Becoming a Famous Singer

guitarist on stage

An episode from the starvation years:

I had just finished playing an hour set in the 24th & Mission Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station when two young crust punks came up to me as I was packing up.

“You’re real good man! Just like that Justin Bieber” one said in all seriousness.

“It’s just a matter of time” said the other one “till you’re playing on Letterman.”

“Yeah man, you’re gonna be walking down the street and a limo will pull up beside you and slow down. And that’s gonna be your ride!”

I looked from the tall skinny punk to the short stocky one with the faded Megadeth shirt and told them I appreciated what they said.

But I told them I didn’t expect to be famous overnight.

The stocky one looked at me with the most intense set of eyes I’ve ever seen and said grimly: “You will though.” And nodding emphatically repeated, “You will.”

I thanked them for their encouragement and chugged a bottle of water before pulling out my guitar to start set two.

It would be a long afternoon, but my voice was holding up well and I had made enough money in tips to buy my evening burrito ration.


I bring this story up for a couple reasons.

I feel there is an overwhelming culture of instant success surrounding music and musicians.

It’s an either you have it or you don’t culture. One of “If I can just show these people how good I am, I’ll go straight to the top”.

Even if you are lucky enough for this kind of success to happen to you, you may find it difficult to maintain fame in a culture with memory as fleeting as ours.

The real, “successful” musicians, however, continue to produce great music throughout the years but do not publicize all the work that it takes to get there.

They don’t talk about the weeks in the studio singing one take to make it sound like they want it.

I think this leads many musicians to believe they need to be a perfect end product, rather than a work in progress.

Of course the truth is we’re all just works in progress, but you can certainly shortcut the path from good to great by taking voice lessons.

As a case in point, I accepted the truth that I could be a MUCH better singer, so a couple months after my conversation with my crust punk fans, I started taking voice lessons.

A path that led me directly to working with you.

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1 Comment

  • by Kev Bev Posted September 12, 2015 12:50 am

    “Successful musicians”
    You made some very good points! Our culture may give Musicians thinking if I have what it takes I can make it to the top without allot of ground work. Sure if you fell into superstar status from you tube gone viral ( Justin Beiber) , then one might dream of magical things.

    The truth is that even if your good enough, you have to work really hard to get any “success”. To become successful and maintain it you also need a little bit of business 101 skills. There have been countless people good enough that fell through the crack waiting to be found, Thinking they are good enough, or just parting or flirting more than getting better at your craft.

    I recomend getting voice lessons and from Matt Ramsey. I had just cut a record Before I had decided to brush up on my vocal skills. The record still sounds good vocally, but I am already a more refined singer from a few vocal lessons and I can tell a difference both live and in new demo recordings.

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