Successful Musicians Podcast – Episode #19: How to Reach Over a Million Monthly Spotify Listeners with Chris ‘Manafest’ Greenwood

"Surround yourself with the A players, rub shoulders with the people that are doing stuff and stop this starving artist bootstrap all the time. Like, sure, save money, everything like that but pay what you need to pay to be in the room and be around artists that are killing it and doing it and model doing what they're doing, whether that's paying the producer, doing co writes with people even though it's uncomfortable at first., buying onto tours like I suggested, sometimes paying for the information, whether that's a coach or course or whatever it is, if someone's where you want to be, pay them to shorten your curve." ~Chris ‘Manafest’ Greenwood

Successful Musicians Podcast Episode 19


Interviewee: Chris ‘Manafest’ Greenwood

Interviewer: Jason Tonioli


Hey, this is Jason Tonioli. I’m a piano player that grew up believing it wasn’t possible to earn a living and support a family with music. I’ve proven that idea was wrong, and I’ve met hundreds of other people who have found success with their music. This podcast features stories of musicians who have found their own personal version of success and fulfillment in both music and life. This podcast is meant to inspire musicians and help them believe in their abilities and motivate them to share their talents with others. This is the Successful Musicians Podcast. 



Jason:  Welcome to the podcast! Today, our special guest is Chris Greenwood. He’s also known as “Manafest” as your stage name. And Chris, I know you’re this Canadian rapper rock artist guy. You’re this unlikely musician person. I know a lot of musicians, when they go on stage, they become this other person, and then when they’re off stage, they’re like a whole other person. But what I’ve been most impressed with is you’ve done so much to teach and coach and help other people in the music industry. One Spotify episode, I think has been something you’ve really been helpful to a lot of the music community with, but you’ve done a ton of other coaching and Facebook ads. I probably did a terrible job of introducing you there, but I guess tell us a little bit more about yourself and kind of how you ended up to where you are today.


Manafest: Yeah, sure, man. So, my stage name is Manafest. I can’t remember a book I shared it in, but having a stage name allows you to be someone that you’ve never been before, you know what I mean? Because I came from being shy, timid, insecure. I lost my dad to suicide when I was five years old, and I had to overcome my fears in life in general, right? 
But then to go on stage and sing, that’s a whole other thing but when you put in Chris Greenwood, that’s terrifying. But as Manafest, it allows me to transform. It’s kind of like Clark Kent vs. Superman, like your hidden identity. And so, it allowed me to just kind of get crazy and perform and entertain. Then when I get off stage, I am a little bit more chill and more subdued, and some people will say you’re nothing like you are on stage. 
And I think it was I can’t remember who it was, Chris Brock, some entertainers, like, I think it was Russell who said this that they don’t want the regular me on stage, they want ten times me. They want that craziness. But yeah, to be able to do music full time, we’ve toured 22 different countries. I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of albums, millions of streams, all that stuff, and I was just like a lot of artists trying to figure it out. I wasn’t ever money motivated, though. I was just successful. I want people to hear my music. Like, I wanted to be successful, but it had nothing to do with money at the time. It just had to be with, like, getting out there. But when I quit my job to take music more seriously, I got signed and I thought, like, well, hey, they’re going to take care of me. I’m going to be a rock star. Right.

 Jason: You made it now, right? You just arrived.

Manafest: Yeah. Like, they’re going to take care of this, this, and this. And I realized, no, I still got to do that, that and that. They’re going to put my record out there. And I was just finishing a tour where it was pretty rough, and I was literally just about to give up, and all of a sudden, we had success in Japan. And you’re right, it happened to the most unlikely guy in the most unlikely place, which was halfway across the globe as we got famous in Japan, and we’re selling, like, 10,000 albums a week. That breathed new life into my career, money, and opportunities. And then finally I had some success in the US. Which is what, you know, I always wanted some radio hits, and all of a sudden, I’m getting calls for tours. Everyone wanted me to be on tour. And what’s amazing is one tour that I was paying $500 a night to be on, to get that exposure; did that tour, blew it out of the water, kind of like, stole their fan base, in a sense. Like sold more like it was wild. It’s wild when you see an artist on the come-up kind of almost steal the show. And it was wild to actually experience that.

And then the next tour, they literally paid me 500, plus hotels and all this stuff.Just the idea that most artists wouldn’t be willing to invest the 500 a night, plus pay each band member $150, plus shell out hundreds of dollars a night in hotels, plus whatever gas and food is. But I did that for a time, and then literally the next tour, I’m getting paid that plus merch and stuff. And so, music has been good to me, but it hasn’t been without its risks. It hasn’t been without its $40,000 radio blunder mistakes, and we can get into lots of stuff, but here I am. It’s been 14 years. I’ve been doing music full time. I’ve been very blessed, and I got a great fan base, and I just try to make the best music I can.

 Jason:  As you were struggling, you said you were about ready to quit. How many years was that before that first little bite of success hit you?

 Manafest: Great question, man. So had an independent EP in 2001, had an independent album in 2003, had the first album with the label that was like, 2004, five, I can’t remember exactly. And then it was the second record with the label that I was just about to quit. And so, we’ve been in here now like, five or six years, right? And then that second record blew up with the label. So, it was four records in, I don’t know how many songs that is. It’s like 40 plus recorded songs, probably hundreds of written songs. So, there’s an idea there. That was my overnight success.

 Jason:  You’ve got lots of artists out there that I know I’ve been in that boat and probably quit before that overnight success happened to the four- or five-years in. What advice do you have for these early people as they’re trying to just struggle? What do you tell that person?

 Manafest: Well, be willing to get coaching on not just the business side, but the music side, the songwriting side. You know, I was really blessed to have different people tell me the truth about my songs and that they weren’t actually that good. I quickly rubbed shoulders with different producers that could really make a great record, and I was like, wow, this is sounding… you’ve taken my music to another level by working with you. Okay? I figured that out really quickly. I didn’t care what the cost was or whatever, because that guy’s cost started to go up because he was producing killer records. And so that was one thing.

And then surround yourself with just people that are going to cause you to stretch, like, 09:04 surround yourself with the A players, rub shoulders with the people that are doing stuff and stop this starving artist bootstrap all the time. Like, sure, save money, everything like that. But pay what you need to pay to be in the room and be around artists that are killing it and doin it and model doing what they’re doing, whether that’s paying the producer, doing co writes with people even though it’s uncomfortable at first., buying onto tours like I suggested, sometimes paying for the information, whether that’s a coach or course or whatever it is, if someone’s where you want to be, pay them to shorten your curve.

And then if someone is where you want to be, listen to what they’re saying. Like, one of the biggest mistakes I made was I was impatient. And I remember a guy was trying to help me get a higher-level manager, and I was too impatient. And I went with this lower-level manager, and he ended up kind of screwing me in a sense and not working hard. He only had the relationships he had. But if I had waited for this other guy that was trying to get me an A level manager and what that basically means is they got bigger bands, bigger connections, and networking opportunities to plug me into, where this lower manager is probably just squawking at this one. Put my band on. Put my band on where this guy had already had the connections and he could leverage all his other bigger bands or artists to get me on things. But I was too impatient. I had to have this now. I kind of went through some pain that I could have really avoided. Years of pain.

Jason:  Yeah, I think it’s interesting. And I know you’ve got courses on. I’ve taken your course on Spotify. It was very helpful. It was even a couple of years ago, I think probably right when you about launched it, but there’s all these courses to pick from. And I know musicians get bombarded with Facebook ads and everybody else seems like everybody’s coming out with some new course. What advice do you give to these musicians in one, finding and choosing the right courses for their needs. And then also let’s answer that one first and then we’ll talk about finding the right coaches as well. So, what advice do you have for people that are looking for courses?

 Manafest: Well, for a guy that sells them, I got to be honest, don’t buy a course that you’re not going to take, that you’re not going to take the time through. Like, don’t buy a book. Buy something that you’re going to take and act upon it. Like, I ain’t here to just inspire you without you taking action. That’s just entertainment. 

11:40 Inspiration without action is just entertainment. And so that’s why a lot of times now we have more of these coaching programs and this five-day challenge that I do because people have to show up. And it’s amazing.

 People that pay, pay attention and when people pay more, the heart follows the pocketbook sort of sense, right? And those that ask questions and actually do stuff, that is where you start to change your life. You can’t just listen to something or buy a course and feel like you did something. That’s the other thing. And that’s coming from the guy that sells online courses. I’m almost saying don’t get them. You know what I mean? If you’re not going to take action. 

But I’ll never forget one of my mentors that I was reaching out to for months. This guy was like the label manager of a pretty big record label. And I had emailed him and finally he got back to me, and they were so short his messages, but it was just like, wow, he actually got back to me. And then when I finally stayed on this guy’s radar enough and I kept on just staying in touch, we had a conversation. I’ll never forget him saying when I said when he was like, yeah, man, I got all your emails. I got all of them. I just wanted to see if you’re just a squawker like all the other ones or you’re actually serious about your music career, right? And I was just like, Dang. He’s like, do you know how many squawkers I get? And people that say they want to do this?

And I had another booking agent and he actually passed away. Believe it or not, this guy booked some big bands. And I never forget I had a meeting with him. He’s like, Chris, do you know how many artists have sat in that chair and said, they’re going to do this and said they’re going to do that. What makes you different?

And I was just like, this guy’s like kicking me in the nuts right now. But that’s what this industry is. And it’s just like, you’ve got to put in the work and show up. And whether you hire this or do that, you’ve got to do the work, of course isn’t going to save you. I’m not even someone’s savior. You come and ask the questions; I tell you what to do. We just did a coaching call as a student and I said you better have this by Wednesday night, I’m going to call you out on it in front of everybody, right? And you better have a reason. Isn’t it what Jim Ron says? How many calls did you make while this happened? No, I want a number. How many calls, how many emails did you send? How many songs did you write? You know what I mean? Anyways, I don’t know if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, but that was my rant.

 Jason: You probably know about me. I worked in the banking industry for about twelve years and was working at the Stuffy Bank doing the marketing for them. And then I left and started a software company after that. But in my time in the bank, I used to coach about 40 mortgage loan officers. Sounds incredibly boring, but what’s been interesting is all of these lessons that I learned in the business world, as you’re telling me about show up and actually do the course or do the thing.

So, when I left, I did consulting for a lot of big banks and they’re dropping millions of dollars on projects. So, it’s not just like you’re spending $500 or $1,000 or whatever small amount on a music course. Banks would spend millions of dollars thinking that they’re going to have some software that comes in like saves their sales team and does everything for them. And I watch the same thing that you’re describing happen in these banking worlds where they would drop $100,000 on some magic software that would allow them to send an email or do something as stupid to send a letter out. I watched seven different CRM systems in a bank completely flop and fall in their face and it was because the executives were like, oh, we need to do this, this is important.

And then when it came down to actually doing it, we couldn’t even get a mortgage officer to send a freaking letter out. I’m like, I just need you to hand write this letter and do this one little thing. And they wanted to depend and place all of the blame on the software, or the training wasn’t enough to get me to do the thing. I see the same thing and with the musicians like what you’re describing, it’s the same thing, only usually it’s just the musician by themselves and they buy your course probably on Spotify and then somebody’s probably mad, well it didn’t work. Well, did you do this and this and this and did you just follow the freaking program?

And I think there’s a value bomb for you right there of just follow what the coach does, or the teacher says, and if you do, you’ll probably be successful. I know you do a lot of Russell Brunson stuff with ClickFunnels. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Do what Russell says” in some of the training sessions.

 Manafest: Yeah, just do what he says and follow through. But it’s also, like I think it was because one of my old managers said this to me. It’s like, you gotta figure it out for you, though, right? Like, what exactly I did isn’t going to work for the same person. They might do even bigger, better, more opportunities. And it’s kind of like you don’t just copy, but you model. And how is that going to work for my genre? How is that going to work for me? Getting a collaboration or feature or whatever is to grow my music, you know what I mean? Or for radio or whatever it is, right. And being willing to, like, think and not just want it all done for me. A lot of artists, and I get it, they want their marketing done for them. But that’s like outsourcing your love life, right? And who wants to do that? You need to be in control of marketing your career. Now, one thing I will say, which is that a lot of artists hate social media, because you feel like it takes from you more than you get from it, like you’re giving it more than it’s giving back to you.

Number one, though, because you probably haven’t posted enough, you don’t know how to post, you’re not engaging and you’re not sticking with it long enough. But if you hate it, then pay a social media influencer like we just paid a social influencer, and it got like over 10,000 plus views. And I just sent them the song, and they have the audience that I want. They have metal, they have rockers, right? And it’s just like so just don’t take no for an answer. Like, you know, in the business space, we have one of my coaches admire and golden, as you speak, about what Russell says. He literally says today, Russell told him to do a webinar every single week, and he’s like, that’s like nails on a chalkboard to him. So, he had to figure out Russell’s my coach, but how can I make this work for me? Take the things out and still show up and get the results, right?

 Jason:  Yep. But it’s interesting. I think every one of us comes from especially musicians. We’ve worked in other industries, whether it’s the restaurant industry or banking for me. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of stores, computers, there you go. But there’s things that are all around us, if you kind of observe and watch, that are successful in those industries. I think the smartest people that I see, they bring all of their knowledge, and they have a bigger view of what to do, and they take the best of each, and they dial it into kind of make who they are and kind of how they’re going to market, how they’re going to brand themselves. And it just makes for a stronger ability to learn.

I can’t remember who it was, but they talked about IQ, and somebody was explaining. You take your IQ test, and you have, like, 120 as your IQ. But other people have a lot of knowledge that’s different. And maybe they don’t have 120 IQ. But if you take those two people and you have two circles imagine two circles and you overlap those. Now that 120 IQ maybe becomes 130 or 140 because now you’ve got extra knowledge.

That was something that kind of clicked in my brain, like, okay, if I can go learn from Chris Greenwood or go learn from Russell Brunson, all of a sudden, I’ve grabbed five more IQ points and just made myself way smarter by recognizing the value those people bring. And the same is true with the team. If you’re hiring a team of people.

Manafest:  Yeah. That’s so good, man. Yeah. Because I always say, 19:47 if your dream doesn’t require a team, you’re not thinking big enough. And I think I did a video the other day saying to have freedom and to be able to move forward faster, you have to be willing to delegate and hire these things out. I had a producer sending me stuff back and doing things. I don’t know how to edit vocals. I don’t know how to play an instrument or whatever, but I know what I want. And so, I’ve got him working on something. I got my graphic designer working on something else. I’ve got my VA doing this, different people doing stuff to move this thing forward. And you’re right. I’m taking all the skills. I can’t even imagine what that equals out to when you have the manpower working for you.

 Jason:  Yeah. And then you get to the end of the year, and you think, man, do I get that much done? But then you look back, you’re like, Holy cow. If everybody’s stuff that they do, there’s no way you would have been able to do it yourself. And I think a lot of people, even if I go back to the banking, you have these mortgage officers I work with, and they were kind of by themselves. The ones that did the best had a team of people. The other ones that just struggled, they wouldn’t let things go. And I see the same thing in the music industry with the artist thinking they have to do everything, and they never let go of any piece of it. They may be super talented, but they could be even more talented and more successful if they just recognize where they might be able to spin off the different things that they’re a little weaker at or that somebody else could help them with.

 Manafest: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. So good.

 Jason: So, you’ve done a lot of coaching. Myron Golden is one of my very favorite people. That guy is brilliant. You’re working with him. But talk to me about coaching in general. If you were given advice to somebody up and coming, how do you find that right coach for you and what do you look for? What things do you say? Hey, that’s maybe a red flag I need to maybe need to watch out for, too, right?

 Manafest: Well, anyone that’s a few steps ahead of you, right? Like, when I first got into rapping and singing, there’s this guy, and he wasn’t even that good, but he knew more than me. And you had to record onto a tape cassette and had to record a demo on vinyl and instrumentals and just how to write and rhyme. And so, he was my coach. And then, okay, I met somebody else that’s better, more talented. And remember this producer? And all of a sudden, he became my coach, and he was really looking at my lyrics, and what I was saying is, like, Chris, like, keep it simple, stupid. The kiss principle. 

I remember when I couldn’t he’s like, what’s the song about? And I was like, I don’t even know. He’s like, if you don’t even know what the song is about, how’s anybody else supposed to know? And I remember he was my coach for a while, and then eventually I met other people. Sometimes it was books like Power of Positive Thinking, Think and Grow Rich, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Those were mentors for a while. I’d meet people in the music industry, like, whether it was a booking agent or a manager.

I remember this one guy; he was kind of coaching me for a while. He turned out to be super, super shady, and, man, I had to fire him. I’ll never forget, we were sending out these packages to Radio, and I got a deal through my company, and he wanted me to send them my packages first. And then he was slipping other artists packages in there that I was kind of connecting and just doing, like, little shady things without telling me. He told me, I’m going to put my other artists in here, too, because it’s going to radio anyway. But he didn’t tell me that. And just like, super shady stuff, so you gotta watch out for that.

But when it comes to coaches, it could be like, an artist, and I’m going to talk about more people were really driving home the idea, if someone is where you want to be, they’re living the dream, they’re doing what you want to do or done what you’ve already done, then you want to consider hiring them. So sometimes it was me wanting to work with another artist, asking for their advice.

Even on tour, I’d say hey, dude, can we sit in the tour bus? And can I ask you a couple of questions or can I interview you? Can give me advice, like humbling myself. Right. A lot of artists, it blows my mind. Like, even old friends, like, don’t reach out because they’re too scared. Or I would reach out to their managers, and I would ask them for advice, and I wish I did this more and I wish I networked more on tour, but, like, there’s so many artists out there that are where you want to be or and you can see who their managers are. You can see who their booking agents are.

There are these conferences that happen, whether it’s an ASCAP expo, a CD baby conference. I haven’t been to that one, but there’s NXNE, there’s South by Southwest. Go meet people and then decide, like, hey, is this person where I want to be? Can they help? We try to now give out so much content. I try to give out the best value content I can. Personally, as my branch, I coach people that they can, like, take action on right away.

So that’s better than people’s paid stuff is always our goal. But that’s how I’m kind of when I’m hiring a coach because I’m watching something on YouTube, it’s like, dude, that guy helped me. That girl helped me. And if that’s their free stuff, I can only imagine what their paid stuff is, right? And so that’s kind of how I hire coaches. Like, there’s this one guy, I’m thinking of hiring him because he’s just given me so much game already. Like, he’s given me so many ideas, and I’m, like thinking, okay, he might be my next coach.

And my wife lets me hire one big mastermind every year. And I’ve already kind of figured out, I think, who it’s going to be later 2023? Because I’m always trying to be in the room, man, with people that are doing stuff, because I realize I shrink back when I’m not surrounding myself with people who are having a coach kicking my butt.

 Jason: You made me smile when you said your wife lets you do one of those a year. Talk to me a little bit about how important that is? Whether it’s a spouse part or whatever or cheerleader, how critical has she been in getting to you where you are today?

 Manafest: Dude, so incredible having the right spouse around. You know, she’s let me do some crazy things. She’s held me back from a cliff, and some of those cliffs, I probably could have died. Some of them I probably should have jumped off anyways. Some of them I eventually did anyway. And sometimes it worked out, sometimes it did not. 

There’s a $60,000 advance that the record label was giving, and it was to do another deal. And I remember she was like, no, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do. It, and yet these managers where other people were suggesting, do it, and I did it, and it was a really big mistake, and I should not have done it. And hard lessons learned, but she kind of challenges me. She’s like, okay, well, have you done what the other guys said yet? Why do you need this now if you haven’t even done what the other dudes said? And if you earn this amount, if you hit this gold, then, yeah, go do that. Right? 

But she’s been really encouraging because I remember when I did hire my first coach, who was the record label manager and he was doing coaching, I think it was $900 a month, and we did not have that at the time. But I knew I needed the connections, I knew I needed the advice, and he was also doing some other supplementary things like grant writing and stuff. And so, it ended up being some of the best money I ever invested. And I watched my career just fly past all these other artists that were more talented than me, but I just blew past them because I was willing to invest not only in this, but in the music, the packaging, the artwork. It’s not the most talented that wins. The best song doesn’t win. It’s sometimes just the artist that hustles and has the right information that wins.

 Jason: Yeah, for sure. But I’m seeing this Spotify plaque behind you saying 130,000,000 streams. I know you do a lot of the coaching on Spotify. So, for the artists out there that’s maybe releasing one or a half dozen songs, what would you say are kind of some of them without going through your course, which they should, for sure, but what advice do you have for that person that’s just barely releasing their own songs? And what are the kind of the first three or four steps to sometimes maybe get missed? They definitely need to make sure they hit.

Manafest: The biggest mistakes are and that’s unfortunate. I meet artists and they’ve put out the whole album already, and it should be put out with singles so that you can pitch each one to the editorial playlists, which are on Spotify, which are these playlists that Spotify curates, which have huge followings. And if you get your song added to that, you can get tens, if not hundreds of thousands of streams, which is money and exposure, and it can just do some crazy stuff. 

And so, a lot of artists, they put out the whole album, and I tell them, you’ve got to think this is more of a singles world. One of the things I always tell them, spacing out the releases, like, you got to promote the song. You can’t just put a song every week, and you wonder why you’re not growing well, you’re not marketing in between. You’re not really campaigning. You got to celebrate each song and blow it up. One of the big things I tell them is collaborations – paying for a big feature. Because a lot of artists like and I love Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Spotify ads, we talk about all these different marketing tools, but one of the easiest, best ways, and we’re doing it right now is we’re collaborating, and I’m tapping into your audience, I’m going to promote this to my audience, and we’re both going to explode it. So, it’s going to get bigger pushed than me just doing it on my own or you just doing it on your own.

Well, this is the same thing with an artist that already has a fan base. There may be in the genre that you want to be, maybe that’s folk, country, rock, I don’t know. But you pay to get a bigger artist singing a verse, a hook, maybe the bridge, I don’t know, a rap, right? And you tapping into their fan base and immediately that referral is so much more powerful than you just trying to market cold to people that don’t know you.

If I introduce you to one of my friends, Jason, they’re going to be like, oh, that’s cool because he knows Chris, as opposed to you just emailing them cold or same thing, if you introduce me to one of your friends, it’s going to be like, hey, I know this guy and it’s just a different light. Well, man, and the music, it’s the same thing. It’s one of the biggest levers an artist can pull. But I don’t know if artists are scared or just haven’t done it.

And if I can just share anything and we talk about this on the Spotify challenge, is that, like, 30:55 it’s only scary because you haven’t done it yet. And once you’ve gotten your feet wet and you’ve done something, then you’re going to learn and you’re going to grow. But yeah, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to suck at first. Okay. Be willing to be bad at something long enough until you get good at it.

 Jason:  Right. You’re going to probably suck at it a dozen or a hundred times even before you get good at it. Yeah, it’s great advice. I find it interesting that as you’re talking, you’re saying we want to deliver more value and more stuff than even the person that’s doing the paid stuff. I’ve heard overdeliver, if I can get a fine place to get T-shirts say OverDeliver, just make that the mantra of making sure.

I always ask myself, what can I do to overdeliver? And some of the things I’ve seen with other people, but even with my music you try to find that story. I’ve watched your stuff for a long time, and you have that story behind the music. But taking your people along for the ride on the creation process is so valuable as an artist, as you talk about, slowly sharing that out, my guess is most of the time you’re trying to figure out what’s the story behind it. How can I make people care about that music? What’s that hook you said? I think that’s what you called it. But what can you do to find the hook that makes it interesting or makes it so that it touches them?

There’s just so many different emotions that you can play on and stories that we have in our own life that I think go into our music, even. If we really get real with ourselves, you know what? Our fan base wants to hear those stories because that’s where it emotionally starts to mean something to them and when they want to have more stuff from us. So, I don’t know if you’ve seen that with other artists, with the story behind the songs. Do you have any tips for how you find that story or be comfortable sharing those stories?

 Manafest:  It’s so good, man. And this is what it is, right? Most artists and this is a big mistake. It’s like, okay, albums here, Go buy it and all their fans are going, oh, you got an album. Oh, I don’t even know. Do you want me to support it? Well, you didn’t share. I don’t even know you, dude. You didn’t allow me in on the artwork. You didn’t allow me in on the songwriting. You didn’t allow me in the studio. You didn’t allow me in the melodies, and you didn’t allow me in on the heartbreaking story that you went through, whether that’s a heart break up, whether that’s drug overdose, whether that’s just, I don’t know, something tragic like, you want to peel back that story like an onion.

And I think it was Brendan Rochard who said, don’t retell your story. Relive your story.  Really relieve that pain and share it, like, over Instagram, over YouTube shorts and share those stories. But you gotta be willing to start at zero. You can’t be afraid to start small and at zero followers. Everybody starts at zero, but you’ve got to start putting your message out there and practicing.

Lot of artists are like, oh, I want to start while I’m here, and I don’t want to look small. That’s just how the game works.

 Jason: Yes, I think the hard part with social media and even whether it’s email with your fans, sometimes it’s really hard to share those hard moments, and you don’t want people to know that you have that weakness, or they had that hard time. And I think what I’ve learned over time is the more I’ve been willing to kind of strip back the onion, like you said, and share, the more connection there is.

 Manafest:  Big time, man, because they relate to your struggle more than they relate to your success.

Jason: I’ve got a friend, a really close friend of mine. His wife is going through what I just found out a couple of days ago. She’s going to be going through cancer treatment, leukemia. And he’s really one of the coolest people I know. He’s like, we don’t need anything. We don’t want to necessarily share this and we’re really private and I totally get that. But as I was talking to, I had this realization like, hey, you may not need it, but the fact that you’re going to be struggling through this, there’s probably other people that are as strong as I know he is, and his wife is going to be. That story that they can share with others is a service they can almost provide. Maybe it’s not for them, but you see people that have just touched so many lives and the same thing is true with the music. If you can take people through that struggle, you’ve had, that hero’s journey and overcome the difficult thing I’ve learned, man, I’ve been able to serve more people with my music when I’ve broken down and being real with people like, hey, this is what this is really about.

 Where the song finding piece came from. It’s because I got stabbed in the back. It’s hard to share those stories. But I think if you’re really out there to serve and overdeliver as an artist, the sooner you can find that and be okay with sharing and helping others. Like you said, going back to the very beginning, you said the money never mattered to you. I think the impact you’ve had on people has been way more than any million dollar or two comma club. Whatever award you’ve ever got, it means way more than you take those 100 times over compared to the money, right?

 Manafest:  Oh, dude, for sure. People coming up to me in Germany saying my song saved their marriage or got them through college or stopped to suicide or all the tears. I actually had a guy yesterday. I don’t get stopped very much. I got stopped twice yesterday in the mall, which is wild. Normally I get stopped in the US. more than Canada. And this one guy was just like, man, I listen to everything you are growing up. When I was playing drums and DA DA DA DA, like, man, thank you. And it was just like, it was in front of my wife and my daughter. I was just like, wow. Because I haven’t been touring as much and so I haven’t been getting those accolades, whatever. Maybe I forget that my music is really having an impact. And that’s one thing I really challenge students on. Look, that’s why you gotta put your music out there because it has a message. You obviously recorded something because you feel passionate about something. Well, you got to get that out there and you’re going to let someone named John I live in my basement, 62 that some troll stopped you from posting or some troll in your mind that’s not even there, right? Like, so, like, just go for it. Put yourself out there, right? Get this message out there and stop thinking about yourself and thinking about, like, the people you need to impact.

 Jason:  I think just all too often people think, oh, I got to have a million followers or even a thousand followers. You know, what? If you can just impact that one person and maybe you’re 70 years old and playing piano and you just can impact one of your grandkids, just that one person, you’ll never know the impact you can have. You just need that one more person. One person using impact, and it makes it worth every ounce of sweat and blood tears that we put into this music that we do.

I know we’re out of time here, but any other best advice you’ve ever gotten from anybody in the music business? If you’re thinking of like, man, oh, wow, it made all the difference.

 Manafest: Wow. I’ll give you a few. Number one law of success is to maintain control. You don’t need a record label, so stop chasing that.

 Jason: Amen to that.

 Manafest: 38:35 You don’t need a label. If you’re looking for long term success, be your own label. Second thing is the songs. The best marketing that I could possibly teach you is only going to make a bad song fail faster. And so be willing to invest in a great song, great songwriting, and that will open up more doors. I’ve had people slam the doors in my face and said no to so many times in my life. And yes, I’ve learned how to turn those No’s into maybes and then those maybes into yeses. But the quickest way to do that is with a hit song that has opened more doors for me and done more things for me than anything. An undeniably great song that you market the junk out of. Like, I’m telling you, it happens, and it can happen to you if you’re willing to not give up and stay in the game.

 Jason: Awesome. There you go. Chris, we definitely are going to have to have you on it. I could keep talking to you for a couple hours more, but thank you so much for all you’re doing to serve and help in the community and just help artists believe in themselves and find that success they’re looking for. So appreciate your time today and we’ll definitely catch up again another time.

 Manafest:  Absolutely. Thanks, brother.


Jason: Thanks so much. So, Chris, if people want to find out more about what you’re doing, what’s the best place for them to go to check out what you can offer to learn a little bit more and overdeliver. I know you get a whole bunch of free content, too. Where should they go?

 Manafest: Yeah, they can look me up on YouTube, Smart Music Business, or if they want, like, more one-on-one coaching, want to ask me questions for a week straight, we have a challenge I run once a month. I call it the Spotify Five Day Challenge, where every day I go live for 2 hours. The first hour is just Q and A over a private zoom for those that get a VIP ticket and it’s just an invaluable experience because I get to talk to them one on one, just like this over zoom. But they also get to hear all the questions of other artists and the answers, and, man, it’s just an invaluable great time where I get to pour into them literally for an hour for five days straight. They also get invited to a mentorship program, but they have to apply for that to work one on one with me after that.

But yeah, the five-day challenges once a month, and they can just get, like, a VIP ticket or regular ticket, go to go, and they can get on that.

 Jason:  Sweet. We’ll put all those links in the show notes. Again, thanks so much for your time today and all the over delivering on value for people. I know a lot of people appreciate it. Thanks so much.


 Manafest: Awesome. Thank you, brother.

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 Finding success and fulfillment in the music industry is possible. Looking forward to seeing you in our next episode.


How to Connect with the Featured Guest:

Our special guest for today is Chris Greenwood A.K.A Manafest. He is a Canadian Christian rapper and rock artist from Pickering, Ontario, Canada. He has won multiple awards for the GMA Canada Covenant Awards, GMA Dove Awards, and has been nominated for multiple Juno Awards.  He is a billboard charting artist with over 1,000,000 monthly Spotify listeners. 

Chris Greenwood launched Fanbase University which trains independent musicians to make it in the music industry, with an emphasis on not signing with a label.

What You’ll Learn

In this episode, Manifest shares how important coaching is and surrounding yourself with the A players.

He will also impart his knowledge on how to get the right course and what to look for in hiring a coach/mentor.

Things We Discussed

Spotify 5-Day Challenge – is Manafest’s EASY SYSTEM THAT GENERATED

1,000,000 MONTHLY LISTENERS ON SPOTIFY. You can join the challenge here.

Connect with Chris ‘Manafest’ Greenwood

Website (Smart Music Business)

Website (Fanbase University)

Personal Website 





Connect with Jason Tonioli







Amazon Music

Apple Music

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