Friday, December 2, 2011

Child Stars

What did you dream of becoming when you were a child?  A firefighter?  Doctor?  Teacher?  Movie Star?  Princess?  How many of you actually became what you first dreamed?  If you didn't, why?  There are probably several reasons why, and more than likely it wasn't because you weren't good enough.

What does it mean to be a "star"?  I suppose it can mean different things to different people, but in the end, I think it has to do more with fame and fortune than anything else.  Think about the things a famous musician gets:  travel, nice things that money can buy, name-recognition, doing something they love to make a living, the ability to meet other "famous" people, playing in the most prestigious venues, and the list goes on and on.  It sounds great on the surface, doesn't it?

Now for what you don't think about.  How about the grueling schedule, including the time spent away from home, family and friends?  How about the sheer number of concerts in a short amount of time?  How about the ability to just go somewhere and enjoy yourself without having to worry about people following or stalking you?  And finally, how many really famous people do you hear about that have drug, alcohol and moral issues?  That won't be hard to come up with!

How many musicians do you know that are REALLY good?  You probably know quite a few, even if you don't know them personally.  How many of them make their living solely by playing?  Probably not many.  Does fame equate with talent?  Certainly not!  Just go to Nashville and listen to all the great musicians.  Or how about travelling to Branson and watching them live at Silver Dollar City or in any one of a number of different venues along the strip?  There are many, many talented musicians and singers that never "make it big."  Are they any less valuable?  No!

Does playing a famous venue or playing with a famous person make you famous?  Of course not!  It's a great experience and something that you are not likely to forget soon.  It's something that most people don't get the opportunity to do, and it is something to be thankful for.  It is an honor.

Have you heard of the term "starving artist"?  I would imagine so.  There's a reason for that.  It's called playing for nothing just to be able to play and promote yourself in a way or in a venue that you think will further your career.  It means no health insurance, unless you are lucky enough to be covered under someone else's policy.  It means not being able to choose exactly where you'd like to live, because you need to be in Nashville, or LA, or New York, or some other location that is more likely to further your career.  It means portraying a certain persona (sexy...) and dressing in a certain way.

Are these things that a child can understand?  Absolutely not!  A child equates fame with everything good.  A child cannot understand the lifestyle that ANY occupation entails.  At least for those who want to become a doctor or lawyer or teacher, there are plenty of others who can help them.  How many famous musicians do you know personally?  A child cannot understand giving up childhood until it is too late.  A child cannot understand that people have many dreams along the way.  That is healthy and good, but it's also good that they don't all come true!

A child who loves to play music dreams of becoming famous, just like a child who plays with fire engines dreams of becoming a fireman.  If your child is dreaming of becoming a fireman, you might take him or her to the firehouse, but would you actually let them ride the truck to a fire and help put it out?  If your child dreams of becoming an astronaut, would you send him to space camp?  If you could afford it, probably so!  You might go to Cape Canaveral to watch a space launch.  You might even buy a nice telescope.  But would you hire a private tutor for an 8-year who wanted to be an astronaut?  How about invest in an agency to further a 10-year old's space career?  Yet some parents don't bat an eye about doing these things for a budding musician!  The excuses I hear?  The child loves it, dreams about it, and practices all the time.  The child is specially gifted.  It's the only thing the child wants to do.  Well, to me, this sounds like a kid who loves to play computer games, too. 

What about the agencies that promote this?  You PAY them!  Of course they are going to tell you what you want to hear.  It's their JOB.  Why would they turn away someone that had the money??  Of course your child is especially talented, beautiful, cute, smart and marketable!  If the talent agency really believed that, they wouldn't be charging you!  They would know that your child was going to make them big money and they would pay YOU as it happened.  They would know an INVESTMENT when they saw it if they were that good.  It's like taking pictures with a digital camera.  It doesn't matter how many you take because it doesn't cost you to take them.  If you take enough photos, you are bound to turn out a few fantastic ones!  Every agency boasts about the career they made for someone.  They just don't tell you about all the "digital film" they went through to get there.

You can hire agencies all day long and pay them to tell you what you want to hear.  That's all it is.  You can enter a thousand contests and even win them all.   You can do photo shoots and promotional videos.  You can record a CD in Nashville or any other place as long as you have the money.  In the end, it's not how talented you are. It's all about how much you are willing to give up, who you know, and being in the right place at the right time. 

Support your musical child and give them as many opportunities as you can.  Get them music lessons.  Make a CD.  Travel to concerts and other venues to listen and to play.  I'm not against doing these things for and/or with a child, but I am against doing them for the wrong reason.  Don't waste their childhood and your money SEEKING fame and fortune!  Let the children grow up and then make their own decision.  It's not too late!


Anonymous said...

Terrific blog Chris

Nowell said...

I believe that you yourself are one of the greatest successes in the music business.