In today’s world of “American Idol”, “The Voice,” and other talent shows, it would seem that music stardom is quick and easy? But any working musician knows that it’s tough to eke out a living playing music and that it is often a difficult and heartbreaking road to travel.
My Local Scene column for this week and next week will offer young and gifted regional music hopefuls some true reality of what goes along with chasing fame and stardom. This two part column will feature some hard learned nuggets of knowledge passed on to me over my years of doing celebrity interviews with veteran artists who have made the climb and grabbed the brass ring.
“There’s no such thing as overnight success,” advised Joan Jett, who came to fame at 16 as a member of the all-teenage girl band, The Runaways. “Don’t ever be afraid to work hard and pay dues. Don’t be discouraged if doors get slammed in your face. Let those negative things serve to inspire you more and fuel your creative fire. If you stick it out, one day you will have the last laugh.”
“The first thing to learn is that the term show business consists of two key words – show and business – and anyone who is going to succeed and survive must learn to master both sides of it,” said 1950s teen sensation Frankie Avalon. “If you don’t concern yourself with the business end, you’ll wind up with a lot of great memories and no money!”
“Anyone wanting to make it in music is going to have to realize that it takes a lot of personal sacrifice,” said Heart’s Ann Wilson. “There are a lot painful decisions to make along the way. So my best advice is to be as honest with yourself as possible. Don’t say yes to anything you don’t really mean yes to. And learn to say no as much as you can.”
“Be original,” stressed Prince. “Everyone always wants you to sound like something that’s already a hit because the music industry likes to play it safe. I don’t listen to radio, because I don’t want something to stick in my head subconsciously and come out in my music. I never set limits. If an idea comes to mind, I try it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always good to experiment with things.”
“Never bail out! Music can sometimes be a long, tough road to travel. I think everyone eventually gets their shot if they stick with it. If you love music and it’s really in your blood, you have to be willing to sacrifice just about everything in your life to get to where you want to be," said Sully Erna, vocalist of the modern rock band Godsmack. “I remember when all my friends were getting into their mid-20s and buying nice cars and getting nice apartments and getting married. I stayed focused on my dream and my music. It can get pretty dark, but you have to tough it out.”
"Aspire to an optimum level of awareness of all around you and apply it to your musical vision," urged Ted Nugent. "With that single piece of advice from Uncle Ted, today's young musicians will come to their own realization that: drugs are for a**holes, trends are for a**holes, formulas for success are for a**holes, peer pressures for a**holes, and that anything short of success is for a**holes! It's important to remember that there are no lucky breaks. Those who wait for a lucky break are destined to failure. As a hungry, young musical animal, you've got to go out there in to the mean streets and stalk your prey, the prey being your own sound and your own. To succeed, you’ve got to clear your own path and then walk it."
Next week’s Music Success column will include sage advice on forging a successful career in music from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, Styx founder Dennis DeYoung, Indiana’s own John Mellencamp, and others.
Email Tom Lounges at firstname.lastname@example.org.