Archive for January, 2012

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Are You Worthy?

January 31, 2012

After one of my recent emails went out, I received a great (and short) email from Doña.

It was so great, I told her she should write an article expanding on what she wrote me and I’d send it out to my list.

So, here it is!

Aren’t you glad I asked her to write something? 🙂

Jennifer

P.S. Another title for this article could have been “Just Say No.”

****

Are You Worthy?
by Doña Oxford

I have been a professional working musician since I was 16. I’ve been fortunate enough to have played with legends such as Keith Richards, Bob Weir, Levon Helm, Buddy Guy, Albert Lee and many more on every level: arenas, festivals, even dive bars. This is how I make my living, gig to gig, paycheck to paycheck. I’ve spent countless hours and serious money investing in my education and skill.

And I’m getting really tired of giving away my art for free.

It’s expected. We as artists are expected to give away free downloads, free CDs, free videos. We even pay the nightclubs to play for a crappy 40-minute time slot, all under the guise of “exposure” or “promotion.” It’s bullshit. When has an A&R rep ever showed up at your gig?

Just last week, a local blues band asked me to play on their album for free, as a marketing tool to get better-paying gigs. So I’m expected to spend my gas, my time, wear and tear on my car, my ideas and my hard-earned skill in the hopes of your band getting a few paying gigs on which you might hire me?

This is my living. I don’t work at the donut shop or as a temp at an office. I’m not a weekend warrior. I make music. I have rent and bills, overheads and employees, just like the record companies and club owners do.

In 1970, the average band made $400 a gig in a local bar. Today in 2012, it’s even less. We are one of the only sections of American society whose income has not increased with inflation. It’s appalling.

And yet top record labels, managers and agents all complain that they’re losing money and want to raise their fees. Some are charging the artist 35 to 50 percent for representation. Labels are now taking a cut of tee-shirt and non-album-related merchandise — money that isn’t theirs. And I’m so tired of hearing big companies whine because they say they are losing money. The artist is and always has been, throughout time, the lowest paid. Yet… remember… without the artist, they have no product to sell.

In 1998, everyone laughed at Metallica for going against the new Napster concept of file sharing. And look where it has got us. Why should the consumer buy music when they can get it free from YouTube? Why should the consumer buy your entire album when they can buy one track for 99 cents. Of which, if you are lucky or savvy, you may get a whopping 30 cents.

And now everyone is up in arms over the SOPA and PIPA laws. They are so afraid they will lose access to their beloved internet and their freedom of speech.

Let me tell you something: Michelangelo, Dalton Trumbo, Eugene O’Neill, Reinaldo Arenas… none of them had websites and yet these artists found a way to get their expression out to the people. It’s all a facade.

Don’t get me wrong, I oppose the SOPA law because it is quite dangerous the way it is written. However, I am thrilled that it opens up the anti-piracy conversation. And so what if someone actually had to pay another artist for the use of their work in order to put their self-serving bullshit video up on YouTube? That artist deserves to be paid.

The “Occupy” movement is all about casting light on corporate greed. But what about the greed in all of us? It has become so commonplace that we expect to get everything for free. Especially if it’s art-related. Free music, free movies, free TV (don’t have to watch commercials now with DVR). My momma used to say, who will buy the cow if they can get the milk for free?

By expecting everything for free, we have devalued ourselves. We have bartered ourselves down to the lowest common denominator. We have increased the amount of crap we now have to wade through in order to find the gems. We have lowered our standards and the quality of our art has suffered. Lip-synching, auto tune, horrible lyrics, reality TV, bad sequels, etc. Every Joe Schmo is in the game now. So we have to compete against crap for no money and false opportunity.

Bill Cosby once said, “Mediocre people are very, very dangerous when they get together. There’s one thing they are not mediocre about and that is fighting off people who are superior. They bring standards down and make it appear that you’ve really got to be a genius to be mediocre.” Thank you, Mr. Cosby.

We are the artists. We are the free thinkers. We are the creators. We are the innovators.

Doesn’t that deserve respect? How about self-respect? I know times are tough and it’s hard to say “no” to what looks like an opportunity. But how much are we really gaining in the long run?

Artists need to know their worth. We need to start demanding that we get paid for our talents. We need stronger unions, anti-piracy laws and maybe something as simple as integrity. We need to support our fellow artists instead of asking them to do us a favor. And we need to feel worthy enough to say, “No, I deserve better. I am worthy.”

(Please feel free to forward this email and this email alone to members of your band or other artists you know. But please do not post it on a web site or blog without asking permission from the author. Thanks!)

Copyright @2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without author’s prior consent.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business

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It’s not a “scam” just because a business charges money for their service and it’s not a scam just because you can’t afford something

January 26, 2012

I’d like to address perhaps my BIGGEST pet peeve in the whole world.

A lot of artists out there like to cry and whine and call anything a “scam” just because a company charges money for a service. A service many artists either 1) can’t afford or 2) don’t feel they should have to pay for.

That is so 5th grade.

Instead of trying to email me and figure out a way I can help you or we can work together, I get emails saying “you’re a scam” — as if calling me a name will somehow make it ok in an artist’s mind that an artist can’t afford to work with me.

I don’t understand where this comes from except maybe jealousy. “I can’t afford your service, so if I call it a ‘scam’ I will make myself feel better that I don’t have the money for it.”

After all, the definition of a business is: 1) a person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern.

Now maybe you don’t think money should be part of the music business.

Please.

It’s called the music BUSINESS not the music “hobby” folks.

***

Now, a scam, on the other hand, is defined by dictionary.com as 1) a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.

Fraud is defined by dictionary.com as 1) deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

I take personal offense to anyone who calls my business a scam.

One artist recently wrote me and said “Wow, if 99% of songs don’t get licensed, then you’re a scam.” As if I control the marketplace. Yes, you’re an artist and you’re in the MOST competitive business in the WORLD after maybe acting. If you don’t like the odds, then do something else. Go to law school or get an MBA or become a doctor or surgeon. If I were a scam, I would LIE and say, “Your music is great and you have a 99% chance of it getting licensed” but instead I am honest and tell it like it is. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Or, “How dare you charge us poor artists.” Well, geez. It’s not like I’m selling water for $1000 in the desert here. If you’re poor, get a job. Making and marketing and promoting your music (and touring) costs money. No one is going to give you money in the beginning of our career to pay for those costs so either 1) you do it yourself or 2) it doesn’t get done. Anyone that runs a business in say, licensing or management that does it for free or 100% on commission either 1) has clients making millions, so they can afford to work on commission only or 2) is really stupid/eager to work in this business so they work for peanuts because they want to “break in” to the business 3) has a HUGE trust fund and is doing this for fun but not as a real business. Go find one of those people to represent if you don’t like what I do.

Do I run a business to make money? Of course. Your precious Apple iPhone and laptop and musical gear all was made by a company that sold it to you and made a profit in doing so. Every time you step into a restaurant or Starbucks or any store, they are making a profit. Is that bad? How dare they mark up food so much. Well, if you don’t like it, don’t eat out.

***

I have never ripped off anyone in my life and I never intend to.

One of the things I am most proud of in life is my honesty. In fact, if you know anyone in this business, ask them about me and I’m sure they will tell you what an honest and ethical person I am. Ask any of my past clients.

It is offensive when an artist reads my emails and thinks, “She charges money for her services. What a scam.” Or “I don’t like how much she charges or the percentage she takes. Therefore, she is a scam.”

I have no idea why the word “scam” always comes up but it does.

It’s a cheap shot and a low blow. Don’t use it.

If you don’t like what I do for a living, or if you aren’t interested in my emails or services, that’s fine. Simply email back with “unsubscribe please” and I’ll GLADLY take you off my email list.

I devote HOURS and HOURS and HOURS to writing and sending out these emails to you FOR FREE to EDUCATE and HELP artists (and ironically, to protect artists from getting “scammed”). 

I don’t know ANYONE else in the business who does that, do you? 

Other companies may offer their services to you at cut rate prices. Good for them. They are McDonald’s. I am that cool neighborhood restaurant with organic ingredients that sure, you may pay a bit more for but the quality and service and food is a lot better. I am not McDonald’s, offering crappy food for $.99. You get what you pay for in life. If it’s working for you, good. Go with them. Then you shouldn’t care if I charge $1 or $100,000 for my services because they don’t interest you, right?

My business model is not the same as the business model of say, a music library that deals in VOLUME. I am small. I am boutique. I may only pitch a few songs for an opportunity for a major ad, film or TV show. People come to me in this business because they like me and respect me and I don’t bombard them with 10 or 20 or 100 crappy songs but only a few good ones. Libraries pitch dozens of mediocre tracks and quite frankly, the quality of most music in music libraries is not good.

I have 10+ years of experience in pitching music for film/tv. I get paid for what I do because I’m that good.

Anyhow don’t ever email me and call what I do a “scam.”

That would be like me calling you a “talentless hack” just because you’ve never been signed to a major label or publisher before or haven’t licensed your songs or made millions of dollars yet. I would never say that to anyone, no matter how bad their music was because I know 1) artists are sensitive 2) music, singing, songwriting, production can ALWAYS be improved upon. So, while I may think some things to myself, I would never say someone is a “talentless hack” and “hopeless” and I would appreciate if you never use the word “scam” and my name ever again.

Thanks!

(Please feel free to forward this email and this email alone to members of your band or other artists you know. But please do not post it on a web site or blog without asking permission. Thanks!)

Copyright @2012 True Talent Management. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without author’s prior consent.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business

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“Everyone should work for free”

January 22, 2012

Admit it.

If you’re like most artists, you have this ridiculous belief that everyone should work for you for free.

I know because I hear it from all my friends. Other managers. Publicists. Radio promoters.

Well, the problem is, that’s an unrealistic idea.

Crazy and unfair to boot.

But, before I tear it completely to shreds, let me defend it for a second.

***

Yes, I know where it comes from.

You think people should work for you for free because your music is so great.

And maybe it is. And maybe it isn’t.

The problem is that so many people in this world are DESPERATE to work in the “music business” that they WILL work for you for free.

Anyone can hand out business cards and call themself a manager, even if they have NO idea what they are doing and have never managed a band before.

So of course, someone in that situation is going to have to “work for free” because they have no proof that they can manage anyone effectively.

I know because I used to be one of those people (a new manager, although I always was good at it, even when I had little to no experience).

Of course, when I was starting out as a manager, I was working for free. But that was fourteen years ago.

And, back then, in fact, I wasn’t just “working for free” – I was losing money.

But it was ok.

Because, like many managers, I had a day job and I managed “on the side.” A lot of managers do this when they are starting out.

A lot of people manage as a hobby.

And that’s fine.

But what about when you get past that point?

Sure, I worked for peanuts, essentially “for free” for many artists. Sure, we made some money…but it was peanuts compared to the hours I put in.

And to add insult to injury, after working pretty much for free for four years for one band, that band screwed me over big-time when even a tiny bit of money came knocking from a shady music publisher. Now the band is nowhere and the shady guy got fired from his big, hot shot job at a major studio. Ha!

Anyhow, I digress.

Point is, I think a lot of artists get SPOILED by newbies and believe that EVERYONE should work for them for free.

And sadly, a lot of artists and bands also somehow justify it being ok to fire their manager and screw them out of money when things FINALLY take off after their manager’s YEARS of hard work and making NO money from them. All I can say is karma is a bitch.

But back to my original point…

**

Now, there’s a BIG difference between having a manager that’s say:

1) an accountant by day — and manager by night (or a manager that works from home)

vs.

2) having a professional, full-time manager

I’ve crossed over from that first group to the second (although thankfully I was never an accountant).

Yet, artists seem to always approach me with this thought process, “I’m making NO money. I have no fan base. My songs may or may not even be that good. But I want YOU to work for ME for free. It’s your job to figure out how to make money for me, even though I’ve never made any money for myself.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

and…

#@$#@%

In case you haven’t noticed, there have been DRAMATIC shifts in the entertainment business over the past few years.

Most notably, record companies (and publishing companies) are downsizing more than ever before — to the point where even many of my long-time A&R friends are losing their jobs….and not getting hired back.

With labels (and publishers) signing less talent, that means less money all the way around.

Now….

How do managers get paid?

Normally, the biggest way is from a percentage of your record label or publishing deal advance.

Whereas back in the 1980s or 1990s, it wasn’t unheard of for a band to be getting nice 7 figure deals, that just isn’t happening anymore. So back then, a manager could make a good six figure income if they just got one artist a good record and publishing deal every year.

Flash forward to 2012. Budgets are being slashed left and right. And sure, labels and publishers are still signing bands. But you’re much more likely to see a $50,000 – 360 record deal being offered today than anything in the six or seven figure range.

What does that mean?

That means managers aren’t reaping those big commission checks anymore.

And without them, there is no more “work for you for free ’til you get signed.”

Now you’re just coming to a manager and flat out asking them to work for free.

UGH.

I don’t know what the future is but at an industry event the other night someone told me that “big” and “established” MANAGERS of star acts and well-known bands are now asking ARTISTS TO PAY MANAGERS FOR THEIR SERVICES. Or taking 30-35% commission instead of the standard 15-20%. Because even 50-100% of $0 is $0.

Ha, and to think all these years, I was just AHEAD of my time.

Of course managers are doing this.

Because those big, fat record and publishing advances aren’t there anymore.

And managers need to get paid somehow.

It makes sense.

Any reputable manager isn’t running a charity.

Managers run a business with staff and rent and expenses to pay.

And don’t forget, most managers are self-employed so we’re all paying for our own office rent, assistants, sick days, health insurance, cell phones, computers, computer repairs, it all adds up. Plus, there is no “paid” vacation time or 401K plan when you’re a manager so you have to build that into your cost of doing business.

Maybe now that you see how things have changed, you’ll stop asking a manager to work for you for free.

(Please feel free to forward this email and this email alone to members of your band or other artists you know. But please do not post it on a web site or blog without asking permission. Thanks!)

Copyright @2012 True Talent Management. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without author’s prior consent.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business

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There are two ways to “break” as an artist

January 12, 2012

1) Tour

or

2) Tour

The only real exceptions to this rule are:

1) “radio” bands

2) pop stars who break through success on a TV show or movie first (think Disney kids).

Now, before you start getting your guitar strings all in a tizzy, hear me out. Yes, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule.

But, generally speaking, if you don’t tour, how do you expect to develop a following?

And if you don’t develop a following, how do you expect to make a LIVING from your music?

Touring. Touring. Touring.

“Why is touring so important?” you ask.

Good question.

Many reasons:

1) Touring is the only real way bands develop a fan base. 

Sure, back in the day, there was radio and videos on MTV and now we have all the social media outlets like Facebook YouTube and such, but being in a room, in person, in front of people, singing your songs and playing your music is still the best and only way to develop a true and loyal fan base. As great as social media is, we are still human beings and nothing beats a live concert and meeting the artist afterward.

After all, would you rather get an email from your favorite band or singer? 

Or get to meet them after their show? 

EXACTLY!

Sure, you may even be clever enough to create a YouTube video that gets a million or more hits. But YouTube videos are here today, gone tomorrow.

If you play a show, even if only 10 people are in the room, and you have a nice chat with them after the show, and they like your music, I guarantee they will tell their friends not only how GREAT a band you are, but also how NICE and COOL you were to them after the show. So, when you go back to that town or city, you should have MORE people there the next time. Sometimes you have to start small to get big. 10 now, 20 later. 40 down the road. Then 80. Then 100. Then 200. Then 1,000. You get the idea….fan bases can develop exponentially over time. But it takes TIME. So if you don’t start today, you’re never going to get there.

2) If you don’t tour, how do you expect to ever get signed?

Say you want a record deal. Or just someone to “invest” in your music (that isn’t a parent or family member). Say you give me a CD and I send it to one of my label or “investor” contacts — and they LIKE it. Well, the very next question they are going to ask me is, “How’s the live show?” So, if you don’t tour, there is no “live show” and no fan base. A label’s level of interest goes from HERE….to well, here…because labels know what all of us in the industry know – TOURING BUILDS A FAN BASE. It is an ESSENTIAL part of your career and key to your success.

3) When you play live, you get to meet with and network with other artists and bands. 

And guess what the #1 way an artist gets an opening slot on a tour is? Yup, that’s right. Their friends. That’s why Taylor Swift takes Kellie Pickler out on tour with her instead of a million other artists: because they are friends.

4) If you don’t play live, you’re probably not getting a performance on a TV show.

I was just talking to one of my contacts who works as a booker on a major TV show. He said, “Do you think I’m going to send a camera crew of SEVEN out to film an artist who isn’t AMAZING live?” Of course not.

You may not need a huge fan base to get on a talk show, but if you aren’t playing a show in the next few weeks, how is the booker even going to come see you live to evaluate your show for its TV potential?

5) The only way to get “better” live is to play out often and tour.

How do you get better at something? Practice, practice, practice!

For years I managed a band that had incredible success in the music placement area (thanks to some well produced songs and an amazing promoter in yours truly). And we had tons of label interest. However, whenever we would showcase for the labels, which we did time and time again, after the show it was crickets, crickets, crickets. Our lawyer said, “I think the band isn’t getting signed because of the live show.” They sounded fine live. But there was no energy. The lead singer had no charisma up on stage. No spark. The band played out but they never even went on a real tour. They just played locally and in Los Angeles a few times. So the live show was just “ok” and “ok” isn’t enough to get signed. And A&R guys and labels and even a savvy investor knows that the #1 way to break a band is ON THE ROAD. So, if you want to get better live, play out often and go on tour!

6) Touring is part of your “job” as an artist.

Yup, you heard me. You don’t want to be like Steely Dan, do you? It’s SO hard to get attention these days, so if you don’t tour, you’re cutting out a HUGE way you can get noticed. After all, I’m sure you’ve all had friends tell you, “Dude (dudette?), you HAVE to see this band play live. They are AMAAAAAZING!”

GOOD WORD OF MOUTH IS EVERYTHING IN THIS BUSINESS!

You want to be that band.

If you’re an artist who is not playing out and not touring, well, that’s like a painter that says they only use 1/2 of the colors. Or a chef that only knows how to make a few dishes. Sure, you can do it, but it won’t be much of a painting…and you won’t be much of a chef and it certainly won’t be a very good restaurant if you only make one or two items. Sure, you’re still an “artist” if you don’t play shows. But maybe you’re really just a “songwriter” and not a “performing artist.” Do you want to be Diane Warren? Or U2? Each have made millions. But who do you think has made more?

7) You want to get signed? What do you think happens after you make your record?

You tour!

I know we talked about that earlier but it comes up a lot.

Artists say to me all the time, “Oh, but I’ll tour IF I get signed to a label” or “I’ll tour WHEN I get signed.”

Here’s the rub.

Labels don’t want to hear that.

In fact, I bet most labels would laugh if they heard an artist say that.

They don’t care.

Put yourself in their shoes.

You can choose to sign any artist in the world that is unsigned.

Pool #1 has 1,000 artists who want to get signed who are touring, have developed a fan base and are working their butts off.

Pool #2 has 1,000 artists that have either 1) never toured or 2) only played a handful of dates here and there.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the A&R guys and President of the label.

Why would you even LOOK at artists in Pool #2 when there are already TONS of amazing artists in Pool #1?

Exactly!

What happens after you sign to a label and make an album?

The label puts you out on the road.

Now why would they do that with an “unproven” entity? What if they sign you and you hate touring? Or the band gets along great in the studio but not on the road? If they only sign acts that tour ALREADY, they’ll never have to worry about these problems, right?

8) Money

How do you expect to make any money if you don’t tour?

With CD sales falling, ticket sales (and merchandise sold at shows) are one of the only ways to make money in this business. How much did U2’s tour gross in 2011? North of $300 million. Sure, you’re not U2, but most artists make their living on the road.

9) You need or want a booking agent

Booking agents don’t care if you have a record deal or not.

But what they DO care about is, “How many people can you draw to this show next month in Toledo?”

A key to success is getting a great booking agent on your team.

And you can do that, even without a record deal.

But you need FANS…

And how do you get FANS???

TOURING.

10) You want press?

If you want any real press, you need to tour. Most local and national newspapers and weeklies don’t care much about you unless you’re coming through town soon.

11) If you don’t do it, someone else will

While you’re sitting at home, crying that it’s “too hard” or “too expensive” or “pointless” to tour, other artists and bands are slogging it out on the road and developing fans, one by one.

Think of it this way.

Even if you’re a solo artist or band, and you played for one fan every night, if you played out every night, in a week you’d have 7 fans and no doubt have sold 7 CDs/shirts. In a month, that’s 30 fans and CDs/shirts. In a year, 365 fans and shirts. Of course, any place you play should have at LEAST 5-10 people so do the math.

Sitting at home = no fans.

Playing out = fans every time you play.

Of course, you have to be savvy about touring. Use social media to promote your shows. Don’t know anyone in a city? Find some people online, or buy targeted ads on facebook for the cities and towns you are going to play. Make great and ENTERTAINING YouTube videos to help grow your fan base. Ask your fans to bring their friends and promote your next shows.

12) It’s fun

Yes, playing your music live, in front of people and not a YouTube camera, is and should be FUN. You should ENJOY and LOVE being up on stage, getting to perform for people every night. Getting to see people’s reactions to your songs, your energy on stage, your lyrics…that should all be PRICELESS. After all, isn’t performing one of the reasons you got into the music business in the first place?

***

Now, I can probably add some items to this list but 12 reasons should be enough. Maybe you can think of more??

I understand that many of you can’t tour because 1) you have a day job 2) you have a spouse and/or kids to support 3) gas is really expensive 4) the economy “sucks”

I suppose that’s why so many artists that get signed are so young. Because when you live at home and have no responsibilities, you can go on tour.

However, even if you have family and financial obligations, you can still play out.

My friend’s brother is married with kids in New Jersey yet they still play out almost every weekend.

Sure, he’s doing it for fun and not to get signed. But if he can do it every weekend with a wife and kids to support, so can you!

***

Now I know I can’t “talk” you into touring.

Artists either “get it” and tour and play out as often as they possibly can. Or they don’t. And no amount of me trying to convince you, especially over an email is probably going to change your behavior (although secretly I hope it will).

Just know that the artists “making it” today are touring. Why, even Katy Perry went on Warped Tour when her first album was breaking. Sara Bareilles rode around in a van even after she was signed to Epic to promote her first album. Everyone tours.

So if you’re not reading this email from the back of a smelly van somewhere…

(Please feel free to forward this email and this email alone to members of your band or other artists you know. But please do not post it on a web site or blog without asking permission. Thanks!)

Copyright @2012 True Talent Management. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without author’s prior consent.

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business

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What’s the difference between Mariah Carey and me?

January 4, 2012

Well, for starters, I didn’t just have twins, I’m not married to Nick Cannon and I don’t have $100 million in my bank account….but we’ll get to that a bit later….ha!

****

What’s the difference between being “good” and being “great?”

That’s a good question.

I’ve always believed there is one’s natural ability…and then the effort one puts into something.

Let’s take Mariah Carey as an example. She was one of my favorite singers growing up.

She has an amazing voice and range, right?

I assume she was just born with that…

However, a lot of success in life isn’t about being born with a specific talent, like an amazing voice or eight octave range.

It’s about the effort you put into IMPROVING what you have.

***

Now, I may take a million singing lessons and still never have near the voice of an opera singer or Mariah Carey.

But there is a lot I do have control over.

If I were a songwriter, for example, I could control the quality of the songs I write.

And so can you.

***

Let’s take my teacher friend as an example.

Remember school?

I know it was a long time ago for many of you…and not so long ago for others of you (maybe some of you reading this are even still in school).

Anyhow, remember taking English class? And getting back papers with red marks all over them?

If I recall, much of school was like this.

My friend is a teacher. As is my aunt. As were both my grandmothers. But I digress….

I’ve been over to my teacher friend’s house numerous times and have sat in awe and watched him grade papers for hours and hours and hours.

He just sits there, on his sofa, every night after school, and spends HOURS grading papers.

If you have a friend that teaches, I implore you to go over to their house one night after school and watch them sit and grade papers.

Why?

Because it will teach you this: to learn and most importantly, to IMPROVE at anything, whether it’s English or Math or Social Studies or Science or SONGWRITING, it takes a LOT of mistakes. Doing things the wrong way and trying something new. And having someone correct your mistakes and show you how to make things BETTER!

I consider myself a good writer. I mean, good enough that one of my articles is going to be published in an upcoming issue of Music Connection.

Yet, if I think back, I probably wrote from 3rd grade all the way through high school and four years of college and had millions (ok, hundreds) of pieces of writing critiqued and graded and redlined and I probably got a lot of bad grades before I got better.

Sitting there watching my math teacher friend grade papers with his red pen reminds me of how important it is to keep working on IMPROVING anything you write. Sure, he teaches math but the same is true of English and writing and even if you’re writing songs, you should CONSTANTLY be working to IMPROVE those songs. Write better lyrics. Run them by other artists you know and like and TRUST for CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.

We can and never should stop IMPROVING our work.

Right?

I know I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today if I hadn’t gotten all that constructive feedback about my writing.

What about you?

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management ~ True Talent PR

9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320

Beverly Hills, CA 90210
http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

http://www.truetalentmgmt.wordpress.com – Read my music blog for advice on making it in the music business