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The Compass Method
Bringing Clarity and Direction to the Artist Journey

The Delayed Return Environment of Releasing Music

“In modern society, many of the choices you make today will not benefit you immediately. If you do a good job at work, you’ll get a paycheck in a few weeks. If you exercise today, perhaps you won’t be overweight next year. If you save money now, maybe you’ll have enough for retirement decades from now. You live in what scientists call a delayed-return environment. You can work for years before your actions deliver the intended payoff.” James Clear, author of Atomic Habits.

Truer words were never spoken in relation to life as a music creator, am I right…

The artists who saved me.

As per Spotify, I spent a full month’s worth of time listening to music this year (4,380 minutes). This doesn’t account for the additional time listening to terrestrial radio like KEXP and WFUV. Time well spent I say. 2020 called for a deep level of introspection given everything we have been through together, and music is always my access to that introspection. The vast majority of my listening centered around getting lost and finding time to disappear.

I like to wrap up the year by reflecting on which songs and artists made their mark on me. These awards are not…

With two words.

Question: “How do I cut through all the noise out there?”

Answer: Artists, BE PRECISE.

I’ve been asked this question countless times recently, so let’s break apart this classic music industry question.

What is “the noise”?

It’s a challenging world to occupy as an artist, with a dizzying array of entertainment options seducing the attention of your fans and potential new listeners. The chances are that on your chosen release day for your new single, EP, or album, there are thousands of others launching at the same time. Not to mention the endless onslaught of “breaking news,” new binge-worthy shows…

No…not that type of label.

Oh how we love to categorize things. Being labeled an artist is a useful human construct, a way to organize your inherent, or learned, skills into a neat little package. Artist is a label you assign to yourself, or one that gets assigned to you by those who identify your skills. It’s just a label, but it’s one to which you attach deeply routed meaning.

The brain undergoes a period of rapid development at birth, continuing for the first years of life. During this time, new neural connections are forming more rapidly than at any…

The secret to connecting with an audience.

Photo by Vova Krasilnikov from Pexels

I talk to artists for a living, and one particular week this spring, it felt like all my conversations were whisked together. The more I listened, the more I realized that everyone was essentially asking the same questions; they were seeking an unlocking mechanism — one that would help them either begin their journey, “get to the next level” and break through, or simply grow as an artist. One conversation in particular encapsulated the crux of the matter, which I will share with you here. …

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell from Pexels

What is something that I know for sure that may not be true?

The hard-line position you take about a particular aspect of your career, or of the music industry, may in -fact not be true. If you look for it, you will find the necessary evidence to fortify your truths. Consider for a moment that whatever absolutes you utter say more about how you feel about yourself than they do with the truth. Perhaps you subscribe to absolutes as a protection mechanism that keeps you from the exposure associated with going all-in.

An artist whose music performs well on streaming platforms will posit that radio is dead and that playlists are the…

Photo by Tobias Aeppli from Pexels

It’s going to be ok.

We are a resilient species. We adapt. We normalize and return to baseline quickly after life-altering moments like this.

What you have been working towards for 6 months or more has been erased in 24 hours as tours and events are canceled. It’s devastating emotionally and financially. It’s totally ok to feel distraught, angry, depressed, and that publically pushing your own musical agenda feels out of place and lacks sensitivity.

But be mindful in moments like this as the impulse is to get small, to cut back, to pull the plug on all your plans…

Photo by Natalie Chitwood

Location: The Mystic Lodge in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

It was 18 degrees outside but the wind chill made it feel closer to zero. I was struggling to breathe as the swirling winds were pushing the smoke from the woodstove back down through the top of the Teepee, filling it with a dense layer of smoke about waist-high. The only solution was to open the entry flap to create the proper airflow, which meant welcoming in the biting cold. A lose-lose proposition. I whipped open the flap and quickly retreated under the covers. As I lay shivering and…

Raw talent, off the charts charisma and likeability, refined performance chops, the ability to light up a room. Striking, powerful, ready…

In the mid-2000s, I got a chance to work with an artist who truly had it all. In those days, I was surrounded by a lot of top tier talent, and she could hang with the best of them. She had the ear and attention of the industry, and there wasn’t an A&R that met her and not been incredibly impressed.

But the number of songs she released from 2000 to 2018? Zero.


The inability, or perhaps just…

Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

It’s a late-night in Brooklyn and I’m on the way home from a client’s album release show on the lower east side. It’s been a heavy week, one of those moments in life when a cluster of people you know pass away seemingly all at once. My emotional awareness was certainly peaked.

As I stood on the platform awaiting the train, I made my way to the far end of the platform past the point where anyone typically stands. I wanted to be alone to gaze at the city skyline in the distance and think of those who were lost…

The Compass Method

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