Reflection: The journey of the past five years…
...and what it means for my mission
I am writing this post to provide context, understanding and explanation to those of you who know me, those of you who have been following my journey, and for those of you who believe in me.
While I’m refraining from giving you a blow-by-blow account of the entire journey, I wanted to provide some insights I’ve never shared publicly before, with the objective of providing rationale and reasoning behind some of the actions I have and haven’t taken in this period.
Further, I wanted to outline how this journey itself has contributed towards me being here today, in a position whereby I truly believe I don’t just know what to do to make my big mission happen, I know how to make it happen.
If you don’t already know this, my mission is to build the biggest and fairest music company in the world.
The date was October 3rd 2018. Myself, my wife Georgina and my two kids, William and Ruby were set to embark on a big adventure having just been granted a visa to be able to live in the USA.
As our three-week countdown began, our preparations intensified.
We parted with many of our belongings, including our furniture and most of our clothing, with only the most cherished and meaningful items finding their way into storage in the UK.
The decision to make this move had come a couple of years earlier, when music business legend Lyor Cohen had advised me that if I wanted to make my big vision a reality, I needed to make the move to the USA in order to be taken seriously.
That grand vision encompassed, and continues to encompass, the creation of the world's biggest and fairest music company.
For my wife, this relocation was beyond anything she had ever envisioned for us. Even our earlier move 100 miles away from our hometown of Norwich to Hitchin, a quaint market town near London, had been a significant step.
But, as has always been true in our 27-year journey together, her unwavering belief in me and my vision meant she was willing to step beyond her comfort zone and take the leap of faith into the unknown yet again.
Almost three years earlier, I had commenced a campaign to create a wave in the UK music business, by launching and breaking alternative rock band The Hunna, and to say we had unprecedented success in this time period is somewhat of an understatement.
This success had positioned us at a pivotal moment. With the release of the band's second album, they were on the cusp of performing at London's Alexandra Palace, boasting a capacity of over 10,000. Arena tours across the UK in 2019 were almost a given. Additionally, our efforts to gain traction on an international level were already underway, with initiatives rolling out in Australia, Europe, and the USA.
The stage was set.
However everything changed on this day, October 3rd 2018, when I received an email from lawyers representing the band stating that they wanted to get out of the contract with my music company High Time.
Although the band never openly expressed their concerns or sought a meeting with me to address them, they just believed that the grass would be greener on the other side, and so made their decision.
For over five years I had collaborated with them, initially nurturing their growth and subsequently launching and breaking them in the UK, so to say that this news came as a shock was an understatement.
Today I feel no ill feeling towards the band - they did what they felt was the right thing for them and the truth is, that everything I am going to talk about ahead in this post would not have happened had my journey with the band continued.
However, with it being just a matter of days before we were set to leave for the USA, this had thrown a huge spanner into our plans.
Many of the reasons why we were making the move to Los Angeles, had vanished instantly.
The easy option was to pull out of the move.
My stock was high and I was inundated with offers of support from people around me, including a number of very highly paid roles within the music business.
But we had already put everything in place to move to the US and although the situation had drastically changed, the opportunity to go was still there. So, with all things considered, myself and my wife asked ourselves the question: if we don’t do this now, would we ever do it?
Three weeks later, with a suitcase each, the four of us were on a plane destined for LAX, Los Angeles, USA.
Lessons from Adversity
A Humbling Transition to North Hollywood, Los Angeles
Our initial time in the US marked a significant transition for our family.
We moved from a spacious 5-bedroom detached house with a sizable garden in the UK, to a modest 2 bed 1 bath single-family dwelling in North Hollywood, Los Angeles.
The legal challenges and actions taken by The Hunna meant that my music company, High Time, was no longer generating income.
This financial strain forced me to dig deep and find ways to sustain our family while staying committed to my big vision.
Despite the cramped living conditions, this two-year period was a testament to our family's resilience.
It taught us that as long as we remained united, no adversity could deter us from thriving.
Living in North Hollywood, especially during the pandemic, exposed us to the increasing number of people facing homelessness.
This humbling experience instilled in us a profound appreciation for life and the blessings we had.
From Adversity to Opportunity: Writing "Zero to Record Breaker"
During this challenging period, I channeled my energy into writing a book titled "Zero to Record Breaker." - you can get this book as part of my premium subscription here.
This book chronicles my unconventional journey into the music industry, starting as a baker and culminating in the development and launch of The Hunna.
The band, under my guidance, skyrocketed to fame, becoming the fastest-growing alternative rock band in the UK. Remarkably, they went from their debut performance to selling 10,000 tickets in London in less than 18 months.
The book's success was immediate and has been purchased by more than 30,000 artists and people who work with artists.
Not only did it resonate with readers, but its sales also provided the much-needed financial support for my family during a time of uncertainty.
Writing the book wasn't just about sharing my story; it was a strategy to connect with artists globally.
A substantial part of our success at High Time with The Hunna, had been in creating a high level of human-to-human connection with their audience, engaging with every fan comment and message.
At this time I adopted a similar approach for my personal brand, at an extreme level, by not only replying to every comment and DM, but also through beginning to organize 1-on-1 Zoom calls with artists who purchased my book, with the objective of not only connecting with them, but also in understanding how I could best serve them.
Facing Life's Toughest Moments
Shortly after our arrival in the US, life threw another curveball at us.
My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only one year left to live, a devastating blow to our family.
Despite her prognosis, she encouraged me to stay focused on my work in the US, emphasizing the importance of the mission I had embarked upon.
Whilst being wholly committed my work, juggling with up to twenty Zoom calls daily, my Mum's condition suddenly deteriorated, and to our immense sorrow, we lost her just six months after her diagnosis that came at the end of 2018.
Navigating Challenges with a Resilient Mindset
Throughout these trials, my strategy was rooted in unwavering belief.
I believed that the work I was doing had the potential to be transformative and to make a big impact in the world.
I adopted the practice of reframing — a mindset technique that allowed me to view challenges not as setbacks but as opportunities.
This perspective shift was instrumental in helping me navigate the myriad of challenges we faced, turning potential stumbling blocks into stepping stones towards my greater vision.
A Journey of Continuous Learning and Growth
In the face of adversity, while resilience was my anchor, knowledge became my compass.
I recognized that in order to achieve my mission of building the biggest and fairest music company in the world, I needed to arm myself with the most advanced insights and strategies.
In this pursuit, I have dedicated as much as six hours every day to intensive study.
I delved deep into the minds of the world's most brilliant marketers, copywriters, elite performers, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.
My mediums of choice were videos and audiobooks.
The power of the spoken word, especially through audiobooks on Audible, resonated with me profoundly.
Over the past five years, I've consumed over 250 books, absorbing their wisdom and integrating their teachings into my life and work.
This rigorous self-education wasn't just about acquiring knowledge; it was about transformation.
Every book, every video, every lesson was a stepping stone towards becoming a better entrepreneur, a more informed mentor, and a visionary leader.
It reinforced my belief that continuous learning is the bedrock of innovation and success.
The 'Artist Perfect Academy'
Initially, I believed that what artists desired most was education.
I thought that by equipping them with knowledge, they would be empowered to take control of their careers.
With this in mind, I founded the 'Artist Perfect Academy.'
This academy was designed to nurture artists through education, community, mentorship, and support.
I worked closely with 500 founding members, guiding them through Zoom calls and creating course materials tailored to their needs.
However, after conducting over 5,000 1-on-1 Zoom calls with artists, my perspective shifted.
I realized that merely providing education wasn't what artists truly desired, nor was it always beneficial for them.
I discovered that artists would skip crucial steps in the process, leading to premature marketing campaigns for music that wasn't yet commercially viable.
Furthermore, those artists who had achieved a commercially viable standard yearned for more than just education.
They sought services that would handle the business aspects of their careers, allowing them to dedicate more time to their artistry and creativity.
Understanding How To Create Effective and Viable Services
The realization that educating artists to be able to do everything themselves was a big turning point towards creating the solution that I believe is the foundation to my mission to build the biggest and fairest music company in the world.
This was an area that I initially struggled with figuring out, due to the fact that when I was building my team in the UK previously, the cost of salaries were such that in order to be able to provide viable services, the price point for those services would be out of reach for many artists that needed them.
In exploring the possibilities, I started to connect with amazing people all over the world and realized that it would be possible to design scalable services, that were not only highly effective, but also extremely affordable.
Leaving the US for Mexico
Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas by Road
We initially had a 3-year visa for the US.
Although we could have renewed it immediately, we chose to have a temporary stay in Mexico instead.
This would give us the opportunity to apply for a different and longer-term US visa.
To add to the adventure, we decided that we’d take the three day road trip from Los Angeles down to lands end of the Baja peninsular to Cabo San Lucas.
Despite some of the harmful stereotypes of Mexico, we had an incredible experience taking that road trip, which included sections of total isolation, with no sign of life beyond the odd cow and no cellphone reception for hours on end.
As I write this post, this temporary visit to Mexico has become a two year stay, after myself and my family fell in love with the culture, lifestyle and feeling of safety of living in Los Cabos.
A Period of Intense Reflection and Preparation
Most significantly, our time in Mexico gave me the opportunity and the privilege to have a level of reflection, that I’ve never had before.
This period of reflection hasn’t just covered the past 5 years, but my entire journey as an entrepreneur going back over 30 years.
The process has been incredibly powerful, because it allowed me to identify every moment where things have gone to plan on my entrepreneurial journey and every month where they haven’t.
In doing so, its allowed me to find commonality and patterns that have led to my success, that I have now created specific rules around which to follow in the next chapter of the journey and beyond.
It is my belief that in creating these rules, coupled with the knowledge I already had from the journey to now, as well as the incredible depth of wisdom I have been consuming (over 10,000 hours in the past 5 years alone), means that I am now ready to be the leader that is necessary to build the biggest and fairest music company in the world.
I’m already working on the next post, which will be published shortly titled: High Time: Building the Biggest and Fairest Music Company in the World; the Beginning.
If you have any questions about my journey to now, or suggestions for topics or subjects you’d like me to write about, I’d love to hear from you.
I reply to all emails personally, just hit reply and I’ll come back to you directly.
Carl AKA ‘The Baker’
It’s High Time for Change - #TheTimeToDoIsNow