This afternoon, I was on a terrible bus coming back from a session with my band, Those Girls, at Soundmine studio in Pennsylvania. My iPhone died (like it always does) and I was left to entertain myself. I began to think about the many years I have been in the music business. These particular thoughts then segwayed into another thought: I was born on January 25th, 1989. For real. I have been alive almost 25 whole years. I’ve been fortunate enough to come across, work with and speak to many esteemed music professionals and business moguls. Needless to say, I have learned a lot about music and with that comes many lessons pertaining to business, life and otherwise.
KELSEY CHAOS presents:
37 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT THE MUSIC BUSINESS AND LIFE IN GENERAL IN MY 24.5 YEARS ON PLANET EARTH (Either from grown-a$$ professionals or trial and error etc.)
1. “Record labels are just loans with really, really bad interest rates.” – Zach Neil, Owner/ Founder of East Coast Indie Stage on Vans Warped Tour, Artist Manager, Business Owner & Entreprenuer
2. Have a strong handshake
3. Learn the tricks of taking a good photo. (Shoulders back, chin down, tilt head slightly, “smize” or smile with your eyes) – Philip Whitehurst, my make up artist, BFF and NYC celebrity drag queen “Chaka Khanvict”
4. Make friends with the bands you tour with.
5. Don’t send nudes (male or female) via e-mail or text.
6. If you do, don’t be surprised when they end up on the internet or everyone has seen your junk.
7. Look people in the eye when you speak with them…even if they intimidate you.
8. Have a good lawyer but be advised they may cost you a minimum of $400/hour- My lawyer
9. Have a good friend that is a lawyer and is maybe, possibly willing to work pro bono?
10. Pack one pair of underwear (most likely from Walmart) for each day you’re on tour. Throw them out as used. “I don’t want to do your tour laundry any more. You’re a grown woman.” – My mom
11. Sign writers memos clearly indicating writers splits etc. IMMEDIATELY after you finish co-writing a song with someone.
12. Don’t fall into the pitfalls of the average ’20 Something’ experience. Examples: Putting too much stock in dating, relationships, partying, going out, judging yourself against your peers and blowing money on dumb stuff. Focus on your dreams first and let everything else take a back seat. You CAN have it all but maybe not all at once.
13. Drugs are not cool or rock n’ roll. Experimenting when you’re young is one thing. (although I am not an advocate) If you are over the age of 30, and you are still using/experimenting with drugs… GROW UP.
14. Write songs that are universal to everyone whether you are 10, 24, 55 or 99 years old. Write songs people speaking all languages can understand. I.E. “All you need is love” by The Beatles – Earl Cohen, Grammy Winning Record Producer
15. The age of consent is different across the US – My many past band mates
16. There really are not many million dollar record advances any more.
17. Don’t be surprised or heartbroken when A&R folks don’t show up at your showcase.
18. Don’t blow it when they do show up.
19. Write songs about people in your lives, relationships and experiences….but NEVER reveal your source of inspiration.
20. You’re going to hear “NO” a lot.
21. You’re going to hear “YES” a lot and then nothing will materialize. And then maybe it will.
22. If you’re a woman, they will stare at your boobs. Get used to it.
23. Exercise with weights when you practice singing. Sing from your diaphragm or suffer the consequences of vocal nodes and a non-working instrument – Linda Septien, voice coach
24. Don’t sleep with people you work with unless you are fully prepared to hate them.
25. Read your contracts.
26. Have a “Play hard to get” mentality normally used with dating when courting record labels. When you pretend like you’re not interested, suddenly, they are. AH, the mystery!
26. Learn how to meditate. Make your practice as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. You will be a better, more creative artist. Also, better human. – www.TM.org
27. These things take time. All good things do.
28. Write a better hook. Take your original hook, make it the verse and write a better hook. – Chris Estes, producer of Kelsey and the Chaos’ first single, “Wrapped Around Your Finger”
29. Don’t smoke cigarettes… Especially if you are a vocalist.
30. Learn how to give a good interview. Be pithy, direct, make good eye contact, don’t fidget, don’t overuse the words “like” or “um” and pause/think before you answer the question.
31.Don’t lie, be shady or do underhanded things to people in business or life in general.- The Law of Karma
32. Learn the art of effective negotiation.
33. Videotape and watch your live performances. (Even if it kills you.) This will make you better.
34. Don’t be a music snob. Listen to everything. Rock, Hip Hop, Motown, R&B, Jazz, Folk, Standards. BE INFLUENCED. – Roy Hamilton 3, Artist/ Multiplatium songwriter/Record Producer
35. Don’t always say “Yes” to the first offer. Unless it’s one you can’t refuse.
36. Make sure you have the right songs. – Shep Goodman, A&R, producer, songwriter
37. “If you have to cry, go outside.” – Kelly Cutrone, PR Mogul
If any of the above turns out to be untrue…. Don’t hold me completely responsible. Again, I KNOW NOTHING.
Until next time,