As a musician, you know that success doesn’t come easy. It takes years of practice, dedication, and determination to make it in the music industry. What if there are other ways to be successful in the music world. Today, Jason Tonioli joins Bree Noble to talk about a music marketing funnel that can skyrocket music sheets to a 7-figure business. Jason is a musician, marketer, and entrepreneur. He built and scaled multiple companies to over seven figures, and his music streams over 100 million times worldwide. Tune in to find out more.
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Music Marketing Funnel: An Effective Marketing Tool For A Seven-Figure Music Business With Jason Tonioli
I am here with my friend, Jason Tonioli. He does so many things. Can I even think of all the things that he does? He’s a musician. He is a piano artist. He sells sheet music. He has a background in banking. He’s an amazing marketer, an amazing marketing mind. He has several different companies. I’ll let him tell you all about that. Let’s get started with your background in music, Jason. How did you get started in music, specifically in piano, and a little bit about your journey there?
Getting started in music, I started like a lot of people. I had a mean mom that made me practice piano. Thank goodness. When I’d not want to practice and I would cry and whine and throw tantrums, she made sure I did my practicing. It forced me to at least get to a certain level. There’s that breakthrough level that a lot of musicians get through, whether it’s piano or guitar or whatever it is.
Now you are pretty good at the instrument and then all of a sudden, it opens up to you. Luckily, I hit that point in my life. I had a natural gift probably for hearing music and an ear for it as well. In general, that’s how I got started. I was classically trained. I had never heard of a fake book until 7 or 8 years after I’d even finished piano lessons and graduated from high school and all that.
Nobody ever bothered to tell me what a fake book was. When I discovered that, it changed my world. Thank goodness for YouTube and the online world with all the guitar tabs and learning that made it so much easier for me to progress, I feel like as a musician. As I started writing music, I decided I wanted to share it. I started doing piano books that are easy listening, put you to sleep type of new age piano. As I’ve done more and more of that, I did another book and another book. I’ve got 14 or 15 books out now. I recorded about that many albums. I’ve done fairly well with the streaming world as well. That’s my start in music.
We’ll get into all of that, but first of all, we jumped over your background in banking. Were you doing all this music stuff while you were doing the banking thing? Was it on the side and as a hobby?
Yeah, it was on the side. I didn’t have any expectations that musicians could make money. I had a real job that made money. That was the most fun. I was in the banking side for a long time. I had the opportunity of working with John Schmidt, if you’ve heard of The Piano Guys. He’s done well. I was at the bank and I used to sponsor John’s shows before he was even teamed up with Steve, the cello guy that he plays all the time with. I met him through a music producer after the studio. He was still recording a lot of stuff on his own at the time.
How I got started in the music and recording was we’d sponsor his concerts and we bring a bunch of clients out. He’s a fantastic guy, a good friend of mine. He’s one of the best people I know in the world. That’s what spurred me on to start doing something with my music. It’s been a great journey. I’ve been around a lot of talented people that have helped make me better than I feel like I am at the music.
How much music were you doing while you were working at the bank? Did you create your piano books then and albums and things while you were still working?
I released some books. I’d call around to the neighborhood area music stores. I got to the point where I had probably a dozen stores. They were super supportive of me. I didn’t think they’d want to carry the books per se, but I printed 50 copies of the first book I did. It was called Wedding Day. It had a bunch of flowers on it. The music was good. The cover and the marketing were terrible. Within a couple of weeks, they called back like, “We want more of those books.” I’m like, “Really?” At that point I thought, “I’ll do a Christmas book.” That did well for the Christmas season.
It led from one thing to another. I did a hymn arrangement book. I’m in the Utah area. You’ve got all these old classic 100-year-old hymns, Christian hymns. That was a hit. People were playing that for preludes. It’s one of those where over the next 10, 15 years, I did more hymn books and more hymn arrangements and more original songs, more Christmas songs. You chip away at it little by little.
When did you start selling them online?
It was probably 2006 or so. We used to have to code the websites. It was expensive to do. It was not something I knew how to do myself. If I wanted to add a song or a book, I had to have the developer go in and code it. It was not easy. I get paid $4,000 or $5,000 for my first website and then you’d have to redo it a couple of years later. We finally started building in WordPress, but even the themes and the coding weren’t what it is now, where you can spin up a theme and have a pretty decent WordPress for $1,000 to $2,000 that looks good.
Was the eCommerce on your own site or did you ever put it on Shopify or places like that?
I used WooCommerce. It’s free through WordPress. We use Elementor now for everything. There are some plugins that you can add where it’s pretty easy with some tables where you can allow people to listen to music, pull up sample music, do all of that. You got to spend a little bit of money on some plugins. We do small updates, not big redesigns anymore. We haven’t done a big redesign in several years.
Do you keep it only exclusively on your site? Don’t you put your books on Amazon?
Funny story with Amazon, some of the music stores do well with putting sheet music on Amazon to the point where I know it’s 20% to 40% of their business they do. If you’re in a little town and you’ve only got so many piano teachers. I have several stores that will put my stuff on online. You can go and buy my books on my website for about $20, but on Amazon, the stores will turn around and they’ll stick it up there for $29.95 or something.
It’s great. I’m thrilled. They sell a lot of them. They’ll sell books at $29.95. They’re winning and they still buy from me. I know that probably drives traffic to my site for people that want to look a little deeper. I feel like it’s been a total win-win going that route. I do have some of the stuff that I’ll stick on Amazon myself, but it’s small. A couple of hundred dollars is all. We still push promote to that at all.
I know that you’ve been creating traffic through Facebook ads. I don’t know if you use Google Ads as well. What made you think like, “I should build a funnel around this and start putting traffic out there?” Most musicians like that make their head spin.
I’d done pretty well with the music even before that, between the stores and the website. I was making more than a school teacher probably, which is impressive. I ran across the ClickFunnels. The whole software and the one funnel away challenge. That’s where I got started. Somebody’s like, “You got to try this.” I’m like, “Whatever.” I sold my software company and I thought, “Okay, cool. It sounds interesting.” I dove into it. I did not think it was going to work. People want to shop and they’ve got their lists. This is not going to work. I helped my friend build out a whole funnel system.
He does divorce planning for people. Could you pick a more weird topic? It’s a cool service that he does, and it helps a lot of people. I said, “I’m game.” We built this divorce planning pros tool. It’s a total failure. He put $10,000 of paid traffic into it on Facebook. We sold maybe $200 total. It was horrible. It should have been taken out back and shot.
They see that and they don’t necessarily want to click.
It’s like, “They’re going to retarget me with divorce stuff. That’s all I need.” That was my first foray into funnels. I did a couple of other things that were interesting along the way. The pandemic hit and I thought, “Without a little bit of success with this for some other people, I had to do what Russell Brunson says and go for it.” It was about June 2020. I built a basic funnel. It was a free plus shipping offer.
“Here’s my most popular hymn arrangement book for the piano. If you’re looking for music to play, click here.” I bought all these. I decided with the pandemic, I was going to give them away. It was $8.95. I went for it. I had all the upsells because I knew I was going to be upside down on it. I’m literally like giving books away and it wasn’t covering the cost for it. Within about two weeks, we were shipping 150 books a day. It was crazy.
How did you fulfill that? You obviously weren’t ready for it.
I was buying labels, the 30-sheet label type of thing, and doing mail merges. We didn’t even have anything through ShipStation or Stamps.com. For the post office, we’d go down there with 100 things and they weigh every single one of them. They’re awesome. They’ve got this little tiny post office. They’re such good people that the normal post office would have told me to take a hike. We were having fun doing that. We were getting conversions for $3 a book. I’d spend about $3 and make a sale.
When I had enough people buying additional stuff and adding on, we were making some money. It was like, “This is working.” All of a sudden, the email list starts growing fast. I’ve got 12 or 14 other books. All of a sudden, I can email them and say, “Do you like this? See if you like this one, too.” We 10X-ed what we would do on the website without funnels because of what we did through funnels.
You had a funnel around a specific book, and then on the backend, you would send them emails saying like, “If you like this, we’ve got these out here.”
Here’s a secret for any eCommerce person. If you come onto my website and order from me, this only happens once. That’s a one-time timer. If you don’t come back and order from me again in 30 days, I will send you a coupon code and say, “I wanted to check in with you, see how you liked the music. If you’re looking for a new song to play, here’s a coupon code. It’s $5 or so, or $4.50. Go pick another song to play. Download it. It’s on me.”Many eCommerce businesses make that first sale and then have a poor onboarding or follow-up program. The gold is in those people who are part of your list already. Click To Tweet
What I’m essentially doing is it’s recapturing people, pulling them back into my world. If you think about it with the website, it teaches that person how to purchase and how to buy and interact with me. It brings them back to that point. A lot of eCommerce businesses make that first sale and then they have a poor onboarding or follow-up program. The gold is in those people that are part of your list already.
That’s true for music artists as well. You get them on your list. A lot of artists that I work with, they focus on getting the people on their list and that’s it. The whole point of the list is to nurture them so you can get them to do other things. They’re thinking about the list as the ultimate goal. There’s no point of the list if you’re not utilizing it.
It’s not just musicians. It’s every business. I’ve heard a stat that is pretty accurate. If you have an email address, it’s worth about $12 a year for you in revenue. It’s an industry norm.
It’s $1 a month. I’ve done an analysis of my email list as an artist back when I was touring and stuff. I figured out mine was like $2.60 or something. I was able to jump things like I got a student, or I got a demo, gigs or whatever from my email list. I could look and be like, “This person is on my list. That’s how I got that.”
I see so many musicians that don’t even bother to put an email collection out there. It’s the easiest thing to do. That will pay more dividends than anything. eCommerce music, no matter what the business is. I go to these piano stores and I’m like, “Do you guys have a list of all your people that come buy from you?” “No, we don’t. We used to do that, but then I talked to one the other day and he said he used to collect every email address from everybody. We send an email out and he said he got one person that complained and said, ‘Why are you emailing me?’” “Take them off your list and don’t spam. The other 2,000 people you might’ve emailed probably appreciated you.” Find your people.
Sometimes people are worried about what people are going to think about them if they send them an email or something. This is amazing because I had not heard of anyone that was doing this well with using sheet music and funnels. Let them know how well you did. Also, I want to know or how well you’re doing. I want to know if you think that it’s a function of the pandemic or if you’re still doing as well now.
I would say the pandemic was huge for people wanting to learn music or sit down at the piano. Music in general, people have that reset and had time on their hands to do music. That was huge. As you look back on the pandemic, Facebook had more traffic coming into their site. Everybody wanted to know what was happening in the world. I don’t think we’ll ever see that happen again in our lifetime. That was the communication channel. Traffic became cheap to reach people. For about the first year of the pandemic, you didn’t have any of the iOS 14, Apple privacy stuff that’s completely destroyed Facebook’s model for paid traffic and a lot of other things.
That’s a whole other debate for another day. Yes, that made a difference. If I look back on 2021, we shipped about 28,000 packages of music. Some of those are single books. A lot of them are going to be multiple books or multiple things or CDs. We shipped well over 6,000 CDs in 2021 at Christmas time. You think CDs are dead, but as an order bump, if you’re selling a book, having a CD on there, you’re crazy not to, because I can offer that CD for $6.95 or $7 that goes along with the music.
Most people will add that on there. I would say about 20% to 30% of people. It’s surprising how many still want the CD, even though can you still buy CD players? The other thing for me is a lot of my piano-playing people that buy my music are oftentimes skew older. It’s a 50-plus female demographic, who’s the mom or grandma that plays piano or teaches piano. That’s my demographic on the piano side, for sure.
That does make a big difference on who would buy it. I do still think people are buying CDs. From artists, it’s sometimes for a different reason. It’s more like a memory or something to have.
It’s to support the artist. They liked the artist.
In this case, it’s a tool.
The other thing we did in 2021 was a game-changer for us. I did a storybook with a friend of mine. We did a whole bunch of research because about half of the music I’ve done has been old traditional Christian hymns. They’re pretty melodies. It doesn’t matter what Christian Church you’re in. You’ve probably heard a lot of the amazing graces and stuff like that, that people know. My friend is an amazing storyteller. We dove into all of the origin stories of those. Kim’s trying to find some inspirational story. For those of you who don’t know the name, Paul Harvey was a radio personality for years. If you know Paul Harvey, you’ll date yourself, but I grew up listening to him at noon.
Probably 1/4 of the United States listened to him at noon to get the news and then they’d get his story. It’s the same type of thing where it’s this cool 3 to 4-minute a-ha story that you could tell. You could do it on a radio program or tell over the pulpit or something like that, but we kept it like, “Did you know that this is how the story of amazing grace came to the guy who wrote it? This was his story of what went into his life to make that happen. We have the Horatio Spafford. It is well with my soul.
That’s one of the most touching stories ever. The guy’s wife and daughters and kids are all on his boat, the boat sinks, and they die. His wife was the only one that survived. He’s sailing over to find them and the captain and the ship told them, “This is where they sunk.” That’s where the idea came to him for the song, these impactful stories. When you know the story behind these songs, it means more. We did a book. It’s called Stories of the Hymns. It was 41 stories in it. It was incredible. We released it in time. It was November 3rd, 2021 we released it. I put that funnel up. We sold out of the first 5,000 copies.
I thought, for sure, that would get us through clear until Christmas. We’d sold another 3,000 copies. I’m calling my printers saying, “Can you print these fast?” They’re like, “We can’t get paper.” They sent a truck clear to Tennessee. They found someplace with paper, and we paid an extra $800 for a truck shipment to bring paper so they could print it because there’s a paper shortage. We went through about 20,000 copies of that in a three-month time period. It’s been crazy.
That’s without any retail stores. We didn’t even have that through a retail store available or even Amazon. You asked about Google Ads. We did Google Ads for that one. That worked incredibly well with Google shopping ads. Everything else was a funnel. When I combine the two, we probably spent about $350,000 on paid traffic through Facebook and Google. When we got good at it, it’s been a roller coaster ride for sure.
What is the profit margin on those?
It depends on every book. The hard part is if somebody is buying one book, we’ll have it be full price. If we can get somebody to buy 2 or 3 or share it with a friend, by all means, I’ll give you half off almost on that second or third copy because you’ve already covered the shipping costs. “You bought this book. Do you know a friend that plays piano or that like these stories? Would you like to give it to them?” We even tested one out where for the Stories of the Hymns at Christmas time, “Do you want to buy ten copies in addition to this, to give to all your friends and family?” We had several hundred people that did. I’m sure that was their family or friend gifts that they gave to everybody. That was great.
I can imagine that is a great gift.
It’s $29.95 is what we had as a retail price that stores were selling it for. We’ll give them to you for $12 a piece if you get ten of them.
I also know that in your bio, it says that you have had over 100 million streams of your music, which amazed me. How did that happen? Obviously, have a lot of albums. You have a big catalog. Is there anything that you did to boost those streams?
If I could figure out what the code was for having an album be successful, I’d have a whole lot more streams. I’ve had some albums that have caught on to the playlist and I have others. The title of the albums makes a difference. How early you may be word of the game. I’ve got a lot of friends that play piano and they’re great, but they were on Pandora or some of the other streaming platforms and got on some of those playlists that were the staple. Some level of how early on you were to the game and there’s probably some level of luck. There’s probably some level of how well you title your songs or your albums in order to get found in searches.
I don’t know. It’s a combination of that. Also, most of my music is instrumental. People put it on. It’s funny, I can go on Spotify and see the number of people listening at any given time live and you can see the day. I get tons of people that listen to me at night to go to sleep, too. I love my people that put me on to listen at night. There’ll be 30 to 50 people at any given time and moment that are sleeping to my music. It’s like, “Listen to this eight-hour playlist so I can make money while you sleep.”
Are they listening to you on your artist’s page or are they listening to playlists that you’re on?
It’s a combination of all of the above. When you get into those numbers, there are a lot of playlists for sure. It used to be that all of the hymns would be the number ones because people recognized them, but I’ve got one that’s called Emotions. It’s now outperforming everybody or every other song that I have. The crazy thing is it got put on some bathtub or bathtime music, relaxing music thing. All of a sudden, it starts popping up on all these other playlists. Thank goodness for whoever made that bathtub music playlist because it’s done well.
All of your albums and your sheet music and all of that have built up your email list to quite a big list. You said 30,000 people, which is pretty amazing.
Right around 30,000.If you hire, whether it's somebody here or wherever they are in the world, treat them with respect and dignity, and value them. Click To Tweet
What’s so great about that is that you have then been able to take that and create something for your super fans that you called Song of the Month Club, which is akin to a Patreon or something like that. I’d love to have you talk about that a little bit because I know a lot of artists that read are interested in doing something similar.
I debated on doing like a Patreon, but the more I looked into it, I wish I want to control it and have full control. I use Keap Infusionsoft for my CRM system still. We use Stripe for doing the subscription. That works well, but there was a tool that we added called Spiffy Cart. If anybody is a key person out there, go check that out. For running the subscriptions, that’s been powerful and made it easy for us to add in the bumps and other product sales as well. When we launched that, my goal was to force myself to write music every month. It was a little bit of a self-serving thing because sometimes I’ll go in spurts where I’ll go 3 to 4 months without doing a lot.
With this, it’s been great because I get to share draft versions that aren’t completely polished, which is scary to do as an artist. You want everybody to think you’re polished, but I’ll have a video. I’ll send them a PDF every month with that. I’ve also been able to pull in other musicians that deserve to be shared out there. I’ve had several piano artists that I’ll bring in. We’ll send out a sample song of theirs to all of my song of the month members as well.
A lot of times, I’ll do an interview very similar like this with those individuals so that my people can get to hear about their story and learn to like them. My goal with that is to give back. Adding lots of value, how can I serve my people? I know they like piano music. What better way than to help introduce them to other people are awesome as well.
I love that you didn’t make your Patreon about a bunch of crazy rewards or things that you would have to fulfill that you wouldn’t want to fulfill. You created this, that’s it like, “I’m excited to create. I’m not making the time for it. This is going to force me to do it.”
It’s a song of the month. That’s what I promise, and then I try to overdeliver with a lot more stuff on top of that. For the last few months, I’ve done two. This month, I did three songs for free. Their expectation is one song. Sometimes I’m like, “I should hold that back and wait for next month. No, this is going to make me get in and write some more music again. I’m going to put it out there for people.” I hope they feel like they’re getting an amazing deal and knowing that I’m overdelivering. In addition to the song of the month to take it to the next level, like you talked about doing more VIP type of stuff, I am doing a cruise this summer.
In a couple of weeks, we’re heading up to Alaska. We’ve worked out with the cruise ship where it’s going to end up being a smaller group, which is awesome. I’ve got two on-ship concerts for my people in one of the bars there. There’s the high-level interaction. I’ll probably have dinner several nights with the people that are on the cruise with us as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
This is a great segue into something else that you do. I can’t even understand how you’re balancing all these things that you do because you also have a travel company. You mentioned that as a way musicians could do something cool, like a specialized cruise experience for your people. Most artists don’t do that because planning something like that sounds daunting and overwhelming, but you have that dialed in on your end. You offer that as helping to create these experiences for other people. I know you’ve done it for the modern musician. Tell them a little bit about your travel company. The story of why you started it is cool as well.
I spent twelve years as a bank marketing director. When I left there, we started a software company. For the next five years, I built this software company and did well. A few years ago, we sold the software company and retired per se that winter. It was in the summer when we sold it. That winter, I was down on a whitewater kayaking trip in Costa Rica. I’m with my doctor buddy that I’ve packed with for a long time. We had the greatest time. It was so much fun. As I watched them, they didn’t have a lot of systems. They did a lot of things well, but I could tell there were ways to improve it.
I’m one of those mentor guys. I’ve done a lot of consulting and CRM consulting over the years. I was talking to them and learned some things. That night, we were in the middle of a jungle camp. We kayaked into this place. We’d hiked up the river and we were in this beautiful jungle lodge. There’s no service and it’s dark. Everybody’s gone to bed except for the guides.
The main guide tells his buddies in Spanish because I speak Spanish. He says, “I’m going to be leaving the company because I’m graduating from college that I’ve been doing for the last 7 or 8 years. I’ve worked every day for the last year and a half, sixteen-hour days pretty much every day. I don’t have time to be with my two-year-old and my wife. I need to make a change. I’m going to try and probably go do something on my own.”
I’m 30 feet away, enough that I can hear him. All the guys are talking in Spanish. Anyway, he talks some more. He comes over to me. I was filling up my last drink for the night. He sat down and was being friendly. I start coaching him like, “If you’re going to build a website, don’t do this. Do this.” I’m trying to help this guy not make some dumb decisions that we all probably done as entrepreneurs, where we spend a whole lot of money and get little value out of it sometimes. I got home. I kept feeling like, “I’m supposed to help these guys. This is crazy. This is a dumb idea.”
I kept mentoring and coaching him for the next 2, 3 months and giving him things that he needed to do to start his business. Still, I didn’t have intentions of going into business with him, but he’d do everything and then he’d come back to me the next week and he’d be like, “I did all those. I went to the attorney and found out this and this and this. We did that already. We found this out. What do you think we should do?” Over three months, I’d committed myself. “If you do all this stuff, I’ll build you a website.” I did not expect it. It happened. The next thing I know, it was such a dumb idea that I didn’t even tell my wife about it.
That’s a terrible idea. Don’t do something like this ever and not tell your spouse, or you will never live it down. We’re three and a half months in and all of a sudden, I’m like, “I’m going to build this website.” He’s telling me, “Can you come down and sign papers in Costa Rica? We’re going to start this thing up and you’re going to be part owner in it.” I go to Stacy. I waited until she was tired. It was 10:40 at night. She’s too tired to get too excited about this. I said, “Stacy, how do you feel about maybe flying down to Costa Rica? What if we maybe had a business in Costa Rica that we’d be part of?” She sat up in bed. Don’t ever do that to your husband, Bree.
Anyway, a month and a half later, we were in Costa Rica, signing papers. Stacy has been incredible. She’s been so supportive of it. I did it as more of a humanitarian thing, though. It’s been going for several; years. We made it through the pandemic. I’ve yet to pay myself a dime. The goal I told Walter was, “When we do this, it’s about changing lives. We want to make a difference for the people we travel with, all of our guides. We will be at a living wage. I don’t care what it is. Whereas a lot of the guys down there, guides will make $20 a day. We’re going to pay way over that, 3 to 5 times that. I want to do that to ensure we have the best people. We want them not to want to go anywhere else.”
The goal is to impact. I didn’t tell Walter. I said, “I want to change the lives of the people and his family.” Our first goal was to have Walter’s son, Ian, who’s two years old, and be able to move out of the little cinderblock place they were in with no yard. I wanted him to have a yard that he could play in. Within a year, we accomplished that. Ian had a yard and a little trampoline. It was awesome. It changed their life and the whole trajectory of his family, probably for generations. We’ve done that for probably a half dozen more people down there. We’ve probably had two dozen people that have jobs and work. With the Costa Rica thing, the team does an amazing job down there.
I’ve been able to extract myself from the day-to-day, which is great. We also started a travel agency because we thought, “We got to have something to own the tour company down there so that we have a travel agency here that does cruises.” My justification for that with music was that this would help me figure out how to do cruises for my people and then I can help probably other artists interested in putting together a cruise or a trip to Mexico or whatever it is they need to do. These weird custom trips are a ton of work and logistically are a nightmare if you’re trying to do it yourself. We’ve gotten pretty good at doing the small group unique trips. We had a great time with Michael and about twelve people on the Modern Musician mastermind trip.
We’re doing another one with them. They’re going to Mexico on this next one. We’re taking a group of police officers that have gone through PTSD. We’re setting something up with a nonprofit and bringing their wives with them to go. That’s happening down there. I’m excited about that one. That’s something that’ll make a big impact as well. We’ve got a veteran’s trip we’re doing, retired military or that have had injuries. It’s neat to see when you give people the ability to fly, what they can accomplish. They just need somebody to believe in them and a little bit of direction. It’s amazing to see what people are capable of.
If a music artist says, “That sounds awesome. I have a diehard group of, let’s say, 1,000 fans. They’d be interested in doing something like this,” how do they figure that out? How can they even decide like, “Where should I go?”
You can email me. I’ve got a team of people helping me. For sure, with the musicians, I’d love to help them, especially, but Jason@AmazingVacationsUSA.com. That’s the travel agency. That’ll come directly to me. It’s amazing. I’d be happy to chat with you, listen to what you’re thinking you want to do. The cool thing with the cruise is if that’s something that somebody wants to do, if you can get about 14, 15 people on that, you’re going to be cruising for free. Not only can you do that, but the way we’ll set it up sometimes, we’ve had people come on trips like this where they’ll make $5,000, have their trip paid for, and go hang out with their people for the week. How cool is that to go have your vacation and make money on vacation?
I need to do a retreat like that for people in my community.
You need a girls’ trip down to Costa Rica.
Women of substance or something.
One of my favorite trips, Neleh, who is on Season 2 of Survivor, for anybody who are Survivor fans, she brings a girls’ trip down almost twice a year now. I know she doesn’t try to make money on it, but I’ve had others that are groups like that. It’s so much fun. They’re doing massages on the beach and they’re going whitewater rafting. They went to a sloth sanctuary and got to take care of the sloths. I’m warning you. If that’s something people want to do, a lot of it is cleaning up poop. I’m not sure that’s the best one. There are monkeys and going to the side of the volcano. There’s so much cool stuff down there. It’ll be a great trip for you, guys.
I know a little bit about how you’re doing all this, but let the artists know. How are you balancing all of these things that you’re doing? How have you been able to remove yourself from the day-to-day of a lot of it?
I have an incredible team. One of the hardest things when you’re wanting to grow is finding that person that you’re willing to start giving some of the tasks. I’ve got one person in particular. She’s helped me get to that next level. We added another person and another person. The shipping that we were doing when we were shipping 200 packages a day, we had to grow and scale fast. That’s not normal for most people. You got to be able to recognize, “This is something somebody else could do.” Look for that person. It might be somebody in the Philippines. I’ve got seven virtual assistants in the Philippines now that help us at all different levels. One’s helping us do the podcast and one’s doing videos that we send out.
I’ve got a guy in Serbia that helps me make music videos that I found on Fiverr. He’s worked for me for years now. He does such good work. The key is to find those right people. OnlineJobs.ph if you’re looking for a virtual assistant in the Philippines. I love those guys. They’re affordable, too. You’re going to change the lives of people over there that you’re helping. What I would tell you, though is whether it’s somebody here, wherever they are in the world, treat them with respect and dignity, and value them.
Also, don’t be a micromanager so much that they’re scared that they can’t do things. You want them to be able to look at it and treat it like their business and take it to another place. I love it when they’ll come back and say, “We did this that you wanted, but to be honest, we thought about this.” They’re always looking for ways to try and improve things. Those are the types of people that you want to have on your team if you hire a VA. Not just somebody that’s an order taker. It’s got to be the right personality fit for you.There is much more to music and finding that joy than dollar signs. Musicians need to recognize that. You'll be much happier and create much better music if you can figure out what you feel is successful for you. Click To Tweet
That’s been my experience with my VA that I also got off of OnlineJobs.ph. She’s worked with me for years. I can’t believe it. She’s the customer service manager. She is the same way. She’ll come to me and like, “I did this, but I noticed that this. I was thinking this.” I’m like, “Yes. I wouldn’t have thought of that.”
Even better when they went ahead and fixed it before. We do some of these website improvement meetings with the team and they’ll be showing us, “This is a problem.” Next thing, I’m like, “You can go ahead and do that.” They’re like, “We went ahead and did it.”
I talk a lot about that, how you can utilize VAs like that, and I’ve had my daughter working for me since she was eleven. She still works for me. She doesn’t have to go out and get a summer job at the mall or something because she’s working for me. There are many people that have the right skillsets, but also have the right personality and determination and want to help you. That’s what’s most important. You can always teach them how to do stuff.
As I look over my career, even in banking, I used to hire interns all the time. One of my favorite things was teaching and mentoring and doing that. I’ve got this Successful Musician podcast that we’re launching. People are asking me, “What are you trying to sell? What’s the thing you’re doing.” I’m like, “I don’t even have a course. I know there are lots of people that have courses on how to do whatever the thing is. Who knows? Maybe I should do a course on how to sell lots of sheet music and make seven figures in a year as a musician.” Maybe down the road, we’ll do that, but there are a lot of things that I am happy to share what works with people. It’s fun to see other people succeed and do well.
You’re always telling me about this tool and that tool and this thing. I love that. That is appreciated. I also love that you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid now and you’re excited about doing podcasts because I am a total podcast junkie. I’ve been doing podcasting since 2014. I have three shows. One of which is now hosted by someone else. I hosted that show for almost 1,000 episodes. I love podcasting. I’m glad that you’re jumping into that space. I’m excited to be one of the first ten episodes on your show.
We’re excited. It was a fun interview with you, Bree. I enjoyed it. It’s the Successful Musicians podcast. We’ve got some incredible people that we’ve interviewed already, Bobby Owsinski. You’re going to be on there. My goal with the podcast is not just to have people that have made lots of money or made their careers with it. It’s more of what do you define as success as a musician. It could be somebody who’s working at a piano store and they’ve found success, helping them do that.
There’s a lot more to music and finding that joy than the dollar signs. Musicians need to recognize that. You’ll be much happier and create much better music if you can figure out what you feel is successful for you. It might be playing a song for your kid, playing a lullaby at night. My little Lindsey sits by me and sing songs at night for me. That was better than making the seven figures, to be honest with you.
That’s true. It’s also nice to have some money in the bank, right?
It is nice to have some money, but I see too many musicians out there that get discouraged. They think they’re going to make their career and make all this money in music. Every person’s got their own path and way they’re going to find. Be okay with that. Enjoy the journey. So far, people I’ve talked to are those who have had a career and work, fund their music and experiences with music with their real job, and take the time to grow it.
Almost every successful musician financially that’s streaming or whatever, if you want to think of that as success, they worked their guts out at a real job. I talked to one. He worked for a lot of years in the restaurant business, up until he was a manager and then he quit his job finally after he was making well over $100,000. He worked super hard for a lot of years to be able to fund his habit of music.
That’s something that I took from your story too because I only knew about the most recent stuff like your funnel and the sheet music and everything, which is amazing. I didn’t realize you had fifteen albums and all these books, and you’ve been doing it for years. Only now have you been able to do the seven-figure thing. You put a lot of work and time into it, but mostly it’s because you love doing it.
It’s fun. It doesn’t feel like work. As I’ve looked at other people, I’ll see these people who graduate from college and think, “I know everything now.” What I’ve tried to do throughout the last many years since I’ve been out of college is reinvest. If somebody is willing to spend $3,000, $4,000, or $5,000 a semester on college, why wouldn’t I do that to continue learning and getting better and leveling up? People that are listening to podcasts. Most of the podcasts people get that. Spending a couple of thousand dollars a year to learn something that you would enjoy doing is a great move. You’re crazy not to. Why wouldn’t you want to get better and learn new things? Be humble enough to learn from somebody and realize, “I don’t know everything.”
I’m a learning junkie. I totally get that. I want to learn as much as possible all the time. I totally agree with that. This has been so awesome. There’s been so much to cover and so much that’s been inspiring for musicians of many different paths that you can take to have whatever you feel is success in music and also be able to bring in that living wage, so you don’t feel like you are a starving artist. I definitely don’t believe in that. We do not have to be starving artists. How can our readers connect with you? What’s the easiest way?
The Jason@AmazingVacationsUSA.com if you’re thinking of travel. If you want to go look at my website and you want to funnel hack me, it’s Tonioli.com. The website is not perfect. It’s not amazing, but it gets the job done. If you go on Facebook and you want to look at what we’re doing on there, you can definitely go check us out on that. The Successful Musician podcast, that’ll be coming out quickly here. It will be something that a lot of your readers enjoy doing.
Check that out. Thank you so much, Jason. This has been great.
Thanks so much.
- Jason Tonioli
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About Jason Tonioli
Jason is a musician, marketer and entrepreneur. He has built and scaled multiple companies to over 7 figures and his music has been streamed more than 100 million times. His music has been played worldwide. You can find out more at Tonioli.com.