From left: Gwizdala, Alderete, and Erskine “IT’S AWESOME TO BE SITTING HERE AND TO NOT HAVE a bass in my hand,” says Janek Gwizdala to kick off a roundtable discussion with bass bro’s Juan Alderete and Damian Erskine. A jam with the three playing monsters would easily earn a top spot on the Bass Player LIVE! highlight reel, but the guys haven’t come together to trade riffs. No matter how much time Janek, Juan, or Damian spends with his instrument, each recognizes the importance of building and maintaining a social media presence. Here are a few of the insights they shared. Join the full discussion at bassplayer.com/video.
JUST DO IT
Gwizdala There’s an important lesson to be learned from Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby. He didn’t know what he was doing when he started; he was making something like $15 a month. He sold his company a few years later for $22 million. The lesson is this: just start. You won’t have any feedback until you do, and it’s that feedback from fans and followers that you need.
Erskine That lesson holds true for all aspects of your career. For years, I didn’t play in bands because I didn’t think I was good enough, and I didn’t make YouTube videos because I didn’t think I had anything worth recording. There’s no way to do it except to do it.
Alderete When I was ’shedding, none of this technology existed. But it’s become another part of the music business. The way I see it, the game just got bigger.
“I’D RATHER BE PRACTICING. . . .”
Gwizdala What is the point of practicing if you can’t communicate to people what it is you’re doing? You could be good at shredding in your bedroom, but then what are you going to be good at? Shredding in your bedroom. Unless you integrate some of this stuff , it’s kind of pointless.
Erskine There’s no reason you can’t do both. I used to turn a lot of my students on to Janek’s video podcasts, telling them that he basically practices on camera, so you get to see the process.
Gwizdala That podcast was the catalyst for all my online stuff . It was 30 minutes of audio, recorded with the internal microphone of my laptop—it was ghetto! But I’d later be doing clinics at universities on the strength of that, because teachers at the school were using it as curriculum. I played, I talked about what I was doing, and like a radio show would, I introduced people to other music I was listening to. It engaged people and encouraged people to follow it.
KNOW YOURSELF, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Gwizdala One thing I love about Juan and Damian is that they’re both very honest people, and their [online] content is honest. That speaks louder than anything.
Erskine You really have to care about what you are doing, and be passionate about what you put out there. With social media, you need to interact with people. I’m a warts-and-all guy—I’ll put up video where I’m not playing all that well. But if you’re into me and my musical journey, you can take it all.
Social media levels the playing field. You don’t need much of anything to get out there and do it. Part of getting into it was a process of self-discovery for me—I wanted to know who I was.
Alderete With any website you go to, it’s the content that gets people excited. When I’m creating stuff for pedalsandeffects.com, I don’t really know what it is that people will get out of it. I just know that if it gets me excited, there’s got to be at least a base of people like me.
1,000 TRUE FANS
Gwizdala There’s [Kevin Kelly’s] concept of “1,000 True Fans,” which basically says that if you have a thousand true fans, and you can convince them to part with $100 every year, you’ll have a six-figure income. If you put out a record once a year, make a t-shirt, put on a couple of concerts, and maybe put out some instructional stuff , it’s not hard to get $100 out of a true fan. Gone are the days when you need to sell a million records to see a $50 return after you’ve recouped your advance. It’s not as difficult as it seems.