#18 — Burt Blackarach — Music Man
Below the Line with James Beshara
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Who is Burt Blackarach? 00:00

He is a Grammy Award winning composer, producer, DJ, and sound engineer.


What is the expense of validation? 02:27

When making something creative, you want to take it to the next step and have someone on to believe in you. External validation makes you believe that you have "made it." In the case of Burt Blackarach, that meant getting a record label deal for his music.


What does publishing mean in the music industry? 05:36

Burt gives the scenario of a person writing a song and there’s 200% to share. He says that 100% is the recording. The remaining is split between publishing and performance. Doing a deal with a record label means that they get the master copy. The norm in the music industry is you give up your publishing or have someone buy it from you. You cannot publish a song without getting the publishing details cleared.


What did Burt’s parents do in the music industry that was unheard of? 07:50

They started their own publishing company. It was his mom that really looked into the details and encouraged her husband to do startup the business. Burt’s family has had their own publishing company since 1970.


How do you balance success and insecurities? 15:29

Burt states that balancing this line is constant and never goes away. Deep down, well-known and successful people still ask these types of questions, “How do I stay on top?” and “What do I do next?” He says that you cannot do it alone, but having strong support is one major key.


Why do bands breakup? 17:19

As an example, Burt states that for a band with five individuals, you can’t balance all five personalities. There is no scenario that shows a balance with multiple musicians.


Who are Burt’s biggest supporters? 21:26

His mom and his wife. Not once has his wife ever suggested that he should stop doing what he’s doing. Despite the doubts and consideration to focus on another career, Burt’s wife has been his anchor to encourage him to continue his music career.


What makes people jealous? 24:59

Burt states that people weren't jealous of him having money, but of the life that he lived, the things that he prioritized, and living the life he wanted was what people were jealous of.


What is something shared between founders and band members? 28:03

James Beshara says you can almost form a shared bond of insecurity and the need for validation. Sometimes, this is exactly what's needed to band together when times are difficult.


What are three stories that have shaped Burt? 29:16

One story was in the 80s, when Burt and his friend were popular DJs at high schools and the local L.A. area playing for parties.

His second story is of him BMX racing whenever he was younger. At one race, he crashed. Burt realized that if he stopped, he was holding himself back.

The last story is when he asked his mom for advice whenever he was around 12 years old. She told him that he’d figure it out and make the right choice.


How did Burt know what to charge when playing at parties? 31:22

Burt was told by his dad to charge as much as his mouth could say. Burt states how universal this answer is, and that there is no right or wrong answer that can come out of your mouth.


What completely opened up Burt’s world? 31:56

Another piece of advice that his dad told him was to know all kinds of music. At the time, he and his friend were both just stuck in their genre.


What happened when Burt discovered other types of music? 32:14

It completely opened up his world. He listened to jazz and deeper soul music. He started finding original samples to songs that he was already familiar with. Then, he started digging for more stuff, the things that no one else had, and wanted to make them fresh.


What has the exposure to jealousy or envy been like for Burt? 40:24

He states that he is lucky because he doesn’t feel envious or jealous of what other people have. His experience is not seeing it in front of him or identifying it. He states that reflecting on these times is what clued him in on the jealousy that was going on around him.


What are the two key components that are 50/50 in business? 46:22

The ability to create and the ability to utilize the scene and network. When jealousy and envy are in the mix, people fail to realize that they can leverage the networking ability.


How has L.A. changed since Burt was younger to his age now? 01:00:16

He states that one of the biggest things that has changed is that people complain a lot about gas prices. The air quality has also changed since then. He says that the area used to rely on smog alerts. These alerts let people know if it was safe to go outside.


What is something that you think about often, but don’t ever get the chance to discuss? 01:11:34

For Burt, it’s the psychology and mental side of the music business. The depression, insecurity of it, and trying to navigate all of it without having someone to bounce it off of.


How did Burt handle mental approaches that worked against him? 01:14:26

Burt restates how lucky he was to have his mom, wife, and writers with him. Their mentality was that they were going through this together, so they would figure it out. Even with that, there was still a level of stress with thinking that he was a failure, despite the revenue coming in.


What is something that you should want to do when it comes to new ideas? 01:19:34

When it comes to new ideas, you should get people naturally and organically interested in what you’re doing. You shouldn’t have to force an idea down someone’s throat. Things will fall apart and breakdown if you go through life forcing things on people.


What were some health issues that Burt had to overcome? 01:26:17

He tried to ease the pain by drinking or smoking. April 2016, he started to deal with the pain, and this lead him to be on his back in the floor for two weeks. Fast forward to September, the left side of his face was frozen, and a doctor diagnosed it as Bell’s palsy. Burt also faced other health issues rooted by stress in his life.


What caused Burt to stop drinking? 01:30:37

He got a DUI in 2011. Then, he promised that he would not get behind the wheel if there was a drop of alcohol on his breath. In 2016, after drinking and being far from home, he decided to drive home. Once home, he said he was never drinking again because he doesn’t trust himself if he couldn't keep his own word.


What should you do when you are given feedback or a compliment? 01:40:16

Burt says to not take anything personally. When someone gives you positive or negative feedback, often, they’re reflecting on how they feel onto you.


Why would people procrastinate as a form of self-medication? 01:45:35

James states that a person will medicate by procrastinating because they are unsure about how their actions will be received. They may even have internal doubts that will prevent them from turning an idea into an action.


How is procrastination perceived? 01:48:20

To James, he sees it as the silent killer of the soul. He says that when you create, you have experiments of truth that you wouldn’t have if you were hypothetically thinking about a situation.


How has Airbnb impacted Burt’s life? 01:51:00

Burt attributes Airbnb for him being able to achieve three of his biggest dreams in 2013 and 2014. By being able to stay in different parts of the world, he was able to create projects, spend money on the things he wanted to do, and could mentor others.


Why is it important to spend time each day to reflect on yourself? 01:59:02

Because you could become brainwashed by an idea. It’s important to set a window time for yourself in order to recenter and align yourself from brainwashed ideas that you've encounter in your life, such as ads or ideas from others.