CEV's Q & A with Daylle Deanna Schwartz


Daylle Deanna Schwartz
VisitDaylle's website



I Don't Need a
Record Deal


Daylle Deanna Schwartz  M.S., is a writer, speaker, music industry consultant and personal growth counselor. Her best-selling The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label and Start & Run Your Own Record Label are published by Billboard Books. Daylle is regularly quoted in national consumer magazines and on TV and radio as an expert based on her popular books, All Men Are Jerks until Proven Otherwise and How to Please a Woman In & Out of Bed. She speaks for colleges, organizations, and corporations.

Daylle is one of the few women to have reached her respected level in guiding musicians. She is often the only female speaker at a music conference and receives many letters from women who consider her a role model. Daylle saw a big need for quality education about the music industry and began teaching her private workshops in 1990. They’re attended by people from around the country and the world. Daylle also does consulting for musicians and independent record labels. Her book I Don’t Need a Record Deal! Survival Guide for the Indie Music Revolution will be out in Spring 2005.

Daylle has been a guest on many TV and radio shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, BBC, CNN, Ricki Lake, John Walsh, and Maury Povich and appears regularly on Montel Williams. When she was on Howard Stern (radio) for over half an hour, he kept repeating “This woman knows what she’s talking about.” She is also quoted as an expert in a many magazines, frequently in Cosmopolitan and most recently in Lifetime TV, Women’s World, Men’s Fitness, Marie Claire, and Men’s Health. Daylle is known for her straightforward, friendly style of communicating and mixes a good dose of practicality and spirituality into all of her lectures. Having overcome the obstacles that she speaks about, Daylle Deanna Schwartz motivates her audience to go out and take control of their own lives! 

CEV:  Tell me about your background in the music industry and what it is that you bring to the table as far as experiences and industry knowledge is concerned.

DDS:  I was teaching school in the late eighties when my students dared me to make a rap record. They said a white woman couldn't rap. Davy DMX (Run-D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, etc.), who lived in the neighborhood where I taught, heard about me and invited me over when I was trying to learn how to rap. Through him I met other industry pros. My students gave me the most feedback about how to do my raps well. I recorded three different rap tracks and released two of them on Revenge Records. The media nicknamed me the "rappin' teach".

I operated my label successfully for 5 years.

CEV:  When did you form Revenge Productions and Revenge Records and what did running these two entities teach you about survival in the music industry?

DDS:  I began them in the late eighties when my students wanted me to get revenge after industry people ripped me off. I began my companies to prove to them that when you get angry, use the energy behind it to do something positive for yourself, not to hurt people. I still operate my music business through Revenge Productions: marketing my seminars, publishing my free newsletter, Daylle's News & Resources, and other activities relating to the music industry.  

Running my 2 companies taught me the value of learning as much as you can about the business of music and how to market it if you want to earn a living. I also learned how hard one has to work to make progress. But, I began with no knowledge or experience so if I could succeed, anyone with talent can.

CEV:  Your new book is entitled I Don't Need a Record Deal: Survival Guide for the Indie Music Revolution. What is the Indie music revolution and how much has it changed the face of the music industry as a whole?

DDS:  Artists traditionally have believed that they need a record deal in order to have a musical career. The opposite is true. Most label deals don't create careers and most artists don't make much money beyond the initial advance.

Independent artists have to sell a very small fraction of the CDs that most major artists will sell to make a lot more money from it. Artists are arming themselves with knowledge and pursuing all the different income streams available. Indie music is in demand because it's cheaper to license than music from a major label. When an artist creates income streams using their musical talent they have choices - take a record deal that can advance their careers or continue on an independent path because they're making more money than they would from a label deal. Labels are giving many artists much better deals because the artist will walk away otherwise.

CEV:  Do you think that the rise of the Indie artist and the ability to distribute your music without the need of a major label has leveled the playing field and allows even small players to compete?

DDS:  Absolutely. An artist who sells 300,000 CDs on a major label is often considered a failure. Most won't make any money because the label will recoup many expenses from the royalties they earn. Indie artist sell CDs for $10 - $15 cash at gigs. They cost less than $2 to manufacture so if one sells 3,000 CDs directly to fans, he or she will make from $24 - 39,000 selling 1% of what's considered poor on a major label.

CEV:  How do Indie women artists in particular fair when it comes to getting their music out and publicized?

DDS:  Fantastically! In most industries, women are taking advance of entrepreneurial opportunities faster than men because they don't get the same opportunities from corporations. Female indie artists are no exception.

There is a lot more pressure from major labels aimed at a woman's image.

Indies have learned that it's the music, not their body type, age or face that gets people to support them. So more women than ever are getting on the road and working hard to take control of their careers. In my research I had many more women than men suggested to me for inclusion in my book.

CEV:  So your premise for this book is that a major record deal is not an essential thing to succeed in a music career. What will your book give to the artist that wants to "make it" but will probably never get noticed by a major record label?

DDS:  My book has interviews with over 150 industry people, 47 who are successful indie musicians. So there's a wide perspective on different ways to develop a career. I researched to find as many ways as possible to create income streams from musical talent and they're all in my book in detail. I interviewed many music supervisors for film, TV, advertising, ringtones and more, to see how indie music can get licensed. And I found many venues that pay for live performances that musicians might not think of. Artists who develop themselves on their own can actually attract a record deal that can advance a career. I'm not against record deals; I'm against being desperate for one and signing bad deals. I want to help musicians to empower themselves. When they focus on making money, they can walk away from a deal that isn't good and possibly attract one with much better terms that gives them more than they can give themselves.

CEV:  Almost all of the major records labels say that MP3 file sharing and illegal duplication is what has caused the music industry to decline over the past 10-20 years but is that the true reason behind the drop in record sales? What is your opinion?

DDS:  I totally disagree. Major labels only focus on individual sales. Indie artists focus on creating fans. When fans get music for free and like it, they will support the artist. I believe that the industry has declined because people are tired of paying big money for a CD that only has a few good tracks. That's why consumers want to hear the music first.

CEV:  How has the Internet played into the Indie music scene and do you think that artists and musicians out there are taking full advantage of the resources that can be had via the Internet?

DDS:  The Internet is the greatest promotional tool, and much more. It slashes the cost of marketing. Mailing lists are now reached through email instead of having to print fliers and mail them. Photos can be downloaded or sent as a file so no mailing or reproductions expenses. Fans can connect in chat rooms. You can search for gigs, find your way on tour with mapquest, and connect with the whole world. Too many indies don't have a website, which minimizes your presence on line. I'm still in shock at how many musicians have no email address. There's no excuse since one can get on the Internet at the library and get a free address.

CEV:  So are the technologies that have come about in the last 10 years or so what has made it possible for a musician to be able to take their music from beginning to end without the need of a major label?

DDS:  It helps a lot. A CD can be recorded for a fraction of the cost even 5 years ago. And CDs can be reproduced for much less too. Musicians can also burn promotional copies at home when they need something fast. But the other factor is learning to tap into licensing and other avenues that pay for good music.

CEV:  What was it that made you decide to put your knowledge down in book form and how did you connect with Billboard Books as the publisher?

DDS:  I'm an educator. I began teaching workshops in the early 90's when my former students sent people to me to find out how to start a record label or get a record deal. I met an editor from Billboard Books in 1996 at an event I put together and told him I was writing The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record label. He asked to see the proposal and signed me right away. I wrote Start & Run Your Own Record Label the following year. New editions came 5 years later. I continue writing and teaching because I don't want to see good music going to waste because its creator is waiting to be discovered.

And I hate seeing musicians lose their passion for music because they're frustrated by the rejection from the labels.

CEV:  I Don't Need a Record Deal has been out since July of 2005. How have the sales been so far? What kind of feedback have you been getting since its release?

DDS:  Everything has been great. People who read it get very excited and appreciate the amount of work I put into researching it. It's gotten over 20 great reviews. My favorite quote so far was in Ear Candy Magazine - "A major strength of "I Don't Need a Record Deal" is Schwartz's ability to effortlessly switch the tone of the book from a cheerleader/motivational to beer buddy blunt honesty." I also write on self-empowerment so I love to be encouraging. But, I'm also very honest about how much effort an artist must put in to develop their talent and how much work it takes to get a career going. Many people don't have what it takes.

CEV:  You also take your wisdom and knowledge on the road in the form of conferences/speaking engagements. What is it that you attempt to communicate to your live audiences and how is this received by those who attend?

DDS:  I just finished my 3-month Indie Music Road Trip, driving by myself across the country from NYC, around, and back. I spoke at over 60 colleges, bookstores and organizations. People were excited to see me do this the independent way. I followed many of the tips in my book to book the tour, set up a street team, and then get around. As I spoke I'd see people light up, which motivated me more. Most cheered when I finished. It was especially gratifying to enlighten college students so they can prepare themselves better while still in school. Most of the professors signed up for my newsletter and bought my book too. Connecting with thousands of people gave me abundance worth much more than cash! : )

CEV:  As a woman in this position in the music industry do you feel an extra added responsibility to model for other women what is possible if you want it and go after it?

DDS:  I live the way I feel every woman can if she sets her mind to it. I don't feel responsible for anyone but me but do feel honored to be able to be a role model for so many. I hear from many chicks from all around the world who say what I've done has motivated them to greater heights. It's a blessing to make a difference in someone's life and I do it for so many. I had no role models since I was one of the first women to start a successful independent record label. Few people took me seriously ­ but I did! I didn't let skeptics or disrespect or teasing OR what people identified as the limitations of being a woman limit me. It begins with believing in your ability to accomplish what you want and extreme perseverance. EXTREME PERSEVERANCE!  

Once you know what you want and your talent has been honed, go for it!

Ignore the naysayers. For goodness sake! I was a rapping schoolteacher.

Everyone laughed at me. But I maintained a good-natured spirit and worked much harder than any guy with a label at that time, without complaints or an attitude. It takes time for women to crack open male territory. I did it with a smile and determination to have the last laugh. And I'm still laughing! My next book is called Nice Girls on Top. These days being a woman is irrelevant in what I do. The majority of attendees at my music biz seminars has always been guys. They've always given me respect because I'm good. That's the bottom line. We may have to work harder initially to prove what we're capable of but a woman who shows her stuff will get respect. 

CEV:  Tell me about the workshops that you offer. Do you teach the concepts and ideas of I Don't Need a Record Deal in these workshops? 

DDS:  I have my yearly Start & Run Your Own Record Label seminar at the end of February in NYC, with guest industry pros. I do shorter versions of this topic as well as a workshop on how to make money as a musician, with or without a record deal, for colleges, conferences and for organizations. The latter is based on I Don't Need a Record Deal! My goal is always to provide tools and motivation for the artist to empower her/himself by learning about all the opportunities for creating income streams using musical talent.

CEV:  Are musicians and artists surprised by the ideas that you present in your book not realizing that their careers are not in the hands of someone else?

DDS:  Very often they're amazed at how they can take charge. And thrilled. Many are surprised at the variety of ways there are to make money with musical talent. They get very excited to learn about them.

CEV:  Any last ideas or thoughts that you would like to share with my readers about being an Indie performer/artist before we close out this interview?

DDS:  Being an indie artist isn't for everyone. It takes VERY hard work. But I do believe it's the best, if not only way to develop a career in music. Too many musicians are waiting for someone else to do it for them. "If only I had a manager I'd be set." "I'm gonna just wait for a record deal." Those people will probably still be lamenting in 10 years when nobody comes.

Managers don't want to work for 20% of nothing. Labels want to sign artists who've developed themselves. You want a career - do it yourself, at least to get something going.

If you want to make money from music, stop complaining about how hard it is to book a tour or find the right names of music supervisors or get anyone to return your calls and relentlessly research and call until you get who or what you need. The artists making money managed to and so can you. I understand how hard it is. My tour took me months and probably thousands of phone calls to put together. But I wanted it bad enough to do what it took.

If you want a career, stop making excuses and make it your number one priority. Hone your craft until it shines like a star and then begin to market your talent like the business you want it to be. That's how you turn a hobby and passion into a career.


CEV:  Thanks so much for taking the time after such a long tour out on the road to answer my questions for this interview. I'm sure that everyone can see the motivation you offer in your book shining out through this interview. Wishing you continued good luck with your book and your efforts to help others realize their dreams.