Don’t try to be everywhere
We live in an internet era. Each day is information overload day. The more that artists try to appeal to everybody, the less people actually care.
Does anyone care that Bon Jovi released Because We Can? Jon Bon Jovi wanted to get all the 12 to 16 year olds onto his side, which in turn alienated the core. How can a band get twenty thousand people at a show and struggle to sell more than 200,000 units of their most recent album? Quality counts.
Once upon a time Bon Jovi had the quality. That is why they have longevity. Slippery When Wet is the album that Bon Jovi is still doing victory laps on. Since then it has been hit and miss. Jon Bon Jovi should stop trying to win over the young ‘uns and just focus on serving his core audience. We will spread the word if the quality is there. Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.
Don’t Depend on Record Labels
Artists don’t need a record label deal anymore. The old gatekeepers are not as powerful anymore. That is why bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Motley Crue and maybe Machine Head are going their own way. Releasing albums on their own labels. Screw playing to the old way.
Of course it’s more difficult going your own way, however that is the future. Break the rules so you don’t get left behind. Digital Summer is one of my favourite bands, and they have been doing it themselves for the last 10 years, as well as holding down normal careers as fire fighters, paramedics, accountants, teachers and so forth.
Without the artist, there is no profit from music. The major labels want radio hits so they find artists that are easy to sell and easily expendable.
Perseverance – Success happens when you contemplate giving up
Never quit. Greatness comes from frustration. Don’t be upset about failing. If you are upset about failing, it just means that you haven’t failed enough. Dream Theater almost called it a day, during the period between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.
Perseverance is a skill. It keeps you estranged from the conventions of society. You know the conventions that tell you to get a real job.
Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, used to compete with Van Halen on the L.A circuit. Van Halen got picked up and Quiet Riot struggled. Randy left to join Ozzy and the band more or less ended, however lead singer Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, and resurrected the Quiet Riot band name after the death of Randy Rhoads.
George Lynch is one of my guitar influences and his story is one of rejection and perseverance. He auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. After Randy got the Ozzy gig, Lynch got Randy’s teaching gig at Randy’s mother school. In relation to the Jake E. Lee situation, Lynch got the guitar slot and then Ozzy (aka Sharon) changed their mind. One of his earlier bands The Boyz had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to George Lynch, that with a name like his, he will never make it, unless he thinks about changing it.
Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976. Will musicians starting out today, put in 18 years of service to music.
The band Rush is a perfect example in perseverance. Back in 1976, before 2112 came out, success was far from guaranteed. In 1974, Rush had released their self-titled debut, which was a standard hard-rock album in the view of Led Zeppelin, Cream and Free. Fly By Night came next and it was Rush’s first with drummer Neil Peart. It featured the Ayn Rand-influenced “Anthem” and the progressive multipart “By-Tor & the Snow Dog”.
For 1975’s Caress of Steel, Rush went even more progressive to diminishing returns. On the verge of being dropped by Mercury Records, and under pressure to deliver a radio-friendly product, Rush did what was expected. They went even further away from the mainstream, more into the world of progressive music and delivered 2112, a concept album about a futuristic society, ruled by a class of people known as the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. This future does not allow people to create or to be stimulated. In the story the main character finds an old guitar and learns to play it. The Priests punish him and destroy the instrument. From perseverance, the album 2112 was born and it laid the groundwork for all of Rush’s future success.
Don’t Worry About What People Say
Rush blazed their own path and the rest is history. They delivered an album that satisfied their muses and the label got a band with a career. If they delivered what the label wanted, a radio friendly album, the label may have made some money, however they wouldn’t have had a band with a career on their roster. Ignore people’s advice unless you are asking for it. Breakthrough work is usually rejected at first. Success is slow. There is plenty of money to be made in the long run if you don’t make money your number one priority. Rush could have been a leader or a follower in 1976. Leading is much more difficult so that is why so many bands are following. How many bands came out and sounded like Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Rose, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Dream Theater and Korn? A lot. So where are they.