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We first brought you Evita Robinson's feature interview to introduce you to the Nomadness Travel Tribe, TV series, and movement. Today we bring you juicy, profound, and practical advice from Evie Robbie--a list of insights that she picked up through the challenges and bumps in the road--trust her that it wasn't all glamour and adventure. For a community to grow and thrive as Nomadness has, the leadership had to be inclusive, forward thinking, and continuously churning out new ideas to follow the needs and desires of its membership. Evie explains her greatest lessons learned, how she fostered a groundbreaking world movement, and how she keeps her head on straight. What I love most about her insights is that it's applicable to any industry of work. Read on!
You can't do it yourself. Build a Captain Planet-like team!
The high council is the business end of the Nomadness Travel Tribe. Right now it's five people. We're the business end of everything, whether it's a trip coordination, to a tech guru, to the person helping me with research, to the person who helps with community outreach, everybody plays a part and was picked because of what they were naturally doing in the Tribe. There was a skill set that I'm weak at that they are strong in, and that's important.
My team has been amazing at helping me build the brand, manage the Tribe, manage the trips, and keep my sanity at the same time. I need my crew that I can spaz out to and I know that it stays in a safe space. We just all let it out, and we always feel better after.
Listen to your community, and your community will reward you.
We really listen to the Tribe and see where they would like to go on trips, and we start researching. I'm kind of obsessed with Airbnb at this time, because we don't stay at hotels. There's a family vibe in the Tribe, which is really the catalyst for folks wanting to meet offline for Meetups. It really augments in size whenever it comes to the Nomadness trips. I am big on finding a dope place. We find places that are reasonably priced, but we really zone in on the lodging. we want to bring almost a VIP experience to the average traveler within the Tribe, because Nomadness is a lifestyle brand. Our trips are pretty cheap. We haven't had a trip go over $400 for the lodging costs for a week wherever we are. We stay in some of the most beautiful places that they've ever been to in their life. We really pick the members' brains, start looking for lodging, start contacting these places, and set up the backend to get everybody there. The trips are announced by surprise. I give teasers out and from there we open up, and it's on a first come, first pay basis. The trips have become almost contest-like to even get into them. They sell out extremely fast. Our last two trips that we announced were to Rio in February, and India in March. We announced them at our one year anniversary party, and the place went crazy. We opened up buying the next day, and we actually sold out of India in 15 minutes, and Rio in 30. It's crazy.
Just get off your ass and START.
I don't really have blocks. I just start. I find with more and more people that I know that that's the hardest thing for them. You've got to just start. You can perfect it along the way. I always say the biggest disease that people suffer from is analysis paralysis, where they will sit there and analyze something and they don't move. I think the majority of humans walking this earth probably deal with this. Luckily I'm a risk taker. I'm also an Aries, and a very type-A personality, and we kind of jump head first and think later so I think it's very good that I'm at the head of this, because there is not something at the head of this that is going to think it to death. I have people on my team who are more analytical than me, and they are like, "Let's see how realistic this is." It's always about finding that middle ground, but I am by far the biggest thinker and the quickest jumper out of my entire team, and I like it that way. If it messes up, it comes back on me, and it will be alright at the end of the day anyways.
How to truly listen to constructive criticism and use it to your advantage.
I approach all disappointments as lessons. It's important to get feedback. It's important to get constructive criticism. I think one of the hardest lessons that I've had to learn this year is how to navigate a ton of opinions. Each member may have a different idea of what they want to see the Tribe turn into, and that may not be entirely aligned 100% with everything that we want to do, but there's got to be a forum in which you can hear back from the people to receive criticism. The key is to still keeping it so you're still in the position where you execute it, and it's still yours. I think finding that middle ground, and listening to people but not necessarily internalizing everything is good. Once you start internalizing everything and letting it get underneath your skin, you're going to start tweaks based on every elses' vision of your idea except for your own. That can be a very dangerous and damaging place to be in. It's important to get thick skin, and learn to deal with constructive criticism.
Getting through adversity means moving through it.
I had a particular experience this year that was very rough to deal with. The approach that the person used to get their point across was mean. It wasn't constructive, it wasn't divied out from a place of love and appreciation. It was just somebody spewing negative anecdotes all at one time, and it was very hard to handle especially because I considered that person close to me. There has been some rearrangements. You have to move with the ebb and flow. You have to be real with yourself. If something doesn't feel right in your gut, you got to trust your instincts and move with that. You have to figure out why. It's not going to be pretty. Friendships might end. I've had friendships made and end this year and that's just real. But you have to keep to the integrity of your vision and yourself. That's a big thing, especially for women because we're the more emotional oriented species. I may be sitting there and have to be super stern on a business email and I may be crying reading it. It happened at least twice this year. You have to play that fine line, and just be open to fucking up. You have to be open to falling on your face a little bit, and picking it up and have a sense of humor about it, and allow yourself the cushion to be able to know that you're learning. That's the biggest thing because I'm a perfectionist. We're doing a bunch of firsts, not just within ourselves, but within the entire industry. We're innovative. With that sometimes you're just going to fuck up, and you're just going to have to roll with it and fix it.
Figure out your priorities, and be honest about what they are.
My business is always first, because that's my child. Messing with it is literally the equivalent of somebody fucking with my child. I was actually in a relationship earlier this year. That ended by the summertime. What I found so funny about us interacting with one another was that he's also an entrepreneur. We used to defer our arguments if it affected our work at that time, and argue about it later.
You have to have people around you who get that. It is unorthodox. One of the things I say, and personal relationship-wise, the person that I get married to must be an entrepreneur. It doesn't have to be their all, but I want that passion, and I want them to have ownership of something. Those are the unwritten and unspoken values that you both share innately because you're cut from the same cloth.
Business is very much like a religion actually. If you want to talk about something that you have to have faith in, you have to bet everything on yourself, especially when you don't have much to give except for your idea, and your work ethic--that's faith.
Balance your physical, emotional, spiritual life with your business.
I run back home and cuddle under my mother every few months. It's funny because where I grew up Poughkeepsie, I used to be like "this place is so wack." Now as an adult, I'm really grateful for the place that I grew up, because I can get on a Metro North train and an hour and a half later, I am in a place that's just quiet. It's a safe haven that is a big balance for me. When I need to freak out and scream and cry and get it all out, my mother is the person that I turn to, but my team is also there.
Find a sustainable stress reliever!
I have to make sure that I take care of myself and get enough sleep. I have to work out. When I get a big stress build up, I'm one of those people where I'm just functioning off of pure unadulterated energy, and I need that release in a positive way. I can always tell when I'm teetering. I'm actually in this space right now because of the insane deadlines I've had recently, but I need to get back into working out. It's the biggest thing that keeps my mind and body sharp and helps release me. My sleep is better when I work out. That's a big thing for me. Also I'm a huge journal writer. Gosh, I just started my 17th journal. I have the last decade of my life on paper. That's my therapy.
Keep believing, and have faith against all odds.
It’s interesting because we’re at that cusp. We’re at that point where everything is getting ready to blow. And I know it. And when you know it, it’s like ,“Damn, let me just be able to pay my rent this month.” I’m having these meetings with people who are professional investors, run things like hedge funds. Mind you, I’m not a business-person. I preface all of my meetings by saying, “I’m a creative that had an idea and moved on it. And it’s really cool, and it’s taken off.” I said, I am learning the business aspect of this along the way. Yesterday I just filed my first sales tax quarterly return. I said, “This is crazy.” But all of these things are just affirmations and confirmations that we’re going in the right place and the right way.
I haven’t heard one person, professional or not, say that this is a bad idea, or “you should really reroute.” If anything, I run into people who say, “Damn, I wish I could give you advice, but you are like ten steps of ahead of anything that I could tell you. Just keep going.”
Don't accept gifts from just anybody. Sometimes a gift is a burden.
Everybody says that my biggest issue with Nomadness as we look into funders and investors is not IF we’re going to get the money, it’s who we get it from. It’s almost worse to take money from the wrong investor than not getting the money at all. For Nomadness, I need someone who is going to be passive, give me the money and let me figure this out. We don’t need somebody who wants to to be part of every move and who we need to get clearance from to do anything. We need somebody who already entrusts in me and the vision of Nomadness.
Don't be an overzealous, undirected sales person.
These meetings that I’ve been having with people, I’m not pitching them. We talk about it, but I’m not pitching them. That’s the thing about me. I don’t want the second time that you’re meeting me in your life, to be me trying to sell you on something. Get to know me. I want that person 100% comfortable. You don’t go out on your first date with somebody and ask them for a million dollars. You have to have a sense of foreplay with the people that you want on your corner. And you have to let them know who they are.
Finessing relationships genuinely.
I actually got pretty pissed yesterday because I wrote something about the conversation that I had with this guy and somebody had commented on my Facebook page, and they had commented and said, “Success is only when they write the check." I was just like, you are missing out on a complete facet of building relationships. I really wanted to go in on this dude. If you do not feel or think that getting large amounts of money is not directly influenced by the relationships that you have with people, you’re insane. You are insane! That’s essentially what I really wanted to put in colorful language on my page to this dude. I’m like, “If I don’t know you, I’m not handing you two million dollars.” Flip the page, and if somebody is asking you for that money, what do you want to know about them? You want to know THEM. Not just their business or what they’re selling. That’s something that I think people disconnect on that they should really pay attention to. Sure it’s about who you know, but it’s also about getting to the guts of who you are, and being okay with that.
Keep living passionately, and the right folks will come to you!
I met with an investor last night, who was a really cool guy. The conversation went from professional to candid very quickly. He told me, “You have a way of making people do shit.” He’s like, “You got me to drive all the way from where I live to come meet you, and I only met you for 5 minutes a couple of days ago.” He just looked at me at the end of it and said, “You’re going to get everything that you want. Absolutely everything that you’ve put out here, you’re going to get."
Advice by Evita Robinson, compiled by Boyuan Gao
When I first met Meghan Stabile, I was amazed at how one seemingly reserved (emphasis on the seemingly), petite woman was behind one of the most massively growing, cutting edge, music cultures in NY. Founder of Revive Music Group, Meghan has been responsible for some of the ballsiest music mash-ups on stages all over the world as a show and festival curator. She's known mostly for revisioning traditional Jazz and hip-hop idioms in tandem. In the beginning, her ideas were highly risky concepts with sometimes high stakes involved, but through relentless work, she's one of the most reputable show producers in the city. That's why live musicians flock to her in droves, eager to play truly challenging and exciting music, but also to learn how to survive in an otherwise grueling music industry. With the increased frequency of producing Revive shows, as well as the creative machine behind The Revivalist(Revive Music Group's editorial arm), Meghan's deepest passion remains being an ally to musicians. To her, being a true ally means being pragmatic and honest in the deepest sense of both words.
As evidence of that, I approached her to do this piece because of this post on her Facebook wall that completely blew up and went viral:
In the spirit of the Facebook conversation that impacted hundreds of musicians, Meghan breaks down her advice further:
There are less labels out there, which means that you must fill the void.
I work with mostly "Jazz" artists. There are only a few jazz labels out there that are alive and signing artists. Traditionally--and still to this day--jazz departments have the lowest budgets, obviously compared to most other genres. Nowadays, budgets are even lower, and what used to entice artists to get signed to a labels, just isn’t happening anymore. If it is, it's extremely rare. More artists are becoming independent, because they have to be. More artists are putting out their own self-funded projects, just to get their names out there. It's either Indie or DIY. Labels are becoming extinct.
The music industry has changed, and you need to adapt.
The biggest reality check that musicians need is that we are no longer operating under the music industry’s old model, where an artist would get signed to a label, and the label would supply you with artist development, a person working on your promotional campaign, someone on publicity, another handling marketing, an art design department, folks running the studio, an executive producer. That's not the case anymore, so therefore artists need to adapt. The question is how, and what are we adapting too?
The myth of the manager—No, they will not do everything for you!
I get contacted all of the time by musicians asking for assistance and guidance. Some think the solution is getting a manager or agent. They don't need a manager at stage one or even stage five. The thought process that having a manager means that they are going to do everything for you is simply not a reality anymore. Managers and agents opt in when they see a reason too, mostly beyond what they are hearing. Even if you get signed to a label, you still have to handle the majority of the business yourself. Some managers are really great at taking on the majority of the work, however, my point is, it's a partnership that succeeds. Also, labels aren't always the solution to help you handle all of your business. They don’t always have the capacity or resources to develop you every step of the way like they used to. Either way, you must be more involved with the work.
Have realistic expectations when working with a manager.
For some, they have so many steps that they have to do before a manager is even going to want to come in the picture. If a manager is going to start from stage one, That potential manager has got to be in love with you--in love with your music, in love with you from the jump. They have to want to go through that entire process with you, through thick and thin with you. With that being said, as an artist, you have to be prepared to be on the same page with them; if they go hard, you must go hard too. Most managers will not take on a new client from stage one. You have to build yourself up, to where they take notice.
You need to build your work to a certain level before others are going to be able to help you successfully.
Artists/musicians have to build themselves up to a point where industry professionals are going to take them seriously. As an artist, you have to come already prepared and ready to work. It's very rare that managers or agents will sign an artist without there being some kind of buzz already. The other factor that they look for is whether or not you're going to be making them money at some point. If they love you, they will invest, but they are investing in your success, which is ultimately their success. Many managers are stretched thin in this business. For them to invest their time into you, they are going to want to know what they are going to get back in return--even if it’s eventually. That's how managers and agents work. It is their livelihood to work on your behalf, and they have to see the value in your product. It sucks to even say it like that, but that’s the honest truth in how folks in the business think about it. Not all are machines, but again, when it comes to business, their are few that are in it for the art, the creative aspects, and the passion. For some, this is their JOB. Find the ones that love you first.
Creating the album is not enough.
Many artists think that after they put their work out on itunes, everyone’s going to want to buy it, and that everybody is going to know about you right away. Absolutely not. There is a level of promotion and marketing that artists need to be savvy to. Even artists signed to big labels come up with their own marketing campaigns that's later carried out by the label team. The point is, don't stop at the launch; be a part of the master plan.
Treat your music like it’s your business—because it is.
Many musicians think that all they have to do is create the music, and the audience will come. But to even be relevant in this fast pace, factory-like industry, where product is being pushed every second, treating your music like your own independent label has become more of a necessity. Musicians have to understand that their music as a business. A lot of musicians don't even want to think about that--they want to worry ONLY about their creativity, and that’s the biggest mistake they can't afford.
Do your research—What business are you in?
You have to think ahead of the game, and not just make decisions because you assume a certain outcome will happen, based on what you think you’ve seen happen for others. You first have to know what business you are in. You have to reflect on the things that you’re doing in that business, and if they are going to make you successful based on YOUR situation, and not anyone elses. There are multiple ways, many scenarios, and more roads than one to achieve success.
Be your own director: Take your work more seriously than everyone else.
You have to direct your own path. You’re the only one who is going to care 100% about your music and your craft. You may not know 100% how, when, who, or what--but you have to try. If you start at square one, or stage one--whatever you want to call it--then you're already on your way. No one is going to care about you more then you. That being said, you have to oversee everything on your project. Even if you are on a label and you have a manager, the reality of the industry is that everyone is stretched thin, and every project is important. Unfortunately, your project is not the only project out there that they're going to be dealing with. You have to push some buttons to make sure people are on point, but you also must be on point. The key to that is knowing at every level what is going on. Even if you have a team of people working with you, you have to be at the center of the decisions being made to ensure that the decisions are in your best interest. However, always be open to suggestions.
Get people to flock to you.
Once you have your shit together, other people will start to come in and want to work with you because they will see the value of what you've created. You don't have to chase people down. If you know your music will speak--then let it speak, and they will come to you. If this sounds like a contradiction from everything else I've said, it's not. You still have to do all of the work.
Be open to criticism, but also be aware of who you are dealing with.
It’s valuable for artists to seek advice and feedback, but more importantly, artists need to be open to the truth of both their limitations, and the realities of their environment. I once brought in a record to a label years ago. It ended up being a very successful record. At the time, this label didn't think so, then it blew up. Sometimes, that's the name of the game when you work with certain labels. On a label level, there are a few people who are the gatekeepers, and well--if they don’t get it--you may not get put on. Try a different way. Don't rely on a label as your end all and be all.
Find a balance between vouching for yourself and stepping back.
Musicians sometimes say, "I got the gig, I got the gig." That means they’ve gotten a gig that A) puts them on the road for a while and B) is their intro to the game. Often these gigs pay musicians shit money and for long periods gigging with the same artists. Most of these big gigs underpay musicians. Most musicians just starting out don't know or realize it until they've already signed on for the tour. Part of it is because they didn't know what they should be getting paid. There was nobody they could go to for advice, and they just wanted the gig. I'm not saying that if you are getting offered to play for huge artists, not to play. It's a great opportunity. You can't go in there with unreasonable demands either or you definitely won't get the gig, but at some point, don't feel you need to compromise what you deserve. You are making them sound amazing on stage and on their records. Your artistry is invaluable. They can always hire someone else that will accept the cheap check, but know that you don't have to do that. You must value your art, do the research on what’s fair pay, and negotiate when you can. It’s about finding that balance. The real gigs will demand real cats and you'll be happy in the end for not settling for anything less then what you deserve.
Business brainstorming is creative brainstorming.
I remember when my good friends Raydar, Jared, Lee and I used to sit down and come up with concepts for shows. We were in creative mode--using that other side of our brains. When it came down to business, it was a whole other story. Musicians especially need to be taught that you can do both, and through the act of doing it, you will start to deal with the business side much more comfortably. I think it would benefit musicians if they had more creative brainstorming sessions related to business strategies, like marketing. Musicians are naturally inclined to creatively problem solve, they have all types of crazy good ideas—and that can be applied to businesses. The key is to start seeing business in a creative light, because it is.
Things that you can start doing for yourself.
Musicians shouldlearn how to create strategic partnerships, and how to build a label around themselves. The tactical advice about acting as your own label is what artists need to put forth time and energy in learning. Again, that means understanding all departments, all divisions, all challenges you are dealt with, so you're able to not only understand what each thing is, but that you know how to engage each one separately, and together when needed. The time of becoming an entrepreneurial artist is NOW.
Be honest with yourself.
I know many musicians who would never take any of this advice. They are left field--creative geniuses who won't do any of this stuff. It's just not part of their thought process. I wish I could say there are many managers, agents, and label people who will be there for you from stage one, from just hearing your demo, and who will want to go hard and fight for you. I hate to say it, but they're not out there. If if they are, there are very few, and they are stretched thin! This is a calling for more people that are willing to take risks, follow their passion, and not just the pay check. Sounds unrealistic, but I've lived it. Be honest with what you want at the end of the day. Who are you? What is your purpose and what do you want? How do you want to effect people with your music? What are you trying to accomplish. Once you have answered that for yourself, then all else falls into place with the work ahead.
To learn more about Meghan's work, visit The Revivalist, and follow Revive Music Group on Facebook and Twitter.
By Meghan Stabile, Compiled by Boyuan Gao
Feature photo by Eric Sandler