An Interview with the publisher of The Indie Contact Bible, David Wimble
conducted by: Ben Ohmart
Question: You're a singer/songwriter yourself. What do you write, how often do you gig?
I write mostly poppy folk tunes and ballads. I make it a point to write about positive things.
I haven't played live in over a year. I have been absolutely buried in the creation of The Indie Contact Bible. I am dying to get out and play again. When I do, it's going to be like starting over again. I know that I'll get over the initial nerves quickly and enjoy myself tremendously. I'll be playing solo this time around, so it's going to be kind of fun to just play a song that seems to fit a certain moment. It's also nice to not have to depend on someone else in order to succeed. I know that "people need people", but there is a time and a place for that. I depended on others when I was recording and forming the band "Big Meteor", and they let me down in a big way. After my very "expensive" experience with that, it's only natural that I'm going to be skeptical about depending on others. I like the freedom of going out to play solo.
Question: Going right to the heart of the matter: how has your book helped YOU? Getting ahead, getting heard, that sort of thing?
I've hardly used any of the connections I've made to promote my own music. Again, there hasn't been time. Often someone will ask me to send my music and I usually tell them that I'm concentrating solely on the book at this time. I made a decision 18 months ago that I was going to throw everything I have into creating this book. At the time, my musical plans were falling like rocks because the band I was attempting to form broke up, and I was back to square one. All those months of practice were down the tubes. I had to make a decision on whether to pursue the music, or to continue with this idea I had of a musician's resource book. I ran the idea by a few people whose opinions I trusted, and they thought it was a great idea to create a resource book! When I thought about it, there was no doubt that the most practical path was that of the resource book - mainly because the resource book was unique, and would be a popular item that someone would want to buy since there was nothing else like it. My music, as much as I love it, is only a very small drop in a very large bucket.
If I was to ever get enough finances together to create another CD, I would have hundreds of contacts that I could call on for help....to get radio airplay, reviews, exposure etc. It would be interesting to see what would happen. I'd like to record at least one more CD, because I have a lot of songs that I think people would really like.
Question: What one thing have you learned in compiling this book that surprised the pants off you?
When I first started to sell the 1st Edition, the feedback I received from those that had purchased a copy was mind-boggling! You hope for good reviews with anything you do, but the feedback I was getting from people was amazing! I was getting a steady flow of comments from people saying....how grateful they were....that they had been hoping that someone would create such a resource....how helpful the book has been for them....and on and on. And it all happened very quickly. These were comments from people that had no obligation to get in touch with me. They were simply so impressed that they contacted me just to say how blown away they were at the number of contacts listed in the book.
Three people that totally supported me from very early on were Carolyn Ballen of The Indie Music Forum, Derek Sivers of CD Baby and Daylle Schwartz, who has written two music books that are considered industry standards. The fact that these three people were excited about the book, and that many people respected their opinion, helped to bring a lot of interest towards the Indie Bible right from the beginning.
Question: Do you find yourself as a guru now, being hailed for advice at every waking opportunity?
Actually, no. A few people have contacted me with various questions, but overall things are pretty quiet as far as the expounding of wisdom goes. Usually the people that contact me are those that have mistaken me for a promoter or reviewer.
There is no denying it... I've gained a TON of information about the Independent music business and how it works. Most of the stuff I've learned is pretty scary to those that are starting out on the path with a newly recorded CD in their hand. Hopefully some day, someone running a conference or seminar will ask me to be part of it. That would be fun to do. It would get me out and about to do some traveling, which I'm really looking forward to.
Question: It's true that the 2 biggest sellers on the Internet are dream selling and sex; probably in that order. Be honest now. How impossible is it really to get ahead in this business? Even with all the shortcuts you've pulled out to show us?
It certainly CAN be done. However, the problem is very few are willing to pay the price. That price being "to sacrifice everything!" All of your energy must go into whatever it is you're seeking. I know some of the people reading this can relate...perhaps web site owners, or managers, artists etc. They'll completely understand when I say that you have to put in an amount of time and effort that would send the average person fleeing into the hills. From the first moment you wake up until early in the morning when drag your butt into bed....you must be moving towards your goal!
One experience that really helped me to understand what is needed was when I saw Paul Newman interviewed and asked what the most important quality an actor or actress must have in order to succeed in the music business. What Paul Newman said was surprising. It's not talent, or good looks, or connections. He said that the key to success, more than anything else - including talent....is "tenacity". I went and looked the word "tenacity" up in the dictionary and discovered that it was similar to "persistence". I also noted that the Latin root of the word is "tenere - to hold", as in a grip.
The idea is to "hold" on to your goal "tenaciously" regardless of how Life attempts to shake you off your path. So often it's tempting to throw your arms in the air and say "f**k it!" I put the word "tenacity" all over my apartment, including the screen saver on my computer. When things got tough, or at times when I really started to doubt myself, I would just ponder on "tenacity" and the doubt would lessen considerably.
Of course another thing that a person has to keep in mind is "are my goals realistic?" If you want to be the new sensation, that's not going to happen. But, if you simply want to make a living as a recording artist, with a medium amount of success and recognition, that is VERY possible.
Question: Your book is great for the computer inclined. But what about all those dopes out there who spend more time in the real world than online? Any advice for those going the non-http route?
My advice is that, if you have the funds, get your ass online! It's just the way music is going. It's not the only way to promote your music - it can never replace performing live, but it's certainly going to be one of your most valuable tools. Music is exploding on the Internet, and most of the people that can help you have a site online as well. You can communicate in a flash with anyone around the world. You can upload your music all over the place, and just because of the massive numbers of people online, someone is going to listen to it.
I was like a giggly kid when I first checked out my stats at MP3.com. I didn't get a lot of downloads for my music, but there were a few hundred, and that was something that really made me feel good. And again, that's just because of the huge number of people surfing around. They certainly didn't listen to the music because they had heard of me. I also received some nice e-mails from people that did listen to my music and really liked it. It's nice to have an unbiased compliment about something I worked so hard at.
Question: There's a reason mainstream is called mainstream of course. And I assume that's the easiest kind of song to progress or get heard, right? But if you had to pick another genre, as a hot niche market for a new performer, what would it be?
I'm really not an expert on what's hot and what's not. I have a lot of trouble with the garbage I hear on commercial radio, and I'm not just talking about the kid pop stuff. I'm talking about bands that continue to come out with the same old drone that keeps whining away mercilessly.
I think that if you stand back and take a look at the evolution of music, where it has been and where it's going, you will see that what lies ahead is a melding of the music of various cultures. It's the only way that new life can be pumped into our North American sound. Currently, all of our genres are just rehashing songs that have come before it. How often do you hear a new song and say "that sounds a bit like x, and y and maybe a bit of z". I almost always do.
For North American/European music to progress past the current tone, it will have to adopt the scales, beats and frequencies of other cultures. This is happening a little with the Latin influence that's coming in now. It has been happening spottingly for the last few decades with various types of world music (Indian, African and Middle Eastern) but I think there are still loads of possibilities that will soon be explored and integrated into the North American sound. I would like to do a CD some day that has a very strong Middle Eastern influence.
Question: What do you do aside from helping people realize their goals? Tell us about the man behind the book.
The man behind the book is a musician/songwriter, but also a writer. My "dream" is to get the book I'm working on published some day. It's a comical look at metaphysics. I've been working on it for five years now, and I think I'm about 85% to 90% finished. I feel the most comfortable when I'm working on my book. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to put towards the book these days. I just started writing again a few months ago, and I realized that I hadn't written anything in almost two years! The good thing about this book is that it deals with universal themes, so there's no time limit on it. It will never be outdated, so there is no giant hurry to get it "out there" before trends change.
Question: As any writer will tell you, the time that Really takes up your life is the selling, not the creating of material, or even honing craft necessarily. Realistically, what % of a songwriter's or performer's life should be spent pitching, and what % on other things?
I think if you are promoting yourself properly, you'll find that it takes up about 90% of your time. You can save yourself a lot of wasted effort by taking the time to read some helpful books and articles on how to promote your music, but even still, there won't be enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done.
It's especially difficult if you're in a band trying to get your music heard. A band needs to practice a lot, but you also have to put the endless hours into promotion. It's rare to have the other members as excited and dedicated as you are, and their effort will reflect that. You may find that you're the only one putting in those extra hours. If others are doing the same, you're very fortunate.
Question: Except for including a few extra musical genres for future editions of your book, what would you do to change or update your book?
I guess I'm going to break down and add a few more e-mail addresses. I keep telling people that e-mails change too quickly, and that it's worthless to list them in the book. What I'm going to do is add a few e-mails to the resource. I'm not looking forward to the feedback when people start complaining that they sent an e-mail to such-and-such number of sites, and most of the e-mails were returned with an error message. It's going to be ugly! I actually had an artist contact me about the newsletter I sent out saying that several of the e-mails she sent out were returned, and she was quite miffed about this. The irony is that the sites listed in my newsletter are people that have submitted their sites since the last newsletter, which is less than a month!
Other than that, the updates will remain as before. Dead sites will be removed, sites with new addresses will be updated, and there will be 1000+ new contacts added as well.
Question: I notice there aren't many instructions or advice given in the indie bible. Will there be? If so, what are you going to say?
I'm going to add various articles from my newsletter that will be helpful to artists and songwriters. I'm going to make sure that the articles are targeted to my specific demographic, which is artists and songwriters that are attempting to get exposure for their music.
In the next edition of The Indie Contact Bible there is going to be an article by renowned radio host, Lord Litter, on how to submit your music to radio stations. Jodi Krangle of "The Muse's Muse" has submitted an informative article on how to submit your music for review. Joyce Sydnee Dollinger is writing a series of articles that breaks down the ways in which music royalties work. This series of articles will prove to be a valuable reference for those that purchase the book. Lynn Carey Saylor runs the GuitarGirls website, and is also co-owner of Skip Saylor Recording in Los Angeles (they have had such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Elton John record in their studio). Lynn is going to submit a series of helpful tips on recording. This will be in a "question and answer" type format. People can send their questions to Lynn at Guitargirlsmail@aol.com. The questions and answers will be added to my monthly newsletter, and the "best of the best" will be placed in the next edition of the Indie Bible.
By the way, if anyone would like to subscribe to The Indie Contact Newsletter, they can go to http://www.bigmeteor.com/muse. It only takes a second. I have also built an archive page for previous issues. They can be found at http://www.bigmeteor.com/newsletter
Question: Anything further you'd like to add before we wind this up? Words of wisdom, sentences of commiseration?
The key to success is not only developing unshakable tenacity, but also a never ending patience. It's a tough quality to develop - but it is an absolute necessity....especially in the music industry. If you don't develop a high degree of patience, you will not succeed! I guarantee you that at some point you will get frustrated because "nothing is happening" and you will quit!
And don't just intellectually "ponder" the word. Try and understand it within you. Let it become part of your life.