I want to expand upon the “Kiss of Death” blog from a couple weeks ago, specifically regarding artists and songwriters.
When I was at MCA Records I remember a particular artist who had been successful in the past and was trying to expand his commercial fortune. That plan included getting songs on the radio so we could build a larger fan base. The problem is that this person wanted to cut his own songs without the help of co-writers and he definitely would not use outside cuts. He was creating great art, but with very little radio and commercial appeal. I’m sure he was fine with that, but I wondered why we were spending money trying to take him to radio when we knew it didn’t have a chance for broad based acceptance. I always thought he should have swallowed the pride a bit and partnered with other talented songwriters.
Or what about the successful songwriter who then wants to move on to be a successful recording artist? My first questions is always, “Why would you want to do that?”. Why give up a private life and family time to go on the road? Especially if your songwriting career is providing you a great living. Is it the desire for fame? You can never be famous enough, and if you are, you wish you hadn’t been. It is an elusive chase. Is it the desire to perform in front of people? Then do writer’s nights or play locally. Why go through all of the pain and torture of trying to become a top recording artist when you have the dream job of a being a successful songwriter? I’ve never understood it.
That brings me to George Strait. He is an example of knowing what you are good at and what you aren’t. He knows he’s not a songwriter, but he is a master at picking songs that suit his voice and his style. George knows what he is good at and it has paid off.
That would be my advice to artists – utilize your strengths and don’t try to be anything you are not. Love what you do and don’t be in this for the fame. Authenticity goes a long way.