Based in Los Angeles, California, Dan Avidan is a musician who has released more than a dozen albums with four different bands since 2004. He has been lead singer of Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb since 2009 and 2013, respectively, and previously was the lead singer of Skyhill and The Northern Hues. With Ninja Sex Party, Dan Avidan writes and performs sexually-charged comedic tunes under the stage name Danny Sexbang alongside longtime collaborator Brian Wecht, who portrays his best friend, Ninja Brian. The band has released seven albums, including an album of covers of Men at Work, Def Leppard, Prince, Peter Gabriel, and Bee Gees. It peaked at No. 42 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
Starbomb is a similar comedic endeavor, but its songs parody video games. Song titles include “Atari Mystery Hour,” “Mortal Kombat High,” “Robots in Need of Disguise,” and “The New Pokérap.” Dan Avidan acts as singer-songwriter for the band, which also features Wecht and Arin Hanson. They have released three albums, all of which have charted on the Billboard 200. Avidan has also been featured on songs by bands like Night Runner, Skyfactor, and Tupper Ware Remix Party.
Avidan has achieved much of his success through digital media channels. Ninja Sex Party’s YouTube channel has more than 1.34 million subscribers, while many of its videos have more than 10 million views. Since 2013, Dan Avidan has also been co-host of the Let’s Play web series Game Grumps, which has more than 5.35 million subscribers. As part of the popular show, he and co-host Arin Hanson play console and board games, sometimes with celebrity guests. Avidan also co-hosts the web series Grumpcade, Steam Rolled, and Table Flip, all of which are on the Game Grumps platform. He has also appeared in other web series such as On the Spot, Red vs. Blue, and Good Mythical Morning.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The band I am a part of, Ninja Sex Party, came about after years of having a lack of success in the individual fields of music and comedy. This band was the realization that those two skill sets could be combined into one project. By utilizing the best of both worlds, we were able to create our own niche in the entertainment world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There’s no steady “typical day” when it comes to being a musician. There will be certain periods of a year where you’re working on new music, others when you’re on tour, and everything in between. For our band, our strength comes from setting up goals that let us know what to aim for 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months into the future. Once you’ve established those tentpole marks that you’re trying to hit, you can work backwards and design each day to work in service of those particular goals.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The best part of having an established band is a fanbase that will allow you to experiment. Often, we will write a song with a music video in mind, and then simply imagine what we would like to see happen visually during each line of lyrics. From there, we write a treatment for a potential director, and then execute our vision in music video form.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I like that a lot of the power in the music industry has been taken out of the hands of major labels. Although finding an audience at the beginning can be difficult, being an independent creator is terrific because you don’t have non-musicians coming into the studio and making creative decisions for you.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
This might seem like a strange answer, but meditation is a big one for me. Everyone who creates anything online inevitably has to deal with negativity, and the ability to find peace amidst that is very important. You have to be able to tune everything else out so you can concentrate on your work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that not every decision you make will automatically lock you into a set path for the rest of your life. Life is long, and you will have many opportunities to change course if necessary. So in this moment, you can just trust your instincts and make what you feel is the right move.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That nobody else cares about your dreams. I know that sounds harsh, but the nature of individual dreams makes it impossible for anyone else to feel the same way about yours that you do. I actually think that’s an empowering outlook, because it means it’s up to you to make it happen!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I constantly update my goals and take stock of where I’m at on a week-to-week basis. Sometimes it feels like overkill, but things shift, and life constantly gets in the way. It’s important to refresh your outlook on a near-constant basis, based on where things stand.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listening to the fans has been big for us. Oftentimes, they’ll tell us exactly the type of music or show that they’d like to hear from us. With something like YouTube, it’s very easy to tell what’s working and what isn’t. People essentially vote with their views. I would imagine it’s a similar situation with customers in a business setting. Social media has made it extremely easy to gauge the opinions of a fanbase if you care enough to listen.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In a sense, the entire first 10 years of my career was a failure. I spent a lot of years playing shows to empty clubs and recording albums that no one would hear. I overcame it by getting serious and taking a course in career management. I realized I needed to focus on the business aspect of music instead of just the creative part, which was pure fun. The motto of the school where I took the course was “Talent is only half the equation,” and I couldn’t agree more with that.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I recently read a book by Dr. William Li called “Eat to Beat Disease” and was extremely impressed by its science-based approach to health and nutrition. I think that a restaurant or food delivery service based on his research that specifically caters to people attempting to heal their bodies from specific ailments through targeted nutrition would be very successful.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best money I ever spent was paying the $100 fee to rescue my dog from a local animal shelter. Very rarely can a hundred bucks improve multiple lives so much.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I think the analytics back-end of YouTube is an extremely helpful program. It allows you to observe data about your channel, and when you’re cultivating a base of supporters, it’s very important to know who they are, where they’re from, and what their interests are. Analytics like that allow you to find a balance between creating things that both you and your fans can appreciate.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I think “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere” is an outstanding work. It’s sort of an introductory book to Buddhism. I realize that may be a strange choice for people who are expecting to hear about a business book, but I think so much of being successful in any endeavor is understanding yourself and the world around you. I found this book particularly enlightening in that regard.
What is your favorite quote?
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin
- Success in business is not just about the mastery of a business plan, but the mastery of yourself.
- Very big life changes can come from very small decisions.
- There is always time to change course and adjust things for the better as time goes on.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.