Episode 015 – Joel Pierson on Branding and Business Models for Music Book Publishing

Subscribe on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play Music, or wherever you get podcasts!


Dr. Joel Pierson, founder of Sadsap Music and creator of the “You Suck at Piano” series, gives us an honest, behind-the-scenes look at how he raised $85,000 in his first Kickstarter campaign.

Joel tells us about the thought process behind setting a good Kickstarter budget, what it was like working with a PR firm, how crazy expensive international shipping can be, and some of the other surprises that came up along the way.

He also talks about his experience trying to get a publisher, being turned down, and then being pursued by a publisher after the early success of his Kickstarter and eventually working with them. Through all this, Joel shares his skepticism for the value of traditional music publishers in the 21st century.


  • When Joel noticed a lack of interesting method books for teens and adults, he decided to create his own book, injected with sarcastic humor, to make the whole experience more fun.
  • Joel opted to use Kickstarter to fund his book project. He set his funding goal at $8,000 so as not to appear pretentious, when he actually needed closer to 15-20k. He also didn’t charge as much to ship internationally because it is often more expensive than the product itself and deters the supporter. A risk that worked in has favor, receiving $85,000 in support.  
  • He also found that Kickstarter has proven to be a more effective means of selling the books, rather than going through a traditional publisher.
  • Use of a marketing firm allowed Joel to spend his time writing the books, rather than tracking facebook ads, getting address labels for shipments, etc.  
  • Packaging something to be “giftable” is one way to increase marketability of a product
  • In the beginning, turning a profit may not be the most important thing.
  • Learning to trust yourself to develop an idea and sort out the bad ones takes practice!
  • “There’s always room to take something that exists and flip it upside down.” – Dr. Joel Pierson, Sadsap Music


Previous Podcast: Episode 007 – Tara O’Brien on Manufacturing and Marketing a New Teaching Tool

Book: Let’s Panic About Babies by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

YouTube: Postmodern Jukebox

You Suck at Piano: A Piano Method Book for Adults 

You Suck at Piano 2: You Still Suck

Connect with Joel

Website: https://www.sadsapmusic.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/yousuckatpiano?lang=en

Previous Episode
Episode 014 – Attorney Shawn Bartley on How to Protect Your Studio, Get Paid, and Keep What You Earn
Next Episode
Episode 016 – Lance LaDuke on Building a Portfolio Career as a Musician