Successful Musicians Podcast Episode 9
Interviewee: Katie Zaccardi
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 our podcast today. Our guest today is Katie Zaccardi. She is a friend of mine that I’ve known for several months now. She is a musician, business coach, MINDSET STRATEGY coach, she’s done tons of expertise in branding, kind of helping monetize your music online as well. You’ve worked with a lot of musicians over the years.
For the Successful Musician Podcast, Katie, welcome. I want to just get to dive in. Tell us a little bit about your story. I know you grew up loving to play piano, just like most of us love piano and had maybe a mean mom that made us play…
Katie: Yes and I will say that my mom meant so well, but I can remember vividly sitting at the piano, not wanting to play, and she’s like, “Play it one more time and then you can leave!”
“I don’t want to do it.”
But I totally grew up the kid who did everything – piano. I was self-taught on guitar. Eventually, I picked up the ukulele. I always resisted the structure and like classical thing and wanted to just play pop music and write my own music and so that started pretty early on and eventually my very smart mother said, “Okay, you can be a musician but you have to know what you are doing so you don’t get screwed over when you go into the industry.”
So she suggested I go to school for music business and set up just getting an arts degree and I did, and so I studied at NYU. And while I was there, I kind of built up my own Indie artists career, released an EP and a couple of singles, did crowdfunding campaigns, got press, started gigging all over New York City and learned so much that I now I’m able to teach musicians from that experience.
But, of course, when I graduated college, I felt this pressure to get a real job as they like to say. So, I did. It took me a while. I got a job in Music Publishing and in that interim time of graduating and getting that job, I decided to do my yoga teacher training. And the reason for this was that I had struggled with anxiety throughout college. Yoga was really the only thing that helped me with it. And I also felt really alone in that journey, in general, but also in music. Nobody really talked about it but the more I looked around, the more people seemed burnt out and tired and stressed and anxious. And so eventually, over the years, I had to get myself out of this burnout and learn how to really take care of myself and manage my time and manage my energy and set boundaries and do all these things.
Fast forward to about two, three years down the line, I was tired working in music publishing. It was not filling my soul and I knew that I wanted to help more people and I knew that I wanted to help more musicians, specifically.
I saw a lot of women in music in particular around me who were struggling with the same things that I had struggled with early on in my journey. And so I decided to start my career as a wellness coach. That’s what I called myself at the time. It was really focused on like mindset, wellness, time management coaching, but pretty quickly evolved to incorporate strategy as well because I’ve always loved strategy and they always, you know, ultimately monitor it. And it has pivoted since then to really just be a holistic approach to strategy and mindset.
So, the bulk of what I focus on with my clients is clarifying your brand, creating your brand, building a fan base online and then nurturing those fans and introducing an offer that you can sell so you can make money online. We do that with strategy, obviously but we also incorporate a lot of MINDSET STRATEGY. There are breakthrough techniques and just working through these things might come up on a more emotional level as they’re going through the process. If you don’t work through those, it can often be hard to reach the goals that you want to reach. That’s kind of the quick and dirty of it.
Jason: So, you really didn’t expect to be… This wasn’t something as a little kid, “I want to be a mindset coach. It did not come up on the list of firemen, police officers and nurses…
Katie: Not quite! Honestly, I feel like I sometimes resist it too because I do love the strategy but it’s in the mindset that the magic happens. And I think I also am set apart from a lot of other coaches out there so there’s a lot of hustle -based coaches and a lot of people come to me are like, “I feel burnt out and I did this program, that program and it was just like so intense and like I feel the loss” but also there’s just so much strategy out there.
Strategy is easy. Strategy is what people go towards but a lot of times, as I just said, what people get stuck on is not just a strategy. And to be honest with you, I think that if I hadn’t struggled with anxiety, if I hadn’t done my UEd teacher training, which seems so out of left field like “why would I talk about that in the podcast?” but that’s what really led me down the path to getting more in touch with myself, just with myself… and its in that, they gave me the tools to be able to help musicians with that as well. And of course as musicians, we need that. You’re writing music from your heart, from your soul so why wouldn’t you want to be in touch with yourself in these other ways that helped you grow your career, as well.
Jason: Interesting. You have these musicians that run across saying, “Hey, I think I maybe need some help.” What are some common things that you see happen with a lot of… whether they’re actual musicians or just somebody in the music career, somebody that has music as a hobby, what are some of the challenges that they run up against?
Katie: I think that a lot of people are sort of, like, disillusioned with the music industry and discouraged. And there’s a couple different levels that can happen or ways that it can show up. Obviously there’s a lot of like, broken mindset out there that sometimes comes from actual experience and sometimes it comes from the stories where a lot of the music industry talks about how there’s no money in the music industry. So how could you believe anything else when you’re just kind of trained to believe?
I also see a lot of people who just feel, I think I would just say exhausted, like they’ve really tried to put themselves out there on social media and they’re not seeing the results. So they kind of throw their hands up in the air and they’re like, “It’s not gonna happen for me, nobody likes me, nobody likes my music, all hope is lost.”
But, yet, they don’t want that to really be the truth otherwise they wouldn’t get help. You know what I mean? They haven’t quite given up, however, their mindset has given up. Their heart has it, their mind and soul are still in it and desperately want to make good music but their thoughts are telling them like, “You can’t do this, you’re never gonna make it.”
The views so far on your Tik Tok have shown that nobody likes you. You should just stop now. And so it’s that kind of stuff that really can hold you back. Because of course, if you’re constantly stuck in this mindset loop, you’re not gonna want to move forward and you’re not gonna know how to move forward in a way that feels confident and what I like to say aligned.
A big part of what I teach is taking aligned action, meaning doing things because they are what you want to do, they’re what feels fun to you, what feels good to you, honestly, what feels strategic to you because there are a lot of different strategies you can use, but you have to figure out what makes the most sense for you, your creativity, your ideas, your expertise, personality, etc. So finding what’s aligned and really tapping into that is largely based on mindset because you have to be able to get behind that. You can do something that’s like, you know, the top strategy, but if you don’t believe it’s gonna work, or if you’re not really behind it, or you don’t feel confident doing it, it’s probably not gonna work. So that’s where the mindset comes to play.
Jason: Oh, if we rewind… this is somebody who wants us as a new career. If we go back even more in the teenage years, for the kids that just want to play for fun, what advice would you have for those types of people that are thinking maybe their piano, guitar or whatever it is? What advice do you have for that younger musician that doesn’t even know if they want to do it because of a career but if they did, what are the things you wish that person would focus on more?
Katie: Oh, that’s such a good question. I think that, if you’re not sure if you want to do it professionally, but you’re open to it, I would honestly say, just do what feels fun for you. And that might lead you down the path of deciding if you want to start performing and deciding that you want to release music and things like that. I feel like allowing yourself to not put pressure on figuring out what you want to do or how you want to do it, it’s something that can give you so much freedom and allow you to ultimately have more success, whether you want to keep it as a hobby or if you want to do it professionally.
One of the biggest things that honestly, this goes for business owners in general, this is a lesson I still am learning but especially musicians, it’s like the second you say like “I have to make money from this or I have to have a 100,000 followers on Tiktok or I have to do this”, that’s the second that you start to have obstacles in front of your goals that makes it so much harder to actually get there, that you’re putting there for no reason. Obviously, the goals are helpful. I’m not saying don’t set goals, but if you can allow yourself the freedom to just experiment and try new things and see what feels good. Before you kind of have to put things off like alright, now I really have to make money from this. You will most likely find more joy out of it, you’ll probably get better at it and you’ll likely find opportunities that will get you to where you want to go without it being some like hard and forced, stressful.
Jason: Some great advice. What would you define as success for you and then how do you define success? You’re helping people, you’re coaching them through, how do you define success for those individuals?
Katie: Yeah, you know, that’s such a good question. And it’s funny because I was just enrolling for one of my programs out to Patreon edition. And somebody on an application call asked me that very question: who’s like, what is successful? Like how many patrons does someone need to get or how much money does someone need to make for you to say that they had a successful launch?
And what I told him, it’s exactly what I’m saying right now was that, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.” What matters is that my clients feel successful, and 11:12 the only person who can define success is you. I think a lot of times we can even put our own, like I said, put so much pressure on ourselves to hit certain numbers, not because we want to do it, but because we are comparing ourselves to other people. So taking some time to really think about what you want out of this?
I heard someone say recently that you should start to define success not as a result but in the fact that you did it and you gave your all and I really, really love that but I also think that sometimes success is just “Okay, I get to play music for an hour at night and have the time and freedom to do that”, or maybe for others it is “I get to make a full time living doing that.”
I try not to get too caught up in the actuality of it because for some people it might be they make money touring. For others, it might be that they get to play music all the time, but most of their money comes from coaching or a part-time job or full time job and all of that is successful as long as it’s what you want out of your life.
Take some time to define what that looks like for you and what that means for you because nobody else can tell you what success looks like. And all that matters is that you feel fulfilled and you feel joy or whatever other emotions you want in your life.
Jason: It’s interesting. Growing up, a lot of people had been in music, probably grown up and they go to the church and there’s you got the person playing the organ or piano or whatever. But I think, as I looked at some of these musicians, some of those people that seemed happiest in the music was when they were serving or helping. I’ve got to play at the hospital, go play at nursing homes. And frankly, when you talk to them about music, they just light up. But it’s one of those where I think your advice is like, find what you love or find what brings you joy and if that’s serving and helping other people, do it.
I think you’re exactly spot on with his money. When you add that money element into music, it does at some point start to take a little bit of that joy that you might have by just sharing a piece of your soul with others. I think it’s so important with music and for all of us to keep in mind.
Katie: Yeah, yeah. And I think that, you know, that can be okay, like there’s nothing wrong with making money from music. And believe it or not, there’s a lot of people who get tripped up with that concept because it’s like, well, I love doing it. I shouldn’t charge people, I shouldn’t make money. And so there’s nothing wrong with that, like you deserve to be paid for your work. And on the flip side, I feel that just as a society and culture, we’ve somehow made it out that the only way you’re successful in music is if you have a major record deal and are making like millions of dollars, that’s not true. neither. You can be a successful musician, again, by just defining what success is for you. Like, you don’t want to get signed. Maybe you don’t want to have a huge following. Maybe you just want to play multiple gigs with people that you could really connect with and make a part time or full time living work. No money from it, right? Like, it’s just about the joy that it brings you. So for me, it’s just about smashing these expectations that you might have or that other people might have because it’s not about them. You know, no matter which way you go, whether you’re making money full time or you’re not making money full time, there’s all these things that can bubble up from it. And so again, get in touch with what you want.
Jason: This isn’t supposed to be a coaching session. I’ve learned a lot of them by looking back at some of the things I’ve done and looking at my first two albums, some of my books, and when I originally started writing music, I honestly could have cared less if somebody else liked it or not. I made music to share with other people and it just happened that…. I’ve just 50 copies to share with Glen’s family and a few I guess. When you do this album, and suddenly people didn’t like it, I think some of my music came about because I didn’t care. I did it for me and no, I really probably shouldn’t share this but it was never intended to…
Even to this day, there’s a lot of the times where the music I try to do myself helps other people. I know that other people are enjoying it but if they didn’t, that’s not my motivator. I think starting trying to support a family definitely adds a whole other layer of, call it success or whatever but I’m not sure if the money factor isn’t helping themselves to that…
Katie: Well, also like social media because I hear that same thing from people who are like, “I don’t want to get on social media because I don’t want to write music for Tik Tok or complaining that like all these artists are making music so it can go viral, it’s not like genuine and the thing is “I hear you” because yes, some people do that. But this is another instance where, create for you. You want to market for others and I can expand on that if you want but people can see through if you have written a song just to go viral on Tiktok and it probably won’t go viral because you can see it’s not genuine but when you create for you, that’s the step that people emotionally connect with, or want to hear more of.
So I think that this is so important to like in the creation process, take everything out. Don’t worry about making money. Don’t worry about going viral. Don’t worry about any of those things. Just say what you wanted to say. And then when you go to that next stage of marketing, that’s when you want to bring in the business strategies and “Okay, who’s gonna relate to this and how can I talk about it”, but that’s different from actual creation of your art.
Jason: I know you’ve done a lot of social media consulting or help with Tiktok, Facebook, Instagram and all that good stuff but I’m sure… I know there’s a lot of artists that compare their success. Well, do I have these big followers? People don’t like me or they do like me and I think it’s a really dangerous thing for artists to try to compare to others. I know for me, some of the most loyal fans, sometimes there might be 100 or maybe there’s just two loyal fans, impact 2, 10 or 100 people whatever. Try to compare it to a million people that really care less. I’d much rather have a handful of really close friends that really cared than a million people that just happened to see my thing because I was viral.
Katie: Yeah, I agree. And I think that we’ve put a lot of meaning and things that we don’t necessarily know about. Like you can see someone who has more followers and assume that they’re better, they’re more successful, they make more money, they have kept more money. We don’t know any of these things that maybe they’re happier you make that assumption, based on these small factors like ” Oh, they have 100,000 followers, I have 5000, They must be so happy and rich and everything’s easy for them and yada yada when those things aren’t true, not necessarily at least. So, you know, again, just like finding those pieces of joy and gratitude for what you do have and just focusing on yourself, that’s the only thing you can control. That’s the only truth that you know, to be true.
And you know, there’s always a story that you’re not seeing. Sometimes I feel like we can get frustrated as musicians or business owners when you see someone who just blows up overnight, but like “Did they didn’t really?” Maybe they’re putting in years and years of work before that. And it just appears to be a certain way. So I totally agree with you. I think that just can’t. It’s hard. Trust me.
I, sometimes will literally block people on Instagram or Tiktok because I’m like, it’s not that I don’t like you, but you are kind of like triggering me like you’re getting me into my comparison it is and I feel like I’m not good enough or I’m constantly watching what you’re doing or how your numbers are growing and feeling bad. Well, I’m gonna work on that. But I also might block you just from not seeing it so that I can kind of like get out of that. It’s so important to do that.
Jason: Any other advice for younger aspiring musicians you wanna pass through or want to share?
Katie: I think that the biggest thing that I have learned is that it takes work. And you might say, “Duhh, obviously”, but a lot of people, I think, aren’t willing to try new things or aren’t willing to work on themselves or work on their business skills. Right? I am creative. I can’t do business or I’m doing this strategy and nothing else is wrong without thinking oh, maybe there’s a mindset block and so being open minded and being willing to do like literally implement what you’re doing, what you’re learning, constantly learning about things and then implementing that and being willing to try new things and say, “Okay, where can I improve? Is it musically? Is it personal? Is it business savvy that I need to improve on?”
Really, being open to learning and expanding is what will set you apart from others and allow you to grow because a lot of people out there are not, they are not learning. They are not working on themselves. They are not even implementing what they already do know. And so the simple thing really makes a big difference.
Jason: Absolutely! We have hundreds of paid courses out there that will teach you anything. You can go to school, love it. I have so many things at your fingertips with Youtube and then podcasts. The more you get into podcasts with people; you’ve done I know several 100 episodes of your podcast, there’s so many gold nuggets people can get for free that can help you expand your knowledge from super smart people who charged 10’s or thousand of dollars and they give those information in podcasts for free.
Katie: That’s a good example for it. There are people who are listening to the same podcast as you but are not implementing a dang thing that they have learned. And so if you can even just take one thing that you learned and put it into action, and maybe it doesn’t work for you, but now you have learned if it doesn’t work for you and you can go from there. That already is going to put you ahead.
Jason: There’s an email I had just over the weekend from somebody who’s done a ton of consulting, talked about how he does speeches all over big conferences and 10s of 1000s he is in front with, He said people want to know about this idea. He basically said I was doing this all the time because he’s a very helpful person. In the email he said, “I realized all of these people that want a minute of my time and want to pick my brain, they don’t do anything.”
I have this realization that unless you’re willing to pay for the advice and willing to pay for the time, he charged 5000 dollars for a 4-hour consult. I’m like “Holy cow, that’s good money!”
Katie: (laughing) I need to start doing that.
Jason: But what made me kind of step back and realized is like you know there’s people that would just like to pick your brain but doing something and getting to work, getting off your butt and doing something, maybe that’s charging for it and what’s actually helped people if I was charging for that consult, or even the time when people value input and advice they’re gonna get.
It is so much more fulfilling… both of us, I’m sure we’ve helped hundreds of people. I’ve given advice, but how many of them actually did anything? Gosh, am I doing a favor to that person to charge them? I need to get the money’s worth so I’m going to do something about it now.
Katie: 100% and I think that the accountability aspect in it is huge as well. I give this example to take it outside of coaching. You might say well, you’re biased, obviously you want people to pay you.. I think with yoga, and what did I say one of the first things I said on this podcast was I’m literally a certified yoga teacher but I got out of my yoga routine and I can do it myself without any video. I can just do it if I wanted to.
I also could put on any of these 1000s of free videos on YouTube and yet it’s still not doing it. But what makes me stay accountable and actually show up is when I pay a yoga studio every month to have a monthly membership because then I go to class because I’m accountable. My money is going somewhere. And then I get to connect with other people. There’s like a lot of other winds that come with it, but it’s the same thing. So you know, there’s somebody who you’re showing up to when you pay for consultation or coaching or mentorship or whatever it is. And by being able to not only have your money on the line, but also have someone else on the other side who’s helping you that you can kind of like to rapport to or share the wins with, share updates with, kind of holding you accountable. I think that was a huge, huge difference as well.
Jason: I played piano growing up and I think about my piano lessons; the only reason I ended up practicing was because my mom would hold me accountable and it’s the same concept like if somebody cares, then you’ll follow through, if you don’t care, it certainly not gonna happen.
Anyway, it’s some great advice, Katie, I think we’re about out of time. So if people want to go with us or learn more about where they should go to find more?
Katie: You can go to katiezaccardi.com and that’ll pretty much send you everywhere you need to go. I have a podcast called the OUT TO BE PODCAST, and we have 2 seasons out now – 2 long seasons so it should last a while.
Otherwise, I’m on Instagram @katiezaccardi and Tiktok @katie.zaccardi.
Jason: Katie, it has been awesome talking with you. Some great advice. I appreciate your time today.
Katie: Thanks for having me, Jason.
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.
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Finding success and fulfillment in the music industry is possible. Looking forward to seeing you in our next episode.
How to Connect with the Featured Guest:
Joining us in our podcast today is a musician, business coach, and a MINDSET STRATEGY coach. She’s done tons of expertise in branding, helping monetize your music online, wellness, time management coaching, building a fan base online, nurturing those fans and introducing an offer that you can sell so you can make money online.
She has a podcast called “The Out to Be Podcast”. It is a podcast for musicians, music entrepreneurs, music industry coaches, and music teachers, that discusses all things music biz strategy.
So far, she has helped hundreds of women in music grow their careers, release music, launch Patreons, start coaching businesses, and double their incomes!
What You’ll Learn
One important golden nugget in this podcast is “create for you.” In the creation process, take everything out. Don’t worry about making money. Don’t worry about going viral. Don’t worry about any of those things. Just say what you wanted to say. And then when you go to that next stage of marketing, that’s when you want to bring in the business strategies.
She also emphasized on applying what you learn. There are many free courses out there, but if you do not have that accountability to put everything into action then it is all in vain.
Things We Discussed
The Out to Be Podcast – a podcast for musicians, music entrepreneurs, music industry coaches, and music teachers, that discusses all things music biz strategy.
Connect with Katie Zaccardi
Connect with Jason