You can be a star if...
Over the years I've had lots of young musicians and singers ask me how to get into the music business. What most of them really want to know is how do I become a star. Well, actually I think there are some guidelines. Although I'm not a big star by any means, I've known or worked with several BIG stars, so maybe I can pass on some tips they've given me over the years. When I was younger and I used to ask people in the music business for advice. Many of them told me the best advice would be to stay out of the music business. Anyway, here goes. These would be my suggestions.
- Stay sober. You need to be sharp and focused. Free drinks, night clubs, and the like are occupational hazzards in the music industry. Since most forms of substance abuse are "progressive" in nature, it's hard to tell when you cross the line, but there is an invisible line. If you have to have a drink to get on stage, or if you have to have to smoke a joint to be creative, then you are in danger of crossing the line of dependency. It may be psycholgical or physical dependency, but you're in danger of becoming a slave to the drug. If you don't start in the first place, you'll avoid a big problem down the road.
- Be a people person. I've had to overcome shyness, and it's one of the biggest hindrances you can have in this business. All things being equal, the person with more social skills will always get the job. Now I know there are a lot of bacially shy people that do make it. I'm just saying that it's better if you can develop your "people" skills early. One trick is to "act like you're comfortable and at ease", even if you aren't. Eventually it will get easier, and you won't have to act.
- Develop a thick skin. Almost the same as above, but this has more to do with real, cutting, sometimes MEAN rejection. Learn to just get over it, have faith in God and yourself, and plow on.
- LEARN. Study and hoan your craft. You don't know it all. Nobody does.
- GIVE. Give help and you're more likely to get help. If that one guitar lick is so magical that you don't want someone else to steal it, give it away anyway, and learn a new lick.
- Learn the Nashville Number System. Any form of musical learning will help you, but in Nashville, this is the way.
- GET PLUGGED IN. You may have heard "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Well nowadays that more true than ever. You have to know someone in a position of power that has a current track record. Short of this, it's almost impossible to even get on the playing field.
- Get a day gig. It's not just about having something to fall back on. It's about eating. Unless you're rich, get a day gig. Eating regularly and having a roof over your head is the last thing you want to be worrying about. Also work is noble. It will help you develop social skills, which are very important.
- Save up some money for a good demo. The only difference in the sound quality of my home demos and Alan Jackson's last CD is about $100,000 dollars. It takes some money. Save up and do it right.
- Leave your home demos at home. I know, I know, today with Pro Tools, etc., blah, blah, blah. It still ain't gonna' sound as good as if you hire some of Nashville's top players, go into a top studio with a great song, and cut it. These guys do this 24/7/365. That's ALL they do. They've gotten quite good at it.
- Find a good entertainment lawyer. Have them look at ANY contract you're offered BEFORE signing it. It could save you years of grief.
I sincerely hope these little tips will help someone out there. I can't promise you that these tips will make you a star, but they'll sure help you avoid some costly mistakes.
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jimenez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis
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