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Becoming a star...

I asked my guitar teacher what advice he would give to my students.  Here is what he said:

The very highest echelons of the entertainment business are filled with a very tiny percentile of the total number of people who hope to achieve that status.

Talent has something to do with it, but good looks and who you know who can help your career is actually more important.

But even people who have talent, good looks, and numerous contacts get lost in the shuffle. Only a small percentage of these people are successful.

That's when sheer tenacity and financial backing help sustain people like that in their goal. Not to mention the fact that such career-driven people need to put aside family and friends in pursuit of this goal, as well as having the selfishness, greed, and the Machiavellian willingness to do whatever it takes and use whoever they can to get there.

Someone who wants to go to Berklee or Julliard or MIT to pursue a career in music has to be realistic about their goals. Your only goal cannot be the very top, because the odds are overwhelmingly against you.

Someone with talent musically should also plan on something more realistic, such as working as a studio musician, arranger, jingle composer, guitar teacher, music school professor, or in a music-support capacity (roadie, guitar tech, engineer, etc).

The point I'm making is, if someone loves music, they have an extremely slim chance of being a star, but have a much better chance working in a music-related job that's not as glamorous or high-paying, but can nonetheless still be rewarding.

Having a recording contract doesn't make you a star.  I've known lots of people who had recording contracts and still ended up poor and unknown.  Some of them are bitter and stop being involved in music entirely, mainly because they wanted to be a rock star, not just a rock musician.

Stars come and go, but people who are realistic about making a serious career of music tend to do it for a very long time, even if it means being a small fish in a big sea.

I'm thinking of a Zen Buddhist koan that I can't remember correctly, so I'll paraphrase: it is the process and the journey we make in life, and not some lofty goal to be aimed for, that is the ultimate reward.

-John Gibson


Record Deals (documentary)

Before Music Dies (documentary)

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