For Teenagers Who Want To Become Singers
A colleague asked for some advice recently for a young teenage girl who wants to become a singer, and I often teach DIY music marketing to young people at The Roundhouse eager to launch their careers. Having worked with some very young artists in the past, these are my top 10 suggestions:
Wait. Even if you can’t bear school. Grow up and find out who you are before you start working professionally in the music industry. It’s a tough industry that makes you question who you are, and it’s easy to get lost.
Write. Poetry, short stories, persuasive writing. Learn how to write great songs. Being able to communicate clearly is your greatest asset.
Learn an instrument. Learn how to produce your own music. That way you won’t have to be stuck in studios with older, more powerful people, giving them your royalties and pretending to laugh at their jokes.
Play. Play all of the school concerts, join a band, play solo, screw up on stage, be a character, be yourself, get comfortable talking on the mic, get comfortable taking up space.
Don’t just study music, try drama and dance. They’ll teach you how to read people, how to process feedback, how to improvise when everything is falling apart and your leg is broken, how to keep a piece of you for yourself without anyone realising.
Understand photography and film. Learn how to manipulate cameras so that they will never manipulate you.
Cultivate at least one thing you love outside of music and don’t give it up.
Figure out how everything works and what everyone does. Ask a thousand questions and don’t settle for an answer until you understand it. The most important question is always “why?”.
Never let anyone say youth is what makes you special. “Oh, she’s amazing and she’s only 14”. If that’s the story, growing older may feel like a curse instead of the gift that it is.
If it’s not fun anymore, stop. Your music career might not be forever, but your love of music should be.