The World's Best Online School for Rock & Metal Producers.
Joel Wanasek is the Founder and CEO of Unstoppable Recording Machine Academy. URM has a comprehensive library of education for producers of all levels: beginner to advanced. With the best producers in the industry as hosts, students get over 50 hours of courses.
Learn more about how Unstoppable Recording Machine Academy can teach you how to be a rockin' music producer by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, we're all reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.
And with us right now, we've got Joel Wanasek. Joel, you are the Co-Founder and CEO of Unstoppable Recording Machine Academy. I feel like I want to say that with movie announcer voice right. I should
hire you to do my podcasts and
it's it's URM a cat URM dot Academy. And that's where you're found on the web. Joel, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you, Josh. It's a Pleasure to be here. I appreciate your time.
So I know you have a background in recording industry and working with rock bands. And so let me read for you the top rock songs of the 2000, 10s Let's see three of them are 21 pilots three of them are Imagine Dragons and let's see the other four Panic At The Disco, the Lumineers, Walk the Moon and Portugal demand. Joel as a fan of rock music since you know the 50s you know especially like you know I love the 70s, 80s is our I certainly you know that kind of the birth of metal and you know, we're metal really metallic and all these other bands, and then 90s with grunge and everything else. I gotta say, my own opinion. The 2010 did not rock for me that rock
at all. I mean, I don't know I'm not I'm not I don't do a lot of work indie rock. I mean, my biggest rock credit. Remember the band trapped headstrong was their big song they were talking like 2005 or something like that. I mean, that's probably the most notable rock. I've done a lot of metal stuff, which is cool. And a lot of white actually, there's a very big Japanese guy that I've worked with that just had a number one two years ago, but he's not very famous in the US. So it doesn't matter.
No one but what, you know, and I, again, I know you do so many other things today, which we're going to be talking about. But what's your prediction on, you know, is, you know, I think if you look at where music obviously, where it's such a different model than the, you know, then you know, buying CDs or records or cassettes of the past, right, that's how you gauge the popularity of music now, it's all about streams and you know, what's being consumed that way? And it seems like a lot of catalog stuff is always so super popular. But most your you know, if you look at the Spotify top 50 I'll be honest, like, maybe I'm just old and not cool anymore. Well, I know I'm older not cool anymore. So but but it's like, Man, it's you know, it's just I don't know It's definitely not what I would consider rock and that's cool like I know music is always evolving and changing. I got a rap right now Josh I don't know what
hip hop and rap is your genre but like trap is where it's at like the rap stuff that's coming out it's kind of like all the attitude and rawness that used to be in rock music and metal music like 20 years ago is now moved into rap so it's like rap stuff goes harder than a lot of the heavy stuff that comes out because there's just like so much more attitude and like yes, OSI and like alpha male ness to it and I don't
know, which is which I love which I absolutely love and so like when I ride my spin bike and I use the Peloton app, like I love the trap workouts. So that side of it I like it's the lazy rap that just I can't I can't stand. It's just like, I mean, it's not for everybody, but the thing you gotta understand about music is it every year, you know, every few years it changes. So yes,
always, oh my god, listen to the music, good socks, you know, five years so it's just like you got to come Uh, this is always a challenge for all the music producers. And I tell this to a lot of our students, I'm like, Look every three to five years, you have to completely redo everything that you like, you have to get rid of and jettison and grow into something that's new, completely different for and because the market changes so fast, and you have to jump and keep jumping on to the new thing and under and get it because remember, like when dubstep came out, and it sounded like robots having sex or some right, and I'm like, I don't get this at all. This is stupid. But then I had a bunch of kids that showed up at my door and they're like, hey, well, Mr. Producer, can you write a song like this? I'm like, well, dude, like, I'm thinking like, I can't turn around and be like, No, I don't want to take your money. I don't want to feed my family today. So you had to listen to it for like two weeks straight and then I finally got it, what was like cool about it, and then I was like, Okay, now I can actually produce this kind of music. So it's very difficult because you're always pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I mean, I guess it's the same for being an entrepreneur or anyways, you know, you're always going out and taking on different risks and growing and, you know, pushing into, you know, all kinds of different verticals, whatever you got to do. You know,
Joel, did you get into the recording industry because you knew somebody was that would Oh, I know a lot of people Oh,
it's really My story is actually crazy, Josh because I come from them. Okay, so I did everything wrong. And I made it to the top if that makes the cornfields of Wisconsin if you go to any place in the music scene in Wisconsin, and I'm still here, by the way, which is nice. If you go to any place that nothing ever comes out of Wisconsin, no big bands, no big
Weezer's out of Wisconsin, right?
That was 90. Like what? 94 I know, I know, that I'm here. I'm stretching here. So I mean, seriously, like, you know, we had Butch Vig did Nirvana and you know, the early 90s and he didn't ever mind which is obviously a smash hit of a wreck period. And then, you know, we had like leezar garbage and again, that was like that was that one guy. We haven't had anything else since. So I came from a basement no internship, self taught, just brutalized that came out in the music industry was just trashing itself. You know, no one's buying CDs anymore. Everybody's streaming or I mean, this is before streaming and you know, I'm still able to just smash it out, work my ass off finally just grinded my way through that up started working Regional the national bands and then I, you know, started doing these businesses and then we finally exploded and hit it and I don't know it's it's, it's been a crazy ride but I definitely gave up all of my 20s is like Gary Vee would say half my 30s to get where I'm at. So, you know, so.
So you're in the space take me through, like what was your kind of like your Pinnacle like, Oh my gosh, like I am like the guy in this space like who are you working with? What are you doing?
I mean, it's okay. Well, there's, there's different stages of the career. I mean for Wisconsin, I mean, I again since a bunch of vague I mean, there was a point where I had gotten to local bands signed to major labels, and no producer has done that. And then you know, I started working on all these stuff. And my business partner Joey here in my audio stuff, he was probably the most famous metal producer in like the last 15 years. I mean, the guy is like an internet legend. He's an absolute rock star. And I did a lot of work with him and a lot of his bands and we just, I don't know, we've just built an empire together and I think there wasn't like one crowning moment. Um, well, actually, yeah. Okay. So about two years ago, there was there was a day where, you know, when I was 29, I'm 38. Now, I always want to be like a millionaire, right? Like, I wanted to make a million bucks. And, you know, I was a producer always wanted to get like a number one song, right? I never had one. And I had a lot of like, top 20 or top 40 and, you know, different things like that and good charting stuff, but I never got to number one, I finally got my first number one. And then I finally like, a week later, um, no, sorry, it was a week before that I got I got the chronology reversed. That's when I logged in, and I opened up, you know, like, Click Funnels thing. And we looked at the revenue and I'm like, holy crap, we made a million bucks this year. And I was kind of just like, it was like, the best week and a half, because, you know, I smashed two major lifetime goals in the same, you know, two week period, and it was just like, that's when I kind of just sat back. I'm like, this is cool, but it's not enough, you know? So,
okay, so you're and before I ask you this question, just just because I now I'm a trivia So here Here are some of the most famous musical artists from Wisconsin. Number one, Les Paul. I did not know that. So Les Paul violin is number two. So Violent Femmes is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That's where you're at another 90s band. Yeah, I go with ABS I you know, that's, that's lady So Steve Miller. Another one garbage. And then of course, we can't forget.
The Liberace Celebrity
There we go. Yeah, I mean, nothing like really came out of Milwaukee. You know, for our I mean, just Wisconsin for like two decades. You know? Yeah. Yeah. You know, it was it was it was a rough period. So it was nice to come from that kind of background where I didn't have any help. I didn't have any knowledge. I didn't have any skills or connections and just figured it out, sitting in a basement and just pure hustle, pure grind.
Sin. Yeah, Madison has a pretty good arts and music scene.
It does, you know, Milwaukee's even not bad, but it's The thing funny thing about music scenes and like playing in a band is you don't you go to any city in the world and like everybody's like, oh, the scene here sucks. Oh, LA, it's not what you're used to, or it's not what it used to be. And I'm thinking like, everywhere I go people because I travel I work. They're always like, Oh, you know, the scene here sucks. And I'm thinking, like, if you went to where I live, everybody's like, oh, the senior sucks. I'm coming to move by you. kind of ridiculous.
So from, you know, as a kid in growing up in West Michigan, and then you know, as we get into the late 80s, house music out of Chicago, I mean, that was and then and then later you had techno coming out of Detroit. You know, that was just a really exciting time. For someone like me who really liked electronic dance music I mean that you're hearing this music that is never ever I mean, it's you know, variation, disco and funk and all that other stuff. But it's, you know, it's really exciting when you get to hear a new music type, that that's never existed before and so much Nowadays, yeah, well, right exactly like this guy. They feel like it's getting harder and harder and harder. I'm gonna grab two rocks and start banging them together, and people are gonna go Wait a minute, I haven't heard that in a long time since the caveman days.
You know, sometimes it's just like a like they change like the hi hat in a bass pattern. And that's a whole new genre,
you know, right. That metal
is the worst. There's so many sub genres and what's funny, is they all hate each other. Because it's like, if you listen to this one, then these people are posers and vice versa, and it's just yeah. People need to get girlfriends I don't know.
Yeah. So Joel. Okay. So you're working independently, you're in the industry, you're making good money, you're doing great stuff. Okay. So, talk to me about where you get to the point you're like, Listen, I learned all these skills. I kind of made it to the top. Did you just start mentoring people? Or did when did you start first taking your first students and what were you doing?
Sure. Okay, so it starts I met my friend Joey. Alright. So this is the very, very famous Producer guy was telling you about Yeah, he was like, we're like the first time we're both having like the same story comes from like a trailer park in Indiana. He was in a little garage who was renting sleeping on the couch for two years making records. You know, I came from a cornfield in Wisconsin, like we just somehow cross paths on a band went down to meet and we became like, best buddies. We did some work together, did some ghost mixing for him, and his career just took off. It's like 2008 2009. And he hit me up back in like, 2013, he had a massive following on Facebook. I said, total Rockstar, this is back, you know, when the algorithms and Facebook are actually conducive to any sort of organic reach, or you could just post and shut the thing down, you know? So he was like, Hey, I, you know, he's like, I took this sound sample I made it's called the bass drop. How do I explain that for non music people? It's like one of those things and moving through liquids. Like, I just totally smashed my bike. I'm sorry. Right, right. You know, you know what I mean? We're like, there's like a big sub energy boost. It sounds really and he sold a bass trap and he sold like 2000 copies. And I was just like, Oh my God, that's crazy. So he asked me to do a product with him. And I didn't know how to make that kind of product Three days later, I kicked it out. Now here's what's interesting is he hit up like 20 other producers to do products with them. And I was the only person that actually turned something in and got it done. And we went out, we made like 40 grand in a few weeks. And we were just like, whoa.
So then, you know, when I did where Rob who's giving you 40 grand,
he already had an audience, all he had to do was say this exists. And people were like, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy,
okay, so that's convenient when you find a market. It's great, good, good thing, he already had an audience.
The other thing though, Josh, was that no one was approaching anything with video back then. So we looked at it, you know, because we had like a natural inclination towards marketing, but we weren't trained necessarily in marketing at that point. So we were like, well, no one's doing video right now. Because, you know, as a music producer, you're always thinking about like, Okay, what are we doing different? Like, how can I make a hit? What's gonna be on the T shirt? What's that one liner that someone's gonna sing in the bar, like Click, click, boom, you know, you're sitting there. So we're like, no one's marketing stuff like this with video like so we just made a video around it and like it just got one viral and got shared. So, you know, we started making some drum products, we just crushed that. And then Joey and I would always get around, I was mixing a lot of bands with him. We made like a factory where we just kick out all these things in like rapid succession. So like, right, How do I explain this, like a normal mixer, you know, we'll do like a song or two a day, like a list big time, you know, a song or today and I was mixing entire albums in like two days, we built like a system of system ization. And later, we made a course. But, um, so we were just crushing it. And we'd always talk about mixing and audio. And one day Joe was just like, dude, we should just record this. And I'm like, yeah, people would actually listen, this could be adult podcast. So we call this guy al, who had some podcasting experience, and was kind of into the education and he worked at a very famous studio down in Florida doing like metal and stuff like that. And we got together we started our company, we did a podcast, we launched it, we started doing okay, because it was subscription based. And then we pivoted into something that we have now called nail the mix, which basically we had all these subscribers and they're like, Hey, you know, we want mixing education and the stuff that we out there. It was good. But the problem was the people that were doing it didn't really have any credits. They weren't like, I mean, there was a couple of premium services, but nobody was like, you know, I don't know, it just there wasn't anything good. So we put a spin on it, we did it a little bit different and we made it live so people could come on and directly interact with their favorite person. So back when I came up, I mean, I would have paid like $20,000 to go sit and watch you know, the best one of the best 10 people in the world mix a song and just sit there on a session for a day and take notes. So we're like, Well, why don't we bring that person in front of them on a laptop and do it live so they can just turn around in the middle of thing be like, Oh, yeah, this is how I got the vocal to sound good. And so they can interact with them and then we then we just are so that exploded, I mean, we 10 extra business in six months, then tech next did again over the next year. You know, now we're into the seven figures annually and going and we've built a massive community. This is this company is worldwide. We have subscribers from all over the planet. every race, religion, you know, everything you can think of, it's just really incredible. We do in person live events where we have producers fly in from all over the globe as far as Australia and Malaysia and right, some are Russia like, Oh, just everywhere. It's crazy. We have meetup chapters locally in different places. So like, for example, we flew to Sweden to go do one of these events. We do one every month with a producer. And you know, we have like, over 40 people show up, you know, where we walk into the bar, and there's like, a whole crowd of people were like, holy crap, so it's our online school is become like a movement, which is crazy, because it's the thing about because it's like one of those things that you just get together with my buddies on the phone, we make some cool stuff we posted on the internet. And, you know, then you get out and you go and fly to something like this, and you meet real people and you're like, this is a movement. This is crazy. Like, how did this happen? You know, obviously, you know how it happened, but it's just like, you're in disbelief, because it just it was like one thing after another.
Yeah. So Joel, the way you tell your story, it does sound like kind of a rags to riches type thing where are not a ray, not even rags. It sounds like okay, well, Joel has just kind of living a charmed life. But there's probably some stuff that you may be left out of the story where
I mean, since we only have 30 minutes
Yeah, right, right. Not even not even that we only have a few minutes but I just don't want I don't want someone to do is hear your story and go well, great for Joel. I can't do that because
I worked my ass off. There are days where there are months where I would literally work like six weeks straight 16 hours a day. No exaggeration, right? Like, you know, my partner Joey slept on a couch for two years you know, he had died. You know, he's renting a garage he had to walk a mile down the street to use the bathroom like that, you know, so I mean, I I at least wasn't that poor. You know, my parents were very middle class My dad was a rags to riches kind of guy didn't give me anything other than you know, a little bit of a push. And you know, you got to you got to beat the old man, right? So, um, no, no, we really did work our asses off everything hit at the right time. We did invest a lot in marketing education. So when we started this, our partner al had spent like 20 g digital marketer and he wrote like 100 page business plan, and we sat down and we just went through and we had to crash course like what is a funnel you know, what's a secret ta what's a tripwire? What's uh, you know, we were just went through all these marketing terms, we had to learn it and we just approach it with like a CEO mindset, like, okay, I spent the last 10 years of my life getting great at audio, I need to get great at business, I need to learn about payment processing I need to learn about, you know, just everything that, you know, you learn running a business, how do I build a funnel? You know, how do I build a landing page? How do I get good at copywriting? You know, so I've read more books in the last three years than I think I read in my entire cumulative life,
you know, and clear clearly worth the effort and yeah, and, you know, but it's like, you have to, you know, you begin with the end in mind, you make the investments and do what other people are not willing to do. You know, it's like, it's the adage, it's like, Listen, you know, if, if I told you that all you had to do was, you know, shovel out this barn, eight hours a day, 12 hours a day, and you know, you're gonna make minimum wage, if that if you're lucky, especially your first year. It's gonna feel very risky. But at the end of that five years, you're guaranteed to make you know, six Figures or more for the rest of your life? You know, would you do it? And I mean, it's nothing is guaranteed. But if you really spend, you know, really, really invest in studying other people's success and learning from them and truly like, Listen, you know, and it's going to get to my next question, you know, where we live in this era now where there's an infinite amount of education, on podcasts on YouTube and blog articles and so many other things. There's no end to what you can learn today. So that's why I think people are succeeding as entrepreneurs faster than ever because they're learning from people that have been there done that don't make their mistakes. Let them shortcut your success. So you could do it faster. So that brings me Joel to my next question is how do you survive? How do you thrive with a company that's based on a lot of education, which is what you do a lot of video stuff. And we live in the era where there's YouTube. So I would imagine there's a lot of what you teach is also now found on YouTube. I know that there's other things that you also include in You're a school that you really can't do on YouTube. Can you kind of explain how you have analyzed? If we're doing a SWOT analysis, that threat, right? If YouTube clips, you know, Warren Buffett's Mo, how do you deal with that? How do you
deal with that every day? And I'll tell you why real quick, because in 2009, I was in a band that was touring. And we were playing on tours Papa Roach, and Buckcherry, you know, four to 10,000 seat arenas. Wow. And few months later, the industry shifted, and my band who was in negotiations with a lot of labels, agencies, etc, didn't exist, because no one would design rock bands anymore. So I learned that in there, you got to pay attention. You have to always be thinking 10 years ahead of what you're doing, because you could you know, as my YouTube friends learned about a year and a half ago, when they changed all the ad pay algorithms. You can have the biggest, baddest channel in your niche, but when all of a sudden your income gets cut by a fourth because they change all of the how they're going to pay out the algorithm. You're beholden to one thing you are done just like they say an investment You know, the diversification is the only free lunch. So the one thing that we have that no one can touch. And sure people can copy us and people have tried but if we move very, very, very fast and aggressively three like ultra go getting maniacs, most people are just lazy, they're not going to put in the work. But aside from that, especially over a long period of time, they're not willing to eat shit for it can I can say that, sorry. They're not, they're not willing to eat it for so many years, you know, so you got to be patient. But really, aside from that, our community has been the one thing that is untouchable. Because there's like I said, I go all around the world and I we have meetups and when you can get people that will fly to another country to come and hang out to talk about what they're passionate about, you know, for three hours, that to me, means you're doing something special, and there's something special there. So we have a very strict system of community that we built. We do all of these, you know, pay it forwards and like no BS policy. It's just it's just a very, very, very well put together their thing and people will stay subscribed to our service just because they want to be part of something because I can't go to the bar and talk to somebody about audio. I can go talk about sports, I can talk about, you know, the five things that most people talk about, but I can't be like, hey, what compressor did you use on your voice on that podcast? Everybody? Like, what does that even mean? So yeah, when people like me find people like me, we're obviously naturally excited because we're introverts. We sit in a studio in a dark room and work with bands and no one understands us. So very passionate about what we do. And that community is the glue. And it's something we have put a tremendous amount of energy, capital and time into fostering and growing, and it's just absolutely unassailable. And people who are way more capitalized than us have come into the market and attempted to cross into our space and just like they just get destroyed because these people will go and fight people for like, if somebody comes up with like, on your ad that Oh, bla bla bla bla, like your 40 people will come and just be like, no, and they'll just pound them and you're just like, I don't even have to reply.
Joel Wanasek, you are the Co-Founder and CEO of Unstoppable Recording Machine Academy on the web at URM dot Academy. Also nailthemix.com definitely check that out, Joel, thank you so much. I listen, I had so much fun, like I love geeking out on music and it's, you know, it's fun being able to chat with someone with your life experiences, and congratulations on your two comma club awards, multiple. So that's really, really exciting. And again, congratulations on your success and building such a phenomenal community, you know, you again, treat your community right and that's something that's gonna live with you for forever. And, you know, your authority along with that as well, you know, to your name is, you know, you got two powerful, powerful assets. And that is much more recession proof than any, you know, one funnel away sales funnel.
Yeah, um, you know, Matt, while you're doing that in, we're just out of time right now. So we'll talk about wetting the appetite. So, again, you what you want to look for is The Affiliate Guy Daily. Matt, one other thing you've got on your website that I'm really interested in a free report that shows you how to find top affiliates 15 places to find top affiliate partners. And that is available at MattMcWilliams.com. It's right there in the sidebar, you give away a lot of great stuff, which again, I'm a big fan of, of, you know, just giving away what other people sell and just know that there's there's different ways that people can work with you. But But your individual time is it's it's gone a little scarce. It's hard to do, but you have a lot of other ways that people could join, you have a lot of products you have other. You've got a mastermind and that sort of thing. And so, Matt, again, I want to thank you So much for joining us and sharing. Yeah, sharing all this. And we'll have to have you again, because we didn't even get into a lot of the stuff I wanted to get into. So thank you so much. Thanks, buddy.
Thank you, Josh. I appreciate it. Absolutely.
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