Artist Development

What is Artist Development?

Artist Development is a broad term that encompasses the many roles that used to be covered by managers and A&R departments at record labels.  You could also use the word mentor, consultant, or simply knowledgeable friend.  These people would help with whatever was required to maximize the success of their investment:  improving an artist’s songs, defining their image and brand, working on their show, planning and executing marketing strategies, booking gigs, building teams, securing publicity, deciding which opportunities to follow, planning tours, managing publishing rights, searching out licensing opportunities, and on and on.

Most record labels no longer invest in developing artists from raw material to marketable artist.  Artists are now expected to “develop” themselves.  The good news, however, is that there are now more resources to help artists do just that.

Some artist development resources are pricey online programs, packages that promise to make you a rock star or get you an “industry showcase”, expensive management with hefty contracts, or one-size-fits-all courses.  Others focus specifically on one aspect, such as online music sales, list building, branding, stage performance, or publishing.

We realized there is a lack of support for artists who don’t yet have careers that are lucrative enough to merit record label investment.  And we believe the activities of artist development are in many ways equivalent to personal development.  So we believe artist development is valuable to any singer looking to do more than sing in their bedrooms, and we love helping artists get to the next level – whether that next level is releasing their first album or developing enough leverage and fanbase to sign a favorable record deal.

Consequently, we offer affordable, one-on-one, hour-by-hour help covering just about everything under the Artist Development umbrella.  We won’t promise to make you rich and famous – that’s up to you, and a whole slew of other factors outside your and our control.  And no, we don’t promise to be as expert about, say, music contracts as an entertainment lawyer.  But we have deep enough knowledge of all of it, and enough experience both in the old and new music industries, to help you pick the right path through a very confusing, overwhelming maze of possibilities and advice. 

The biggest thing we can and do promise is to be on your side.  We believe that the best way for us to serve you – and stay in business – is to help you strategize how to use your time, money, and energy to maximize your chances of reaching your musical goals.  When the best path is working with another expert, we’ll give you referrals.

About Your Mentor:  Justin Leighton Long is a lifetime musician who was promoting and selling out large (300+) shows by the time he entered high school.  He got his band, No Address, signed to Atlantic Records, which resulted in a million-dollar recording contract (with the producer of Eagle Eye Cherry, Three Doors Down, Creed, and Jewel) and an 18-month national tour with bands like Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin before the old music industry tanked in the mid-2000’s.  He has worked in and owned recording studios in Florida and California; has performed, recorded, and produced a wide range of genres; and has coached and mentored scores of artists in Florida and at Performance High.

How Do You “Do” Artist Development?

We help artists tackle two main questions:

1. WHO do you want to become?
2. HOW will you become that artist?

The questions are simple, but the answers are not. Do you know what genre you are in? What your ideal show looks like? Whether you want to tour? Whether your songwriting is up to par? How about your show? Your recordings? Do you know how to book gigs, license songs, get them on the radio? Are you a member of a PRO? Do you know how to get people to your shows? Do you know how people make money in the New Music Industry? Do you know who to trust?

And the hardest question of all: Where should you start?

Once we get to know you, we’ll help you answer all of these questions and more. And we’ll keep you focused on what’s important, help you develop overall strategy plus specific tactics, help you set short-term goals, keep you encouraged, give you honest feedback, and help you find the resources you need each step of the way.

How does it work?

Artist development is by nature a customized activity.  As every client’s goals and personalities are different, so will their paths be.  For some people, artist development is little more than production or songwriting assistance to help them find their sound. For others, it is figuring out how to add a weekend music dream to an existing full-time career. For still others, it involves developing identity and brand across all channels, putting together and workshopping a killer live set, and working on strategies for an album release and fanbase building.

The pace is up to you.  We’ll move faster with more motivated students, and work at a slower pace if that’s what you need.  But whatever your level of commitment, we can help speed up the process and prevent wasted time by helping you ask the right questions and find the right answers.  Plus, there’s nothing to speed up your progress like having someone to be accountable to!

We’ll be honest:  we’re not going to do the hard work for you.  But we will help you make sense of the mountain ahead of you, help with your strategy to climb it, and stay by your side as you rise.

Our work is not the same with any two people. Topics – and the order in which we address them – vary depending on artist needs.  The pace we go is up to you.  The more motivated you are, the faster we will move.

Sample topics:

• Goal setting and priorities
• Identity – genre, personality, elevator pitch, “like” artists
• Branding – values, marketplace competition, visual branding, wardrobe, photography
• Songwriting, recording, production, mixing, and mastering
• Booking and promoting shows
• Vocal and guitar skills
• Show development and stage performance skills
• Promotion
• Networking and conferences
• Social media and websites
• Business structures and band partnership agreements
• Fanbase building
• Avoiding scams
• Musician streams of income – streaming, sales, licensing, crowdfunding, sponsorship
• Copyright, licensing, publishing, music libraries
• Marketing and PR – press, podcasts, interview skills, press releases

Who Benefits From It?

Although we’re happy to talk to anyone just to meet you and give you some practical starting advice, our most fulfilled clients are those who are already writing their own songs, have already performed on stage, and have already had some studio recording experience.  Most also play an instrument.

Below are short profiles of some of our recent artist development clients.

Leslie Tom, a classic country vocalist from Texas who moved to Nashville in her 20's – and who has signed autographs for lines of fans camped outside her shows in Europe – came to us to help her resume her career after leaving it on the back burner for family. We helped her regain her confidence, tune up her voice, and figure out how to restart her career.  Now she plays both nationally and internationally, and has collaborated with some of her music heroes.  She released her third album, the eponymously titled Leslie Tom, in 2017.
Leslie Tom, a classic country vocalist from Texas who moved to Nashville in her 20’s – and who has signed autographs for lines of fans camped outside her shows in Europe – came to us to help her resume her career after leaving it on the back burner for family. We helped her regain her confidence, tune up her voice, and figure out how to restart her career.  Now she plays both nationally and internationally, and has collaborated with some of her music heroes.  She released her third album, the eponymously titled Leslie Tom, in 2017.
Alden Groves / Evoke
Alden Groves (a.k.a Evoke) is an IDM / neuropop singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, and producer with a Soundcloud following of over 10K and multiple album releases under his belt. He came to Performance High to plan strategy for his next album release (due out early 2018) and live performances.
Andreas DeValera
An innately talented multi-instrumentalist from a musical family – and trained by the likes of Tower of Power’s keyboardist and Christina Aguilera’s guitarist – Andreas DeValera came to Justin to turn his prolific Dylan-esque songwriting and Gregory-Alan-Isakov-type voice into a bookable product. Through Andreas’ junior and senior years of high school, Justin worked with Andreas to define his image, build his website, and select, arrange, and perform his songs. Justin also procured several gigs for Andreas in the Denver area. Andreas is headed to Berklee in the fall of 2018.
Sydney St. George
Sydney St. George, a high-school ski-racing champion from Colorado Springs, was ready to pursue a new passion – and she was determined that music was next on her list. After working with Justin and Adrienne for a year on songwriting, vocals, and music career goal-setting, Sydney became one of only five artists to be accepted into an elite artist development intensive at Tom Jackson Productions in Nashville. She now lives in Nashville, co-writes regularly with top songwriters in the area, and performs and records her original music.
Cover to Cover Band
Justin worked in person with Seattle band Cover to Cover as they prepared to perform on their largest stage ever. He helped each band member understand their roles on stage at different times, and how to execute their roles for the most dynamic and interesting performance. They report feeling ten times as confident and engaging as before.
Donnie Schexnayder
Donnie Schexnayder is an accomplished guitarist and musician who felt like his voice didn’t match his music, and as a result he was having trouble pinning down his identity and sound prior to recording his second album. Justin helped Donnie define his brand and sound, which they ultimately termed “retro indie guitar rock.”

Donnie wanted to get the most out of his album budget by recording most of the studio at home, so Justin helped as needed with pre-production, production consulting for home recording, session musician selection, on-site production at an outside studio, and mix evaluations. Donnie now consults with Justin occasionally on post-release strategy to keep up momentum now that the album is complete.

See the video below, in the reviews section, of Donnie talking about his experience working with Justin.
Morgan Pittman
Morgan came to Performance High as a dissatisfied health-care worker with a burning desire to sing for a living. After two years of vocal work with Adrienne and several career strategy sessions with Justin, she learned to write songs, formed an active and in-demand cover band, learned to run live sound, and moved from Chicago to Nashville. She and her boyfriend, a recording engineer and guitarist, now gig several times a week, run live sound, record other artists in their home studio, and are recording their first album as Morgan Station.
Lee Clark Allen
Lee Clark Allen, an R&B/blues singer and pianist, came to us to rebuild his career after moving to Denver from Texas. He worked with Justin on song arrangement, ideas for promotion, and networking, and has exploded onto the Denver scene, playing his original music almost every weekend around the Front Range and being invited to New York City to showcase on terrestrial radio.
Kelly Augustine
Folk/Americana singer-songwriter Kelly Augustine came to work with both Justin and Adrienne right when she had started writing a song every week to push her songwriting chops to new heights. As she brought new gems to us every session, we gave her feedback and ultimately helped her plan her album. Justin worked on pre-production and session musician selection to help maximize her studio time with her favorite producer – who happens to live in Oklahoma, her home state. Her album is scheduled for release in 2018.
Jacob Larson
Over the last several years, Justin has worked with Jacob Larson on stage performance and songwriting. At age 19, having fronted his own soul/funk band for five years, Jacob is one of the most dynamic performers you’ll encounter in the Denver area. When he’s not working on his music business / music performance education at CU-Denver, you can find him singing at festivals, weddings and corporate events, sharing the stage with Colorado legends Hazel Miller or Chris Daniels, singing with the Performance High backing band or Adrienne O, or writing his third album with Justin.
Alma, whose first live performance was on the Red Rocks stage in front of several thousand revelers during the Global Dance Festival, came to Performance High to work on her stage performance and vocal skills before her first tour.
Alma, whose first live performance was on the Red Rocks stage in front of several thousand revelers during the Global Dance Festival, came to Performance High to work on her stage performance and vocal skills before her first tour.
Michelle Hawley Penfold
Hawley, a teen actress and dancer as well as pop singer, works with Adrienne and Justin to perfect her vocals and stage performance before her most important showcases. In 2016 she was a winner of the Stars of Tomorrow competition and in 2017 she performed at The Young Artist Awards in L.A. She has numerous commercials, films and voiceovers to her credit.

Hear It From the Artists

“Performance high is awesome! Adrienne and Justin are both amazing instructors who offer personal service, extensive experience and a professional atmosphere. It’s been a pleasure working with them and my son’s talents as a singer, songwriter, guitar player and performer have improved immensely with their guidance and commitment. Thanks!” – Maria P.

“Working with Justin twice a month on guitar and song writing! I have seen a huge improvement in my ability to craft songs and it has been so much fun!” – Drew F.

“Justin has established himself as a bit of a music star in these parts, where he’s made our live performances come to life with his enormous knowledge of music and performance.  Justin is an incredible guitar player with contagious enthusiasm and a passion for storytelling. He has my highest recommendation for taking classes at Performance High.” – Michelle P.

“Working with Justin was a fantastic experience that expanded my horizons as a producer and a musician. Justin’s depth of experience allows him to address big picture problems and help take songs from ‘good’ to ‘great.’ He has the ability to take you out of your comfort zone and make you take a sober look at your sticking points while still being a lot of fun to work with. It is invaluable to have a set of outside ears that you can trust. I really look forward to working with again Justin soon.” -Russell Hedman, Rocket Surgeons
“Working with Justin was a fantastic experience that expanded my horizons as a producer and a musician. Justin’s depth of experience allows him to address big picture problems and help take songs from ‘good’ to ‘great.’ He has the ability to take you out of your comfort zone and make you take a sober look at your sticking points while still being a lot of fun to work with. It is invaluable to have a set of outside ears that you can trust. I really look forward to working with again Justin soon.” -Russell Hedman, Rocket Surgeons

“I’ve been working with Justin Long doing artist development sessions and producing/recording, and he’s a great teacher and coach. He’s a humble, extremely talented guy and his teaching approach is thorough and focused on the needs of the student. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a guitar teacher or artist development coach!” – Donnie S.

“Working with Justin is my biggest step towards success in my music career. Not only does he give first-hand knowledge about working in the music business but he provides you with the comfort and confidence to really strive. He works with your individuality and caters to your needs – if you need to spend a month writing a song, then that’s what you’re going to do. When it comes to you and your music Justin has your best interests at heart. He helps you set goals and work towards those goals no matter how big or small. My experience with Justin has given me confidence and knowledge I couldn’t possibly have obtained without him. I look forward to continuing to work with Justin and hope others are as blessed as I am and get a chance to work with him.” – Jesse D.

“I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Justin on artist development and over this past year, and have had nothing but great experiences with him. Justin knows exactly how to meet the needs and goals of his students and I firmly believe he has our best interest at heart. Not only is he a mentor for up-and-coming artists but an exquisite guitar player whose accompaniment gives the artist the confidence and backing they need to really shine.” – Jesse D

“Jacob has been working with Justin now for 4 months.  Prior to working with Justin, Jacob spent a year under the instruction of a very well known song writer with multiple contributions to his credit on several gold and platinum records.  After a year I noticed that Jacob’s passion for song writing dwindled and he had not made much progress, so we decided to schedule some sessions with Justin.  After three sessions with Justin, Jacob seemed to have a ‘spark’ and passion about song writing that never existed.  I am not sure exactly what it was, but all of the sudden, Jacob was spending a lot of time writing on his own initiative (because he wanted to!).  […]  I asked Jacob why he likes to work with Justin.  Jacob said ‘because he is fun, patient, kind, helpful and easy to talk to.  He listens when I talk and explains things in a way that I understand them and I always know what I need to accomplish before our next lesson together’.  My son has received a lot of music industry instruction in the past.  I must say that I am amazed at what Justin has done with my child and I emphatically recommend him.” – John Larson
“Jacob has been working with Justin now for 4 months. Prior to working with Justin, Jacob spent a year under the instruction of a very well known song writer with multiple contributions to his credit on several gold and platinum records. After a year I noticed that Jacob’s passion for song writing dwindled and he had not made much progress, so we decided to schedule some sessions with Justin. After three sessions with Justin, Jacob seemed to have a ‘spark’ and passion about song writing that never existed. I am not sure exactly what it was, but all of the sudden, Jacob was spending a lot of time writing on his own initiative (because he wanted to!). […] I asked Jacob why he likes to work with Justin. Jacob said ‘because he is fun, patient, kind, helpful and easy to talk to. He listens when I talk and explains things in a way that I understand them and I always know what I need to accomplish before our next lesson together’. My son has received a lot of music industry instruction in the past. I must say that I am amazed at what Justin has done with my child and I emphatically recommend him.” – John Larson
“We have been working with Justin for 3 months now. He was hired as a songwriting coach, but has also been doing some informal band coaching for the band. He gives the band members the tools they need to accomplish their goals, breaking it down into individual tasks to make it easier and more manageable. He gives them ideas when they’re stuck, and new ways of looking at things, whether it’s a song they’ve been playing for a while, or a new riff, lyric, or melody, giving them motivation to move forward and guiding them toward their goal, and basically keeps them on track. He gets to know each member’s learning style and adjusts accordingly.” – Tricia K., mother of student in Our Generation (teen classic rock cover band)