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A Career In Music, Or Just Fame?

Like many of you I occasionally like to watch reality talent shows to potentially discover the next “big thing” that once upon a time we may never have come across. Naturally the world of an unsigned / emerging artist was once a lonely one with a mountain to climb and a lot of hard work and sheer persistence to get yourself heard or in fact in front of the right people. It is a shame though that for the majority of singers / bands that something is definitely missing.
Watching the X Factor televised in the UK over the weekend I was extremely disappointed with the majority of the contestants, not because they did not have the talent but because they seem to believe the only way to secure their musical future is by using a fast track option such as, primarily an entertainment show, as the route for their career. I couldn’t help but ask myself why? Do they really want to be a singer with complete passion and dedication firm in the belief that is all they want to do in their working life or do they just want to be famous? Sadly I suspect the later!
Having been involved in the music industry for 21 years I have seen from the inside how many changes it has gone through and anyone not involved will obviously be aware themselves that with the internet and the rise of social media and streaming services has changed the industry beyond recognition. These changes opened up massive opportunities for all struggling unsigned artists providing a platform to really push their career. Overnight we were exposed to fresh, exciting, different and sometimes unique talent not previously seen or heard of. The possibilities were and are endless. A successful career doing the job that singer / band believed they were destined for is there for the taking, but not necessarily to include national or international fame. So why do so many not grab it with both hands? Perhaps because it is not about financially supporting themselves through their talent doing the job they love but wanting instant fame and riches without the hard work and dedication that goes with it.
I have seen a huge majority want someone to do everything for them and expect everything to be handed to them on a plate with very little effort and prefer to rock up at a gig, perform and sod off with their fee whilst dreaming of being discovered for bigger and better things.
Take for example a platform for artists that has been in place for over 17 years, before the likes of Pop Idol, American Idol, X Factor and the Voice. It was the first of its kind and launched on the internet back in 1998 providing advice, support and assistance to people of all ages seeking a musical career. This resource cost nothing. The website assisted people daily but very few put the advice in to practice with many finding the effort to actually work at it to achieve their dreams was far too much and surely somebody somewhere was going to knock on their door and sign them up to a recording contract and make them the next big thing. Nope, sorry, that’s a script for a Disney film. Back to reality and 17 years later Social media and streaming services have exploded. So where are they? 
This same platform has also changed as time has gone on and now not only does remain as a resource with advice and support, but artists are also able to upload their music, videos and pictures to promote themselves for free as well as sell their music, tickets and merchandise. In addition fans can find out where their next gig is and clients (event managers, bar owners etc) can book them direct to perform anywhere in the world via the unique automated system on the back of what they have seen on the profile. This is obviously new and certainly was not available when I entered the industry and is in my opinion a brilliant tool to self-promote, so why is even that facility not being used to its full advantage?
Imagine if you were to apply for a job in your ultimate career, in preparing your CV / Resume ready to send out to perspective employers would you use this opportunity to sell yourself with a detailed description of who you are and what you are capable of, or would you effectively hand over your name and brief description with nothing to back it up? If you really want that employment you will do everything it takes and put your best foot forward and the same goes for unsigned / emerging artists. Take for example, the artists that are serious and have seen some success have complete profiles to sell themselves effectively so they can be promoted via the site, followers, fans and ultimately earn money and get discovered. People that are not serious have incomplete profiles. Why would a client, record company or fan want to book them or sign them or buy their music when they do not know what the apparent artist sounds like, look like or who they are?
As it turns out it would appear therefore that these struggling unsigned artists are struggling because they want to. They do not appear to have the drive nor want to succeed in their field and are waiting for that day when they will either have everything done for them or that knock at the door. It is not going to happen. If these singers / bands want our sympathy and to buy into the crocodile tears because “it is all I’ve ever dreamed of since a little one and I deserve this opportunity” then it is time for them to prove it. How many gigs have they done? How many calls and e-mails to try and secure bookings? Are they using all the tools and resources available that are free across the internet and social media? No! Then they just want fame & fortune and will therefore be denying someone else of their dream that is truly deserving of that break. 
Personally, I would take advantage of the people that give up their time for free and usually at a cost to themselves to help me get to where I wanted to be. The main point here though, is you have to really want it for the right reasons and work for it. Otherwise, get yourself on a random quiz or reality show and enjoy that fame whilst it lasts without wasting anyone’s time.
Written by: Stephen Antony
November 2015

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