9 Billboard Chart Positions, 30,000 Email Subscribers, and 9000 Albums Sold Using MMM – Podcast Episode #22

Comments: 68

The Empty Pockets Band

In episode #22 of the Music Marketing Manifesto Podcast we are going to speak with Josh Solomon of The Empty Pockets. Josh is a Music Marketing Manifesto member who used what he learned in the course to transform his band’s last album release from a “flop” into an ENORMOUS indie success story.

When the band’s latest album, The Ten Cent Tour, was released two years ago they had little to show for it…

They had sold a mere 298 copies of the album upon release, they had approximately 500 fans on their mailing list, and about 1000 followers on Facebook… Not where most of us ultimately aim to be 🙁

Shortly thereafter, Josh signed up for Music Marketing Manifesto 3.0 and began applying the strategies he learned in the course.

Fast forward two years and The Empty Pockets’ Facebook following has hit 13,000, their mailing list has climbed to 30,000, and they have sold more than 9,000 copies of their album. In fact, at last check they were crushing 9 different Billboard charts…

Those numbers are climbing EVERY day and all of this is happening with an album that was released TWO YEARS AGO, which is virtually unheard of in the “mainstream” music industry.

Josh has been kind enough to join us in this episode of the MMM Podcast to share his band’s story, let us in on exactly what they have done to achieve their success, and to share his perspective on the new music business, and more specifically, direct to fan marketing.

To listen to the interview just go to iTunes >> Search “Music Marketing Manifesto” >> and subscribe. The episode should start to download immediately. You can also click any of the following links to find the MMM podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.

You can also listen right here on the site. Just click the play button below.

Or if you prefer, you can download the episode directly to your computer. Just right click and save.

Once more, I’d like to be sure an extend a big THANK YOU to Josh for taking the time to join us on this episode and for giving us an exciting peak at an impressive indie success story, still on the rise.

If you enjoy this episode then please do me a favor and go to iTunes, click “subscribe”, and leave a review. Those ratings and reviews are crucial to the success of the podcast. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

And as always, please leave any thoughts, opinions, or feedback in the comments below.


  • Will says:

    Awesome, John and Josh.

    Coming back to this podcast episode again 9 months later.

    Great, great stuff here.

    Everyone who is keen on MMM needs to listen to this episode so they can hear how it all comes together.

    Cheers, Will

  • Rebecca Dale says:

    Hi. I’m just starting out recording my original material after years of playing covers. How do you find your target audience without having a history of touring or meeting your fans? Is this something you should wait to discover before you start the MMM programme

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for your interest. There are a few ways to go about it and I cover this in the course, in the section about driving traffic to your funnel.

      Let me know if I can ever help with anything else.

  • Joe Pagliacolo says:

    Hey John hope you’re having a great day
    I bought MMM about two years ago but still have not completed it. Change of job and other interruptions have caused me to put a pause on my music dreams. But life has stabilized and I am recording at a rapid pace. 6 songs done 4 more to go to complete my debut album. When I last checked I was on lesson 7. My question is should I keep going with the version of MMM that I have or should I get your updated one. Thank you and have a great day.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Joe,

      Thanks for reaching out. I can totally understand that life gets in the way sometimes.

      While there are nuanced differences in the way I execute and teach the strategy now, and while I feel that you could benefit from the new course and the updated theme template you get with it, MMM 3.0 is still a valid strategy and I still provide support for that members area.

      Ultimately it’s up to you to decide, but MMM 3.0 is something I still stand by if you just want to stick with that for now.

      Let me know if I can ever help with anything else.

  • Karen Grace says:

    Hi John,
    Great to listen to this as I am in the early stages of this course, starting to get a view of the landscape I’m in. Inspiring and motivating to see someone higher up the mountain waving down with good news!
    I also wanted to mention that as it happens, I’ve just finished reading ‘The Art of Asking’ by Amanda Palmer, so it was cool to hear you talk about her. If you want insight into why her Kickstarter was so successful, read it (if you haven’t already?)! She talks about the ‘Boom and Bust’ attitude of her former label and how they just didn’t get her relationship to her fans to the point where she did all kinds of ridiculous stunts to beg them to drop her (involving her fans too!) The book details how she keeps up her authentic connection to her fanbase because that’s kind of just how she rolls, and basically how it paid off in a massive way for her culminating in the Kickstarter success. It’s a really soulful book that moved me deeply too, and has been a great accompaniment to the slog of setting up hosting, etc, ha! I can feel threads coming together already between this course and her book, because after all, you’re teaching us to ask for a sale. And Asking is something that Amanda Palmer is really good at. Thanks for this amazing course, with great support so far and I look forward to being higher up the mountain myself, with my own good news :). Karen

    • John Oszajca says:

      HI Karen,

      Great! Yes, Amanda’s story is a really great example of the relationship you should build with your fans.

      Happy to hear you are enjoying the course content as well.

      Let me know if I can ever help with anything.

  • Melissa says:

    Really awesome podcast!! I’m so glad I listened….Recently, I got stuck on a few things, the common..no one buys music anymore..even I don’t! And, not initially having success or high converting squeeze pages was really not helping me feel to confident about this whole process..but knowing Josh has redone his page over 1,000 times gave me hope haha! Now I’m remotivated and back at it..and I hope to come back to you with a true success story sometime in the near future 🙂

  • Joe Tripp says:

    Hey John,

    This was great! One of the things I’m curious about is how Billboard knows about them if they’re sales are through their funnel? How does that work? I looked and saw that Billboard is including streaming services in their charting but I don’t see that here. I’d love to have something similar happen as I’m about to start my campaign and CD release, but I don’t want to put my songs on iTunes and Spotify, because I want my site to be the only option (for financial purposes). What say you?

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hey Joe,

      The reported sales through http://www.indiehitmaker.com.

      As far as I know Spotify is not something they are focused on at all.

      I personally think the best approach is to keep your albums back from the streaming platforms aside from one or two tracks per album. A presence there is a good thing, but you don’t want to kill all incentive for your fans to buy your album. I think iTunes is fine, but I would wait until you have already run your initial promotion to your mailing list.

      Hope that all makes sense.

      All the best.

  • Jordan Skinner says:

    Hey John,

    Awesome podcast, these guys are slaying it. Just quick question, am i right in deducing that these guys are converting subs into sales at 34% from cold traffic? is this do able..? also i didnt hear anything about what these guys where getting subs for…. i did hear josh mention 5 dollars for a customer but i didnt know if that was just an example or they are actually paying $5 for a sub.


    • John Oszajca says:

      Hey Jordan,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast. I don’t know much more than you do after listening to the podcast so I’m not sure exactly how at all breaks down. They also have a healthy performance side of things as well so I don’t know what percentage may or may not come from that. But my understanding is that it mostly comes from online promotion. If it was 100% from online sales (which it probably isn’t) that would be a 30% conversion rate. That is possible, but it would be the extreme high side of things. Bordering on nearly unheard of. I know they do a lot of low priced offers very early in the funnel and as Josh mentioned, they push things very aggressively. Needless to say, it’s working for them.

      • John Oszajca says:

        PS – That $5 figure was how much he ultimately paid for each customer. Given that he is converting at 30% of the total list (based on what we know), one could extrapolate that his lead acquisition costs are about $1.51 USD, if my math is correct. But there is a lot of guesswork going on in that figure.

  • eddie cole says:

    This was very engaging and helpful for the wiring and engineering of my brain!!

  • Jay Ham says:

    Man I have to say I am definitely excited about MMM because I have been going about presenting my music to the public just on the fly with no real plan! I am a hip hop artist and have been noticed by labels and introduced to some power players over the past decade I have been in the music realm but was lacking a Marketing Plan.I am ready to put it all into action! Thanks for all you do for independent artists!

  • Krista says:

    I’m trying to figure this out .

  • Vishal Pawar says:

    Hey John,

    Thanks for the amazing podcast. It really inspiring.

    I have been doing this for years now. And this system works & really works.

    I just need to know that are you going to add free traffic generation method in this course?

    Well I have discovered free traffic generation techniques. Which I can see nobody is doing it.

    I want to know few more free traffic generation strategy in this course MMM 4.0.

    Again, thanks for bringing this amazing course. Keep up the all good work.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Vishal,

      Glad to hear that you are seeing results.

      While free traffic will be discussed. To be honest, my focus in MMM is going to be on paid advertising, when it comes to traffic. I’ve come to feel like it’s an essential part of any real success, and as such that is where my focus is at the moment.

      But there are certainly many free advertising strategies out there for people who feel that they want to go that route.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Lloyd says:

    Hi John,

    I’m going to pick up your program when my new products are finished. Hopefully soon!

    Enjoyed the podcast. Very informative!

  • Tone Poet says:

    Looking forward to the new improved theme that will come with MMM4. Hopefully it will be talerd to people that are more advanced with SMM Then MMM3 was? facebook.com/tonepoetband

  • Hey John! This seems to be right up my alley… if I could only find 2 hours to listen to it!!! I’d pay money for a transcript… just sayin’! 😉

    • John Oszajca says:

      I hear you Jorge, it’s a fairly long form podcast. But yeah, this episode was longer than usual. There was much to discuss.

      My advice would be to download it via iTunes or Stitcher and listen on the go.

      Thanks for checking out the post.

  • Yes it was an awesomely inspiring episode. I am re-inspired. I find I start working with the tools and then find I get distracted and switch paths or I get discouraged because I can’t quite get a handle one it, and then remember that this can work if I stick to it! I have 6 albums and I know they are all good. I also spent money and time on publicists and radio campaigns and yes I got great reviews and radio play and all this does is make me feel good about myself for a second. have come to the conclusion that these things alone do not drive sales and that I would be better off spending all those thousands of dollars advertising on FB and building my email list. The same with touring… Unless you want to be on the road 365 days a year, and lets face it, that gets old after a while, (especially as I get older) and even then, as your man Josh pointed out, I have been thinking all these years “If I build it they will come and “cream rises to the top” and to hear Josh say, actually no, that’s a movie and waiting around for my prince to come has never worked in the past, why should it work now? All round great interview. Thanks Lisa

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Lisa,

      I think most of us around here have gone through that same thought process at one point or another. I know I have. I think you’re on the right track.

      When you do some really simple mental math and just think about whether or not you’d have more to show after $20,000 in radio promotion, or from a mailing list of 20,000 fans, it becomes pretty clear that as independent musicians, have been focusing on the wrong things for a while now.

      Good luck out there and thanks for listening.

  • shabba says:

    If you take on ‘so few clients’ why are you advertising on facebook?.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Shabba,

      In terms of taking on individual artists as clients, that’s just not something that has been part of my business model. It’s extremely time consuming and doesn’t give me the time I need to focus on the projects I am most excited about. That said, I do take on one or two artists each year as a way of keeping my instincts sharp and staying relevant. Virtually all of those “clients” come from my personal network. The ads you see draw attention to Music Marketing Manifesto. Through MMM I sell courses, software, and marketing tools for musicians, as well as offer a free Podcast and blog. But MMM is not a consulting business that takes on individual clients. Hope that clarifies.

  • Andrew Knibbs says:

    Is the MMM system good for a small label too?

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hey Andrew,

      The MMM strategy is really geared towards artists who want to build and monetize a fan base. A label could absolutely use these strategies though, and I have done the marketing for several labels using these strategies with success. The biggest issue will be that there could easily be a disconnect between the artist and the person doing the marketing. If the artist is not on board with this type of strategy and doesn’t understand what you are doing it will be a struggle, because it really requires their commitment and participation.

  • Melissa Cox says:

    Hi John, I listened to the podcast, congrats to the band! I didn’t hear alot about the strategies the band used to build their email list to 27,000 emails in 2 years. I am an MMM student and I love it so far. It’s working for me for sure, but I’d like to know if the Empty Pockets used mostly Facebook ads and paid for driving traffic, or drove traffic for free using the free traffic strategies that the MMM described (i.e. blog circulation, YouTube videos). If it was a combination I’d like to know the percentage of paid traffic vs. freely driven traffic. I’ve personally had decent luck with modest FB ads (50+ new emails per $25 FB ad campaign), but I am so crunched for time with my day job that the free traffic way is daunting to me and when I did try it out a few months ago I saw no traffic from hours of my efforts. So I’d like some details on that if Josh or you are willing to share. The sales funnel and branding are moot if I don’t know how to get my mailing list supercharged. Thank you, any advice/insight is appreciated.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hey Melissa,

      The interview was recorded a few weeks ago and they have already gone from 27,000 that was mentioned in the interview to over 30,000. These guys are still ramping up as we speak.

      Maybe I’m too close to it but I did feel that Josh explained what they are doing. It’s all the same stuff laid out in MMM (at least fundamentally). Drive traffic, build a list, and entice people to spend money with you.

      Perhaps Josh will drop by and clarify things but my understanding is that all of their traffic is coming from FB ads. I know they are asking for the sale a bit earlier in the funnel which has been working well for them and helping to quickly cover costs.

      But from what I can see, they are doing well largely because this stuff all just really clicked for Josh and as such he really dove in head first. He’s got great instincts for marketing and has introduce a lot of creativity to his funnel. He’s also not afraid to be really forward with the marketing.

      Thanks again for listening and perhaps Josh can clarify more at some point.

      All the best.

  • Will Black says:

    Great interview, guys 🙂
    MMM strategy is working for me to build my fanbase in target markets so I can sell more tickets when I tour the UK and Canada this Fall.
    I’ve neglected trying to build my online music sales, but this example is encouraging to hear about.

  • Kbullets says:

    Does this method applies to rap and hip hop as well ???????

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hey Kbullets,

      Yes, the MMM strategy can be applied to any artist in any genre, so long is there an existing audience out there that is interested in the style of music you make. That would certainly apply to rap, and I have had many rap and hip hop artists go through the course and report good results over the years.

  • Eric says:

    Solid practical information, very informative……

  • Robert says:

    Loved this podcast John and Josh.
    Very, no … very very if not very, very, very inspiring.. (again)!

    Thanks guys.
    Best from the Netherlands.
    Robert Pot
    Futureworld Orchestra

  • mike osborn says:

    hi John, great episode once again. One thing im dealing with that i have yet to overcome is the fact that im on this all alone. This seems like a team effort.
    I live in San Jose, CA, one of the most expensive citys in the country to live in. In order to just get by i have to push so hard with band, acoustic gigs and teaching lessons. I have found that i just dont have the time or presence of mind to do all the work required to make MMM happen for me.
    I truly believe that what you are preaching is right on the money. I guess thats why im so frustrated.
    I have accomplished ALOT on my own (you can look on my website and see all the press and endorsements etc. ive accumulated so far).
    The fact that i AM surviving on music income alone in this city is no small testament to the caliber of the product i deliver or my work ethic(please check my site to see some of what im talking about here, and im not just talking about my music-after all everyone thinks their music is the bomb-but in my case Downbeat Magazine and many other big music mages think i got something going on too), however the fact that i need to transition into music sales accounting for more of my income is not lost on me. Without it i have little hope of retirement.
    I have tried to contact you before about you running a campaign for me. I guess im writing now out of that frustration. Knowing that i need help (somehow someway) to get this done and watching the years go by that i seem to make little progress forward.
    I have tried many different approaches to getting someone on board to help but all to no avail so far. I dont want this to sound like a rant, sorry if it does. But what can i do at this juncture???

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Mike,

      I’m sorry to hear that you feel that managing the marketing is overwhelming. You wouldn;t be the first musician to feel that way. Some take to it quickly and have everything lines up and sales coming in within a few days. For others it feels like pulling teeth.

      At the end of the day the fundamentals are pretty simple. Drive traffic, incentivize people to sign up to your mailing list, build a relationship with those subscribers using an autoresponder, and ask those subscribers to spend some money with you occasionally.

      How you set that up is somewhat flexible. But there is a lot of minutia that can ultimately determine how well or poor you ultimately do.

      But unfortunately I don’t really see a shortcut here. You need to be in control of the process as YOU are the brand. You can potentially partner with someone, and/or outsource individual parts of the process, but only you will know how to initially communicate with your fanbase.

      Hopefully MMM 4.0 will help as it is laid out very clearly and some of the new tools should help smooth out the process.

      Good luck and all the best.

  • Tone Poet says:

    You know I one really enjoyed this and I can’t agree more when it comes to finding your own strategy. A strategy can be so personal. It took me a long time to realize there is no one size that fits all, Even if you are working in the same space.

    • John Oszajca says:

      You got it! The principles are universal, but the subtleties of each campaign need to ultimately be tailored to your specific audience and brand. Thanks for listening.

  • Casey Radumus says:

    Yeah John and Josh, I was listening along with the whole thing going “Right?! Right?!?” right along with you…. You complete me… I’ll be picking up MMM 4 to check out your updates John. Thanks for being awesome.

  • Jaron says:

    Literally here in my office taking notes John. At a loss for words listening to this, seriously. I’ve ran out of money for FB advertising so many times and each time they evolved you put new trainings in the Insider Circle. However, for years I’ve felt like I was RIGHT THERE, ALMOST ready to crack my own personal code with my landing page and MUCH more but I swear it’s like…idk man, this podcast gave me a different kind of inspiration that I cannot really put my finger on just yet. Even more than the Danika Holmes Podcast. Indescribable feeling right now, thank you again for this.

  • JOhn! love this 🙂

  • Esli says:

    I also have a two year album that I don’t consider dead. Maybe it’s not too late! I love something Josh said, like “if you like your product, there might be enough people that will also like it. You just need to find them”.

    • John Oszajca says:

      That’s the beauty of the direct to fan marketing approach… The old “album cycle” concept just doesn’t apply when you are not relying on radio and press to sell your album. It’s all “new” to someone who has just discovered you for the first time.

  • Don Anthony says:

    Really great interview. A lot of what you guys are talking about is how we made it onto the Billboard single sales charts and a number #1 spot a few times. Our niche is school tours but anyway I will be buying MMM 4.0 because no matter what we have done I wanna do more and know more. Thank you for what you do.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Thanks for listening Don and congrats on landing your own chart positions! Glad to hear that these strategies resonated with you and that you’ve already experienced their effectiveness.

  • GB. DeClerck says:

    What are your service requirements, partnership offers and benefits, volume sales GUARANTEES (if any), and how much is the service for my Artists Roaster?

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi GB,

      While I do occasionally work with individual clients, that is not a major part of my business model and those services are not publically available. Because I take on so few clients each year, those that I do work with inevitably come from my personal networks. I much prefer to work with a larger group of people through my various programs like MMM, the Insider Circle, and Music Ads Workshop. I feel that musicians are better served learning to do this themselves then they are by having a consultant eat up most of their profits by doing it for them. Let me know if you have any questions or I can help with anything else.

  • Brian Rogers says:

    Such a badass episode! Felt like clapping at the end!

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