Six Drinks And A Moment Of Truth: My Story…Sort Of
#SortOfTipsyMomentOfTruth: This is the thing indie artists. You hungry music makers who send me music to “bless”, music for “feedback”, music to “shop” to my contacts: I get it! I was once an aspiring recording artist as well! I’ve never told this “story,” but I was signed…3 times actually.
First, I was signed as a member of a pre-teen R&B group — a 90’s version of MINDLESS BEHAVIOR if you will — with my two brothers to the amazing singer/songwriter/producer Ohio-native Gerald Lavert. Then, to the amazing Ohio-native Jeff Timmons — former member of GRAMMY Award nominated pop group 98 Degrees — who started his own imprint when 98 Degrees disbanded.
Then, at 18-years-old, I bought a one-way ticket and left Ohio to come to Los Angeles. I was homeless and unemployed. All I had was a $400 starter credit card, $200 in cash, a suit case full of clothes and a box containing a 30lb CRT computer monitor and tower. Within weeks, I was signed once again to a Universal Music Group associated production company in Los Angeles who produced Tupac and Nate Dogg DPG.
I hit the ground running as an aspiring actor/singer, which led to some gigs like the movie “Coach Carter” and an appearance on HBO’s “Entourage” (clip:http://bit.ly/1eTyeiE).
I’ve been hyped up and let down over and over again. I’ve spent THOUSANDS of dollars and THOUSANDS of hours honing my craft and pursuing a career to ultimately have little to show for it (as a talent).
In my day, there was NO SUCH THING as Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006) and Instagram (2010). Myspace (2003) was still in it’s infancy and the iTunes Store (2003) had only been open for 7 months when I came to Los Angeles!
This industry is and has always been a BEAST. I made the choice to move from the talent side to the business side early on. I’ve had less of a struggle than the artists and businessman before me, but more of a struggle than some of the indies who reach out to me today.
In my opinion, many are lazy. You don’t take advantage of the vast amount information and resources available to you. Music blogs, which weren’t prevalent when I was a talent, are full of info and tips; associations — more today than ever — are full of networking opportunities for independent artists; digital resources — unheard of in my early career — are abundant…and so on.
Make good music. Do your work — you need to put in 150% because you’re competing in a GLOBAL music market now more than ever.
INVEST in yourself! NO, this industry is NOT cheap. NO, it’s not cheap to promote yourself and break through the clutter. And MORE IMPORTANTLY, hell no, people are not going to just invest in you because you have talent (talent is 1 of many items on the checklist in today’s music industry).
Don’t let the “exceptions to the rule” fool you into thinking everyone can put out a YouTube flash mob video and then get a record deal (http://bit.ly/1560Dh5).
There’s no formula. There’s no RIGHT or WRONG. There is simply lazy and hardworker. There is simply talent that compels a reaction and talent that does not.