Fame Art Fortune – excerpts
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There are many books out there with the aim of showing you ‘how to do’ something. In the area of the performing arts, these ‘how to do’ books generally focus on the technical aspects. This process is extended further with services offered by private teachers and institutions such as schools and universities that generally tend to lean toward the practical side of whatever art is being studied. If you happen to find any literature leaning away from the practical side of things, you might find that it’s usually written in such deep Freudian ‘crazyspeak’ that you need a psychologist to make any sense of it.
So, with this pre-occupation on the practical element, the ‘doing’ aspect of music performance education, what about the other side, the forgotten element that can’t be seen or touched? The mental process. The times when you are not actually doingthe physical part, ie. when you’re practicing or rehearsing or performing, but when you’re thinking about your performance, ie. how you’d like to perform, how you see yourself improving, contemplating where you’d like to be and more…
• How do you maintain enthusiasm in the face of setbacks?
• How do you break the cycle of self doubt and develop that all important ‘positive attitude’ ?
• Why do performers with seemingly lesser ability sometimes do better than others with superior ability?
• How valid is the age-old term ‘no pain no gain’ in your quest for recogniton?
• Does visualizing a successful performance before an event actually work?
• Is setting goals an integral part of your road to success?
• If so, how do you define success?
These questions and many more are dealt with in Fame Art Fortune.
Fame Art Fortune is not intended to teach you ‘how to do’ what you need to do in your chosen musical orientated field. No, the previously mentioned practical instructional materials and educational institutions take care of that. This book deals with perhaps the most important area that applies to all musicians and indeed every creative performing artist. The element that can turn an average performer into a promising talent and elevate a good artist to star status.
Fame Art Fortune is about attaining and maintaining the correct MENTAL ATTITUDE and OUTLOOK to realize your highest dreams and goals! IMPRINTING the positive outlook required to ensure that you get the MOST out of YOUR performance in the BEST possible way – whatever your field of expertise. And the more you get into this book you may find that the methods and principles presented often unfold as perfectly good common sense and sound wisdom. The kind of information that you may even already possess but are not aware of, or perhaps have forgotten in your pursuit of fame and fortune.
Written in layman’s language, the message conveyed in Fame Art Fortune is simple. There are no baffling exercises to master, no Zen type riddles to unravel and no overly complicated issues to deal with. The information offered is intended to ‘switch on your light’ by helping to advance you along your chosen route. For aspiring performers this book may be regarded as a manual to be referred to often, containing motivational keys to open up and free your mind, with the aim of enhancing and stabilizing your performance ability. For professionals Fame Art Fortune can be used as a source of inspiration in times of doubt and anxiety, which many of us often experience in this tough business.
I’ve had a successful career in the music business spanning more than thirty years. From personal experience and observing other musicians, I believe that aside from poor technique, insufficient preparation and training, the biggest barrier for any musician to achieving and maintaining optimum performance is due to ‘mental blocks’ or incorrect thinking. No matter how good your practical skills, if your mind is filled with negative self-limiting thoughts this will lead to one result – a poor performance.
We’re all individuals in both performance and personality. So what one artist may find improves their performance, another might not. However this aside, ALL of us from beginner to professional require a certain amount of solid knowledge and key information to get the job done competently. Those of you naturally gifted and lucky folk may have an advantage, but all the talent in the world will do you precious little good if you don’t know how to correctly channel this to perform at your peak level. There are many great ‘bedroom musicians’!
Fame Art Fortune is a book written by a musician, however the content applies to anyone associated with the creative arts. So no matter what discipline you involve yourself in, when reading about a situation that is musically orientated, simply apply this to your field as the principles offered are universal in appeal.
This book is the result of my extensive involvement in the roles of professional musician, educator, author and drum workshop presenter. The content is also reinforced with other successful artist’s ideas, beliefs, experiences and comments on the subject. The aim of this ‘how to’ book is to help you mentally channel your potential and become the best performer you can possibly be.
Finally, the following advice is offered below for you to get the most out of Fame Art Fortune and how to effectively apply the information:
• It is better to digest one principle at a time.
• Due to its easily understandable format, many people can read a book like this in one sitting. However, that’s a lot of information to take in all at once. So don’t skim over the surface.
• Once you have read through the whole book, give yourself at least one days break to let the information filter through. Then start again from the beginning and focus on one principle at a time OR focus on a specific area that you would like to change and improve on.
• Changing a thought pattern or existing habit requires time and effort. The principles offered will only start to work for you if you consistently apply them.
• Remember, it generally takes, with consistent practice, 21 days to change a habit or thought pattern. Use this time frame for change.
• You can do this by re-reading chapters every day on the train, on the bus or during your lunch hour at work. Pin reminder notes to your wall so that they’re in view everyday.
• You basically need to ‘live’ the principle until it becomes second nature, to the point when you don’t have to consciously apply it.
Are you ready for this? Tighten your seat belt and let’s get started. Good luck!
Chapter 1 – FAME AND FORTUNE?
Each and every one of us has a niche to carve. Find yours and make a mark
If you’d never heard of me before you checked out his book then that’s okay, you haven’t dented my ego… honestly. But isn’t your curiosity aroused by the fact that here you are, sitting with a book written by an ‘unknown’ – all things being relative – musician? Aren’t I supposed to be a famous name in order to have got this book to the point where you’re reading it? At this stage its safe to say that the techniques and information covered in this book helped me to get it into the position that I finally wanted it to rest, and that’s right here… in your hands!
5% or 95%
What I represent is a whole lot more important than who I am. You could say that I represent 95% of the performing community. Let me explain…
Like it or not, the truth is that only a very small percentage of performers ever go on to achieve the dizzy heights of international stardom and fame. But of the huge majority of performers who never ‘make it’, a large number DO have flits with the ‘big time’. So let’s get some perspective on this whole stardom thing.What one performer considers doing well or having ‘made it’ another may not. Okay, so the most obvious and ultimate level of success for most would be jetting around the world supporting a chart busting CD, or a blockbuster movie success, or the lead in a Broadway or West End show… Right? Does this sound like a dream to you? To most it is – but to a few it isn’t.
If you consider the famous quote: “anything is possible with a willing mind”, why is it that only a small percentage ever reach these spectacular heights? What’s more perplexing is that many of the performers who do manage to attain this level may be considered mediocre at what they do… Hmmm, what is it with this stardom thing then? What about the 95% who don’t get there – the ‘unknowns’?
They are everywhere! Their faces are on posters in your town or city – you read about them in your local and national press – music stores love them because they are the lifeblood keeping them solvent – you see them playing your local theaters, clubs or even concert halls – you hear them being played on your local and national radio stations – you may even see them on television. Yes, they are indeed everywhere and getting paid for doing what they love to do – perform. Some are better known and better paid than others… and this is where the personal perspective on the success factor comes into play.
You see, a lot of people mistakenly believe that the only measure of true success is reaching the very top in their desired field. While this attitude is valid, it can also be extreme, robbing you of any sense of personal achievement and self-fulfillment. The statement “everybody loves a winner” has merit but quite honestly gets a lot of people into trouble. The entertainment industry is very competitive and the stakes are high, but it’s when we become completely focused to the point of losing a grip on reality that things can go off course.
So what then is true success?
Stating again that success is relative, the object of this book is to reveal to you the mental tools that can help you achieve your dreams. And this is not meant to be a contradiction. The aim is to help you achieve your success – whatever that is – without your aspirations wiping you out in the process.
Putting ‘success’ into perspective… I’ve known ‘unknown’, ‘infamous’ club musicians who have big houses, big pools, big cars and on weekends may go hang gliding, sailing or even clock up flying hours to obtain a pilots license. They have reached THEIR level of success and are living THEIR dream. Lets remember that the entertainment industry does not only equal movie screens, huge stadiums, and massive CD sales or downloads… This is only the peak… the rest cascade right down to the base of the pyramid.
A personal profile
I’d like to illustrate briefly what an ‘unknown’ (again all things being relative) performer can and has accomplished – ME.
In South Africa I’ve played in two bands that had No.1 chart hits; played on an international Worldvision release; worked with ‘name’ local and international artists on tour and in the studio. Recorded drums and percussion for the stage show aired at the 2003 World Parks Summit, attended by (then) President Thabo Mbeki and former President Nelson Mandela. I have appeared in the press, and on radio and TV many times – in my own right and also with bands.
Internationally, I’ve played with a UK soul artist who has had hits released worldwide; been a member of a band signed to a major American publishing company and record label. I have drummed with an award-winning band that had its music played on CMTV across Europe as far afield as Russia, and played the London West End in a musical. I am listed in the American Encyclopedia of Country Music and have therefore managed to get my name into print… forever. I’ve have had my own successful drumming magazine that featured top artists from all around the world. I’ve conducted drumming and motivational workshops to audiences of 40 to 1000 people.
I’ve signed autographs, had my photo taken by fans and photographers from industry journals. Done a record album cover shoot in famous pop and rock photographer David Bailey’s studio in London (the Rolling Stones had been in the week before and then the week after our shoot, The Who were there!) I’ve appeared in pop/rock magazines and national newspapers, I’ve wined and dined on a record company’s expense account. I’ve recorded in state of the art recording studios with top producers, session musicians and sound engineers. I’ve performed on many stages around the world in settings from clubs to theaters and stadiums and had the opportunity and pleasure of traveling to and working in many countries around the world.
Where do you see yourself?
So where do you think my list belongs – in the 5% or the 95% category. Personally, I like to think it’s a bit of both. I realize that it’s not quite on the same level as touring with a mega act like U2, but hey, I’ve had a good time and still am. I earn my living from what I love and do best – performing, and now also as a teacher and author, and everything else I do in the music business. Man, I love what I do! I am among the fortunate few on this planet who gets up in the morning and looks forward to the day because I work in the field that I have chosen. It’s a sad fact that only 17% of people in the world enjoy what they do for a living. I think that’s pretty tragic! As the great actor George Burns once said, “the secret to long life and happiness is to likewhat you do for a living.” I couldn’t agree more.
A lot of people would sell their grandmothers to achieve what I’ve outlined above. I know this for a fact because they’ve told me so! But I am not unique in this as there are many performers out there who have had comparable success and more – yet they are still the ‘unknowns’. So you see, fame is relative. It is relative to the market that you operate in. When I was working with an award winning UK country music band nobody outside of that scene knew who I was, simply because they weren’t plugged into it. If you had asked an 18 year old heavy metal fan who I was, they’d have looked at you with a somewhat glazed look on their face and replied, “who?” – even though I was playing in a band that was headlining big festivals and had two charting singles on CMTV Europe.
So it’s difficult to sometimes define the line separating the 95% and the 5%. But in the end I have to say that it’s really down to your own interpretation and ideals, because I’ve met some successful performers (internationally renowned) who are rather humble regarding their accomplishments and don’t think it’s such a big deal.
Chapter 4 – ART OR MONEY
Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art
Pop Artist and Avant-garde Film Maker – Andy Warhol
Show business – what a contradictory term. Show being the arty side where you ‘show’ your talents, and business being the money paid to you for showing off your talents. Show business is that magical title connected to the field of performing arts. And it is in every sense a business, but often not that easy to make money in.
All performers, I believe, whether professional or amateur can be categorized into two main groups. One being money orientated and the other art orientated. Which one are you? More than likely you’re a combination of the two, but the question is on which side do you place more emphasis?
For arts sake!
Sounds dumb I know, but if you’re the type of artist who is happy to venture out for little or sometimes no money, ‘out of preference’, then you probably lean toward an ‘arty’ side. To clarify: As long as you can eat, pay the rent, manage your bills, but most importantly be on stage doing what you love – then you’re content being an artist. I’ll give an example here and stick my neck out with a reference to jazz. The majority of jazz musicians around the world will agree that this genre of music generally doesn’t pay that well. Some do make a living but Jazz musicians in general play jazz because that’s what they love to play, regardless of what the gig pays. So it’s no surprise to find that a lot of ‘jazzers’ play music as a sideline/love/hobby.
Like I stated earlier some do make a great living in this genre but they are relatively thin on the ground. Elite jazzers like keyboardist Chick Corea, guitarist Pat Metheny or saxophonist Wynton Marsalis have built hugely successful and respected reputations on the ‘art’ side, but have also managed to make it financially viable. So how have they done this? Well there are various routes, one being that they may have involved themselves in other work related to what they love to do, but which pays much more. Guitarist Lee Ritenour for example, is a hugely talented and successful session musician who has done studio sessions for the biggest names in the music field. This involvement has afforded him to record jazz albums and even head up his own bands. Additionally he has won jazz industry polls and awards and endorses top of the range musical gear. Therefore to me, it spells out that he and other similarly successful jazz orientated musicians are members of that elite 5% previously discussed.
But compare the rewards to be earned by artists who have ‘made it’ to the elite 5% in the rock, pop or hip hop field and the difference is usually quite staggering. This is because the budgets of major jazz business deals pale in comparison to major rock tours, record and management deals. The reason for this is quite simple. Compared to rock or hip-hop, jazz has a minority listening audience and it’s the number of CD and concert ticket sales that dictate everything financial in the music business. So no matter how good your voice is or how well you play your instrument; if you choose a minority music genre or perhaps a ‘fringe’ area in the acting world, then what you can expect is a minority audience and smaller pay check in return. Common sense? Of course…
You can have your cake and munch away
So you see from the above (music related) example that doing what you love in the arts can also be financially viable when you manage to mix art and money successfully. Here’s another example:
I have a good friend who is an actor. Neill’s first love is the theater, so whenever the opportunity presents itself you will find him doing what he loves, which is performing in front of a live theater audience. The downside is that he’s not always busy and finds himself with periods of ‘resting’ (an actors term for being out of work.) To counteract this Neill supplements his income by doing TV and radio ads (or any other related work which brings in the money). Aside from this generally being well paid, the further advantage of this type of work is that it gives him wider appeal, as radio and TV are vast entertainment mediums. This exposure in turn helps his theater career as he’s more recognizable through these TV appearances, even though they’re ads and not that creatively inspiring.
Chapter 13 – HOW TO CAPTURE YOUR AUDIENCE
……………….further into the chapter………….
I’ve also noted that some of the finalists and even winners in these shows, although ‘un-technical’ singers have delivered on great feel and performance… in other words ‘what the song required’. At the end of the day, your main aim should be to always move the audience.
Let’s check out David Cook – the 2008 American Idol winner. Here was a very down to earth guy who took songs and creatively reworked them to suit his personal singing and performance style, and in doing so totally floored everyone. Man… the guy was true and unique. He didn’t resort to any vocal gymnastics or tricks; he just delivered on good honesty and talent. Aside from being a great singer, he chose to do what he did best and I believe it is this factor that contributed greatly to him winning the competition! There were more technically accomplished singers than him on the show, but why do think they didn’t win? Because, they didn’t connect with the song or audience. David Cook captured the hearts of the audience because he was true – as are Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews or John Mayer.
By and large, record company execs look for authenticity and originality. So if you feel you have something unique to offer, then believe 100% in what you do and make sure you deliver this to the best of your ability.
Be true to your audience
If there is one bit of information that I implore you to take from this book and never forget, it is – never ever take your audience for granted. They are a lot smarter than you think because they can see through a fake. Flash is cool and personally I like listening to complex jazz, but only if it delivers some kind of message and hits me where it counts – in the gut and heart.
Let it flow
In the world of acting, the actors who impress me most are those who don’t even appear to be acting, they’re ‘just doing it’. I’m thinking of people like Johnny Depp, Kevin Spacey and Meryl Streep here. As soon as someone appears to be acting, they immediately come across as trying too hard and it becomes very apparent that they are ‘overacting’ and the magic is lost.
There have been many times when I’ve had members of the audience come up to me after a show and say things like “hey you make it look so easy”, or “it doesn’t even look like you’re trying”. I take comments like these seriously and as a great compliment, as this reflects ease of flow and accomplishment in my performance.
A natural process
As time passed and the more musical experience I gained, I woke up to the fact that one style of drumming did not suit all types of music. So if I were to survive as a professional musician, I’d have to change my attitude. However, in light of what I’ve just said, I’m going to make a contradictory statement: I feel that this was a natural progression for me to pass through in order to become a more musical drummer.
The reality is that the majority of developing young performers need to explore the ‘technical’ side to become an accomplished, well-rounded performer. It’s a bit like a kid trying all the candy in the store and then settling on favorite flavors.
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