A new year brings exciting possibilities, especially if you want to become a rockstar! Whether you’re a singer, instrumentalist, or any type of musical performer, you’ll benefit tremendously from the following tips. Multi-platinum selling composer and producer Nick G. will guide you through nine tips to help you reach your stardom…
I’m a Rockstar
My neighbor introduces me as a rockstar and that makes me feel pretty darn good. It’s like complete validation for all of the years I’ve had in the music business… or is it? If I were really a rockstar, I would need no introduction, right?
So that begs the question: What is a “real” rockstar and what is the actual criteria involved in becoming one? So, before I continue with this article we have to settle on the definition of a rockstar. I’ve obviously given this a lot of thought…
Yes, I’ve had my glimpses at the spotlight and have made mistakes that separated me from it. I watched mournfully as fans disappeared because I zigged when I should have zagged in my music career. I frantically looked to restore success in the wrong places and I only found a lack of authenticity.
What’s a Rockstar?
When I think “rockstar,” I think of the chosen few — the front runners; the front of stage musicians and performers; the people in the spotlight; the people who are on camera, ready to rock-and-roll ALL of the time!
But it doesn’t stop there. A real “rockstar” is also prolific. They write and perform meaningful music and play their instruments like they were born jammin’. They walk and talk with great humility and also understand they hold an important role in society – they can influence large groups of people with what they say and do.
Ok, now we’re getting to a concrete definition!
Are YOU a Future Rockstar?
Are you one of the chosen few that make it to the top? Are you ready to take on the work, the hardship, the responsibility, and unavoidable agony of separation when it occurs?
If so, here are nine new years resolutions that will give your music career a boost in 2016!
1) Set Your Groundwork
Read my article “15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Business.” Here, you’ll find some of the essential “must do’s” before you embark upon your amazing journey. That article is perfect for setting your groundwork!
2) Be Authentic
This is incredibly important and it requires foresight. What does authentic mean? I believe that when a person sets out to create something larger than themselves, it requires unrestrained creativity.
Imagine yourself 10 years into the future looking back on all your music. What do you see? Do you envision a history of music you created that’s meaningful, despite it’s popularity? One you are proud of and that you can stand behind?
Or is it music that simply copied the big hits but never became one? If so, I think that can be a painful reality. Your discography should represent individuality that resonates with the audience and sets you apart. It’s a much more rewarding and authentic path to take, and one your future rockstar self will thank!
3) Take the Path of Least Resistance
I remember being 16 – rocking out on the drums in my mum and dad’s garage playing to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Back then it seemed so simple: wake up, practice hard, put on your famous pants and become a rockstar!
It didn’t work out that way.
I realized pretty fast that there were a million kids just like me — all doing the same thing, trying to get the same gigs, and listening to the same music. It was daunting. So instead, I put down the drum sticks (some of the time) and studied what most successful rockstars had done before me.
I studied the music business. I studied who was selling music and who was selling it the best. I read a bunch of music business books and I learned how to produce my own music. After several years of doing this, I was a well-oiled, young, aspiring rockstar who knew way more than the other young, aspiring rockstars around me.
I had an advantage – I had taken the path of least resistance!
4) Learn and Practice Objectivity
Now pay really good attention! This could be one of the most important tools in the belt of a successful rockstar. Have you ever wondered how you may sound or appear to fans?
Have you ever taken a step back from your music, your wardrobe, etc., and tried to view yourself with a different set of ears and eyes? Is that even possible?!
I think so, and I believe it’s one of the most important secret weapons a rockstar has. It requires separation from the intricate details of your music and career. It requires seeing yourself from an outside perspective, as if you were one of your fans.
Here’s the Trick
I rubbed shoulders with some pretty seasoned players in the beginning that taught me a few great ways to start learning objectivity. Here’s the best trick I was taught: make a mix tape of your favorite rockstars, those who you think you sound like. Then throw your music in the middle of the set. Play this mix tape everywhere and take note of how you feel when your music comes on. Does it hold up? Does it vibe against the others?
Do this with everything; this applies to your brand and all that you do.
One of the most common mistakes emerging rockstars make is distancing themselves from the pack, creating a bubble where their music and brand is never weighed against the commercial marketplace. This is a safe place to exist; no criteria, no comparison, no competition, and no objectivity…
Here’s the key takeaway from this point: always compare. Take notes, create better mixes, and make more relevant choices so that you can rise to massive rockstar status. Be brave – you can do it!
5) Don’t Be Too Freaky
This one is kind of under the category of objectivity. There’s a fine line between a cool rockstar and a freaky-deaky rockstar. How can you tell the difference? It’s simple: the music must take precedence and the wardrobe and show theatrics must follow later (in a natural and unforced way). It should never be the other way around.
Ever see those people on stage that hide behind crazy stuff? Like being half naked, wearing odd costumes, wearing makeup to the point of it being a mask, juggling while singing, or having monkeys as their stage dancers?
That’s what I mean by being too freaky.
If you’re an insane talent that’s shining beyond all the theatrics, well, fine – you’re awesome. But really, just try to be yourself and keep the antics to a restrained level of cool, letting the music speak first.
6) Know What the Major Labels Want
They want rockstars! Did you know that when Madonna was first discovered she answered the question, “So what do you want?” with, “I want to rule the world!”
Good answer! That kind of audacity and confidence was apparently good enough… back then.
Let’s fast forward to today’s reality. In today’s industry, by the time a big label is looking at you, chances are you have already done plenty of ground work; you have lots of fans coming to your shows, a bunch of prolific recorded material, and you’re signing reams of autographs! You’re in pre-rockstar cruise mode.
My point here is to know that the big labels want the “rockstar” already made. They don’t want to do the ground work. So don’t put all your eggs in the major label basket. Just rule the world one fan at a time and focus on the stepping stones. It’s a better use of your energy and you won’t sign it all away too soon.
7) Learn the Business of Music
It’s important that the rockstar in you knows how to play the game. Is it really just about your music and the fans? If so, let’s all start a music revolution and cut out the middlemen!
Oh yeah, that’s been done before and it totally screwed up the music business… we’re still recovering, actually.
So why can’t rockstars just record their own music, play on street corners or in wickedly cool grungy venues, and reach millions of fans?! There’s a remote chance you eventually can, but there’s an infinitely better chance you can’t.
How to Play the Game
This could also fall under the “Choose the Path of Least Resistance” category. All I’m saying here is don’t be the kind of emerging rockstar I receive LinkedIn messages from everyday saying, “Hey, my music is amazing. I’m broke and I’m looking for a break – can you help me out?”
There’s a much better way to play this game.
Be a part of the music business community, hire project managers, public relation specialists, radio promoters, etc. that all fall under the category of “services rendered.” Just because you pay someone in the music business to do something for you doesn’t mean you’re being ripped off!
The rest of the business world does this every day, and successfully, I might add. You’ll be shocked at who you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with if you participate in hiring great music services. Just be careful and do proper research on who you’re working with.
8) Know Your Limits (Stay Clean)
What more can I say about this one? It’s pretty straight up. Fans want to live vicariously through their favorite rockstars, having a life they dream of but actually really don’t want to pursue.
It’s a hard life with tons of traveling and heartbreak, not to mention the late hours and crazy schedules that lead to substance abuse and eventual collapse. I don’t know of anyone who can sustain a hazy state of awareness for too long.
If you want to rule the world, you must always remain sharp and on your toes! Practice discipline, it’s an amazing human trait that we all have and it’s one that can be nurtured, if you so choose. Rockstars are definitely high on the list of those who must practice discipline.
If you want to be completely scared to death of substance abuse, then read Nikki Sixx’s “Heroin Diaries” – that’ll set you straight.
9) Buy Some Skinny Pants
All rockstars should have a pair. It’s as simple as that!
There you have it – nine tips that will help skyrocket your musical career. Now that you’ve read this article, what are you waiting for? Go practice these tips and be the best rockstar you can be!
What will you do to further your music career in 2016? Share your musical new years resolutions in the comments below!
Photo by Totof Babel