Will taking charge of your own music career, DIY, turn you into a well-paid star overnight?
Probably not. Yet, it is possible. It takes a lot of motivation and sticktoitiveness. Most people don’t have that much, do you?
We’re going to look at two current musical stars. One gained his stardom online before landing a contract. The other traveled the traditional path with a contract. We will also recap what it takes, on a personal level, to achieve stardom.
According to Nielsen’s rating, Ed Sheeran is in the top 10 musicians in 2018. According to Biography.com, Ed started playing the guitar at a very early age. When he was 11, he met Damien Rice backstage at a Rice concert. Damien advised him to begin writing his own music. That night he wrote several songs, one entitled “Typical Average Teen.” At age 14, Sheeran, with a backpack of clothes in one hand and his guitar in the other, headed for London to gig for the summer.
At age 16 he moved to London, he began singing on the local circuit, while recording his music. He began to tour relentlessly, sleeping on fans’ sofas every night after his gigs. His first album, self-titled, was released in 2006 and a second album, Want Some, in 2007. It wasn’t long until Ed was opening for more established acts. In 2009 he performed more than 300+ live shows while recording his third album, You Need Me.
In 2010 Sheeran’s career took a big leap online. He knew how to use online media to his advantage by posting videos of his performances. For example, a rapper saw his videos and asked Sheeran to go on tour with him as his opening act, resulting in an even bigger online fanbase. Ed also produced 3 more albums in 2010.
Taylor Swift, one of the worlds leading contemporary recording artists, is also in the top 10 musicians in 2018. At age nine, Swift became interested in musical theater and performed in four Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. She also traveled regularly to New York City for vocal and acting lessons. At age 11, Swift and her mother went to Nashville and pitched cover songs to music producers but was rejected.
When Taylor was 12 she learned to play the guitar and began writing her own songs. At age 14, she moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. In Nashville, she began working with Music Row songwriters. She began meeting with one, Liz Rose, on a regular basis. Rose commented the sessions were “some of the easiest I’ve ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She’d write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she’d come in with the most incredible hooks”. Taylor was the youngest ever to sign with Sony/ATV Music publishing house. Her self-titled debut album was released in 2006.
Different Paths To The Same End
Let’s do a little recap. In comparison, both artists started working on their careers at about the same age. They both have arrived as well-paid superstars.
Taylor Swift had the backing of professional lessons and participating in musicals from a very early age. Her family moved to Nashville to give her the opportunities provided in music city.
Ed Sheeran, with a backpack thrown over one shoulder and his guitar case in hand, set out for London to dip his toe in the water to see if he could get any interest in his music. At age 16 he was gigging in London on almost a nightly basis, sleeping on fan’s sofas.
Taylor got the attention of the songwriters on Music Row, which, I’m sure, gave her a substantial leg-up in the music business.
Sheeran got his biggest break in his music career by putting videos of his performances online and opening for more established musicians.
Today in the Music Industry
The Music Industry in 2018 has changed substantially. There are hundreds of musicians in Nashville and LA gigging on a nightly basis trying to get signed as the next big star in the making. The Music Industry is being very picky. The recording company puts a lot of money upfront to launch a musician into stardom. If you listen to American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice you’ll hear many stories about a musician getting a recording contract, but for one reason or another, it never comes to fruition.
I met a musician who plays on a regular basis in restaurants and bars around Knoxville, TN. He’s really good. He had a recording contract in Nashville years ago. But, before his album was finished his agent died, which ended the contract. Now years later, he’s still gigging on a weekly basis to make a little extra cash.
Noah Guthrie, who competed on Americas Got Talent in 2018, performed in the television cast of Glee, until the show closed in 2015. Now Guthrie is starting over. But, with 400k+ fans from America’s Got Talent, Guthrie is taking his music online. Check out his Facebook page.
Making it as a Musician Today
Above I mentioned that to succeed as a musician in today’s world you must have Motivation and Sticktoitiveness.
Motivation: the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something.
Both Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift had the motivation to succeed in the music industry. Their minds were set at an early age to succeed as a singer/songwriter. In all I’ve read about both artists, their minds never wavered about what they wanted in life. Their goals were firmly set. I didn’t read anything about a time when either of them decided to forget music and do something different.
Sticktoitiveness: meaning dogged perseverance, tenacity, holding fast.
Both Sheeran and Swift held fast to their goals, of being a musician. The gentleman in Knoxville who still plays on a nightly or weekly basis and Noah Guthrie are still holding fast.
For many musicians, though, life has gotten in the way and the music has fallen by the wayside, but the desire never goes away.
Others may feel they aren’t good enough so why try.
Some musicians feel they’re too old and the music becomes just a hobby or something they do in their community or church.
It’s not too late
Consequently, the gentleman mentioned above is older and still gigs, but hasn’t become a star. For the older musicians, remember, the largest population is the Baby Boomers who still like their music.
Here are a few basic steps that we will be expounding on in later posts.
1. Hone your craft. May your music as good as you can possibly make it – practice.
2. Record your songs. If you perform video your performances.
3. Get a website and logins on all social media platforms. If you don’t know how to create your own website, get help.
4. Do like Ed Sheeran did, put your videos online. Use Social Media Marketing to tell others about your music.
Are you motivated? Do you want to get your music heard? Do you still have the sticktoitiveness to make it happen? Then let’s do it!!!