"I Wanna Be A Star"

B. K. Hart-President DSR Records/Hart Music Co.


Before I get started, I want to thank Mr. Gary Kersey here at Forest Pro Music for offering me this opportunity to educate young musicians and artists. I feel this is needed now more than ever. So many bad things are claiming our youth, but that doesn't have to be. Some of you readers are probably vets like me who know the value of a good song and a great performance. We know there is nothing more exhilarating than being on stage playing for multitudes of fans. As a former member of the Shirley Caesar band, I know the excitement very well. This is my contribution to the industry.


"I Wanna Be A Star"


That's an honorable aspiration. Seems to me that if everyone concentrated on music (or whatever your art happens to be), no one would have time for crazy stuff like drugs, violence, bashing (ANY bashing), and all manner of sick and undesirable behaviors. Everyone would be dedicated to practice and learning the ins and outs of the business.


You want to know the single most influential name in the hearts and minds of basement musicians from back in the day? No, not Elvis or the Fab Four. You ready for this? MEL BAY! OK, stop splitting a gut for one minute, I'll explain. His books have been the springboards for so many pro musicians over the years, myself included. I'm sure, though, that none of these pros will own up to it. I'm sorry, but in my book, Mel Bay is an institution. And you know, no one really seems to know exactly WHO he is or was. One thing's for certain: he has helped hone the skills of many a musical legend.


So you wanna be a star. That is genuinely good news, music to my ears. I love hearing that, and checking out the expressions on the faces of so many cutesy young diva wannabes with the neon makeup and the pleather costumes, or the post-pubescent, guitar-slinging, GAP-clad rebel fellas when they somehow find out that I am in the business.


You wanna be a star? Good for you. Now find yourself a spot in the rear of the ever-increasing line of hopefuls, and we'll get back to you. Welcome, my friends, to Music Biz 101.


To begin, you must remember 3 very important rules:


1. Practice.

2. Practice.

3. Practice.


The first practice is of course for skill. Skill is a must-have if you expect to draw any positive attention to yourself. If you can play like George Benson, you're in. But if you play more like George of the Jungle, you're toast!


Always keep this in mind: no matter how good you think you are, there are at least 10 people in your town who are better. The market is saturated right now, and it will get worse. But the prizewinner isn't always the one who is best. Sometimes it's simply who gets there first. (Remember Vanilla Ice? Milli Vanilli?) Breaking into the business is much like riding a train, in order to get where you're going, you need to have the right fare. If you show up with only half, you don't travel at all!


The second practice is your hook. A hook is a style that sets you apart from the assembly line. It's a walk, a talk, a flair that's exclusively yours, something the public will readily identify you with.


Remember Motown? Berry Gordy developed his artists into unique entertainers. So did Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (Philadelphia International) and Prince (Paisley Park). That's why the artists they developed became such legends. They had moves and riffs nad styles like no one else. But because of bad decisions, some of them fell on hard times. That's a story for another column.


The third practice is good business sense. Toni Braxton, TLC and a few other lesser knowns had money troubles because of bad dealings with LaFace Records. Prince had to change his name because of some contract snafus with Warner Bros. Records. Melba Moore was on welfare for awhile because of shady management. And we all know about poor Mariah Carey and her troubles.


All these people had one thing in common, they made bad business choices, mainly for the sake of believing everything they were told by their record companies. This used to be a common thing at a time when there were not as many artists to choose from. Back then when you were a musician or a singer, you were royalty. But usually you were not the OWNER of your material, so you got cheated. There are ways around that these days, and it's easier than you think.


For more information about getting into the business, log on to my Website at http://www.dsrrecords.8m.com. I get totally in depth about how regular people become record moguls (sorta).


Until next month, Artists, see you on the stage!!


B. K.


P. S. Much love to the Ol' Rattler! I feel ya, Brother!

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