Lydia Grant, the tough-as-nails dance teacher portrayed by Debbie Allen, notoriously proclaimed in the hit 1980s tv show, Fame: ” You’ve got big dreams… you want fame…well fame costs and right here is where you start paying… in sweat!”
Yes, fame has a price! And many artists want to be superstars!
Like SNL’s character, Mary Catherine, many artists dream of the limelight. They want the glitz, glam and entourage yet realize the sacrifices, time, work ethic, talent and team necessary to achieve success and STAY there (notice I said stay).
I get asked all kinds of questions from emerging and established artists wanting that superstar status. I recently responded to an email we received from an emerging artist in South Africa wanting to be the next ‘Nicki Minaj’ and make it ‘big’ in America:
Dear Creative Nous:
“I am a singer/songwriter based in South Africa and I want to break into the U.S. market. I haven’t released officially until I do more shows. I’m also not under a label so what I’ve done has been self-funded & managed exclusively by my parents’ company. It’s a very small industry where I am and I’m more interested in getting noticed in the U.S. Can you help me be the next Nikki Minaj?”
Dear Undiscovered Artist:
Unless you move to the U.S., it’ll be tough to get American media to write about you. And even established indie artists have it rough getting coverage in an industry that’s struggling. Additionally, some online outlets are moving into a ‘Pay to Play’ format⎯no longer reserved for cable television and mainstream radio. My advice would be for you to stay in South Africa and focus on conquering your home market.
Focus on increasing your social media presence and build your fan base by performing at festivals and opening for bigger artists. Keep in mind your fans are the ones who will ultimately support you and hopefully buy your music (not just download it for free or stream it).
You have a great voice and it would be good for you to partner with a known songwriter and producer. And either you work to topple the charts in South Africa or move to the U.S. since you want to make it here. Remember regardless of what market you are in, there is no such thing as an overnight success!
Learn the business side of the music industry.
Make sure you build a team that can accomplish what you are hiring them to do. There are too many well-known entertainers, who were robbed by an unscrupulous accountant; bamboozled by a manager or wasted time and money listening to friends and family, who have no idea what they are advising the artist to do or avoid doing. And lastly, remember just like you need a stylist and a manager, you also need a proper publicist.