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How To Make A Living With Music – Feat. Tom DuPree III

A lot of artists and producers want to know how to make a living with music, and Tom Dupree III has done exactly that. Tom has been signed to a label, played live arena’s to over 30,000 people, but found his niche making a living playing drums on SoundBetter.

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Important Points:

Tom talks about how he discovered SoundBetter while searching for a fresh path to kickstart his music journey. By joining this special website for folks in the music world, it was easier for Tom to find opportunities in the industry.

Andrew and Tom chat about what it takes to succeed on YouTube. Tom spills the beans on his YouTube success secret: he consistently showed up and made his videos better bit by bit. He started with his iPhone, then upgraded to a better camera, a good microphone, and some lights. Over time, he also learns about color grading.

When it’s about sharing your music, Tom and Andrew suggest that you should just keep putting it out there. Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on learning from the journey. Try using platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to share your music with the world.

For those loyal fans who embark on this journey with you from the start, Tom suggests nurturing a genuine and meaningful connection with them.

Podcast Outline:

[00:05] Tom Dupree, a successful drummer, built his music career by joining a record label, touring with top artists, and performing for crowds of up to 30,000. – Andrew

[00:20] Now, Tom is focused on SoundBetter, a platform that brings together the best mixing & mastering engineers, singers, songwriters, producers, and studio musicians for hire. – Andrew

[02:50] Tom’s first YouTube upload was a video of him playing drums which he posted in 2007. – Tom

[03:38] Tom got his first deal with Universal Republic Records, but he had to wait a year before anything significant happened. – Tom

[05:25] Tom talked about the people he met when his record deal was being ironed out and shared these people maintained a good attitude despite what they had to go through. – Tom

[07:58] Bagging the contract with Universal Republic Records gave Tom confidence that he can stand out and make it in the industry. – Tom

[08:57] Andrew acknowledges that while he has talent, he also worked hard and invested time in endeavors like going to college and building his YouTube channel. – Andrew

[11:18] Andrew shared how his channel struggled to get views when he started his journey and how keeps on learning to improve it. – Andrew

[12:58] Wanting to focus on his marriage, Tom focused on building his studio and looked for a different way to build his music career. – Tom

[13:36] Tom found out about Air Gigs and look for other sites that offer the same. That’s when he encountered SoundBetter. – Tom

[13:55] Tom preferred SoundBetter because of the clean interface and the stringent process for becoming a premium member. – Tom

[15:27] Creating drum cover videos on YouTube helped bring people from his social media and draw them to his business. – Tom

[16:14] The secret to Tom’s fanbase on YouTube is that he made sure to consistently show up and incrementally improve the quality of his videos. – Tom

[21:18] Tom was fortunate to have saved up and got ready before leaving his job. His wife had his back, cheering him on to take a chance and go all-in on his music and business.- Tom

[23:36] Tom saw the last two years at home during the lockdown as an opportunity to work hard. – Tom

[26:12] Tom’s side hobby, as a former student with a degree in Classical Civilization, is to read-up on different religions. – Tom

[31:06] Tom shared how his father supported him throughout college to pursue a course he really loves. – Tom

[35:21] Tom and his friend started a podcast called The Music Stuff Show. – Tom

[39:39] Andrew and Tom discussed their music journey and learned that it’s not about perfection but what you learn along the way. – Andrew and Tom

[41:08] Andrew and Tom talked about artists signing with record labels and having to improve their profiles by deleting old songs and videos. – Andrew and Tom

[42:11] Andrew and Tom realized that there are more opportunities for artists to release music and have more control over the output. – Andrew and Tom

[45:48] Tom encourages you to build a meaningful and authentic relationship with your core fans. – Tom

[48:37] Andrew agreed that engagement is crucial, especially since ads only change the number of first impressions or people who encounter your music. – Andrew

[51:29] Andrew and Tom talked about the downside and upsides of submitting to playlists. – Andrew and Tom

Wise Words:  

[05:04] Like the indie music world… [05:09] Once you get the record deal, everything’s good. [05:13] But in reality, getting a record deal is like getting into college. The hard work just begins. All this work you thought was hard beforehand is a joke compared to what you’re about to have to go through. – Tom

[18:35] And eventually, you know, ended up getting a DSLR and ended up getting a microphone and ended up getting a light. And I now finally have gotten some practical lighting behind me in my room, which made all the difference in the world. And so it’s those little incremental steps. like if you look at my last video compared to the like first blog I did, it’s a staggering change. But all of that was incremental, day in, day out, from just showing up. – Tom

[23:36] I saw this time at home instead of as an opportunity to watch Netflix and play video games, I saw it as an opportunity to work my butt off and cover some ground. And so I’ve just been going nuts, working hard during quarantine rather than just goofing off and being bored. – Tom

[38:39] There’s something to be said for just putting your stuff out. Seeing what happens and you’d be surprised what people will like. The kind of motivation that gives you is very powerful ’cause now you have someone watching, and that means that there’s a bigger push to actually improve the quality. – Andrew

Resources Mentioned:

  • SoundBetter – link
  • Tom’s YouTube channel – link
  • The Music Stuff Show podcast – link
  • Learn how to grow your YouTube channel – link

Learn More:

If you enjoyed this interview you might also like this one I did with BigJerr (SCARlit) on how he makes a full time living off of music production, how he would approach things if he was just getting started today, and a ton of general insight into the music industry.