I was 16, good looking, and with a great voice: I could see myself walking on the red carpet, and success was just around the corner. Or so I thought…

With my little band made up of two people and one very expensive laptop, I decided to find venues that would pay me to entertain their customers: “I’ll make lots of money, and a big shot music producer will surely notice me!”

Five years later, I had earned next to nothing, and I had been noticed only by a tiny music label whose claim to glory was a half forgotten salsa hit.

In the meantime, I had found myself a job to pay the bills, I was completing my degree, and I still spent lots of time working on my music projects. If only someone had told me what was about to happen…

In the winter of 1999, one of my songs suddenly became famous, and I found myself singing on Top Of The Pops, and playing gigs all over southern Europe.

Then I discovered that the music business was not for me, but that’s another story…

With hindsight, there were some strategies which helped me to succeed, and others which could have made my success faster: take a look at the list below and see if you can find useful tips to make your own dream come true.

  • Study right. There’s no escaping it: if you don’t study at all, it’s difficult to sing with an amazing voice, write unique songs, play an instrument like an angel, and dance like a devil. On the other hand, if you study too much, you run the risk of alienating yourself from the mainstream, becoming a virtuoso appreciated only by connoisseursof whatever style you are into.
  • Be optimistic. If you don’t believe in yourself nobody will.
  • Get yourself noticed. Big time producers don’t come to your local pub, but there are talent contests where you can meet them. Don’t think only of TV shows – those are way too competitive – focus on any contest in which there is someone in the jury who actually works in the music business.
  • Be realistic. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Well, in a way it does, but you still have to put a lot of hard work first, so you are ready when your lucky break happens.
  • Know your weaknesses. Let’s face it: the road to stardom isn’t an easy one, and we all have a weak spot. What’s yours?

    Age: If you are older than 30, you might have a hard time finding people willing to invest in your future as a pop star.

    Looks: We live in a beauty-obsessed society, if you don’t look good, music producers might think you won’t be able to attract a very large fan base.

    Voice : Let’s face it, there are thousands out there singing with a great voice, so how good is yours?

    Dance: You don’t have to be a ballerina, but an ability to move well on stage is important.

    Stage presence: Do you bring the house down when you are on stage, or do you simply stand there and sing?

    Songwriting: Ok, you have a great voice, but the reality is that if you are not writing your own songs – and great ones, too – you will be unprepared to face the competition of a thousand all-singing-all-dancing young talents.

    Style: Have you developed your own style in singing, song-writing, stage presence, and so forth, or are you merely copying your favorite singer?

  • Turn your weaknesses into strengths. Be prepared to”sell” your weak spots as part of what makes you unique. Half-serious examples below…

    Age: You are older than 30, and that’s just perfect because the songs you write talk about your many fascinating experiences, and are targeted toward an adult crowd.

    Looks: Pop stars all look the same. Your eccentric image will draw in millions.

    Voice: Traditionally-beautiful voices are a thing of the past, your voice has the power to express genuine emotions.

    Dance: If you don’t dance that well, staying almost still is an interesting option. In fact, moving too much isn’t cool.

    Stage presence: So you don’t attack the stage like a tiger… Well, you have a timid image which will appeal to man/woman wanting to protect you.

    Songwriting: You don’t write your own songs, so you can help a songwriter in making his work very popular.

    Style: [Let’s say your style is similar to Band X's] If band X has made it, why shouldn’t you? Furthermore, you are taking Band X’s essence, making it yours, and taking it to a whole new place.

  • Networking, Networking, Networking. You can’t make it on your own. You’ll need help with your songwriting, you’ll need help turning a good song into an amazing demo, you’ll need help finding the right talent contest to participate in. You’ll need help finding venues to sing live, you’ll need help dealing with people trying to take advantage of you, and you’ll need help to improve your stage presence. So who’s gonna give you all of this help? Friends.

    Genuine friends are better, since they make life worth living and they can help a lot in time of trouble. But even superficial acquaintances can give you precious information. So don’t ever stop making new friends and stay in touch with your old ones.

    My biggest mistake as a teenager was thinking that networking is not important: “When I write an amazing song, and I sing it with a superb voice, then I will become famous and everyone will want to help me anyway.” The trouble is that to approach this ideal “near-perfection,” you’ll need lots of help from different people!

  • Don’t give up. It often takes a long time to get amazing results. Be prepared to wait for several years.
  • Be open to criticism, but don’t let anybody change you. Maybe you weren’t born a pop genius, but if you listen to the right advice you’ll soon become one. Protect yourself from mean criticism: it’s not worth your time. On the other hand, be prepared to listen when others give you constructive advice: it might hurt, but it is always worth it. Just remember: don’t ever let anybody change you.

Disclaimer: Fame and Fortune will not radically increase the amount of happiness you experience in your daily life: look at Britney Spears! If you want to become lastingly happier, look somewhere else, too.

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