Last week’s Local Scene column offered aspiring young region hopefuls perhaps misled by the many reality TV shows about how easy it is to find musical success, some true reality from the lips of six major musicians who have earned star status.
Those nuggets of knowledge were but a few shared with this columnist during my years of doing celebrity interviews. This second part of that insider advice column wraps up this week with six additional stars sharing their nuggets.
“Try to find your own sound and develop it to its fullest,” advised Jethro Tull founder/frontman Ian Anderson. “Jethro Tull’s sound is hardly typical, yet we’ve been quite comfortable and successful over the years. As a musician or band, if you are unique, you will usually find an audience who will listen. It may not be a huge audience, but you can usually find a niche that will allow you to make a comfortable living with your art or your craft and being able to do that is what I would consider being a success.”
“Write good songs," said Dennis DeYoung, who co-founded Chicago band Styx in his parents’ garage and wrote a majority of their hits over the years. "The songs are what get you noticed and what will live on when all is said and done. Aside from that, be yourself and believe in yourself. As I have sung many times, life is a grand illusion, don't buy into all of that stuff that you should be and could be...just be yourself and know you are doing your best to be the best you can be."
“There’s more to the business of making music than just the music,” stressed Hoosier John Mellencamp. “Forget the glamour and fame and learn how to run your own business. Learn bookkeeping and keep tabs on everything you do financially. Don’t ever trust anyone a full 100%, not the guys in your band, not your record label, not your manager, not anyone. The music world is brutal and cut-throat. The sooner any musician learns that, the sooner they will succeed and the longer they will survive.”
“Take a business class along with your guitar lessons,” agreed Mark Farner, former guitarist, vocalist and songwriter of Grand Funk Railroad. “You have to know the business side of music. You can have hit records and still wind up having nothing is you don’t know the business side of it all.”
“People always tell you how to play your music and live your life,” said singer/songwriter Eddie Money. “Club owners, record people, managers, producers...they all give you their advice and it all gets rather confusing. Advice is fine, but never lose sight of what YOU want your music and your career to be. Mull over what others suggest and evaluate what they say, but in the end make all your own decisions.”
“The best advice I can give is don’t listen to advice,” summed up Paul Stanley of Kiss. “You have it within yourself to figure it out. Most importantly, don’t delude yourself because life is too short. Do a realistic inventory of your abilities and if you find you don’t really have what it takes then don’t waste your time. If you find you do have the abilities, then forge on and you’ll find your way.”
The collective advice shared by the 12 diverse music stars over the last two weeks is best summed into three basic things – 1) Believe in yourself and your abilities enough to weather the rough times. 2) Protect yourself from the unscrupulous parasites that infest the entertainment business by educating yourself to the business side of the profession. 3) Strive to be as unique and original as possible to stand apart from others.
Email Tom Lounges at firstname.lastname@example.org