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How to Become a Pop Star

How to Become a Pop Star
Justin Popstar

    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…

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    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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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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