it. . Yes. Yeah. Lots of rabbit holes. All right, thank you my friend.

Appreciate your time and it's good to, it's always good talking to you. Yeah, thanks for having me on. Yeah. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday . Thanks. You too. Yeah, this part will definitely be part of the interview. Me playing with my lighting. Outtakes are always fun. . That's true. .

Show Notes