American Idol is not the only way to ‘make it.’

20Feb09

I talk with musicians and singers all the time. Many of them say the same thing, “I want to make it.” I think what many of these people are saying is that they want the perceived lifestyle of a ‘rich and famous’ recording artist. They want millions of fans and millions of dollars. Oh, life would be easy and grand. Anyone see Britney Spears “On the Record?” What a sad life Britney now has….she can’t go anywhere by herself. Everyone around her tells her what to do, she can’t do what she wants. She has photographers crowding her everywhere. Yeah, she is rich and “living the dream.” Fun at first, I’m sure, but some dream. I also here people all the time that see American Idol as the ONLY way to ‘make it.’

I think what each and every artist needs to do is define what ‘making it’ is. It is fine to have lofty goals and dreams, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. It is amazingly possible to make money and a career in music, even if you aren’t wildly famous, or rich. It isn’t all about a record deal. It all starts with doing it, and not waiting for someone to do it for you. Starting a music career is starting a business. Launching a career is not at all different from opening a store. You have to have a product, you have to get people ‘in the doors’, you have to invest, and it can take a lot of time to get up and running. If someone started a flower shop, you would study everything you could on how to start a flower shop. What equipment should you buy? What training do I need? How do I track expenses, revenue? When launching a music career, the business side is more important than the creative side. There are millions of creative people making great works, but without a strong business background, no one sees or hears it except for the walls of their apartment. How many times do you hear something on the radio and say, “I am better than that!” You probably are, creatively, but you are not marketing yourself the way they did.

Singers and songwriters need to stop chasing after record deals and American Idol and start chasing after fans. Don’t just study the music business, study every business. Then it is up to you to apply those concepts to your music. At the same time you have to be working on your craft, everyday. No excuses, you either work on it or you don’t. By working on something you love, you will always find success. You will be rewarded and you may even be lucky enough to sign some autographs.

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