"I don't think that success means you make a hundred thousand dollars a year from music. Maybe it just means that you have another job but you do this on the weekends and you love it and you can't wait to do it and you make enough money to pay for all your gear and your gas money and whatever like, it's whatever is going to make you feel like it's worth it and that you want to keep doing it." Bree Noble

Successful Musicians Podcast Episode 4

Interviewee: Bree Noble

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 Successful Musician Podcast. I’ve got Bree Noble here with me today. A friend and one of the most interesting people in the music business that I’ve met. She has one of the most inspiring origin stories (we’ll call it) of anybody I’ve met. So, Bree, welcome, and tell us a little bit about how you got started in the music business.

Bree: Thank you. I’m glad to be here. Well, let’s see. So, you know, as the typical musician says, like I’ve been singing forever. I started singing when I was little along with the radio. My mom bought me a piano when I was 6 and I started playing the piano.

Now, what was interesting about that is actually I had glaucoma since birth so I have like a rare recessive genetic disorder called congenital glaucoma so most people get glaucoma when they’re old but I had it from birth so I had a lot of eye surgeries when I was little and so just the idea that my mom would be like “sure you could play piano like no problem!” like it didn’t even occur to her that I couldn’t play piano and so I got this piano teacher that was like a friend of my grandparents and she’s like, “I don’t know.  I’ve never taught anybody that has visual difficulty like I don’t even want to charge you, I don’t even know if I can help her.” It turned out that she did a fantastic job and working with her for two years, I was playing in recitals and all of that. I learned how to read music even though it was really hard for me to read it because it was small like when you have glaucoma, you’re very nearsighted and so I would need to look up super close to the music in order to be able to see it. I needed it to be a large print and everything.

Actually, her husband was a blacksmith like on the side, I think it was just like a hobby and he built this contraption thing that attached to the piano where you could pull like instead of just the regular where the music sits,  it had like these sliders and you could pull it and I could put it like this close to my face and be able to actually see the music so I could read while I was playing. It was a little hard because it’s hard to see my hands with that right in front of my face but that at least allowed me to learn how to read music and not just have to learn everything by ear.

So, I took piano lessons for I think five or six years, typical junior high, and didn’t want to practice all that so I gave up. But I still kept playing on the side and I started kind of writing little songs as high schoolers do, in four chord progressions because that’s all you know how to do and so I was doing that on the side and I was in all these choirs in high school. I was in every choir in every high school offered. I was in the Barbershop Quartet. I did solo competitions and I ended up going to college at Westmont College in Santa Barbara for music and music performance and vocal.

While I was there, I got the chance to perform with the school’s ensemble where we kind of performed like I’d say about every other weekend. We went out for the whole weekend and we’d go to all these churches, rescue missions, juvenile halls, and things like that where we would kind of talk about the spread of the gospel message but also talk about the school. We were like representing the school and I learned how to perform in a group and solo and talk on stage and all that important stuff that you need to do and we also got the opportunity to record some albums in Downtown Santa Barbara at a pretty cool studio where people like Kenny Loggins and the Beach Boys recorded and so that was kind of like my entree into the music industry and I absolutely loved it.

And while I was there, I also kind of got the practical bug hit me and I’m like, “Well, what am I going to do with this after school ends?” I really have no idea so I decided to also get a degree in business.

I left school with a degree in business, focus on accounting and management and then vocal performance, and sure enough, my school did not teach me anything about how to go out and get a job as a musician or what how in the world would I get gigs or anything, they’re just like, “Okay, we made you this amazing musician and drop you off on the side of the road and in a whole new town and figure out how to how to get a job or make money.”

So, I did fall back on my business degree and I worked in accounting for several years after I was newly married. My husband was in Graduate School and I had to help support him so I had to go out and get a job. And while I was doing that, I was always trying to do music on the side but I really didn’t know how I was kind of putting ads in the recycler trying to meet bands and be in bands and most of them ended in disaster.

Then, I ended up becoming a Director of Finance at the Opera Company in Orange County which was one of the top 15 opera companies in the US and I got to be the Director of Finance there for 5 years and I got the opportunity to hang out with all these cool, artsy people and go see opera, sit in the front row and go to fancy parties and everything. But the hardest part about that job was that I saw all these opera artists living their dreams, doing what they wanted to do, and even though I didn’t want to be an opera artist, I was like, “Why am I not doing that? Why am I not doing anything in music?” That’s what I really want. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter.

So, after working there for 5 years, we managed to be able to sell our house and make quite a good profit on it and moved closer to my husband’s job and I was able to quit working there. I worked at the opera part-time for a while. After that, I started raising kids and I gave myself that breathing room to like “I’m gonna figure out this music career thing.”

So, while I was home with my daughter who was little, I started trying to figure out how I could actually make a career out of this and one day, it just hit me. There’s no reason why you can’t build a music business just like you’d build any other small business. I knew the small businesses. I’d gotten a degree in it and I knew music, I got a degree in it but I didn’t like putting them together.

And so, finally, I was like forget all this music industry stuff, forget about these like gatekeepers and decision makers and needing a manager or any of those things. I don’t need those things. I can just go out there and be my own entrepreneur as a musician and so that’s what I started doing and I started grassroots. I started with my church and people that I knew at my church and just started spreading out from there. It turns out people at my church knew a lot of other people and they were involved in organizations that needed music for their programs and then those people were corporate people that needed music for their corporate events and so it was just this big web of connections and that’s how I started building my career.

And at that time, my daughter was little and I recorded my first album when she was 2. I started going on tour when she was 3 and what I did was I built a career around what was convenient for me and what fit my circumstances which was performing for groups where there were a bunch of other moms.

There’s an organization called ‘Mothers of Preschoolers’ and I was performing for them. They always needed a program every two weeks when they met and so I started doing a speaking and singing program for them, kind of about my life story and growing up with glaucoma and it was kind of like an inspirational thing that weaved in my own music and I was doing that for several years. I probably visited almost every moms group in California and even some up in Oregon because I was just kind of networking and one would find out about me and they’d tell another and that kind of thing and I also did a lot of community groups and women’s groups and not once did I perform at a bar or a club or any of that traditional music industry stuff but yet my schedule was full. I was selling plenty of merch and at one point I didn’t even have to call out anymore. I was getting plenty of referrals and that was when I felt like “Okay, this thing is really working.” I don’t ever even have to make a cold call. They’re all coming to me. I’m filling up my calendar as much as I want with local gigs because I lived in Southern California so there were plenty of cities. I did everything from senior centers to community groups, corporate stuff, women’s groups, churches, all of that in my area. I even did like some big conferences. I got to sing at Dodger Stadium, like a lot of really cool stuff all just from networking.

Jason: That’s incredible to hear! I mean what’s so interesting when I’m hearing about your story is you have all these musicians and most musicians that I know never went down the business path and didn’t study business as well. I  see so many of these talented musicians out there that do get discouraged and they decide, “I just can’t do this right, I’m not a business person” so they don’t pursue it unfortunately and then they go down some other career path but it’s interesting to hear your story where you had the two mixed together and I don’t know whether that was totally on purpose or by happenstance that it happened but my guess is you could probably attribute a lot of your success even in back when you’re performing for the moms to the business background that you had, right?

Bree: Definitely! I think it originally was a Plan B and then along the way, I realized “Oh this is like Plan A and Plan B should be put together to make Plan C which is the best plan.”

Jason: I’ve got several friends who are doctors and dentists as well and they’ve told me that they go to school for all these years to be a doctor or dentist and then they come out and like they don’t have any clue how to run a business. There’s not been any business class or how to have a practice but all of a sudden they’re supposed to be able to magically run their business and there’s a lot of Denison doctors that end up failing because of that and I think the same is true with musicians. It is almost like they should require classes in business for any degree. If there’s a chance you’re going to be an entrepreneur or a high likelihood, it should be a requirement in my opinion.

Bree:  I agree. My daughter is considering becoming a therapist and she’s already told me “I don’t like the business stuff” but I’m counting on you to help me figure out how to run my business as she knows of being around me that she needs to have some of those skills or at least she needs to have someone in her corner that can be the business side of her business. You’re right, it’s pretty much the same for everyone, especially including musicians and I think that we’ve made some serious strides since I went to college in the 90s in adding that business. I mean, I’ve been seeing at the college my husband works at and then like a lot of other students, especially if they go somewhere like Berkeley or Belmont, they’re getting more of the business side.

I went to very much like, it wasn’t a conservatory at all, it was a liberal arts school but it was focused only on the music side, like the practical ability side versus the what are you gonna do with this side.

Jason: The wording you use just used to describe your daughter. I think this is probably, this is a lesson I learned over the years and observing a lot of people but you just said “She’s going to depend on you to do it and help her with that” and what’s so funny is like with people who are scared of being an entrepreneur or doing the business side, when I was in school, I think back to my college days, there was an entrepreneurship class that I could have taken and it was the last thing I wanted to do like it stressed me out. I thought, “No way, I’m not going to do that and I was a business major because after I lasted three days in the music program and I dropped out and went over to the business school, thank goodness!

I attribute most of my success in the music career and business to studying business and marketing and learning that but what I’ve seen over the years is those musicians are and really with any career, those who are willing to proactively say “You know I may not like this but I see the value and the need for it, I’m going to dive in and figure it out and I think that’s almost the difference maker and in a lot of people’s you know financial success, in whatever their career might be, is if they’re willing to say I gotta figure this out and really dive in and go full steam ahead on it.

Bree: Yeah, I totally agree and the thing with my daughter is she’s worked for me since she was 11. She sees that like “Yes, you absolutely need all this business stuff” and like you said it’s not her favorite part, like she’s more of the creative she’d much rather sit around and create images for social media than actually have to do a lot of the business stuff and the money stuff. She’s not interested in that but she knows it’s important and she’ll  do it if she has to for her business or she’ll figure out who she needs to bring on to her team but at least she can understand all those things.

Jason: Absolutely! So, your story up through I mean you’re very successful as a performing artist, musician, we’ll call it living the dream a little bit but I know now you’re this place where you’ve coached hundreds and hundreds of musicians, if not thousands I don’t even know what your numbers are.

Bree: I’d say thousands.

Jason: I mean yeah you’re this very successful music business coach, how did you end up transitioning from singing for moms with preschoolers to all of a sudden coaching thousands of musicians to do business stuff?

Bree: It’s such a twisty path that you never know where it’s going to end up when you start doing certain things so what I did while I was a musician touring and all that stuff, I had this like side thing that I had created back in like the early 2000s where you could first start creating online radio station and I created this online radio station at Live 365 because I wanted to listen to all this music by female artists that I liked at work. That’s literally why I created it.

It was before iPods or any of that stuff. Like I want to put these mp3s somewhere that I can hear them at work so I put them on this radio station and I called it Women of Substance because that was my whole thing. It’s music that’s like really good, high quality, great lyrics, all that and I just put it there for myself but then all these other people started subscribing to it and I was like “Oh, I guess people like this.” But then like, I don’t know, mid-2000, like 2005-ish, once I had like a baby and I was kind of distracted from it, they started charging money in order to run it and I was like “Oh, this was just kind of a hobby” and I just like let it die for a couple of years and then when I was home with my daughter and I was like “What could I do in music to like help female artists?” Because I was meeting a lot of great female artists when I was touring and everything and there’s just not enough representation out there on the radio on SiriusXM or anything and so I’m like Women of Substance, I created this thing, I wonder if I could bring it back and like expand it and so that was like the seed of the an idea and I just said “Okay, I just need to figure out how to break even at first” because I don’t want to have to spend money on this thing. So, I figured out how to take submissions from Indie artists and I started putting other people’s music on there beyond what I liked but I would choose good music and all different genres and then it just started getting bigger and bigger like I started getting people saying like “Hey, do you take advertising and things like that?” and so it blew up into a commercial station and then when we got to around 2014, I saw that podcasting was the direction, things were going and online radio was kind of stagnant so we converted it to a podcast. It’s been running as a podcast since 2014. We’re on episodes like, I don’t know 13, 50 or something crazy like that, and all these to say like how did this turn me into a coach?

Well, I had built up a huge following of female Indie artists that I was building an email list, building socials all around Women of Substance. I was helping all these artists get more exposure and then they started coming to me asking me questions “How did you get gigs when you were performing? and how did you get more eyes on your stuff? or how are you building this community around Women of Substance?

So, I realized I could really help them and at the same time my second daughter was getting into kindergarten and my husband was kind of like “I think you should go back to work, you worked in corporate like you could go back to work” and so I went and started interviewing for jobs and I distinctly remember going to this interview and then going back for a second interview, it is an accounting job for Pizza Factory. I got home and I was like “I hope they don’t choose me” and I’m like why am I saying that? Why am I saying I don’t want this job? And I realized that what I really wanted to do was work online and I wanted to expand what I built with Women of Substance and helping female Indie artists and that was 2015. I started my Female Entrepreneur Musician Podcast. I started my academy and that’s how it all started and it’s now been 7 years.

Jason: The types of musicians you’ve ended up working with across the board all types of music or is there a type of music that you feel like you really connect with well?

Bree:  I would say singer/songwriter so you know encompassing folk singer- songwriter, adult contemporary, pop to some extent. You know we cover all genres and I’ve worked with musicians of all genres but I really identify with the singer/songwriter somebody who has a message, something that they really want to say with their music, a cause they want to get behind or just they want to tell stories with their music.

Jason: Awesome and I’m curious, you’ve worked with all of these people, helping these musicians try to find some version of success, what would you describe as success in the music career?

Bree: After having worked with thousands of musicians, to me, success is really about building a group of people that are eagerly anticipating your next thing, your next release, your next show, your next anything. I think that the hardest part is to find your people and if you find your people, that is gonna keep you going because you know they’re there wondering when you’re gonna put out something new, otherwise if you don’t have that, it’s like, “Well, why should I even work on this song no one’s going to hear it anyway?.”

You know what I mean? And so yeah, all of that, like the fan base does lead to income and it can be however you want – like I worked with so many people who have retired from corporate and they’re doing music in their retirement or they raise their children and now they want to get back to doing music and so it looks different for everybody but having that system where you’re like “Okay, I’ve got these people and I cannot wait to deliver something new to them” because I know they’re going to love it. That’s what’s really going to lead to the income that you want and however much time you have to spend on music, that’s gonna show up in how much income you’re bringing in and you need to figure out how that fits into your life.

I don’t think that success means you make a hundred thousand dollars a year from music maybe it just means that you have another job but you do this on the weekends and you love it and you can’t wait to do it and you make enough money to pay for all your gear and your gas money and whatever like, it’s whatever is going to make you feel like it’s worth it and that you want to keep doing it.

Jason: So, if you’re talking to a young musician, somebody who’s in high school or just going into college, what advice would you have for them as they’re kind of starting down that path and trying to decide, do I want to try and do music or not do music?” What advice would you have for that individual?

Bree: I think the biggest thing is to get a mentor like I wish I would have had a mentor earlier because I did waste a lot of time. I say 10 years while I was working at the opera and then even part of the time after that because I didn’t have a blueprint or a framework or anything to follow. I was just kind of like trying stuff out and then that didn’t work, let’s try this. If you get somebody that’s even a little bit ahead of you, they can easily tell you “I wouldn’t go down that path”,  Why don’t you try this? This is what worked for me.” It’s not to say that what works for someone else is definitely going to work for you but they can give you a lot of things that probably won’t work for you and so I wish I would have had that and I did eventually get that somewhat. I got involved in some kind of a mastermind kind of group of female musicians that were doing what I wanted to do and they’d all been in a little longer than I had and it made it so much easier because when I was like “How do I approach the subject of how much they’re gonna pay me when I’m calling about a gig?”

I just didn’t have a clue and they’d be like “Oh, here’s what I say…” Instead of me wasting hours on the phone doing a terrible job and not getting any gigs, just to hear what they have to say and like this is what’s worked for me and then I can get on the phone and actually have it, start working immediately.

So, I think that my biggest advice is to find people that are already doing what you want to do and learn from them and if you have to pay them to do that, that’s okay. I mean

you’d be paying to go to college. I would never say `”Don’t pay a mentor.” What they have to say and their experiences are valuable. On that same vein, like if you can’t pay for a mentor or if you want to find a group like I did, it was just more like a community and that’s why I’ve been so big on community in my in my coaching career is that if I hadn’t have had that community, I wouldn’t have been able to figure things out as fast but I also would have felt so alone and I probably would have given up because I didn’t have anyone who understood what I was going through and having people understand why it’s so important to you to do music is one of the biggest things because most people that aren’t musicians don’t get it. They just don’t get it like I can’t do music, I have to do music, it’s like built into my bones and the fabric of my body and people don’t get that unless they’re musicians.

Jason: I think musicians and entrepreneurs, it can be a very lonely place and I think a lot of times, there’s like the crazy 5% of us that are probably that musician or entrepreneur and the rest of the world looks at us like we’re absolutely crazy and they don’t get it but a lot of times they discourage people from doing that. I don’t know what, it’s like out of fear? or if it’s a lack of understanding of? they don’t think the same way when it comes to approaching risk and in their mind?

Bree: Yeah, if it’s our family members, I think they’re definitely protecting us and so it’s good to like look at that in love and be like I really appreciate that you’re trying to protect me but like this is very important to me and here’s why and here’s my plan and hopefully they’ll understand when you tell them that.

Jason: Absolutely. I love what you said about paying a mentor. If you can find that right mentor to do it for free but I think as I look back at school, you’re paying thousands of dollars to go to these college classes, and somehow when you graduate, I see a lot of people like that’s the last class they ever will spend money on and now they’re not going to invest in learning because apparently, they know everything. You know, when you’re 22 or 23 or whatever age you graduate at but I think those people that recognize the value in education and learning, they continue to reinvest and if you’re willing to spend that in college, why wouldn’t you spend three or five or ten thousand dollars a year in education, every single year of your life to get smarter?

Bree: Totally! And I mean I think other people’s perspectives are worth paying for. I always have either some kind of mentor or some kind of mastermind that I’m involved in – if not both, because there are so many things that you can’t see because you are in your own bubble and just getting those outside perspectives, I think is golden.

Jason: Absolutely! The key is learning to recognize the ones that are going to be valuable and I think you learn the hard way sometimes. My worst experience I think I spent ten thousand dollars on a course one time that was maybe worth a thousand if that unfortunately but I’ve had some, one of my very best ones I did was a hundred dollar course so anyway I would have paid ten thousand dollars for that one.

So, I’m curious,  speaking of courses, was there a time or was there a specific course or learning event that happened in your life where it was like that tipping point where you had that “Aha” moment where you know all of a sudden things started to click more than had ever happened before in your life?

Bree: Hmmm do you mean about business or music?

Jason: In business, music or just like this “aha, like oh my gosh”, it was something you maybe you invested in or a book you read, something that happened to make

you feel like you really had that tipping point moment.

Bree: Gosh.  I would say probably when I became a podcaster. When I realized that you could get paid for talking through a living [laughing] like I always really enjoyed talking on stage and that kind of thing and when I decided to start my podcast where I was helping musicians, I just immediately realized like I love doing this, I love teaching, I love interviewing, I just love like bringing out the good stories, the gold nuggets, all that stuff, I really enjoy that and that’s why I ended up to go on to do summits and things like that because I just really enjoy it. It also just helped me realize that I was a good teacher. I come from a family of teachers and so my husband’s a college professor, my aunts and uncles, they’re all teachers and so I always said “Oh, I’m never going to be a teacher, I don’t want to be a teacher, I’m not interested in that.” I’m a musician! But then I think from going from podcast to summit to just doing all the courses that I’ve done and teaching in many different ways in like live at places like ASCAP and stuff, I just realized I really love teaching and I love like figuring out how to make something – a system that people can follow and break it down to a step by step where people just feel like they really get the flow of it but I think once I started doing the podcast, that was like the slow march to me realizing that I was actually a really good teacher and I really enjoyed it. Something that I never expected.

Jason: Interesting! In hearing you tell that story, what’s funny is what you also said coming out of that is that you enjoyed seeing other people succeed and I think almost that’s a good teacher. So, my wife’s a teacher, my mother was a teacher as well and I think when you get around people that are really good at that craft, they just thrive when their students are successful but I think sometimes we don’t realize that really what makes us tick and makes us want to be a teacher and makes you enjoy it in the end.

Bree: Definitely! I attribute so much of where I’m at with teachers. Actually, I’m about to go in a couple of weeks to celebrate my choir teacher from high school’s 80th birthday and she’s having like this huge reunion of all the choir people that were in her choirs so I’m like “Gosh, if I hadn’t had her, I have no idea where I would be.” Same thing with my teacher in college that ran the group that you know. We performed all over the place. Without those two people, I would be a completely different person.

Jason: We need more teachers in our lives for sure because the impact they have is so powerful. I don’t think they realize that. Unfortunately, I think a lot of teachers never get to have that 80th birthday party where they get to see the fruits of what they actually accomplish. So awesome.

So, speaking of helping other people, I know you have several really amazing courses that you give away, you mentioned earlier, there’s one that came to mind, tell me a little bit about that and tell people where they can go find it.

Bree: One thing I noticed when I first started helping musicians is that they were like “There’s not really very many ways to make money from music” and I’m like “Yes, there is!” So, I created this kind of income guide of all these ways that you could make money from music that you hadn’t thought of. Especially that didn’t include performing because during the pandemic we obviously couldn’t do that and so I wanted to make sure that everybody… Everybody knows oh you can just go perform and make money but there are so many other things. You can grab that at profitablemusician.com/income. It is 15 sources of income you can tap right now for your music career and it covers a lot of different things that you might not have thought of.

Jason: Awesome and it’s totally free to download. Bree is just an awesome person where she’s always looking to add value. Thank you for doing that.

Bree,  it’s been really fun chatting with you today. We haven’t even had time to get into so we’ll have to have you back again but I appreciate your time today and thank you so much for all you’re doing for the music community and helping people to believe in themselves and hopefully find that success for them. Thank you.

Bree:  You’re welcome and I love that you’re doing this podcast for musicians.


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, and send it via email or messages, this helps 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:

Bree Noble is a talented singer/songwriter, speaker, and music business coach who is passionate about sharing her story and helping others. She coached thousands of artists and helped them become successful. 

In 2007, she founded an online radio station, Women of Substance Radio, to promote quality female artists in all genres. The station became a highly respected and sought-after source of promotion for female artists before it was transformed into a podcast in 2014 which dominated the #1 spot on iTunes.

Bree has become a pioneer for women’s voices in Podcasting. In fact, she was recently featured in a Forbes article called The Power Of Podcasting To Fight The Patriarchy.”

What You’ll Learn

In this episode, Bree narrates her inspiring story of how she overcame all obstacles in her life from having a rare recessive genetic disorder called congenital glaucoma since birth to leaving behind her career in business and transitioning into becoming a very successful Music Business Trainer & Mentor.

She shares some insider tips on how to make money from your music career and that all musicians should know a little bit about the business side of music. They will also discuss how important it is to have a mentor and how that will speed up your progress and that other people’s perspectives are worth paying for. This episode also highlights how important it is to be part of a community and how this will provide you with the support you need to keep going during hard times. 

Things We Discussed

Women of Substance Radio

Female Entrepreneur Musician

Discover 15 Streams of Income to Tap RIGHT NOW To Create Sustainable Revenue From Music   (Free Guide)

Connect with Bree Noble

Profitable Musician Website

Female Entrepreneur Musician Website

Female Musician Academy Website




Connect with Jason







Amazon Music

Apple Music

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