The old model for musicians was to write good songs and play for the right people to be discovered and get a record contract. Then you played the part of a “Rock Star” till they were through with you. There were a lot of one hit wonders. Some artist had long careers. But most were around for an album or two before fading away.
The lessons from those artists with long careers are still relevant in today’s music industry.
First, their music connected to their audience. The most successful spoke to the larger population and wrote the songs that defined their times. They were good business managers, or hired good ones. They made the most out of their fame. That is, they made as much money as they could, from many sources, while they could.
In the past the record labels made the most money and artists came and went. Today you are your own record label.
Even in the past there were artists who took control of their careers. Ray Charles created his own company to manage his recording rights and booking. Elvis had management offices at Graceland.
It’s been done before. You can do this now!
But, don’t fall for the lie that rock stars can just do whatever they want; sleep all day and wait for the offers to roll in. You’ll work hard and you’ll work a lot. You’ll have to make hard decisions. You’ll have to plan and then change your plan. Make the most of the time you have.
Know you’ll do a lot of things wrong. That’s how you learn to do them right.
Don’t let drugs or alcohol or someone’s selfishness derail you. Be careful who you hook up with. It’s hard to tour with someone back home calling and texting; trying to get you to come back. If the person you’re with isn’t behind you, move on.
Play everywhere you can, but don’t play somewhere if it doesn’t fit who you are, or if it doesn’t feel right. Trust your gut.
Watch what you say on social media. If in doubt, don’t hit send. If you choose a side politically, you’ve turned your back on about half your audience. Your views will come through in your music, but be subtle. You don’t have to hit people over the head.
On the other hand, if you play to a niche audience, go all in. (I’ll do another article on that)
Keep at it. One day you’ll look up and realize you’re living the life you wanted.