Jonny Rockz – Marketing in the Music Industry

I interview Jonny Rockz, aka Jonny Polanco about his latest single, marketing in the music industry, and his non profit he’s working to help young artists get recording time.

Jonny has opened for the likes of Ice Cube, and his latest single just dropped yesterday. Listen to learn about how the industry has changed in the last 10 years and the types of marketing you can do in the music industry.

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Welcome to the opinionated SEO today. I’ve got Johnny Polanco, Johnny rockz. Who’s going to talk to us a little bit about marketing in the music industry.

Phil: 0:15
I got Johnny Polanco. All right. Now this guy he’s always got something going on. I mean, from music to what he is doing in sales to his side, hustles, I mean, you don’t stop.

Jonny: 0:28
No, no, there’s just no filter. You know, you gotta just keep going. There’s no, no need to stop. I mean, if, once you have your tracks in motion, you might as well just continue up that ladder. Right? I mean, cuz if not, then you’re at a sit still. And if you’re at a sit still. if you’re not as interesting as it, you know, as all the other people

Phil: 0:48
Now I like starting every interview off with just a couple of these like fun little questions, it’s really fun to get to know someone a little bit that way. You ready for this?

Jonny: 0:56
let’s go.

Phil: 0:57
Johnny has not heard any of these. So we’re gonna start here. If you were a captain of a ship, what would you call it?

Jonny: 1:05
Ooh, hold on. I would call it my Bella star. I would definitely name it after my daughter. Yeah, that would be the Bella Starship.

Phil: 1:15
Love it. Love it.

Jonny: 1:16
I’m like we’re cruise at nighttime and look at the stars. Oh,

Phil: 1:19
we, we, now we both have kids named Bella, , so we’ll have like the Bella star I’ll have like the Bella moon or something like that. And the stars and the moons will meet up in the bay and we’ll go fishing. How’s that sound

Jonny: 1:30
I’m good with that.

Phil: 1:32
okay. I like it. All right. What’s one thing you wish you’d spent more time doing when you were younger.

Jonny: 1:39
being outside hands down. I mean, it was so hard. I came in, you know, I, I was living in the era of the, uh, super Nintendo Sega Genesises. So, you know, it was real hard to get away from those electronics, but I mean, look where we’re at today, right? I mean, just, you literally have a business on the go, wherever you go in a cell phone. It’s amazing. What about you?

Phil: 2:04
Man music, I didn’t really get into music till I was in my teens and like almost mid to late teens. And I think I missed out on a lot of that. Um, I just. For whatever reason, it just, wasn’t a big part of my life. And I think I missed out on, on a lot of the connections that you make with people. I didn’t really play an instrument so much and I feel like, like music, would’ve been a really fun part of my life there that I really missed out on.

Jonny: 2:29
Yeah. That’s what, one of the main reasons why I keep trying to bring you over to Santa Cruz, man, there’s so much. You know, next to the beach. , I had the opportunity to, perform at one of the biggest stages in Santa Cruz, which is the catalyst, you know, got to open up for ice cube, got to open up for E 40, you know, a lot of bay area rap, , rappers who, who loved my sound, but not only did they love the sound, they love the person who was creating it. You know, they. Pulled me aside. And they, each of them had told me like, Hey, you need to continue doing this. And when the time is right, it’ll happen. And obviously I have a few singles now on iTunes and all platforms, basically. Right. Even TikTok. And that took a lot, you know, out of me to, to, to do that. And I’ve just been withholding cuz I’ve been establishing this whole family, you know, making sure that my family’s good. Obviously you. Unpredicted, you know, deaths in the family. So it’s hard to, you know, have it’s hard to bounce back from those things immediate.

Phil: 3:27
so, how does that happen? How did you get back into the scene? How did you get into such kind of a limelight kind of situation?

Jonny: 3:35
Oh, well, Having this recent death in the family, my wife was just mentioning, like, we shouldn’t live with no regrets. If you come at the end of your life, are you gonna regret the fact that you never pursued music the way that you passionately feel about it? And I mean, yeah, you know, I, I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t pursue. Because it’s a part of me. It’s, it’s a part of the DNA that connects people. You know, they want to hear the energy, they want to hear the sound. Right. And a lot of the stuff I’m putting out right now. It’s older stuff. It’s not the newer stuff because obviously I don’t have my studio yet, but, , next year, I’ll be building my studio. So I’ll, I’ll be more frequent right now. I’m at like maybe one to two singles a week for the next week, you know, for the next three weeks, I’ll be putting out at least one to two singles. So far, you know, based on it, I’ve been. , I already DMed from hot 97 in New York, you know, KM, E L in the bay area they’ve already, , contacted me a few, a andrs from like Interscope sending me messages. Like we’re, we’re loving your music. So I’m like, that’s great. But you know, I, I took an opportunity, a leap of faith, and I think. You know, Phil, the, the main priority for this whole music thing for me is that I don’t get sidetracked from my family. Just have to steer the waters pretty close.

Phil: 4:55
We did a no regret situation. About three, four years ago. We started an agency with a couple partners. So my wife was real instrumental in that. The company’s wildly successful. I sold my, my share in it a couple years ago, but, um, it was definitely something that we both decided was something I needed to do. And I’m glad I did. Would I do it again? I’m not. , probably do it differently, but that experience needed to happen. Definitely needed to happen. All right. I was curious how much has changed in the last like five, 10 years? in like studio equipment. I mean, I’m podcasting right now on stuff like this, Mike, I would’ve had to have spent, you know, a thousand dollars and all this mixer and all this stuff that I would’ve been five, $10,000 deep, where right now I’m maybe five, $600 deep, what’s changed in the equipment that makes it easier for someone. And then. I gotta know, from a marketing standpoint, is it something that you can do solo? Is it something that you can get your name out there where, you know, 10 years ago you were paying DJs on the radio to get play?

Jonny: 5:57
Yeah. So, uh, to answer the first part, obviously there’s competitors, okay. People launch softwares, they launch equipment. They’re like, you know, we’re the best in this field. We’re the best in this field. Eventually you’re gonna get that one person who differentiates themselves by saying. We do it all. You could use it for podcasting. You could use it for recording. You can use it for your mobile. Right. And, and like I had mentioned from before you have technology, they’re constantly upgrading phones. You know, you could YouTube right now, whoever’s watching this or listening to it. You could YouTube right now, you know, um, uh, DSR camera versus an iPhone 13. They’ll show you the comparison. You would probably not even realize which one was the phone, which is amazing to me,

Phil: 6:47
Yeah. The photo quality is, is almost indistinguishable when it’s the same, like fo length. So I think that’s, that’s a great thing. Like softwares come such a long way in five, 10 years, you know, your computers are ridiculous. What you have, whether it’s your, your iPad, your iPhone, or just , the laptop that’s sitting in front of you. But I think the software’s made such a difference where now you can, you can create your own backing tracks. You can record basically studio quality audio into your system for a few hundred bucks. Right.

Jonny: 7:19
Yep. What I was telling my wife, you

Phil: 7:21
That’s that’s even the playing field. Now you don’t need to spend, how much would you spend back in the day for a couple hours studio time.

Jonny: 7:29
so they’ll charge about a hundred an hour,

Phil: 7:31
so for a day’s worth of studio time, you could have your own home studio basically.

Jonny: 7:35

Phil: 7:36
I mean, at least the start to it. Good enough to get Spotify and, you know, whatever music platforms, the, the quality’s.

Jonny: 7:45
Yeah. In fact I’m like, just like I had mentioned, right. I, I used the distributor, , to put the music out there, which was distro. Uh, a lot of, a lot of, you know, independent artists will, will utilize a distributor. Um, but it just, it doesn’t limit me to one distributor though. I can, I can go multiple different routes with different distributors just to see how things play out. I think it’s great because there’s a whole network of people that have experienced. What it is to give up money, right. And you know what it is to give up creative rights. And, you know, I’m only getting a percentage of the song play right? Every time that it’s streamed. And you know, the reason why these known artists get so much play is because of the connections they have. And just like yourself, right? I’m really, I’m really outspoken. I can speak to somebody. I can come down to their level. I can understand where they’re coming from, you know, and I can get on their level. So it’s, it’s great to do that. Uh, I just don’t wanna. Separate myself from some of the greatest MCs out there. Since a young age, I’ve always known soon as I step into the room, people know that guy’s different. There’s something about that guy. I’m I wanna see what that guy has, you know, and then they hear it and then it’s like, okay, I’m sold. Like let’s, uh, let’s let’s work.

Phil: 9:04
So it’s interesting. You bring this up because, you know, I, I used to do some promotions and stuff like that for bands. I mean, we’re talking like 15, 20 years ago, uh, building like the most basic of a website, but, there was no distribution, medium. They, they literally had to be listened to by someone you had to send demos to labels or, or if you’re independent, maybe some of the independent stations would pick you up and then a label would hear you from there, , or a friend of a friend or open for someone. I mean, there, there, it was all like hard grunt work, nothing you could do sitting down. , it sounds like, , things have changed. You can use the digital landscape to do your marketing.

Jonny: 9:45

Phil: 9:46
What’s important. Nowadays, if someone wants to be an artist, they want to get their voice out there. What do they need?

Jonny: 9:53
The first thing is I an identity, , that is very important, right? Because you may wanna do music, but who are you looking up to? Right? Who, who are your inspirations? What do you portray to be like? And how are you gonna carry yourself? So identity is definitely the number one. I’ve stuck with Johnny rocks. I got it tattooed for a reason. Right. It was a part of who I was, it was the DNA, right. Almost like a split personality because I’m at home. I’m a dad. I’m a, you know, I’m a husband when I’m at work. I’m like rockstar with it. And then I, outside of all of that, I, you know, I’m a hip hop and reggae, tho artists, you know, from Dominican Republic, like there’s so many D. Um, backgrounds to everything, but you know, most importantly, , identity, establishing a budget for yourself and not jumping into it too fast, creating an LLC and worrying about all these other, like, just put the music out there is all I say, because you never know the response you’re gonna. I didn’t know. I posted it, last night and woke up to like maybe 30 messages and I’m like, what in the world is happening? Like, you know, I had one of my favorite DJs, uh, DJ battle cap. He was responsible for a lot of the big hits down south with Snoop, you know, PAC, uh, you know, all the ice cube, like all the biggest, like rap artists out there. And he messaged me with. Let’s connect. What’s your email info, right? Like I’m, I’m rocking with your music. So I’m like, obviously, you know, there’s not, he’s running his own page and he has credibility. I mean, he’s doing movies for goodness sake, doing soundtracks to like Wakanda forever, for the fact that he just listened to what I had to offer and was like, Hey, I think your stuff is hot. Like That alone has the respect hands down.

Phil: 11:52
So how does he hear this? How did he get in front of that?

Jonny: 11:55
through Instagram, through TikTok, through iTunes.

Phil: 12:00
It’s every platform, right. You no longer can just be on.

Jonny: 12:03
Yep. I’m on every platform. And the reason I can make that possible, obviously creating my own social media accounts, investing into a web designer so they can start putting out some content. So even if it’s something basic or you’re grabbing just photos of memories where, you know, it resonates with you, but to someone else, it’s like, oh, who’s this person, you know, you end up listening to the song and you’ll thumbs it up or you’ll purchase it, or you’ll hear it enough times that you’re just like, I want to hear more from this guy, I’m willing to support, it could start with 50 people purchasing it, then it could be a. There could be a hundred thousand, 200,000. And next thing you know, people are knocking at your door. We wanna offer you a deal because they know it’s gonna pop.

Phil: 12:47
That’s awesome. So what’s the next steps. You started getting, you know, the ground running. I know, like over the last, what, couple months. . I know you’ve been laying some groundwork. We chatted about a month ago and you said, Hey, some big stuff’s coming up and. I mean, it came up today, so, what do you doing to capitalize on that?

Jonny: 13:06
Like I had mentioned, I, I gotta be a, a preacher of my own words. , I’m waiting to see what happens. I’m getting a lot of, you know, people that want to network, obviously, you know, paid clear channel advertisement, like. Things of this such, I’m not putting any money into it. I need to see what the record does on its own without an actual budget behind it. Right. People are listening, you know, and if they’re searching and, and listening to the post that I’m doing and using the sounds, you give it a good 30 to 60 rolling days, but, , My plan is, is Q1 2023. Building a nonprofit organization. That’ll actually help, kids that can’t afford 30, $40, , an hour at a studio, , to be able to come over and record for. You know, pennies to the dollar and, , produce something for them, whether that’s like spoken word, you know, hiphop, uh, country, R and B, it doesn’t matter, you know, just have an area where you can do that. So I’ve, uh, actually teamed up with a few people and. You know, that also leads into some other great aspects of it because as money starts to trickle in from music and the donations from the nonprofit organization next year, I’m able to invest into other companies and startup softwares

Phil: 14:19
your nonprofit, how would that affected you if at 18 someone approached you and said, I can give you studio time at no cost or pennies on the dollar.

Jonny: 14:28
I I’d probably be in a different situation right now. I’d be in an entirely different situation. I’d probably be, you know, in Italy, somewhere on a vineyard own property, you know, a lot of land have someone maintain. Travel the world, maybe go to Spain, I had this whole concept of just jumping into the meta world and doing concerts from the meta world. I mean, every day it’s a digital landscape. You know, how many people show up to those kind of things, especially with COVID happening, it impacted everyone’s life. Why should you waste your time? You know, not doing what you, what you don’t love. Like, come on now. You, you should do what you love to do.

Phil: 15:11
Empowering people, giving them the tools at a younger age , where. Money was maybe the, the biggest factor, the barrier to entry. that’s always the saddest thing. When you see someone with some talent and they just don’t have the money to apply it. So music’s really interesting because I think someone could have like an amazing product, awesome song, album, whatever it is. And it just doesn’t get out there. , why doesn’t that happen?

Jonny: 15:38
people not knowing the business, you know, the formality , of finding a distributor. Someone that you can trust someone that’s gonna do all the uploading to these major platforms, , like Spotify, right? Like, , Shazam, like title. , there’s so many different platforms that you can go to and, and people offering to do it just as good as these other big carriers out there. But distro kid has been at the top of my mind because if they’re intuitive, offsite promotions that they can offer, right? Like they can actually, , start to upload your stuff to world star, hip hop and things of the such, you know, TikTok where you’re, , sound is being used. I had a guy the other day tell me that, , that’s all he does now is he creates music. For TikTok. he’s like as long as it’s catchy, long as it has a good beat, people will start to use it and you make a fortune off of it. for me, if I could have that type of capital, I would just do it every day. There’s no reason that if I’m gonna go take a vacation or do a show, I’m gonna have it all documented, you know? . Phil: Now that’s, That leads into something else. This podcast talks a lot about marketing and, and I try to talk a lot about looking at other verticals to really come up with new ideas. You know, you don’t ever think of TikTok as a place where I can. Create music for tos. And I think that’s amazing, there’s always going to be a, a niche or there’s always something where you can just do a ton of work and see it perform. And you don’t have a whole lot of competition. Any ideas, for people out there who are maybe just getting started, what do they need to do to get started in the industry? Identity is huge. Every record exec a and R decision maker. Even if you’re just trying to approach this as an independent label yourself. find your identity first, when you have that, it’s gonna be an easier, topic to digest, right? When you’re trying to market yourself, , build a roadmap, you know, what does the next six months look like? Are you gonna just be focusing on creating the music once the music’s created? Are you gonna put artwork to it? Are you gonna release it on all platforms? Are you just doing a few singles for now until you establish an EP? and then if you do the EP, then you launch it and then you have a good six to eight months. Of financial backing to put those into places where it’s gonna shine the best, right? If you can gather enough money, , to shoot a video, that helps out tremendously. Everyone has a different path and you can find a lot of local resources, like all the local resources here know about. You know, either we’ve done a song, we’ve done a show. We’ve come in contact somehow some way, but you know, I could go to app toss. I could go to Santa Cruz. I can go to Salinas. I could go to Monterey like San Jose. I know people in the industry that are there and we can obviously network and put something together. So I would just. Before you start thinking huge and you know, thinking about all the big major labels, like all of those things, you don’t want to think about that until you source locally, until you do a performance locally, until you start to experience more and more and more, and, and then make the decision, I’m gonna be fully committed to doing this until I achieve my goal.

Phil: 19:03
I think that’s true about anything, right? Anything in life. So you’ve got a couple of these people reaching out what’s the persona when you’re interacting with them. I mean, you’re business, Johnny you’re musician, Johnny, your salesman, Johnny.

Jonny: 19:19
Let’s not waste no time. Let’s not waste no time. My response is let’s work. that’s it because I’m like, Hey, if you think that it’s hot, you’re in, you’re in power right now. So don’t approach me with, Hey, for this quantity of money, I could do this for you. No, if you have authority, take my stuff to the person who makes the decision. Let’s talk to that person. What will it take to get to that person right before we even start talking about money? Right? Cause if there’s any exchange of money, I, I need to establish my LLC. So I have a way to protect myself.

Phil: 19:54
I think that’s a really important thing for people to understand as timeliness is huge. Whether you’re working a lead. From a sales standpoint, an inquiry, someone just reaching out, , you don’t wanna let that sit, get on that, show them there’s a priority to it. Make it happen because if you wait a week because you’re trying to formulate the perfect response and they’ve already forgotten about you.

Jonny: 20:16
Yeah, I just think about the possibilities. You know, I think about the possibilities of what you can accomplish. Just putting something out there. I it’s weird. It’s kind of like the algorithm on social media as just like, why are you waiting to put something out? Hey, no one will ever know how great your song is. Is it if you don’t ever upload it,

Phil: 20:37
I wanna hear a little bit more about this concert, who you opened for, and then tell me, man, how did you take advantage of that to get your music out?

Jonny: 20:48
Yeah, well, I, it was actually one of the last major concerts that I did. And it was for ice cube. I was actually in Hawaii for my brother’s bachelor party and I get the phone call at 40 once you hear, can you make it, and it’s literally 48 hours notice, so I’m like, oh, okay. I gotta open and slot. They, they loved my music. They loved the performance I did in Stockton. Now they want me to do it in my hometown. And I’m getting paid, so I literally had a book, two flights, landed, hopped in a limo, drove to the venue and I had shirts already. Pre-ordered as soon as I got the call, I made the next call, same day 48 hour notice. Had some shirts pressed up, you know, that said hall of fame, because that was like the brand at the time when I was younger, came up on stage, rocked the stage and then E 40 came out and was like, ah, you know, I rock with Johnny rocks in the hall of fame game, you know? All my merch was sold at that point. , so that was beautiful. I actually got this opportunity off of social media, promoting. Finding out who the manager was, which venues are they throwing right now? Hey, , can I DM this person? Do you have a number? Let me talk to you. I, you know, yo, you, you want to gimme an opportunity? You think the music’s good? Have I ever done performances? Yes. You know, I, I have it. I have it on video. Look at this. Oh, you know, I think you’d be a great fit. And then you finally get that. you just drop everything and just go do that show, you know, like, just give it your all and. I think that was one of the first times I realized, you know, I was gonna do this for life no matter what, no matter where I was in life, eventually it was just all gonna come together. I just remember putting my hand up in the air and I could see everybody in the first five, six rows raise their hands up, like yeah. You know? Um, so that, that was a great. That was a great feeling and I have it documented. . Which is even better. So I think that also gives you a lot of recognition, cuz it’s not just talk about it. You can actually see I was doing it.

Phil: 22:53
Not only did you have things ready to go, if they called you had merch, but you had put the effort in to reach out and then you made it happen. You didn’t use the excuse. Wow, man, I gotta fly. I gotta do this. It’s kind of tight schedule. If you’re gonna do it, do it,

Jonny: 23:09

Phil: 23:10
make it happen.

Jonny: 23:11

Phil: 23:12
That’s a lesson for anyone who wants to make it big in anything. I wish you the best of luck. , I’m excited. I listened to the single I’ll, , put a link here in the show notes for anyone, and then, uh, any other links will have available, , your website’s being built. Is that right?

Jonny: 23:28
Yeah. So we’re still working on the website right now. You could just find it off basically all the platforms, but, uh, I’m gonna have it all, all decked out right now. It’s just the social media. You’ll be able to find it on the platform, just Johnny rockz and instead of an S it’s a Z at the end. So for sure, man. Thank you. Huge pleasure. We definitely should do this again. Thanks Phil.

Phil: 23:50
for sure. We definitely, you know what, we’re gonna do a check in with you in like three, six months. I wanna see how things are going.

Jonny: 23:57
Well, let’s talk numbers, baby.

Phil: 23:59
Hopefully you’ll be able to make some time for, for this little lowly podcast.

Jonny: 24:04
Oh, nah, man, this is, I’m telling you, this is you start something, you start somewhere and you started, this is the platform to do it. People are listening, even if it’s 50 to a hundred people, it doesn’t matter. You know, you have someone listening. So hopefully this helps someone else out that’s inspiring and you know, really wants to achieve their goal in the music in.

Phil: 24:23
Pleasure having you on. And we’ll check in with you in a few months.