I recently produced a course with LA based singer/songwriter Cathy Heller, about how to makes six figures a year licensing music in ads. I’ll be announcing details about that soon. But in the meantime I want to share some insights I got while making the course. It’s fascinating to talk with someone who makes six figures a year licensing music and picking their brain to really understand the mindset they have that allows them to excel in their craft.
[If you haven't already, be sure to check out my recent podcast with Cathy Heller here.]
Cathy has incredible insight into what it takes to succeed in the licensing business at a very high level. During the course, we of course get into specifics about the world of advertising and how to “break in” to the business and how to write songs specifically for ads. But Cathy also spent quite a bit of time discussing the mindset required to succeed in the music licensing business. And to be clear, by succeeding, I don’t mean just getting your music licensed here and there. Cathy very specifically states setting a goal of making between 200 and 400 thousand dollars a year from licensing. You read that right, between $200,000.00 and $400,000.00 a year. She not only states those figures as being the goal, but she states that making this much money from licensing in advertising is both “reasonable” and “not that difficult”. Pretty exciting stuff!
A Mindset Of Certainty
So, let’s get into some of the mindset insights I got from creating the course with Cathy. One of the mindsets that Cathy says you need to succeed, is a mindset of certainty as opposed to a mindset of hope. I love this idea. There’s a big difference between being hopeful about something and being certain about something. When you’re hopeful, you have a feeling that things might work out. When you’re certain, you have a sense that they definitely will happen. Think about it. It’s a big difference and I think it really is one of the things that separates those that are super successful from those that experience just a little success or no success or no success at all. Don’t hope you’re going to do something. Do it. It’s cliché I know, but it really is true in my experience. You have to develop this attitude to push through the resistance and obstacles you inevitably are going to face.
Be Part Of The 1%
Another concept that Cathy discusses in our upcoming course is the idea of being part of the1% of writers who take this really seriously. We often think of the music business as being this ultra-competitive industry where there are millions of other musicians vying for the same opportunities. Although it’s true, there are lots of “musicians” out there pursuing careers in music, to varying degrees. How many of them do you think are really serious about it? How many of them are determined to make it happen at all costs? How many of them are resourceful enough and have the confidence and energy needed to succeed? It’s a small percentage. If you become part of the 1 or 2 percent that are actually determined and willing to make this happen, you’re not really competing with millions of musicians, but instead you’re competing with a small group of artists that actually have what it takes. When you approach your career this way, it becomes much less daunting. Be part of the top one percent!
Take Massive Action
This is a concept of I’ve written a lot about over the last few years and Cathy echoes my thoughts on this almost verbatim. What holds a lot of artists back is simply not taking enough action. This is a business, and like any business, to truly excel, you need to be up at dawn working at this every day. When Cathy says that succeeding in licensing at a high level is not difficult, she doesn’t mean that it’s easy or doesn’t require massive effort. What she means is that if you do the work required, it’s totally attainable. It’s not an unrealistic, “pie in the sky” goal.
I think one of reasons artists don’t take massive action is they’re not quite sure what do or how to go about building a viable career. They don’t have a map and so they sort of just spin their wheels and wander somewhat aimlessly towards undefined, ambiguous goals. Maybe they record an ep and send it to a few people, but they don’t really build the momentum necessary to get it off the ground.
You need to have a map and you need to have a plan. Knowing how to get where you want to go, and seeing that there indeed is a path, will give you the confidence to start taking action. If you take enough action, you will progress. Like Cathy says, “this is not rocket science”, it’s actually a really simple concept. The more action you take, the more success you’ll experience. The problem is that a lot of musicians simply either don’t take enough of the right actions, or they just give up way to soon.
You Start In The Hole
Almost all businesses start off in debt. This is just the reality of starting and doing business. It usually takes a few years to get going in any business. There are costs associated with starting almost any business that require you taking on debt. The music business is no different.
You have to accept this reality in the beginning and figure out a way to provide for yourself in the meantime. This is the reality that anyone who goes into business for themselves face. The music licensing business is no different. You have to figure out how to record and produce your music for example. But don’t use lack of financial resources as an excuse. Figure out how to make it happen. Save up for recording costs or be resourceful and work out creative ways to finance your production. Whatever is holding you back, figure out a way to overcome it. You are the greatest resource you have when it comes to building your licensing and music career.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that if you really want success in the licensing business, you can attain it. I truly believe that with every ounce of my being. You of course have to be talented and cultivate your talent. But being driven is a more important component. The musicians that succeed are not necessarily the most talented, as we’re all aware, but they’re usually the ones that are simply the most driven.
Just because you haven’t achieved the success you’ve wanted, doesn’t mean you’re not capable of it. Maybe you just haven’t taken the right steps. Maybe you’ve tried a lot of different things and have been sort of shooting in the dark. The thing that I love the most about running my website is connecting with people who have actually figured out how to make music a career. There is a path and if you observe enough successful people in this business, you’ll start to connect the dots. There are plenty of musicians out there succeeding in the music business, start connecting with them and figure out how they did it. As Tony Robbins says, “success leaves clues”.
The Most Valuable Resource
You are the most valuable resource you have in succeeding. Only you get to decide if you keep going for it or not. Other people can reject you or tell you that you’re not “good enough”, but only you get to decide whether to quit or keep moving ahead.
We get to live this life just one time, why not really go for it?
4/14/2016 08:09:03 am
Thanks Cass! I'm really excited about our upcoming course. Cathy is a wealth of knowledge and incredibly inspiring.
4/14/2016 06:54:31 am
Excellent article with a lot of valuable information
4/14/2016 08:09:21 am
Arthur L Long Jr
4/17/2016 01:48:19 pm
Thanks again for your knowledge and insights! The podcast with Cathy Heller was great! I was able to contact her via email and send some of my material to her for review..Haven't heard back yet from her but it's still great to get the ball rolling..
5/28/2016 02:18:43 pm
I was driving through Scranton PA on my way to CT with a load of tires when I listened to this interview and I twitted Cathy that it was life-changing. Ever since I'm determined to make this happen whatever it takes because my #1 resource is finally on board! Thank you Aaron, I've enjoyed your songs and videos as well. Keep thinking deep thoughts and putting those pearls in writing for the benefit of humankind!
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