I get several calls and emails each week from singers who want to become artists. Many are very talented singers. All have a dream. But few understand the difference between singing and selling a song; between performing for others and performing for themselves; between copying a sound and creating an original product.
Most say something like, “ I just love to sing. I’m as good as (fill in the blank). I just want to be on stage. Please give me a chance.”
And I typically respond with, “ A chance for what? To sing? You’re already singing or you wouldn’t know that you liked to; To be on stage? Again, you probably already have been on stage or you wouldn’t know that you liked it. And anyway, putting you on a stage, would not make you a star.”
The first step in becoming a true artist is to understand what an artist is.
An artist is a singer who can deliver a song in such a way that a mass audience feels a strong emotion when they listen to it. This makes them want to purchase it; to identify with it and make it a part of the fabric of their lives. Music is an exchange of emotion first and foremost.
A commercially successful artist is one who has an original way of evoking this emotion from his/her audience and the resources to create and market it to the world. They are unique in range, texture, phrasing, delivery or some other way that makes them recognizable and identifies them with the songs they sing. This creates a fan base that will purchase your product, spread your name and make money for you and for those who have invested in creating your success.
The second step in becoming an artist is deciding whether it is a dream or an achievable goal. Sometimes this is a decision based on natural ability and sometimes it is a decision based on the investment of time, effort and money it takes to achieve success.
Remember that a commercial artist is an original product with the ability to attract and maintain a large enough following of loyal customers to support a career. There is no small amount of business savvy needed to go along with your talent to create income from it and, as with any start up business, it requires a commitment of time and resources before the big payoff comes.
Ask yourself this question: “Do I want to DO it or to have DONE it?” Do you want to live the day in, day out life of a hard working artist, or only to have the fame that may come from it?
An artist is born when a singer makes the commitment to: 1. Explore their talent until they discover a uniqueness that sets them apart from other singers and that appeals to a mass audience. 2. Develop that unique sound into a marketable product. 3. Create and execute a business plan to promote the product and build a career based on it.
It does take a team to launch a successful artist career. Understanding your role on that team will help you attract the other players you need and assure you a better chance at success. I hope this sheds some enlightenment and helps you decide how to invest your time and energy, whether it is in becoming an artist or something else.
I look forward to speaking to more of you in the future and to helping you focus your artist dreams if that is the path you are driven to pursue.