15: If People Aren’t Listening, Your Music Isn’t Good Enough with DB Stewart
This is a business. To make money as a musician, your artwork needs to captivate people so they’re compelled to listen and spend money, your business tactics need to be innovative, and you have to be willing to navigate insecurity, perfectionism and feedback.
DB Stewart is a singer-songwriter, front man of Deify and host of the Made for Music Podcast. He lives in Seattle and is passionate about networking in the music industry. He writes happy and sad songs, creating music inspired by mental health and politics.
“My happy music always comes out of sad stuff.” -- DB Stewart
“My goal is to have every song start in a way that will make people turn and look. That’s what I want.” — DB Stewart
“The hip-hop community is so in-tune with the business. The next music to pop out of Seattle is going to be hip-hop because they’re doing innovative things...They’re doing a lot of community grassroots involvement and they’re bringing the artistry and the business together...The hip-hop guys know what they’re saying. Everyone I’ve talked to on my podcast from the hip-hop community has a different message and they’ve differentiated themselves but it’s also authentic. They’re very much my brand is me and that’s something artists fail at sometimes. It’s all about the packaging. If you’re putting it out there that this is me, the marketing is easy. It’s you doing what you’re doing and say what you want to say and their music speaks to that. It’s really cool and people rally around it.” -- DB Stewart“I want to create something that outlives me. Telling my story, even though you’re insecure or showboating, you’ve made an impact and that’s what we go for.” — DB Stewart
“The beauty of music is that it can just be for you and if it makes you feel uncomfortable that’s okay.” — DB Stewart
“I write about the things that I don’t want to say to people and that’s why I’m insecure and then I take those things that I don’t want to say and I throw them out there. And then I’m like, I didn’t want to tell anyone this but here you go because this is what I want to do for a living and now I’ve just told you the things that I don’t tell anybody...I’m taking my insecurity, putting it down and then giving it to you.” -- DB Stewart
QUESTIONS FROM OTHER MUSICIANS
“What are you doing that’s new and not traditional? How are you experimenting, pushing boundaries and moving forward?”
-- Question from ZKRY | Ep. 9 Focus On the Art Because That’s What It’s Really About
”I’m putting together a live act for my solo project that incorporates acoustic and electronic elements. I’m not using all the same members of my band in my live show. I have a theatrical vision in my head. I’m working from a visual medium and requires that I use backing tracks and launching from Ableton live. My goal is to fill it out so I can have my pick of who will come in and play live. We’re also starting with backing tracks because we don’t have money to pay musicians. We’re also experimenting with using sounds that embody a specific feeling in them, mixing blues and electronic and pop structure. We’re laying multiple instruments to make new sounds; like putting a trombone over the top of a kick drum. I travel to LA, several times a year to network and build more connections between Seattle and LA. When you’re traveling somewhere to network, plan ahead. Contact people weeks ahead of time to schedule a meeting or interview. If you’re genuinely interested in learning about the industry people will take time to educate you and share knowledge. If you have a podcast or similar platform, it’s easier to get people to meet with you. Just be a friendly helpful person and people will happily help you and give you feedback.” — DB Stewart
“Why do humans feel this urge to create songs?”
-- Question from Nick Drummond | Ep. 1 Why do we feel this urge to create songs?
“It’s that insecurity and just getting it out. I have a nagging in the back of my head that this has to come out. Ego and insecurity combined create songs and that’s how we hear the songs we hear. If I don’t make music, I go crazy...I want to create something that outlives me. Telling my story, even though you’re insecure or showboating, you’ve made an impact and that’s what we go for.” — DB Stewart
“What do you want out of a performance? Why are you on stage? What are you getting?”
-- Question from Katie Kuffel | Ep. 7I Realized There’s a “Fuck It” Adjustment That Comes with Being a Musician
“I want energy. I want to connect. I want to see that shift. I want to see someone pay attention. I want to earn it. I like being competitive and there’s part of me just yearning for acknowledgement that my songs aren’t crap. I came up in theater and seeing shows that I’ve loved, I want to get good enough that I can deliver a performance one day that someone goes ‘Holy crap, I want to go pick up guitar, I want to do that.’ That’s why I’m on stage. And to get it out. It’s fun to create and then I go crazy after working on a song for a year or even two weeks and I need to go have fun with this. This thing drove me so insane, I need to go have fun. If I don’t get the energy, it’s really sad.” — DB Stewart
QUESTION FOR OTHER MUSICIANS
What is the most outlandish feedback you’ve received?
“Your voice is lower than anything we could ever enjoy.” — DB Stewart
“Your music is basic bitch.” — Cha Wilde
Is music about overcoming struggle or about the journey through it?
“The beauty of the music is the process but what people experience is the finish line. Then again you could argue that a song is never done and it’s going to live on. I don’t know. It’s something I’ll be chasing for a while.” — DB Stewart
❤ Deify, the host of the Made for Music Podcast
❤ Heather Thomas
❤ Tobias the Owl
❤ Aaron Carstensen
❤ Wilde Card Songs
❤ Heather Thomas
❤ Ian Ketter
❤ Chamonix Films -- Cha’s Video Production Company
❤ Avengers: Endgame (3hr Movie)
❤ Marshall Hugh -- Marshall Law Band Hamilton
❤ California Copyright Conference
❤ Jefferson Airplane
HOW TO BE A GOOD FAN
Tell your friends. The biggest thing you can do for someone is help grow their platform. If you come to a show and you bring one person you have no idea what an impact that make. If they enjoy it, that’s the snowball effect. It’s hard out there for artists. Go to a show. Buy the merch. Buying a shirt is going to give them infinitely more money than you could ever stream.