I Will Not Lose

I think one of the reasons that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers is because alot of his music is motivational.  It is based in business and competition.

It’s perfect workout music.  And the gym or jogging is where I listen to music the most.

Some people workout to heavy metal or hard rock because of the aggressive sound.

I love hip-hop because of the aggressive rhymes… the aggressive words.

Jay-Z’s mantra is “I Will Not Lose”.

It’s not “I will win”.

The thought of losing is more urgent and important than the satisfaction of winning.

To me it speaks of perseverance.  Of hanging in there.  Even when the going gets tough not giving up.

Jay-Z didn’t give up when labels didn’t sign him.  He created an independent label with his partners.

When the conventional rules of the music business didn’t fit, he wrote his own rules.

Case in point – when CD sales continued to dwindle because of new media forms, he forged a partnership with Samsung for his album which resulted in him going “platinum” overnight.

He hit the top of the charts, made money and his fans were able to access his music.

In the end he won.

By choosing not to lose.



One Hour Job

I finished my show at the school and the teacher said to me, “Where are you headed to this afternoon?”

I replied that it was the only show I had today.

He responded, “Must be nice, all done work for the day!”

Well, not really.  I planned on stopping by the music store to pick up a new mic cable, then respond to a few booking requests, update my blog, work on a new website, write a song, do some accounting work, and the list goes on.

I was just getting started.

Hearing this is nothing new.  I heard it often from the time I was a child.  Not about me, but about my dad.

He was a minister.  As a minister, people assumed he only worked one hour a week.

After all, church was an hour.

But growing up my dad was always working.  There was preparation for the sermon, there was hospital visits, or funerals, or meetings, the list went on.  I knew there was a lot more to it.

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferris.  I’ve read all of his books and listen to his podcast.  He’s been successful at branding his “4 Hour” concept.  The first book was the 4 hour workweek which talked about how importance of outsourcing and that you could be successful working just 4 hours a week.  He went on to write the 4 Hour body and chef on the same concept – minimal time to achieve maximum results.

I agree with Tim.  I think that when you implement systems or improve your learning techniques you can improve efficiency.

But I also know that to be successful you have to put the work in.  There is no way around it.

People often look at the finished product, but don’t realize the hard work.

Leadership is about what you do when no one is watching.


The Most Powerful Button On The Internet

The most powerful button on the internet is… the share button.

It’s the ultimate co-sign.

Attention is a valuable commodity in this attention deficit culture.

The share button means that someone has taken the time to check out what you are posting.

They have listened to your song.  They have watched your video.  They didn’t just scroll past it.  They didn’t just watch or listen for a second or two and maybe most importantly – they didn’t respond passively.

They want other people to check it out.

When someone shares your post they are saying that it is worth being on their precious timeline.

For you, it means exposure.  It means more eyeballs – attention.

Some people try to “hack” the share button.  They tag you in their posts so that it will show up on your wall.  That can work – I guess.  But it isn’t the same thing.

If it’s a friend or someone that you are a fan of, then maybe you don’t mind that they tagged you.

But most of the time it is annoying.

Not only have they occupied your precious territory without asking for permission, but now you get annoying notifications when people comment on the post.

At first you think people are responding to something you posted.  Nope.  Its about someone else.

Some people ask you to share.  They recognize the value from your organic share.

That’s fair game, but its not as authentic as the genuine share.

Get enough of those, and that is how you go viral.


Branding 101


Without a doubt, the best branding lesson I learned came from music executive TJ Chapman.

This was back in 2009 when I was attending the Core DJ’s conference in Atlanta and TJ was a panelist.  I didn’t know much about him at the time aside from knowing he was a DJ and that he was managing a new artist named B.O.B.

For TJ, branding is about consistency.

And for him, its in the name.

“TJsDJs” If you want to find me that’s where you look.

His website and social media are all the same.




You get the point.

Everytime I hear someone mention their social media on an interview I recognize the importance of brand consistancy.  “Well my twitter is this, my youtube is this, my website is this…”

They lost me after the first one.  How do you expect a casual listener to hear them all?

As someone with the name “D.O.” I took note.

When “D.O.” became my rap name it was before the days of Google.

The main thing for me was walking into a CD store and seeing my CD in the “D” section.

But now we live in an era where new Social Media sites and trend change quickly.

I knew I needed to have some brand consistency.

I went with the “I am” after seeing someone like Diddy use it as well.

But it wasn’t enough.  There was someone on Instagram with iamdo – with all of three followers.

I put the “Gibson” in to ensure that I could use “iamdogibson” on all platforms.

Now where ever the latest app takes off people know where to find me.

I encourage you do the same.




I was rewatching one of my favorite movies “Up In The Air” starring George Clooney when I heard Anna Kendrick’s character talk about the term Glocal.

I’m sure the term has existed before but this was the first time it really resonated with me.

The concept is simple : think global, act local.  But as an entrepreneur – and especially a music entrepreneur – it takes on further meaning.

As an entrepreneur your focus may be local.  If you run a neighbourhood bakery, you aren’t marketing to countries around the World.  But as a musician, you may sipping coffee at that bakery thinking about how to get your music out to people around the globe.

With the Internet and social media this is easier than ever.  You can post a song and people from every continent across the globe can hear your music instantly.  It’s tempting to focus on these markets.

One thing I hear often from artists is “Well, China has a billion people, if I can get even 0.1 % of this market then I’m good!”

The problem with this way of thinking is that they have likely failed to do any ground work to determine how they can even get that 0.1%

Other artists will tell me “I want to take my music to Japan – it will do really well over there.”

But how do they know it will do well?  What are they basing this information on?

When an artist tells me this I don’t judge them.  I don’t correct them.  I’ve been there.

I’ve wanted to have my music heard around the Globe.  But the thing is, I took trips.  I went to conferences, I made contacts, I went to those places and with that knowledge I learned what it took to break into different markets.

I used to think going to the States was going to make me as a rapper.  That if I went to the states they would embrace me with open arms.  They appreciated real Hip-Hop.  But then I went to New York, Miami and Chicago and found that we were facing the same challenges – indifferent crowds and more love for out of towners.

It led me to realize that I needed to focus on my core.  My city.  My neighbourhood.  Once I had done that, then I could start looking abroad.

Once you grow local you can go global.

Step by step.


Write Something Interesting

Ironically, I saw this as I was just posting a link on Facebook to a new blog post I had written.

Just before I typed my post I saw the words write something interesting

Did it always say that?  I don’t remember seeing that before.

But this is from my artist fan page.  Did it say that on my regular page?

So I clicked over and ahhh something different.

“What’s on your mind?”

Your friends want to hear whats on your mind.

Your fans want to hear something interesting.

Or could it be, your fans just don’t want to be treated as if they are strictly consumers that are force fed your product as you compel them to click to your latest video, song or product.

Maybe what is interesting is what is on your mind.


Getting the grant is only the first step

It’s exciting to tell an artist that they have received a grant.

Especially their first one.

There is nothing like that feeling.

The Government is giving you money to record your music!  The way YOU want to do it.

However, one thing I’ve seen many artists fail to realize is that getting the grant is only the first step.

The music? That’s the easy part.  At least it should be because that’s the fun part.

The challenge often comes with completing the grant.

I’ve seen artists struggle with this step time and time again.

I’ve even seen artists have to send a cheque back to the grant organization because they failed to complete the grant properly.

Oftentimes this will be an artist that has just received one of their first grants.
Its usually not a big grant – not the 10,000 album grant or the 15,000 marketing grant.

It’s often a demo or showcasing grant – roughly 1500.

These artists want to move on to the bigger grants.

But one thing that I think is –  How do you think you can handle 15,000 when you can’t handle 1500?

The cold reality is – they can’t.  At least not yet.  They aren’t ready.

I’ve received over 200 grants and one of the key reasons is my track record.

How do you get more grants?

Take it step by step.  Complete it on time or ask for an extension – and then complete it.

Become a success story by maximizing your grant.

Then you’ll be on your way to receiving more..