Embrace Your Struggles
We always want our movie heroes to go through trials and tribulations – those events that make or break them. Luke Skywalker struggling in his training with Yoda, Rocky Balboa gasping for breath in his early morning runs.
We know this is what forms their character and skill and makes their later success all the more joyous.
We rarely, however, want these struggles for ourselves. We are always on the lookout for shortcuts – especially as to how to break into the music business.
Young, inexperienced singers often ask me how to get a manager or a record deal, when that should be the last thing on their minds. They should instead embrace the struggle ahead.
The music business is tough and it is rare that you get a major artist that hasn’t paid their dues. Every one of them will tell you that this period was one of the most important of their career.
Sing – A Lot!
I recently attended a Peter Gabriel concert and what really struck me was at the age of 62 he had not lost any of his unique voice.
The reason is Peter knows his voice inside and out and knows exactly what it can do and how to do it.
This comes to some singers naturally, although most of us need some vocal coaching to help us get there.
But vocal lessons aren’t enough. You need to spend many hours exploring and using your voice. Work your voice technically, but don’t stop there. Really spend the time to find out what your voice is capable of expressing.
Sing different styles with different vocal colors and emotions. Find what it is that makes you unique and develop it.
Listen To Everything You Can
The more influences you have the less you will sound like someone else. Embrace all types of music and discover what makes it work.
Perform As Much As Possible
Take every performance opportunity. You simply cannot get enough live performance experience.
Every awful club you perform at, with bad sound and cramped stages, just prepares you for problems when you do higher profile gigs.
Forget the idea of showbiz glamour, especially as an up and coming artist. If you are lucky enough to be the opening act for an established star you should be prepared for a less than optimal performance experience.
Very often opening acts are only given a small part of the stage and don’t get a sound check, leaving them to perform with the same issues found in small clubs. You will not be flustered because you’ve already experienced these problems.
Think of every gig, no matter how small, as a preparation for larger ones.
Work With Other Musicians
Working with musicians is very different than singing to tracks. There is a musical ebb and flow that you can only experience when working with live musicians.
Try and work with the best musicians possible – they will help you get better faster.
The inspiration of great musicians is critical to your artistic growth. Do everything you can to seek them out.
A Writer Writes
Artists often struggle to follow up an initial hit album. This is usually because they have had years to write the first album and a very short time to write the second.
If you are lucky enough to get a hit album you will not be prepared for the craziness ahead. The strain of touring often leaves artists scrambling to write their next album.
Become a prolific writer now before the pressure is on. Write as much as you can, without waiting for “inspiration.” It is often fleeting and unreliable.
Embrace the struggle and use this time to grow as an artist. It is so very important to your career.