So its 2018 guys I mean where does the time go? It felt like yesterday when I went into the studio for the first time at 24 years old and recorded my first original song. Here I am 9 years later and still working professionally in the music industry. However I now run my own independent record label and entertainment agency. I feel like the past few years I have really grown into a mature, smart artist and businesswomen. I am still writing music and singing of course and making a living gigging up and down the country.
Someone asked me this week if I had any tips for aspiring singers and music artists who want a career in the entertainment industry. I gave them advice and I sat and thought to myself... god I wish someone had gave me that advice when I was younger, it would have saved me a lot of rejection, pain and money. So I thought to myself why not share my experience and knowledge on my blog and hopefully it will help people from making the early mistakes that I made in my career as an independent music artist.
Although I do think that it is good to make mistakes in life I learned most from my failures than my triumphs. The lessons that I have learned from these failures are what are now allowing me to grow as an artist and a savy business owner.
1. FAME DOES NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY
When I first started out in this industry as a very young naive and eager wannabe I was utterly desperate to be famous when I think back now to that time in my life I cringe. I was an extremely insecure young girl and I thought in my head that fame would make me feel loved and wanted. I have always been a natural born performer and a total show off since I was a kid and I had an absolute passion and talent for music, especially songwriting. However my quest for fame became more important than my passion for music. Do not do this!
Fame rarely makes anyone happy it will just magnify your insecurities. Have you ever seen a happy mega star?...nope unless you fix your problems inside you have no chance at a happy life regardless if you have lots of money and fame.
Focus on being yourself and focus on the music you are writing or the talent that you have whether you are a dancer, singer or an actor. If you concentrate on your passion and make sure that you are the best performer you can be all the rest will fall into place.
If you are making a full time living in the entertainment industry then you are one very lucky individual not many people in the world get paid to do something that they love.
I have had a small taste of local fame and now that I am older I thank my lucky stars that I have the life I have now. I have privacy and still get to follow my dreams. I am truly grateful for that.
2. DON'T BE A VICTIM TO SCAM ARTISTS
The entertainment industry is full of scam artists and con men who will take advantage of anyone who they can stick a "star" stamp on. If you are not careful you can be manipulated and hustled out of a lot of money. I was so lucky that I had an extremely feisty mother that ran her own business and she knew when something sounded to good to be true. Anytime that I wanted to pay money to this person or that person who were going to "sign" me to some record label that nobody had heard of my Mum would shoot the opportunity down in flames. I hated her for it at the time however now that I am older I am like thank god she put her foot down and made me see sense.
Trust me when I say I have seen all the scams... development deals (where my parents would have to pay me £13'000 to cut an album) or agencies who wanted their fees upfront. Then there was the producer in America who needed thousands of pounds for the latest remix of my single even though nobody had heard of him oh and the various management companies with no clients on their books of any substance.
If someone genuinely thinks you are going to be a star they will invest money into your career and re-coup the costs from your earnings once the money starts rolling in. A reputable agent will only take a commission off of work that they source for you. Please never ever hand over your hard earned money upfront. If someone asks you to pay a fee to enter a talent competition or to join an agency this is a scam. No one will ever sign you to their agencies books without actually seeing you perform first. Use common sense!
3. TAKE ADVICE
If someone who has been working in the entertainment industry professionally and has no gain from exploiting your talents offers you advice then please take it.
The have done the leg work, they have wasted the cash, they have "bought the mug and wore the t.shirt so please listen to them as they usually know what they are talking about. There advice will save you a lot of time, money and effort.
When I was growing up I was extremely headstrong and ignorant. Many people in the industry gave me great advice that I did not take, I also missed out on a lot of great opportunities because I wanted to do everything my way. I thought I knew best and trust me I did not. I look back and think how disrespectful I was and how stupid I was to think I knew better than people with a track record in music. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone I worked with when I was younger. I am now such a well rounded and respectful music artist and young women who tends to listen more often instead of loving the sound of her own voice.
4. BE YOURSELF
I remember a time in my music career when everyone was trying to shape me into something I was not. My producer at the time wanted me to dye my hair because I looked too much like "Lady Ga Ga" and she was a huge success at that time, He kept saying I shouldn't look anything like her so he suggested me to dye my hair red. I was then told to pose this way in photo shoots and not to pose certain things on my social media.It was just too much for me I mean a lot of what he was saying were great ideas but I really felt like the whole image felt forced.I am a very free spirited person in nature so I naturally rebelled just to be bad. This is one of the reasons I opened up my own record label as I was being moulded into something that I was not and it felt like I was having an identity crisis. You might be reading this and think hang on Ashley you have just told us in your last time to take advice. Yes take advice but don't try to be someone you are not. The general public can see through something that is fake and contrived. It is why my "Britain's Got Talent" audition did not work. It is better to be yourself warts and all, show your flaws and vulnerability because believe it or not people will warm to it. Your fans and audience will start to relate to you as many of them will have similar experiences or see much of themselves in you and will start to look up to you as someone they aspire to be.
This also goes for music write songs about what you know and experiences that you have been through personally. The best artists in the world such as Adele, Pink, Ed Sheeran and Beyonce share their pain in their music and that is what makes a truly great song that will stand the test of time because people can and will relate to it.
5. IMAGE IS NOT NECESSARILY EVERYTHING
Okay image of course is very important in many sectors of the music industry especially manufactured cheesy pop bands. However your talent is always going to be more important than your looks. I remember messing up loads of really high profile auditions because I had put way more time into my look than I had into my performance...big mistake!!! The old saying is true the cream will always rise to the top so put down your mirror and put more time in the rehearsal or dance studio. Go and see more theatre or films, go for extra singing lessons, read online music blogs and get educated so that you can be the best performer you can possibly be. The music industry is so diverse these days and is finally going back to being all about the music, the voice, the song and the lyrics. There are so many amazing artists who do not look like models
but who are rocking the charts with their incredible gift, for example Ed Sheeran, Adele, Jennifer Hudson, Meghan Trainor and Sam Smith to name a few. Finally music is getting back to its intended purpose...pleasure for the ears, not the eyes.
I really hope you enjoyed my top tips to have a successful career in the music industry. These are the kind of tips that you can apply to for any career field not just for the entertainment industry. If you have any questions or need more advice comment below and I will be happy to try and help.