The entertainment industry is a ruthless place. Not ruthless because of people but ruthless because there is no room for mediocrity and lackluster performance. In order to make it, you need stellar skills in whatever you do. More specifically, in music entertainment, the line between success and failure is actually very wide; wide because there is a huge middle ground where the bulk of people getting into music fall, the almost-making-it-but-never-quite-failing space.
This is where many musicians’ careers go to die. Many think that making it in the music industry is all about having a tremendous talent that someone will one day recognize and this will catapult you to instant stardom (reference Justin Beiber). But what you may not know as you think of becoming a budding entertainer is that there are various areas in music that complement each other but are very different. Let’s break this down.
A singer, well, sings. Singers are characterized by strong vocal capabilities and the ability to take their voices to tremendous creative heights. A good example here is the late Whitney Houston. She had amazing vocals but that was about it. She had no performing capabilities, songwriting skills or anything else. All she needed was a sheet of lyrics, some background music and she shone as a star. If you have stellar vocals, this could be you. Instead of laboring trying to be everything at once, consider simply cultivating this talent and accepting you will not be any of the other things.
A songwriter is the force behind the lyrics of the music that you listen to. They are not only very creative people but also have a very keen understanding of music theory. They understand music lyric arrangement, metering, creating hooks and verses and so on. Without songwriters, great singers would have to be content with only humming tunes. To become a great songwriter does not necessarily mean you have to be a great singer; you just need to have music in your bones. Be able to take life and interpret it into lyrics that people can relate to. Most of the great music you listen to today is written by different people than who sing them. Again, Whitney Houston hardly wrote any song that she sang.
A musician is the force behind the tune. I use the term loosely to mean someone who writes musical notes. This role is responsible for the tune and notes and keys in a song. They cue the singer, breathe life into the songwriter’s lyrics and stitch together the whole song with a beat. This is perhaps the most specialized arm of music because it requires a lot of training and a very keen ear for musical detail. For you to succeed in this, you must understand the concepts of music, not merely appreciate the beat. This makes it a very technical field and one reserved for very few.
One of the most electrical performers currently has to Beyoncé. She can work up a crowd with a sterling performance and leave everyone breathless. One interesting thing to note about her is that she does not have the strongest of vocals, neither is she a piano (or any other instrument) maestro and she co-writes many of her songs. This places here squarely in the performance area of music. Listening to her music and watching her music videos are two entirely different experiences. If you have that sort of talent, where you can throw down one heck of a performance then that could be your entry into the music industry. Of course you have at least have the ability to sing somewhat but if your performance is amazing, this will more than compensate for not having the best vocals out there.
As you can see, music is a diverse industry and there are numerous opportunities in the overall industry. The most important thing for you to remember, however, is that very few people have all four talents in equal measure. If you cannot sing, maybe you can learn instrumentation or learn how to rock an amazing performance. The bottom line nevertheless still remains that all these avenues require hard work, sacrifice and a tenacious spirit.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Guest post by Scott Ryan, writing for Morris Brothers Music Store.