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How Can I Help My Child Break Into The Music Business?


Question: How Can I Help My Child Break Into The Music Business?

So, you think your child could be a big music star. Everyone says so. But how can you get labels and managers and such to hear your child's music to help them break into show business?

These are big questions without easy answers - and the biggest question is the unasked one: SHOULD you help your child break into the music industry at a young age? Here's how to go about trying to establish your child within the industry, and what you need to worry about along the way.

Get Realistic

First and foremost, you need to enter this process with a great deal of realism and pragmatism - and sharing that attitude with your child will help them develop the thick skin required to sustain a career in an entertainment field. Does your child have musical talent? Sure - after all, you think so, and everyone else says so, too - even your friend's brother, who works for a radio station, said your little one could really make it. You're good to go, right?

Now, here's the reality check. Your friends and family - even those with some relationship to the music industry - are going to be the kindest audience your child will ever face. The feedback you receive from this group isn't unbiased, no matter how much someone assures you it is. Your circle is not a fair barometer of your child's talent and preparedness for music industry life. It may sound harsh, but that is the cold reality of it all - and it's so important to keep in mind.

Instead of assuming that anyone who hears your child's music is going to bowled over and that the path to stardom will be easy, see this process as testing the waters and learning about what your child is good at and what they need to improve to reach their music dreams. A sense of entitlement will be damaging to your child's potential career - and psyche.

Also know that fantastically talented people get passed over in the music industry ALL THE TIME. Just because your child has the goods doesn't mean that everything is gravy. Luck is a tremendous factor that no one can account for. Just be mentally prepared for how tough and trying this process can be and think about how you and your child can come through it.

Get Help

Child music stars tend to fall into the pop category. Even when they are not doing pop music per se - say, a child singing sensation who performs show tunes - they are almost always churning out the kind of music that can benefit from the major label marketing machine. Young musicians thrive in a market that is tough for indies to crack since it is not really their world.

Major labels don't listen to unsolicited demos, so to get their attention, you're going to need representation. An entertainment lawyer or a manager can help you here. Those people DO listen to demos, but it can be hard to get their attention. The best way to get their ear is to look for some kind of personal "in" with them. If your child has recorded in a studio, someone at the studio may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help. Someone in your family or circle of friends might have a connection that can help. There is little substitution for word of mouth in the music industry. Try every angle you can to find some kind tie, however tenuous, to someone who can help, and go for it.

Sometimes, that angle just doesn't exist. The best thing you can do is try to tap into your local music community. Explain your situation and ask for recommendations of people they have encountered along the way. Right now, near you, someone knows someone who knows someone. Find them.

If all else fails, use the internet to find music managements companies. Also look for entertainment lawyers in your area. Cold calling a music management company can be hard, but follow their procedures for submitting music. A lawyer may be an easier contact to make. Meet a few lawyers and a few managers and see who fits and who is enthusiastic about the music. Be patient and don't jump. Finding the right person here is critical - and you WILL find the right person, provided you don't get discouraged and keep at it until something clicks. Once this team member is in place, they can help you get showcases and meetings with labels that can help you introduce your child's music to the public.

Take The Advice You Are Given

Praise is good. Critiques and advice for improvement is even better. Don't ignore the constructive criticism and advice music industry professionals give you along the way because it's not really what you want to hear. Take it. Use it. It is incredibly valuable.

Emphasize Education

Don't choose chasing a music career over your child's education - there's no guarantee that anyone will have a long lasting, sustainable music career. Many a one-time star is now working retail somewhere. In addition to their traditional schooling, make music education a priority. Encourage them to dedicate extensive time to practice. Performance standards for a child star can be taxing - they may need to be able to dance, sing, play an instrument and much more. Enroll them in appropriate classes so they can continue to develop their craft. Not only will this help them continue to grow their talents, but these classes can be good places to make this all-important connections.

Don't Throw Money at the Problem

Establishing a music career can be expensive. There's no getting around that. If you hire someone, like a manager or an entertainment attorney, there may be fees involved (especially for the attorney). There's no getting around that, either. However, what you CAN avoid is throwing money at the wrong things.

There's a cliche about the child model paying a massive amount of cash to have "pictures done" at a disreputable modeling agency that promises to land the child modeling jobs but never delivers. That same sort of scam exists around the music industry, and parents trying to turn their children into music stars are a ripe group for getting hustled. There is rarely a good reason for you to shell out to take part in a local showcase that promises "industry insiders" - showcases do exist to give A&R people and others within the industry a chance to hear new artists, but these showcases seldom have "entry fees" and are usually organized by your manager or representative - not a local booking agent charging you $500 for a few minutes on stage. Same deal with local talent shows and so on. If they're inexpensive, maybe they'll give your child a chance to get comfortable on the stage, but don't expect them to be the source of a big break - and don't spend a fortune on them.

Likewise, never pay a music industry consultant or anyone else a huge sum of money in return for "guaranteed results." You can't buy music industry stardom, and no one worth working with will make you any guarantees in the music industry. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Legitimate people will want a legitimate rate of pay for legitimate work. You can't write a check big enough to ensure your child will be a star. You just can't. Don't try, not matter what they try to tell you.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are no easy answers and no ONE easy path to establishing a music career for your child. The best thing you can do is adopt a realistic attitude and a lot of patience while you search for the right partner to introduce your child to major label opportunities. Along the way, encourage them to value their education and work hard to continue to nurture their musical talent. If there are open mic opportunities in your town that are age appropriate, then let your child get comfortable as a performer as you meet your local music community - these connections can help you later. Never throw money at someone for guaranteed results within the industry - you'll only be disappointed. Take graciously all feedback and advice given, and make adjustments where necessary. Last but not least, take the long view. A solid music career requires a good foundation. Now is the time to make sure you're building that. It will give you and your child much more stability down the line.

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