"I have told people in the past that a part of the reason why I'm successful at all is because I didn't stop and there's 999 people around me who tried the same thing that I did who gave up after album two. They just stopped because they're just like “I can't do this” and so the successful people are successful because they didn't stop and that's why it's important to love what you do and to do it for the joy of it because if you don't find monetary success with it, you at least are fulfilled and you enjoy and love what you do." David Nevue

Successful Musicians Podcast Episode 3

Interviewee: David Nevue

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: Hello, this is Jason Tonioli. I’m here with David Nevue on the podcast today. David, we’re so happy to have you. You’ve been somebody I’ve looked up to for many, many years . I don’t know how to call you, “a pioneer in the the new age piano recording world” that you’ve done a lot of amazing things  and inspired a lot of piano players more probably more of than you even recognize uh when it comes to the whispering piano world but  welcome Dave, glad to have you here.

 David:  Thank you very much Jason. It’s great to be with you.

 Jason:  Let’s dive right in and let’s talk a little bit about how you ended up doing piano. I mean, really this is your full-time career where you’re able to do music as a career musician and how did you get started with that? What’s that career path you took?

  David: Well, it was really not intentional. I never saw this as being a future full-time career or job. It wasn’t my intent when I started. I just love to play the piano and I love to compose and write. When I was a kid, I would sit at the piano and I would find, play melodies from songs that I liked or commercials that I heard on TV as a child and I was always interested in music and kept that going through high school and into college. And then, when I was a freshman in college, I heard the music of George Winston and this would have been in the early 1980s and so I never considered prior to hearing his music, I never thought about the idea of writing for just piano. I think pre – Winston, I was always kind of gravitating towards writing rock music, synthesizer music and then hearing George Winston’s music, I thought I could do that. And so I started to compose and write for piano  as a hobby, just for fun and because it was something I could do on my own, I didn’t need a band to play along with. So I started to compose music and write songs and once I got enough songs to where I could actually do an album worth of material, I started asking around. There was a local artist here in the Pacific Northwest named Jeff Johnson who was somebody that I really looked up to and he is an independent artist. He’s always been independent. So I reached out to him and he helped set me up with a recording studio and I went in and recorded my first album and this was in 1991 of all my original music.

 Then, I just went and played in coffee shops and anywhere I could play – play for tips and I’d have my little cassette tape of my album and sell them and I kept writing and then I took my proceeds and my profits from my first album and just saved them up. And then, when I wrote another 10 songs and went back in the studio and basically long story short, this was just a hobby, it was something that I did because I enjoyed doing it. The timing was fantastic because all of this happened, was happening in the mid 90s and I was working for a software company called Symantec and so they were getting into the internet space, as it was happening and I was on the front lines of customer support and technical support for  their online customers and so I was able to at work in my break time and learn all about the internet and start building my own website and so by 1994 or so, I had a website and I was online selling my music. So not only was I selling at shows but I was selling online and so I went through this whole process. I wrote a book about it on “How to Promote your Music on the Internet” and the timing of everything was fantastic because I was able to build an audience online as the internet was happening and as people were becoming more aware of it. As a result, I was always kind of one of the first musicians in and with whispering solo piano radio, I started that in the early 2000s and that was one of the first internet radio broadcasts that were featured on iTunes. And on the Windows Media Player back when they were doing internet radio as part of the windows media player so really, I was able to be right at the front edge of the technology that was happening and promoting my music.

 By the time it got to 2000, I was making as much money online from my music and from the music business related things as I was working at Symantec and so I made a plan. I saved up a year’s salary and put a year’s salary in the bank and then I quit my job in 2001. I had the salary and I knew I have a year and if this doesn’t work out then I have a year to find another job but I never went back, I never needed to and I’ve been doing music full-time ever since. 

 Jason:  That’s amazing! It’s so fun. I’m just thinking about your timelines. I was actually graduating from high school right about the time when the internet was coming around. When you talk about cassette tapes, I remember I’m still trying to use my cassette tape in my house probably in ’94 to rewind and play and rewind and play to figure out how to do sheet music stuff. Do you smile when you think of YouTube now? It’s like, “oh my gosh it’s so easy to figure out how to do all this stuff now.” That’s amazing! 

 Talk more about whispering piano radio. I mean the whole idea for that and maybe tell us a little bit about what whispering is for those that don’t know and how did that come to be and what’s the goals of that?

 David: Well, whisperings radio is a radio broadcast that is exclusively solo piano music. The first real kinda iteration of it was done on a website called mp3.com way back when and that was about 2001 when I first did that and then I learned about internet radio as that was all coming into play but basically what brought that about was they say that necessity is the mother of invention.

 In those days, even though I was doing very well on the internet and building my music and a list of followers and building my email lists and things like that, I couldn’t get radio play anywhere because the style of music that I played didn’t fit on the radio. It wasn’t jazz and it wasn’t classical and there was a local radio station that had a program called “Lights Out” that played like between midnight, 2 am every night or something like that and kind of played this type of music but I really couldn’t get radio play so I just decided I’m gonna create my own radio station and the technology at that time allowed that to happen. It was all brand new and so I sent out with this venture like I got onto  like cd baby and I looked up all the piano players that I could find and listen to their music and try to determine whether it would fit – similar to mine in style and I was really concerned whether I would find enough solo piano music to work in a solo-piano-only-broadcast that had kind of that limited genre of being peaceful and kind of in our vibe.

 So, Whisperings Radio, solopianoradio.com as an internet radio broadcast went live globally in 2003 and it was the very first internet radio station that was solo piano only and it was the only one for about three years, three or four years before I started to see another similar station pop up and it was early enough to where I started Whisperings, it was one of about 20 radio broadcasts that iTunes was promoting under their classical stations.

 We started out with just just myself and about 15 other artists and I kept expanding and we have over 370 artists on the broadcast now from all over the world — all similar kind of vibe, obviously everybody has their own style but I try to keep it generally peaceful and calm, melodic melody is a very big thing for me, really important, try to keep the piano, the quality of the recordings good so we don’t have any out of tune pianos or anything that sound like toy pianos. Some of the digital piano sounds from ages ago especially were pretty plinky. They sound like little toy pianos so we keep high quality recordings,  high quality music and we’ve got all this music. It’s been going for 20 years now and still going strong.

 Jason: Awesome! You’re probably one of those guys that wouldn’t want to brag about this but your music’s been streamed like over a billion and a half times on Pandora and I’m sure you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of millions, maybe the billion mark on Spotify and Apple. It’s hard to even track some of that stuff but as you look back on the type of music, it was this kind of easy, peaceful piano music, is there is there kind of a formula? I’m sure people ask you all the time, Is there advice you give to people on type of music? Is it just going with what you feel? Is it better to do covers? I hear a lot of people talk about that. What advice do you have for people in that realm?

 David:  I think a similar question because I do get asked this a lot is basically what should I write to get on Whisperings. What music should I write to get on Whisperings Radio? I always kind of push back on that and tell people you need to not worry about being on Whisperings Radio, you just need to be yourself, be yourself and be authentic and be who you are and then you can submit your music and all you know and if I can find something that works, then I’ll use it.

 I say that for a couple reasons — one because I get a lot of materials submitted to me and for the broadcast and I maybe use 20% or 30% of it so if you do an album for Whisperings and then we don’t use it, then are you going to be happy with that album? I mean you want to write music for yourself that pleases you, that you’re happy with and content with. I think you have to be authentic. I don’t know if there’s a formula. I know that in the modern era right now, especially with Spotify, being where everybody’s at and where everybody’s focused on is getting their Spotify numbers up because Spotify seems to be at least in the artist’s mind, Spotify seems to be the place where you want to be seen and where you want to succeed. Despite the fact that I’m not sure people of my agent up or quiet on the Spotify bandwagon yet I know some are, it’s better than it used to be but I know that Spotify makes everybody kind of go toward this idea because there’s certain formulas and certain styles of music and certain ways of recording. Felt piano, for example is huge on Spotify right now so people are writing songs that are like 2 to 3 minutes on felt piano because they want to get that attraction on Spotify and I understand that because they’re trying to build an audience and they’re also trying to make money because they want to do this for a living. It has its pros and cons. For me, artistically, I’m more interested in being authentic. I’m not necessarily interested in writing for Spotify. That being said, I would be lying if I didn’t say that Spotify has somewhat influenced me in terms of the direction music’s going, in the sense of, if I’m composing a song and it’s a 4.5 minute song and I’m like well I have a four and a half minute version of it but I could also do the song and kind of cut out this extra little blurb here and shorten the introduction and I could make it three three minutes or three and a half minutes and then I’ll opt for the shorter version because I think, not only does it perform better in the Spotify world but also I think for me artistically, in the same way as a writer of prose and poetry in the past, the objective was always condensed, condensed, condensed, condensed, condensed and I think that’s kind of artistically being something that  I’ve been adapting to as well – trying to keep pieces shorter rather than going on these epic musical rabbit trails 

 Jason: … that may or may not lead to revenue or happiness or joy

 David:  That’s the thing! If you’re writing all this music just to try to get into an algorithm,

I don’t know, it feels inauthentic. I mean, I think you can be authentic and still do that

but I think for me, maybe at my age, especially I don’t know, I’m just more concerned about doing art and doing something that I like, and then just kind of hoping. My whole life has been that – just doing me and not worrying about trying to mimic somebody else or sound like this person or be better at this necessarily. I just want to do what I enjoy doing and then if other people like it, then great. But I think that brings the most joy in the long term because you can look back at your catalog and you know you’ve been  authentically yourself.

 You know I have 17 albums now and so I look back and every album represents kind of a chapter of my life  and I can look back at that and feel good about it. But, if I did an album that was done really for promotional purposes or marketing purposes, then it doesn’t really represent me so much as it represented me trying to be something that may or may not succeed in that.

 Jason: Right. You mentioned people trying to find success or figuring out how to get into that world. There’s a quote you had I found online that you said about becoming successful. I don’t even remember saying it but it has your name after it so it says:

          “For every 20 things I tried, one worked maybe. Try and fail over and over. That’s the only way to discover the one thing that will advance you to the next opportunity. To try and fail, repeat, never stop, find joy in the process and be thankful always.”

 One of the reasons I’ve started this podcast is I’ve seen too many musicians sometimes get discouraged and I think sometimes they kind of aren’t themselves and being okay with who that is or what that is or what that sound is. What if you were going back, to let’s say rewind the clock 20 or 30 years back, or let’s say you’ve got a grandson that is kind of where you were, what advice would you give them? If they were thinking, “Man, do I want to do music?” or is it even something that’s worth pursuing now that you know that apparently computers can make up music as well now?

 David: Yeah, I think my advice to somebody would be the same as it would be to myself and I think it’s something I’ve kind of held true to which is – if you enjoy doing it, do it; if you enjoy doing it and it brings you happiness and it’s fulfilling, then just do that thing.

 I never did this to become a semi-famous piano player or to be recognized in odd places – which has happened. Nothing like being recognized in a bathroom. But you just do what you do and love to do and I think there’s two parts of that — one is, if other people and I would maybe say this hedge this by saying, other people who are not your friends and immediate family, if they love what you’re doing and if they see what you’re doing and they really encourage you and they say “wow, what you’re doing is great”, “I really love this, how can I get that? or can you make one for me? or can you do this for me? or if other people believe in what you’re doing and see the value in it, then believe them that you’re good and believe them that what you have is a gift. I think one of the things that artists struggle with a lot is insecurity. Am I really good at this? Does my mom think so? You know what I mean? 

 First of all, be brave enough to present your art to people outside of your family and friends right. If people come up to you, like if you’re a piano player and you and people love your music, then believe that and trust that and have confidence in that.

 Confidence is a big thing and then having confidence in that and knowing that you have a gift, knowing that you have something that people respond to, just go for it and put your music out there and learn. There’s no excuse with the internet being what it is now. There’s no excuse to not be able to learn how to do things, how to navigate software, how to navigate recording, how to navigate. Find resources, other people who can help you and point you in the right direction. There’s no reason why you can’t do that now. There are no gatekeepers anymore. It’s you. You go and you look and you’ll find.

 And then I would say, the other part of that, aside from just believing in yourself and recognizing if other people see a gift in you that it really is something and then just press forward;  the other half of that is to not stop when you encounter challenges. When you encounter a dry spill, if you feel like you become artistically dry right now, I’ve just hit a dead place, I can’t write or whatever; or if you find you release an album of material or you release a single as we’re all doing these days – singles and nothing happens, don’t get discouraged and stop. The people that you’ve seen, that you look up to, that you say, “Wow, they’ve succeeded. I want to do what they do.” All of those people have hit the wall a thousand times before something broke through. I have told people in the past that part of the reason why I’m successful at all is because I didn’t stop and there’s 999 people around me who tried the same thing that I did who gave up after album two. They just stopped because they’re just like, “I can’t do this.”

 So, successful people are successful because they don’t stop and that’s why it’s important to love what you do and to do it for the joy of it because if you don’t find monetary success with it, you at least are fulfilled and you enjoy and love what you do.

 Jason:  As you look back, I mean you’ve done a lot of recording sessions and probably a lot of different studios, as you think back on some of those times, what are some of those most memorable moments? What do you feel led up to that being extra special for you when you were doing those sessions?

 David: I think what my mind immediately goes to is taking a chance with improvisation. I went into the studio, there’s an album that’s one of my most popular, it’s called Adoration Solo Piano Hymnsand I went into the studio with these hymn arrangements that I had composed and written and so the intent of that studio session was to record all of these songs and so I did that. 

 But what I would do in my breaks from recording is I would just sit down and improvise. One of the things that I was for up until a couple years ago, but for 20 plus years I was a worship leader at my church, one of the many. So, I would lead worship on piano and guitar and so on.

 I had all these worship songs in my mind that were favorites and what I would do because I really wanted the Holy Spirit to be in the work that I was doing with the hymns and so I would take breaks to just worship and just sit at the piano and just play and improvise on some of these songs that I lead worship with, that I’ve been playing for years and I recorded those kind of worship breaks and I ended up, after I got done recording the Adoration Solo Piano Hymns album, I realized just kind of going through those breaks that I had recorded a whole other album of music that was mostly improvisational in nature that I didn’t plan on recording. So that ended up becoming my  follow-up album to that which was called The Revelation Solo Piano for Prayer and Worship and everything that’s on there is improvised, more or less.

 I think that was a pleasant surprise. That album contains the very first song that I ever  recorded that was  just an accidental thing. I was playing a song and I hit the wrong chord and I just kept playing and improvising and it ended up becoming… it was a song, it was so beautiful, completely improvisational, I didn’t plan it and it’s the first recording of a piece that I have, that’s an actual live improvisation that actually made it on an album.

 So, that was a pretty amazing thing. That whole experience was very much great because it was worshipful and I got to use my gift in a couple ways. I got to go in with the planned songs and arrangements that I had worked on for so long and record those hymns that meant so much to me but on the flip side, I also got to just kind of play in the spirit and just let whatever happen, happen. Then, I came out with this gift of an album that I never expected and brings me a lot of joy and it’s just a really neat experience.

 Jason: That’s so good. I love what you said about just having it, taking that time to be willing to improve and I know a lot of artists feel that, I don’t really call it imposter syndrome where they don’t feel like they’re good enough. I know my first few times down in the studio, I would go in and I’ll be polished and have everything perfected – the sheet music’s there, and you get through it and it turns out great and that’s nice but there’s some spot I think in every really great musician’s career where you’ve let go and even if you’re following the music, when you can just kind of let go of being stressed out, if I hit a bad note and being okay with it and going with it, it’s almost one of those. I don’t know that you can hear it but you can actually feel it. I think when that artist kind of,  it’s almost like there’s this like the sigh of relief that happens.

 I’m not a piano teacher but I don’t know how you teach that to somebody – until they finally got to that point where, “You know what, I don’t care if I screw up now, it’s just I’m playing for me” and there’s not a bad note because it’s just I’m going with whatever the spirit or that feeling happens to be and when you can when you can somehow break through that, I know for me, those moments have also been some of the most powerful. 

 Sometimes it happens in performances, sometimes it doesn’t but especially the studio or even just at your home piano, find that , just listen. I think what if you can kind of dial back and listen to that feeling. When you say listen to feelings, people probably think we’re crazy but I think it’s a real thing.  Do you have any thoughts on that?

 David:  I kind of do. I like to think that music is fourth-dimensional. I think that maybe it’s better to say hyper-dimensional. Maybe, fourth-dimensional is too limiting but music taps into the spiritual world. Clearly it does because music influences all of our emotions and feelings and it influences people for the positive and also music influences people for the negative. So, when we’re connecting with music, I really believe that we’re tapping into unseen realms- for positive or for negative. I see this all the time because in my profession as a performing artist, I have done concerts where I had in my view, the worst performance of my life and then had people coming up to me with tears streaming down their face, telling me how it’s changed their life and I’ve come to believe that there’s such power in music and that it is so integrated with the spiritual realm that we can’t see that as just in the obedience and just in the submitting to it and just playing, especially if you’re a person of faith as I am, and just playing in faith that between me as the player and the performer and the audience that the Holy Spirit does his work.

So, people actually hear more than what I hear. They hear something that I’m not doing deliberately and it’s not manufactured –  it’s something beautiful that is happening in the spiritual realm that I can take no credit for. The wonderful thing about it is though it’s magnified in live performances, it can also be captured in audio. I think it’s diminished but I think you can still hear that essence and feel that essence.

 How many people, Jason have said to you, “I really feel, I can feel the holy spirit in your music. I can’t explain it but when I hear your music, there’s something more to it that speaks to me.” I’ve had that said to me so many times and I think that brings me so much joy because I feel like even in the recordings, the music is being used in ways beyond what I can comprehend and maybe hopefully, I pray, having a value that’s in it, of eternal value that will continue after I’m long gone. It’s something that I pray for…because I don’t really know how to do much other than play piano and write music.

 Jason: …and inspire a few people

 David: Yeah, so it’s very meaningful to me to think and to believe that because some essence of that what you’re talking about can be captured in a recording that it will be carried on and people will just get a glimpse into who I am and the Holy Spirit and the creative work that’s done you know through my music, even when I am no longer present in this world physically to actually make it live.

 Jason: That’s great.  I think that’s what keeps a lot of us coming back and writing more music is those comments and knowing that you’ve helped somebody through a hard time or touched them in some way. The ones that always get me and  it’s kind of a sacred thing almost but I can’t tell you how many emails and people have told me that their grandmother or their mother or father has passed away while listening to my music. I mean it’s one of those like you’ve got the soundtrack and they’re like it was a movie soundtrack. When the cd stopped and that was when dad took his last breath and you’re just like, “Oh, I did not plan that.” Those types of things, I think there’s something more to it than what any of us in this world probably recognize and it’s neat to be able to tap into that in a small way, for sure.

 David:  I take a lot of joy in knowing too and I guess one of my encouragements to you would be and I’m sure you’ve thought about this is that for every person who emails you and reaches out to tell you that story, there are a hundred people who didn’t. So, we can’t even begin to measure the impact that we have on the world through our music and not only through our music but through the words that we’re able to speak to people because of the music. The reason I’m here speaking to you right now is because I have this catalog of recordings and that because I’ve had success doing this and that’s also why artistically and as an artist who is a follower of Christ and  wants my music and what I do, all of my creative work to have value beyond just the world that we can see. It’s so important to not let those negative voices  distract and discourage us from doing these profound things and we have to just really have faith that if we take the gifts that God gives us and put them into the world, that God will use those things and that those things will be great encouragement to others and speak to others and bring peace in a world that is just rife with destruction and discouragement and…

 Jason: … negativity

 David: Keep doing what you’re doing and if you’re an artist just starting out, I mean if you’re trying to figure out what’s your why for doing this when it’s so hard, maybe that can be part of your why, not only do you love doing it but you know what maybe it’ll have a profound impact beyond we’ll ever see.

 Jason: I love your thoughts of just showing up every day and not quitting. You lasted longer than the other 999 people that quit. Maybe there’s somebody else that you got to album 10 and maybe still hadn’t had your big success yet and you just kept doing it because you felt like that was what you were doing. I think that’s great advice for anybody, even outside of the music world. 

 Find what you’re passionate about and don’t worry about what other people think you need to do. Find that passion and then I think if you show up to serve and find those people you can impact the most in whatever way you’ve been feeling like you’re prompted to do so,  man, you will find joy and whatever it is, not just music.

 It was great chatting with you, David. I wish we could keep going. I think we’re probably out of time here but if somebody wants to go and look at your music or go listen to it more, where should they go to find out a little bit more about you?


David:  Well, obviously, go to my website which is davidnevue.com but you can search for me anywhere – I mean Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Youtube. If you go to YouTube, you’ll see some live concert performances of me playing but you can literally find me anywhere and Whisperings Solo Piano Radio is at solopianoradio.com if you want to listen to a lot of great music by a lot of artists from all over the world. That’s me.

 Jason: Awesome. Thank you so much and we’ll put all those links in the show notes for anybody who’s wanting to go click and check it out but you’ve definitely been somebody I’ve looked up to for a long time so I thank you for that. You definitely helped me believe in myself when I was probably on the brink of going one direction or another so I appreciate all you did for me. So thank you.

 David:  You’re welcome.



 Hey, it is Jason here and I hope you have gotten a lot of value out of this episode. Be sure to check out our show notes to learn more about our guest for today and if you’d like to support our podcast, there’s a few things that you could do to help us grow. 

 First, if you hit SUBSCRIBE, it will help ensure that you do not miss future episodes. Second, if you SHARE this with your friends on social media, send it via email or messages, help us spread the word as well. Third, if you leave an honest review, it really helps with the algorithm so that other people can find our podcast. 

 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 today is David Nevue who is considered “the pioneer in the new age piano recording world”. He is an internationally recognized pianist, composer and recording artist. David began promoting his music online in 1995 – an “internet age” before iTunes (or even Google) existed. 


David’s music has surpassed 1.6 Billion spins on Pandora Radio, and hundreds of millions, maybe billion mark on Spotify and Apple.. 

He founded Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio in 2003, the very first internet radio station that was solo piano only. After almost twenty years “on the air,” Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio is home to over 360 talented piano artists and broadcasts to tens of thousands of piano music fans from all over the world every single day.

What You’ll Learn

In this episode, David narrates how he ended up doing piano as his full-time career. He also features how he came about Whisperings Radio and how he was able to be right at the front edge of the technology as early as 2000’s. 

He gives his secret on success and how to find joy and fulfillment in this industry. He also shares valuable tips on what to write to get on Whisperings Radio and explains how music taps into the spiritual world, how music influences all of our emotions and feelings and how it influences people for the positive and for the negative.

Things We Discussed

How to Promote your Music on the Internet (Book)

 Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio

 David’s Albums

 Adoration Solo Piano Hymns

 The Revelation Solo Piano for Prayer and Worship

Connect with David Nevue








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