Successful Musicians Podcast Episode 20
Interviewee: Tiamo de Vettori
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. Today our guest is Tiamo de Vittori. For those who don’t know Tiamo, he is a singer/songwriter. He’s performed for tens of thousands of people. I know you’ve had audiences of well over 15,000 people probably bigger than that. You’ve been on like, FOX, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, a whole bunch of different places as well.
What I find most interesting is you’ve been kind of that struggling musician and I believe you walked away from music for a while and kind of had a complete point where you’re like this can’t be possible to make money as a musician, and now you’re making music full time. Not only that. What I’m so impressed with is you’re teaching others how to do that and helping them believe in themselves which I love. To add to that, you are an amazing father. You’ve got just the cutest little girl and a family.
Welcome to the show.
Tiamo, maybe fill in the rest of the blanks there and give us a little bit about your story and how you got started in music.
Tiamo: Yeah, thank you so much for that kind intro Jason. The way I got started was through a lot of resistance actually, because growing up, my dad was a singer/songwriter, and he’s done it full time living most of his life and eventually I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps. I wanted to create my own trail and path and so I stopped doing music but in time, the music found me. Growing up, I was doing more classical piano and playing flute, and I was in marching band, and those kinds of things. Then I just stopped with music but then I didn’t know that I had this inner songwriter in me and when I discovered that, that to me was so much more inspiring.
And so, I started writing my own songs and performing them. It was an incredible experience as I started doing it at open mics and coffee shops and then eventually bars and clubs and hotels and things like that. There was this new singer/songwriter dream that was born and that eventually led to like wow I should probably record some of these songs and then I should probably sell some of it. I should probably come out with an album and maybe I should get radio play at some point. Then it became about growing a fan base and initially I just felt like this is something that I love to do. I didn’t think of it as a career because I had a whole other career but as I got deeper and deeper into this passion and this purpose with my message and my music, I started to become more serious about doing it full time. I didn’t quite know how because most musicians I was surrounded by were struggling artists, me being one of them. I really started to have pretty high aspirations with doing my music and more importantly, touching a lot more lives with it and along the way, which I’m sure many of your listeners can relate to, Jason, I started to have a lot more disappointment and a lot of what we might label as failures in the music industry, although there was a balance of big victories and accolades. I wasn’t reaching the big goals that I was striving for and so ultimately, that led to me quitting three times. Not just once, but three times.
I was like, I just can’t do this anymore! I’m so exhausted, I’m so tired. I don’t have it in me anymore and I had convinced myself that, well, maybe music is supposed to be like my side gig or supplemental, and I just need to grow my professional career and what I was doing. But after the third time I quit, something was different. Something was very different because I stopped doing music for a year and the thing is, I couldn’t turn off the music inside of me. It was still there. I still had all these songs that hadn’t been born yet. I still had so much I wanted to say, I still had so much inspiration, like, overflowing, but I kept telling my mind and especially my ego and my fear, like, well, I’m not going back there because I can’t do this again.
After that, I found a completely new and different way that I’ve never ever heard of before and when I started on this new path, that’s when everything for me expanded and opened up. That’s when I was able to leave my full-time job for my new music dream. That was ten years ago and here I am today, sharing about that journey and what’s worked for me so that other artists could have similar success.
Jason: So, you had a real job. I’m just curious, what was your career or actual real job career that you had?
Tiamo: My real job? Yeah. So, I was working in higher education. I worked at three different universities and I had multiple jobs on those campuses, some of them around, like, early outreach and getting high school students ready for college. Then I was also an admissions counselor and I was a recruiter then most recently, I was an academic advisor.I just felt like that’s going to be I’m just going to keep growing in that world but I got really creative as an academic advisor with my vacation time, as opportunities started building. I not only had weekends but then I started taking three-day weekends or four days and mixing things up so that I could step away from my day job for a little bit to take advantage of these really thriving opportunities that were coming across. And so, I was really blessed to then be able to have the confidence to leave.
Jason: I think that message right there of just having that real job to kind of support. My guess is you learned a ton of things in being in a real job corporate environment that have probably applied and really helped a ton in your career as a musician.
Tiamo: It was huge because certainly a lot of people in the music industry have a certain stereotypical experience with musicians, which maybe some musicians are not the most reliable or dependable or professional or show up on time or are great with follow through. Of course, not all, but that is the case in some parts of the industry world.
So, for me, there’s definitely a skill set that I developed also, more importantly, I would say conversationally and interaction and all of that stuff. Then when it was time for me to become a full-time entrepreneur, it was like just the level of conversations I was having and how I approached people, how I approached venue owners, how I handled myself around very high-level people was something that they really respected, which really helped in growing my opportunities.
Jason: Right, and so your path that you’ve been down, you had a very successful career doing gigs and shows, but I also know now you’ve kind of evolved into this entrepreneur that does maybe even more of your businesses, is in coaching and helping other musicians kind of learn that they can monetize.
When you have these musicians come to you, and as you’ve worked with probably hundreds of people over the years, what advice do you have for these younger people as they’re sitting down with you and maybe they’re in that same spot as you of being frustrated and like, I’m done. I’m not doing music anymore. It’s not possible. What do you tell these people?
Tiamo: Most, if not almost all musicians that I talk to are very passionate, but they don’t know that there is a whole other way that they could be doing their music passion. So, most of them are stuck in one way, which is how the music industry does it, and everyone does it that way. So, they settle, they compromise, and they feel like, well, that’s just how it is. That’s what I call the music industry matrix, because I don’t believe that’s just one way. I believe that’s a way and there are so many other ways that also exist outside of the music industry.
The things I tell them initially is like, are you open to a new possibility? And initially they feel like, well, what possibility is that? A lot of them are like, I’ve been doing music for years. I would have known by now. I’m like, well, what if you haven’t seen it? Because you can’t see the frame when you’re in it, right?
So, it’s like so many musicians, including myself back then, it was like, I was so ingrained and programmed and conditioned in the music industry that I didn’t see all these abundant opportunities around me because I was so focused on one thing.
Which was what? Getting signed, being discovered, becoming famous, all that stuff. But then what I share with musicians is there’s this whole other world outside of the one that you’ve been living in, are you open to that possibility? And if they say yes, then I get very excited to tell them what it looks like. And then I get to see them light up and then hopefully have an open enough mind to realize that there is tremendous opportunity everywhere, all around you. You just can’t see it. So, when their eyes open, that’s a really exciting process for me.
Jason: Awesome. You talk about being open to these new ways and I think the podcast here is about successful musicians. So, a lot of the time I’ll ask people, what does success mean to you as a musician? I’m curious to know, what do you often see the musicians looking at as like, okay, this is success. I heard you say getting the record deal and that’s what they have in their mind. Is success all that? Achieving that goal of getting the record deal? Is that the end all, be all, now I’ve arrived? Or is it short lived?
Tiamo: I’m so happy you bring that up because I think for what a lot of musicians are striving for, those are things that I’ve accomplished, never been signed, thankfully, by choice. There were maybe a few opportunities there that, as I got savvier and smarter, I chose to not go into.
At that time, I felt like success was being discovered, getting radio play, having lots of fans, touring, those kinds of things and then I achieved most of those things and I was still unfulfilled because then there was like that next bigger gig, that was the bigger tour. I should be having more album sales, I should be getting more radio play, those kinds of things. So, since then, my outlook on success or my perspective on it is not about those external accolades or circumstances. It’s really more internal, which is, am I fulfilled today? Am I at peace? Am I living my highest purpose? Do I feel vibrant? Am I happy? Do I not need something else to happen outside of me to feel great about my life?
So, for me, it’s more from the inside out. Now. It’s like my priority is what’s going on in the inside, which is how I feel about my life and the gratitude that I have, the people that I love, and then the things outside of me, which would be like the external circumstances or the opportunities or the money or the clients or whatever it is, that’s in addition to. So, it’s almost like the priority model for me totally shifted.
Jason: Got you. I know you do some of the things like mindset coaching. What exactly does that mean? It sounds like a really cool buzzword, but for those that are kind of new to the coaching world, what does that mean?
Tiamo: It means specifically for musicians to move from or transcend from being a struggling artist to being an entrepreneur, what I call a musicpreneur, to go from struggling artist mindset to you are a business owner that’s making profit, that can scale, that can grow. The more you scale and grow and profit, the more you can touch and inspire all these people you’ve been wanting to reach. The more freedom that you have to do it because you’re no longer struggling, but maybe you’re thriving.
So, there is this mindset journey that musicians have to go on which starts with all of this undoing and unknowing and un-programming that has to happen from all these years of feeling like this is the only way, like this is just how it is for musicians, we all struggle to then having an expectation that I can thrive. That’s why I call it a journey, because the undoing has to happen first and then it’s like really, this ownership of, oh my God, I’m not just a musician, I’m a business owner that is a musician. That energy completely changes everything. And then the energy of “I can be prosperous with my music passion”. I can do it full time; I can be way more successful than I ever imagined, and I can do it on my own. I don’t have to wait to be discovered. Which to me is a very reactionary, passive experience where you’re just hoping that you’re the one in 50 million artists that gets discovered and then gets signed, whatever that means anymore. And finally, I could just sail away and it’s like, wait a second. Instead of waiting, passively waiting for someone to come find you, what if you just found yourself and created this yourself that you can do right now instead of waiting? So that to me is like really the big mindset piece around it.
Jason: You’ve had that success. I’m curious, was there kind of one moment or was there somebody that gave you advice or was it just a school of hard knocks where you failed enough times and all of a sudden you figured it out? How do you feel? Where was that moment where you felt like you realized I need to be a music entrepreneur or a business owner instead of just trying to make pretty songs and feeling bad, somebody who wasn’t listening to them?
Tiamo: Yeah, I would say I had two of those moments. So, one is when I had this really big comeback concert idea because things started fading with my whole fan base and all my gigs and stuff like that. So, I got booked at this venue that holds over 500 people and I promoted this concert every day for six months and as it turned out, there were only two people at that gate, and I’m sparing the details, but that was devastating for me. That’s when I felt like, I just can’t do this anymore. So that was the breaking point.
Then after that, what happened? A year later I quit my music and everything else, and I’m doing my university work. I ended up going to this business seminar and I was interested in coaching at the time. I heard a lot about coaching and I started dabbling in it amongst other things. I was at this conference and there were a couple of thousand people there. It was a really big conference and I was in my seat and then the breakthrough happened because I realized that there was no live music at this conference and it just felt like something was missing for me.
There was some life that was missing in the room. There were very good speakers and there were all these experts but I just thought, man, if there was some live music here, it would just elevate the energy in this room.
Then as I had this thought, I knew before that all the important people, the VIPs and the conference organizers and things like that, they all hung out in the back of the room. So, I thought, I have to go to the back of the room. So, I just got out of my seat.
Before I could talk myself out of this crazy idea, I went to the back of the room and I asked if I could meet with the conference organizer and they totally looked like they looked at me like I was crazy but I got an introduction. So, he was hanging out in the VIP lounge, and I introduced myself, and I just asked if I could be on his stage that day. And wow. I mean, he definitely tested me, and he said, like, there’s hundreds of people who want to be on my stage. Like, why in the world would I have you on my stage?
Well, I explained to him that I’m a storyteller and I do original songs and I have a story and a song that I think would be perfect for this audience. It just so happens, Jason, that I brought my guitar for the first time in a year. Like, my intuition guided me to bring my guitar. So, he was like, all right, well, let me hear it then.
So then I had a moment and I shared this short story and I sang the song for him acoustic with just me and my guitar. Then he asked if I wanted to be on stage after lunch and that was astounding for me because then I was on stage and I was in front of a couple of thousand people and I told this story and I sang this song. It was unlike any experience I had prior to that because the people were already there. It was like this sold-out crowd that all I had to do was show up and do what I love. So, I told the story. I sang the song. People were up on their feet. They were dancing, they were singing. People were cheering. It just totally elevated the room.
From that experience, I realized that there was a portal, there was an outlet where I could probably do this at a whole lot of other conferences. So for me, that was like the big shift. As I started pursuing those opportunities, I realized also that there’s no one representing me. There’s no manager, there’s no agent. There’s none of that. I got to be the one that’s seeking out these opportunities. I got to be the one that’s speaking out for myself. I got to be the one that’s articulating all of this. That’s when I took on my business owner, my more entrepreneurial perspective, and that’s when things drastically changed for me.
Jason: Awesome. It’s funny how some of those moments happen when we’re most down and out and then the curveball happens and you step up to the plate. You go for it. You probably had no expectations but that’s probably one of the reasons that you were successful in getting that gig, is because you had such a good story to tell.
Tiamo: Well, I had a story that I thought was really complementary to the theme of the conference. It was just a very personal, heart-touching story. The song went with it, and I had to deliver too but I was very unattached because I had nothing to lose at this point. I quit on my music dream, totally unattached. It felt like a bonus experience. I get up on stage not thinking like, oh, this is going to be like my big discovery moment. I just thought I don’t know why I’m doing this but I just need to do this. Then after I did it, that’s when the light went off. I was like, oh, my God. I have something really special here.
Jason: Right? It’s interesting to listen to your story about you really have nothing to lose. I know there’s a lot of people that are scared to death to talk to people. I mean, they say public speaking is like the scariest thing. People would rather die than speak in public for some people but I think there’s these moments where when you have that idea, if you don’t act on that idea, then you’ll miss that opportunity. I’ve heard lots of musicians and other people just didn’t throughout my life say, oh, that would just be too weird. I’d never do that. And I’m like, well, what have you got to lose? You’re never going to see this person again. If they think you’re the weirdest person ever who cares?
Tiamo: I know.
Jason: I think if you look at your height, I look back at my high school years and everybody runs around high school, it felt like and everybody’s so worried about what somebody else is going to think about them that I think a lot of people and I know for me in particular, I never was willing to be myself.
It was always like I think a lot of people run on edge. They’re too worried about being themselves, and so they run around trying to be somebody else or what somebody else thinks they need to be. I think especially in the music world, and add to whatever you want on this, but when you’re coaching people, a lot of times I think musicians have this idea of this is what I need to be or this is what can’t be done. They’re not willing to just be passionate and say, I like this type of music and if there’s only two people in the world that want to come to the concert and like my music, well then, I’m going to put on the best show for those two people ever and I’m going to love those two people. And guess what? There might be three next time and that’s okay. It’s just one of those where I think we worry too much about what others deem as success. I wonder sometimes how many people never take a chance and jump out of the nest and spread their wings to see if they actually can fly.
Tiamo: Yeah. To add to that, I’m not going to go into detail but I definitely at the time when I did have a manager and an agent and there were investors involved, and I had a really great opportunity in front of me, I chose not to take it and that was more of like, being true to who I am. That was a very hard decision for me and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made because the trajectory was laid out for me like, this is how it’s going to go. This is the path you take to have all the things that you’ve wanted as a music artist. I walked away from that because I could see where I was getting further away from who I am. It was also very confusing and it was hard to walk away because I had to let go of that dream of it happening in that way. To your point, I’m so happy that I did because then I found my own way, and my own way just served me so much better. And I’m grateful I did because I stuck to who I am and who I wanted to be.
Jason: You mentioned earlier about being a storyteller and a musician and that’s not something that I necessarily always hear from musicians. Like, I’m a musician, but what role do you feel like stories play in a musician finding, especially if they want to perform in front of others. How important is storytelling?
Tiamo: Storytelling has been absolutely instrumental in me not only growing my music business, but my business overall. These clients, coaching, the events that I do, courses I’ve launched, all of that stuff. The main theme around all of it is story. So, for me, it was like, as I was growing and evolving as a performing songwriter, at all my gigs, I would tell the stories about my songs. I wasn’t a great storyteller because I didn’t have any structure to it, I didn’t have flow. I was all over the place, but I would tell these very personal, very vulnerable stories. And I found over time, as my fans would share with me, that that was their favorite part of my gigs, were the stories.
Jason: It wasn’t even your music.
Tiamo: [Laughing] It wasn’t even the music. We love the music but the stories are like our favorite. That’s when we were at the edge of our seats and so as I learned, I had some friends that were speakers and things like that, and they invited me to come to some of their speaking events and all of that, and I was interested. I learned that speakers are just good storytellers with the message. I thought, wait a minute, that was another big breakthrough and distinction for me.
I tell stories too. I don’t think of myself as a speaker, but as a performing songwriter. I tell stories. So why can’t I just call myself a speaker? And so, by calling myself a speaker that had this gift for performing and songwriting, these opportunities in conversations of what I call keynote concerts completely opened up for me.
As I grew with keynote concerts, opportunities expanded for me when I became a better storyteller. And then I realized, like, wow, I could get booked for all of these conference gigs just for telling my story and singing my songs, which are all original songs.
But the key element was that I needed to become a better storyteller. And as I became a better storyteller, that’s what attracted people. That’s what drew people in. That’s what eventually led to repeat bookings and referrals and everything else. We want to book you because of that story and the song that went with it. We want that again. And that would be the thing that would be the standout, that would be the signature or the highlight moment of these performances, were the stories. And so, I discovered the art form and the craft of storytelling to go along with the performance of the songs.
Jason: I can still remember from several months ago, you had a framework that you shared or a roadmap of how to do a successful story. I don’t know whether I’m going to put you on the spot here, but it had to do with the seasons. And I don’t know whether you can share that. I mean, that was a huge value bomb takeaway that I took from our mastermind group. Do you mind sharing a little bit about that?
Tiamo: Yeah, I can share a little bit without overwhelming anyone here. But I found for me that there is a thread in how I tell my stories. I think people are very familiar with the heroes’ journey, which is an absolutely great tool, and for me, I followed a lot of that.
But then over time, I just started finding my own footsteps and my own blueprint with the flow of how I tell my stories. And so, with my keynote concerts, I do three stories and three songs. And usually with the stories there is what I call a standout story. And so that’s like the highlight story of the three.
And then I found that there were these steps to the story that I followed that I didn’t know I was doing at the time. But then when I sat down, I was like, wow, look at these, look at this progression of how I’m telling the story. Which then I called the seasons of your story. So, the best way I can put it is these steps. It’s kind of like six seasons. There are only four seasons, but two of them repeat. So, it’s really the first season of your story that you tell is the spring. The spring is like when things get started and they blossom and you’re just full of hope and optimism and everything else.
Then we go into summer, which is now you’re starting to put this into motion, you’re starting to get some results, you’re starting to get some confidence, you’re getting excited, like, oh, this is happening, like that kind of thing.
Then the fall is well along the way, maybe things didn’t quite go out as you hope. They’re not developing the way you envision. So now, a little bit of reality sets in and some adversity is starting to come in. That’s the fall. So that’s the third season.
Then the fourth one is winter, and winter is when the greatest adversity happens, the most vulnerability, and sometimes even the darkness, the struggle, the doubt, the fears, like those kinds of things. So, then that happens and that is the most vulnerable part of your story. And I can tell you that that is the part of the story that most people want to leave out, but it’s actually the number one thing you want to leave in. You never take out that part because that’s where we show our humanity and that’s when we have a much deeper connection with our audiences through that story.
So, then there’s the winter, and then what we have after winter is we have spring again. And so, the spring. And this is the fifth step. The spring is where you were on a quest to find your way out of the winter, and there were new possibilities and there were new opportunities, and there was a new way, and you had some insights. You overcame something. You had a breakthrough. Whatever that was that happened. And so that’s the spring.
And then now from the spring, we leap back into summer. And a summer’s magical once again, because now you are living it. Now, you’ve had the triumph, you’ve had the victory. You overcame the thing, and now you’re doing the thing that maybe you didn’t know is going to turn out that way, but now it’s like something you’re so grateful for, and it’s a blessing. And that’s really, like, your win or your accomplishment or your victory or your transformation. Like, it doesn’t have to be results based, right? You finally found inner peace, or you finally found freedom, or you finally found your truth or your voice or whatever it is.
That’s a sequence of seasons. It’s so important to have a structure to your story, that when you follow this flow and this structure, then people can follow your story so much better. And then there’s a whole point to the story.
So, at the end of the standout story, then you tell them the life lesson from this whole story so that there’s a point to it. And that’s really where people are inspired because they understand that it’s not just the story for the sake of telling it, but here’s how it relates to the conference or to the podcast or to the interview or whatever it is.
Jason: Absolutely. It’s funny. There are a few things you remember months and months later, and that progress that you explain it that way. It’s super valuable. I think everybody can learn from that as they’re telling stories and thinking about performing.
I know we’re well over time, so I appreciate so much you are taking time to share with others. If people want to learn more about what you do or want to check out your music, where should they go online?
Tiamo: Yeah, just go to Thrivingmusician.com. And there I have a very detailed master class where I actually lay out all this stuff about how to do keynote concerts, how to also get booked for or to get clients for high-end custom songs. Other things that I go into. But the best resource for that is Thrivingmusician.com.
Jason: Awesome. Well, Tiamo, thank you so much. Thank you for sharing your story with everybody today and continued success for you.
Tiamo: You too. Thank you so much. Jason.
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:
Tiamo De Vettori is the Founder of the Musicpreneur Academy. He is an acoustic-pop singer/songwriter and was recently named as “Singer/Songwriter of the Year” by LA Music Awards.
Tiamo has been featured on FOX, CBS, NBC and MSNBC. He performed live for over 100,000 people, and recently performed on stage at the Jimmy Kimmel Show.
He is also a motivational speaker who combines his on-stage charisma with his inspiring personal stories, original songs, and acoustic guitar to provide “Keynote Concerts”.
What You’ll Learn
In this episode we learn from Tiamo about how to be passionate in your music career and at the same time being open-minded to possibilities that there is a whole other way that they could be doing their music to avoid settling, compromising, and feeling that “that’s just how it is”.
He also shares about how he ventured into “keynote concerts” and the progression of how he’s telling the story in his concerts.
Things We Discussed
mindset coaching – It means specifically for musicians to move from or transcend being a struggling artist to being an entrepreneur, what I call a musicpreneur, to go from struggling artist mindset to you are a business owner that’s making profit, that can scale, that can grow. And the more you scale and grow and profit, the more you can touch and inspire all these people you’ve been wanting to reach, like, the more freedom that you have to do it because you’re no longer struggling, but maybe you’re thriving.
Keynote concert – a concert with the combination of inspiring personal stories, original songs, and acoustic guitar
Connect with Tiamo De Vettori
Connect with Jason Tonioli