Happy New Year From Chiang Mai, Thailand – Progress Update January 2017


Instead of the usual blog post, I thought you might want to watch a video instead…


Prefer to read? Then continue…

Firstly, happy new year!

As a close friend of mine says every year, this year is going to be the best year yet.

Now, to the progress update…

What did I do in the last 30 days to move forward my music career?

Not a lot, to be honest.

I was mostly caught up with Christmas and New Years events and shenanigans, but playing tour guide for my family in Thailand (where I live).

Hold Me, the track I released last month, has had almost 20,000 views as of today – if I add up the views from YouTube, SoundCloud and so on. So I’ve been responding to emails, social media requests, and all that.

What about next month? What about 2017?

Instead of aiming for a certain number of fans, or trying to get a manager, I decided that 2017’s focus would be on something I control: my output.

Instead of focusing on what I can’t control (fans, video plays, downloads, etc), I’m focusing on what I can control (my actions on a daily basis).

Too often, we lose sight of the daily execution plan because we’re worried about the goal of X number of fans. Or we feel overwhelmed because we don’t know how to translate a goal like “make it big” into daily actions.

To eliminate that problem, I’m opting to “forget the scoreboard” and to focus simply on being excellent.

What does that mean in terms of goals?


In 2017, I’m going to write and promote 6 songs.

You might be wondering…

“Why not write 12 songs? Or more?”

Because the more songs I force myself to write, the more likely I’ll skip over my weaknesses. I’ll half-ass the things I’m bad at in order to finish the song in time, instead of giving the song as much time as it needs.

By giving myself more time to write songs, I’ll have more time to tease out my weaknesses – whether it’s my songwriting, mixing, sound design or something else – and create specific exercises to correct them. So ironically, I’ll improve more by writing less.

“Ok, if that’s the case, why not 3 songs? Why not abandon the goal entirely and just write however many songs you write?”

Because without a target to aim for, I’ll risk wasting a lot of time. I think I need a target to aim for. I need a goal to keep me focused, but I don’t want that goal to cause me to sacrifice quality or improvement for speed.

Plus, if you put 12 really good songs in a ring with 1 AMAZING song (as in, a HIT song), the hit song will win.

Or so says Eric Beall, the author of The Billboard Guide To Writing and Producing Songs That Sell.

I think it makes sense.

In an wildly volatile industry like the music industry, the top dog (in this case, the top song), gets 99%+ of the rewards. Maybe it’s unfortunate and unfair. But it seems to be the reality.

So that’s the strategy I’m going to be taking. Instead of writing lots and lots and lots of good songs, I’m going to write a handful of great songs. Or I’m going to try, anyhow.

In addition to writing songs, I’ll also be practicing various elements of songwriting and electronic production. For example, in the next 4-6 weeks, I’ll be studying lyrics. How to write lyrics. How to rhyme. How to write hooks. And so on.

Throughout the year, I’ll also take care of various things and projects as they arise, but my ultimate focus will always come back to the goal: write and promote 6 songs in 2017.

While thinking about 2017, I considered social media. Maybe it was time to start actively building them up. But then I realized that it’s probably a waste of time.

Why building your social media accounts is a waste of time

Well, technically.

I played around with Crowdfire this month. Crowdfire is a neat little tool that allows you to follow people on Twitter extremely fast. Some of them follow you back. You can search via hashtag (like #edm), and then follow all the people who have used that hashtag. The idea being, if they’re interested in EDM and you make EDM, well, maybe they’ll follow you on Twitter.

Except that, them following you doesn’t make them a real, true fan.

Unless they’ve actually listened to your music (and enjoyed it), they’re not a fan.

So using Crowdfire to build your Twitter account is a waste of time. You get Twitter followers, but most of them won’t become true fans because most of them won’t actually listen to your music. They only follow you because you followed them. It’s an echo chamber. It doesn’t mean anything. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just pay $50 and get 50,000 fans.

The same goes for the Instagram bots people use.

I’m not preaching. This applies to myself, too. I don’t want to fall for this trap.

At the end of the day, unless the activity is generating REAL, TRUE fans, it’s a waste of time. Then there’s the opportunity cost of trying to get TRUE fans using Crowdfire (difficult, if not impossible) instead of doing something more effective (such as improving your ability to make great music, and then using tastemakers to get the word out).

Here’s my plan for the next 60 days:

  • Complete Anders Ericsson guest post (long story – I’ll send you a link when it’s done)
  • Analyse 5 songs (especially the lyrics)
  • Write 5 songs after analysis (lyrics only)
  • Complete 1 song of my own, including production (The Tron Song)

How about you?

What are you excited about in 2017?

What are you hoping to achieve?

Also, if you enjoyed the video update, please post a comment below and let me know! If I hear from enough people, I’ll do more…

Let’s rock 2017 together.

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Chris Luna - March 24, 2017

Hey John,

I found you from EDP Prod Sam Matla and actually watched your the entire youtube video above. We are on the same path. I own a business fixing iPhones in San Diego called iGeeks and have it automated with employees. About a year ago(April 2016) I decided to start teaching myself music production. I think we might be the same person. Now I’m starting to go full time with my journey and have been documenting stuff on video. Not planning to release any of it anytime soon as I want to focus on the music aspect first and foremost before marketing. The vlogs will serve as a marketing purpose when the time is right.

I don’t have a website for my music ( emphasis on increasing production chops!!) but will before 2017 ends. I attached my instagram to show you I’m a real person! lol

Anyways looking forward to following your journey and you now have a true fan an in me. Kevin Kelly’s article on 1000 true fans btw was great!

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