"People think the band rolls into the place, plays a show, and then everyone is swirling martinis afterwards."
Elizabeth Bougerol and Evan Palazzo met when they both answered a Craigslist advertisement in 2007 for an open jam session and bonded over their love for such jazz greats as Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. In 2014, their self-titled debut album, The Hot Sardines, was named by iTunes as one of the best jazz albums of the year. Since the, the band has performed at renowned music festivals in Montreal and Newport. They have performed with an 80-piece orchestra at the Boston Pops, headlined on the Turner Classic Movie Cruise, and sold out more than 25 shows at the iconic Joe's Pub at the public theater in New York City.
Their 2016 album, French Fries and Chamagne, featured a duet with Tony Award winning actor, Alan Cumming. Jazz may be their passion, but it's also their business. For Evan and Elizabeth, going to work almost always means leaving their families to board an airplane for an extended trip. Not only do they have to put on a great performance each and every time they go on stage, they're also responsible for employees, promotion, logistics, profit, and loss.
In this conversation, we learn how the band jumps from playing small jazz gigs in New York to touring performing art centers around the world, and what you can learn from an airline pilot about being a good band leader. We pick up the conversation backstage at The Lyric Theater in Stuart, Florida.
Transcriptions are produced by AI as well as humans and may contain errors.
Episode 01 The Hot Sardines Glen SandersWelcome to Main Street Hustle, a podcast that will introduce you to everyday people who became entrepreneurs because they saw a real opportunity and worked their ass off to make it a reality. These are entrepreneurs from around the world that know the path to wealth is not easy, and it's not quick, but it's totally worth it. My name is Glen Sanders. And like our guests, I am a small business owner. My business is Fresh Air Flicks, the company that specializes in big outdoor video screens for sporting events, outdoor movies, and marketing. We're just getting started with this podcast, so your support is super important. If you like what you hear and you want to hear more, please support us with a donation on Patreon. Subscribe to Main Street Hustle on iTunes and leave a nice rating and review. Follow us on Facebook as we build a community of like-minded small business owners. If you jump over to MainStreetHustle.biz, you'll find links on our website, extensive show notes, and as time goes by, we'll provide follow-ups on your favorite entrepreneurs from the podcast. Elizabeth Bougerol and Evan Palazzo met when they both answered a Craigslist advertisement in 2007 for an open jam session and bonded over their love for such jazz greats as Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. In 2014, their self-titled debut album, The Hot Sardines, was named by iTunes as one of the best jazz albums of the year. Since the, the band has performed at renowned music festivals in Montreal and Newport. They have performed with an 80-piece orchestra at the Boston Pops, headlined on the Turner Classic Movie Cruise, and sold out more than 25 shows at the iconic Joe's Pub at the public theater in New York City. Their 2016 album, French Fries and Champagne, featured a duet with Tony Award winning actor, Alan Cumming. Jazz may be their passion, but it's also their business. For Evan and Elizabeth, going to work almost always means leaving their families to board an airplane for an extended trip. Not only do they have to put on a great performance each and every time they go on stage, they're also responsible for employees, promotion, logistics, profit, and loss. In this conversation, we learn how the band jumps from playing small jazz gigs in New York to touring performing art centers around the world, and what you can learn from an airline pilot about being a good band leader. We pick up the conversation backstage at The Lyric Theater in Stuart, Florida. Glen Sanders (GS)What was managing the band like back in the day when you guys first got started? When I saw you the first time, I think it was in a little place in Red Hook Brooklyn. Elizabeth Bourgerol (EB)Oh, Jalopy. Evan Palazzo (EP)Jalopy Theater. (EB):Well, it was kind of a single stream operation then, because if we got offered a gig, we would take it. That was pretty much the beginning and the end of (GS)And how did you get a gig if you had to go hustle them? (EB):We started out doing open mics, just Evan and me, then Evan and me and a tap dancer. We did it as a hobby. I think it's important to call out, each of us had other jobs. (GS)You didn't intend this to become a business. (EB):Never. (EP):Never. (EB):Never did. (EP):No. And those who slowly began playing with us, once we started doing open mics, like us, were thrilled beyond belief to have a gig. Most of them were tips only. So, bring your friends and get them to pay and then split the money. So we're talking $20 in the end. (GS)That was your revenue stream, the tip bucket. (EP):Yeah, it was (EB):$40 a man was a good night. (EP):Yeah, that Jalopy Theater was probably something ... I don't know. The thing is, everyone was enthusiastic. It was new, it was a hobby, it was fun. We were grateful to play. (EB):Yeah. (GS)What was the next stage up from there? You start getting booked for paid gigs? At what point are you getting paid? (EB):Juliette at Shanghai Mermaid paid us the first time for a gig and we played Shanghai Mermaid, the speakeasy. It was fun and it kicked off a period where we played that speakeasy a number of times. Then, I think, the first paid-paid gig that we got is when someone who had seen us at Shanghai Mermaid was getting married and said, "Hey will you play our wedding?" And we were flabbergasted. We were like ... you know ... Juliette said, "Well, I'm happy to mediate the deal. Why don't you send me your contract." And we were like, "Crap, we need a contract." So we hit up a musician friend of ours. He was like, "I'll send you ours." (EP):Yeah Sauerkraut Seth, he's a legendary bass player and sauerkraut maker from the [inaudible] who had [crosstalk] (GS)That's how you get a nickname. (EP):Yeah. He had a contract which was good enough to give me. So we then began to modify and build it into a contract for when we had needed one. We were just shocked we needed one. (EB):Yeah. Then, the thing that really did it was, at this point, we're playing a couple nights a week at various bars or bar-type places, the Cupping Room in SoHo. We played there a bunch of times. The occasional wedding. And then a woman I know who throws these other parties called Gemini and Scorpio sent out this blind email. In Gowanus, Brooklyn, that's right. A woman named Larisa Fuchs who's a party thrower and promoter and another sort of these great minds of the underground New York scene ... sent out this blind email, "Hey a friend of mine is looking for a band for Bastille Day, that does some French material." It was ... her whole list served. (GS)Did you have French material at the time? (EB):We did. We had ... (GS)Oh yes, from the beginning. (EB):We had some French material, because it was always a gimme for me, 'cause I'm French and grew up in France. I always wanted there to be that element of things when we were developing material. (GS)At what point do you get out of the underground? (EB):This is the story I'm telling. This blind email comes in, "Hey, someone's looking for a band that'll do some French material for Bastille day." So I send on a link to some French stuff that we'd done. I don't hear anything. Then a few days later, I get an email from her that says, "Hey, you got the gig and it's Mid-Summer's Night Swing at Lincoln Center. (GS)Oh, hello. (EP):Yeah. (EB):And I remember getting up from my chair and pushing my office chair away and going, "NO, no, no, no, no." Because we were in no way ready. We were in no way ready for this gig. But at the same time, my head was exploding. (GS)At this point, you're not a touring band. (EB):No. (EP):No. (EB):Oh my god. (EP):No, no. (GS)Who's handling marketing? (EP):There's no marketing we had a website. (EB):We're doing every- (EP):Do we even have a website yet? (EB):I made us a Facebook page. (EP):Facebook, well no, Myspace first. (EB):Oh my god. For five seconds, we had a Myspace page. And Myspace was dying but we had one of those. Then we had a Facebook page. I was doing ... we were doing everything. (EP):It was word of mouth, too. We got so many connections from what we had been doing that we didn't realize were connections. I think that's something very interesting, that when you do these things for the love of it, these things can happen and you gotta jump on it. (GS)So you were networking and you didn't even know it. (EB):Yeah. (EP):Partially. But, we did have more of a togetherness, I think, as far as ... you know, we got pictures as soon as we could of something. We put up videos before that was a really big thing all the time from like our Shanghai Mermaid shows on YouTube, [inaudible 00:07:25] YouTube. (EB):I think, one of the things I didn't realize was such an asset at the time is, the job that I held before was, I covered culture, I was always an editorial. The last gig I kind of had when we started playing music together a lot was, I had been a travel editor on the web and then I went freelance. My biggest gig was covering culture, especially music, for NBC New York online. I would get press releases all day long of people who were like, "Come to my gigs, check out my products. See my thing." (GS)So you knew how to promote? (EB):I knew how to make a journalist's job easy. I knew what I was looking for. Someone looking to call something out. I was writing for lots of different publications at the time, too, in addition to NBC New York, like Time Out and New York Magazine and so on. So, I kind of diluted everything, distilled everything, and tried to get our little burgeoning thing into a nugget that someone might pay attention to. We quickly developed something people could send around, which I think is a big piece. We did Mid-Summer's Night Swing. We added material, because we didn't have enough material to fill the whole program of Mid-Summer Night's Swing. So, we worked really hard, worked really hard. And rehearsed a lot. And played the gig. Mid-Summer Night's Swing, for your listeners who don't know, it's out of doors at Lincoln Center. There's a paid ticket dance floor area, but then it's free for anyone who wants to come around the periphery. Between the paid and the periphery, we had five or six thousand people. (GS)Nice. Your biggest crowd so far. (EP):Oh yeah. (EB):By, many thousands. (EP):When we started touring on the road, that was once we had a booker. (EB):Who had relationships with performing arts centers and jazz clubs. (GS)Did they find you or did you find them? (EB):All over. They found us. (GS)Great. (EB):They found us. Our agents found us and kind of shadowed us for a while and finally signed us and worked on putting together our first big tour. (EP):Yes, our first big tour. (GS)So now, you're advertising all those expense out over multiple jobs. (EP):Oh yeah. (GS)Rather than flying and doing one job. (EP):It's an entire different business model than what we had as a band that played a lot of private events. A band that played at the standard hotel and in New York and around, we did. Because it requires logistics out the wazoo in order to make it a successful tour financially. You can get wonderful offers and lose money on a tour. (EB):Oh yeah, and we have and probably will again, because, as with any business, there are going to be the opportunities. The opportunity cost, you have to look at what it's going to bring you. (GS)Sure. So you look at what you're ... this trip you're in right now, we're in Stuart, Florida. You flew into Jacksonville first? (EB):We sure did. (EP):Yes. (EB):And we'll be flying out of Tampa, I believe, at the end of the week. (EP):Sarasota, is our last show. (EB):Sarasota's our last show. I think we fly out of town. (GS)But you hit what Jacksonville, Stuart- (EP):Fort Lauderdale. (EB):Sanibel and Sarasota. (GS)So you've got five cities, but probably what, six or eight dates total in there. (EP):Yeah. In eight days. You have to basically think of it as a film shoot. I think of it a lot like that. Because you have the prep work for the tour. Once our agent presents us with offers that we feel we can turn into a successful tour and line up date-wise, geographically. Offers never come in geographically and in date order. (GS)Then your agent has to go hunt down the other locations and say, "Hey can we piggyback this on the other one?" (EP):Exactly right. (EB):And sometimes if he doesn't, we'll go ... like on the last tour we did, we were on the road for about 11 days and we started in Louisiana and we ended in Nevada after detouring over to California. There were a couple of nights off in there, initially. Sometimes we'll go and find something to plug a hole so that we can advertise the cost on the road and also expose our music to an audience that might not have heard us before. But that's very different from where we were four and a half or five years ago. We were playing in New York City three to six nights a week. All you needed for that was a swipe of a Metro card and everyone shows up at the gig and everyone goes home. (EP):Yeah. (EB):But now what you're doing is, you're trying to figure out how to get nine people, because we're an eight-piece band and we have one road manager, nine people from point A to point B. While you're moving them through time and space, you need to so in such a way that when they get to the show, they feel refreshed and they feel like they're ready to give a good show. Because the average person knows that when they spend all day traveling to go on vacation or even like a business trip, if they've flown all day and then there's three hours in a car or whatever, all anyone wants to do is order room service and go to bed. That's when our day starts. So, we then have to perk up. The musicians have to be in a place to play a good show. Evan and I have to be in a place to meet the people at the venue, talk to potentially journalists or reviewers who are at the show, make the crew feel appreciated. [crosstalk 00:12:54] sit down for a podcast. There's all those other extra layers. So we have an operations manager who does the lion's share of the nuts and bolts of the logistics at this point, but we're all setting the tone for that together and making decisions. But we're always thinking, how humane can we make this stretch of time on the road with the idea that people need to be able to perform, both musically and as ... for us, as people who run the business. You need to be in that fresh space. Then you need to get up the next day and do it again and go to new spot every night, for the most part. (GS)But wait, you're the musicians. You're the talent. Can't you just sit back and say, "Hey, management team, take care of it all. (EP):We're self-managed. (EB):We don't have a manager, so we are our own manager. To a certain extent, when things really go sideways, yes, we'll call in our operations manager, Gwen Eyster who's such a key piece of this whole scenario, to say, "Our luggage didn't arrive in time. But we have to get on this cruise, which will be leaving port." And this is a real story- (EP):That was the night (EB):We talked about travel nightmares. We played for a couple of years running, the Turner Classic Movies Cruise, which is a classic film festival on the high seas. What it means is, you know, you don't just get the next plane, because the boat will leave. We had to ... we did call in Gwen to help get everyone on different flights so we can try and catch up, once we missed this one plane. (EP):We also prevailed, and they were very good, the Turner Classic Cruises on the Disney lines. So the Disney folks were handling the cruise end. Here we are in California, missing flights, having to get to Miami the next day. When we got there without our luggage, on different red eye flights, without the bass, without various things. They sent out this emergency call through the Disney web and we waited on the ship and worked and called people. And as the ship was pulling away, we were playing our first set in our (EB):In our T shirts. (EP):Regular street clothes. We saw them loading the bass onto the ship. We saw the gang planks were being pulled up. This last one was left. They're pulling them up and we went, (EB):15:19We're not- (EP):15:19That's a classic (GS)15:21It's not like you can call down the street and rent a bass either. (EP):15:28No. Because was a lefty, so it's a very specific bass. (EB):15:31Another incident we had, and this will come back to your question, don't you have a management team to handle this, Evan's plane was compromised when we were flying to LA, because he was flying from a different airport the rest of us were flying from. The airline lost our bass so the bass player couldn't play. And Evan couldn't be there in time for the start of show. We needed to do two things; source a left-handed bass, which is a very unusual item. We were in LA. That's better than being in Peoria or some place without, for instance, a music school or whatever. So we were able to find a bass. But we were not able to get Evan there in time. So what I did, I restructured the show, about 20 minutes ahead of show, such that we played material that we could play without Evan being there playing piano and leading the band on stage. That's one thing you have to do. You also have to be unflappable, because the musicians can't look at you as a leader and see you freaking out. It's like you're on the plane and if the pilot sounds like he's freaking out, then you know (GS)Everybody's going to panic. (EB):You have to be completely calm and you also have to be completely calm for the people who've hired you and who've sold a lot of tickets, and to whom you have to deliver the news. (GS)Then you've got the audience itself. (EB):Then you've got the audience itself. (GS)Got a lot of stakeholders in this process. (EB):The fact is, even if we were Beyonce and we had a whole team of people to manage that, you can't physically replace when Evan is on a play and comes sweeping in after intermission, literally directly from the airport. It doesn't matter that you have a management team. Those are still things you have to deal with. (GS)Don't you think Beyonce still has those problems too? (EP):Yes. (EB):Exactly. (EP):She certainly does. (EB):It's what I'm saying. Even with a management team, if Beyonce missed her flight, Beyonce missed her flight. (EP):Yeah. (GS)Right. With no Beyonce, there's no Beyonce show. (EP):The other lesson I'll say on that, now we have an even harder role, which is cost aside, we do not fly far away the day of show. (GS)Right. You're not going to cross country. (EP):No. (EB):And that's a money decision, too, because of the fact that everyone on our team, all our musicians and our road manager, are paid for every day that they travel. Even if they only have to be at the airport at 7 PM, they get a full day of pay and a full per diem. (GS)So now your cost just went up. (EB):Right. You just added- (EP):By a whole day. (EB):Your cost just went up by a whole day. Probably, you have an extra rooms that you want to put everyone into. That's where it gets down to different bands run things differently. That's just how we ... (EP):That's a penny wise, pound foolish, when you're taking a risk of missing a show. I think that's, in this business, people are reasonably saying, "We need to grab this one. We need to get this one." It's a hustle. Like the podcast. It's a hustle. But you don't want to hustle in a way that really comes back to bite you. (GS)You said you're self-managed. (EP):Mm-hmm (affirmative) (GS)So do you manage the numbers, too? Is there another ... I would think if you want to be a musician, you're like, "Alright, I don't have to (EP):No, no, no. (EB):No, we have no team. We have an accountant who we talk to a lot and who we're constantly pouring over the numbers with and figuring out what can we afford to do next, can we do this? Can we do that? Always looking at the pie, what we refer to as the pie. Every business has their own pie and how they spend their money. (EP):Delegating is a critical way in which you can self-manage, if that's the path you're on. Because, if you take it all on in the minutia, if you take it on all the details, you'll never have the time. So delegating is a skill that I know we continue to learn and get better at, because it's hard to give up control. So the way in which we do these things is by keeping very strong purview on everything that's going on and finding people on our team who can provide us with the workload that we don't have the time to do, so that we can make decisions. The quality of life thing is also, I think, unique to each band on the road. In our case, really important. If you don't have a certain standard of quality of life on the road, at 8:00, they are not going to be capable. I won't be capable. It doesn't mean we're luxurious on the road, but to be comfortable on the road is different. (GS)What's the big misconception that people think of a band on the road versus the reality of what it's like to be a touring band? (EB):I think that people think the band rolls into the place, plays a show, and then everyone is swirling martinis afterwards. Or, depending on what music you listen to, that it's just fish tanks of blow afterwards and trashing the hotel room. In reality, there's a lot of hanging out, but it's a lot about managing your energy on the road. You can't sustain, at least I can't, and I don't think Evan can, sustain the energy you need to be able to perform. It's not trashing the hotel room and fish tanks of blow, kind of scenario. It's a lot of trying to find private moments. (EP):It's disciplined living. (GS)How does that pertain to having a band? You've got to consider who you hire. (EP):Yes. But it ... it's disciplined living and disciplined people are able to do disciplined living. A new person who's just to the road is going to make all the mistakes that we made, which is pack too much stuff, forget everything at the hotel rooms, get to the venue and everyone's scrambling to find their X, whatever it is. Also, they're going to be exasperated and thrown through loops a lot, because sometimes things don't go exactly as thought. We're running an hour behind, we can't check into the hotel first, we have to get to the venue. We get to the venue, they aren't quite ready for us. You have to sit in the green room and wait. Those kinds of things. You have to- (EB):Probably kind of like a film shoot. (EP):Yeah that's exactly like a film shoot. There's a lot of waiting. But there's also a lot of time to be quiet, if you're smart enough to take it. I think people thrive when they're able to compartmentalize the road into the times when we're together and we're being very social and engaging with each other, with the audience during the show. But then, it's very important that people go their separate ways, whether it's in the van. You can go your separate way in the van. You don't have to actually be away. But it's that- (GS)Imagine when you have to put on your HR hat and find the right musicians to tour with you. You A, have to look for maybe musicians who have already have toured or have some experience touring, so they know how to do that. And/or B, have the maturity to be on the road and realize that they have to perform everyday. (EP):Character. You have to find people who have a solid character, I think. (GS)Not to mention stage presence. (EP):Right. That goes without ... let me just say, there's so many wonderful musicians who touring isn't right for them. There's also people who are great at touring, but might not be able to do the job musically. It's those two, you have to have both of those things for the road. (EB):So, you know, to have this same group with us touring a lot, it means that those musicians can't really, because they're on the road so much, they can't really put down roots in other projects. We've transitioned to a setup where we hire per tour. They'll be overlapped, they'll be they same musicians sometimes. (GS)Then you're building a wider group of musicians that know your material. (EB):Yeah, now, for each chair, if you will, there's a few people. Everyone brings their different strengths. (GS)Is that true for yourselves as well? (EP):No. (GS)Is there a time when ... what happens when something in your personal life- (EP):You just talked about our nightmare. That's the nightmare, Glen. (EB):That is a big piece. (EP):We don't have that one solved, very honestly. (GS)If you want to start crying on microphone. (EP):Well, I think it's a great question. It's one we grapple with. (EB):We have to figure it out. (EP):We do have ... that is something that we have to figure out. (GS)But when you were pregnant, did you have a plan to. (EP):We did, we did something. (EB):We did something. The timing was weird, because when I got pregnant, our agent had just booked our first national tour. He had booked 85 dates. (EP):Yeah, two to four week tour blocks. (EB):Yeah, and I was due in April. If I had just been a musician for hire for this outfit, that would've been one thing. But as my own project that we spent years, working with Evan to build, this was such a culmination and such a next-level for us, that I made the decision to, with my doctors, I made the decision to tour as long as I could. Eventually, I wound up hopping of tour a month before giving birth, and I missed nine tour days only. (GS)Nine out of 85. That's pretty good. (EB):And we developed a show that was largely instrumental. We brought in another musician who did some vocals. That was great. I wouldn't do it again, for my own personal health. Because then I also hopped back on tour three weeks after giving birth, which I don't recommend to anybody. I think this is also one of the things about being an entrepreneur, it's your baby. (GS)Yeah, you can't be replaced. (EB):And I'm not talking about physical baby. I could maybe be replaced, but also, especially at these moments of growth for your business, when opportunities are raining down and you've waited to get to this place, I didn't want to be benched for that. I wanted to be there for all of those things. The reason I hopped back out so quickly was to play the New York Hot Jazz festival, a really wonderful festival we've been involved with since the beginning and I wanted to be there for that. Then a week later, we got to be on Later With Jules Holland, which is like the greatest music show in the UK. All of those things. It's really hard. (GS)Which leads right into the very big question of, work/life balance. (EP):Yeah. Working on that still, Glen. But we've come a long way. (GS)You've not gotten it perfected just yet? (EP):No, but I- (GS)You both have kids at home. You both have spouses and kids at home. (EP):Yes. I think everything we've talked about, about the quality of life on the road, as well as the duration of the tours, and wonderful support of spouses, which is truly the biggest blessing. (EB):Three years ago, between touring and local gigs, we were away, for all intents and purposes, 160 days out of the year. (GS)And how is it different now? (EB):92 days. (EP):90's. (EB):Last year was 92 days. We’re talking about almost slicing it in half. (GS)You're keeping a limit on that on purpose. (EB):Yeah. (GS)For this reason. (EB):Very much by design, we scaled back. (EP):It's also a business decision and a personal. I think the two can't be opposed to each other. They have to be working together, because we are in more demand, one would hope, when we're not willing to just take any offer, because we want to work 365 days a year. Believe it or not, as great as the band can be, or a band is, that is going to burn ... everyone in this business knows that it's going to burn a band out. They're not going to have fresh material, they're not going to ... you said we play the same things every night. But (EB) mentioned this. I think most touring bands play more of the same things than we. I think we vary our repertoire way more. One of the things we kind of take a little pride in, so that audiences will come back and see us a second and third time, are not going to see the exact same songs. The business side of that is, you can build up your profile and take on what we call love gigs, which are gigs that are not for money, which we do frequently, and really build up the brand and exposure in different ways, as well as do the touring. (GS)Don't you have to bring up your price, so to speak, so that you can work less days? (EB):Yeah. (EP):Yes. That's what I'm saying. You said it in two words. You do. (EB):You do. (EP):The costs of running this band stay the same. (EB):Mm-hmm (affirmative) with the exception of giving people raises and so on. (EP):Oh, sure. I think you have to also realize your most valuable asset is your musicians. (EB):People. (EP):As a people. (EB):And the other members of the team. (EP):Yes. (GS)Can a working musician, I realize how this could be another interview with a working musician ... Can a working musician really have a career as a working musician? The people that play for you ... You're full-time doing this job now. (EP):They could not. (GS)You probably never expected to do. (EB):Never. (GS)Is there such thing as a working musician that works for you and works for other people- (EP):Yes. (GS)And makes a living doing this? (EP):Oh yes. But it's not a lot of them. They're lucky. And it can be done. (EB):Most musicians I've seen are also doing something else. (GS)They can't have a nine to five job and do this. (EB):They can't have a nine to five job and do this. We, just off the top of my head, a few people we've worked with recently, one teaches full-time in New York City, so can only join us when it's a weekend gig or a maybe a local gig. Wonderful musician we work with composes music for children's TV. A lot of them [crosstalk 00:28:33] (EP):A few of them are able to hack it. It's a whole other business model, what they do. (EB):It also depends on their family life, too. Do they want to be on the road? (EP):A guy or gal in their 20s who doesn't have a family, who can maintain a roommate situation in a hub of a city, New York, LA, Chicago, can conceivably do this. And I don't want to sound like it's easy. It's really not. But of all the arts, and this is a positive statement, painting, acting, you know, writing, musicians still in America, I think, have the ability to make a living if they're good. If you can play, you can get work. That's not always true with many talented artists in other fields. (EB):In the music industry in general, the live experience is what people are paying money for now. They're not paying for recordings. So, as a working musician, you are the most integral part of that business model. Without wonderful musicians, we don't exist. So that's the upside of where the music industry is at the moment. If you're good as a musician, this is what everyone is willing to pay money for. (GS)Thanks for leading right into my most important question- (EB):I'm all about the segways. (GS)Which is- (EP):The music industry ... (GS)How do you make money? (EP):I'd like to say that the music industry, when we started working, is beginning in this massive transformation, which we're still in. But essentially, the old model is no longer operative, which was, you make a recording, and you make your money from the sales of those recordings. And then you promote those recordings by going on tour. The model now- (GS)You didn't make money on tour- (EP):No. (GS)The tour- (EP):We might, but very little. Yeah. (EB):And we never were involved in that. (GS)So now you're making money touring, but don't you make money every time I download it on Spotify? (EP):Well, theoretically. (EB):We referred to the recordings of which we're really proud, and I love the fact that we get to record, as very expensive business cards. I didn't make that up. (EP):The tour of the 50s is the records of the 2018. They are your greatest promoting material to get people to come to your live show. (EB):But you made the good point about Spotify. The fact is, the recorded piece, the digital piece, has been so diluted and made replicable by the digital era, that it doesn't have value, really. (EP):It's a bit of a commodity. (EB):The way bands make money, for the most part these days, is the live show, and if you're lucky to get licensing. (GS)Are you entrepreneurs, or musicians first? (EB):Musicians. I am. (EP):Musicians. But I think you can't dismiss entrepreneurs. If we were just entrepreneurs, I promise you, entertainment would not be a good business to launch into. (GS)What percentage of your time is being a musician and playing, versus all the business stuff? (EP):Well, it's swinging in the right direction. But I would say it was about 90%, five years ago, was entrepreneur and now I'd say it's more like, I think we're approaching 50/50. (EB):I'm not there yet, because I loved hearing that. (GS)Approaching? Where are you? (EB):I'm at about, I think, 70, because one of the pieces, one of the nuts we still need to crack is the social media aspect of things. It's the largest part of our ... of how we get the word out to people who haven't heard of us. It's a big piece of how people who've seen us, how we connect with the fans. (GS)You do all your own social media? (EB):For the most part. That's just sheer minutes, really, is all it is. (GS)That's a lot of work. (EB):I've dialed it back a lot. Yeah, it's super time consuming, because you wanna connect with fans and you wanna connect with other musicians. I've dialed it back a lot to refocus on upping how much time I spend daily with the music, because I think you have to. I'm happy to say that I think the world in general is moving toward that direction, because I think a lot of artists, it's this things that people 50 years ago never had to deal with. (GS)We're three for three here on podcasts of that subject coming up, of social media being outrageously time consuming. It's experience in my business. I don't think it's just limited to the arts. I think any business (EP):It's quicksand, too. Everything changing by the time- (GS)By the time you expose your brand. (EP):Yeah. And algorithms and the whole thing about how the platforms are really finding themselves and one wonders what they'll ... I don't think anyone who's being honest can say that in ten years, they know what social media is going to be like in the slightest. (EB):And the fact is, it's all very organic, which is to say, when I say I'm doing social media, I don't mean going on there and trying to just constant re-edited videos and everything of us. It's more like, we have the great good fortune of playing the kind of music that people connect with, and so they come and they want to have dialogs. That's a really special ... The engagement part of things is a really special thing for us to have fostered. I want to keep those fires burning, because we wouldn't exist without them, and because it's so exciting that people are picking up what we're putting down, which is to say, we always wanted to play this music, because it's music that brings people together. When you see that working, you don't want to let that go. (GS)The one question I think everyone would like to know, is, before we ended the speed round, is, you guys are making a living. (EP):Yes. (GS)You're making enough money to do this full-time. (EP):Well, two households are being supported. But it's not cushy times. But we're very lucky that we can say yes to that question. (EB):We don't have second jobs. (EP):Right. (EB):Which is usually the marker for a musician, honestly. That's the ... (GS)Will you be able to sustain that? (EB):I don't know. (EP):No idea. Talk to us in a year. (GS)Are you saving? (EP):I think we're good for 2018. (EB):There's no saving. (GS)Can you start a 401K? (EP):No. (EB):There's no saving. No. No, we're not there. (GS)Do you think there's many people that make more money than you in corporate jobs who probably would do anything to have your job? (EP):Yes. I do. I think we have a fun job. (EB):I think, I know that one of the greatest assets that's allowed the success of the band to be where it is now, is that any time I was faced with a really daunting moment, how we've been growing this band, I never ... because I had a corporate life before, I never looked across the fence and said, "Man that looks really good." Because I've had that. And I know what that is. It's emboldened me to make decisions that are pretty scary, as a band runner, as an entrepreneur, because, I know what that's like, so there's no, "Maybe the grass is greener and maybe I'll just get some benefits," that's been a huge help knowing that. (EP):Sure. (GS)It's big risk you've taken. (EP):Oh yeah. (EB):Yeah. (EP):The thing, Glen, is that the risk doesn't change or go away with success. It grows and it has different forms. Every decision, I think this is something every business has, but in our business, you asked how the future looks. I don't know anybody in the entertainment business, as far as their careers are going, can predict more than 18 months out. (EB):Also, when I think about the financials of our business, I often think the fact that we have a large band, we're an eight piece band run by two people, owned by two people ... If that doesn't give you the sense that this was born of love, I don't know what would. Because, if we had wanted to be entrepreneurs who had a band, we would have started a two-person band. (GS)Are you doing what you love? (EP):Oh yeah. (EB):Yeah. (EP):Fully. (EB):Yeah, there are days when you don't like- (EP):It's not easy. (EB):It’s moment-to-moment sometimes, because it's incredibly hard. (EP):It's not fun, a lot. (EB):It's so much harder than my corporate jobs that I've had, by an order of magnitude, but I wouldn't trade it for a second. (GS)Risk doesn't go away with success. An important reminder for any small business. Rather than solving all your problems, success actually has a way of magnifying the risks, be it a requirement for more money, more staff, or more pull in your time. For a musician, this can quickly result in road fatigue or contribute to creative burnout. When the logistics of running a business overwhelm the artist's ability to perform at their best. The takeaway from the Hot Sardines, build a team and an approach to logistics focused on letting the musician perform at their highest level. Don't let the entrepreneur with all the responsibilities neglect the musician within the entrepreneur. A valuable lesson for anyone in a creative field. If you would like to learn more about today's guests, visit our website at MainStreetHustle.biz. If you like our show, subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. In the next episode of Main Street Hustle, we meet Nick Zivolich, who has built a business producing half-marathons that my very well be the best damn race ever.