...SO YOU WANT TO BE A STAR...NOW
REALLY? The cold hard reality of the
entertainment business and how to be successful in it.
by Peter Carli - Copyright © 2002, 2014 - Radiation
Room - Revised 1/26/2014
Before you get your audition DVD, USB stick or
videotape made and contact me or anyone else about being "the next big
thing", take a moment and ask yourself these questions.
How badly do you want a career in the world
of music and entertainment? Are you willing to invest the
necessary time and effort to make yourself a viable performer?
Do you have a strong work ethic?
Do you have access to the necessary financial
resources needed to launch your career? (Everything from new stage
clothes to legal services costs money.)
Are you willing to sacrifice your free time in
order to perfect your craft? (This includes giving up some of your
social life as well.)
Do you have the resolve to "tough it out" during
the hard times? (There will be plenty of them as you get your career
started and then some.)
Are you willing to keep yourself free of
illegal drugs and not abuse alcohol?
Are you a responsible person who can take care
of his/her obligations in a timely manner?
Do you have a special talent that the world
If you answer "No" to any of these, then
don't waste your time pursuing a career as a music star. You have to
understand that it is both a job and a business and you have to treat it
For an example, let's take a look at the princess of
today's pop music, Britney Spears. While the artistic merit of Ms.
Spears's music is debatable, it can not be argued that she lacks talent
or work ethic. Britney is successful because she
is a born entertainer who is willing to put in the long hours and hard
work that is necessary for any performer to maintain a successful
career. She is dedicated and willing to go the extra mile to get
the job done, and is 100% committed to her music. These are the
qualities that every music manager, record company A&R rep, promoter,
agent, and record producer look for when evaluating new talent. (Her
parents nurturing her talents along with their financial support when
Ms. Spears was a child didn't hurt either.)
NOTE: While the original version of this article was written in 2002
when Ms. Spears was at the apex of her career, everything that was true
then will be especially true in 2014, due to the attrition of music
performance, recording, and business opportunities and increased
competition for those positions. PC -
Before we go any farther, if you are entering a
career in music as a "get rich quick" mode of making money, get out now!
Very few music stars reach celebrity status and the income levels
that go with it. You must also remember that only a select few
ever get their faces on the cover of Rolling Stone and pack arena shows
when they go on tour. On the other hand, a small coterie of competent
musicians along with the people they work with can do very well making
"middle income", provided that they are 100% committed to their career
and treat it as a job. A few music pros regularly earn anywhere from
$30K to $100K (U.S. Dollars) a year and up and gig regularly provided
that they are genuinely talented and are willing to work their butts
off. Those that are unwilling to put in the requisite effort or party
all the time find themselves quickly pumping gas or waiting tables in
I have heard many many people say "I'd be a great
such and such music person because I am such a great music fan." But
being a fan does not necessarily make you qualified for a career in "the
biz". In order to make it you have to have a skill that the market
wants, and you should be able to use that skill in a new and exciting
way. Most people seem to think that being successful in the
entertainment biz is like a crap shoot - you roll the dice, but my own
personal experiences prove otherwise. In order to get the job - and
being an entertainment professional is exactly that, a job - you must
first prove that you can do the job, then you must prove that you can do
it consistently and to current market standards. Luck has little if any
bearing on whether or not someone is successful.
The first thing that all event promoters, club
owners, music managers, and record company people look for is
reliability. On time starts are important, and showing up to
your gig, interview, or recording session with ample time to set-up and
warm-up can go a long long way in gaining the respect of the people who
you will be relying on to help you with your career advancement. Also,
not giving yourself enough time to get prepared can mean the difference
between a truly great evening and a lousy one. A "no show" - IE: missing
a scheduled event without an urgent, legitimate reason (like being in
the emergency room with appendicitis) is one sure-fire way of burning
your bridges. Event promoters, managers, club owners, record company
people, members of the press, and even the public at large all talk with
each other, and getting a reputation as a bozo can end your career
The second thing music professionals look for in
new talent is professionalism. Do you conduct yourself in a manner
appropriate for the workplace and do you treat others in a cordial,
courteous manner? The last thing a manager, A&R rep, record producer, or
club owner wants to deal with is a self-absorbed musician with a bad
attitude. While being a nasty pompous jackass might be part of
someone's stage persona, it is NEVER acceptable to act that way off
stage, especially towards the people who are making your show or record
album a reality, regardless of how successful you are.
One horror story (I have many) from my career in
producing shows at the Fenix Club was having stage equipment destroyed
by a teenaged punk band who insisted that they had the right to be
destructive because "other bands do it". They smashed microphones,
stands, and stage lights, and during the mayhem, one of the band members
urinated on a speaker box in front of the audience. Word got around
quickly about these bozos and other venue owners would not book them.
Not only did these kids end their careers prematurely by behaving
maliciously, they may have also impacted other punk acts as well. A
large percentage of venue owners that I've talked to will no longer book
punk and "hard & heavy" acts because of the destructive and
disrespectful behavior that some of these bands exhibit. The abuses of a
few can ruin it for everyone else in short order, so...
...DON'T BECOME PART
OF THE PROBLEM!!!
You must also remember that rehearsal time,
studio time, and show time does not equal party time. I have seen
many potentially good shows get all screwed up because one or more of
the musicians got drunk or high before the show. "...They sounded
great during sound check. What the hell happened?..." ...Then the
cleaning crew finds a garbage can full of Coors Lite cans and an empty
Jim Beam bottle in the green room yet the club doesn't serve alcohol...
My own experiences prove that eleven chances out of ten, an impaired
musician, sound technician, or other person involved with producing the
concert or recording will not be able to perform as well as they would
Even worse yet is
when a musician gets in a fight with a bar patron, club security, or
another band member. I've seen this happen more
times than I can count, and every time without exception, one or more of
the participants in the altercation had consumed alcohol and/or drugs at
some point prior to the incident. To quote
Richard James Burgess (producer of too many hit albums to mention here),
"Add any amount of drugs and alcohol, sprinkle a little success on
top and you have an explosive mixture." I can't say it
any better myself. No matter how much you might hate to be lectured, I
can not be emphatic enough on the issue of alcohol and drug abuse and
the problems that they cause.
The 3rd thing that music pros look for when checking
your act out is whether or not you have something the public will buy.
As any MBA will tell you, the lifeblood of anything in a capitalist
society is green, so if your music (in the form of recordings and/or
performances) doesn't generate cash flow, you will very quickly find
yourself rejoining the world of the 9 to 5 working stiffs. The public is
quite fickle, and trends come and go almost as often as some people
change socks. It's a fact of life; if your music does not generate
income then you will have to do something else to pay your bills. While
your attraction to music may be to create work with "artistic merit",
the sad fact is that the ultimate
goal of every venue owner, promoter and record company, is to sell as
many concert tickets and as much merchandise (including
recordings) as possible. If your music has "artistic merit", that is
wonderful as long as the top priority of generating sales is met.
This article © 2002, 2014 Radiation Room
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