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Today I’m really happy to have Cathy Heller on the show. Cathy is the host of the popular podcast “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” and she inspires thousands of listeners every day to find purpose in their life and get paid to do what they love.
She’s been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, HuffPost, the NY Times and prior to her podcast, she made a 6 figure living with her music as a songwriter.
Today, we’re going to explore Cathy’s journey and how you can turn your passion into a career.
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What You’ll Learn
- How the music licensing industry works
- How Cathy built a career licensing music to tv studios
- How to make money with music
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Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the my wife quit her job podcast today. I’m really happy to have Cathy Heller on the show. Now, Cathy is the host of the popular podcast Don’t Keep Your Day Job and she inspires thousands of listeners to find more purpose in their life and get paid to do what they love. She has also been featured in Forbes entrepreneur, huff post and the New York Times, but prior to her podcast. She actually made a six-figure living with her music as a songwriter. Now, we’ve all heard the term Starving Musician before and today we’re going to do is we’re going to explore Kathy’s journey and how to turn your passion into a career and with that welcome to show Kathy. How are you doing today?
Cathy: I’m good. And thank you so much for having me. It’s definitely a line then the title of your show and what you do in the work I do it’s such a good fit. So
Steve: it’s very similar actually.
Cathy: Yeah, I love it.
Steve: So Cathy, please tell the audience kind of about your early years as a musician and how you got started in that industry.
Cathy: Yeah, you know, I came out to LA when I was 24. I’m 40 now and I came out with my beat-up old Volvo. and I just wanted so badly to do music and as a kid growing up. My parents had a really tumultuous marriage. My mom struggled with depression. My parents got divorced my dad left and I felt very invisible and there was a so much heaviness at home. And the one thing that was my constant was music and I would write songs and I also felt so invisible at home because my dad left and my mom was suffering so deep in her depression that I wanted so badly to be seen and I thought oh the best way to do that is I’ll become a rock star and then People will see me and they’ll hear me and I can take all this music that’s inside of me and I can put it out in the world.
And so I just moved out to LA. I was just like unrelenting, you know, like I’m doing this and of course the streets are not paved with gold and it was hard at first. I got a job and got a roommate and I was doing all the things that you do like just paying the bills and I was feeling like, oh my God, I know that these people who own record labels are like, they’re all two miles away from me here in LA, but I I can’t get in the door. And so I worked really hard. I was just like so on it and I wound up writing songs and they were not good and then I wrote songs that are a little better and I got demos recorded and finally finally after two years. I got signed to Interscope. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually sitting no joke, when Lady Gaga was recording Paparazzi. I was in the studio and it was so surreal. You know.
Steve: are you guys friends?
Cathy: No, we’re not friends. No, but Ron fair was my producer, He’s also her producer and I became friendly with him, but that was really short lived because that ended a few months later. I got a call from Ron that they were not absolutely certain that they would sell lots of records with me and they just couldn’t take that chance and I got dropped and I remember being on the side of the freeway. I got the call. I pulled over I cried and I was like, what am I supposed to do now? Like go get another quote unquote real job. I’m going to feel so invisible. I was so close. So I was So defeated, but I had no other choices. So I thought so I just sucked it up and got a pant suit and went on interviews and a friend of mine said to me if you want to just make money you should either do Finance or real estate because you’re not going to get to do what you love. Anyways, it just make money all your life.
And I was like, oh great is this what people do when they grow up? It sucks. So I got a job working for this guy in Brentwood Who Sold commercial real estate and he paid me well enough that it was like golden handcuffs. He paid me a hundred fifty Grand. I was 26. And I was like, okay, this is fine. Look I get to wear cool jeans. Look, I’m eating spicy tuna rolls every day and then it was like I didn’t come out here for this. So after a year and a half I was like this is awful like having the money and now being this unfulfilled shows me that this is no I cannot do this. So I thought there has to be some other way to do music other than being Beyonce, there’s gotta be so I started doing research and I find this article that shows me that all these Indie artists were Licensing their songs to shows like Grey’s Anatomy or two commercials like Tropicana or Old Navy and I was like, what? What is this road?
So I thought what if I put all my energy in that and I decided to quit my job, which now on my show, I teach people like build the bridge first, but then I was just so exhausted of not recognizing myself in the mirror. I quit my job and I had a little tiny bit of savings like 3 months and I just started to pound the pavement and I started to look at that Question. Which is who are the people who were those people choosing music for film and TV. It turns out there called music supervisors. And so I started doing research on IMDb to write down the names of like who was doing the music for each show who is doing the music for One Tree Hill who is doing the music for Pretty Little Liars who was doing the music I started making lists and then I started looking for email addresses and then I started to reach out and about six seven months later.
I started to find my way and it’s amazing because I was 18 months after I went into this for the first time. I started making three four hundred thousand dollars a year doing that and I did that for a decade. I did music for all those shows Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, Criminal Minds, younger Parks and Rec. I wrote music for Crate and Barrel, Walmart, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and they pay really well is the thing especially advertising. They’ll pay you 50 60 70 grand for one song and it’s a non-exclusive license, which means you can license it to other people. I did stuff like that all the time and my husband and I were able to buy a house our very first house and then from there what wound up happening was other artists started to read about me because there were full page articles with like half a page of a picture of me in billboard magazine, variety magazine, the LA weekly, I was on the cover of the USA Today music section just because I was paying my own way.
I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t have it. I was just like going for it myself, you know building it as my own business like I was employed for myself. And so it was making news. And other artists started to reach out and say oh my God, could you pitch my music also or oh my God. Can you teach me what you’re doing? And I wound up not knowing what to do. But I knew I had to do something and so I started teaching classes in my house. Then I started moving those classes to a local theater. And then I started an online course called six-figure songwriting to teach people how I made six figures in songwriting and that course wound up making two million dollars a year.
Cathy: and that was crazy. And then what was awesome is about 25% of the students every year in real time. We’re getting their songs on TV. So they became the ambassadors and that started to just fill the class. And then with this one woman Amy. She said to me your class is so motivating that it would be relatable to anyone with a dream not just musicians because you help people be resourceful you help people get out of their overthinking and you help people take action. You should start a podcast and I was like, I guess I could I was pregnant with my third daughter and I thought I’m Going to do that. So I start a podcast to help people go for their dreams thinking like I would have like 16 listeners. And this was January 2017. And so we just had our three-year anniversary and it’s just been amazing because we’re now at almost 15 million downloads.
I’ve gotten to interview people like Howard Schultz who created Starbucks and Barbara Corcoran and Mandy Moore and Jenna Fischer from the office and the list goes on and on and it’s been amazing to have these conversations with people who made a living at all different kinds of things. And then I wrote a book and that’s the whole story.
Steve: You’re very eloquent so I can completely understand why your podcast is doing well.
Cathy: Thank you.
Steve: Let’s so let’s talk a little bit about just the music industry. Like how does it work? I know there’s people out there listening that are really into music and they would love to make money with their music. So, can you just give us an idea like, I’m completely Green in this area too.
Cathy: Yeah. I mean the thing is with any industry. I think that when we’re all growing up we will reach for the highest branch that we can see and so let’s say you’re a kid and in your in your household and and the neighbors that you have on your block. Let’s say you’re a creative kid, but the your parents aren’t creative. Let’s say your dad’s an accountant. And your mom is a teacher not to say those are not a creative people, but they don’t have a creative job.
Cathy: and let’s say the one creative person, you know is a neighbor who lives two doors down and he works. Let’s say in marketing he gets to work on print ads. You might think, Oh, I guess because i’m creative and I’m always told that I’m good at Art. My parents told me that like, I’ll be like Dave who lives two doors down. So I’ll go get a job in marketing at an ad Firm. Do you see what I’m saying? Like
Steve: yeah, yeah
Cathy: we will only reach for what we can see. So I think with musicians we don’t see lots of nuances. So what we see is either you’re famous. You’re Sheryl Crow your Taylor Swift or you’re nothing that’s not the way it works. What people don’t realize is that right now, especially in terms of music licensing, which is what I did it is the absolute most profitable thing a musician can do if you get in your car and you try to tour around the country and you try to find fans to come and see you at a club in Missouri at a club in St. Louis. I mean, you’re lucky if you get eight people, right and it’s expensive and you have to sleep on couches and pay for gas. So touring unless you’re famous touring is not the way and you’re not going to make tons of money from selling records because people don’t even buy records anymore from famous people.
They just buy the single they just buy, you know, there used to be a time with with music where in order to get that one single. That Cindy, Cindy Lauper had you had to buy the whole record.
Steve: Yeah Yes.
Cathy: So the margin was great because artists would Even thought I only have one great song on the record, they’ll spend the whole 12 bucks. But now no they’re just going to spend 99 Cents and then we have one song. So you’re not going to make money from records. You’re not gonna make money from touring. So it starts to it starts to feel really Bleak except for the fact that we have more content now than ever. There is streaming services. You’ve got Hulu you got Netflix. You’ve got HBO GO you’ve got all that cable channels. You’ve there’s so much video ever we go to when you go to put gas in your car. There’s a video now. So wherever you see video there’s Music needed. so that means that the opportunities are so ripe. It is the best time to be a musician the way I see it.
And so the opportunities are great. And the way that it works is that when you are a music supervisor, let’s say you’re working on a show like Grey’s Anatomy and you’ve got 22 Episodes in a season. You’re only going to have one budget to cover the entire season. So if somebody says your whole budget for this season for music is let’s say $200,000. Okay, but then the director tells you but in the Last scene of the last show of the Season we absolutely need this U2 song. Well that U2 song is probably going to eat up $75,000 of that budget for that one use. So now you’ve got $125,000 to play with and you might have six songs that you have to place in every single episode across the 22 seasons. Do you hear what I’m saying?
Steve: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Cathy: So now let’s say you’ve got five grand a track you would prefer if your music supervisor to find an indie artist because you don’t have the money for a famous artist and you’re Looking to give people those opportunities because it makes the show cool to discover bands. So then you can be making $5,000 to give somebody use not ownership but use of your song. Now, Imagine if you did that once a week it adds up right? I have a friend who made a made a relationship with a music supervisor who worked on Days of Our Lives. They do a show every day. They need songs every day. She made a relationship the woman said give me a song for every day because they use many songs a day not just hers and they only pay on that thing I think they paid her 1,500 bucks a song. But you made fifteen hundred dollars a day for songs. Do you hear what I’m saying?
Steve: Yeah. Yeah
Cathy: in the ad world just so people are aware because in the ad world if your Tropicana if your Pepsi you don’t do an ad every day, you might you might do one big National spot every four months every six months. So you have a much bigger budget and you’re probably only going to use one song in an ad so they’re not going to pay you 5 gran. They’re going to pay you 60 Grand 70 grand because in the ad world to use somebody like Charlie Puth to use somebody like Lady Gaga would cost them a million bucks. So they’re happy to pay an indie artist 70 or 80 grand because it’s saving them a ton of money and if the if it’s an ad they’re not their goal is not trying to show somebody this famous artist song.
Their goal is selling a product. So as long as the music fits they’re going to pay you so I made so much money doing ads I would do like six ads a year and then I would do a bunch of TV stuff and it was easily three four hundred grand every single year.
Steve: So the question is how do you actually get these gigs? Because presumably there’s thousands and thousands of musicians competing against you right?
Cathy: That’s right, except that there’s thousand thousands of people everywhere who want to do what they want to do, but they don’t do a lot about it. So of the pool of thousands of people you’re going to have like just one percent of those people who are actually going to show up and commit to doing it. Most people we get so hard on ourselves we get so easily defeated we don’t get into action. So there’s two things. Number one, you’ve got to write the right songs, which means you got to write your way through crappy songs. You can’t write three songs and be told they’re not good enough and give up.
Ed Sheeran was who’s a great songwriter was talking about this and he said have you ever gone to a cabin in Vermont? You haven’t been there in four months and you turn on the faucet and it starts to run like like brown sludgy water and your friends I go. I guess we have to go eat pizza in town and you’re like, no we can eat here. We can the wat just give it a second and 14 seconds later the waters running clear and Ed Sheeran said I had to write My way through the brown sludgy water to get to the really good songs. Like we have to A, write those songs. And and in order to do that. What I teach in my programs is in this would go for any business is you have to know the difference between a hobby and a business. A business means I’m serving Someone else, someone else is going to pay me for it a hobby means I don’t care what anyone else thinks.
So what I did is I approached it. Like I’m going to reach out to these music supervisors and instead of saying here listen to my record. Listen to my record. Like I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall and forcing something on them. I’m going to say what story are you telling, What story do you need to tell and they’re going to write back and feel so refreshed by it. They’re gonna say I’m so glad you asked we don’t need breakup songs. We don’t need love songs right now. That’s what every artist is sending me. I don’t need that. I need a song about sisters. I need a song about overcoming the odds. I need a song about female empowerment whatever they’re working on then you say I’ll be right back and you go to the studio and you use it as inspiration, you write something and you find a way to be authentic and tell that story.
That’s what great artists do if you listen to Randy Newman, right? He wrote all the music to Toy Story and everything else. He can find a way to sit with a director and say what do you need and then he can use his magic to make it sound like him and at the same time help tell the bigger story. That’s not just his story but it’s a story that the movies telling so that was my one approach and then the second approach is get a
Steve: How do you get a hold of the music supervisor in the first place is that information readily available?
Cathy: The email addresses are everywhere, but the In is how do you break through and get your email read and this is another thing that I teach in every program I do because most people go right to the pitch. Hi. My name is Cathy. Let me send you a 14 paragraph email telling you everything about myself and why you should listen to my music. It doesn’t work. They have no reason to want to just sit there waiting for someone to like give them homework and then give you an opportunity. You have to make it about them. You have to make people feel seen. That’s what people crave so I would send these really short and sweet emails and I would say I would I would tell I would ask a really simple question and I would make it something that felt personable and I wouldn’t just send my music I would ask them something I would make a connection with them as a human and then and then I
You know, what I decided to do about six or seven months into this process I up the ante and I remember early on I made this cute little PDF it said mochas and music. I put a picture of myself playing guitar then a picture of a Plus sign and then a picture of a Starbucks latte and I put Step 1 tell me your favorite Starbucks drink step two tell me what date and time to drop it off to you and step 3. I’ll come to your office and leave you some music and some caffeine. And I remember sending that messy Scrappy PDF and I put it in an email and I sent it to like 65 or so people and 20 people are so didn’t respond and then another 20 said no, thanks or don’t send me stuff like this and then there was about 28 people who said sure and I wound up going to 28 offices and bringing lattes.
And a year later billboard wrote an article and said Cathy Heller license her song to 28 shows and it was every single one of those people because what has to happen before we go to the sale is there’s got to be trust and intimacy that’s built.
Cathy: because then they will actually listen to your music. And so what wound up feeling like a scary thing that I could have just been overthinking and not doing I sent that PDF and I got me in the door and what I try to tell people with any business is you don’t need a 500 thousand clients. You could have six clients in your professional organizing business and you could quit your job. You could have 20 delis that sell the homemade granola that you make and you sell it to this few delis and you could be in business. So I wound up those those became my core clients a few of them want to introducing me to a couple other people. I then had maybe 10 other clients in the ad world. And that was it. I would then just keep up with those people and check in with them and make personal relationships with them and I would fly. Out I flew to Minnesota to meet with those ad agencies.
I flew to New York City. I wanted to join in so that the relationship became more and more intimate and it worked, I put in the time I was unrelenting but that’s what I’m saying. Most people don’t do any of those steps. What they do is they they wait tables and they tell you what they want to do and why they’re not doing it and then you’re really not competing against them you’re competing against the for people who say I really want this. I’m going to make it about the other person. I’m willing to listen To what songs they need because I want to have a career. It is a business. I’m going to get out of my own way, but my ego aside and write the music that they need that I also love and you know what those songs are songs. I feel so proud of.
Their not Jingles, their beautiful songs that help tell stories the way that Christina Perri wrote A Thousand Years for Twilight. It’s a beautiful song. Ingrid Michaelson, Snow Patrol, Regina Spektor, there’s great artists who sit and talk to the director and they get to be sent the scene of the show and they say, can you write a song for this scene? Why would you not want to do that? It makes it easier to write you have an Inspiration Point. I loved doing that and I’ve used all of those same tactics now to build a seven-figure business doing the other things that I now do because they’re all the same points. I think that that girl Amy was right. She was like help other people started business and I was like, I will.
Steve: It sounds like to just kind of summarize everything that you just said, you have to get the attention somehow by doing something different than other people, I’m doing and then after that it sounds like it’s all about the relationship
Cathy: a hundred percent. It’s about the relationship. and I think that we build businesses backwards. For those of you who want to do anything music, pottery, painting, you open a yoga studio. What most people do is we go off in our laboratory by ourselves and we think oh my God, I have to come up with something brilliant. And then I’m going to spend all this time developing this app or all this time making a line of 20 different kinds of embroider t-shirts and we spent all this time building something on our own we put it out in the world and no one comes, no one cares and we go see forget it. I failed. No, a business. You got to take someone’s order. You have to make it for them. If it’s going to be successful. It has to have radical, radical empathy at the core because business is about now.
No, it’s not just about you. Someone’s going to give you their hard-earned money, which means they’re letting you know that they value this thing. So instead of putting the pressure on yourself and going off in the corner and spending all this time overthinking it telling yourself, You’re not good enough and Trying so hard to build something someone wants because you’re guessing, do what every other successful business does, what Coca-Cola does, what Mac does I Apple every single company they would have focus groups. They would reach out to the person who they think is their demographic and ask them. What color do you like? What flavor do you like? When do you use it? What do you need? What’s the pain Point? How can I solve the problem? That is what I wound up doing in the music world.
I then did that with my podcast? That’s why I became successful because I kept asking my audience. What’s your pain Point? What shows do you want to hear how can I involve you? Oh, they wanted to hear themselves on the show. So I started to interview listeners, read their letters. It’s not hard when we make it about them. So I think in any business it is about the relationship because business is the ultimate relationship and if there is empathy and if there’s understanding you are built to serve and if you’re serving your serving because you heard the other person you’re not blind just sort of shooting, you know darts in the air it won’t work.
Steve: So before we kind of move onto the kind of like the fundamentals of business. I was just kind of curious like when you’re going in for the music licensing, how do you know how much to charge?
Cathy: Oh, that’s a great question. And I love talking about pricing for any business because I just get it and I love that. I now get it because there was a time when I didn’t. But as far as any business including the music business, there’s a market there’s already a market and when you do a baby bit of research, whether you’re going into the Cosmetics industry, you’re going to make handbags, watches. There’s already a market there’s a low end and high end and so I believe when you’re starting out you should start out start out low to middle and try to then eventually the get yourself to the high end of that market. So I would always try to see the forest for the trees. So when it came to that when music supervisors would say we love this song we want to use it. What do you want for it? I would say what’s your budget and they would usually say whatever it is five grand, eight grand now, they don’t make commission.
So it’s not like they’re trying to save some room for themself on the car to give them self a kickback it they’re employed. There’s a corporate job. They work at Netflix. They work at CBS. So I trust them so usually I would say let’s say they wrote back. And said, you know we have 25 grand for this McDonald’s spot. So then I would write back and say great. I would really appreciate it if there’s any wiggle room if you could go up to like 30, but if not, I want to work with you. I want to do this and they would always sometimes they would say yeah, we’ll give you three grand more or sometimes they would say no that’s really all we have. And I would say let’s go and I never never never turned down a license.
There was a movie called Southpaw with Jake Gyllenhaal and Eminem was doing a lot of music for it and I got a call from the guy doing the music supervision, and he said we have one Scene where Jake Gyllenhaal goes to visit his daughter and we need a song like yours, something really feel good. Can you write something like that? I said, yeah, he said but we we’ve used all this money on Eminem. We only have a few grand. Would you be willing to do it and I said, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. Well the music supervisor for that that movie wound up going on to do other things including this Haynes commercial and he used my track and when I was featured in, I believe it was variety magazine. The Reporter asked me you know, can I reach out to anyone for quotes and I gave him a bunch of names and it was that music supervisor.
He’s now John Houlihan. I think he’s now head of Music at Fox. He’s moved around a little bit and then the quote he said was I will always work with Cathy because she was such a generous artist. She was not going to get in the way of a project. She saved the relationship rather than trying to make more money on something. So
Steve: so it sounds like the Lessons Learned there are always let the other person respond with the offer first.
Cathy: Oh, A hundred percent
Steve: so you don’t actually a little ball yourself. Yeah, and then two, just say yes.
Cathy: Yeah. And what’s also awesome with pricing is that when people tell me I can’t leave my job. I can’t leave my job. I say because there’s already a market for whatever you want to do. If you can just look at what it would then pay you, you can figure out how many hours of that thing. You have to sell or how if it’s a service or how many things itself you’d have to sell and then you can figure out. Oh, I would just need 50 customers to buy this thing and I could leave my job and it starts to make it so much more tangible than sort of like pie in the sky and oh, I’ll never be able to do it.
Steve: So Cathy, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about your book. Don’t keep your day job, as I mentioned before I finish the book last week and it really resonated with me because it’s basically the story of my life.
Steve: as an Asian. I was predestined to be either lawyer, doctor or engineer I chose engineer
Steve: I actually really like my job though. But when you when did you realize that you didn’t have to follow the preordained path like, were your parents supportive of you go in the music industry?
Cathy: my parents were not really, no one was really home. If you know what I mean.
Cathy: my parents were so in their own crap with their divorce with their pain. My dad was on his third marriage. My mom was not emotionally stable. So I was really clinging to any anything for myself. I was kind of fending for myself. In fact, if anything my mom told me I was crazy when I came out to LA. I think it was really threatening to her because she was the star of her High School theater Program. She won like the senior superlative in the yearbook most likely to be on stage, you know to be a star that kind of thing and she never pursued it and she was unfulfilled and unhappy about that my whole life, she felt like she gave up her dreams to get married and be a mom and she sacrificed and she was so she felt like such a sadness and from that I learned something really important, which is that the opposite of depression. It’s not happiness, its purpose.
I think that we need to feel like we’re contributing and we’re living on our terms and she didn’t so if anything I think there was either no comment or it was sort of like you’re crazy. You know, it’s not going to happen. You should give it up. Yeah.
Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wiegler and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com. Now back to the show.
So let’s say I’m a listener of this episode and I’m in a dead-end job or a job that I just don’t like, what advice would you give them from as a starting point?
Cathy: Well, the very first thing that I realized having talking to my listeners so much is that most people there’s a, there’s a whisper inside of you that knows that you’re not happy. But sometimes you don’t have Clarity on what you want to do because for a very very long time you stopped asking the question, what do I want to do? Because you’re trying to, as kids we grow up trying to get the love and approval of our Parents and so we stay within the lines and we don’t want to get hurt and and and Beyond just trying to get the approval of our parents often times. We’ve all been through so much heartache. There’s been there’s been death. There’s been a divorce. There’s been a loss there’s been rejection. And so we tell ourselves, you know what I’m not going to dream so much because if I dream if I open my art heart I’ll probably get hurt so we cut ourselves off from even knowing what we want.
And so the first step is we have to sort of come back home to our self. We have to spend some time giving ourselves the space to feel and to dream maybe make a list of like five lives that you’d love to live. If you didn’t have to worry about the Practical part just to start to awaken yourself, to what’s really in there. Maybe write a letter to yourself at 7 years old, you know and see that little kid with the funny haircut with the red shoes. And what do you have to say to that kid, you know, or maybe write a letter to yourself from your seven-year-old self. Like what do they want? What did they really want to do? There’s a whisper in there. There’s a if something Brings you Joy. There’s probably a clue that that thing might be something you want to do more of and then maybe there’s a way to find how you can provide a need for someone.
You know, we’ve had people on our show, this guy Greg Franklin was living in Missouri. He was miserable. He was working at a dog food factory. He started listening to the podcast. He was like, I don’t even feel anything anymore. I’m like numb. I hate my life, you know, and he started a one-day explore and Facebook sent him a recipe for cheesecakes and he made a cheese Cake and it was terrible and the next day he made another cheesecake and then Facebook kept seeing that he likes cheesecakes and they kept sending him recipes and one day he made three and it was not bad. So he brought two because his family needed one. He brought the extra two to the fire station and the local fire department was like, thanks and this is in Missouri in a small town and they liked it and they called him a week later and said did you drop off those cheesecakes last week?
And he said yeah, they said they were delicious. Can you bring back 12 because one of our Chiefs is going to have a birthday and he really liked it. He I don’t know how to do that, but I’ll do it and it started to build and he started to sell cheesecakes in his small town until finally, He actually got fired from his Factory job. There was an accident on the machine and he got fired and he posted in our don’t keep your day job Facebook group on that day you guys I just got fired and then he wrote and I googled it because my wife said you won’t believe this, it’s National cheesecake day. He got fired on National Cheese Cake Day. I didn’t even I didn’t know there was a thing
Steve: Me neither
Cathy: so she said that’s a sign. you had to open up your own cheese cake shop and he did and he said if I can make enough money to pay the rent, I’ll keep it open for three months and we’ll see and on the very first day they opened the line was around the block because people were so curious about a cheese cake shop because it’s so unique and he made three times the rent in the first day and now other listeners of my show have driven hours to see him, you know, we had this guy who owns a chain of grocery stores in the Midwest, call him he heard him about him on my show and he started carrying his cheesecake. It Is just amazing what happens when you take those messy steps and just explore so I would say first you got to explore stuff. Take yourself to a museum, write about it when you get home.
Take yourself off to a play, Feel. What does it feel like is any ideas come to you then if you already kind of know what you want to do. Is there anyone you know, or do you have a friend who knows someone who does that? You have a friend who knows someone who’s a travel writer because you want to do that. Could you take a class? Could you go take your foot, your camera and take some pictures and there’s so many ways to start to experiment. And then if you’re like no, I really do want to do this. Okay, so we now have to validate that idea. We have to gather a few people in your life who might be the right person who you’d be selling those cake pops to and we got to ask them some questions, you know, you get a few moms after a car line.
And you say I have a feeling of the three of you were the kind of people who would buy these for birthday parties because you make the cutest parties for your kids. Can you come over and can I give you a taste test and can you give me feedback on what you like what you don’t like what you pay for them? And then you start to get First client.
Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high-level BS. Mine is a curriculum-based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce business entrepreneurs who are importing large quantities of physical goods and not some high-level guys who are overseeing their companies at 50,000 feet. The other thing I can assure you is that the Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it. Now back to the show.
I would just want to add that you probably don’t want to ask your friends because they’re, often times, they’ll give you feedback to not upset you.
Cathy: That’s true.
Steve: So I actually prefer using the exact method that you described except going through, no total strangers and there are Services out there also that will
Cathy: how do you do that Steve? How do you find totals? I like that
Steve: Yes, so there’s services so so for example, so I sell online, e-commerce and so oftentimes what I will do is I will post like a complete description or even like Landing page for a product and then I will send, there’s a service called pickFu and basically it uses Amazon Turk. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that.
Steve: but Amazon Turk is there’s all these people they get paid to take surveys or give their opinion and So within 10 minutes you can get and you can do some demographic targeting too. So you can say I only want women over the age of 35 who like shopping on Amazon or different demographics and within 15 minutes, you’ll get feedback and often times, these people will write paragraphs.
Steve: you know about whatever you’re posting, you can ask about anything. One thing that I have my students do is I have them just post their e-commerce store when they’re ready to launch on pickFu and with the simple question. Hey, would you shop at this store? Would you trust this store? Does it come across as like someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing? and you’re often astounded by the results. So you might think something is really good. But from the eyes of someone completely neutral, they might have a completely different opinion.
Cathy: That’s amazing so smart. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. So good.
Steve: So I’ve been running this podcast for quite a while also, and I guess one reservation that my listeners have is how do I know? I can make some money with this like that’s their primary worry like, everyone knows what they like to do. The question is how you can monetize it?
Cathy: Well the very first thing that has to happen is you have to try to sell it right?
Cathy: But before you go to the sale I try to teach people like you should never never never never never sell because what you need to do is realize and we told the story in my music Journey, but for every seven deposits you make with a person you can take a withdrawal, there needs to be an emotional bank account the relationship matters so much. So in order for people to buy from you there has to be an intimacy there has to be a trust. They have to know that you, you make the thing that they need when talked to Seth Godin. He was just on my show for the second time. I said Seth what is marketing he said marketing is communication. Marketing just means I effectively communicated what I do to the person who needs it. That’s it. So that needs to happen as a Runway on and on and on long before you invite them to buy the thing.
Now once you created that trust then all you’re saying when you have the quote unquote sale is Hi person, who I’ve been showing up for who I now know the thing that I know you need it’s here if you want it, that’s it. So in order for that to happen, What is the thing that you’re creating? Let’s say you want to be a professional organizer and you’re like, I don’t know if I can make money at it. Okay. Can you find a few people who might want that and can you offer to give them an hour of your time for free? three people you’re going to come over and say I’ll clean. Let’s see your closet today. Let’s do your bathroom today. Can you get a testimonial? Can you ask them some questions that they like it? Would they want more? Now, They might be like I got a taste of it and it was great. What do you charge?
Well, I do a package 5 hours is $350. Okay, great. If they say yes, you can sell it. Do you see what I’m saying? Like those two things have to happen. Don’t try to sell something before you give someone an experience of it, you know, when you go to the mall and go to the food court they try to get you to The sesame chicken it’s smart, because you take one bite of it and you’re like I’m going to eat it now. If you go to buy a car, you test drive it first. So we forget that we set ourselves up to fail because we go I’m afraid of selling. Yeah, of course, you feel icky selling you’re going on to either your Instagram or you’re sending an email or you’re walking up to a stranger saying I got to prove myself to you and try to sell you on something that I don’t know if you need or want it but I’m going to try to convince you that doesn’t work. That’s why you feel icky about it.
Steve: A lot of people are actually afraid of doing that legwork that you’re talking about. So what I try to tell people is create deposits using your terminology in the form of content.
Cathy: Yes, totally.
Steve: Is that is that something that you talked too with your readers as well?
Cathy: Yes. I mean I my content right now, which is my podcast what I love about it is I have complete control over creating it. No one has to tap me on the shoulder and say you’re allowed to do it. It’s like I can go make a podcast any day. I want I can go ahead and post on it. To grab every day if I want to and I do and I write my own post and I post things on IG, IG stories like all of that. We have complete freedom to do and when we do that we are making trust we’re building intimacy and the more that you do it from a place of being vulnerable the more that you do it from a place of inviting people into something that’s not just about the product or the service but there’s you all over it.
You’re going to find people who say well, of course I could get this same product from Fifteen other places but I like her, so you have to figure out what is it about you that you can start bringing into the content and people, people’s problem is they don’t find themselves interesting so they don’t think anyone else will. but but you are interesting and also people feel like who am I to make content? I have nothing exceptional to say. When Adam Grant was on my show, He said you don’t have to say something new, if you say something true and it is it’s a fact when you’re scrolling through Instagram, let’s say you’re having a hard time in your marriage. You can never see enough post that tell you that it’s normal and it’s okay to fight.
If you’re feeling low about yourself. You could never see enough post that tell you your enough. It’s okay. You got this. Everyone’s broken don’t compare yourself to people online that you can never hear that enough, right? if whatever it is, if you love scrapbooking and someone’s making a piece of content about how they’re doing hand lettering if you love that stuff, you can never see enough of it. So you gotta show up and creating content is one of the best ways to make deposits. Absolutely.
Steve: when you created that course for the first time in years. You sold what 500,000 that first-year? How did you get those people?
Cathy: Same thing we just talked about that’s why I love teaching business. The first thing I did is I realize I cannot just sell people on a course. First of all, I didn’t have an email list because I wasn’t in that business. I was in a B2B business selling music to Netflix and Lionsgate all that stuff, had no email is had no podcast had zero Instagram nothing. So I was like, I can’t just show up online and sell a course. It’s not going to work and even though I had been teaching in my living room and in these local theaters, that was a list of like maybe 200 people who I had met take these classes who live locally who had already taken it. So that was not going to be my audience. So I said the first thing I need to do is go online and create something for free. And so I made a free cheat sheet of like the 10 things that I learned that people need to know if they want to license their music.
And when I made the ad instead of saying you can get rich and make six figures I leaned into vulnerability. I remember making an ad where I said, you know a few years ago. I was depressed. I pulled over on the side of the road. I got dropped. From a label. I started to get a real job. I hated it and I wound up finding my way into licensing music and it’s completely changed my life. And these are the 10 things that I needed to know and I want to give it to you for free. So we had about a thousand I think it was 1012 people downloaded that freebie and then
Steve: This is all on Facebook ads or?
Cathy: Facebook ad.
Cathy: I think I spent $100 on it. I didn’t know what I was doing. I think my audience was way too broad. I don’t know how to make it specific. You know. I still don’t buy the way I hire someone to do that. It’s so complicated but in any case I was fine. I got a thousand people and then I sent an email to those thousand people and I said I’m going to do a free masterclass and I decided that the free masterclass would not be this slick like perfectly curated webinar that I would actually show up and just teach everything I knew with no slides and be sincere because I believe that the sincerity would be the most important part because there’s so many webinars. There’s too much hype.
And so I went on and I was pregnant with my third daughter at that time and I was just me and I just spoke right to the camera and I taught them every single thing. I could possibly fit into that hour. And at the end I said, I’m going to teach a class if you want to join me and the very first time I launched it, it was only $9.97 and I think my very first launched we had a hundred and forty seven people sign up. So I made a hundred and forty seven Grand then a few months later. I launched
Steve: This is from the list of a thousand people?
Steve: That’s an amazing conversion rate.
Cathy: Yeah. I didn’t even know that it was at the time. I was like, oh my I guess I thought everyone would sign up. I didn’t even I didn’t know anything about anything but I wound up getting better and better at the class. I wound up getting testimonials. I wound up feeling my way through it, you know, I added value to the class. And then eventually I raise the price the class to $1997 at first. It was a year for $997. Then it became $1997 for six months.
Steve: Did people balk at $1997?
Cathy: No. No, they didn’t in fact, we had our biggest launch when I when I find out that price, you know, it’s also at least stepping into your own confidence about what you’re selling. And at that point I was like you need this this doesn’t exist anywhere else because it’s not an online course where you watch videos I show up every week. I listen to your music. I give you feedback then every single month. I would bring in the music supervisors who I knew and they would listen to the music and that is completely
Steve: that sounds like a tremendous value. It’s almost too cheap. I would say even at $2,000
Cathy: Yeah because you can’t get that anywhere else.
Steve: Yeah, you can’t. Nice.
Cathy: Yeah. It’s and then it yeah, then that’s when I started making 2 million a year because It was 2 Grand and we would launch it twice a year and it was just like so easy to get to that number.
Steve: Yeah, do any of your clients ever have this bike mental barrier that it’s selling out like they want to become the next Beyoncé or the next Taylor Swift. Is writing music, you know commercially would they would that be considered selling out in the minds of certain musicians?
Cathy: a hundred percent and and I’m I want to just give a shout out to Jeff Goins because we were talking about it before we hit record because he’s a mutual friend of ours and I had him on my show and he wrote an amazing book called Real Artists Don’t Starve and one needs to hear this point because yes, this comes up and it is such a lie, and it is such a limiting belief and I’ll tell you what, I mean. In Jeff’s book in the first chapter. He talks about Michelangelo and he talks about how Michelangelo was revered and still is as one of the absolute greatest artists of all time. If you go to the Vatican and you look up at the ceiling, you can’t even talk you have to whisper because it’s so beautiful and what Jeff says is that he was commissioned to do every piece of work he’s ever done. He was told exactly We went to paint he was a told exactly what to make and what and what to use.
And what what to do whether it was the David sculpture or whether it was the paints that you know, he was going to use and they told them we need you to make the biblical scenes and use the ceiling and use these paints. Does it make it any less beautiful? No, Jeff’s point is that for years the initial artist who set the bar for what it means to be an artist like Mozart. Mozart was commissioned to write these Symphonies. That is the way artists. I worked forever, John Williams He know he does the composing for all the Steven Spielberg movies is he less than because he writes that music? No. What are we talking about? We’re talking about people who started to see artists starving like in the last, you know Century like in the La Boheme rent era people living in Alphabet City and we started to make it a beautiful thing to be starving and so somehow if you’re starving you’re a real artist, that’s not true.
That is not true. It’s still the case that in today’s landscape. If you look at the people who are making the most money, they’re either in the real estate business or they are artists. They are people like Jerry Seinfeld. They are people like Taylor Swift and those people and I can tell you because I worked at her I’ve not worked I had a record deal, every conversation is about. Okay. What is the audience going to want what single should we put out they are doing tons of testing they are doing tons of work to figure out how to basically make you a brand. You become like Mickey Mouse. They’re like, oh Okay, you’re going to wear Elton John you’re gonna wear this clothes and this costume in you’re going to have this kind of gimmick. You become a character
Steve: So it’s a lot more deliberate than it looks
Cathy: Yeah and it needs to be
Steve: That’s basically what you’re saying, yeah
Cathy: Yeah because Pete we need to care about the person. How is it selling out if we’re asking ourselves the question what do people want? That’s the opposite of selling out. That’s calle, I’m using my gift to now do something that’s not just for me
Cathy: It’s going to speak to the hearts of, when you go to a Paul Simon concert and he plays you all his new music your kind of like waiting for One song that you know, we need that that’s should be what people care about they should say no, I’m gonna play you can call me out because I know you’re going to get up and dance because it’s our song. It’s not just my song. Now, That’s our song. That’s what artists do they lift us up. So, yes people do get in their own way and think that they’re selling out they do that in business to like, I will absolutely I’ll tell you one quick story. We had this guy on my show named Brian Janoski. He’s a Potter and when he started out he wanted to be an artiste he wanted to make Avant guard sculpture and he was starving. He was starving, starving and it was awful.
and once in a while his work would get praised and put in some art journal and he was proud of it, but he was starving and one day this woman asked him if he could make these like pastel ice cream bowls for her and she would pay him and he was like, well, I need money I’m starving. So he made her these pastel ice cream bowls and he wanted getting a call from a friend of her saying I love those. Can you make some more then he gets a call from a little Boutique saying, oh we have women coming in and somebody mentioned. I want unless all photo. Can I sell? My shop next thing he knows Urban Outfitters is buying thousands of those bowls from him and he realized you know what I put up such a fight and I’m so happily sitting at a potter’s wheel now every day making these pastel ice cream bowls and I’m making hundreds of thousands of dollars and I like it.
I like the like something I made it’s actually a better feeling to make something someone likes than to make something three people like who needs to be starving. So now he’s got a Huge Factory, he works in Philadelphia. He’s employing hundreds of people. He’s sold all over the world thousands and thousands of orders every single week and on the side once in a while. He makes something that only him and two snotty art people like, but otherwise he makes now all kinds of things he makes all kind of
Steve: You know what’s funny is one of the first students whoever took my e-commerce course was a Potter and he started out with that same attitude. And now he can’t keep his Pottery on the Shelf. I actually just had them on the podcast too, but it’s Same story. It sounds like we have very similar audiences actually.
Cathy: Yeah. Yeah.
Steve: So we’ve been chatting for quite a while. I wanted to give you the opportunity to talk about your new book. Don’t Keep Your Day Job. Where can people find it. What is it about?
Steve: What was the inspiration for the book?
Cathy: The inspiration for the book is that it literally hurts me to see people who like their lights are turned off because like they’re not they don’t feel juice every day when they go to work and I believe that if you were born and put on the planet you’ve been assigned to do. I believe that God doesn’t make extras. I believe that every person needs to be feeling that that feeling that they’re doing something that they’re living life on their terms. I know that the number one regret of the dying is that people feel like they didn’t live their life and they sat it out and it hurts. And so this book is to awaken you to the idea that you are absolutely needed that you are enough that it is possible.
It walks you through some ways of starting your business some ways of actually tangibly like some some Tactical things that you can do. Also on my website CathyHeller.com. There’s a quiz you can take to help you figure out which career path might be best for you. And yeah, I think by the end of reading the book you will feel like a shot of adrenaline. Like I can do this there’s room for me and you can start to take some steps at the end of every chapter. There’s some like takeaways and some some questions you can ask yourself so that you can actually move through the book and I would I would suggest maybe read it with a friend create a book club so that you guys can keep each other accountable and support each other and brainstorm with each other as you’re reading it because some really cool things are probably sitting in there.
Steve: And if you enjoyed this particular podcast interview, the book actually reads exactly like how Cathy talks. Haha
Cathy: Haha that’s true.
Steve: Cathy, Thanks a lot for coming on the show. I really appreciate it
Cathy: I love talking to you. You’re so good at what you do.
Steve: right. Thank you so much. Take care.
Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, the effect of coronavirus on ecommerce can only be a good thing and if you look at the stats on Klaviyo website, you’ll see that practically every ecommerce category is sky rocketing. For more information about this episode. Go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode301.
And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.
I also want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.
Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com
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One thought on “295: Cathy Heller On How To Make Money As A Musician”
Holy Crap that was an amazing podcast and interview. I started off listening to this because I love what you do Steve but I don’t have a musical bone in my body nor a desire to find one. I am so happy I listened to this!!! Cathy Heller is a fireball!! Such great advice and energy. Definitely what I needed to hear. Steve and Cathy can’t thank you enough!!!!
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