Have more than one goal in the music industry — At first, all I wanted to do was be an artist. That was it. Then I began producing other artists, and shortly thereafter engineering (recording/mixing) other artist’s material. I also teach music professionally. When those things started happening, I realized that all of a sudden, I actually had money in my bank account from music; I made it past the old cautionary tale of “the music industry is tough to break into;” I was so focused on being successful as an artist that it hadn’t yet occurred to me that I was actually having above average success in all of the things previously mentioned and it was all music related. Having these multiple revenue streams allows my personal music goals such as becoming an artist, or developing a music related app possible, because I actually have money from music that I can re-invest as I see fit.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Connor Weinstein.
Always with a green tea in hand, LA-based award-winning artist and music producer CONNR (Connor Weinstein) actively produces records for artists through his company 137 Productions in addition to recording with a new band (debuting in 2021) and his music as a solo artist after a 2-year hiatus with his band, Next Door to the Moon. CONNR has managed to notch up multiple award-winning singles and music videos and has his music featured on prominent playlists. As a session musician, he has played guitar with Thirty Seconds To Mars and performed on the same bill as Halsey, Walk The Moon, K.Flay, and more. CONNR is taking a step in a new direction musically as a solo artist, with a mixture of pop, alt-rock, and hip hop elements making up most of the sound. “Cynical Love” — a modern, dynamic pop song produced by Will Pugh (Cartel/Taurids), is available now, with a brand new single, “Feels So Good,” dropping February 26th, 2021. CONNR is also in early pre-production with a brand new alt rock band set to debut in 2021. In addition to all of his musical accolades, CONNR manages to raise his daughter full time, study for his real estate license, keep an eye on the family eye-wear business, all while pursuing an exciting trajectory in his musical journey.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! Let’s see, where do I start? I grew up in Carpinteria, CA — born and raised before moving to LA when I was 17. My Dad ran a sunglasses business that he had started from the ground up, and my Mom became a stay at home parent when I turned 3, after being a full time worker for over 20 years. I went to a few different schools growing up but it was never really my thing — I did pretty good but I had a lot of trouble focusing on my tasks. I pretty much only cared about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings as a kid. When I discovered my passion for playing guitar at about 11 years old, it was all over for me; I couldn’t put it down — still can’t.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was in 5th grade, all of my friends got super into Green Day’s “American Idiot” album. They showed it to me and I became hooked instantly; the band and that album just stood for something that made me feel like I could really just take on the world. I decided I wanted to learn how to play a Green Day song for this girl who I really liked at the time, so I asked my Dad (also a guitar player) to teach me “Blvd Of Broken Dreams.” For all the guitar players out there, the song is in the key of F minor, so for learning purposes he transposed it down to E minor — Even so, it took me literally all day to get that chord down, and I would say that’s gotta be technically one of the easiest chords ever. Once I got it down, I just couldn’t stop playing guitar. I’d get up before school to play, and when I got home I’d pretty much skip out on homework and just play guitar until I was practically forced to go to bed. One day, my parents surprised me with tickets to see Green Day at the Home Depot Center on their American Idiot tour; It changed my life and I decided from that point on that my life was music.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There’s a lot of interesting stories. I guess the most interesting story is performing with Thirty Seconds to Mars at the Forum in Los Angeles — that was a wild dream come true.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake… Let’s see… Well, I suppose early, early on, like when I was still a pre-teen or early teenager, I probably tried to be Billie Joe Armstrong to an embarrassing extent. The lesson here is just to take inspiration from whomever but always be yourself. People seem to have little tolerance for copycats these days.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Currently, my main project is my alternative indie rock band which will be unveiled in the coming months. This particular project has been in the works for over a year and I’m really excited to finally get our music out there. Aside from that, obviously I still drop solo singles now and again, including the upcoming single, “Feels So Good” which will drop on February 26th, 2021. I also produce a number of artists in a wide variety of genres through my company 137 Productions. Lastly, I am in the process of developing an app, but I can’t drop any further details about that just yet!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is a positive step forward, not just in the entertainment industry but really in all industries. Our culture has sadly grown accustomed to the way things have been, and the world is ready for a change that normalizes vast diversification. Three reasons… 1. To normalize diversification, 2. To create an empowering environment that has no barriers for anyone interested in participating in a certain field or career path and 3. To remove once and for all any remaining pieces of a broken, biased system that has in the past favored a lack of diversification.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Release content regularly — I used to be and really still am such a perfectionist that it would sometimes take months before I felt comfortable making anything available for others to see or hear. It’s really important to get content out in a consistent way. It has to be good and meaningful, but the hustle with getting it out there faster and more efficiently really makes a big difference.
- Care more about money — When I first started really getting out there and promoting my music, I would throw whatever money I had at anything that sounded promising from the way it was marketed to me. I came to the realization that I don’t want to be broke trying to promote my music, and quite frankly, I don’t want to be broke in general. I’ve found a way to make a great living producing music and I’m able to wisely invest and reinvest in myself in ways that actually have a measurable return. I don’t fall for scams anymore.
- Don’t follow trends — I used to really care a lot about how the pendulum swung in the music industry. I’ve learned that while it’s important to be aware of what’s going on and maybe fuse a little bit of that in your production, by and large following a trend is just going to date your music. If you stick with what moves you as an artist, you’ll always be happy with the result, and I think you’ll have more longevity because of it.
- Don’t play at “pay to play” venues — With very few exceptions, this is a bad idea, especially if you’re an artist first starting out. You’re going to sell tickets to friends and family members who want to support you, but you won’t be gaining any fans that way. I can remember a time when I was 17 in a band and we got a gig playing at the Whisky A Go Go; Our drummer had to spend an entire paycheck on his share of the tickets because he didn’t sell them. A few years later, I played a show at The Canyon Club in Agoura with another project and a similar situation happened. It’s just not worth it — a lot of risk for low, if any, return. That said, if you have a massive fan base, you do technically have a shot at breaking even or even making a profit, hence my “few exceptions” comment. Even then, by that point, it’s likely the promoter/venue would just pay you to play at that point, bypassing the need to sell tickets altogether.
- Have more than one goal in the music industry — At first, all I wanted to do was be an artist. That was it. Then I began producing other artists, and shortly thereafter engineering (recording/mixing) other artist’s material. I also teach music professionally. When those things started happening, I realized that all of a sudden, I actually had money in my bank account from music; I made it past the old cautionary tale of “the music industry is tough to break into;” I was so focused on being successful as an artist that it hadn’t yet occurred to me that I was actually having above average success in all of the things previously mentioned and it was all music related. Having these multiple revenue streams allows my personal music goals such as becoming an artist, or developing a music related app possible, because I actually have money from music that I can re-invest as I see fit.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Aside from the advice listed above, really just believing in your craft and not ever giving up. There’s a lot of talented people out there and I’m of the mind that if you work hard and what you have to offer is meaningful, there is very likely an audience for it. As far as not burning out, just being smart about how you handle successes seems to be a way to maintain longevity.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ha! I would not say I’m a person of enormous influence, but I’ll take it, why not! 🙂
It’s a loaded question, but I suppose my answer in short would be a movement to push forward progressive policies — universal health care, leveling out unfair wealth inequalities, ending discrimination, criminal justice reform etc. I feel strongly that that is the way of the future.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In a world where most parents would want their kid to go to college and get a “real job,” when I told my parents that that wasn’t in the cards for me, they both encouraged me to pursue music — I will always appreciate that they were more concerned about me following my dreams and passion than taking the more traditional route.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is, “It is what it is.” I’ve just had so many things happen in my life that were unexpected, and that quote just puts things in perspective; that you can’t control everything that happens around you, and that sometimes certain choices can have outcomes one might not expect. Many times these outcomes wind up being good, just again, unexpected. It’s a great quote to graciously accept something if it’s out of your hands, because worrying about it won’t help much.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
This is an easy one — Paul McCartney. He changed the world of music — it would be an honor to meet him.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you for having me!