Jonathan Wright is a self-made singer and songwriter who has gotten 100,000 streams on Spotify on his music. He’s a worship leader/youth pastor at his church in Danville, VA, but makes music in his studio at home during nights and weekends.
His sound is similar to “Gable Price & Friends” and “Rivers & Robots” but with an 80s-style sound. Today, he’s going to answer some questions about his music and how he reached 60,000 streams on his last album on Spotify. When not making music, you can find him spending time with his wife at a local coffee shop.
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Listen to Jonathan’s music on Spotify:
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[00:01:10.500] – Seth
I love that. Well, great. We’re not going to waste any time. We’re going to jump right in. So tell me about you and your music and your music creation.
[00:01:21.210] – Jonathan Wright
It’s so interesting because you and I have had so many conversations in the past, but we haven’t maybe talked about this part, but my family growing up, we did a lot of music stuff just together in general. My younger brother played the drums. My older brother played guitar. My dad played guitar. My mom played piano. And so we just kind of, like, always were doing music stuff. And then I don’t know, it kind of got to this point where that quickly turned to, like, this is my hobby that I do, and then my brothers are, like, skateboarding or doing other cool things that was just, like, recording. And so, yeah, I kind of just started by posting free stuff on YouTube, SoundCloud, all of that, and most of it was, like, covers. And then I started trying to write my own stuff, maybe late high school into college kind of thing. And yeah, I don’t know. It is weird to hear the numbers that you mentioned, though, even see them. I’m like, what is going on? I don’t know what to do with this. I make all of it here in this room, actually, and it’s a mess right now, so I’m not going to show you everything.
[00:02:38.130] – Seth
Well, no worries on that one. My office is a little messy, too. So you said you were working on the live stream, you’re working on the sound streams and doing your music creation, but how long has it taken to reach this 100,000 streams as a musician?
[00:02:54.970] – Jonathan Wright
Yeah, I was trying to think about that. That’s like a hard question because there are so many factors to it and it obviously hits in wait, right, so my first stuff that I even released to Spotify or whatever, I might have had like two monthly listeners, one being myself and the other being someone random somewhere. I don’t know, if you’re out there contact me, that would be amazing. It was kind of like slow and then probably two years ago was when it started gaining some traction and suddenly it just was like this very consistent climb and then all of a sudden you pass 100,000. You’re like, that’s like a big number. That’s kind of scary. But yeah, that was kind of like, you know how long did it take? I mean, it took every bit of six years, but then it just hit this all of a sudden where you start climbing really fast. So I would say maybe a fair number would be two years. Otherwise it was kind of like very stable.
[00:04:12.590] – Seth
Well, that’s great. I’m going to throw you a curveball. What things have you done to promote your music in that two years to reach this 100,000 streams? Would you say you’ve done anything unique or is it all just been kind of consistent?
[00:04:26.470] – Jonathan Wright
I think I was very scared to promote my music at all for so long. Like, I was very self-conscious. I still get in my head sometimes about it because it’s you’re creating something and you’re putting it out there and being like, this is a part of me, please don’t hate me, that kind of idea. But I guess at first it was just kind of like actually letting the people that I knew know that I was doing something, actually posting about it. And then it started kind of this word of mouth system. And then after a little bit I thought, well, I need to contact people who are doing playlisting and say like, hey, I have this song and I exist. You should throw it on your playlist. And that’s like one of the weirdest ways. But I just would go on Spotify and look at the username of a person with a playlist that had a decent amount of people on it and I would say, I wonder if their Spotify username matches like their Instagram username. And so reach out to them that way and be like, hey, you probably get this a lot, but you should throw my song on.
[00:05:43.560] – Jonathan Wright
And people were super cool about it and so they started putting my music on their playlist and then that would kind of snowball.
[00:05:52.150] – Seth
That’s a great thing for any young musicians out here, making the music a good PR population way to kind of get your music out into a playlist. So that’s great. It’s a great snippet to take away. What would you say your biggest challenge has been in music creation and what have you done to maybe overcome that?
[00:06:18.970] – Jonathan Wright
I think probably my biggest challenge would be… Trying to balance the promotion right there’s. Like the battle in my mind of like, oh, I don’t want to annoy people by telling them about my music. But then that’s kind of an unreasonable thing to think because people are interested to know. And so it’s like fighting off that idea of like, why I shouldn’t say anything and actually promoting myself and actually stepping out there and sending people links or saying, you should presave this song, you should do this because at the end of the day, people won’t listen if they don’t know it exists. That and I think just the sheer amount of musicians that are out there. It’s such a like dense market to where it can quickly become like discouraging when you are trying to fish your way through onto playlists with contacts and stuff like that, where you’re like, man, I am up against so many other people that are doing this. So it starts to become like, what is unique about what I’m making or what is interesting, what should I focus on with promoting it? That’s like a long answer, but I would say that just being willing to put myself out there in that way is probably the most challenging part of it, for sure.
[00:07:53.700] – Seth
Well, yeah, and no one’s going to hear your music unless it’s promoted by you or another person. It’s a great way to be discovered. So that’s a very valid challenge. But it’s one that as a musician, it’s kind of a double edged sword. You have to do it, otherwise no one’s going to listen.
[00:08:11.610] – Jonathan Wright
So awkward sometimes just like, hey man, you should listen to this song at it. And he’s like, who are you? And you’re like, look man, I don’t even know it yet. So it can be very awkward at times. And then at the same time it is such a subjective thing. Like some people really like your music. Some people are like, this isn’t really my style. And so you have to be like, at the same time emotionally prepared for a person to be like, no, it doesn’t fit what I like. And then you’re like, oh, that would hurt. Tell me that.
[00:08:50.600] – Seth
But no one says that to you, Jonathan.
[00:08:53.770] – Jonathan Wright
I’ve had it happen, I’ve had it happen. I’m trying to remember. Yeah, there’s like a playlist that I reached out to and sent it to them and they were just like, I think the mix is bad. And I was just like, oh, that one hurts me too, because I did.
[00:09:09.250] – Seth
All the production of a one man band.
[00:09:15.230] – Jonathan Wright
It’s for funny. That’s good. You just kind of get to a point where you’re pretty okay with it and you’re like, that’s fine, I get it.
[00:09:22.820] – Seth
[00:09:24.580] – Jonathan Wright
[00:09:25.380] – Seth
What advice would you give to a musician starting out and wanting to get their music out there?
[00:10:00.090] – Jonathan Wright
Oh, man, I mean, just start doing it in general. There’s so many ways to distribute music now that are affordable and easy to use. There’s distro kid sound drop is another one. CD Baby is another one. It feels weird to say CD Baby, but it’s super easy. You just record your song upload, it there.
For it to distribute out to all these streaming platforms and I think almost view it like a bucket list. That’s how I started. I was like, I want to do this. To say I was able to do it, not so much to get a ton of streams, but just to say that I actually committed all the way through. And so, like, my first album came out in 2013 or 14. So bad. It’s so bad. I go back to listen, I’m like, oh, Jonathan, what were you doing by bad this way? But I’m glad I did, because you just slowly improve over time and you learn things that you don’t like how they sound, and you start watching tutorials or you start talking with other people through the connections you make, and they teach you stuff. So my advice would be just start, because you’re going to miss out on learning so much if you are just sitting back and not actually taking a step into it and trying. And you don’t have to have much to do it. You just need a microphone and a computer and you can make it happen.
[00:11:19.050] – Seth
That’s good. Sometimes just starting is the best mode, end, if you will, but you just got to start.
[00:11:26.330] – Jonathan Wright
[00:11:28.030] – Seth
What things do you do, Jonathan, to get your creative juices flowing? When it comes to music creation.
[00:11:37.230] – Jonathan Wright
It hits kind of in waves, like the streams I was saying, it goes up and down, but I always end up in this mode. After I’ve released a project, like last year, I released the album and the day it came out, I looked at Kristen and was like, I’ll never be able to write another song again. It’s over. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. And it was like three or four months where I didn’t record a single thing. I didn’t sit down and try. And I think that’s pretty normal to have kind of dead zones of creativity. And then all of a sudden something will hit and you’ll be like, oh, I’ve got to sit down and try to record this. And that’s kind of what happened with the project I’m leading towards, is that I kind of like all of a sudden it heard a sound or something like that. And then I sat down and started messing with it and the computer, and then I was like, Man, I think that this would be a song. And then it starts snowballing into it. So most of the time, the inspiration for it comes from actually sitting down and sitting at the piano.
[00:12:55.310] – Jonathan Wright
Sorry, my phone is going crazy. I hope you can’t hear that. But I usually like to sit down at a piano and we’ll just mess around with some chords, some different sounds until something kind of hits. And most of the time I’m writing the music before I write a lyric or something like that. So that’s just kind of what happens. Now. I also tend to lean towards concept albums, like where one single idea flows through it. And so this one that I’m working on right now, I’m trying to focus each song on an area of conviction that I feel like I’m really bad at. So there’s kind of that flow of feeling to where when you sit down, you’re like, what does that feeling sound like? And you start working on it. Sometimes I try to go an opposite route where I’m like, this is a really sad concept. So I’m going to make this song overly happy sounding because that would be interesting. So inspiration can kind of come from like a bunch of different places, but for the most part, I think just sitting down at an instrument and just playing until something sticks.
[00:14:12.350] – Jonathan Wright
Humming while you’re doing it is a pretty big deal. There’s like a method called the kitchen sink method where you sit down and you’re like humming or singing gibberish until something hits, like a syllable. And sometimes that literally just triggers it. And you’re like, I’ve got a song. Like, this is it. This is what it sounds like. And that’s really nice when it happens. Yes.
[00:14:43.690] – Seth
That’S great. Well, again, it goes compliments your last point of saying you just have to start and you may go through those periods of dry season. So creativity is hard process in design or in music, but as part of the process, that’s great. What are you most proud of? Or what is your highest point in your music creation, in your history of music creation?
[00:15:11.950] – Jonathan Wright
Oh, man. I’ve had a couple of times where other artists that I kind of, like, respect have heard a song of mine and have reached out saying, like, hey, I like it. And in those moments, you’re just like, what is going on? What has just happened? I don’t know what’s going on with this? I feel strange. I feel awkward. And then you also become very nervous because you’re like, oh, no, the people I like have listened to my music. Now I’m going to be paragon, but those are really interesting times. And then literally this past weekend, I was at a youth conference. I don’t think I told you about this yet. I was at youth conference and this random team walks up to me and she’s just like, are you jot off the right? And I was like, yeah. And I thought she was going to ask me a question about the schedule of the event or something like that. And she’s just like, can you sign this? I listened to your music. And I was like, what? I felt really awkward in that moment. I was like, are you sure? And she’s like, yeah.
[00:16:26.110] – Jonathan Wright
I was like, all right. So I signed it back. That’s awesome. So that was cool. But I think I definitely have something that I feel like is like, the most meaningful thing was I got a message when I put out the album, when it had been out, like, a couple of weeks, I got a message from someone on Instagram that it was her and her husband had just gotten back from vacation and found out that one of his family members had passed away while he was on vacation. And so she said that they had like a five hour drive home and that he very specifically requested to listen through my album because he thought that it would make him feel better. And so they sent me a message thanking me. And I was just like, what is your address? I’m sending you a shirt, I’m sending you a CD. I think probably that sticks out to be like the most meaningful, for sure, just to know that it made, like, a difference for someone.
[00:17:37.330] – Seth
Yeah, because it’s more than just getting 100,000 streams. You are being impactful to one person who is influenced and comforted by your music.
[00:17:46.760] – Jonathan Wright
So that’s exactly awesome. I read that message and just started crying. I was like, they meant something to somebody.
[00:17:56.150] – Seth
Again, it goes back to start something. Right. So that’s great. What things would it be? Emails or websites do you subscribe to continually learn in your industry of music?
[00:18:13.310] – Jonathan Wright
There’s one that I use so much that it’s just a YouTube channel called Make Pop Music. And it’s not all pop music that he walks through and does production tips up, but it’s all sorts of genres. And he’s just so good at taking time and walking through steps and sounds and how to EQ and how to get all of these sounds out that you don’t like or that you don’t want, or how to make it sound a similar vocal style to a song that you like. And he has an email, like, newsletter that he sends out that’s so good. And he has kind of like books, like ebooks that you can get from him. And he’s probably the one that I listen to the most and watch the most and read the most of. And then there are a few other YouTube channels that I kind of will go towards. There’s one called Mixology. That’s a website that really is helpful with marketing and with mixing and all of that stuff. And then there is a page called Poddex that it’s a podcasting company, but he does a lot of resources on social marketing and things like that that he kind of will post reels and they’re super helpful.
[00:19:44.350] – Jonathan Wright
And so those would probably be the main ones. And yeah, it’s pretty great, but definitely Make Pop Music is the biggest help.
[00:19:55.710] – Seth
Yeah, it was a great, helpful tools. How can these viewers, listeners, support you and your music?
[00:20:03.410] – Jonathan Wright
I mean, just you can stream it jonathan Allen Wright on wherever you’re listening and then follow me on Instagram and TikTok. That’s where it’s happening. I love posting there. It’s a good time. And yeah, I think that’d be it. It’s just at Jonathan A. Wright and Alan Wright, as one long username feels long. I was like, let’s just go with.
[00:20:28.190] – Seth
The initial, just the A. Right? Well, great. Do you have any final words for our audience? Any final advice, any tips or anything like that?
[00:20:37.150] – Jonathan Wright
No, I mean, just get out there and start doing it. Have fun with it. I think having fun with it is, like actually enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to suddenly be just getting millions of streams right away, like, make music and content that you actually enjoy creating and do it for that reason. And then anything that comes along that is, like, boosting it and helping it and promoting it, just enjoy it, have a good time with it, and let your personality show through it as well. You and I have had that conversation before. It’s like just letting people actually kind of see who you are as a person so that they don’t feel like they’re getting, like, some weird fake version of you on there and in your music. So be authentic. So that would be it. Have fun, be authentic. Enjoy it. There they are. Awesome.
[00:21:39.420] – Seth
That’s a great advice. Well, thanks, Jonathan, for chatting with me. And this, if you’re still listening, will be on my website, seth Kingdom.com Podcasts or podcasts. It will also be transcribed into an article. If you’d like to read it later. I’ll share that link with you, Jonathan, but bonvoyage.
[00:22:00.550] – Jonathan Wright
Take bonboya. I love the sign off there. Appreciate it, Dean. This is fun. All right, brother. We’ll take care. Bye.