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So You Want To Be A Rock Star

Updated on January 1, 2015

I've Got The Music

So, you want to be a rock star and the year is 1966. The very first FM Rock Radio Station opened on October 8 in New York City. The Beatles performed their last official concert from San Francisco and Donovan went psychedelic. Tina Turner sang about deep rivers and high mountains, while Cher chanted ‘bang bang my baby shot me down’. Nancy Sinatra stepped out in boots made for walking as her father Frank’s single ‘Strangers in the Night’ reached the number 1 spot on the Top 40 Singles Worldwide Charts.

Your chances of being heard, recorded and made famous were good if you grew up in the days of Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The sounds were new and totally alien to the parents of the teenagers – always a plus. By the end of the decade there were many who argued it was the end of an era with hundreds of up and coming artists competing to be heard as part of the new age music began flooding the airways. It was time to make way for the big guns. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac ripped it up on the far end of the scale to the mellowing sounds of Bob Dylan and Carole King who were both well on their way to becoming the best of the singer songwriters of the seventies.

On the Big Stage

Corey Harris at the Whitsunday Reef Festival
Corey Harris at the Whitsunday Reef Festival | Source

What Was Gotye's Secret for Success?

Where do you start? You’ve written a song or two or maybe 50. Maybe you’ve recorded one or two of those tunes on your computer or webcam. You think they’re not half bad and your mates reckon that’s good enough to share with the world. How do you go about getting your sound heard and loved by the masses? If only Gotye could give us a magical formula and reveal the secrets to his success. But even Gotye, the now, household name spent many years waiting for his music to click with the rest of us. The so called overnight sensations of the music industry are few and far between, most have spent years perfecting their craft.


Promote Your Music

Success in the music industry is as elusive as winning the lottery. There are literally hundreds of thousands of seriously talented musicians, singer songwriters and vocalists as good as or umpteen times better than you and your mates think you are. The secret is in the promotion. Your aim as a musical genius is to have the staying power (or someone prepared to do it for you) to promote not only your music but your image on every media platform available.

As an aside on image, because we are in a digital age that uses the public media stage for all forms of communication, it is worth keeping in mind that whatever you ‘put out there’ whether it is a photo, video upload on YouTube or a post on your social network these images are recorded for all time. There is no going back or delete button. Take care with the image you are trying to portray and ensure it is the one you want left for infinity.

Learn to Ride the Waves

Much the same as taking a road trip, before you count your money and measure your success from your fan base, you need to take a step back and think about where you are headed, what you’ll need on the journey in terms of money, resources and help along the way. There may be times when you soar like an eagle but there will be many more when you hit the ground with a thud. Be prepared for the ups and downs and learn to ride the waves.

The most important person to help you achieve success is the one who keeps you grounded. They are there to remind you that you are, after all, simply making music; it’s been done before by many greater than you. The next best thing is the one who believes in you because maybe, just maybe, you can be the one who does it better than the muso before.


Thanks to Corey Harris for insights into the journey of a singer songwriter.


Stay Tuned

Topics to be covered in the ‘So You Want To Be a Rock Star’ Series

  • Getting started – Mapping out the plan – resources and people to help
  • Digital media - writing and recording the songs
  • Photos and artwork
  • Building an online presence
  • Social media and music websites
  • Making videos
  • Promoting your music


© 2012 Karen Wilton

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