After a successful lunch and learn session with the one and only Boone Pickens, I decided that it was only best to create a series of “Lunch and Learns” with some of the top minds in the business world.
I will be interviewing people that are movers and shakers within their respective industries from food and entertainment, to leaders of Fortune 500 companies. I will also be speaking with up-and-coming millennial entrepreneurs that are making a name for themselves while motivating others to do the same. I will pick their brains on money, life, mistakes, and what it takes for millennials to succeed in the workplace.
I want to use these people to motivate all of my readers to reach for unimaginable goals, and to use the advice to start NOW. Way too often do I hear of millennials settling for average. Average jobs, average knowledge, average friends, and average lives. It is important for me to encourage all of my readers to settle for nothing less than what YOU want to achieve, and not what you are expected to achieve.
Today’s interview is with a dear friend of mine, Adley Stump. After graduating college in 2011, Adley moved to Nashville to pursue a music career with no money, but with plenty of dreams.
Since then, she has been chosen to be on season two of The Voice, opened up for big names like Vince Gill and Charlie Worsham, struck a partnership deal with Little Black Dress Wines, and recently performed on Miss USA alongside one of her good friends, MISS USA!
Since Adley had some free time away from raising her pet pig Fancy, she decided to help write a book called, How They Sell Music, which I will definitely be reading (I’m not a musician). She talks more about the book and why she decided to help put this together during the interview.
People, Adley is the real deal and she is a millennial on a freaking mission! See how she got started and how she has been able successfully leverage all of the opportunities that have come her way.
What made you decide that you wanted to move to Nashville to pursue a singing career, and how did you land on The Voice?
Honestly, the best things in life that have ever happened to me were things that I never saw coming. I believe that you HUSTLE your face off for what you want at any given time, and that leads you to a position in life (and people probably noticing) that may present opportunities that are out of left field, but completely game-changing. I’ve learned to be stubborn with my goals, but flexible with my methods. That being said, I always knew I loved performing (I cheered for 15 years) and speaking to and encouraging a crowd; but I wanted to pursue public relations.
I was broke in college and thought I’d audition for Jeopardy to try and win some money. When I missed the deadline, my sorority sisters and I saw a show called The Voice and we thought it would be hilarious if I took my “Wednesday night at the motel” karaoke skills and auditioned. They dared me, so I did. Didn’t think anything of it. And I made it through all the cuts to get to the Blind Audition stage, made it on Team Blake, and signed a record deal the same month. It was a total 180 from EVERYTHING I had been planning for my life.
Were you scared?
Petrified out of my mind. I remember praying and telling God He made a BIG mistake. I had friends who wanted to sing since they were 2 years old. This should have happened to them. I had no tools, no understanding, no IDEA how to do what I just signed on to do. I told him I had wanted to speak, encourage and inspire people. I was PREPARED for that. I felt like God smacked me upside the head and said “Ad, I just gave you a stage and a microphone. And a voice out of nowhere. What do you THINK you’re supposed to do with it? It’s not just about “singing songs.”
Donald Trump says that how you interpret fear is a huge driver in how you are going to execute as an entrepreneur. If fear paralyzes you, you probably need to keep your day job. If fear makes you act and do everything you can to learn, you may be okay in doing something most would call crazy.
The fear I faced left me with a choice to either make moves or make excuses. I realized I was given something people would KILL for. And it bred a unique sense of gratefulness and a burning desire to EARN everything else. It bred me with immense necessity to LEARN every aspect of my business and not rely on anyone else to do it for me and there certainly was no outsourcing in the beginning. Not if I was going to succeed.
How did you manage your money? Did you have savings?
I had NO money. The record deal I had signed was hell on earth and if I was ever to use my name as a public figure again I had to get out of it.
After a year I was forced into bankruptcy. I learned everything I hadn’t learned in school about real world marketing and product launch. I created an alias, a fake resume, and fake credentials that I worked under online (TOTALLY not condoning this) and consulted marketing firms and app companies on the launch of their product. I just figured it out. I have always been a creative thinker and an idea person, and that strength was really utilized during this time to stay afloat.
What are you currently working on?
The last two years since that time have been incredible. I have been able to completely treat my music as the true business that it is, and that takes not listening to a lot of typical Nashville advice. But that also has me making more money than 99% of my friends.
Recently, I got 12 music celebrities to each write a chapter of a book called How They Sell Music saying EXACTLY how they created their success. HOW did you get 5 million YouTube subscribers, what was your strategy? HOW did you self-fund a tour eating mustard sandwiches for 3 years and now are a platinum-selling artist? HOW do you get sponsors and major brands to pay for everything you want to do? It’s hacking the business of music and learning from those who have DONE it and are DOING it. How They Sell Music became an Amazon best-seller it’s first week.
The principles I was forced into learning have put me in a unique place in my industry to not only DO, but also teach along the way. Not all industries are conducive to this, but thankfully music is.
Tell me about what you do on a day-to-day basis?
We just released a new album, and our single “Stay At Home Soldier” is doing very well. We partnered with Little Black Dress Wines, Remington Arms and the Army & Air Force Exchange for the promotion of this single and that has kept us very busy.
I refuse to not know every aspect of my business, and I am hard-pressed to delegate at times and that’s definitely something that I am working on. Day to day is a lot of logistics, the ins and outs of running these tours, the Stay At Home Soldier initiative, running and scaling How They Sell Music and trying to stay sane at the same time.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
You know, for me being an independent artist today looks a lot like being an entrepreneur. Entertainment and self-branding is simply the vessel in which I live that out. It’s not healthcare, an app, or anything else, it’s music. So if music was taken off the table for me, I have no doubt I would still be creating business opportunities and trying to innovate as much as I can. It’s just my DNA. But I am so ridiculously thankful I get to sing every day and that people find value in that.
How has your philosophy on money changed since day one in Nashville and now?
Growing up, I was actually pretty turned off by money. I saw it do a lot of nasty things and change good people into greedy people. I didn’t want to be anything like them and the only common denominator between them all was chasing the dollar. The past 3 years, I have completely flipped a 180. I love to be able to give to people and create opportunities. And to be able to have the lifestyle design that I want, cash is king. I read a lot of Gary Vaynerchuck, Robert Kiyosaki, Ramit Sethi, Tim Ferriss and Donald Trump. I like being the girl who thinks like these guys, but applies it to the music industry. Because you really have no one here that does. We are marketing an intangible object like “talent” and now our primary product is free! How does that work!? We have a unique opportunity to figure that out. And I’ve found some wonderful strategies that are working and I want to be able to share that with my peers in the industry.
What is something you splurge on and something you are frugal with?
Business is my hobby. Work is my fun. It has my focus 24/7 when I’m not playing with my mini pig, Fancy. So anything that helps me be better at my main goals in life. Usually the latest Apple products, books, marketing courses. And for my job, of course, fashion is a MUST even though I am TOTALLY not a natural at it!
Honestly, “success” for me has never been something I’ve been able to pinpoint. It’s never been some dangling carrot out in the distance living in a world of “maybes” and “somedays.” It’s been in my quality of life every single day that I wake up and feel like what I do makes a difference. And that it matters if I get out of bed or not.
My success will continue to grow and scale but to me, I’m the luckiest girl in the world. And I understanding the magnitude of the blessing it is to be able to feel that way. So as much as it’s within my power, I want to be able to let others feel that way too.