Every artist should aspire to a long career. So what does it really take to sustain a creative career for over 25 years?
Joining us to share his story and wisdom is Mike Herrera, the lead singer of punk band MxPx. Mike is also a podcaster, bass player, and songwriter who has completed multiple solo music projects and collaborations.
Mike was recently on tour in Nashville with MxPx for their 25th anniversary. He met up with me to talk about how the band began, why they tour the way they do, and how he’s sustained a career in music for over two decades.
MxPx started in 1992 and played their first show in Mike’s parents’ backyard to as many people as they could invite. The conventional business practice for bands at the time was to hitch their smaller act to a bigger act in hopes of getting more fans.
It’s the route that countless bands have historically used, but it’s not the way the world works anymore, and it wasn’t the best strategy for MxPx. Instead of going on long tours that cover many cities, now they book a few shows in a city one weekend and hop to another town for a few shows on another weekend.
After 25 years, they’ve concluded they need business strategies and band strategies that work for their personal lives, too. Mike has also stopped looking at the market and started paying attention to the fans who buy their music and attend their shows. Focusing on serving their audience had made all the difference in their success.
Mike tells us how all this happened, why he chose punk music, shares a tip he has for any musician or artist trying to create a long-term career for themselves today on The Portfolio Life.
Listen to the podcast
To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).
In this episode, Mike explains:
- How MxPx turned their weaknesses into strengths
- Why they started selling and communicating directly to their fans
- What their turning point was as a band
It has to be the right people seeing you.
The importance of authenticity
- Why did MxPx record their first album twice?
- How did authenticity play a part in their growth and achievements?
- Did fame and ego ever become a problem?
Focus on the people you see in front of you, and everything else takes care of itself.
Reflections from 25 years in music
- Why everything MxPx does now is about ownership
- What the worst decision of his musical career was
- What, if anything, he would change from his past
- Mike Herrera’s web site
- Mike Herrera on Twitter
- The Mike Herrera Hour
- Real Artists Don’t Starve
- Subscribe, rate and review on iTunes
What did you learn from Mike about career longevity as an artist? Let us know in the comments.