How To Kill The Game 101 – Five Lessons From Ru Johnson

On September 26th, the reputable Ru Johnson presented an engaging Masterclass. Johnson shared a farewell lesson to the city that she’s experienced such success. She was generous with the successes and failures she’s encountered on her way. Her message included tips on making your mark as a musician, leveraging your power, and finding success in the Mile High City.

Johnson’s “How To Kill The Game 101” presentation on surviving the mile high was a testament to her grind and what she’s learned from this city’s music scene. While we enjoyed her overall honesty and candidness in sharing her story – these are the top gems we took away


Be accessible by creating an organic internet presence. In this era of music, streaming and social media are how fans, talent buyers and record labels alike get in touch with your music. People need to be able to find you and your music online. The web can help build a network of people all over the world, accelerating the impact of your reach.


Learning how to leverage your power is very important. According to Ru, it’s not enough to build a fanbase but you must be able to realize when you’ve got leveraging power. Know your demographics and utilize data generated by platforms like Soundcloud to book shows and expand your brand. Use this data about your fans to help book gigs in Colorado and beyond.


Don’t get too caught up in the interwebs that you forget to connect with real people. Ru says “Get in the game, and kill it!”, you’ve got to connect with people in the real world. Passionate connections with the right people can propel your career, get out there and in front of your future fans. Connect and compete, Don’t rely solely on the internet presence that you’ve created. Your follower count ratio is less important than the people who’re willing to buy tickets and merch.


For a lot of artists, the major hurdle is playing paid gigs and getting booked for shows in major venues. Ru suggests working what she refers to as “the pipeline”. She says “In order to take bold, calculated steps, you must first know where you’re going.”

Start local, work your way up through the Denver circuit. This includes playing the smaller venues and proving you can attract a crowd. Once you’ve proven you’re worth your salt – you will inevitably attract the attention of talent buyers at the larger venues such as the Bluebird, Ogden, Summit Music Hall until you’ve reached the mile high dream of playing the Pepsi Center or Red Rocks. You don’t have to leave Denver to get success, though you should extend your network beyond the Mile High. Don’t get stuck in your local success.


Ru accredited her success to being realistic – “I am not a jack of all trades, I don’t do everything, although many people would like to say that” she says. Being able to do a few things very well is better than trying to do it all. For a young artist, it is imperative that you learn how to do everything yourself, to get a realistic approach to what it takes to accomplish those goals.  You won’t be naturally good at everything you set out to do, however learning from your failures will lead to your future success. Don’t think that you’ll be an overnight success without putting in some work yourself!

Once you’ve generated a steady income, it is time to expand. Find a team that can help you stay on top of things like a publicist, a manager, or booking agent. However, be sure you’re realistic in your goals and milestones in your career.