Category :

Career Advice

How To Get Better: Practice

A guest post by Johnny Dwinell of Daredevil Production

How To Get Better: Practice

Practice Feature Image Juggle

As an artist I spent COUNTLESS hours practicing my guitar.  Practicing my vocals, writing, and practicing with my band.

Practice Feature Image Guitar Pick

When we were making a living at making music there wasn’t a week that went by where we weren’t playing 4-6 hours a day as a band.

It came from our regular practice schedule and then relentless touring gigs.

Practice Nevermind Nirvana


When I moved to Nashville after the 80’s hair band thing was abruptly ended by Nirvana’s “Nevermind” record, I recorded some solo material.  I searched for musicians and paid them to get the right tracks, I wasn’t just looking to “get it done” from a project management perspective or just as damaging, an excitedly curious perspective.



I wanted it to be great!

Know your strengths and weaknesses and address them.Practice Strengths and Weaknesses

You have to be able to acknowledge the difference between an “A”, “B”, and “C” song.

Just because your song means the world to you doesn’t mean the world will care about it.


I paid players to cut the tracks I needed.

I shopped for players based on their talent and not their price tag.


You get what you pay for.

Practice You Get What You Pay For


I grew up on analog recording so when the industry switched to digital I needed to learn Pro-Tools real fast.



I used to fly Kelly out to LA to mix my projects. I paid to fly him out and I paid him the “bro-rate” on an hourly basis with the stipulation that I got to ask questions.

I got to be annoying with questions.Practice Luck Circle

He’ll tell you that too, I’m sure.

Learning this software was mission critical to my artistic soul.


My band paid money to get vocal lessons.  We wanted to build a better live show and we didn’t have the tools.

You’ve got to pay for tools, and knowledge.

Practice You Don't Deserve To Win


It was amazing how many “perks” via favors and good energy that came to us for being a SOLID band.


People could easily tell that we were serious and we worked hard at it.


They found it “refreshing”.

The moral of the story is that when you do good work and you work hard people take you seriously.

They don’t take you seriously if you plan to do good work.Practice Bruce Lee quote

When you tell people you plan to do good work they blow it off.  You sound like everyone else.

Everybody PLANS to do good work.

The difference between the doers and the talkers is execution.  Plain and simple.


The people who actually execute good work instantly separate themselves from the crowd.

The only way to do good work is to be good.


The only way to be good is to practice.


Practice takes time, money, and energy.

Practice Flow Chart Feature Image


These days I pay to learn as much as I can about my current gig which is marketing artists.

We are cracking the code for the New Music Business 2.0 here at Daredevil Production.


We collect little pieces of knowledge gleaned from various paid sources and assemble them to construct the vision of our future.


I feel like too many of you want people to take you seriously as an artist based on what you plan to do rather than what you have done.

You will never get better if you are waiting for someone to believe in you before you get serious about your career.


That’s is probably the most rampant mental flaw that artists possess.  They simply don’t believe in themselves enough so they set up a pretty wicked mental racket. Practice Luck Definition

They say to themselves that if they could just get to the right people that believed in them they would go ALL IN.

Here’s the thing, if you don’t have measurable, tangible evidence that you’re “all in” and your great when you meet “the right people” then you will get nothing from that meeting.

Zero love.


The end result is artists frequently meet the right people but are unprepared or unimpressive.


Practice Truth image


These artists know it so their energy is off. (Why give a CD with disclaimers, btw?)

The “right people” know it instantly.

The artists get jaded.

The cycle begins again.



This is true in any business.  People are exactly the same. They all talk the talk but until you walk the walk you won’t impress anyone.


I created a life-long mentor (who I lost to a heart attack in January of 2014) from a meeting that was set up by our (then) new booking agency.  IPractice Mark O'Toole took him out to eat and kept driving the conversation back to him.  He was fascinating and SUPER smart!  A hustler! He kept telling me the truth, I knew it, and I wanted more.

People always like to talk about themselves.  Sometimes it’s far more productive, far more beneficial to you to keep your mouth shut and pay attention.

I knew I wasn’t going to impress so I kept my mouth shut and appeared stupid rather than open it up and remove all doubt.


In the case of this specific mentor (RIP Mark O’Toole), he was extremely humble and very matter of fact.


Some are more of the bragging type, but SO WHAT?  As long as they’re talking you should be listening.  Forget about how you feel about the way they serve it up and concentrate on whether you think they’re being truthful, man.

By the simple gesture of taking him to dinner and admitting I was green and needed some input from a pro like him, he liked me.

Practice Honesty

He like my honesty.

He like my hustle.

He probably liked that I kept my mouth shut.

He was attracted to my undying thirst for knowledge andhow to apply it.Practice Mouth Shut

I think he could see that I was focused on becoming a student of the game.

He remembered me.



That’s the kind of people that mentors want to help.


Mentors don’t want beggars.


Practice No Beggars


Mentors don’t want hangers on.




Practice Sharks BloodThey don’t want charity cases.  The whole “somebody needs to help me because I’m unable to help myself” doesn’t usually attract good people in the animal kingdom (of which we are a part of).



It attracts predators that smell the blood from an easy kill so if that’s you STOP IT.  I promise you will just continue to attract predators.

It’s like sticking a bloody hand in shark infested waters, screaming for the sharks to come, and then complaining that you got your hand bit off.

This is why so many of you that operate from a certain “victim” or “pity” approach keep getting screwed.

Practice Amadeus Mozart Quote


If it makes you feel better the story doesn’t change for the artists who punch through into any kind of market awareness and brand name.  The more they avoid the nuts and bolts of their own business, the more they get screwed.

Inspect what you expect.


If you don’t learn what to look for (how to inspect and what to expect) you will get screwed when you start making money.

You have to practice to learn what to look for.Practice The Less You Bleed Quote


Balance between project management (get the goods to market) and artistic excellence is key as well.

You hear me harp about how marketing will make or break any project.


Well we have all seen good marketing break projects that are artistically lame and unimaginative.

We have never seen zero, lame, or unimaginative marketing break an amazing artistic project; it kills it.


Either way you’re going to need marketing and team building skills.


Either way you’re going to have to practice your marketing.


Practice makes perfect.

You can’t effectively market yourself unless you’re willing to suck at it in the beginning.

Practice Suck Meter


Just like your music.


You used to suck at that too.

Nobody was born with all the tools they need to succeed.

So if you want to move these little products you create and make a living, you will first need to learn how to get better.


How to get better at making them.Practice Makes Perfect

How to get better at marketing them.

Of course, that will require practice.






If you like this post, please SHARE it and/or LEAVE A COMMENT thank you!

Created in 2011, Daredevil Production was created by veteran Los Angeles Artist/Producer/Businessman Johnny Dwinell to provide innovative artist development in the new music business.  We offer a broad selection of music services including music production for artist tracks and song demos, music marketing, and music marketing guidance/education for the DIY artists.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Demo

Everything You Need to Know About Branding

How to Sell More Music as an Unsigned Artist

Musicians, the gig economy, and online learning... a happy (but dysfunctional) family.

If You Want to be a Recording Artist You Need the Right Development

15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Industry

Saying no to everything else

Managing Expectations

Consistency Equals Success

Separate The Emotion From The Event

Turn it down a few notches, please!

Are You Taking Ownership Of Your Songwriting Success?

The Shawshank Songwriter

Show Me Your Songwriting Friends, And I'll Show You Your Future

Getting out of a bad place

Taking your Music From a Hobby to a Career

How to change or build your career


4 important qualities of a band manager

Touring Advantages/Disadvantages From Less Than Jake

What musicians can learn from Joan Rivers

What you can learn from Bob Dylan's Career

Yes You're Talented, But Remember This…

Two Things That You Can Do to Start Making Music Industry Contacts Today

Promoting Music Internationally – The Right Way

How to Sell More Merchandise at Your Show

How To Reach The Best Music Business Contacts. Period.

4 Ways To Be A Boss A$$ Indie Artist

Are you over looking this strategy to becoming a better musician

Why You Should Be Doing House Shows

It's All of Your Business

Don't Buy Your Own Tunes

What If You Didn't Need Money or Attention?

Why Bands Need to Stop Bitching

What's In Your Toolbox?

Why You Need a Live Music Producer (And Don't Even Know It)

Many Eggs, Many Baskets: How to Make a Living as a Musician in 2014

Your Music is Just a Hobby. So What? Part 1 of TBD

Defining Success And How To Achieve It With A Career In Music

Why Talent Isn't Enough

Why You Need Your Own Superhero Alter-Ego

How To Make It In The Music Industry

What If The Label Says "YES"?

How to Avoid Artistically Starving to Death

20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

Why Your Most Important Tool In Being A Successful Indie Musician Might Actually Be Your Day Job

The Importance of Branding as Recording Artists

Why Bad Days Can Do You A World Of Good

How To Tell If You Need Singing Lessons

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 2 (Steps 6-10)

How to Stay Motivated to Make Music

The Self-Promotion Tactic that Fails Every Time

3 Important Lessons In Success From Bob Dylan

Sell 1000 CD's In a Weekend

Music Licensing – 90 Day Challenge

Superfans: The Key to a Sustainable Music Career

A Solution To The DIY Artists Biggest Challenge

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 1 (Steps 1-5)

What to Look For In A Distributor

Does 99% of Jazz Suck? – The Jazz Kickstarter That Seduced 870 Backers

Are You Making These 9 Band Rehearsal Mistakes?

Enhancing Your Music Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Press Kits for Musicians

7 Important Aspects to Getting Noticed in the Music World

7 Tactics to Double the Size of Your Fanbase

Why The Vocals On Your Track Are Vitally Important And How You Can Improve Them

Top 3 Tips To Find The Right Singing Teacher

Some Will Always Say You're Wrong

That Time'n Thang

Leap Of Faith


Question & Doubt

Eat Lighting

Connecting With People In The Industry

Five Reasons You're Not Licensing More Music

The Importance Of Following Up In The Music Licensing Business

How To Fund Your Band's Kickstarter When You Have No Fan Base

Human Intervention as a Competitive Advantage

A Quick & Dirty Guide to Branding

Why it Pays to Replace Self-Promotion with Selflessness

Rules for Confronting a Difficult Band Member

Valuable To Others, or Only You?

It's All Who You Know?

Ignore Your Website & Social Networks and Your Career Will Suffer

Three Intelligent Ways to Make a Living as a Musician

What Musicians Should Carry at all Times

Sometimes Big Promo Doesn't Work

Avoid Band Drama: Be Up Front

How To Effectively Handle A Flaky Band Member

Why No One Is Listening To Your Music

Establish Your Blueprint

How To Avoid Serious Mistakes When Choosing An Agent

Managing The Fear of The Unknown In The Music Industry

How To Balance A Family, Your Music Career, And Your Stresses

MusicPreneur - The New Music Industry Mindset

Band Leading 202 - Gigs

How Does An Independent Artist Stay Relevant While Creating New Music?

What It Takes To Be A Successful DIY Independent Artist

Band Leading 101 - Rehearsal

How To Make Lots Of Money Selling Your Merchandise

Why You Need Great Pictures As An Artist

Overnight Success - Does That Happen?

The Power of Positive Thinking

Goal Setting Tips That Work

Easy Tips For Engaging Your Fans

Getting Things Done As A Team

4 Common Newsletter Mistakes You Should Avoid

Creating Your Social Media Image

Effectively Utilize Your Youtube Music Videos

Tips For Building A Bigger Fanbase

How To Build A Professional Music Team

The Top 5 Ways To Get Noticed in Today's Music Industry

Why Radio Spins Matter And Tips On How To Get Them

Networking Essentials For The Music Business

Why You Should Be On Pinterest

Signup Free