#109: Seth Godin – Building a Musical Tribe

Seth Godin is an author and thought leader who has written 13 books that cover topics such as leadership, digital marketing and the spreading of ideas. His book, Tribes, garnered a lot of attention among the music community. Tribes explores how innovators can focus on groups of similarly minded individuals (a tribe) and get that tribe excited by releasing a new product,  music, or message via the internet.  The idea of building a tribe online is something that many DIY artists have been doing to find success in this new music economy. Join us on the DIY Musician Podcast as Seth shares his thoughts and strategies on music in the digital age.

You can find out more about Seth’s books and his blog at his website HERE.

  • Manuee Trejos

    amazing interview. I´m on the verge of releasing my new album. The thing is, I´m from Panama and my music is in spanish, while all these websites CD BABY, Noise Trade, Fan Bridge, Headliner.com, RootMusic and otherS seen to be great for DIY Musicians, sometimes I get scare that music in spanish is still developing its internet social networkds followers. But what the hell, you got me inspire, I´ll go for it.
    SEE YAh

  • I can’t believe you brought this nonsense back. Godin makes his living
    selling books and seminars telling others how to make money doing
    something he knows nothing about. He doesn’t have a tribe, cultivate
    a tribe etc.

    Furthermore, he clearly knows nothing about the publishing
    world, citing J.K Rawlins(sp?) and the Harry Potter books he makes the claim
    that she started small and sought out her tribe.

    WRONG. The first Harry Potter book was picked up at auction by a smaller publisher
    and sold out it’s first printing virtually over night. This is not starting
    small. Yes, she was rejected by a number of publishing houses, so were
    every other writer in history. That’s how the business works.

    The only good advise he had was “Be an Artist. Make the music you want to make, even
    though it probably isn’t going to sell.”

  • Interesting interview. Great questions and great answers. It will be interesting to see what both the music and publishing industries morph into in the coming years. Nice job all around!

  • Hey Kevin, great interview and thanks to Seth for sharing his thoughts. His ideas are nice reminders that the best marketing really can’t be bought.

  • Seth is da man. I have been studying/reading/recommending him for years and pretty much based my entire marketing vision quest on his head. I have done well and feel great about what I have done. I am a Purple Cow, Linchpin and Tribe leader. I hope Seth reads these comments, I want to thank him for all that he has done of me and my family. I would also like to do the same for the CDBDIYMP crew. I am still listening, laughing and learning.

    The Mighty Mr. Billy
    Celebrating 10 Years of Writing, Recording and Performing Extreme Music for Kids and Families!

  • Agreed, nice interview. You should get Steven Pressfield next 🙂

  • Thanks for having Seth on. He’s my touchstone for new media marketing, attitude and mindset. I liked Tribes, but I LOVE Linchpin, listen to it repeatedly for it’s central message: make great art, give great gifts. That’s the marketing I believe in.

  • I’d remind everyone, that the best marketing is and always has been Word-Of-Mouth.
    Seth said it himself. Get one fan, that tells another, that tells another.. Word of Mouth
    the ONLY real marketing any successful product, including art, has ever had.

  • Seth just replaced Tom Jackson as the best DIY podcast ever. Reaffirming stuff.

  • I love when robert lee king comments. he’s so angry. hilarious!
    i’d argue that seth has a tribe in the same way cdbaby diy has a tribe. we listen religiously to the podcast because in some way the show connects with us. if it were only a resource for marketing ideas, etc… we’d have stopped listening after at most 10 episodes. the same goes for seth. difference being that his tribe is not the musician as much as the diy podcasts, bloggers, etc… that pitch his ideas to there tribe (the msuicians). he’s near the top of the pyramid scheme that sells ideas.

  • jpeck,

    I’m not the slightest bit angry, just astounded that so many are so easily fooled.
    Seth and his ilk, bilk everyone out of their hard earned cash with advise they
    themselves cannot implement. He has no tribe, just a collection of suckers who’ve
    bought into his self proclaimed gospel. The list is quite long, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins,
    Kevin Trudeu, etc… All selling something they themselves do not posses.

    Do you really want to know how to market your music? Fine. Listen to those who still
    market crap on a daily basis. The record labels. The industry may be in trouble but it’s
    still selling billions every year. What are you selling….

    KISS sucks but, Gene Simmons is a multi millionaire several times over. Marketing is simple,
    provide a product that meets a need. Do it well and succeed, do it half azzed and fail.

    By the way, cdbaby does not have a tribe, it has customers. Very different things. A tribe
    is a community or family if you will, bent on doing anything and everything possible to
    support the members of the tribe. Or, when appropriate, banish those within the tribe
    who disgrace or otherwise denigrate the tribe.

    The DIY podcast on the other hand, has an audience, not a tribe. I have an audience, so do
    you. How large that audience might be, depends on you and what you produce, not on how.

    Not to pick nits but, it’s their, not there…

  • Semantics. audience, tribe, community, fans. take any of these words and swap them into your last comment in place of the other and the meaning doesn’t change.
    they’re (did i use the right there? 🙂 ) higher level concepts that represent ideas. seth is not telling people that they need to build a religious group lead by a shaman. tribe is an object with specific attributes that we already understand. the word is used because people have a hard time learning ideas from scratch, it’s much easier to build upon a known concept. your arbitrary use of these words doesn’t change the core idea.
    to say that the podcast doesn’t have a tribe seems insincere. you said they have an audience not a tribe. maybe you aren’t in the tribe, you are on the outside looking in assuming that everyone experiences the show the way you do.

    seacrest out!

  • Gurus are easy to knock down. But if they inspire, then they have worth. Oftentimes I’ve thought I didn’t learn anything from the empty guru only to implement ideas from them later. I’ve softened my critiques of such people. Tony Robbins might not be writing the best songs, but he’s inspiring a lot of great songwriters, and many more types as well.

    But keep your brains about you and don’t take every word as gospel. If something’s working for you, do more of it. If it’s not getting results, try something else. I’ve had tangible good results from trying things I heard about on the DIY podcast. I’m ok with being a tribe member here.


  • Listen carefully to what Seth Godin has to say. He is a visionary and straight shooter, and amongst one of the few early adopters of the web to remain relevant and actually give a damn anymore. Many of his ideas hold weight, many more have probably already crossed your mind. That’s the beauty of Seth’s advice it is both inspiring and re-assuring of your own ideas at the same time.

  • OneWerd

    Didn’t want to like this….but honestly, it was exactly what I needed to hear right now. VEry inspiring….the 30 year jazz musician who’s given up on making it, is doing only because they love it, so now it connects with both themselves and others. Beautiful.

  • This is exactly what I have done, and it works. Therefore, I agree with the philosophy of finding your tribe and delivering the music that inspires you. I have made a decent living doing this for the past 2 years. After many years of playing clubs as a singer songwriter and in a blues band, I finally found my niche in a unique market, and I serve it with the styles of music that I enjoy playing. This may not be easy for all musicians based on the genre that they perform in. There is a lot of competition in the venues that most musicians look to for getting heard. However, if you can tap into your unique micro niche (tribe) and be consistent in offering them quality music then they will support you as you grow, and spread your music beyond the niche that you began in.
    If you want to know more about my unique niche that has grown to be an international market then visit my website: http://www.stevegoldmusic.com or find me on FB: http://www.facebook.com/stevegoldmusic

  • Thank you Seth

  • Actually I think that’s called the free or open market… tribe, followers, fans, etc. same diff. Internet has taken the place of radio and made a broader market but the marketing is pretty much the same Radio = free music Internet = free music; You can restrict Internet to pay or free depending on your business situation. It’s a choice not a mandate but now Record Labels compete with Indie for market share. As idependent artists, we have to be savvy to how this all worked in the first place. $ 300,000 to make a top 40 hit on the radio. Do you want to know how that was actually spent? $ 30,000 to record, $ 270,000 to promote and get it into the Top 40 radio playlist. That’s the reality of the record industry. The Internet allows us to promote for free by comparison. Give me $ 300,000 and I will get your song in whatever top 40 playlist you want. It may stay at number 40 for a week and drop off but it’ll get there, guaranteed. Anybody that thinks they can compete for that, let me know:)

  • so what you’re saying is we need to run a social experiment. a band starts a kickstarter campaign with the idea that the need $300,000 to get there song in the top 40. although i guess the band could just take the money and run

  • I think that a lot of what Seth says makes sense. It is true that the music business is changing. We had a great concept – to create a CD that would speak to people living with cancer and their families and friends. The CD, “The Colour’s Coming Back” that we created did just that. It was a ground-breaking CD, something that no one had done before. Talk show hosts loved our idea and our CD, but the talk show opportunities were one shot deals. Unfortunately, we don’t have a band and haven’t had airplay for our songs as yet, so finding our “tribe” has been tough. I know that 1 out of 3 people have been touched by cancer, so there is definitely a large group of people who would be inspired by our music. I don’t like to keep bugging people, though. I put the songs on an album page on Facebook for people to listen to, but few people found our page. There must be a way to get our music out there, but I haven’t figured it out as yet.

  • Thank you for this interview! Let’s hear it for the Loud and Proud artists!

  • Hey, Join My Tribe!

  • “There must be a way to get our music out there, but I haven’t figured it out as yet……There must be a way to get our music out there, but I haven’t figured it out as yet.”

    The only real answer is to keep swinging and trying new things. Never get tired. Never get bitter.

    There’s lots of cancer events so perhaps some form of free downloads in conjunction with some big charity events – perhaps with a live performer at that event? Doesn’t matter if the performer isn’t on the CD. Just someone to represent the idea. Promotions are like a constant flow from which it’s not possible to predict results.

    What about connecting with a cancer treatment facility? A hard sell to cancer patients would be offensive on multiple levels but there must be a win-win recipe that would elevate and enhance happiness. I bought a book titled “How We Die” when my dad was going through chemo; it really helped me get through the situation. Maybe some free downloads with more available for sale? Just brainstorming here so….

  • Rob Phas

    Great interview. Seth is always on point.

  • Seth you are the brotherman. Your words are prophetic and you have officially gained the endorsement of the TerribleTim nation.

  • One man’s tribe IS another man’s collection of suckers who’ve
    bought into a self proclaimed gospel.

    And it’s nitpick not “pick nits”

    Sigh. This is why I rarely comment on this blog anymore.

  • Sorry we don’t have a transcription.

    Chris B

  • Omarr7

    It would be easier to spread the idea if have one… 🙁

  • hehrobin_scott

    Recently I was extremely low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!! – 9h0h