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February 20, 2024 60 mins

Before your story ever inspires others, what if your story wants to inspire you? In this episode with my friend and recording artist Thad Cockrell we have a life-changing conversation about what makes art worthwhile; and the posture that all artists must take if we’re going to share something meaningful with the world. Thad shares his unconventional approach to selling his music and what it’s taught him about the value of his art. 


Listen to Thad’s song “What if” at the end of this episode and buy his latest album at

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Pick up the pieces of your life, pulled them back
together with the word you write all the beauty and
piece and the magic that you'll start too fun when
you write your story.

Speaker 2 (00:13):
You got the.

Speaker 3 (00:13):
Words and said, don't you think it's time to.

Speaker 1 (00:16):
Let him out and write them down and cover what
it's all about.

Speaker 3 (00:22):
And write, Write your story.

Speaker 1 (00:25):
Write you write your story.

Speaker 3 (00:29):
Hi, welcome back to the Write Your Story Podcast. This
is Ali Fallon. I'm your host, and today I'm in
the studio with a dear friend of mine, also a
brilliant creative person, which is why I brought him into
the studio, and a musician who has a new album out.
We haven't gotten to talk to a musician yet on
the show, so I'm very very excited for so many
reasons to introduce you to my friend that Cockrell.

Speaker 4 (00:50):
Hey, Ali, good to be here.

Speaker 3 (00:52):
Thank you for joining me for this. This is gonna
be fun.

Speaker 4 (00:54):
It's gonna be fun.

Speaker 3 (00:55):
There's so many places that we could enter the story.
But originally I asked you to come be on the
show because you had an album come out last week. Yep,
you invited me to your album release party. I came
to your party. You gave this speech at the party
that was so frickin beautiful. Do you remember it well
enough to repeat it because you'll say it more eloquently
than I will.

Speaker 4 (01:13):
Yeah. Well, I threw a party for everyone that had
helped me make this album. And that's the friends that
wrote the initial checks to get the boat out of
the harbor. But it wasn't all the fuel we needed.
I had to like be creative and finding more ways.
But it was that crew of friends. And then it

was also all the musicians that played on the album
and the songwriters that helped me write some of the songs,
and I wanted to have a moment where I just
let them know how incredibly grateful I was for them.
You know, when someone works as hard as they do
at becoming great at what they are, you know, like excellent,

when they come and they show up and they lend
that to you, it is the greatest of gifts because
it's their superpower. So you were you were creating something
with everyone's superpower. And if you're a good leader, that's
the only place you want people to stay in because

you want to set them up for success. And so
all of these people had lent me their superpowers in
some way, and I just wanted them to know how
grateful I was. And then I was sharing that I
know I've made a lot of albums, but I did
something at the end of this album that I had
never done before. The journey of making this album was

by far the funnest thing I've ever done in my
entire life. I've never been able to make an album
like this. I don't know if I'll ever get to
make an album like this again, just because of the
bandwidth that I had in my life and the absolute
obsession that I was able to like, the focused obsession

that I was able to have to make it over
the course of two years, and it was just the
greatest joy. And when I started it, I had no idea.
A friend that was at the party, Mark Smucker's, I
was hanging out with he and his wife Katie in Florida,
and at some point, you know, We're talking and I'm
talking about the songs, and I'm really nervous because my

guiding ideas is, what would you do if you couldn't fail.
I would produce this record myself. I've always produced everything
that I've made, but I co produced it in a
way that I was probably letting someone else lead, and
I was I was dictating. I was like, okay, they
would make decisions and I would yes or know it.
But what happens with that is in a lot of ways,

you're chasing someone else's joy. And this was completely different.
So I was like, okay, I think I would fail.
If I could do anything without failing, I would. I
would just produce the album myself. And at some point
after this, common Mark says, you have no idea what
this album's going to sound like to you, and I
was like, oh, I'm busted, and I was like, I

looked at him and I was like, no, I don't.
I really don't have any idea, and to go in
and to make something and just to spend the time
just chipping away and enjoying all the details and enjoying
all the different processes from just the songwriting to all

of it. So I say all that to say when
the album was done, on the last day of tracking,
I wrote a thank you letter to the music and
I did it through tears. I was like, genuinely moved
by it because it changed me and it grew me
and it healed me. And if it doesn't heal me,

and change me and move me. How could it for
anyone else, you know? And then I wrote a letter
at the end of it and I just said, I
need nothing from you, but I want everything for you.
And I think that that is, you know, the release
of the album or this music is I genuinely don't
need anything from it. I got it me getting to

make the album, me getting to create it. That's my gift.
Any thank you that comes after that, that is a
strange cherry on top. But I need no thank you.
I mean, it feels good when you get it, but
I genuinely and I've never fully experienced this, but you know,

to need nothing but to want everything for it. You know,
you could easily be like, well then why put it out? Well,
you want something for it, you want this music. I mean, ultimately,
these songs are a gift from God, and my work
on behalf of these songs is my thank you.

Speaker 3 (05:49):

Speaker 4 (05:50):
And I believe that with even writers, you know, your
story is your gift from God, and how you steward
that story and how you write that story, and the
time you get to take, not have to the time
you get to take to really process it and connect
with the parts of you that you're writing from Oh

my goodness, that's your thank you?

Speaker 3 (06:15):
Yeah, you know, And hearing you say that at the
release party it brought tears to my eyes. Even now,
hearing you say it again, I have full body, head
to toe chills. I think it speaks to something really
deep and important to me, the pull that I have
felt for as long as I've been an author between
knowing that I'm this creative person and that creativity is

about connecting with self, connecting with others, connecting with the divine,
connecting with God, whatever your concept of God is, and
also that as a creative person in the modern world,
in order to get the privilege of continuing to do this,
you have to find a way to generate an income
and pay your bills, pay your rent, pay your mortgage, whatever.
And with children in tow now I feel that responsibility double.

And so you're doing art, but you're also creating this
product that you're supposed to sell, and I feel like
I often lose track of my why, and hearing you
say that, I was like, the why for making art
is always joy, and where I lose track of that
at least, and I think a lot of other authors
or creatives of any time, could any kind could resonate

with this. Is we get on this path of wanting
to create something good that will sell. Yeah, and there's
not a lot of joy. I mean, there's nothing wrong
morally wrong with creating something good that will sell. You
can make T shirts and sell them or whatever, mugs.
You know, there's nothing morally wrong with that. But I
don't think it really gets at the heart of why
we started doing this in the first place.

Speaker 4 (07:42):
So well, I would even challenge it that's actually creativity.

Speaker 3 (07:46):
Sure, I don't know that it is. Yeah, it's revenue generating,
which is.

Speaker 4 (07:50):
That's agenda helpful, that's agenda you know, and creativity is
not agenda driven. I think that's why pretty much percent
of the world stopped creating at some point is because
you know, they were raised by parents that didn't see
the value in creating, or it didn't reflect in a

way that made them feel validated, and so you know,
they stopped creating because there was an agenda behind it. Yeah,
but when your children give you something that they they make,
first of all, have you ever had one of them
come to you and be like, I don't know, I
don't know what I think about it.

Speaker 3 (08:30):
It's not that good.

Speaker 4 (08:31):
It's no, They're like this is this is my Picasso,
and it is.

Speaker 3 (08:38):

Speaker 4 (08:39):
Try to look at a child's art, even the scribble,
there is something really cosmic. Yeah, just the freedom to
like scribble. When's the last time you've picked up a
coloring book and just scribbled? Yeah?

Speaker 3 (08:56):
I mean maybe more recently than most because I do
have a three year old and it too, your.

Speaker 4 (08:59):
Right, right, but them, but you color, but scribble?

Speaker 3 (09:03):
Yeah, I know, not that often.

Speaker 4 (09:05):
Right, But there has to been something about that experience
that was joy giving, because that's the only thing that
children know to do. And so I think, like, like,
sometimes you have to be willing as a creative as
a writer to be willing to just scribble. Come to
me as a child. Yeah, I had this moment, and

I don't know if this is true or not, but
I was out back with one of my dear friends
my house and I have this beautiful magnolia tree in
the backyard, and I think when the world was created,
when God created the world, I think we assume, however,
it happened big bang, you know whatever, you know, Like,
I'm down with all of it. Was it seven days? Sure?

Was it a big bang?

Speaker 3 (09:51):

Speaker 4 (09:52):
Yes, yes, you know, but I think that we assume
that God knew how to make trees when he started
making them. I had assumed that everything I was looking
at was something that he already knew how to do. No,
we are literally walking in a creation. Everything that you

see is something that was created. There was no like, oh,
I think what I'm going to do is make some trees. Okay,
I've got it all together, let's go. No, that's not creating.

Speaker 3 (10:26):
Yeah. I would say creating is going into the chaos, yes,
and trying to create some order from it. Yes. And
when you said that about God, you know, not knowing
what he was making when he made a tree, Immediately
I thought nature is so messy. It really is. There
is orderliness to it, but it is overwhelmingly messy. You

don't go into the woods and see like box edges.
You know, we did that at the box.

Speaker 4 (10:53):
Yeah. Yeah, that's an agenda. Yeah, yeah, which is fine.

Speaker 3 (10:58):
This is such a big question, and maybe this can
be kind of the guiding question for the episode. But
I feel like, deep in my soul that I know
it's true that art is about joy and that what
I'm here to do is to make art. That's my dharma.
I'm not here to sell a bunch of books, right.
Maybe I do sell a bunch of books, that's great, yes,
but that's not what I came here to do. So

then my brain goes, maybe my brain's not all that helpful,
but my brain is like, okay, well, then how do
I make a living? How do I put food on
the table for my kids? How do I get childcare?
How do I pay for childcare? How do I There's
so many different ways we could go with that, because
I know you were talking to your friends with my
husband and he came home saying, the day you guys
were talking about white space, and I also want to
talk about white space because I feel like that changes

in a big way too when you have kids in
to But my question for you, a big question that
we can unpack slowly, is how do you be an
artist in the modern world? How do you be an
artist and still pay your bills and show up to
meetings on time?

Speaker 4 (11:57):
And well, I think it looks still for everyone, and
I don't think it's a one like a one size
fits all, not even close. I think everyone has to
create value. You have to figure out what your values
are and what it is that you want to do
that bring you the most joy, and if writing is

one of those, then you have to be really intentional
about creating space for that joy. Now, when I made
this album, I'm single, I don't have a family, I
don't have kids. So one could be like, oh, that
was easy for you. No, no, no, it is not.
Because I get asked to write songs so much. There's

so many things that I could do to distract myself
that would fill your bank account, that would feel absolutely.
I could go sign a publishing deal. But as soon
as I signed that publishing deal, I'm working for someone
and they have control of my calendar literally from nine
am to five pm, and they will book every hour

if you let them, right, So I could do that,
but you know, I've said, that is not my story.
That's not why I'm put on earth, you know, And
I think that's another thing you really have to pay
attention to. At some point, you just have to say,
that isn't my story. And anytime we start looking at
other people, we start inserting ourselves in other people's story.

In any time that happens, anytime I do that, it
is the shortest track to anxiety. Yeah, within a half second,
I feel anxiety. And as soon as I stop, the
anxiety leaves because that isn't my story, doesn't have anything
to do with me. And I think that comes from
just really trusting that you're not alone. You might think

that you're alone, but you're not alone. I pray. I'm like, Okay,
you're my co creator, my co conspirator, my co writer,
co everything, you know. And there's times where you know,
even on this this album, that you know I'm writing
a song and I'm not. I don't feel like i'm
writing it. It's coming to me. And I'm like, oh geez,

that's really okay, you know, And I'll write that down
and then sometimes I'll just get a verse and a
chorus and and I literally I pray. I'm like, you're
assuming that I'm good at this.

Speaker 3 (14:31):
I'm not.

Speaker 4 (14:33):
So you're gonna have to help me finish, Like I
need a second verse. You can't walk out, you.

Speaker 3 (14:38):
Can't give me one verse and not the second verse.

Speaker 4 (14:41):
No, because you're assuming that I'm a good like I'm
a good songwriter, and I really I'm not. I think
over time I learn what craft is. I can craft.
But that once again, that's that's like I love songs,
you know, and so if you love books, it's like
there's also a craft that you fall in love with
over time. But I don't know that it means that

you're ever any good at it.

Speaker 3 (15:05):
And what is good too? I think good is a
measurement that's mostly unhelpful because what is it. A piece
of art can break all the rules that makes art consumable,
and then people are obsessed with it. There's an energy
or vibration to it that just makes people go like
I want that, yeah in my space. I want to
listen to it. I want to read it all the time,
you know, I want to buy a copy for every

person that I know. And so what is that?

Speaker 4 (15:40):
You know, what's interesting about that? You bring art up?
So when I was making my last album, we were
doing the artwork for my last album, and I'm talking
with someone at my label and it's this young girl
and I started doing these doodles on my iPad just
for joy while I was making the album, and I
showed it to my and they're very childlike. I show
it to my my manager and the head of the label,

and they're.

Speaker 3 (16:02):
Like, oh, dude.

Speaker 4 (16:03):
They're like, no, that looks too childish. I'm like, yeah, man, that's.

Speaker 3 (16:07):
The the whole point. That's the point, you know.

Speaker 4 (16:10):
Yeah. And a couple of weeks later, I'm talking to
this girl at the label and she's and she you know,
like a young millennial, and I'm telling her about this art.
She's like, well, can you send it to me? So
I like text it to her and she's like, oh
my god, these are blank any blank blank, These are amazing.
This should be in the artwork. I'm like, I trust
you more than they trust the old dudes, you know.

Speaker 1 (16:31):

Speaker 4 (16:32):
And so she's like, have you ever done painting before?
Have you ever made like real paintings. I'm like, no,
I've never. And this is the brilliance of this girl.
I go to my mailbox and there is five canvases,
paint brushes, and paint She just sent it to me.
And I'm not kidding you. That girl changed your life.

Speaker 3 (16:52):
My life. Yeah, And well, I have to say that
I'm at the release party. I knew that you had
been doing these big paint even commissioned Yeah to do
these huge paintings. And I've seen a few of them
and they're all gorgeous. But I'm at the launch party
and I'm just feeling this the joy that you're talking about,
it's radiating off of you, or listening to the music,
it's definitely radiating through the music. And then you have

this massive canvas that I didn't know you painted it.
Matt's the one who told me that you painted it.
That's in your main kind of sitting area of famlirium.
And I was like mesmerized by this painting. I'm like,
I look at this and I feel joy. I'm like,
where did this come from? And Matt's like, that painted that,
And I'm like, You've got to be kidding me. I
cannot believe he painted that, but obviously I can.

Speaker 4 (17:35):
But so what happened is is this is the lesson
that I learned. I started writing songs and I'd forgotten
that I was coming from a place of good, you know,
and I'd lost all my joy. Yes, and it might
have actually been the most successful financially, but I lost
on my joy.

Speaker 3 (17:53):
Yeah, And what's the point of that?

Speaker 4 (17:55):
What is the point of it? Right? So I'm standing
over these canvases and I was about to paint something,
and I had this thought. I don't know if that's
any good. And I was like, good, yeah, yeah, you've
never painted, man, of course it isn't going to be good.
And I kind of laughed at myself and I was like,

oh wow, I'm going to have to create a new bullseye.
I'm like, well, what's my bulls eye? And I thought, okay,
well don't I make it? Why don't I make a
color until I love it? And then ask myself, well,
what do you want to paint? And like, just paint
whatever you love and then just keep asking that and
then just keep like, keep doing that until you're done.

And I'm not kidding you. It was the most healing
thing because at some point when I'm doing it, I'm
having so much fun that I'm like, oh man, why
don't I make music like this? Like I've completely stopped
making music like this, And it changed my painting. And
what it all goes back to is you have to
kick the ego out of the room. You just have

to whatever it is that you think you're good at
leave that outside.

Speaker 3 (19:03):
And even if you can define what is good, it
will never be good enough. For no, no, never, You'll
never sell enough books. You'll never sell enough albums, You'll
never it'll never be good enough. You'll always have to
aim higher. Yeah, So changing the measurement from is it
good to is this fun? Yes? You know? Do I
love it?

Speaker 4 (19:22):
Can I add to the fun?

Speaker 3 (19:23):

Speaker 4 (19:24):
You know? Does it make me feel like Max Joy?

Speaker 3 (19:28):
Why is that harder for us? Why is that's harder?

Speaker 4 (19:31):
I think, well, I think because we believe that we
don't deserve it. I believe that we think that it's frivolous.
I believe that we think. You know, in the world
that I grew up in self aggrandizing. Yes, yeah, all
of those things, you know. And what's interesting is within
six months of me painting, I was getting, you know, commissioned.

Speaker 3 (19:50):
I know. Well, I said to Matt, I'm like, we
need a commission to make sure the painting, and he goes,
we can't afford that. I mean, I okay, fair enough,
I guess I need to start painting. Who's to say,
I know, who's to say?

Speaker 4 (20:06):
I mean? This is what's weird is I've been making
music my entire life. And this is also like, if
you think that you know, the universe doesn't want to
tell you a joke. I bought my house from painting
that's insane, not because of my music, you know, And
what a gift because it let me take the pressure off.

And so you know, with making this album that I'm making,
it's the sound of me just chasing my own joy.
I grew up obsessed with the radio dial and I
loved everything that was going on from country, and I
would stay up all night long, everything from country to
rock to R and B. So over the course of
my career, I've kind of made all of those things.
And so what this album is is it sounds like

you're scrolling the radio dial and it has everything on it,
But what it actually is is it's me trying to
feel like I felt the first time heard my favorite song,
and I didn't stop till it gave me that max joy.
And that's wild because why wouldn't you want to feel
that way again, you know? And my thought is like,

if I need this, I think that's what people need.
And I think people deserve music from this. I think
people deserve amazing music. And it's not to say that
that people aren't getting great music, but I don't think
that people are getting music the way they think they
are simply because there's I just know where the funnels
are going, meaning like where money ends up and it's

taking it away. There's more money now in the music
business than ever in the history of music business, and
there's the least amount of money going towards making it
right yea. And so it would be like you hire
a designer to come into your home and you're like okay,
and they've spent their whole life and their dream is
just to make your home more beautiful. So when you
come home, it's a sanctuary and you feel loved by

it and you feel healed by it, and you bring
that person into your home and you're saying, make my
home more beautiful. And they're so excited to do all
these things that they learned that and it comes from
a place of joy. And then they're like, okay, what's
your budget, And you're like five hundred bucks and they're like,
first of all, they're bombed, they're sad, and they're like, okay,

I think we might get a room painted. And music,
you know, makes the world a more beautiful place. And
I think that's what's happening.

Speaker 3 (22:25):
Is music literally that points in my life has kept
me alive. I mean, I always like songs have carried
me through the darkest of times me too.

Speaker 4 (22:34):
And I was just like, I'm just going to make
an album like as if I don't have any limitations,
and I'm going to give people an opportunity to show
up for it. I realized, I make music for people
that you know, value music as art. If you don't
value music as art, that's not who I make music for,
you know. And it's already been an amazing success, and

it's a different price point because nobody has a problem there.
We have a friend that has a restaurant in town,
Sean Brock, and he has this hamburger at the Continental,
which is incredible and it's like eighteen dollars hamburger and
it's wag you and it's like but in the cheese
that he gets everything about it is like incredible.

Speaker 3 (23:16):
As hamburger you've ever had in your life.

Speaker 4 (23:18):
Yes, yeah, Now there's a hamburger across the street at
McDonald's literally across the street. They're called the same thing
and you can get one for ninety nine cents. Yeah,
and you're like, they're the same thing and you get
to pick which one you'd like. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's
just different, Yes.

Speaker 3 (23:35):
Speaking of that, we should talk about the different approach
you're taking to releasing this album, because I think this
is part of the conversation and maybe helps us to
get out the answer to the question, or at least
if you're an artist and you're trying to figure out,
like what's the balance between paying my bills and doing
my art? I love the way that you're releasing this
album because it is at least throwing a different idea

into the pot of Yeah, how can we move forward
as creative people really make art that matters and that
moves people and also continue to exist and survive and thrive, yes,
you know, and pay our mortgage and put food on
the table. Right, So talk about the different approach you're taking.

Speaker 4 (24:12):
Well, you know, normally what one does is they spend
a lot of time and money making album. And now
these days, you just put it up for free on Spotify.
And I didn't get to negotiate with anyone. I just
put something up there and maybe it works and maybe
it doesn't. But you know what I do know is

when I ask all my business friends what's the number
one way to create value, they all get a first guess, scarcity.
M hm, Like, yeah, Without scarcity, there's no way to
create value. So as soon as you put something up
for free on Spotify, you take away scarcity. But I
think most importantly what you do is you take away

the opportunity for people to show up for the music
you can make. And I just don't want to live
in a world where I believe that people won't because
that makes me cynical and it makes me sad. Yeah,
And I don't want to live out that version of me.
And so you know it's like, well, what would you
do if you couldn't fail? What would what would bring
you joy in this?

Speaker 3 (25:13):

Speaker 4 (25:13):
I know what bring me joy is if I sold
my album FO one hundred dollars and you know it's
it's it took me two years to make. It's eighteen songs.
And what's so funny is I just got off the
phone with a friend and I'm about to They don't
know it, the people that bought it, But I'm about
to make another album and I'm going to give it
to everyone that bought the kid. And the only way

that you can get this album that I'm going to
make is if you buy the kid, love it, and
you know a lot of it came from my work
in therapy. I was at this place called on Site
and they're talking about the unhealthy triangle. Yeah, and the
unhealthy triangle is a you know, bad guy yeah or
villain yeah, victim and enabler oh yeah, right, And so

they're describing the three characters and I'm like, you know,
getting hot under the collar because I'm like, oh my god,
I am, I am, I'm running those bases. And they're like, well,
here's the deal is, nobody stays on that same base.
And so here's the way it usually looks in the
world that I live in music industry. The bad guy

is always the label or you know, the powers that be,
whoever they are, and then the victim is always the
artist artist. But I have to take ownership for this, right,
and so at some point I have to be like, well,
if I didn't give them my music, if I didn't
enable them, then that doesn't mean that I can't keep

making music.

Speaker 3 (26:41):
Well, and it's also sorry to interrupt you, but it's
about more than just giving them your music. It's about
giving them your power by saying and the same thing
happens with traditional publishing. You give away your power by
saying the only way I can publish a book to
go through one of the Big five. And in order
to do that, I have to get a bunch of
Instagram followers, and I have to find an agent. And

you've already given away all your power, all of your
creative power, are ready before you've written a word?

Speaker 4 (27:06):
Gone, so sorry to interrupt. No, no, it's one hundred
percent true. And then all of a sudden, the artist
you know, gives the album to the label, and the
label doesn't do what they hope. But then they keep
giving the album to the label and expecting a different result.
Well then guess what that makes them the bad guy?
Bad guy, And now the label is actually the victim.

Yeah yeah, and then the victim keeps giving them more
money to do it to them. Then they become the enabler.
So at some point they're just talking about this relationship
and I'm viewing I'm framing this through the idea of
like artists you know, or writer, publisher, you know, all
these different things, and so I'm like, well, how the
hell do you get off that. They're like, oh, you
got to go to the healthy tangle. Yeah, I'm like,

do tell tell me fast as possible. And they're like, oh, well,
that one's based on ownership negotiation and boundaries, and the
boundaries are what you negotiated from ownership. From the power
of ownership. Yeah, I'm like, okay, tell me that and
explain it to me. And they're like, well, you know, ownership,
you have to own. You have to you have to

be the owner of your own story, the owner of
your own life, the owner of your own destinies, on
and so forth. And then if you want to create
a partnership, you negotiate, and then from that negotiation, whether
you know it's your husband or your wife or whoever
it is a business entity, from that negotiation, you know,
you create boundaries. And I just realized, Okay, I don't

want to do life on any level, business or personal
that does not allow me to stay on that and
so I can't negotiate with Spotify. Yeah I'm out. And
if you can't do that, then then you pretending. If
you're a writer, if you don't do that, then I

think the best way for you to do It's really interesting,
Like you know, last week, UMG Universal, the biggest publishing
company in the world, so that it was taking its
music off of TikTok because TikTok wasn't paying them enough.
That's what healthy does when they don't feel that does
this too, is Taylor Swift of course?

Speaker 1 (29:18):

Speaker 3 (29:19):
Yeah? And I think this is giving me some clarity
because I think the traditional publishers, the music labels, whoever,
the powers that be in whatever industry are not the
bad guys. No. I have said that many times before.
But what's giving what the clarity that's coming through now
is that most authors and aspiring authors enter into a
relationship with an agent and a publisher from a disempowered perspective,

which is why I would tell them, don't do that,
don't sign that contract, not because the publishers are bad guys,
but because nothing good can come out of a contract
that you sign from a disempowered place where you think
I can't do my art without them. This is the
same thing with Instagram. Man, this clarity. Thank you for
saying this, because this clarity is coming through for me.

There's nothing wrong with Instagram. Instagram is not the bad guy.
The algorithm is not the bad guy. What makes Instagram
tricky for artists is we give all of our power away.
We think we need Instagram. Yes, in order to be successful. Yes,
and Instagram needs eats us. We think we need Instagram, Yes,

in order to be successful. Yes, and Instagram needs eats us.

Speaker 4 (30:34):

Speaker 3 (30:35):
Ali, that is one hundred percent.

Speaker 4 (30:37):
And whether people, whether artists realize it or not, you
don't need Spotify. Spotify needs you. Like I have I
have a letter. It's a make believe letter, but it's
a letter that every artist wishes that they would get
from Spotify. It's really funny, but but it's a letter
that that Spotify has never written anyone. But you know,

if artist gets put on a playlist and the artists
are like, oh, thank you so much Spotify for it.
But you know what, Here's what's interesting is every time
I put music up on Spotify, I'm investing in Spotify, right,
And so this is what artists don't realize or even
authors don't realize. This is do you want to be
a good investor? My answer to me is yes. Okay,

So when I talk to my friends who are really
big in investing, they do startups, all kinds of stuff.
I'm like, what kind of return do you usually want
to get on your investment? Like, oh, depending on the risk,
you know, low risk, you know, three x my return,
but the sweet spot's like somewhere between eight to ten
eleven twelve. If you can get that, that's really good. Now,
sometimes it's high risk and you'll get like sixty x return,

but it's it's very rare and you don't really want
to bank on it like great. So has Spotify ever
given me a nine x or even a three x
on my return? No, I've never even got a return
on my investment.

Speaker 3 (31:58):
What do you get per play on spotif? Is it
less than a penny?

Speaker 4 (32:01):
Oh? Way less? It zero point three percent of a penny.
So forty million plays will make you forty thousand dollars.

Speaker 3 (32:10):
Oh my gosh.

Speaker 4 (32:11):
So if you see an artist with forty million plays,
you think, oh my gosh, that artist made forty yeah,
forty thousand dollars. But also if they're on a label,
that label is going to take the lion's share off.
So now you're down to Now you're down to twenty
thousand dollars. And this is not good for the music

that we need in this in this world. And really
that's the reason why I'm doing this is I want
my kids. I want your kids to believe that being
an artist is a worthwhile investment. And they're like, oh,
why don't you ask for investors? No, like, no, I'm
not doing that. It's condescending. You know, you don't have doctors.
You know people don't go to doctors and be like, well,

you know you want to be a doctor, You're going
to have to go around and ask people for all kinds.

Speaker 3 (32:59):
Of money to help you be a doctor, to help people.

Speaker 4 (33:02):
Listen, man, nothing has healed my heart like music, Like,
I've never had a doctor heal my broken heart, but
I have had music, amen? And what is that worth?

Speaker 3 (33:11):
And we're trained to think something is worth a certain amount? So, like,
one thing that gets to me is we're trained to
go to the movie theater and you could spend forty
bucks easy on a movie and some popcorn and it's
three hours of entertainment and it's over. Over. People complain
about spending twelve dollars for a book on Amazon that

will change their life. Yes, that comes with them for
three it's three weeks of entertainment. You know, it feels
like the dead time in their vacation. They bring it
with them in their bed, in the bathtub on the
cat like it's so bizarre.

Speaker 5 (33:46):
To me.

Speaker 3 (33:46):
But it's just that we've been trained to think that
this one thing is worth forty dollars and this one
thing should be free to me, or should be next
to free. And what I love about what you're doing
is that you're retraining people's brains to remember that an
album is worth a hundred bucks. It's worth more than
one hundred dollars. It absolutely, but we just learned that
we can stream it for free on Spotify, so we

forgot correct.

Speaker 4 (34:10):
I really do hope that when your kids get old
old enough to play music, we need them to make
music from a place of freedom and ambition, not for money,
but for excellence. If your child wants to become a
musician right now, it's dead on arrival, it really is.

And that's ridiculous, because you know, we are a music
first country, not sports first. I don't even know if
we're a god you know, if you think about like,
music starts every church service, it starts every baseball game,
every game. Yeah, it starts every dance, it starts every wedding.
Music starts everything. Music, music proceeds absolutely everything. I went

to a Lakers game a few years ago, and literally
the entire game they have music blasting even while they
were playing, they had music playing over the loud speakers,
and I was just like, this is wild. I went
to the exact same arena and I watched John Mayer play,
and you know, it was not on any of the screens. Sports.

Speaker 3 (35:15):
We're not kicking off at John Mayer's show with some
highlights from the latest.

Speaker 4 (35:20):
Or even we weren't so bored with music that we
needed like like Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan, like like
highlight reels up on it.

Speaker 3 (35:30):
Yeah, like that's so true, you know. Yeah, music is
the it's the literal soundtrack to our lives. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (35:39):
I really do believe that beauty is going to heal
this world.

Speaker 3 (35:41):
And music.

Speaker 4 (35:42):
You know, there's that that story, you know, where ASLND
creates the world by singing it. I don't know that
it's true, but I don't know that it isn't. Yeah,
you know, And if the world was created from singing,
imagine that if God was just, if he just and
there's a lot of scientific proof that that suggests that
it's exactly how it because everything is a sound wave.

Speaker 3 (36:04):
You know, oh my gosh, wow, and energy.

Speaker 4 (36:07):
And so why wouldn't the world be healed by a
song that maybe somebody writes one day and it helps
people put down the guns. Yeah, oh that's just Pine
the sky thinking. Have fun with that.

Speaker 3 (36:22):
Well, you've read the book, I think because several of
our friends have read it. This is your brain on music. Yeah,
music literally changes the way that your brain is processing information. Yes,
so it's not that pie in the sky thinking. No,
to assume that a song could change the way that
someone thinks.

Speaker 4 (36:38):
Well, you know, part of what I do is as
an as an artist is I try to think what
what isn't being sung? You know? If you want to
like know what to write? You know, like what do
I write about?

Speaker 3 (36:50):

Speaker 4 (36:50):
What's the stories that aren't being told? You know? And
chances are if you look, if you look in your life,
if you do some deep research and you say with
yourself and you really start to understand your story. However
it is that you have lived your story, there is
something in it that is unique and it's the story

that isn't being told. But now you get to so
even with music, it's like, well, what songs aren't being sung?
No one's singing love songs anymore.

Speaker 3 (37:22):
How are people like falling in love?

Speaker 4 (37:24):
Or staying in love without love songs.

Speaker 3 (37:25):
It's all breakup songs now.

Speaker 4 (37:27):
Yes, So my album, every song is a love song.
I'm like, sing, what isn't being sung? Do that? And
they're not like your stereotypical love songs. But if if
you listen to them, you know you're like, oh, this
is a this is a love song. There's a song
on this album called a Texaco and it's the letter
from my dad that I didn't get. And I thought, well,

maybe if I didn't get that letter from my dad,
maybe when other people hear it, they'll be like, oh
my goodness, this is the letter from my dad. I
didn't get it. And it started with a lyric where
it goes up and I hope that you shine like
a Texaco sign in a West Texas town that's never
known time when there's ten miles to go but only

five miles of gas and you're someone to run to
for safety at last. Ah, I hope you. I hope
you shine like that, go into the world shining like that.
And then there's other verses. But that's what that's that's
what that song is. Is it a stereotypical love song? No,
but that's a love song.

Speaker 3 (38:31):
It is a love song.

Speaker 4 (38:32):
It's a love song.

Speaker 3 (38:33):
You know. The proof is in the pudding too. I mean,
I feel like kids pull no punches, you know, they'll
tell you the truth. My kids, like most kids, mostly
listen to kids stuff. They love Disney, all the Disney
shows and songs that go along with that. Frozen. We've
listened to the Frozen two soundtrack in our house probably
thousands of times. Yeah. My husband is a music guy,
and he cares a lot about sort of like giving

them some background and some good music. He plays a
lot of cold Play for them, and they do like
cold Play, and they like well this is not necessarily
thanks to Matt, but they also love Taylor Swift. They'll
do some of that, but for the most part, you know,
if you ask them what they want to listen to,
they'll say Frozen too or something equivalent. Yeah, your album.
They're obsessed with it. I've think I've sent you too

many videos of them singing Rosalind. I adore them. Yeah,
and Charlie's too. I mean he can't he sings just
Rosalind over and over again. Huh So it's very cute,
and they the joy that went into making the album
comes through in the music and you can see it
on their faces when they ask us for the one
hundred thousand time to play Roslin and they just dance

around the living room to that song and the song
what If Too. I mean, there's just so many, so
many great songs on the album, and I feel like,
whenever I watch my kids listening to it, I'm like, yeah,
kids don't lie. They've got no ego in this at all.

Speaker 4 (39:51):
They do not lie. And if they don't like it,
turn it off, turn it off, like really, you know. Yeah,
And that kind of still true for me, that like,
if it doesn't connect with my kid's self, then I'm
just not into it. But you know, like what's interesting
is they love Rosalind. But if you listen to Roslin,

there's a lot of weight to the lyrics of that song. Right.

Speaker 3 (40:17):
Yeah, it's a very adult song. Not like it's not
like explicit or anything, but.

Speaker 4 (40:21):
Right, but is it the subject content? You know, I'm
not I'm making music for adults that I think everyone
can get, you know. Yeah, And at the end of
the day, I feel like I'm hiding vitamins in twinkies
and that also gives me joy. But that's part of
the craft of me learning how to like my whole life.
The joy of craft is like, okay, like how can

I get better at writing about that kind of subject matter?
But in a way that still creates levity, and that's
its own joy, that's its own and you don't learn
that in the course of five years. You learn that
over the course of a lifetime. And I just want
to encourage people keep writing from that place of joy,
because first of all, you don't know what you're writing.

And when we think, well, this is what I'm writing, like,
I'll tell you a really really crazy story. So the
name of this album is called The Kid. I'll tell
you a really really crazy story. So the name of
this album is called The Kid. And in twenty fourteen,

I had a band called Leagues and we were making
the follow up album to an album called You Belong Here.
And You Belong Here did really well, so we made
the follow up album. Some things happened. There was a
big falling out and so this album that we had
made it been like mixed, mastered, the entire thing we
made in twenty fourteen, it's never come out right. So

my creative director Mike comes into town and he says, hey,
what about would you ever think about adding some of
the League songs on this album? I was like no,
I never thought of it. And I said, well, what
song is? He's like one hundred and one and someday
I'm like, oh yeah. So we listened to them and
I didn't quite get it literally until about about two
weeks ago. I got so emotional and the opening lines

to a song that I wrote in twenty fourteen, and
we put the songs on this album and it's been
done for ten years. We didn't mix it, I didn't
touch it. Everything is exactly how we did it in
two thousand. But the opening lines in twenty fourteen, I
thought I was writing it for that album, and the
universe God is like, no, you're actually writing it for

an album that you're going to put out in twenty
twenty four called the kid, Well, the opening lines to
that song is and she was just a kid out
there looking for loving and I was just a kid
out there looking too.

Speaker 3 (42:50):
Oh. I think the long story, favorite thing about being
a creative person or about it's the thing that always
draws me back to the creative process. Yes, is I
caught the popcorn trail, you're like, ah, okay, I'm on
the right track.

Speaker 4 (43:06):
Fall in love with the journey, yeah, I mean fall
deeply in love with the journey because you only get
to create it once. Yeah, you only get to do
this once.

Speaker 3 (43:16):

Speaker 4 (43:17):
And whatever story you're walking in, whatever part of the
story is, there's got to be some small glimmer of
joy in it, and you have to find it. And
when you find that, even if you're in the saddest
moment of your life right now, if you can find
that tiny, tiny flame of joy, it will unite you

with other people that have a tiny flame of joy
and they just need to know that there's someone else
out there that has that small of a flame of joy.

Speaker 3 (43:47):

Speaker 4 (43:48):
And that right there creates community. It creates connection, and
that's what art does. It's true. Going back to the
popcorn trail, if I was obsessed over that outcome, then
I miss all of that. Yeah, I miss all of it,
and I get bitter at some point and I quit. Yeah,
And you can get bitter or you can get better.

Speaker 3 (44:06):
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, And this is coming up for me too.
The lie we tell ourselves is if I let go
of outcome, then I'll never make money. You'll never sell books,
I'll never get to share my art, I'll never whatever.
That's bullshit, it's completeble, it's bullshit. In fact, it isn't
until you really let go of the outcome that you

start to allow. And we don't have time to tell
the whole Jimmy Fallon story, but that would be a
fun story to tell. That demonstrates this. You let go
of the outcome and then that's when it allows room
for the recognition to come. The connection. Yeah, the momentum.

Speaker 4 (44:42):
And that's a gift. That's literally a that's protection. It's
a gift so that you don't over connect yourself the
thing that you're doing, Like, I am not my music.
It's a part of who I am, but I'm not
my music, you know. I think if you were to
ask my friends, you know, like, what are your tips
five favorite things about that? I don't know that music

makes the top five?

Speaker 3 (45:04):
What are your top five?

Speaker 4 (45:05):
I don't know. You'd have to ask them, Okay, okay,
but I don't know that music would be in the
top five. Maybe it might. But I think the thing
that I appreciate about that is that music is not
my identity. It's just something that I do. And no
matter how successful the world might get, if I realize

that before success comes, then when success comes.

Speaker 3 (45:30):
Otherwise, success destroys you.

Speaker 4 (45:31):
It destroys you. Yeah, yeah, it stops you dead in
your tracks, because oftentimes what will happen is you stop
at the applause.

Speaker 3 (45:39):
Yes, And when you lose the thread of the joy, yeah,
you lose the music, you lose the artistry, you lose
your joy, you lose everything that matters.

Speaker 4 (45:50):
Yes, yeah, yeah, And then when the applause shows up,
that's where you stop.

Speaker 3 (45:54):
Yeah, And you live your life for applause, which is empty.

Speaker 4 (45:57):
And then you keep making the same thing because it's
given you the thing that you needed.

Speaker 6 (46:01):

Speaker 4 (46:02):
And then you're no longer creating. Yeah, you're just using
the audience to help uphold a version of you that
you need. When I was going back to the therapy,
I heard them say something that was really amazing, and
they said, healthy parents don't need anything from their children.

Speaker 3 (46:20):
This is the other thing that your comment in your
speech made me think of. I don't need anything from it,
but I want everything for it. I was like, oh
my god, I hope I can be that kind of
a parent. Oh yes, I pray I can be that
kind of a parent to my kids. You know, I
don't need anything from you, but I want everything for you.

Speaker 4 (46:37):
But I think we should be that. And if we,
if I'm birthing this music, if I get to be that,
then then a healthy artist, I think would be. I
need nothing from it, but I want everything for it.

Speaker 3 (46:49):
It's a very different energy than I invested everything in this.
I need it to sell this month, this number of copies,
I need it to, you know, hit this number or whatever.
It's a very very different kind of energy. And I
will say watching your story unfold from what happened with
Jimmy fallon, which we don't have time to tell the
whole story, but maybe we could do like a really
brief story watching this album unfold that you've been working

on for the last two years, watching what's happened with
the painting, just watching the way that as you have
stepped out in faith that the universe has risen to
meet you and risen to meet this That the music
and the art and the album is such an inspiration
to me, and I know it is to Matt too,
And just the season that we're in, because I think

we're we're pretty resolute too, that we're we've stepped out
in faith in a big way a bunch of different things.
And there are points when you're just like, holy shit,
what have we done? I'm not even on a limb anymore,
Like the limb has broken and fallen down into a
deep canyon. The breakers. Yeah, And it's terrifying at times,
and you just go like, did I make a mistake?

Should we not have done this? But watching you is
such an important reminder to me, and watching the album
come out and hearing from you that night, it was
just like a It's a moment that I'll remember forever.
Hearing you say I want nothing from this, but I
want everything for it. I'm like, yeah, I'm resolute, like
I'm in for the long haul. I'm in if it

means bankruptcy then great.

Speaker 4 (48:16):
Great, yeah, because because what if that's what if that
is part of the story that you're supposed to live. Well,
I don't want to live that part of the story. Okay,
well you get to selected then then then but what happens?
You know, so it's like here's what's here's what's really interesting.
So you know, twenty twenty, I'm like Okay, I've said

what I can say, I don't what I can do.
I'm going to go do something else. Literally, within twenty
four hours, I get a phone call from a manager. Hey,
Jimmy Fallon is obsessed with your song. You're going to
be the first artist to go back and play the
Tonight Show. And he heard it in a he literally
was shopping in a tiny little Mama pop hardwood hardware
store and he heard my song swinging he' shazam and

it became his. It was like his like guiding song
through the entire Here's what's wild is So I watched
his monologue every night while I was going to bed.
Every night I watched his monologue because everyone else had
gone dark. Colbert was going dark. He was calling names,
and Jimmy never he never bought him to the cynicism man,

he never did it. And so I watched him because
he was he was helping me. He was giving me
the levity he that I needed. Like it was already hard. Man,
I don't want to double down on this stuff, you know.
So you know I would watch him and unknowingly to me,
unbeknown to me, is one of them. One of the
nights when I was watching him do his monologue that

day was the day that he heard my song. I
just didn't know it right, it would have happen to
have been and I just didn't know it. And so
all of a sudden, while I'm listening, I don't realize it,
but but I keep listening to watching his monologue throughout
the thing, and he had been listening to my song
the entire time. That song had been giving him courage.

I didn't know this. You don't know, you do not know.
And so anyways, I go up there, I play the
Tonight Show. I got dropped on a label before I
ever played the Tonight Show.

Speaker 3 (50:18):
This is crazy.

Speaker 4 (50:19):
I got booked on January tewod I played on January
twenty sixth. Somewhere around January fifteenth, my label sends me
a letter, Hey, you know, we're gonna give your opportunity
to expread your wings and fly, you know, which says
no guide to a girl that he actually likes. You know,
Thank you, condescending assholes. And then I went on the

Today's Show and the song becomes number one in the
world on Apple that people are buying, number two album
in the world, that people are buying on Apple and Elliott.
Nothing came from it.

Speaker 3 (50:50):

Speaker 4 (50:51):
I didn't make a penny from it. I didn't make
a penny from it. No label showed up, no publisher
showed up, nothing, And it was such a high and
the drop back down to Earth was strangely fast. And
that was the gift. Yes, that was the gift.

Speaker 3 (51:10):
It's showing you, well, I don't want to put words
in your mouth, but I'm just resonating so much of
the story. It's showing you that this thing that everyone
is chasing is not the thing.

Speaker 4 (51:20):
It isn't the thing the thing, because here's what came
out of it. Do you want a bunch of people
that are just showing up because of money and metrics,
and they're going to say these things that make you
feel good, but you know you could, you could be
anyone to them. They're just literally showing up and then
all of a sudden they're in the place of power
and if anything good comes, you know they're going to
get the lion's share, and I mean the lion's share

of everything that comes from it. Or do you want
your friends to show up and do you want the
space for you to make something that you just absolutely
love and your friends show up for you and they say, hey,
we believe in you.

Speaker 3 (51:54):
Keep going. And then you get to risk.

Speaker 4 (51:56):
You get to say, Okay, I'm going to mortgage my home,
I'm going to make the dream album of life, and
I'm going to do this in a completely different way,
and you get to make the whole thing with the
people that love you. You're surrounded by people that love
you and that believe in you. What story would you
rather have? Option being number two? Option B? But on
the outside you would think, oh, you want the other,

but actually that's not really what you really want. And
so the gift was that they didn't show up and
that the cavalry didn't show up, because then it allowed
me to, you know, to create not just music, but
how about why don't they create a way on how
we put out into the world, And then it's not
just me. If people show up, then all of a sudden,

we're doing it together, you know.

Speaker 3 (52:40):
And when you're paving the way for artists who come
behind you, you know, you're creating a new kind of
system or structure that people that can change people's minds
about the way that we consume music.

Speaker 4 (52:51):
So, yeah, if you think buying an album from an
artist for twenty dollars is helping. I appreciate it, but
it would be like giving a five percent or two
percent tip to a water.

Speaker 3 (53:03):
And one hundred dollars for an album that people get
the vinyl too.

Speaker 4 (53:06):
Well, you get the vinyl, you get the CD, and
you got a digital download and a way to listen online.
You get a lot for it. Yeah, if anyone's listening.
We have a lot of fun. I don't really like
emails and when people send out emails, but we do
have an email list that people can sign up for
and it's actually really fun. I tell I tell lots
of stories behind the album. There's so many crazy things

that have happened over the course, these small miracles. There's
just it's just a long string of small miracles. It's
the popcorn trail that lets you like, Okay, you know
I'm not crazy. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (53:42):
If you're an artist who an aspiring author, and you
know in your soul that you're an artist and you
want to make art and you want to put something
beautiful into the world, and you feel called to this
and you don't understand why, and you don't want to
build a freaking Instagram, Empire, and you don't want to
chase down publishers and agents. Go to Thad's website, buy
the music, sign up for his email list. Get inspired

that you're constant inspiration to me, and I know you
are to Matt too, just being in your all, it
feels like such a gift to us, so the feeling
is mutual, very much. Well, thank you before I officially
sign off, tell us where to go to get the
album and to sign up for the email list.

Speaker 4 (54:20):
You can just go to my website Thad Cockrel th
A D C O C k R e LLL Thadcockrell
dot com and everything is there for you.

Speaker 3 (54:29):
Sign up for the email list. By the album. It's
one hundred dollars very well spent.

Speaker 4 (54:33):
What the song are we going to play?

Speaker 3 (54:34):
What song do you want to play? I think we should.

Speaker 4 (54:36):
Start with the first song that I wrote that starts
the albums, called what If. When I was making my album,
I started writing screenplays. I was out in LA and
our mutual friend Don Donald Miller had had a book
turned into a movie, and he's like, I'm going to
send you the best two books that I've ever read
on screenplay, and I was reading this one book, and
it was the chapter on premise, And there's a sentence

that knocked me off my feet. And the sentence was
the premise to every great story begins with what if?
No no no no no no.

Speaker 6 (55:11):
No no no.

Speaker 4 (55:16):
No no no no no no no no no no
no no no.

Speaker 7 (55:32):
What he told you something I'm thinking, something I couldn't say,
And what is showed you?

Speaker 2 (55:49):
How I am feeling?

Speaker 5 (55:52):

Speaker 3 (55:54):
The won't go away? And what is the right words
come out.

Speaker 5 (56:04):
The wrong way, But the wrong way is the best
that I've got? What is the former? Let up the
mountains we climb?

Speaker 8 (56:19):
What if the skies opened up and the sun just
shine and all the pain we've ever known?

Speaker 4 (56:30):
Is the road that let us home to.

Speaker 9 (56:33):
Us like you giding in from above? What if we
followed the loving our hearts?

Speaker 5 (56:47):
What is.

Speaker 3 (56:51):
It's such a great place to start? No no, no, no
no no. I nor might not be.

Speaker 2 (57:14):
Everything you thought ahead in your mind. Every one of
get you, and the whole world stopped even trying. He smiles,

a revelation. I've got no.

Speaker 10 (57:41):
Hesitation, and you always been the bard of fom and
I think you're better than look word of the Father
shine up.

Speaker 6 (57:59):
The times we clown?

Speaker 2 (58:02):
What if the sky's up love and the sun just
shine all?

Speaker 6 (58:10):
May we never know from star that they saw to us.

Speaker 2 (58:18):
Like it got aa from a book? What did we follow?

Speaker 4 (58:27):
Looking our house?

Speaker 11 (58:30):
What such a grand place to start now?

Speaker 4 (58:44):
No no.

Speaker 6 (58:51):
No no no no no no no. You give me out, cockies,

you give me out there can give me? Can you

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