Who! Not How? 10x Your Results as an Artist or Writer

Photo by Jessie McCall on Unsplash

There’s a fantastic concept known as “Who Not How” (made famous by entrepreneur coach, Dan Sullivan).

Let me show you a quick example of how to use this mindset piece.

Let’s say you’re a musician looking to exponentiate your career – either as a hit songwriter or releasing your own artist project. It’s possible – you might have been stuck in the “HOW” mode…

You might be asking yourself questions like:

How can I improve my songwriting skills?
  • “HOW can I get my song on a huge Spotify or Apple playlist?”
  • “HOW can I learn the insider secrets of hit songwriting?”
  • “HOW can I make a living full time, just doing music?”
  • “HOW can I improve my songwriting skills?”
  • “HOW can I set up my digital marketing funnels, remarketing pixels, etc.?”

It’s not unlikely you can easily feel overwhelmed and faced with even more trial and error than when you started. Many hours (or years) have gone by and you’re no closer to achieving those goals than when you started…

Now, let’s look at the other, much simpler way of getting it done.

This is called the “WHO” model.

For this, you only need to ask yourself ONE question:

Who already has the results I'm after, and how can I get them to help me achieve those same results?

“WHO already has the results I’m after, and how can I get them to help me achieve those same results?”

If you’re tired of wasting time falling down the “HOW” rabbit hole and reinventing the wheel every time, let me introduce you to the Hit Songwriting Accelerator framework, and also for artists,the DIY Label Release Plan. In my opinion, these are 2 of the key “WHO’s” you’ll need this year.

Just remember, your future “secret power” to 10x everything about your career and life can be wrapped up in this following statement.

It’s not about asking “HOW.” It’s about asking “WHO.”

In fact, as an extreme example, the aforementioned Dan Sullivan who coined the phrase – also wrote a book of the same title, “Who Not How.” And guess what? Dan didn’t write one word of it! That’s right! He hired a co-author / ghost writer to write it for him – purely based on Dan’s concepts and outline.

Imagine that! So how can this concept be used in your own world and daily practice?

To flip those above “HOW” questions – let’s put them in the context of “WHO?

For example:

Who can help me develop my songwriting skills?
  • “WHO can help me develop my hit songwriting skills?”
  • “WHO can help me with my digital marketing?”
  • “WHO can help my recordings sound the best vs figuring it out myself?”
  • “WHO can help manage my career and has all the right relationships?”
  • “WHO can help me get Spotify and Apple playlisting?”

Who are some of the “who-ers” that might just get YOU to the next level!?

Now, of course – this is usually never free. The only short term downside is that often you have to pay for these people – one way or another. It might be hiring that PR or TikTok influencer who is the “who” in regards to getting your music to the right influencers. It might be paying a commission to a music publisher or synch consultant who can get your songs recorded by other artists or placed in film/tv opportunities.

The 2nd part of this mindset flip is to start thinking of these payments and commissions as literal gold. Yes, you want to flip paying someone (upfront or as a commission) as a win, assuming there are actual results that show up. Let me explain further…

Too often I run into songwriters, artists (or noob managers) who just see things as a bottom line cost. For example – “I don’t know – it’s going to cost me 25% for a publishing deal” or “This video director is $10,000 – let’s go with the cheap $2,000 video director instead.” “I don’t want to have to pay for that!

You know what happens? To quote one of my previous British bosses at Kobalt, “when you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

This is versus often taking the long road and the upside and 10X potential that the situation and that the partnership may potentially bring. More importantly, it completely frees up YOUR time to do what you’re awesome at – which is writing and recording Songs!

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In other words, it might cost “x” for someone’s expert services (you know, the one that took 5-10 years to get really good!). But your “return on investment” can and should be an exponential of that fee you paid.

The “Who” vs “How” concept can be as simple as finding a “who” to make a lyric video for your new release. In this case, would you rather take 30-50 + hours of your own time – figuring out kinetic typography programs, pulling your hair out or (this is the “How”) – or would you rather seek out a person who’s amazing at making lyric videos, is an expert, has 5,000 hours + doing the gig – and can get it done for like $500 (this is the “Who”). Also remember – this person will do it way better than you ever could.

I think you know the answer here!

Just remember, the great movers and shakers of the world are NOT great “How-ers.” They ARE great “Who-ers.”

They leverage and seek out these people so they can leverage themselves.

This means they can focus on their own unique ability, which is making great songs and/or being an artist. And that’s gold right there, my friend.

So, WHO can you insert in your world right now to get you to the next level?

Translate your “How’s” to “Who’s” and watch your world transform.

I truly hope this was helpful and see you in the “WHO” lane i.e. the “fast track.”


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About the Author

The Author of “How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!”

My career in music publishing extends over 25 years, including BMG Music (bought by Universal) and EMI Music Publishing (bought by Sony), as well as the 1st U.S. employee of Kobalt Music Publishing, where he helped build the roster over 10 years as Executive VP of Creative.

Benjamin is currently heading up his own publishing company, Brill Building, as well as label and music filter, We Are: The Guard. Benjamin’s signings range from Ryan Tedder, Kelly Clarkson, The Lumineers, Grimes, Savan Kotecha, OneRepublic, SOPHIE, Ariel Rechtshaid, Greg Kurstin, Tiesto, Kid Cudi, TOKiMONSTA, TR/ST, Cut Copy, Big Freedia, Lindy Robbins, Peaches and yes, even Steel Panther. His specialty in the music business is early artist, writer and writer/producer development.


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