Seven characteristics shared by the most successful people in the music industry
By Preshias Harris
In many ways, Perseverance is the first cousin of Passion. When one has passion, perseverance must inevitably follow as the means of realizing one's passion.
Perseverance has sometimes been called persistence or "stick-to-it-iveness." Whatever happens to knock you off course, you just keep going toward your goal. This doesn't mean that, if you come to a ravine, you simply walk straight ahead and over the edge. By perseverance, you find another path, a way around the obstacle, and continue on to your goal.
Your music career will, without doubt, run up against various obstacles as you proceed. There'll be people who will tell you that you should forget about music and get a 'real' job. There will be meetings with music executives that you feel certain will bring about your big break, only to see those hopes crumble. And there will be promises made to you that turn out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors.
A career in music – just like careers in many other areas – can be filled with heartache and disappointment. But that doesn't mean you've made the wrong career choice. Simply that you have to recognize the obstacle and find a way to get past it and back on track.
You might think that a superstar like Lady Gaga pretty much had it made from the word 'Go.' She was something of a child prodigy, playing the piano and performing in clubs at an early age. She signed with Def Jam records, but when the label's executives heard the demos for her upcoming album, they hated them. They told her that her music was too dance-oriented, too racy and it wasn't marketable. When she refused to change, the label dropped her. She didn't give up or settle for less than she knew was her unique niche. She persevered, eventually signing with Konvict Music, and went on to become a superstar, performing her music her way.
Appearing on one of the major TV talent shows, such as 'American Idol' and 'The X Factor,' could seem like a major step on the way to stardom, although it hasn't always worked out perfectly for winners. However, there are lessons to be learned from artists who failed to make the cut, but didn't let that stop them following their dreams.
Hillary Scott, later to be part of the world-famous Lady Antebellum, never even made it to a judges' round to perform for Simon, Randy and Paula. Hillary was able to see this apparent rejection in a positive light. She said, "I was shy. I was nervous. I didn't look the greatest. I wasn't ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no." She viewed this setback as a pointer to areas where she needed to improve. She persevered, working to perfect her craft, and went on to become a star.
The a cappella group Pentatonix seemed to have got it made when they won "The Sing Off" and were signed to Sony's Epic Records, only to be dropped when the label folded. It must have felt like their career was in ruins almost before it started, but they stayed together and kept performing. Clips of their "Sing Off" performances began to go viral on YouTube, racking up views in the tens of millions. Sony took a second look, re-signing them to the Madison Gate label, from which they later moved on to RCA, getting their career back on track.
In each of those cases, it would have been easy to give up, go home and accept that the naysayers were right after all. But Lady Gaga, Hillary Scott and Pentatonix weren't going to let that happen to them. They stayed on their path, finding ways to get around the roadblocks, keeping their eyes on the prize.
The last word on perseverance goes to Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States:
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, 'The College of Songology: The Singer/Songwriter's Need to Know Reference Handbook' is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com