A new music business coaching program by Incendio co-founders Liza Carbe and JP Durand
By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/8/20 – I was afforded the fun opportunity to interview two Hollywood Times writers for their new venture, “Thrive and Survive in the Music Business”, which is a book (available now on Amazon), a website and a music biz coaching service. Disclaimer: I have known Liza and JP for many years as friends, colleagues, and two of the co-founders of the acclaimed Billboard-charting “world guitar” band INCENDIO. I’ve enjoyed their CD’s and live concerts for years, but only recently found out about their new music business endevour, so I was intrigued to find out about the program and why they decided to start it.
“Thrive and Survive in the Music Business” is available July 7 at amazon.com in e-book, kindle and paperback versions.
Here is their new website: http://www.thriveandsurviveinmusic.com
Here is the book link:
THT: Hi guys, how is it going for you now?
Liza: Hi Val! We launch our book on Tuesday July 7 on Amazon, so we’ve been gearing up for that.
JP: You know we like to do projects and keep ourselves busy. So there’s been a lot of self-education – we’re getting better as videographers, as content providers, all the hats that are required when you start something like this.
THT: Was there a specific “a-ha” moment that led you to start “Thrive and Survive”
Liza: we were doing a show at the Coffee Gallery in Pasadena and arrived early to set up. A matinee was just ending and a friend was there for that show, someone I had not seen in a while. This person is a pretty well-known musician, and has played on hundreds of pretty well-known albums. He started telling me about a music business situation he was in, and I asked him who his publisher was. His response was ASCAP, which was just wrong – ASCAP is possibly his performing rights organization, but would not be his or anyone’s “publisher”. We had already long been providing information to clients and friends about how to navigate certain music biz situations, as well as educating ourselves. And it was already apparent that folks that knew a lot in one area might not know as much in another vital area – this is particularly true of sidepersons, who are always doing sessions but not always involved in writing or publishing, for example. At that moment, I thought, “well if my friend who has played with everyone doesn’t know this basic info, who else doesn’t know?” Thus we came up with “Thrive and Survive in the Music Business”.
THT: To whom is this program directed?
Liza: I’d say it’s directed to independent-minded musicians who really want to take control of their careers. This book probably won’t be that helpful to someone who wants a conventional pop career, with high-end managers and maximum TV exposure and such, although I believe everyone should have a good understanding of their royalties and how they work. This will help to keep artists from getting ripped off. That can happen to musicians at all stages of their career. This book is about getting in the van and doing it in the real world. It takes a unique kind of person who will ignore the obvious pitfalls of this lifestyle and just go for it, make their own music, put it out, tour behind it, promote it on social media. This book is for those people. Some are young and just starting out. Some have retired but always wanted to give music a shot. Some people, because of the pandemic, are looking to do something else with their lives, something more fulfilling and possibly of an artistic or musical nature. This book would be ideal for them.
THT: There are a lot of coaching and support programs in the music business – what makes yours different?
JP: Most of the ones I see are about growing your Spotify numbers. That’s a good and legitimate area to discuss, but the business encompasses so much more than that. There are so many little details that an artist or band needs to attend to in the current climate – it can be overwhelming. Our idea was simply to say, “here’s our experience” – don’t make the same mistakes, learn as much as you can. I’ve been telling people that most of the book is really our subjective experience. There is a singer/songwriter circuit of venues and festivals – same for world music, same for jazz, same for folk. There’s this whole circuit that doesn’t get a lot of national exposure where some of the best musicians in the world are playing regularly. We figured we could provide some insight into that circuit and how an artist can present themselves and thrive in that situation. And, as Liza said, it’s not strictly young musicians. There are so many folks of all ages that come to the realization that they want to get into the “music game”, see how their presentation and/or their songs are received on that circuit of real players. It’s an old-school meritocracy to work at these festivals or summer concerts or even a circuit like Concerts in Your Home – can you enthrall a small group of folks in someone’s living room? If so, we’re giving you a bunch of information that would take a few years to gather together.
THT: There are some philosophical notes at the end of most chapters. How did that come about?
Liza: I always liked delving a bit into philosophy. It gives a framework to consider the material we just outlined in the chapter. It was really just an opportunity to be mindful while considering the more “how-to-do-it” parts. Sometimes people just need a little push, a reassurance. If you are as a musician a confident go-getter, then great. But that’s not all, or possibly even most, musicians. These philosophical thoughts were more like telling folks “you can do this!” But it also reminds them to enjoy the journey.
THT: As you finished writing this program, the pandemic spread. How are you addressing our new realities?
JP: we felt we needed to get the core information down. We had been working on it on and off for a few years. But the virus has had a huge effect on all industries. The music industry, with the cancellation of tours & stage performances, has taken a huge hit, and that has had a devastating effect on so many individuals, ourselves included. We, like many others, are trying to adjust to these new times. I know I’ll have a blog post soon on the effects and possible responses to the pandemic. But there is a really obvious one – if one can navigate work, family, and financial responsibilities, now is a great time to work on a single, or a few songs, or an album. At the very least, it’s a good time to find out who you are as an artist, what kind of statement do you want to make. Do you want to make something entertaining, or a make a more somber commentary on current events? If you have some music, how do you promote it online? What about streaming concerts? One thing I feel for sure is that video for musicians is more important and more available than ever. Streamed concerts have become more prominent, and a whole generation of musicians who might have felt that it wasn’t their favorite medium have had to rethink that overnight. Some new level of streamed concerts is here to stay.
THT: What is the single piece of advice that you would give to an aspiring musician?
Liza: wow, simply try it. Don’t have any regrets. Try to put some music out there, if for your own soul if nothing else. Do you work better alone, or with a collaborator? What genre of music do you love, and is that the best or only genre for you to express your songwriting talents? You can’t find out if you don’t try. It’s basic and simple and obvious, but extremely important: do it. Remember music and art make the world a better place. If that’s your gift then embrace it in it’s purest form. Don’t worry about all the trappings.
JP: I agree with that. I’d say self-education is a must. So often I see young musicians say “I’m not giving up my publishing ever” because they heard another musician or a music attorney say that. It’s not necessarily wrong, but there’s no education or discernment behind that statement, and often the musician ends up getting burned anyway, one way or another. I think our book is just a beginning push towards self-education.