We met the guys and hung out with them for a few minutes before our food came. When the food arrived, we snuck off to a corner booth to try to eat in peace. The band followed. Since we were eating, they decided to play us some of their music. The cafe was loud, so they moved in way too close into our personal space and insist on us leaning into their iPhone so that we can hear their music. While we listened, the lead singer begins to pick up and eat food from our plates with his fingers. At this point, we begin to wonder if we are on candid camera. It was just getting too weird. One of the other band members offers me a sip of his coffee and tells me that I should order several of them like he did because “Mary is paying, and we’ve earned this”. While I was pondering exactly how he had “earned” anything since their record still had not come out and he hadn’t made anyone a penny, the profound moment came. The lead singer withdrew his iPhone after one particularly bad song and asked my friend – “So, if you were us, what would you do?” My friend, in a moment of sheer brilliance, said “I would take off my Halloween costume and do something real.”
The band sat in stunned silence and walked away. Why? Because they knew they had just been given the best and most true advice of their lives. They were trying to create these characters full of bluster and bravado. They didn’t really even believe the charade themselves.
I see so many songwriters chasing something that they are not. People that grew up in a major metropolitan area trying to write “tailgate and dirt road” songs. People coming to town and putting on their cowboy boots and hats at the county line. And, my advice has become a steady stream of “take off your Halloween costume and do something real”. You don’t have to be somebody else to succeed in music industry. You just have to figure out how to market the “real” you. And you have to become the best you that you can be. If you figure out how to market yourself and your real songs. And if you figure out how to connect your story to the story of millions of other people, then you’ve got a very real shot.