Honest Career Advice for Artists, Labels, and Startups — Is earthprogram the Expert Tour Guide for the Music Industry Jungle?

  • Save

Music industry veterans (and identical twins) Jason Jordan and Joel T. Jordan originally founded earthprogram in 1996, relaunching it in 2020 with a guiding mantra to ‘give honest advice to everyone.’ The industry incubator offers expert consulting and business development services to artists, labels, startups, and ‘green’ investors.

For artists, earthprogram’s goal is to expand creative output and capture audience attention by strategically collaborating and marketing across multiple platforms. According to Jason, principal and cofounder of earthprogram, his team’s expertise and extensive network of music industry partnerships place it ‘at the tip of the spear’ with the right relationships.

In that vein, Jason revealed a collaboration with Virgin Music for distribution and IP protection, RoyFi for ‘no bulls—t funding options,’ and That Pitch ‘to supply music to sync and licensing companies.’

Apart from consulting and business development, other primary verticals include publishing and licensing via a joint venture with Empire, as well as sync and music distribution for qualified artists and labels. Just recently, earthprogram joined forces with DMN to further expand their footprint.

Earthprogram was born out of the realization that many artists are blatantly green about how the business actually works, with preconceived ideas causing them to make moves — early in their careers — that irreversibly destroy any chances of future success.

Jason relayed that multiple artists he met at Canadian Music Week were shocked that their tracks didn’t capture any attention on streaming platforms and that ‘no one cared about their music.’

What went wrong? “Playlisting is not a marketing strategy,” says Jason, explaining that musicians that had put their entire album online at once and ‘simply blew their investment when we could have strung that out over a year, and they could have built a story leading to a career on it.’

As for the potential of DIY platforms to kickstart artist careers, Jason agreed that it can be a great idea to do it yourself. However, artists shouldn’t ‘do it alone’ — because expert advice can help them ‘do it better.’

In an industry where a major label deal is considered a ticket to surefire success, Jason clarifies that the odds are not in favor of rising artists who want to build a career on the back of a viral track.

Jason dives into the practice of labels picking up successful or viral musicians with ‘predatory’ label deals. “Labels expect artists to arrive with an audience and team that’s ready to go,” he adds, explaining that on the contrary, earthprogram’s infrastructure and significant label knowledge cultivate an ecosystem where artists, musicians, writers, and producers can connect to the channels and resources they need to ‘produce high-quality content and distribute it commercially.’

“Rising artists have close to zero chance of ever being heard,” says Jason, adding, “Nobody is cheerleading for these artists, or going to a distribution company and saying ‘please put this on a playlist or get this to the right person at Spotify’.”

“That’s what we’re offering: the expertise and channel relationships to make all the difference,” relays Jason. The brothers forged these relationships over 30 years while holding key music industry leadership positions — but it all started in their parents’ basement.

After creating a ‘highly collectible hardcore punk label’ out of said basement — one that snowballed into a real business by the time they turned 18 — the duo experienced incredible success. As a result, Jason was only 20 years old when he became Director of A&R at Sony Music Entertainment’s Columbia Records.

From Columbia Records, Jason went on to serve as VP A&R at Disney’s Hollywood Records, President of Imagem Music Publishing, Senior VP A&R at Universal’s Republic Records — plus notable senior positions at ONErpm, Symphonic, and self-founded Watermark Records.

earthprogram is the 'expert tour guide for the jungle of the music industry,' helping artists strategize, and create content that matters/
  • Save

Creative director and cofounder of earthprogram, Joel T. Jordan — similarly driven from the pair’s basement punk label success — is also the founder and president of Synchtank, a cloud-based licensing and rights management platform launched in 2011 — with clients like NFL, ESPN, Vice Media, WMG, Disney, and more.

According to Mike Glaser, partner and General Manager of earthprogram, it’s essential to ‘bet on yourself’ and build something sustainable that can be embraced by multiple platforms — ‘instead of a shot up on TikTok and a quick 6-month burst of attention before you’re dead.’

Glaser calls earthprogram the ‘expert tour guide for the jungle of the music industry,’ helping artists strategize, create content that matters, and ‘figuring out exactly what is missing in the puzzle to get the results they’re looking for.’

The platform’s successfully incubated artists include Grace Gaustad, who was — not so long ago — barely scratching the surface of viral stardom. Today, Gaustad boasts over 25 million views on a 2018 cover song, released an album and multimedia experience titled BLKBX: What r u hiding?, has starred in a film of the same title, and was featured in 2021’s Stand Up For Heroes benefit alongside Bruce Springsteen and Brandi Carlile.

Then there’s earthprogram’s rising hard rock artist, Josh Lambert. Known for working with the likes of Sleeping With Sirens’ singer Kellin Quinn and North Ave Jax, Lambert has charted multiple times on iTunes in the Top 5, is rated among the top 50 artists on Chartmetric, and successfully toured twice with RIVALS. Lambert’s latest album, Escape from Alcatraz, released in October 2023 and gained critical acclaim for pushing forward the punk genre. Earthprogram continues to work alongside Josh on strategy and global distribution.

Jason emphasizes the importance of ‘having a plan,’ adding, “If there’s no strategy, nothing’s going to happen.”

Anyone considering diving into the music industry can leverage earthprogram’s network and experience to create a plan.

“We also like to say, ‘we have the map,’” Jason relays, adding that even though the consultancy runs the plan, ‘it’s the artists and creators helping create the plan, based on what they want strategically.’ Jason also reveals that earthprogram’s consultancy is ‘either high-touch or low-touch’ — depending on how much they want them involved.

“So we can be in their laps or at arm’s length; they can decide. If they don’t need anything beyond just a quick kick in the ass, we can do that too.”

Jason believes earthprogram’s strongest suit is its relationships with distributors ‘that make all the difference.’ “We have the same facilities as the majors. We know the same marketing people, techniques, and tactics. But we get the results faster.”

It’s common knowledge that rising artists rarely have the financial resources to invest in publishing and marketing — so paying for success consultancy seems like a stretch. On that front, Glaser reveals that earthprogram offers a hybrid of retainer fees or a percentage of earnings. “We have fair deals that are expedited though our funding partners without offering predatory record label deals.”

According to Glaser, artists who qualify for consultancy can advance their earnings without selling their rights, and earthprogram’s retainers are so small that anybody who’s serious about their career can benefit from the offering. “We offer packages that start at only a few hundred dollars all the way up — depending on what they need. We can provide something useful for everybody.”