Logan Nickleson has always had an admiration for the arts. When he was a child he liked to draw and paint. When he was 15-16 years old he started getting into music. And for college, he went into journalism.

While in college, Logan saw the changes that were happening in journalism. So he changed his major to advertising. This led to his internship at an advertising agency.

His internship turned into a full-time job, where he worked on numerous projects. It was during this time that a revelation came to him. While making short videos for clients, he was having a hard time finding music for his videos. So he decided to use his own music.

Inspired by stock photography sites like Death to Stock and Unsplash, Logan decided to take all the music he created, and started his own stock site. The only difference was his stock site would for music. Thus, Music For Makers was born.

In this episode, Logan talks about why marketing has gotten such a bad rap, the most essential element for finding your audience, and how we can use psychology to our advantage.

Here are three things you can learn from Logan:

Marketing is given a bad name

Many artists and creatives believe marketing is a spammy tool to sell things, but that’s far from the truth. Logan believes marketing gets a bad rap. “I think there’s a perception out there to market yourself and your work, it’s icky and you’re like this salesman, you know, almost like the car salesman type. I think it’s really just a lack of understanding of really it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Logan believes people just have a false notion of what marketing is. Marketing is often thought of as a bad thing, but it isn’t. “I think it’s just, mostly people have this preconceived notion of what selling your art or what marketing your art is, and… it doesn’t have to be gross or pushy or whatever.”

Marketing, in its essence is getting your product out in front of an audience. The problem is, most marketers are still trying to do it the old-fashioned way where they just spam their audiences. This is what artists think about when they hear the word marketing. That’s why they think marketing is selling out. “There’s a lot of artists that think that to try to push your art out as a business is kinda selling out. I think it’s kind of a misunderstanding of the process really.”

If you still think marketing means selling out, I urge you to listen to Logan, and discover for yourself what marketing really is.

Finding the right audience

One of the biggest troubles artists and creatives have is figuring out who our audience is. This is one of the most important, and often times most difficult, things an artist has to do.

The problem is, we usually go about it the wrong way. We believe everyone is our audience, and that is simply not true. Figuring out who your audience is involves finding people who are actually interested in your work as a starting point. “I think it just starts off with a basic critical thinking of… who’s the most basic version of the person who is interested in this, and then kinda putting it out there, and then just revising and reiterating until you find the right audience.”

It doesn’t end there either. You can’t just rely on your initial hunch of who your audience is. Knowing your audience is a continuous process. Your audience evolves as you do. That’s why it’s crucial for you to constantly reevaluate who your audience is. “I would say it’s kind of a continuous process where you reevaluate to see whether… this is still the primary audience or are there other audiences out there who would love their product that don’t have any idea that they exist… So the research is ongoing I would say.”

Using Psychology to Your Advantage

One point that consistently came up during my conversation with Logan was the book Influence by Robert Cialdini. In the book, Cialdini talks about all the ways we are influenced by psychology.

One of these points is one of commitment. When we commit to things, we are more likely to follow through on them. So start small, and work your way up from there. “When we commit to something, we are a lot more likely to be consistent… If you can get somebody to commit to a small thing, you can then later convince them to commit to a bigger thing like buying your product.”

Another thing we talked about was the idea of accountability. Accountability nudges us to do things we commit ourselves to. It helps motivate you when you don’t feel like doing something. It helps get you to the finish line. It gives you compelling reason to do something. “It’s about this idea about accountability. Kinda announcing that you’re going to do this or whatever and using that as a motivator to make you actually follow through and finish… I think it’s a critical piece to let people know and… ideally let there be some consequence if you don’t follow through. It makes a more compelling reason to do the thing you’re wanting to do.”

In its simplest form, it is about survival. We aren’t necessarily in physical danger, but those basic instincts that helped our ancestors survive can help us thrive. “All these kinds of psychological triggers and just the way we think, I find it really interesting because it all really goes back to human survival. That idea of… the punishment is more important to us than the reward is just basic survival that we as humans have kind of learned over years and years of trying to survive.”

Shownotes

  • about Logan
    • works at ad agency as content strategist
    • struggles with creative work
    • hard to find music that’s free to use for makers
    • Music for Makers – free to use music for commercial projects
  • creative upbringing
    • has always been interested in creative things like art
    • started doing music at 15-16
    • went into journalism for college
  • parallels between different creative work
    • taking in influences/ideas and putting them together in new/unique way

5:15 “You can’t really create anything new. It’s really all about taking other things and rehashing and remixing them to create your own spin on it. I would say that’s true of anything you do, whether it’s drawing, making music, or writing. It’s really taking all these influences and ideas that have impacted you and making them your own.”

  • why he went to school for journalism
    • thought it would lead to the most viable career path
    • wasn’t interested in commercial art, was more interested in fine art
    • switched to advertising because of changes in journalism
    • finding different ways to make your talents viable
    • making money in music – touring or licensing
    • creative professions being disrupted by the internet
    • finding creative ways to make things work

8:55 “There are not that many people who are gonna blaze their own trail. For those that are, there’s a good opportunity.”

  • work as an intern
    • interned while in college and worked out a deal to go full-time after graduating
    • exposure to different things within digital marketing (search, copy writing, email marketing, etc.)
    • started college as fine arts major then switched to interactive media/web design, then went into journalism
    • thought of journalism as a way to write for the web
    • didn’t want people to tell him what to do with his art
    • would try to do art on the side and find a job that paid better
    • has switched from fine art to digital creating in general
    • advertising job and Music for Makers have taken up his time
  • evolution of his role at the agency
    • when he started out he was a “digital specialist”
      • help out with various projects
      • was the go to person for various tasks like graphic design and search engine optimization
    • has come to specialize in content marketing and writing
  • why artists oppose marketing
    • some fine artists have gone into marketing and love it

7:52 “I think there’s a perception out there to market yourself and your work, it’s icky and you’re like this salesman, you know, almost like the car salesman type. I think it’s really just a lack of understanding of really it doesn’t have to be that way.”

8:28 “I think it’s just, mostly people have this preconceived notion of what selling your art or what marketing your art is, and… it doesn’t have to be gross or pushy or whatever.”

8:54 “There’s a lot of artists that think that to try to push your art out as a business is kinda selling out. I think it’s kind of a misunderstanding of the process really.”

9:38 “A lot of people think advertising is about somebody just trying to convince you or manipulate you… into buying a certain thing.”

  • opening yourself to different ideas
    • just try things
    • social media/blogging feels more like engaging one on one with people
      • give and take and feels more natural
    • don’t think of it as marketing, think of it as making connections and meeting people
    • agencies being creative places
    • if you try it you might be surprised by how much you enjoy

12:00 “Sometimes you have to leave behind the old ways of doing things and you have to be willing to try something new and go about it a little differently… The most successful people and the most successful artists are going to be the ones that try something that nobody else is doing. Because that’s really… the only way to get through to people and get noticed.”

12:59 “When it comes down to it, I think marketing is about creativity. I think it would resonate with artists who are all about creativity.”

  • creativity in different campaigns
    • Tower Garden – gardening system for people who don’t think they can garden
      • getting info in front of ppl
      • creative ways to find these ppl
      • where do they hang out? what would appeal to them?
      • presenting the product in a way that resonates with the audience
      • support/educate/make sure they get the best experience
    • find people who need what you have to offer
    • finding audience for Tower Garden
      • building a profile
      • see what resonates with people
      • what are the similarities among all the people who do like it
    • reasons for failure: reaching out to the wrong people or reaching them the wrong way

17:43 “I think it just starts off with a basic critical thinking of… who’s the most basic version of the person who is interested in this, and then kinda putting it out there, and then just revising and reiterating until you find the right audience.”

20:34 “I would say it’s kind of a continuous process where you reevaluate to see whether… this is still the primary audience or are there other audiences out there who would love their product that don’t have any idea that they exist… So the research is ongoing I would say.”

  • idea behind Music for Makers
    • videos as a compelling form of media
    • he started making short videos/animations for clients
    • creating video wasn’t too difficult but found pain point of finding music for the videos
    • had backlog of recordings he wanted to giveaway for free
    • being inspired by Death to Stock and Unsplash
      • give out free photo content for email address
    • he felt he could solve the problem of stock music
  • promoting Music for Makers
    • started by going where anyone would listen (blog comments, Reddit, forums, etc.)
    • who would need music?
      • content marketers, video editors, podcasters, video game makers
      • where do they hang out? go there
      • what do these people look for?
    • Copyblogger & Rainmaker
      • being a part of your audience helps
      • products that solve a problem for yourself tend to do well  because you are a member of that audience
      • understand pain points and where people are hanging out
    • attractiveness of free, especially in music
    • pricing and value
    • providing value and willingness to pay
    • Influence by Robert Cialdini
      • the need to reciprocate something when you get value from it
  • Logan’s influences
    • Unemployable by Brian Clark
      • for solopreneurs/entrepreneurs/freelancers who want to take control of their lives
      • instructive and has a community
    • Megamaker by Justin Jackson
      • making 100 things in a year
      • invited other ppl to join him in making more things
      • motivating and inspirational
    • public declarations make you more accountable
    • commitment and consistency
    • Logan’s article on accountability
      • the more accountable you are, the more likely you are
    • punishments as a stronger motivator than rewards
      • identifying pain points and convincing people to avoid it

36:20 “When we commit to something, we are a lot more likely to be consistent… If you can get somebody to commit to a small thing, you can then later convince them to commit to a bigger thing like buying your product.”

36:43 “It’s about this idea about accountability. Kinda announcing that you’re going to do this or whatever and using that as a motivator to make you actually follow through and finish… I think it’s a critical piece to let people know and… ideally let there be some consequence if you don’t follow through. It makes a more compelling reason to do the thing you’re wanting to do.”

38:40 “All these kinds of psychological triggers and just the way we think, I find it really interesting because it all really goes back to human survival. That idea of… the punishment is more important to us than the reward is just basic survival that we as humans have kind of learned over years and years of trying to survive.”

  • storytelling as a great communication tool
    • good stories have the same elements
    • making yourself the protagonist or having someone your audience can relate to
    • case studies and testimonials work well when they resemble your audience
    • relating to people who are like you
    • story behind Buzzfeed’s analytics
  • making a public declaration for MFM
    • music making doesn’t have to be hard
    • his mission was to help creative people to ship products

45:26 “I think it is kinda important for anybody making anything, I think it is important to sit down, even if you don’t go public with it. Sit down and think about what is the why, what’s the real meaning behind what you’re doing. It’s not necessarily just to make a buck or to get notoriety but what are you really trying to achieve at the end of the day.”

  • creating different songs each week
    • had a lot of ideas on the back burner
    • songs had a starting place from previous ideas
    • his song – The Captain – came from sitting at Yosemite

47:55 “I think inspiration really comes from anywhere and everywhere… For me, there’s not really a defined process every week. It’s just kinda something different… So far, it’s just kinda been all over the board.”

48:39 “I think it’s also really important to know when enough is enough. There’s this kind of idea that I adhere to that is also born into Music for Makers now because I have to produce a new song every week now. There’s only a certain number of hours every day that I’m able to work on it. So at a certain point, I have to know when to stop… It’s an idea that’s termed creative minimalism. So it’s about basically… putting constraints on your creative process so that you know how to operate within it, having a structure that you can then build from. So I think it is important at least in the brainstorming or ideation stage to have as many influences and inspirations as possible, and be open minded there. But I think when it actually comes to creating the thing, the fewer options you have, it makes it easier to create, I would say.”

  • conflicting and competing ideas within the creative process

50:30 “It’s a challenge, and I think that’s why it’s so fulfilling to actually produce something and put it out into the world because it’s a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun.”

51:10 “it’s easy to come up with excuses to not make something, to not create. To set this rule for yourself that you’re going to have to make something every week, or every month, or every day, whatever you decide to do. Consistency is actually the key to making it happen.”

  • future plans
    • Music for Makers – creating pro subscription
      • used to only be free song every week
      • make accessing music as easy and painless as possible
    • having ideas vs. putting them into action
  • why behind Music for Makers
    • fixing a problem people were having
    • helping people create more things
    • help people make more stuff without excuses
    • the possibility of opening submissions for other people
    • it’s a side project where he has total control
    • the misconception about competition within the same space
    • open source mentality of building something better to solve a problem
  • favorite quote
    • “I am a part of all that I have met,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson from Ulysses
    • your identity being the sum of your experiences

58:40 “Really, you’re drawing inspiration and getting influence from everything around you, and that’s… both making who you are and it’s impacting the things you create.”

  • morning routine
    • finding pockets of time for Music for Makers
    • working for you vs. working for someone else
    • getting quick wins as early as possible and carrying it through the day
  • recommendations
    • Further Newsletter – going further and improving your health/wealth
    • Everybody Writes by Ann Handley – writing book for non-writers & communicating in the modern age
  • creative people
    • ad agencies being a creative place
    • people who respond to his email telling him how they use his music
    • video playlist of people who have used Music for Makers
  • definition of creativity

1:08:14 “Creativity is making something either out of nothing, so basically, where nothing exists now something exists. I think that’s inherently creativity because you’re literally creating something. But I think, more often, creativity is taking two things… or more… taking two things that are not seemingly connected in any way, and combining them in a unique and clever way to create something new. I think that’s incredibly creative too.”

  • challenge
    • bite off the smallest chunk of something you’ve always wanted to do
    • many interesting things aren’t created because people don’t take the first step

Music for Makers

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