Cary Pierce Of Jackopierce Says "Invest In Yourself"

(Note from TuneCore: The post below is from TuneCore Artist Cary Pierce, a member of the band Jackopierce. You can catch the original post on Cary’s blog.  Make sure to check back on the TuneCore blog next week for another post from Cary!)

Invest In Yourself

By Cary Pierce

(This is an excerpt from a book I am working on about being creative for a living. I will post a new chapter every Friday.)


(dollar Origami came from super cool site

Quit waiting for your ship to come in. Start sending ships out.

GIVE YOURSELF A RECORD DEAL OR A publishing deal – don’t just wait around for it.

By writing this book – I’ve “given myself a publishing deal.” I have a computer to write on and I know I can use blurb or to print my books for very little money or release it as an ebook.

When it comes to your time, don’t go invest in a bunch of stuff you don’t like/love or believe in just because you think it will make you money.

Start small. Go slow. It’s ok. Warren Buffet is a huge proponent in investing in what you know and taking your sweet time.

You can invest a lot of your most valuable resource (your time) on your own terms. You can work on what you want, when you want  – without someone over your shoulder – wondering when they’ll get their money back.

Some people love having the pressure of using other people’s money. I do not.

My best investments – with returns off the charts – have all been investing in myself or my endeavors.

I have invested in the stock market, in restaurants and in real estate and by far, my best investments have been in the things that I do – mainly songs, records and merchandise.

People like doing business with busy people. People are not attracted to “needy” people. It’s ok to be diligent, persistent, but if you come off as “I really need this money” it’s just not attractive. It’s not a place of power. The least attractive people are the ones who feel they can’t start anything until they’ve raised money.

Do what you can in the interim. Build. They often come. And “they” tend to come when you’re so busy, you really don’t have all that much time to deal with them.

Jackopierce was never out to get a major label deal. Then one day, a Dallas band (Patrick Pike’s “Sister 7”) was getting a record deal through a Nashville attorney, Jim Zumwalt. Zumwalt had been talking a lot with Sister 7’s local distributor, Crystal Clear, and asked them if there were any other artists in Dallas worth checking out.

Crystal Clear told him that their biggest seller, by far, was an acoustic duo called Jackopierce. It just happened to be that JP was playing in Nashville that weekend. We were asked to put Zumwalt on the guest list and we did. The only problem was – the show was so oversold that they would not even let him in the front door. Zumwalt had to come around back to meet us in the alley right before we went on stage.

We were not some band that sent him a demo hoping to get “discovered.” We were not chasing him around town to get a record deal. We were out there quietly investing in ourselves, building our fan base, one city, one college campus at a time. We were selling CDs and t-shirts, making a living and growing along the way.

Zumwalt found out about us and he came after us. It was simple math for him – we had sold over 45,000 copies of our three independent CDs and were selling out shows all over the country. This was a no-brainer for him to take to the major labels. We got offers from several labels (and had a blast being courted by them**) but decided on signing with Larry Hamby at A&M Records in LA. Later we also signed a deal with Warner Chapel Music Publishing.

People like doing business with busy people. People want what they think they can’t have or might lose. It’s just the way it is.

Quit waiting for your ship to come in. Invest in yourself and start sending those ships out.

**side story: our first LA “courting trip” was to visit with MCA (now Universal) Records. They flew us out and put us up in the Universal Hilton (near Universal Studios). They informed us at check-in that we had a $250 per day spending account on the room. We were beside ourselves. The hotel was really nice! And here we were – in Los Angeles being courted by one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world! Once Brady (our manager), Jack and I got into the room, we got a call from Ron Oberman (the MCA A&R guy that was trying to sign us) to set up a time and place for dinner. When I picked up the phone, he asked, “Cary – what are you doing in Brady’s room??” Brady’s room? It turns out he had gotten us each our own room room with $250 per day to spend. We were even more beside ourselves!  Good times!


Cary Pierce is a professional musician, songwriter, performer, producer and event creator. He’s also half of the band Jackopierce.  You can read more excerpts and news from Cary here.

  • Lab Man

    Very insperational!! as an active song-writer/producer/performer & doing some of the above, I can believe this outcome is very posible.

    As I work towards an end goal with the outcome constantly on my mind, I see my thoughts start to materialise.


    Follow @trealcity

  • Michael

    Now try this with some music that has a shred of credibility and originality. Then write about that.

  • Hater

    Wow, what an inspiring story. I’ve never heard of jp, but if a hotelroom with a 250 bucks dig it bonus was the best you got and that this is worth the “invest in yourself” then go for it. I mean, how many investinyorselfacts are out there having the luck to be as fortunate as you guys and be as unknown as you are and get a hotelroom with 250 $ a day spending? For EACH? Enjoy that night, everybody!

  • Suzanne Smith

    Love it…although I’m not sure why you signed with a major. You were doing just fine on your own!

    I’ve had three major label deals and sold 300k of a song I wrote. I’ve made a whopping 15k in my career. If I did it on my own..who knows! Never again. I do love the being busy advice. So true. Good luck to you! Thanks for the great article.

  • LakeTahoeG

    Well said Hater and Michael… my 2 cents:
    It is NOT inspiring to hear loosely established opinions that offer no real value.

    While the intention is positive (thank you for that, Cary)- the substance is practically nonexistent.

    I think it is much more inspiring to consider facts:
    1. Financial success is a subjective idea
    2. If you seek financial success through creating, producing music… you first must know what success is– in your terms.
    3. If you meet these terms- you have become successful!  
             (simple, huh? if this isn’t ‘inspirational’, what is??)
    4. If you have not met the terms- you’ll have to keep working. 
    5. No matter how hard you work- notable financial gain is not likely

    This likely means more time spent being uncomfortable and dealing more with the uncreative demands of business than the simple demands of creating. (This is the topic I would like to see a writer with good skills like Cary take on… especially since he’s talking about making a living- and not about music quality, content, etc)

    Those of us who have ‘been around a while’ have most often concluded:
    Very, very few Artists will ever enjoy what I define as financial success in the entertainment industry.

    I believe the only thing most of us may actually do to ensure our ‘success’ or ability to make a living in the business of commercial entertainment is:

         Lower our expectations; form realistic goals; and work day jobs!

    After doing all of the above- even I have become immensely successful!


    PS Here is my under belly..! Have a feast, if you desire:

  • beats0808

    typical, dude already had money or his parents girlfriend, wife or former career funded his new life, 

    what about the other 99.99% of us who are a day away from sleeping on the street ? 

    so you sold 45,000 records, from 3 albums, you are very lucky you got a deal, do exactly what they ask and you will go far, march to your own drum and it will not last, the streets of hollywood, NYC, and NJ are full of guys who marched to their own drum, 

  • beats0808

    wow, why are you trying to sell your album on your site ?  did you get a deal with universal ?  or did that fall through ?  or is it a distribution deal ?  

    I had a deal with a major in 2009 that did not mean squat, they called it a distribution deal, which means I had to provide a finished record, I also had to come up with $300,000 to get on a major tour and another million or two for promotion and marketing, which I did not have and could not get, 

      in the end I sold around  100,000 albums and that was that, I still have not been paid on it, my lawyer told me that it would cost me 20k just to hire an auditor to look at the books, 

    I am waiting for my next deal, the one where they will pay me 5 million upfront and another 5 million in marketing, videos, promotions, 

    I know that I will only get that when I am performing at stadiums,  

     now the problem is how do I get there ?  I already have 10 million views on youtube, I was told that I need 100 million views to get on a list, oh well maybe in a year ? or two ?

  • beats0808

    excuse me, I meant “the list”  when you get on there the labels are taking you more seriously for a major investment, 

    it is harder than ever now, thanks google, sean parker, yahoo, youtube, spotify, facebook, oh and apple, you all killed the record business, and made it 1000 times harder to make a living in it,   

    oh I forgot, my album was retailed for 13.95, I sold a few thousand, so we dropped it down to $1, yes one dollar, my sales went way up but I did not sell a million only 100,000 so I was told that we broke even, after the costs, setting up the distribution, ancillary costs huh ?,   anyway who am I to question or fight them ?  

    btw I hear there is another merger going on, in the end there will be only 2 majors left, can you guess which two ?

  • Internal Definition

    This was very helpful. Puts things in perspective and really gets you to see how getting a record deal is a lot like getting anything from people. You got to make yourself worth looking at and get people to want you, not show that you want them. I enjoyed this article a lot.

  • Barmpots

    You’ve earned it. You cannot sit on your arse and expect the big knock on your door.

    Every Credit

  • chuck roseboom

    this is a perfect example of what I preach to all as a independent producer,invest in your self, build independent sales an the majors will come to you,however,not all artist have the marketing skills to do this or the basic know how and sometimes a good independent producer/ promoter has to be involved and yes it does take money invested into yourself as well ( thats the hardest part),,

  • Moxie

    I’m loving it.

  • glen judah

    good connection from tune core

  • Cary,
    your book is very good! thanks.