Brian Wolff, Musician, Creativity, social media, live streaming, community building | Unstarving Musician Survey

Brian Wolff returns to the Unstarving Musician to participate in the Unstarving Musician survey, in which I ask some of the best independent musicians I know questions about creativity, social media, live streaming, community building and more.

This is Brian’s third appearance on the podcast, and I have a fourth interview with him in the can, so to speak. That interview will drop in late April or early May. Brian is a founding member of the Austin based rock band Fair City Fire, turned solo artist. Brian also has a new podcast called Greetings From Wherever, in which he interviews creatives about their creative endeavors. I checked it out, really like it and recommend you check it out too. It’s available on all the audio platforms where podcasts are found. You’ll even be able to hear me on an upcoming episode of Greetings From Wherever. Stay tuned for more on that.

You can also find out about Brian’s music on Patreon @BrianWolfMusic. Please enjoy this conversation of survey questions with me and Brian Wolff.

Mentioned in this Episode

Brian Wolff on Patreon

Touring, Podcasting and Rocking with Fair City Fire–Brian Wolff

Robonzo 0:02
This is the Unstarving Musician podcast. I’m your host Robonzo. The podcast features conversations with me, indie music artists and industry professionals. And it’s all intended to help other indie music artists be better at marketing business, the creative process and all the other things that empower us to do more of what we love. Make music.

Robonzo 0:25
Welcome, chickadees. Thank you for joining me for yet another episode. It is good to be in your earbuds or on your speakers, whatever the case may be today. I hope you and yours are well. The longer this stupid pandemic rages on, the more I learned about friends and family contracting the virus. And I hate to hear this, and I’m just thankful that this inner circle of mine has avoided death’s door, something I thought I would never say on the podcast. And for a little time perspective. I’m recording this on March 3 2021. And yes, the stupid pandemic still rages on. So you stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay kind and of course, stay creative.

Robonzo 1:14
If you love what I do here on the podcast, please visit Unstarving forward slash crowd sponsor to learn about the many ways that you can show your love and support for the Unstarving Musician. Again, just visit Unstarving forward slash crowd sponsor to be part of that.

Robonzo 1:37
In this episode, Brian Wolff returns to participate in the Unstarving Musician survey, in which I asked some of the best independent musicians I know through the podcast about creativity, social media, live streaming, community building and more. This is actually Brian’s third appearance on the podcast and I have a fourth interview with him in the can so to speak. That interview will drop in late April early May. He is a founding member of the Austin based rock band Fair City Fire. But he has turned solo artist. He also has a new podcast called Greetings From Wherever in which he creates, rather he interviews creatives about their creative endeavors. I checked it out recently and it’s quite good. Brian is a natural. He he had a little podcast experience or has a little podcast experience from time he spent with his pals from Fair City Fire. But this one Greetings From Wherever is just him and his guests. He’s quite good as an interviewer and host. So I encourage you to check it out which you can do on any of the audio platforms where podcasts can be found, or at least most of them, right? And you’ll even be able to hear me on an upcoming episode of Greetings From Wherever. Brian talked to me about the various creative things I’m into on his podcast for an upcoming episode. Hope you will check that out. You can also find out about Brian’s music and other things he does on Patreon at Brian Wolfe Music. There will be a link in the shownotes to that. So without further ado, doo, doo doo doo here. Here’s me asking Brian Wolff a bunch of survey questions. Enjoy.

Robonzo 3:30
This first one is going to be kind of weird, because the COVID but just sort of think about it however you want. But what what do you think the number one reason is that other musicians struggle to get good gigs?

Brian Wolff 3:40
Just in general or like in these times,

Robonzo 3:43
in general? Or both? If you think it’s applicable.

Brian Wolff 3:48
Yeah. Well, it’s interesting. I mean, there’s definitely, you know, a lot of things at play, but I think, you know, I think a big thing that I’ve seen with musicians is maybe them counting themselves out of gigs and not, you know, not even applying because they’re just like, oh, they won’t take me or like, I don’t fit at that place or whatever. But the thing is, if you just go for it, you know, you might get that yes. You know, and I think that’s a big thing is, is taking a chance on yourself and being willing to hear no. You know? Taking that risk is really important stepping out there.

Robonzo 4:23
Was starting locally, Like I guess talking about well, we can talk about either pre or during Fair City Fire, but was starting locally and important approach to building your fan base.

Brian Wolff 4:35
I think so. I think if for nothing else, it helped us kind of, I guess define that relationship between us and the crowd. I mean, just like what that’s like what kind of band we want to be and being able to do that in our backyard consistently. And have people that could do they could see us you know in town pretty regularly. If they if they wanted to come out like, and a lot of them did a really kind of just establish the kind of groundwork for what kind of band we were going to be, I think. And then, you know, going outside of that going on tour, it’s like we already kind of had that in place, because we did all that work here in Austin.

Robonzo 5:18
Oh wow, there’s almost a dress rehearsal for get in front of people you didn’t didn’t know, right?

Brian Wolff 5:22
Yeah, that there’s definitely some of that for sure. And, you know, it’s kind of interesting, because that initial, like, supportive people that know you, it’s like, you don’t want to, like fall in love with that too much, either. Because even if you are satisfied with the numbers of people that are coming to the show, it’s like, if you’re just relying on friends to come out and see your band, or whatever, you know, it’s like, That stuff is gonna dry up, especially if you’re playing a lot, you know, it’s like you have to really work on being a kind of band that, you know, you’d hope that people would come in the room and not know who you are, and just be like, well, I like these guys. I want to see them again. And, and it doesn’t matter that I don’t know them, you know, I think that’s super important is to be sort of as undeniable as you can be, you know, just go in there prepared and ready to just rip it up.

Robonzo 6:14
That’s good. I like it. Do you use I don’t know, if you followed any of the articles I was writing about, or the article, I was writing about collaboration apps, kind of the new breed of collaboration apps, but I was curious to know if you’ve used anything in that genre. And and in that, by that genre, I mean, the types that let you actually collaborate with musicians that you don’t yet know, and, or also with fans who happen to be musicians, too, and help in bringing even fans into the creative process? Have you experimented with that? And if not, have you? Have you seen any of those apps?

Brian Wolff 6:54
I haven’t, I can’t actually recall if it was something that you wrote that I read, it probably was. But I definitely came across a few apps like that, I can’t remember the name of them, but I haven’t used them myself. I’ve always, you know, for better or worse, really looked at songwriting as just a solo thing that I do on my own, you know, with with the band wouldn’t it’s a fair study fire song, it does get a little collaborative, but even with that, it’s not like, you know, open we we never really opened it up to outsiders to come in and help us right. It’s, it’s not not that I’m against that idea. It’s just kind of how we’ve always done that. And how I do that, personally.

Robonzo 7:43
And it’s, you’re not alone?

Brian Wolff 7:46
Yeah, I’m sure.

Robonzo 7:48
Um, do you guys or have you, do you or does the band use in a community building platform that allows for subscription based patronage community building, like, for instance, Patreon, or Bandcamp, or something that?

Brian Wolff 7:58
I do now, during, you know, kind of with all this extra time with, you know, kind of the quarantine and stuff going on this year. I know, I’m not planning on playing any public shows anytime soon, in person, at least. And so, you know, it kind of gave me time to explore different options like Patreon, and I’ve been, I have a Patreon at Brian Wolff Music. It’s just slash Brian Wolff Music and yeah, I release new song videos of stuff that’s not released yet of stuff that I’ve been writing during this time. It’s kind of, you know, maybe rough cuts, so but it’s kind of an interesting thing, where people get to see these songs before they’re done. I mean, how often do you get to see that from a songwriter? I guess, you know, just like kind of a look behind the scenes. You often you’ll hear the final product of like what a team of people put together to have you hear for the first time. But you know, to hear like maybe the original intent of the song before it gets passed to a producer or passed to like a studio or anything like that, I think is a really unique experience. And people seem to be really enjoying it. I think I’ve got like 20 patrons there now and I really appreciate them supporting it’s still pretty new. So it’s, it’s hopefully gonna just keep growing and growing. And I it’s it’s been if for nothing else, it’s been an excellent way to like, figure out a new thing and keep keep myself busy.

Robonzo 9:36
Nice. I like that. It’s cool. It’s funny thinking about doing this as a podcast episode because I’m sitting here typing and what the audio would go great but doing the video and maybe a little editing and work. Do you give or have you given music lessons in the past? And if yes, have you done any online?

Brian Wolff 9:57
I haven’t done any online. I taught one kid through the program kids in a new groove. It was a volunteer program here in Austin. It’s still still around. But yeah, I, I, I taught a kid in foster care how to play guitar. He was about 14, when we met, I think he turned 15. And the year that I was teaching him, so it was, it was interesting because it’s, it’s like a mentorship and also teaching music at the same time. So it’s, it’s not that direct, like, we’re gonna hit these certain goals with learning music and stuff. It’s more of like, hey, let’s connect with each other. And I want to provide a good adult relationship for you, but also, like, you know, teach you some music along the way. So you know, it’s not necessarily traditional music lessons, but it is, it is that that’s, that’s really my only experience with it. And that was life altering for sure, in a lot of ways, and something I think I would do professionally. Someday, I’m not quite ready for that at the moment, but I’m open to it in the future, for sure.

Robonzo 11:02
Cool. What you can think when I asked you, current, when I use the word current, you can think about given our current situation, you can think about how it’s been done in the past, or what you’re thinking about doing in the future, if that helps, but what what is your current marketing strategy for new releases?

Brian Wolff 11:21
Well, that’s interesting, because, you know, currently, fair city fire’s on hiatus. So it’s been interesting. A couple of guys, to be frank just sort of decided that they wanted to kind of move on from it, you know, nothing, personal, nothing, nothing dramatic to write about. It’s just kind of, like, you know, we’re at a certain point in our lives when we want to kind of pursue other things. So that leaves Joe and I, the drummer, and I had to kind of figure out what we want to do with this thing we worked on so much for six years on. And for now, it’s like, let’s figure it out. When COVID is over, I think, you know, let’s figure out how we feel about it and stuff. But, you know, I think for me, it’s, it’s opened this opportunity of something I’ve been wanting to explore anyways, of really presenting myself as a solo artist. So, you know, now, the stuff I put out is under my name, Brian Wolfe. And it’s it’s been so far, it’s been a lot of YouTube videos and stuff on Patreon that’s exclusive. But you know, my plan is in the spring to start really releasing kind of professionally recorded stuff. You know, the whole nine like Spotify really focused on like, getting on playlists and stuff like that. It’s, it’s, it’s been interesting kind of on that note.

Robonzo 12:51
This episode is powered by bandzoogle, the most effective platform for musicians and bands to build their website, and manage direct to fan marketing and sales, powering over 55,000 websites. bandzoogle features powerful design options, a commission free store to sell merchant music and tickets, a built in mailing list tool, detailed fan data, integrations with social networks and more. Plans start at just 829 a month, which includes a free custom domain name, you indie musician can try it out for [email protected]. And you can use the promo code Robonzo, ROBONZO to get 15% off your first year of any plan. Again, that’s promo code Robonzo ROBONZO. Back to my conversation with Brian Wolff.

Brian Wolff 13:47
A person I’m connected with in Austin asked basically asked me, because she figured I had some time on my hands. She asked me, Hey, would you help me with my online music promotion, knowing that I’ve done that so much, and she, she’s a great songwriter. She’s been doing it a long time. She hates that part of the game, you know? So for her, it’s sort of, hey, like, I know, you know how to do this. And you’re a pretty organized person, can you help me with this stuff? So it’s been interesting, because it’s given me a chance to learn how Spotify playlists, work, how certain metrics work, what they look at, kind of doing the research on something that I don’t have that personal connection with, like, this wasn’t a This wasn’t my baby, you know, so it’s like, you know, we kind of talked about rejection earlier and stuff. It’s like, I’m not afraid to submit this to everybody because like, I’m gonna get those rejection emails. And it doesn’t bother, you know, it’s not like I wrote this thing or, you know, so it’s given me a chance to really

Robonzo 14:51
Express rejection on someone else’s behalf.

Brian Wolff 14:53
Right. And it’s not like I have to forward these emails to her, you know, it’s like You know, but the thing is, you know, it’s it’s a numbers game, in a lot of ways is what I’m learning is like, get it to everybody, and you’re gonna get some yeses and a lot of nose. But you know, the idea with it seems to be that I’m kind of learning is like, you kind of get that one. Yes. And then hopefully you start getting more yeses after that. And it just sort of grows. Which, you know, is what I’m starting to see. Now, we’ve gotten the first couple yeses on playlists, which is awesome. On her music, and, you know, we’re really, you know, I’m really hoping to kind of see that sort of grow, especially as she’s starting to put out new music in the next month. So I’m kind of helping her with her her plan on that stuff. So.

Robonzo 15:43
Cool. I just before I called you, I got off a webinar about release strategy. And one of the things that really piqued my interest was the playlist marketing, you know, for the sake of getting more exposure. So yeah, well I’d love to talk to you about that again, some time at greater length be cool.

Brian Wolff 16:03
For sure. Definitely.

Robonzo 16:05
And I don’t remember, we may have talked about this in the past, but have you used PR before, like PR professional of any sort? For any of the work you’ve done?

Brian Wolff 16:13
We haven’t really done that. Something I wonder if maybe we should have? I’m not sure. It’s, um, it’s just, it’s tough for me to know, you know, if we’re gonna spend that kind of money on PR, as a band, it’s like, how do you differentiate? And there’s probably research I could do on this, but how do you how do you differentiate the people that are just going to take your money, and do almost nothing with it that you couldn’t do on your own? You know, and how many people have those real connections in place that can get you where you need to be? And it’s just tough to know, and it’s, uh, you know, I think we’ve gotten some emails about it in the past, and, you know, the first red flag for me that kind of turned me off about all of it, I think was like, you know, oh, pay this submission fee. And we’ll consider, you know, being your PR company, like, if you’re interested in my stuff, then I shouldn’t be paying you for you to consider, you know, like, it’s just a weird, it’s a weird world. And I’m not I haven’t I honestly haven’t looked into it enough to know the difference, I guess, of like, wasting your money or like hiring someone for good work?

Robonzo 17:28
Yeah, I’m guessing that if you really have the whole release strategy, kind of, if you understand it, not that you necessarily have it all down, the best thing to do for that is to find out who your peers have used, who they’ve liked, and then try to develop a relationship with somebody based on that. And probably the best thing I heard from a PR, professional recently was that, you know, they look for this individual look for people that she could get genuine excitement from them about what they were working on, because she could she could take that excitement into her world of contacts. So I guess the point of sharing that last little last part is, you know, the whole relationship building thing with a PR person to figure out if, if they’re the right one or not, but, you know, I think the track record of a referral is probably the most important thing.

Brian Wolff 18:15
That’s probably true. Yeah. And also, you know, like you said, just, you know, loving what you do, I think that’s important for so many reasons, you know, like,

Robonzo 18:23

Brian Wolff 18:24
You know, but that’s, that’s, that’s a good one I didn’t really even think about is like a good PR person is probably only going to be interested in you. It just doesn’t seem like both, you know, like, yeah, it seems like you’re really into it, you know?

Robonzo 18:37
Well, you know, she said they can’t, they can’t develop a story for us, right, they need they need, they need something from us to have the story that they can run with. And when we’re enthused about it, the story is a lot more fun for them. It’s a lot more doable for them, you know, to run.

Brian Wolff 18:53
Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Robonzo 18:57
I know the answer to I know, it’s if I were asking you this yes or no, it would be a resounding yes. But how specifically, has social media helped you get your work out into the world?

Brian Wolff 19:09
Well, I’ll say, especially this year, I think I’ve utilized it a lot more. I’ve been putting out different kinds of content. And the thing that I love about social media this year that I’m realizing that I’ve missed out on for so many years is you know, I’ve been doing these live streams on Wednesday nights. And it’s just me and a guitar and the room that you’re seeing on the screen right now. Real simple stuff. Nothing crazy. I’ve got like an audio interface and you know, ring light and that’s about that’s about it. Like No, we’re not talking big production value or anything. I don’t have to lug my equipment anywhere. It’s wonderful. But the thing is, is like you know, if I go out and lug my gear to a bar, yes, I’m gonna get like paid for that which is great. But You know, the thing is, I’m not going to have, like 100 people from New York watching me, oh, you know, live streaming from Texas, like, you know, you can do that. And that’s the thing that I found that’s been very interesting is I look at my metrics afterwards, and I’m getting most of my plays from outside of Austin. Like, it’s wild. To me, you know, and, and that tells me, and I’ve been really happy with the numbers in general. So like, there are people in Austin that are watching, which is great. Like, I really appreciate that. But, you know, I think the thing is that I’ve been missing out on is like, all those people that support my music that don’t live here that maybe could have seen me play with my band, once a year on tour. And if they happen to have that night off, you know, if they happen to have the money to go out at that time, like, there’s so many factors of that, but like now, you know, they can just log on Wednesday night and watch me play and hear the stuff I’ve been writing and, you know, whatever I want to ramble about. I’ve got the microphone, you can just you can just go watch something else if you don’t like what I’m talking about.

Robonzo 21:19
Nice. Okay, sadly, I have to get ready for my next one. But you’re going to get a copy of the form I was actually using. So if you if you care to see you can see what I was typing in. But there’s other questions at the end of it. Not many, but okay, if you want to chime in on any of them feel free. We should definitely have a follow up conversation, maybe we can just do it in the form of the traditional podcast thing if you’re up for it. And I’d be okay, I’ll send you. I’ll send you one of those schedule links. And we’ll do it and you’ll have an episode in the new year when it’s when it publishes. So thank you for spending time with me. Also, I look forward to checking out the new stuff that you’ve been doing that I just because we haven’t been connected. I haven’t noticed. So I’m really glad that we did this.

Brian Wolff 22:04
I’ll send you some links for sure, man. Thank you dude.

Robonzo 22:07
Thanks dude take care. Talk to you soon.

Robonzo 22:09
I love talking to that guy. He’s great. I can’t wait to see him again. Next time I go to Austin. One day soon. Hey, please check out my new single on top of the world available wherever you get your music, including my website You can also find a new lyric video on On Top Of The World was released just this past January 8 2021. And well, I’m excited about it. Again, the song is On Top Of The World. Find it wherever you get your music or at, where you can also see the new lyric video. Thanks for your support, and I hope you dig it.

Robonzo 22:48
Thanks again for listening. If you loved this episode, please subscribe or follow on your favorite podcast slash audio platform. It’ll help us stay on top of the latest episodes and help other indie musicians and indie music fans find the podcast. And if you have feedback, please go to Unstarving to get all my contact info. You can text me call me email me leave a voice message right there on that page. Just go down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find everything you need to know I really would love to hear any of your comments, suggestions, questions, whatever you’ve got. And you can find links to just about everything talked about in this episode at Unstarving forward slash podcast. All right, I’m peacing out. Thank you for listening and sharing with your musician friends and fellow indie music, bands. Peace, gratitude and a whole lot of love.

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