The Cartne Masterclass: Elevating Music Careers with Expert Insights

The Cartne Masterclass: Elevating Music Careers with Expert Insights



On our past livestream, I had the pleasure of speaking with Vinny Rivas, a seasoned veteran with over six decades of diverse experience in the music industry. As the CEO of IndieConnect and the visionary founder of Cartne, Vinny has worn many hats, including artist manager, consultant, performer, songwriter, booking agent, producer, studio owner, author, and speaker. His passion for empowering artists led him to create Cartne, a central hub of knowledge for anyone in the music industry. The platform features a vast library of over 150 video courses, including how-to interviews with global industry professionals. Vinny's dedication to providing accurate, relevant, and timely answers to the music community's most pressing questions has made Cartne an indispensable resource for aspiring and established musicians alike.

I asked Vinny if he had an inspirational quote or piece of advice to share. He responded that while his perspective might not be traditionally inspirational, it is fundamental: most artists are not successful simply because they don't know what's available to them. "Knowledge is king," he emphasized. "If you understand how the industry works, you can navigate it successfully. The majority of people just don't know what kinds of gigs and tools are out there. So, it's not a traditional inspirational quote, but it's the reason I do what I do. People have the talent and the skill; they just lack the knowledge."

Creating Cartne

When I asked Vinny about the inspiration behind Cartne and how he came up with the name, he shared that he always felt like a teacher at heart and had coached over 1000 artists. Noticing that these artists faced similar questions and challenges, he initially tried to build a resource using YouTube videos through his management company, IndieConnect TV. However, the difficulty of locating relevant and up-to-date content led him to realize the need for a central resource to address common questions like "How do I copyright my song?" or "How do I get my first gig?"

Vinny decided to create a platform to fill this gap. He compiled a list of 750 questions from his experience and interactions with artists, realizing he had a strong enough network to find the answers. The name "Cartne" came to him while watching a Paul McCartney video, and seeing the domain available, he chose it as a tribute to his favorite songwriter. With the help of his interns, who were artists themselves, they quickly brainstormed the extensive list of questions, believing it was a solid foundation. Vinny's network of over 800 industry contacts further assured him that he could provide the necessary answers and identified around 300 music industry careers to cover, demonstrating the platform's broad scope.

Acknowledging the challenges of creating Cartne, Vinny emphasized the importance of execution over mere ideas. He began building the platform before AI became common but now uses it to ensure they cover all relevant topics when contacting speakers, making their content practical and direct. Despite the difficulties of coordinating interviews, editing content, and building the website, Vinny's dedication and systematic approach have brought his vision to life. Leveraging his extensive network and maintaining a clear focus on providing practical, actionable knowledge to artists, Cartne has become an invaluable resource supported by industry professionals offering real-world advice.

Challenges of Building an Online Platform

When I asked Vinny about the challenges of getting Cartne off the ground, he delved into the complexity and hurdles he faced. He initially built the platform on WordPress, leveraging his experience from previous projects like IndieConnect. However, he soon realized that his knowledge of WordPress was insufficient for the robust functionality he envisioned. Despite having a good demo site to showcase the vision, it became clear that moving to an e-learning platform with template-based solutions was necessary to simplify the website-building process.

Vinny also aimed to set up a small studio in Nashville for live recordings but found it financially impractical. Instead, he discovered software that allowed for high-quality video recordings as long as contributors had decent internet connections. Initially, Vinny had to take on the role of video editor, despite having no prior experience. He taught himself the basics using YouTube tutorials and developed a template for the videos, which he then used to train interns to assist with editing. This self-taught approach was a significant labor of love, reflecting his commitment to the project.

Over two years, the platform grew to host 150 videos, with 15 more awaiting editing. Vinny records new content weekly, covering diverse topics like opera singing and voiceovers. Establishing a streamlined process for recording, editing, and uploading videos to the website took time, but now the system operates efficiently.

On average, creating a video course involves about 10 to 12 hours of work. This includes preparing questions, recording the 20-minute videos, editing, and ensuring the transcripts match the audio. Vinny often removes himself from the videos, recording voiceovers to maintain focus on the speaker’s insights.

Compared to other video content platforms like YouTube, Cartne sets itself apart by guaranteeing relevant and up-to-date information. Vinny and his team regularly review content to ensure its accuracy and remove outdated material. The platform’s focus is on practical, real-world advice from active industry professionals, rather than theoretical knowledge. This ensures that users receive the most pertinent and actionable insights.

Vinny highlighted that Cartne covers niche topics and provides detailed, focused answers to specific questions, unlike many longer, less targeted videos found on other platforms. This approach saves users time and effort, making Cartne a unique and valuable resource for musicians and band leaders seeking practical knowledge and industry expertise.

Creating and Sharing Video Content

When discussing the process of curating content for Cartne, I asked Vinny about how he managed to come up with 750 questions and prioritize them. Vinny explained that while he initially relied on his own experience and the common questions he frequently encountered, he also consulted with industry experts to ensure the relevance of the topics. For areas outside his expertise, Vinny would look online for additional information and insights.

For example, when creating content about playing weddings, Vinny could draw from his own extensive experience, but when it came to producing music, he had to rely on the knowledge of others. This collaborative approach allowed him to cover a wide range of topics accurately and comprehensively.

In terms of cost, Vinny shared that 45 of the videos on Cartne are available for free, covering basic yet essential information such as setting up an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and securing initial gigs. For full access to the platform, users can subscribe for $12 a month or $119 per year. This pricing structure ensures that valuable resources are accessible to a wide range of musicians while also supporting the ongoing development and maintenance of the platform.

Using Video Content to Improve Wedding Musician Business

I asked Vinny if there were any success stories from artists who had used Cartne's videos to enhance their careers, particularly those involved in wedding performances. Vinny confirmed that several users had benefitted significantly from the platform. He often directs people to specific videos when they have questions, which has also reduced the need for one-on-one coaching.

Vinny noted that the videos on securing gigs have received the most positive feedback. Many musicians didn't know how to price themselves or effectively pitch their act, and the content provided on Cartne has been instrumental in clarifying these aspects. Users have reported that these videos solved many of their issues, helping them understand why they weren't booking gigs before and how to improve their approach.

He added that these crucial videos on getting gigs and pricing strategies are among the 45 free videos available on the platform. This ensures that foundational knowledge is accessible to everyone, further empowering musicians to succeed in the wedding performance industry.

Live Demo and Features

During the live demo of Cartne, we explored its intuitive and user-friendly interface. Upon logging in, the homepage displays all the available courses prominently at the top, making it easy to enroll in any course that piques your interest. Given the extensive content, I asked Vinny where he would suggest people start and how to best navigate the platform.

Vinny recommended starting with the "Videos" tab at the top. He praised the platform's robust search and categorization features, which allow users to find exactly what they need. You can search by speaker if you know who you're looking for, or you can explore the various categories. This flexibility helps users efficiently locate specific topics of interest. For example, under the "Booking" category, there are approximately 15 videos covering various aspects of securing gigs.

I noted that I had already checked out some of these videos earlier, such as those on improving your chances of getting gigs and securing more paying gigs. These resources are invaluable, especially for bands and musicians struggling with marketing and booking performances. The content is rich with practical advice and strategies.

Vinny also highlighted the community aspect of the platform. There's a social network component where users can discuss the courses they're taking. For instance, in the course we did together on booking your band for weddings, there's a discussion section where users can post messages and interact. This interactive element enhances the learning experience by allowing users to share insights and ask questions directly within the platform.

Avoiding Music Industry Scams

During our discussion, we highlighted the prevalence of scams in the music industry and the critical need for awareness and knowledge to avoid falling victim to fraudulent schemes. Stories like that of Lacy Phillips, known as Uncle Earl, underscore this need. Despite his 30-year industry experience, Uncle Earl was scammed by a seemingly reputable individual who promised to secure him a record deal. The scammer organized a showcase, convinced Uncle Earl to invest in hiring a band and booking a venue, and then absconded with all the proceeds, leaving Uncle Earl out $10,000 with no record labels present. This incident emphasizes the importance of thorough research and vetting of individuals in the industry.

Musicians must learn to conduct diligent research by asking the right questions, verifying references, and recognizing warning signs. In our courses, we outline common red flags, such as producers exploiting intellectual property or imposing excessive fees without proper agreements. For instance, a young couple paid $25,000 to a producer for an EP, only to discover that one song hadn't been cleared by the publisher, rendering their 1,000 CDs useless and plunging them into significant debt. Additionally, there are scams like the "birthday song scam," where scammers commission musicians to write a song, send an overpayment check, and request a refund of the excess amount, only for the original check to bounce. These deceptive tactics exploit musicians' trust and eagerness for opportunities.

I have encountered similar scams, such as a gig booking where the supposed client offered to pay upfront for everything, including transportation, but insisted we pay the transportation company directly. Investigation revealed no booking at the venue, highlighting the importance of skepticism and due diligence. These scams target musicians' passion and optimism, often leading to financial and emotional distress. Cartne addresses these issues with dedicated videos and courses under the "Scams" category, educating musicians to navigate the industry safely and confidently. By sharing these insights and equipping musicians with knowledge, we aim to empower them to mitigate risks and foster a more secure environment for aspiring and established musicians alike.

About The Author

reuben avery bandleader and musician

Reuben Avery

Reuben is one of the co-founders at Back On Stage and is also a bandleader and musician. When he's not busy dreaming up ways to streamline the live music industry's inner workings, he enjoys performing with his 9-piece event band, practicing his trumpet and spending quality time with his wife and cat.


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