There are many paths to musical success. But how do you go about it? What are the steps needed to achieve it? Singer-songwriter Yoji Munuo was sure that there must be a formula that can help a musician on their way to the top, so she decided to go on a mission: whilst reviewing this year’s Harvest at Jimmy’s, she sought out some celebrity musicians hidden away backstage to find out the answers, ninja style…
At Harvest at Jimmy’s I manage to track down some properly successful musicians to help answer my questions on making it in music: The Kooks’ front man Luke Pritchard, ex-Busted star Charlie Simpson and new kid on the block Benjamin Francis Leftwich.
Backstage I first stumble upon the very talented Benjamin Francis Leftwich, who is happy for me to ask him a few questions. So to begin with, I ask him how he became involved in music.
He pauses thoughtfully and then replies, “I’ve just always been a big fan of music, you know? I listened to a lot of records growing up and then I started playing the guitar and writing stuff.”
Similarly, Charlie Simpson had an early interest in music too. “My dad used to play records in the car and on the way to school and I just really loved it!” he says. “But I got into actually playing music because we all had to pick an instrument when we were seven at school and I thought the guitar was really cool!”
On the other hand, the beautiful Luke Pritchard got introduced to music in a slightly different way. He tells me, “My dad was a musician and so I just kind of grew up around live music. I knew that I had an ear for it and I guess you gravitate towards the things that you’re good at.”
I am curious to find out how they took their skills to the next level. So I ask all three musicians what advice they could give someone like me who is trying to crack into the industry?
Charlie says, “It’s a really cool thing because ten years ago you would have to rely on someone coming to one of your shows. But now there is a lot on offer, you can get on Facebook, MySpace and use all the tools to your benefit.”
Likewise, Luke agreed, saying, “You’ve got to be up on everything that is on the internet nowadays. If you get a good amount of hits on YouTube people will pick up on you. It’s an amazing thing now.”
Whilst I think this advice is very useful, I also wonder what tips the artists have when looking for contracts. Luke tells me frankly, “Try and find the good people in the industry because it can be quite hard to tell.”
He adds, “I can remember that it was very difficult to know where to send my CDs or where to ask for help. To be honest, the biggest advice I can give from my experience of it is that you should wait for people to come to you.”
Benjamin was also quite wary of record labels as he advises, “Just be really careful of major labels because they’re not cool. That’s why I think it’s important to make and perform music that you can be proud of.”
Charlie agrees, saying, “You should enjoy the music that you perform otherwise there’s nothing to keep you going and waking you up every morning.”
On the topic of motivation, Luke says, “Just keep going because the labels get it wrong all the time. It’s especially difficult for artists now when there’s hardly any money to develop them. You’ve got to do a lot more on your own as labels are looking for pretty much the finished article nowadays.”
Star struck? Definitely! But after overcoming the symptoms, I realise that I have come away with some really valuable advice. There’s an important message here: determination and motivation are key, so be persistent and keep churning out sweet music!