Deron Wade

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hello, my name is Deron Wade. I am the co-founder of  Tuneport.  Tuneport provides a service to musicians and beat-makers to sell their tracks directly from their website, net more income, build their brand, think with a business mentality and cut-out-the middleman.
Tuneport evolved from my success of hustling in Los Angeles selling my own CD’s on the streets. It is there that I learned the business of the music industry and the hustle it takes to make it a lifestyle. I developed a fan base, created customer email lists, sold outside the Grammy’s, and by 2010 had developed a system which led to over 20,000 CD’s sold with about a 70% conversion rate. Direct-selling was powerful and online distribution had just been getting started with iTunes. What if this same idea could be applied online? With this in mind, I got together with my friend Momchi Stefano who is a genius at building websites and was running his own beat-selling platform at the time about the possibility of selling both beats and songs from one digital interface. At the time, he and I were both selling our music on iTunes and we had no idea who was buying our music. Apple received that info, not the artist and we wanted that info so we could follow-up and build a relationship with our customers. We saw an opportunity for disruption and after a few conversations, we started developing a store-front for artists with an easy embed code, we could copy and paste like a YouTube video on our website and sell our music directly to fans without a middle-man. Our friends found out about what we were doing and wanted their own store too and that was the beginning of Tuneport.

What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?

I have learned in my experiences that the only way to succeed is to stay consistent, edgy, and be a little insane. I think to get ahead in the world today requires a side hustle, always have a goal or project you are working towards. The idea of a career trajectory is falling apart. It is good these days to have something else because jobs are disappearing at a rapid pace, due to everything becoming automated. Thinking like an entrepreneur and having an outside-the-box thinking mentality has never been more important as we embrace 2019 and beyond.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.

Initially, we hired the wrong coder. If you are going to work with someone make sure that the obligations and expectations are clear. Building a company is hard and there are so many mistakes and problems to resolve every day, but you can limit these mistakes by surrounding yourself with the right people. The important thing is to get this all out front, so everyone is on the same page, this is where contracts and agreements play a pivotal role in setting up your business for success.

Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?

I think the music industry as a whole will eventually move away from major labels and bands will seek out more of a music business consulting service. It is easier than ever to create and produce music, you can see this with the number of independent bands popping up. With the internet, bands/artists now have the ability to connect and sell music directly to their listeners without major labels. They don’t need the middlemen and there are many artists creating a career for themselves using social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc. True engagement and creating value starts and ends with a personal relationship. Your fans aren’t a number, they are real people and if you take the time and get to know them, this will yield phenomenal future results.

What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

In the music industry, Getting signed is a bad recommendation for artists. I mean, just the word is scary right? These days, artists now have the ability to do the majority of the work required to get out there without major labels breathing down their neck and turning them into cookie-cutter images of the previous successful band. In other words, they can thrive by being themselves! So many artists ask me how they can find a manager, publicist, booker, etc. The truth is, if you put in the work and build that audience, those guys will find you. And the best part is, you will be in a position to negotiate and get what you want. Any great manager wants to know you are going to work 100% every day at your craft and that you are going to follow up with them. No one is going to do the work for you, to be successful, you have to put in the hours, wear a lot of hats and really get to know the business you are in. Knowledge is power, yield it wisely and you will climb mountains, depend on others to do it for you and there’s a good chance you’re going to fall. Reach out to people who can help you, or that can introduce you to the right people.

In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?

I try to say no to anyone who tries to take up my time. I only have so much time to maximize my impact. When I was starting out I did everything people asked me. And that was fine, I was learning stuff and getting to know the ins and outs of the music business. Don’t get me wrong, this is necessary and an important part of the journey, but at some point, you have to move past being a student and applying those skills to create action. These days, I’m ruthless about my time. Every appointment I make is a clear path forward and of course, my partying days are over. You can only do that so long before you burn out. These days it’s about living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a positive mindset. There’s so much that goes wrong when you’re working on building a company. Have hobbies, have stuff you can do that is not business oriented. And make sure you have a good support group, people you trust and friends/family you can lean on in hard times. A lot of my entrepreneur friends recommend therapy, I haven’t gone yet, but I plan on making that happen soon.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

4 if you count mine, but it’s not done yet. Hopefully this year!

East of Eden by Steinbeck I remember reading it when I was 16 in the summertime on the beach and the words really resonated with me. It was just a great story about family and the sacrifices we make to try to live a good life.

Book of Understanding by Osho – Because it’s about getting to know oneself intimately forward and backward. I think any great artist has a good sense of who they are spiritually and Osho brings to light some fundamental principles and a code, that I believe is a great way to live as a human being.

Music book – Arie Herstand How To Make It in the New Music Business  – Ari is the founder of Ari’s Take, a music education blog for artists. I personally feel Ari has a great connection with what is happening right now in the music industry as of 2019. It’s important to stay current. This industry is changing weekly, so finding someone who has their pulse on what is happening now is key for someone like me. I have to make sure Tuneport stays relevant and ask the hard questions to make sure we are providing a resource that artists need right now.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Travel, take a road trip and get out of the college mindset. Take a breather and go live life for a bit before focusing on what to do. Get perspective. You got to get lost to get found. Do stuff and then come back and start putting together your life. Follow your heart. Always. Also, my good friend Kristi Govertsen has a great philosophy when it comes to networking. These days it’s very hard to get a job applying online – think outside the box and go meet folks in your community. Go out for coffee, it’s cheap and a great way to connect face-to-face with another human being. Don’t just focus on what you are doing, learn from them and build your social capital.  Try to find people that inspire you and listen and learn from them. I’ve met some awesome friends and business partners just these past few months, doing exactly like this. Find mentors, make mistakes, fail a lot and learn, grow, become.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
I also like Thomas Edison’s quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”