Something I have always noticed about new writers and artists as they make their pilgrimages to Twang Town is that they ALL FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE BEEN DRIVEN TO DO THIS! And there is validity in that. Anyone who indulges in the creative arts, and probably anything, has to feel “compelled” to do it. Songwriting and music are among the “highest callings” according to most who do it.
But over the past 5-8 years, there has been an even bigger wrinkle in that many feel “ENTITLED” to do this. They wake up in the mornings, come up with some new song, record it on their phones, put it on YOU TUBE, and start getting “LIKES.” They build web sites, and social networking that are “TEMPLES TO ME” and put every detail of their lives up there. In my opinion “TMI” (Too MUCH information), but that is for another day and another debate. But these people put A LOT of songs, blogs and information up there and it DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN THEY ARE going to be accepted, when they get to the BIG TIME.
They come to Nashville, all full of this. Show up on the writers nights and wonder “Where is my limo? Wait’ll they get a load of me!!!!”(Arms swinging all the time!) They feel that they should be able to advance to the front of the line. They think that EVERYONE JUST HAS TO HEAR THEM!!!! Many times backed up by parents, teachers, friends, relatives, significant others who claim “Your songs are as good as THAT CRAP ON THE RADIO!!!”
Maybe sometimes it is. Most of the time IT IS NOT!!! As a word to the wise, SLOW DOWN THERE TEX!!! Takes a little more than being patted on the back to swing this. Doing anything in the music business is very difficult in the least and nearly impossible at the worst. Getting into he writer’s shows, the better slots, take stepping up a little at a time. Gaining the really good co-writes, and building relationships, take TIME! AND PATIENCE, the one thing most people have very little of.
We are in a VERY SHORT attention span world. People are bombarded by information and getting them to put the cell phone down is an adventure in itself. And that is what you will have to do when you are trying to get and keep attention. And you are going to have to WAIT in line. Get used to it. It is designed that way. It weeds out the thousands of people that come here prematurely, that have egos that “write checks their bodies can’t cash.” And in the immortal words of my friend, manager Art Wassem, “Before one gets a ROYALTY CHECK, one music first get a REALITY CHECK!” I love that quote!
Listen up parents. The REALITY CHECK comes. Everyone in Nashville is a writer, artist or wants to be involved with the business. They all want their songs on the radio. All want to stand in the spotlight. Publishers and P.R.O.'s are OVERWHELMED. Everyone wants a MANAGER to solve all their problems for them. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO MANAGE AT FIRST? What are you paying percentages of?
Of the roughly 600 per month that move or make regular trips to Nashville per month, about 1200 a month leave, having lasted 6 months to two years. Most are completely overwhelmed, run out of money quickly, take two and three jobs, or have to go back OUT OF TOWN to make money. Many find other things to pay attention to.
The bottom line is that there is a LOT of things to pay attention to OFF THE FIELD of writing, performing, recording. There is NETWORKING, BUSINESS, you know, LIFE! You are going to have to eat, sleep, travel and do more work than you can EVER IMAGINE, most of the time working TWO CAREERS INSTEAD OF ONE! And that is what weeds out the unwilling.
And sometimes things JUST DON’T HAPPEN. Nashville is full of thousands and hundreds of thousands of great artists, writers, musicians, business people, that simply DIDN’T CATCH TRACTION. People with publishing and record deals, that never went anywhere. People who are beautiful, lots of money behind them, political connections, WHO DIDN’T DO IT EITHER! It is a career that is 85% OUT OF YOUR HANDS! But you can up the level of your odds.
*Make OTHER people look good. Joining writer’s circles, doing really good shows, delivering quality music, being on time and on your game, doing charitable work, donating time and talents to others.
*If you get with a co-writer, make sure you know what you are doing and don’t waste time.
*Watch other people perform and be respectful.
*Doing it continually! Repeat, repeat, repeat!
*Be around networking groups. MUSIC STARTS HERE is one of the best there is. Many more available from here.
*Contact MAB (Shameless plug!)
*Be a FRIEND. If you WANT FRIENDS, BE A FRIEND!
*BE HUMBLE!!!! (And Kind)
Being “Driven?” Sure, we all are. Remember, “YOU DON’T CHOOSE MUSIC, MUSIC CHOOSES YOU.” (yeah I wrote that) Make sure MUSIC CHOSE WISELY!
Marc Alan Barnette