Brian Thompson is a music industry veteran and marketing expert who operates his own record label Thorny Bleeder Records and a popular newsletter, The DIY Daily. Highly energetic, passionate and a bit quirky Brian is obsessed with inspiring young artists to live out their dreams. With over 87 podcasts and counting, his mission is simple: inspire, educate and motivate. A few weeks ago I reached out to him for a Q & A and here are the results.
What is your background in the music industry?
I’ve been in the music industry for 20 years now. I started out in a record store in the back room, unpacking boxes. I then became the music buyer for the store and then I worked my way up the corporate ladder and became the head buyer and marketing guy for the entire national chain of 22 stores.
After more than 45 years in business, that chain went bankrupt… as many traditional music retail stores did. So that’s when I started up Thorny Bleeder Records along with Jonny and Greg from the band Art Of Dying, as a way to marketing and promote their debut album. I ran the label, managed and tour managed the band for a few years until they got signed to Reprise/Warner, and then I shifted my focus to working with and helping other developing artists.
My focus now is on consulting with artists and companies on digital strategies and creative idea development for marketing and branding.
What inspired you to create the DIY Daily?
That was a happy accident. The DIY Daily is the result of a spontaneous thought I had while walking my dog at the beach on a cold, rainy January morning in 2011.
The concept was simple; compile all of the music, tech and marketing stories I was reading every day and quickly send them out to a few people who might be interested. It would be a quick “cut and paste” email newsletter, with nothing but a few story headlines and their web links.
Only two short hours after dreaming up the idea, my newsletter was launched to an audience of zero. But thanks to the power of the social web, my subscriber list grew considerably… and fast. Nothing spreads faster than an honest and functional product, backed by zero hype and praise from peers in the industry.
But there was a problem. Since the newsletter was being delivered via a free service with limited functionality (the very cool and awesome TinyLetter, still used to this day), I needed more flexibility for both myself and my readers.
And with that, the seed for developing a website version of the letter was planted. And a day later, I also decided to create and publish a daily podcast to accompany each morning’s newsletter.
It took considerable experimentations and tons of brainstorming across many different web development platforms. But once I found the right fit, the site came together very quickly.
In fact, in only two days I built and launched this website.
So here we are now, one year later after coming up with this whim of an idea, The DIY Daily has an audience of thousands and is not just a daily newsletter, but also a daily podcast and an active website.
How do you maintain the motivation to consistently create these highly informative podcasts?
First of all, thanks so much for the kind words. It still blows me away that my podcasts have found an active audience. I’m a constant work in progress and I’m always trying to improve myself, so every morning when I search the web for stories to share with my newsletter subscribers, I find things which inspire me… which I then speak about in that day’s podcast.
What type of advice would you give a new artist/act that is looking to create an online presence?
Number one; create your own website with your own domain name. It should be the hub which all of your other online profiles point to and feed from.
Number two, be social… talk to people. Don’t “advertise” to them. Don’t “sell” your stuff to people you’ve never met before. That shit just doesn’t work. Create conversations and be authentic, be real… be YOU. If your only goal with being on social media is to convince people to listen to you or to buy your music, it’s simply not going to work for you.
Number three, share. Share your music for free. Share your thoughts and ideas. Share who you are and what you’re about. The more you give, the more you’ll get in return.
Number four, be consistent. Use your sites daily and keep at it. Nothing will happen overnight, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other eventually you’ll create some noticeable momentum.
Is it still important for artist to press up physical copies of cds, flyers stickers and etc. for promotional usage?
Only if you’re playing lots of live shows. If you only play once every couple of months, then no.
In your opinion, how does the future look for indie artists?
Dude. The future’s so bright I gotta’ wear shades! Seriously. This is the most exciting and dynamic time in the history of music… so why is everyone complaining? The world is at your fingertips. You can do whatever you want. You can connect with whoever you want. You can find your niche and build a passionate group of followers around what you’re doing. And virtually all of this can be done for free.
An artists’ future is in their own hands now. No more excuses. No more scapegoats. Do or die. Embrace technology and social media, be creative with it, have fun with it, be consistent, persistent, passionate and relentless… and you can do whatever you want.