Category Archives: op-ed

Coach’s Corner: The Moment That Sparked a Comeback

Pictured: The sun setting behind the Rocky Mountains from the Gaylord Rocky Mountain Resort (Denver, CO).

I need to tell you about my trip to Denver a couple weekends ago.

I was in town to attend the Achieve Systems BizExplosion Conference. Admittedly, I was looking to shake up my day-to-day, and get some perspective on the direction of this platform — which, as you may remember, recently took a brief, yet thorough detour away from being Underground Music Collective.

On Thursday, October 19, I attended the conference’s welcome reception. Upon entering, I sensed pretty much immediately that this was a different room than the ones to which I had become so accustomed. You had speakers, coaches, and entrepreneurs who had reached a levels of scalable, sustainable success that I, plucky UnderDog that I am, still aspire to reach.

That night — before the conference even officially kicked off — I found myself on the receiving end a ton of valuable feedback about the concept, its niche, and ways that it could be better executed. I heard people’s intrigue around the notion of a music industry-centric platform — and what it could do, if properly built, for independent artists everywhere. I learned so much that night (and throughout the ensuing weekend) about exactly how to properly build it, that I’m still combing through and applying the lessons.

And, to be honest, it all felt a bit overwhelming at first.

I left the reception at about 12:30 a.m. when I caught an Uber back to my Airbnb. I explained to my driver, Mateo, that I was in town to get educated about my business, and I was receiving more of an education than I ever could have expected. I also expressed a bit of self-doubt as I digested the lessons, and wondered what it would take to meaningfully level up from this experience once it was finished.

Mateo then told me he was about to restart the song playing in the car. He wanted me to listen…

That song is “Mirror (You Ain’t Know)” by Brian Hyppolite ft. Nelse… and these words were exactly what I needed to hear in that moment, from the opening refrain.

“Oh, you had it twisted?

Oh, you didn’t know that you was gifted?

You ain’t know that stuff you went through just set you up for winning?

You ain’t know that you was chosen?

You ain’t know that you was golden?

You ain’t know you was important, huh?

You ain’t know you had a purpose

Much bigger than anything you ever considered?

Well, I’ma be your mirror
So you can see it clearer…

When we step out of our comfort zones, our minds can play tricks on us. The stories we’ve internalized can delude us into believing that we aren’t worthy, or ready, or “good enough.” These stories will do everything they can to pull us from our purpose, or fool us into thinking another lane is best for us.

That night, the cards of my imposter syndrome were laid out on the table. However, as I listened to “Mirror (You Ain’t Know)” I realized that I — and not the stories — hold the winning hand.

That moment — and the entire experience of that weekend — helped me reconnect with my mission and vision for this platform. We’re here to build something of impact for independent artists, and connect them to the world of entrepreneurship so that they can built their platforms — and lives — regardless of whether they ever receive traditional music industry approval.

In that moment, it dawned on me that there was no better way to do that than to #GoUnderground.

That’s why we’re back as Underground Music Collective. And frankly, it feels damn good to be walking in this purpose again.

Thanks for being here, and stay tuned.

Wednesday Wisdom: What to Do When You’re Feeling Uninspired

Anyone who creates regularly knows that creativity ebbs and flows, and inspiration is constantly found and lost.

It’s great when you’re hitting your stride and you can’t keep up with all the great ideas that are coming to you, pushing you forward as you continue working towards your goals. But, what happens when the well from which you draw your best ideas runs dry?

It happens. I’ve been there. When it seems like there’s no inspiration to be found anywhere, it can be hard to create anything, and it can feel like you’ll never be able to produce anything worthwhile again.

But, I’ll tell you a secret: that inspiration that so quickly (and sometimes dramatically) disappeared into thin air always comes back. Always.

If you’re desperate to fill your cup again, here are some tips for unearthing the inspiration you need, in order to get back to doing what you do best.

Watch a new movie

Watching a movie is like escaping into a different world, isn’t it?

So, what better way to give your brain a much-deserved break, than by entering a world you’ve never been to before and watching a new movie?

This can be a film in your favorite genre or, if you want to really push the limits of your comfort zone, you can choose something in a genre that you’ve never dared to explore before. (For example, if you usually watch rom-coms, try a thriller, or vice versa).

It can be so easy to get stuck in a routine, and when you find something you love, it can be really easy to continue . After a while, though, doing the same thing over and over again can result in boredom, which can lead you to hit those dreaded kinks in your creative process, because your brain isn’t absorbing anything new.

Sometimes, your mind just needs a simple switch of the old gears to unkink that chain. Watching a new movie can be one of the easiest ways to do that.

Read a book

Reading is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. Besides the fact that it’s one of the greatest sources of learning and entertainment that humankind has to rely upon, it can also revive your vocabulary, expose you to different sentence structures, allow you to “meet” new people (i.e.; characters), and bring you to encounter new places and different themes with which you don’t have personal experience.

In short, if you’re a (song)writer, reading can do wonders for your writing and composition skills.

Personally, I’m not always able to get around to reading for fun as often as I’d like. But, I find that every time I do, I’m more inspired, feel more excited, and just have a better attitude toward writing in general.

Whether you’re writing a song or a musical, an advice column for fellow musicians, or keeping up your own blog, you will encounter moments when you’re too burnt out to string even one sentence together. And, when you’re writing regularly, this might be happening more often than you’d like. Stop forcing yourself to squeeze words out of an empty well, and read a chapter or two from a book. Any book, no matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction, or even a couple of magazine articles. Many times, it can be just what you need to get the juices flowing in the right direction again.

Observe the world around you

From songwriters, to authors, to filmmakers, so many creative minds have found their greatest inspiration when they’re observing everyday life.

If remote working has had you cooped up in the house for too long, take the time to venture out and go somewhere new. Go to the beach, the coffee shop on the corner, the new restaurant that just opened up downtown—anywhere that’s new to you.

Experiencing a new environment is extremely beneficial for our mental health and well-being. It breaks us out of the monotony which keeps us in an unproductive drought. And, you never know what snippets from conversations you’ll overhear, or interactions between strangers — or with strangers, if you’re an adventurous extrovert — that you’ll find. Just a simple phrase can spark an overflow of ideas.

When you get out and experience the world—when you get out and really live—that’s when the magic happens. So, search for and savor those moments that can reignite the fire within you. Those moments can lead you to your next big idea, whether it’s the subject of your next song, or the concept for a new album.

Take a shower

If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, you’ve learned a thing or two about sensory deprivation. However, you don’t have to immerse yourself in a scary water-filled tank to benefit from its effects.

In addition to being a nice break from the chaos of the day — not to mention, the constant bombardment of news and technology — a hot shower sometimes seems to hold the keys to the universe. Especially when you’re stuck in a rut.

The heat and the noise of the water rushing over you can be enough to separate yourself from the hectic madness of daily life. This may give your brain the space it needs to refocus and find the answers it’s looking for.

Heck, they even make waterproof notepads now. You can jot down those brilliant ideas that come to you while you’re washing your hair.

It’s great to have a never-ending flow of inspiration, but we all know that isn’t realistic. Unfortunately, the inspiration we need to produce our work can sometimes run away from us and go into hiding.

It won’t be lost forever, though. You just have to know where to look to find it again.

Key Strategies for Indie Artists to Protect Their Creative Works: Insights From a Legal Expert

By Auntie Donna Brown, CEO of Always Resourceful LLC

In this article, we will explore the concept of intellectual property and its significance for indie artists. Put simply, “intellectual property” refers to creations of the human mind. Any indie artist who has ever created a unique work has produced “intellectual property,” also known as IP. The value of safeguarding an artist’s creativity goes without saying and can be priceless.

Let’s begin by discussing copyright, one of the tools used by indie artists to protect their intellectual property. However, it’s crucial to understand that copyright is not the only way to safeguard original works of art, which is a common misconception.

Protecting your creative works requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses copyright and trademark registration, patenting, trade secrets, active monitoring for infringements, and creating unique content. These elements can be strategically used together or separately to identify and distinguish your brand from others and potentially amplify your income through licensing and deals.

A Multi-Faceted Approach: Safeguarding Your Creative Works

Indie artists who invest time and energy in creating original work generally want to protect it. However, many may not realize that their work is intellectual property, and even fewer may have been taught how to leverage the IP they create to exponentially increase revenue by identifying multiple revenue sources. As a US IP lawyer with a unique background in strategic management, it is important to me that artists understand how to monetize, grow, and protect the value of the art they create, just as businesses understand the need to create multifaceted strategies to maximize revenue.

While many may be familiar with federal copyright protection, in this article, we will explore why federal trademark registration and an ongoing monitoring strategy for infringements can be equally important.

Let’s start with creating unique content. Educate yourself about intellectual property rights and equip yourself with the knowledge to maximize the value of your work and ensure it receives the recognition and respect it deserves.

Now, you might be wondering what all this means for you as an indie artist. Instead of overwhelming you with abstract legal phrases, let’s explore your options by following the journey of a hypothetical indie band named “The Night Lights,” led by our imaginary songwriter, Emma.

Let’s assume that after a couple of gigs, The Night Lights band has been well received by its audiences, and now Emma and the band are exploring potential opportunities and safeguarding against potential threats to the band. In a meeting after band practice, Emma calls everyone in to talk about the band’s decisions.

Emma’s heard of copyright as a tool to protect the band’s creative work, but recently Emma has heard of this thing called a federal trademark, and she is not certain how that works.

Luckily, Emma has an aunt who is also an intellectual property lawyer. Emma invites Auntie Donna Brown®️ to a Zoom meeting to discuss the band’s options with them.

Auntie Donna is the business strategist and IP attorney you never knew you needed. She shows up to support these creators and helps them understand how to use federal trademarks as a strategy to avoid leaving “any money on the table!” Okay, so there is not a real table in this hypothetical, but you see where I’m going with this. Auntie Donna Brown®️ spends the next hour consulting with the band, explaining the benefits of registering a few federal trademarks — how it is not just brand protection, but also a monetization strategy.


By obtaining a federal trademark for their band name, “The Night Lights,” Emma and her bandmates establish exclusive rights to the use of that name in connection with their musical services. This trademark ensures that no one else can use a similar name, which could cause confusion in the marketplace.

Because the band has built a community and it has a known brand name, Auntie Donna points out to Emma that there is an additional monetization opportunity.

Licensing Merchandise

Emma and her bandmates can license their trademarked band name for use on merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies, caps, and other apparel. They can collaborate with manufacturers and distributors to create high-quality products that showcase their band name prominently. Fans can proudly wear these merchandise items, helping to promote the band and create a sense of connection and community among their fan base.

Posters and Artwork

The band can license their trademarked band name for use on posters, album covers, and other promotional artwork. This allows them to create visually appealing designs incorporating their band name, album titles, and song lyrics. Fans can purchase these posters and artwork to decorate their spaces, further spreading the band’s brand and creating a visual representation of their music.

Image Trademark

In addition to the word mark trademark for their band name, “The Night Lights,” Emma and her bandmates may also consider securing an image trademark. This image trademark can be a distinctive logo, symbol, or artwork associated with the band. Here’s how the image trademark can enhance their licensing and merchandising opportunities:

The band can release limited edition merchandise items that showcase the image trademark. These collectibles can include special edition vinyl records, signed posters, or unique merchandise items only available for a limited time. Fans who are avid collectors will be particularly drawn to these exclusive items, further strengthening their connection to the band.

By combining the power of a word mark trademark for their band name and an image trademark for their visual identity, Emma and “The Night Lights” can leverage licensing and merchandising opportunities to generate additional revenue, promote their brand, and establish a deeper connection with their fans.

The Importance of Protection from Infringement in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

A federal trademark can provide an indie artist with a solution to stop AI-generated sampling of their work in the following ways:

By registering a federal trademark for their artist name or logo, the indie artist establishes a distinctive brand identity that is legally protected. This trademark serves as a clear indicator of the artist’s originality and creativity, making it easier to recognize and differentiate their work from others, including AI-generated samples.

With federal trademark registration, the indie artist gains exclusive rights to use their trademark in connection with their music. This means they have the legal authority to prevent others, including AI algorithms or developers, from using their trademark without permission. If an AI-generated sample infringes upon its trademark, the artist can take legal action to enforce their rights and stop unauthorized usage.

With a registered federal trademark, the indie artist can send cease and desist letters to individuals or organizations using AI-generated samples that infringe upon their trademark. These letters formally request the cessation of unauthorized usage and may serve as a warning before pursuing further legal action.

If the unauthorized use of AI-generated samples continues despite the artist’s cease-and-desist efforts, they can pursue legal remedies. This may involve filing a lawsuit against the infringing party, seeking injunctions to stop the usage, and potentially claiming damages for the unauthorized use of their trademarked work.

Monitoring and Addressing Infringements to Safeguard Your Creative Works

While copyright and trademark registration provide essential foundations for protection, it is equally important to monitor potential infringements. Regularly conduct online and offline searches for unauthorized use of your work. This can be a daunting task and is a service that can be outsourced to a professional.

Keep a watchful eye on music streaming platforms, social media channels, live performances, and merchandise to detect any attempts to exploit your creations without permission.

Enforcement Actions: Cease and Desist

Upon investing your time and money in registering a federal trademark, you gain some tools to use against copycats infringing on your property. One of the more common tools is known as a cease and desist letter. It essentially puts the thief on notice that you are aware of their actions, and it includes a demand to cease the infringement and provide compensation for the unauthorized use of your intellectual property (IP), or risk facing further legal action.

In the case of our hypothetical band above, the scenario might look like the following:

Once again, it is best to consult with an IP lawyer before launching and building out your brands, just as Emma did with her band, as well as when a threat arises that requires action. The last recourse would be to pursue legal remedies, in which case you can take the registered trademark to court to prove your case.

It’s important to keep in mind that the foregoing facts were merely hypothetical and designed to help you understand how intellectual property works. It is recommended that you seek advice to create your own strategy for your IP to amplify revenue and protect against copycats. Whether you call Aubtie Donna Brown®️ or not, it’s up to you. But just remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Meaning once you create your next big creation, put some thought into it and explore strategies for your band.

This is Auntie Donna Brown®️, and I’m done talking.

*Disclaimer: None of the foregoing should be construed as legal advice; each situation should be considered on a case-by-case basis. All examples are based on federal copyright and trademark laws.

Owning Your Truth Through Your Voice and Creative Edge

By Colleen Lindberg, host of The Light Warriors Unleashed Podcast. Listen here!

Owning your voice is a powerful thing. As artists, you know, that when you sing a song or create a beat, that you can inspire a movement with that rhythm, that changes lives for people.  

You have seen it, time and time again. 

The eyes get lit up, the movement of the body, the soul awakens and the beat moves through them (and you). 

When you look out into the audience and feel the power of the music swaying the crowd, you are reminded that music can heal people. 

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Wednesday Wisdom: Music Artists and Mental Wellness

By Sacha Walton, Business Strategist and CEO of SWI Management Group

Mental health is not a niche topic in the music industry. The industry is fast-paced and full of demands for music artists. They are faced with a whirlwind of expectations from labels, fans, management, and promoters. However, the artists are typically left feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and at times, they lack the will to create.  

It’s easy for artists to get caught up and neglect their mental well-being. Maintaining a healthy state of mind is essential not only for personal happiness but also for creating inspired, meaningful music. This blog article delves into practical tips and techniques that can empower music artists to proactively manage their mental wellness, allowing them to flourish both on and off stage.

Read Sacha’s 8 tips!

Must-Have Traits of A Music Business Manager

Sacha Walton - SWI Management Group

By Sacha Walton, Business Strategist and CEO of SWI Management Group.

In the ever-evolving world of music, business management plays a critical role in shaping an artist’s career trajectory. The music industry is filled with intense competition and numerous opportunities for growth, making the role of a music business manager more crucial than ever. The key to succeeding in the music industry as a business manager lies in the ability to possess certain traits that enable them to navigate this landscape successfully. Below, we’ll discuss the essential traits of a music business manager.

1. Industry Knowledge

The music industry is complex and continuously changing, with many different elements to it. For example, managers need to be aware of new trends in the market and the ever-changing music business landscape. As a result, music business managers need to possess an in-depth understanding of the industry’s dynamics and how it functions. They should have a deep knowledge of the technical aspects of the music industry, such as copyrights, publishing, and royalties. Without the essential industry knowledge, a music business manager is not able to guide their clients through their career.

2. Excellent Communication Skills

Music business managers need to communicate regularly with various industry professionals, such as booking agents, lawyers, and record labels. Effective communication is crucial in ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page and working together towards the same goal. Good communication skills also enable music business managers to build relationships with key people in the industry and get the best deals for their clients.

3. Financial Management

Managing an artist’s finances is an essential part of a music business manager’s job. They need to have a deep understanding of the various financial aspects of the music industry. These can include managing contracts, budgeting, and tracking expenses. Additionally, the music business manager needs to ensure that the artist is getting paid correctly and on time.

4. Passion for Music

A music business manager should possess a deep love and passion for music. This passion is necessary because the music industry can be demanding and stressful, requiring a lot of work behind the scenes. Music business managers need to possess the drive and determination to ensure that their clients succeed and thrive in the industry.

5. Strong organizational skills

A successful music business manager must be organized, proactive, and capable of managing multiple tasks simultaneously. From handling scheduling and finances to developing strategies for promoting their clients, an efficient manager must be on top of every detail to ensure the success of their clients.

6. Networking skills

In the music industry, networking is vital to success. As a result, music business managers must have strong networking skills. A great manager should have a large and diverse network of contacts in the industry that they can use to help their clients build relationships, find new opportunities, and negotiate deals.

7. Strategic Thinking

Lastly, music business managers need to be strategic thinkers. The ability to think critically and plan effectively is crucial in navigating the music industry. The manager must be able to identify opportunities, mitigate risks, and strategize for the future to make the most of the artist’s potential.

Music business managers play a crucial role in shaping an artist’s career trajectory in the ever-changing music industry. To succeed, they need to possess certain essential traits such as industry knowledge, excellent communication skills, financial management skills, a passion for music, and strategic thinking. With these qualities, music business managers can make a real difference in the success of their clients in the music industry.

Full Circle: A Day in the City and an iHeartRadio Debut

The year was 2014. Underground Music Collective (and its predecessor, Lehigh Valley Underground) was not but a twinkle in my eye. I was cobbling together odd jobs, still living at my parents’ house in New Jersey, and the only piece of the UMC platform that existed to that point was our now-Official Podcast, The Quinn Spinn.

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Wednesday Wisdom: Technology’s Impact on the Musical Experience

Jeannie Jones is an award-winning journalist, media personality, actress, producer, director and brand architect. Jeannie’s Los Angeles-based multimedia firm, Ready Set Impact, specializes in music, film, and radio production; publishing; social media marketing, branding, and casting.

This month, Jeannie offers insight into the advent of studio wizardry — and how it has become an art form all its own.

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Wednesday Wisdom: Tips for Managing Stress as a Musician


It touches us all, and it affects each of us in different ways.

When you’re a musician, that stress can reach absurd levels that can make you feel sick, tired, and plain burnt out. It is critically important that during those moments — when the stress reaches its peak — that you take care of yourself and bring it back down.

Although I’m not pursuing my own artistic career, I’ve definitely felt the stress of working in this industry myself. So, here are some of my favorite tips for managing stress while growing your career and fulfilling your dreams.

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Building Relationships: Why Musicians Should Not Solely Rely on Social Media or TikTok

In today’s digital age, social media platforms like TikTok have become powerful tools for musicians to reach a wider audience, making the journey of being an independent musician just a little bit more attainable.

However, solely relying on these platforms can be a double-edged sword. While they provide exposure, they lack the personal connection that comes from building relationships with fans. In this article, we will explore the reasons why why musicians should not solely rely on social media or TikTok, and emphasize the importance of using the connections made to establish genuine connections with their followers.

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