By Cari Cole
Day in day out I work with a constant stream of independent artists trying to make it in the business (and a few celebrities here and there.) And inevitably at some juncture, I hear the same contagious fears that spread through artist’s minds that only hold them hostage and keep them scared, depressed and down… way down. And, there is really good news.
The new music business that grew out of the rubble is here.
A strong artist brand and identity are what matter now, the old myths that your weight and your age will hold you back are just an excuse.
Along with more independence and more artistic freedom, we also have more freedom from the qualifiers that most major labels use to identify artists worthy of their investment.
The big boys didn’t want to invest their money without a so-called sure shot. And a sure shot to them outside of a talent they could control – used to be “youth” and “looks.” They wanted something that had a long life cycle and that was “eye candy.” Why not? If you’re going to invest in talent, why not have a product (not a person) that can be molded into the “perfect” commercial piece (says the commerce over art mindset…)
Except, the biggest stars today defy both. Art does triumph over commerce (and fear-based robotic copycat mentality.)
Adele (among many other stars, like Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard, and Meghan Trainor — who has even won Best New Artist at the Grammy’s) is overweight by industry standards. And she and others are laughing all the way to the bank. Because being a size 0 doesn’t make a star. A strong message and a strong artist identity are what set you apart.
Artists and musicians listen up:
“The days of “you’ve got to be skinny to be successful” are over.”
Celebrate your freedom!! And more importantly, STOP believing the lies. Stop letting this message infiltrate and inform your artistry because It’s only AN EXCUSE at this point.
Yeah, I’ve heard heads of major labels say you are too old at 26. Doesn’t mean they’re right. While they have a right to be obsessed with investing in young stars, it doesn’t mean their strategies are the ones you need to follow. I can assure you, there is much more available to you if you dare to find your artist identity and brand from within, and work to strengthen your artist success mindset.
Besides, since when does the record-buying-public care about age?
Lucinda Williams was 48 when Car Wheel’s Hit (and that was 20 years ago.) It’s even improved since then. Andy Summers was 38 when the Police made it. Many artists have found success in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Music is not age specific. Nor is the music buying public. All ages want great music. The truth is – the audience doesn’t care about age – they care about music and an artist that is authentic and relatable.
I have a friend who recently got signed to Universal at the age of 58 (his first signing) followed by a tour in Europe. He’s an amazing songwriter and artist who, thank god, never gave up. Proof right there. One of my beloved students is 45 and negotiating a deal with Sony. They outright told him that they didn’t care about his age (that’s the first I have heard – maybe even the big labels are changing their attitude?) They say that his image and music is killer and that’s “all that matters.”
Best news of all?
You CAN DO THIS. Regardless of weight or age.
It all falls back on the importance of artist development and solidifying every single aspect of your look, sound, and direction to come from a true place within you. THIS is where the magic happens and when you’ll truly begin to resonate with your fans and industry alike. You have to focus on YOUR artist identity and brand, not what you think people want to see and hear. Because raw, relatable authenticity has no shape, size, or age, BUT it is an absolutely crucial piece of the process if you want to move forward in your career, build your opportunities, and make waves with your music.
Now go conquer the world already.
Be to share your thoughts and stories on this topic in the comments below!