Ever wonder why some talented local musicians never find the audience or get that elusive record deal? Or why some signed artists' careers stall out just past the starting gate? It's not just "bad luck." Here are 20 common reasons why some artists never make it to the next level. 1.Poorly-defined goals. Even if they're too modest to say so in public, successful artists have a solid answer for the question: "What are your goals in the industry?" 2. Band members with different goals. In order to succeed, you have to be on the same page. It's tough to stay on track if some band members know what they want and others want different things or don't know what they want at all. 3. Lack of musical focus. Creativity is good, but in the mainstream music industry, only artists with multiple past successes have leeway to gravitate toward other musical styles. Different musical genres involve different business contacts and working methods. Artists whose styles are too diverse have difficulty achieving consistent contacts and working methods...and it takes consistency to break a new artist. (Newsflash for artists who think playing a lot of different styles makes them unique: it doesn't. We see artists with this "unique" talent all the time. In fact most artists can play or sing in more than one style but publicly focus on one they do best.) 4. Poor work ethic. The old saying that harder you work, the luckier you get is true. 5. Waiting to be discovered. People who are "discovered" make it happen instead of waiting. 6. Ineffective artist management, or not listening to good management. It sounds simplistic, but it's where many artists go wrong. In order to be effective, your management has to know what they're doing. If you have good, experienced management but don't listen to their advice, they can't help you. 7. Working with people who don't have contacts in the industry. Ideally, the people you start with should be constantly building better skills and contacts along the way. If that doesn't happen, you'll need to work with people who have contacts at the next level. 8. Signing with a label with inadequate funding or poor distribution. If you want a record deal, the goal isn't "a record deal." The goal is the record deal with the most potential for long-term success. 9. Lack of live following. Especially in rock and country, no draw means no deal. 10. Artist "settles" too much; recording quality, image, stage presence, photos, and demo packaging, and overall presentation are all "OK." Successful artists are more than just OK and never settle for it. Nor do their managers. 11. Poor networking skills. Successful artists constantly seek new networking methods and know how to use them. 12. Hanging onto ineffective band members. Many artists have trouble separating business and friendship, at the cost of their careers. 13. Dated musical style. (Sounding like Pearl Jam or 'NSync probably isn't going to cut it.) 14. Dated image. If you still dress the same way you did 5-10 years ago or have the same hair style, it's time to freshen up. If you're fond of the clothes, wear them on your own time--not when you want someone to invest money in your music being the hottest thing since sliced bread. 15. Lack of radio-friendly songwriting. No hit potential, no deal. 16. Bowing to peer or family pressure not to change. Doing the same thing the same way brings the same results, so in order to improve something, change has to occur; it literally can't stay the same. But that's not necessarily a bad thing: if you put icing on a cake, the cake changes but is still the same underneath. (If it's bad icing or you do something stupid when frosting it, the cake falls apart. Fortunately, that doesn't happen too often.) 17. Drug or alcohol issues. Many artists with easy access to drugs, alcohol, and groupies at the local level have the distorted impression that they've "made it" and lose motivation to go any further. 18. Spouse / child obligations. Putting together an entertainment career is expensive and requires a major time commitment. The same is true of spouses and children. We're not saying it's impossible, but it's definitely more difficult. 19. Impossible to work with. Being impossible to work with doesn't necessarily mean the artist isn't a nice person; one very nice artist has had seven managers in the past ten years. We like this artist just fine as a person, but in order for a team to become successful, it needs time to gel. With a rotating litany of band members, managers, and agents, that's not likely to happen. 20. Not understanding how the industry works. You have to know how the game is played in order to move the right pieces.
I’ve been listening to songs in a professional capacity for over13 years, as a songwriter, An A&R executive, a manager, a producer and as an artist developer. Along the way, I’ve learned some simpletests you can perform on your songs. Using these tests as you'rewriting will help you to craft songs that create more than apassing interest from listeners.IT'S WHAT'S UP FRONT THAT COUNTSLook at the first two lines of your lyric and only the first twolines. Imagine yourself walking down the street and having aperfect stranger come up to you and say those two lines. How muchof the "who, what, where, why and how" of the story/message of yoursong has been communicated? If you don't know much from the firsttwo lines, i.e., if you don't know enough to care what's going tohappen to the protagonist, a record executive, producer or casual listener will most likely not be interested to listen further. TIED UP WITH A BOWDean Pitchford, who wrote "Flashdance," gave us this one. I know what you’re thinking, “Why is this jackass referring to ‘Flashdance”? It’s because even if you don’t like a particular song you can learn from those songs that for whatever reason touched A LOT of people. Eachlyric line (and its accompanying melodic phrase) is like a presenttied up with a bow. Neat and complete. That means, if you say thatline alone, it's completely understandable on its own. It doesn'tneed the next line to have it make sense. Look at each of yourlyric lines separately and make sure it presents a complete,independent picture. THINKING INSIDE THE BOXType/print your lyric sheet flush left (all the lines starting onthe left margin) on a sheet of white paper. (By the way, if yourlyric doesn't fit on one sheet, you're in trouble.) Can you draw arectangle around the lyrics of the verses? In other words, are allyour lines exactly the same physical length? How about your chorusor bridge? Can you draw a box around them? Now, can you draw abig box around your verses and chorus and have most or all of thelines touch on the right side of your box? If so, it's more thanlikely that your song will sound monotonous because you do not haveenough variety in the lengths of lines and patterns of lyrics.Look for a really ragged right edge as a sign that your lyrics areconversational and interesting rhythmically. Also, look for thebox around the chorus lines to be of significantly different sizethan the box around the verses. It's an indicator of sufficientvariety between the chorus and the verses. "NOT ALL THAT COUNTS CAN BE COUNTED" - Albert EinsteinPart 1: Albert's right about that, but some of what counts can becounted. For instance, count the number of lines in each of yourverses. Now, count the lines in your chorus. If they're exactlythe same, e.g., 4-line verse, 4-line chorus; or, 8-line verse,8-line chorus, you probably haven't made enough contrast betweenthe two sections.Part 2: This is one we see all the time! Count the number of beatsin the lyric of verse 1, line 1. Then, count the number of beatsin verse 2, line 1. Do they match? Sometimes, we need to insert alittle pick-up note for an extra syllable and it's OK because therest of the line falls naturally into the accents of the basicpattern. But, we often see 8 beats in verse 1, line 2 and 13 beatsin verse 2, line 2, for example. No way those extra 5 beats aregoing to fit comfortably on the melody you worked so hard toestablish in the first verse. Count all the beats in all the linesand make sure they match from verse to verse, so they can be sungon the same melody with ease. TITLE SEARCHYou may have heard of the saying, "Position is everything in life."In the life of your song, the position of your title tells thelistener what your main point is. There are certain powerpositions in a song. What they are, depends on which structure youchoose when you write your song. Is it a verse/bridge structure (a.k.a. A, A, B, A)? Then yourtitle will be in the verses. It will be in the first line of theverse or the last line of the verse. These are the power positionsin that structure. Example: "Yesterday" by The Beatles. (There areexceptions, but they are rare and compensated for by strong melodicemphasis when the title is not in the natural power position.)In the verse/chorus structure, the power positions are at the topof the chorus and the last line of the chorus. Your title could bein either one or both of those places, and repeated more often ifthe repetition works. Example: "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles.Look at your lyric and see where the title is. If it's buried inthe middle somewhere, your listener probably won't be able toidentify it, i.e., know what the song is about, how to ask for itto be played on the radio, or find it at the store.THE ULTIMATE TITLE TESTThe word "ultimate" has several meanings. 1. last, 2. decisive, 3.most desirable, 4. basic, etc. This test encompasses all thosemeanings. It was taught us by two songwriters in Nashville, bothof whom claimed authorship! Take your typed lyric sheet. Write(or imagine writing) your title after each and every line of lyric.Say the line of lyric, then say the title. If the two hangtogether and make sense, then your song is about the title. If yougo for lines and lines without the verse lyrics having much to dowith the title—meaning they don't make sense when you say them nextto each other—it's time to go back to the drawing board. Your songis not about your title. THE BEST LAID SCHEMESTake an overview of your rhyme scheme. If you've established an a,b, a, b, c, c rhyme scheme in verse one, do you keep it up in verse2? In other words, do the lines rhyme with the same pattern (notthe same sound) in verse 1 and verse 2, and verse 3, if there isone? Now note the sounds of your rhymes. Are they all a long osound? That can get pretty dull. We've seen songs where everyline ended in the long ee rhyme. The ear gets tired of that veryquickly. If you've inadvertently rhymed everything with the samesound, you might consider going back and creating more variety inyour rhyming sounds. PRONOUN HELLThis is the name for the confusion that results when, in mid-song,someone who was a "she" becomes a "you." Or, all of a sudden, "he"switches to "me." Or, there are three "I's" in a row, referring tothree different people and we're supposed to know which one iswhich. Or, someone starts to quote someone else, the pronounshifts, but there's no way to really tell a quotation has begun.Scan your lyrics for pronouns. If you've made one of the changeswe describe, it's probable your listeners will go straight topronoun hell. There are always exceptions, but, for the most part,it's best to have one person represented by one pronoun. If aquotation is part of your song, make sure you introduce it with aclearly audible, "She said" or "He said" so your listeners canunderstand when the "I" singing the song begins to be addressed as"you." THE NAKED TUNEPart 1: Sing your melody a cappella (with no instrumentalaccompaniment) and without the lyrics. Sing it into a tape if youhave trouble being objective about hearing what you're singing. Asa stranger to your song, could you honestly tell where the titlewould sit on your melody without ever hearing the lyrics? If themost outstanding part of your melody is where you did put yourtitle, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, your title needsto be moved or your melody changed.Part 2: While you're singing your melody a cappella, does it haveemotional dynamics? Is there a variety of lengths of notes andintervals between the notes? Or, does it sound like a sing-songynursery rhyme; the same rhythm pattern over and over? If someoneheard just your melody, could they make a pretty good guess at theemotions in the story of the song? If your melody is not emoting,you need to write it once more ? with feeling!IT CAN BE ARRANGEDYour chords give shadings to your melody. Each chord has anemotional tone. Minor chords tend to express doubt or sorrow.Major chords have a happy, positive feeling. Adding 6ths, 7ths,9ths, suspensions, and inversions, gives the basic chord still morenuances of feeling. Is your song down home country or uptownsophisticated? High-power rock or soft mellow jazz? Appropriatechoice of chords will bring the message of your song into sharpfocus. The frequency of chord changes and the style of playing thechords are both important considerations. Style examples on thepiano: arpeggios, block chords. On the guitar: all the strings atonce, some of the strings, one string at a time. Listen to thechord changes in your song. Are they distracting because they aretoo rapid and complex? Are they boring because they don't changeenough or your strum is too repetitive? Do they work against theemotional message of the song or support it? Look at each chordindividually. Try an inversion for a different coloring. Leave nochord unturned in your search for the perfect setting for themessage of your song.
Every day is an adventure. One in which we can write a story line filled with new life experiences - Positive relationships and newfound success. Or it can be one in which we see little joy in and sit back believing that success is something that is reserved for only the lucky few. Truly, the choice in which we see our potential in life is our own. Greatness and abundance is yours as much as it is anyone’s, but you must be willing to believe that is so, as well as be willing to do the things that are necessary to attract greater success in your life. Always keep firmly in mind that we create our own luck through a four letter word called "work" and six letter one known as "effort".
John Paul Getty became the richest man in the world by practicing a few basic principles of risk-taking and reward throughout his life. You’ll learn his key insight to risk reduction and success and how you can apply it to any decision you have to make right here. You will also learn a series of additional ideas that can help you to make better decisions and reduce the risks associated with success.The Winners Strategy for SuccessRemember Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” There are several secondary laws to Murphy’s Law, such as “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time” and “Of all the things that can go wrong, the most expensive thing will go wrong at the worst possible time.”Another sub law is: “Everything takes longer than your best calculation.” In advising Artists and musicians, I suggest that they take their very best estimate of any task and then triple it to arrive at a more realistic number. Whenever Artists and Musicians follow this advice, they are amazed to find that, in spite of their best initial calculations, it indeed takes about three times longer than they thought it would to start making money.Always Add A Fudge Factor“Everything costs more than you can possibly anticipate in advance.” In minimizing risk in any recording project, always add a “fudge factor” to account for the degree of uncertainty. Whenever I do a recording plan, I always add 20 percent to the total of all costs that I can identify, to come up with the probable cost. Anything less than this, whether in your band or your personal life, is likely to be an exercise in self-delusion and open you up for some unhappy surprises.Once you have identified the worst possible things that could go wrong, make a list of everything that you could do to offset these negative factors. Engage in what is called “crisis anticipation.” Look down the road, into the future, and imagine every possible crisis that could arise as the result of changing external circumstances.Be Intensely RealisticArtists who have achieved a high level of success are intensely realistic. They do not put their trust in luck. They carefully calculate every possible risk, and then think about what they would do should it occur. Do The Things You FearOne of the very best ways to develop your ability to take intelligent risks is to consciously and deliberately do the things you fear, one step at a time.A very good way to overcome the fear of risk taking is to set clear, written, measurable goals for yourself, and then to review those goals regularly.When you have clear goals and plans, and you continually work on them and evaluate your progress each day, you will see what you’re doing right and how you could improve your performance. You’ll feel more competent and capable and better about yourself. You’ll become more thoughtful and reflective and willing to take on even greater challenges. You’ll feel like the “master of your fate and the captain of your soul.” And your likelihood of success will become greater and greater.Action Exercises:Here are three steps you can take immediately to put these ideas into action.
- First, take any worry situation in your life today and ask, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” Then go to work to make sure it doesn’t occur.
- Second, look into the future in your life and determine the worst things that could happen. Engage in “crisis anticipation” regularly and continually be taking steps to guard against them.
- Third, work from clear, written goals and detailed plans. Review them regularly. Consider alternatives and always look for ways to increase the likelihood of your success.
By Tony RobbinsEach New Year brings us another opportunity to rededicate ourselves to those aspects of our lives that we are most passionate about but may have neglected in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. While we certainly have good intentions, we often attempt to refocus our lives by devising lofty resolutions with which we don’t follow through. An alternative to this frustrating annual tradition is to create an incantation.An incantation is an empowering phrase or language pattern that you verbalize loudly and with absolute certainty. When incanting, you are engaging your entire nervous system with the full force of your focus, emotion, and body to induce a new physiology and instantly cultivate new beliefs. In creating your own incantation, consider that when you verbalize it you are reciting with absolute emotional intensity what you wish to become. Refer to the following examples in constructing your own incantation:
Your incantation doesn’t need to rhyme or even make sense. The only requirement is that you say it consistently and feel it in your mind, body and soul!Once you’ve created it, recite your incantation to yourself loudly and with passion, placing emphasis on different words. Condition it so that it becomes part of you, helping you to transform your life in the New Year. Reciting incantations helps move you to create the emotional intensity you need to have an outstanding quality of life!
- “I’m writing the best songs of my life”
- “I’m so happy I can’t stop smiling.”
- “Every day I’m learning how to be a better Artist.”
You can't become a legend in your own time until you first become a legend in your own mind."Picture yourself in a boat on a river … " — The BeatlesIt's that time of year again — New Year's resolutions, goal setting, and updating your mission statement. However, this year make sure you graduate from random daydreaming about life to visualizing. In everything from sports to business, effective visualization is often the thing that separates the best from the wannabes.Visualization is the ability to mentally rehearse successful outcomes in a relaxed state before they actually happen. All great athletes, from golfers to hoopsters to Olympians, practice visualization as part of their training regimen as well as when competing; so why not musicians? For example, have you ever watched an NBA game on TV when one of the players is shooting a free throw? You'll notice on a close-up shot that most every player has a little ritual he performs before tossing the ball up — he bounces the ball a certain number of times, takes a deep breath, and then looks up at the basket in a trancelike state. You may even see him move his lips as if to mumble some words to himself just before shooting, then, hopefully, a swish. He is coached on this technique to improve his performance at the free throw line. And this same technique can work for you in your business or career.But before I get going, let me address a possible concern you might have — a reluctance to embrace becoming "a legend in your own mind." I'm not suggesting you become arrogant, egotistical, self-absorbed, or narcissistic — I like to believe I'm none of these. I consider myself just another kid from the neighborhood — I graduated from a Los Angeles public high school with a decent GPA … I was definitely not knocking the ball out of the park. Now you may have experimented with some form of mental rehearsal in the past, perhaps with mixed results, so you might be feeling some resistance. Perhaps you doubt that you can even do it — "I can't ever seem to SEE anything when I try this!" If this is the case, let me gently correct your thinking — you're ALREADY using visualization — you're visualizing "FOOD" three times a day, right? That'd be breakfast, lunch, and dinner — tell me you never dream of that juicy steak you're gonna have for dinner that has your mouth watering at 2 p.m. The truth is, most people put more effort into picturing what they're gonna have for these three daily meals than they ever put into picturing success.Also, you may have a concern that going into a relaxed state might be a black-magic meditation for some wacky new age religion or brainwashing cult. No — you don't have to shave your head, chant a mantra all day long, or send me all of your money (although my bank account would love it …). Let me share with you my simple way of visualizing. Follow along with the process below — it should take you no longer than 10 minutes. (I recommend you keep it short and sweet in the beginning so you don't feel the burden of yet another task on your "to do" list):Put Yourself in a Relaxed Seated PositionSit upright in a comfortable chair, on a sofa, or on the floor. (I do not recommend you lie down, as the desired state is conscious relaxation, not sleep.)Close Your Eyes and Take Several Steady, Slow Deep BreathsFour or five should do it — perhaps count to seven for each inhale and exhale. Then just relax and breathe normally through your nose.Notice Any Distracting Thoughts or Sounds, but Let Them Pass BySince the desired mental state is focused concentration, you'll need to ignore distractions. This may be the hardest part at first, which you'll overcome with practice.Bring to Mind an Important Goal andPicture Yourself Going Through theProcess of Perfectly Achieving ItThis is where the rubber meets the road in visualization — you want to create a mental experience of having already "been there, done that." Some examples:* If you're a working musician, envision a picture of you and your clients agreeing to do record together, that they're eager to get started with you and are handing you a large check. Make sure you see the amount on their check written clearly, whether it's $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, or more.* If you're in a band, see your fans excited about your new record you've presented at a show and eager to have them hear it.* In your creative life with another band member or collaborator, picture your relationship as happier, more fulfilling, more fun. See the two of you enjoying yourselves, having deeper conversations, laughing together, etc.* Likewise, see your body in the best shape ever — your ideal weight, trim and fit. Draw forth images of lean muscles and toned abs. When you make visualization a daily habit, you'll stay mentally on track to achieve any goal you'd like.This habit will then help you to follow through on your goals, as you'll have already "experienced" the results and the feelings associated with making things happen for yourself. You will start to have the feeling that you've been there before, as in the words of that great yogi, Yogi Berra: "It's like déjà vu all over again." You'll become a legend in your own mind, on your way to becoming a legend in your own time.
Imagine, just for a moment, that you love track and field…particularly the high jump event…Imagine that you’ve shelled out big bucks to sit right in front of the high jump at the Olympics…Imagine that Javier Sotomayor, world record holder, is preparing to jump an 8.5 foot high bar…He begins his approach, and…Stops in front of the bar and starts complaining about how high it is!“This is too hard! I can’t do this! I’m going home.”What would you think…?You’d probably think he had no right to complain. After all, he’s the one who got himself to this level of competition. And he chose this event – he didn’t have to be a high jumper.Guess what…you are choosing your life.Yup – we create our lives, and the challenges that come with it. So, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to complain about it.If Javier attempted the jump, but didn’t clear it, we could forgive him. (Unless you had money on the event…) We’d applaud him for his effort, and still be impressed with what he had managed up to this point. And, we’d know there is always tomorrow. What about when you hit the bar? Do you feel like a failure? You haven’t failed until you quit. There may be a limited number of attempts in a sporting event, but not in life. The bar may have been set too high – but better too high than too low. What if Javier came out and successfully completed his jump… but the bar was only set at 2 feet high…?You might be left with, “I paid good money to watch this…?!?”What would you think if Javier insisted that he had only signed on to do the 2 foot hop, and also expected a huge endorsement contract for his achievement…?How often do you look at what’s showing up in front of you and start complaining, insisting that you only wanted to do the 2 foot hop?Now, it is also true that we don’t really want to see the bar set at 15 feet high - such that we are anticipating something astounding – only to watch Javier clear the bar … by going under it…! In the high jump, the bar is raised in increments of only a few centimeters from the last successful jump. It is not unreasonable for you to do the same.Whatever the height of the bar in front of you – that’s what you signed up for. There were no guarantees that you would clear it the first time out – or ever. But part of you decided that was the challenge you needed.Of course, it might not have been a healthy part of you. There may be some part of you that feels a need to fail – to be punished.Either way, there is a gift in what is in front of you. You run, you jump, and… either you succeed, or you learn. It’s win/win.The lesson may be that you need to work on your technique. You may need to improve your training regimen, or your diet, or your coach. The lesson may be that you’ve come as far as you can in this event, and there is another event where you will be more successful.It may be that you learn that you never cared for the high jump, and only did it because your parents wanted you to do so – and with this understanding you can heal the past and find your own way.And…well, there are plenty of ways to interpret the lessons – some more healthy than others. Choose the one that leaves you empowered to move forward, rather than the one that leaves you beating up on yourself.We enjoy watching events where people give us their best. It’s not just in sports. No one wants to watch Robert DeNiro “phone in” his performance. No one goes to the ballet to watch the Baryshnikov jump in the air and spin just once.So, why are we so surprised when we’ve set the bar higher for ourselves in this lifetime? Why are we shocked that we didn’t choose monotony?And, if monotony is what we have, we tend to complain about that, too. It’s a sure sign we haven’t raised the bar high enough for ourselves.Some people are never happy unless they are complaining. Don’t be one of them.You chose to be here for the excitement – you signed on for the whole shebang. So…Imagine that you are at the Olympics, preparing to do the high jump…You chose the event, you chose the height, and the crowd is eagerly awaiting your attempt…Be grateful for the opportunity, give it your best shot, and you are sure to be a winner.