I’m not 19 anymore: I’m tired, ultra busy, on a strict diet, still single and don’t plan on taking any shit. This article is for the grown and sexy musicians.
It will have been a decade in February 2014 since I first started learning how to play guitar. I forced myself to play open mic nights and singer/songwriter nights in small towns in Colorado for years before I moved to Los Angeles and New York. Yes, I have always managed and promoted bands, which has over the years taken precedent in the eyes of my followers in regard to my career, but I started out a musician and a pin up model. True story.
I’ve recorded over 10 records, and 4 or 5 of them have seen the light of day. I’ve sat down with million dollar managers and producers, and they’ve personally sent my music to major label A&Rs. I’ve had a chance to sing in front of Roberta Flack, and have been living out of a suitcase this entire time. I can navigate New York City and Los Angeles with my eyes closed.
There have certainly been good days and bad days, and now, I’ll be 27 years old in October, and I’ve finally recorded my first viable and mature record. But you know what? Recreating the enthusiasm and stamina I had when I was 19 years old is a challenge. In fact, I don’t try to act 19. I don’t try to look like a teenager, or act like I don’t know how this business works.
What I have learned is how to navigate my career as an experienced independent artist. Here are some tips on how to get older gracefully, and enjoy your career:
Look and Dress Your Age:
You don’t have to go shouting from the rooftops that you’re in your late 20’s, 30’s or 40’s, but please, don’t walk around dressing like you’re T.I., Ke$ha, or any other young artist topping the charts right now. You don’t have to dress like a nun or a grandma/grandpa, but wear what you’d be comfortable moving around in on stage. Bikinis and leather skinny pants aren’t made for everyone.
Let Young Industry Pros Know You Know the Deal:
If you let a manager or any industry pro know you’ve been in the game and have been booking and promoting yourself for several years, you’ll instantly separate the wheat from the chaff. If they look at you like you think you’re all that or better than they are, you probably are. Find a pro you can vibe with. Sign with a label who respects your experience and will market you in a way that is appropriate.
Don’t Mentor Unless You Have Time and Resources to Spare:
Know an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who reminds you so much of yourself when you were younger? Let them learn the business on their own. You are not a manager. You are not a promoter or responsible for anyone’s career about your own. Don’t let anyone piggy back on your contacts or your success, unless you’re going to get paid for it. I know this sounds harsh, but if you don’t have a deal, how are you going get someone else one? Real Talk.
Date Whoever You Want:
You’re a grown ass human being, and don’t owe anyone an explanation, but your lover.
Keep Your Distance From Drama:
If you know the pitfalls of this business and of personal relationships between artists, make sure you watch for red flags in people and industry professionals. Don’t linger when you see a pattern of behavior, a certain type of contract, or manipulative conversational cues that just aren’t right. You’ve been there. Stay home, have some wine, or go to appropriate venues and bars where you won’t run into petty trouble and situations. You’ve got enough stress without unnecessary drama plaguing your mind.
If you’re still in the game during your late 20’s, 30’s and 40’s congratulate yourself. No need to talk about yourself and your experience constantly, but you’re a survivor. Don’t punish yourself if you’re a little jaded and sassy, but always try to enjoy where you are in your career, wherever that may be. Don’t envy young artists for being successful on their first try. They’re going to have a much harder time adjusting to the reality of the business if they start obtaining huge success early on. Celebrate that you’ve have time to grow and mature at your own pace.
If Underneath It All, You’re Grumpy, Tired, Doing Everyone’s Job and Not Up For Any Mess:
Welcome to the club. Or, I guess, some of you should welcome me. I’m a brand new inductee into the “Grown And Sexy Musicians Club”, but I’m going to own it.
After a while, the music industry gets real. Difficulties will arise and it takes a lot of discipline and commitment when things don’t work out the way you wanted them to after 10 or 15 years. But at any rate, a true artist will never stop being an artist. Being a musician is a lifetime journey, and only the strong truly survive. Giving your life to such an intense and difficult career path takes true strength. Good luck and Godspeed to everyone who embarks on this unique journey.