In this section I will outline the best qualities an entertainer should have. Many iconic entertainers do not fall into every category, but most icons and legends will have fulfilled almost every one. Go through the list and see where you currently stand, and take note for the future before your career takes off.
1. You Should Have Talent
When we sing in the shower we hear great potential, but put us in front of Simon Cowell and the truth soon comes out. You think you’re a great singer? Good for you. Just remember that sometimes fantasy is very different from reality.
The best way to find out is by getting opinions from others, and these ‘others’ have to be strangers or someone completely honest. Don’t bother asking your parents, siblings, cousins, lover, kids, etc. The odds are they’ll say you’re good because they love you.
The best place to find strangers is on the internet. Post a video on Youtube or your website/blog, and see what people say. Ignore the trolls who only post insults, but listen to the constructive criticism. Heed their warnings and note down any advice that you give. Use their advice to improve your acting/singing ability.
What happens if you can’t sing/act?
The decision is yours. There are many entertainers out there who lack talent but still hit the big time. However, the public will always see them as amateurs or jokes in a ‘serious’ business. Serious awards- grammys and Oscars- will be harder to win, and if you do win the awards’ creditability will be put into question, and the chance of you going down in history as an icon or legend are pretty small.
2. Don’t ‘pimp’ Yourself Out
Sadly I must use Beyonce as an example this time. I mean ‘sadly’ because she is a REAL musician, if you ignore ‘Sasha Fierce’, but in this area she lets us down time and time again.
Years ago Beyonce signed up with Loreal. Fair enough. All the downloading and lack of promotion means artists paid, but not PAID like MJ, Mariah and Whitney did. Anyway, Beyonce then starts promoting perfumes, even though she said she’s allergic to them…then she starts advertising safe credit cards for surfing the internet, even though she said doesn’t go online, and then she’s back with Loreal, even though that may not be her real hair, and then she’s helping end hunger, with her tour advertising in the background, and then she’s endorsing cable TV in her music video, and with DC3 she’s with Ronald McDonald, and…
STOOOOOOOOOOOOP! Let me breathe…Okay, let’s continue.
If you’re a REAL entertainer, don’t pimp yourself out. I can understand making money on the sidelines, because music does not pay much anymore, but keep it to a minimum. When people associate your name with everything from McDonald’s to the ‘red WHITE blue’ Loreal, you lose credibility. How can you be REAL when you’re acting so FAKE? You do not use any of that stuff, so don’t deceive your fans to get them to buy it. People want MUSIC from you, not shampoos, burgers, and perfumes.
Remember this list when you’re famous:
1. YOUR TRUE SELF (Family, friends, etc)
3. EVERYTHING ELSE
3. Never Forget
I’m not talking about forgetting your anniversary, birthdays, turkey in the oven, TV show, etc, I mean important stuff.
Musicians who have short memory spans will eventually FALL HARD.
When you’re holding that golden statue in your hand, let your thank yous drift further back than your manager, record label and guest artists on your award-winning record/movie role.
1. Your people
Family, friends, and everyone else who has been there since day one. Along the way you’ll attract hanger-ons and keep note of who they are. They’ll be the first to leave when/if your career dips and dives. What goes up must come down. Every person you pi– off on the way up will be waiting for you when you come back down.
2. Your background
Your hometown, religion, and morals. Eventually you must choose between a publicity event and a get-together back home. Go back home. Never put your newfound celebrity pals over your childhood friends who knew you before you were famous. Second, don’t compromise your religion. I know religions tell people not to judge, but expect people to do so. People won’t think you’re very religious if you walk across the stage with your genitalia on show. Finaly, morals. Remember what you said at the start of your career, because the media, ‘haters’ and internet will always be there to remind you. If you said you’d never get naked for fame, in a magazine spread where you’re wearing a skimpy bikini then don’t be surprised if you get backlash. If you said you’d never ditch your group because they’re like family, expect anger when you go solo and never come back.
This should be obvious, but some people need a reminder. Don’t ignore your fans when they ask for autographs or updates on your situation. An autograph is cheap and fans are hard to come by, just ask any recent flops. Fans don’t forget, and some only need one rude outburst to shred your posters, delete their account on your forum and ‘bounce’. Also, be careful when you seek out new fans. Adapting to the current market must be done, but don’t do a complete 180 or you risk gaining no real fans and losing the ones you already have.
4. Don’t Be a DIVA
“I want thirty doves, three and a half lavender scented candles, two oiled down guys fanning me with palm leaves, the room temperature must be ten degrees celsius with four blankets in case I get cold and air conditioning in addition to a fan for when I get hot, the room must be sound proof, the lights can’t be higher than 120watts or they’ll melt my make-up.”
You’ve heard about celebrities who make diva demands whenever they perform somewhere. They want the best of the best of the best, and they don’t want to be treated as poorly as the rest. They know the organisers need them to be there, so they exploit that for all it’s worth.
True Musicians don’t need to do this stuff for media attention. They get their performance cheque, perform and go. Their talent is headline news, not what’s in their trailers.
Once a DIVA, always a DIVA. Don’t constantly throw a strop and then complain when people see you in a bitchy light. First impressions leave a lasting impression that could take years to wipe out, so don’t be surprised when a tantrum comes back to haunt you in years to come.
5. Be Unique
“Who does Ciara think she is? Rihanna?”
“Who does Rihanna think she is? Beyonce?”
“Who does Beyonce think she is? Tina Turner?”
“Who does Tina Turner think she is? Tina Turner.”
At the top of the copycat food chain, you find an idol/legend. First you must wade through countless imitators and impersonators, who claim they were only ‘influenced’ by the originator. We know the truth.
When you become famous, let YOURSELF become famous, not someone else. We already have a Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Usher, etc. We already had an Elvis and Michael Jackson. We don’t have you, so show us what we’re missing.
What works for someone else will not necessarily work for you, so don’t waste your time. If you do copy someone else, the public WILL notice and WILL slam you for it, so don’t bother.
6. Keep Your Clothes On
It is VERY hard to listen to someone’s amazing voice when they are flashing their breasts in your face. It is equally when you want to concentrate but your artist rips off his chest, revealing an oiled, ripped six-pack to die for.
Remember: how you start is how you are expected to finish. If you use sex to sell at the start, don’t expect the public to suddenly take you seriously when you’re ‘too old’ to show some skin. I am not telling you to dress like a nun or wear a burka, but be classy. If your outfit is too embarrassing for your parents to see, then tone it down. A gorgeous gown will attract more POSITIVE attention than skimpy clothes making you the butt of jokes for weeks.
But, I hear you say, Sexxx Sells. Not necessarily.
Yes, sexy outfits will get you worldwide exposure. However, your status as a sex symbol is NOT guaranteed to translate into record-breaking sales. Instead those fans downloading your photoshoot for ‘personal use’ will do no more than that. When was the last time you bought an album because the artist was ‘hot’? You can’t hear a ‘sexy body’ in the car or on your ipod.
Keep your clothes on.
7. No ICON Talk
“I want an Oscar….I want a Grammy….I want to be a best-seller.”
Aiming high is where big dreams begin, but most of the time it’s best to keep these goals to yourself.
Sometimes people have selective hearing when they hear/read an interview. If you start talking about becoming an icon, the public will not take this well. Icons NEVER talk about becoming one. Only the public can declare who warrants this legendary status. If you keep raising the topic, you will end up sounding desperate and needy- naturally this will put people off you.
Becoming an icon is not easy. You will be sharing the title with greats such as Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Elvis, and a few more. Focus on honing your craft and being the best that you can be. If you are meant to go down in music history, it will happen. If not, your fans will NEVER forget you or hold it against you.
8. Be Charitable
Be charitable as often as you can, not just when you have a tour or album to promote. Being in a highly influential position means that you have a lot of power in your hands. Use it wisely. A quick mention of a charity will give them priceless promotion, so take the time out.
Being charitable should also extend your fans. Remember to give away concert tickets, shout outs at concerts, in CD booklets and/or online. Do whatever you can to make them feel extra special, and to show your gratitude for their support.
9. A Good Role Model
Whether you like or not, you will be a role model. Some will look up to you and use you as inspiration for the choices they make in life. Before you do something questionable, think about those you influence. Telling the public that you aren’t a role model does not work.Parents, teachers, and other public figures will still blame you. I do not believe this is fair, but it happens.
If you prefer, think of yourself as a role model for your own children. This is easier when they are here, but if you are not a parent yet, you’ll have to use your imagination. Picture yourself finding naked pictures of your mother/father on the internet. Or maybe a sex tape. Or them consuming illegal drugs. If this makes you blush, angry or feel extremely disappointed, don’t let your offspring feel the same way in two decades time. Kids can be brutal, so don’t give them more ammunition.
No one expects you to be perfect. Some mistakes can be endearing to the public, but others will follow you for the rest of your career. Choose wisely, and always consider the long-term effects of each choice you make. Once something is public, it is public.
10. CD Vocals = Live Performance
Complicated runs, stunning notes and amazing vocals all round are fantastic, but they lose their lustre if you produce an average performance live. Live performances sell the CD version, so they must be top notch otherwise no one will buy the record.
If you find it very difficult to do the entire song without stopping, make it easier and/or let it slide for another track. Do what you are capable of. Always push yourself, but not TOO far otherwise you will sound like an amateur and be known as another vocalist who cannot sing.
Matching and/or outdoing the CD version is possible, but only the most dedicated can do this. Relying on a backing track works for a while, but there will come a time when people question your talent. Soon you will hear “Can she manage without the backing track?” and “I shouldn’t have paid hundreds of dollars to hear the CD live….”
11. No Gimmicks
The music industry is rapidly going downhill because music is second to gimmicks- music should be second to none.
There are times when a duet is anticipated for many years e.g. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. People have been waiting to see who would come out on top, and finally we have the chance to see. Your fans will be left with a sour taste in their mouths if the collaboration doesn’t live up to the hype. Choose a record that suits you both, give each other an equal amount of time, and be yourself. Using a duet to sell records is a waste of time. People will sense the desperation miles away.
If you cannot sing, don’t rely on autotune or studio trickery. Eventually you’ll need to sing without it, and then your talent will come into question. Studio magic will improve an average voice, but don’t expect to come out sounding like Whitney and Mariah circa 1990. Autotune lovers don’t earn respect from the industry or critics. You may be one of the best singers of your generation, but we can’t hear your immense flavour behind a machine.
By ‘beef’ I mean arguments with another artist. They might lead to massive first week sales if your fans are faithful, but longevity is down to you. One face-off may be handy if you need publicity, but if you keep starting trouble then that’s all you will be known for. Before long, your music will be forgotten for your bad attitude.
On blogs and websites good fashion sense gets people’s attention, but once they buy your album your voice will have to sell itself. Being adored by slaves to fashion is completely different from attracting music listeners who’ll buy your record. Also, going for ‘edgy’ and ‘sexy’ outfits just for the sake of it is pointless if they do not relate to your album’s sound.
Songs reflecting your life
“This album shows where I am in my life…”
“Every one of these songs hit me so hard…”
Relating to your album is touching, but don’t go overboard. Unless you were a large part of the creative process- writing, producing, arranging melodies., etc-do not pretend that this album is your diary. At the end of the day, others wrote these songs. You chose whichever song suits your personality, voice, image, and the genre that is ‘in’ right now. If you use the personal nature of the songs to sell the record, don’t be surprised when people question which songs you were referring to. You will look foolish if you relate on a deep, spiritual level with a songs about being hard, sexy, and other shallow topics.
12. No F-ing for Tracks
Sleeping with an industry mogul will only get you so far. It will get you into the public eye, but then it will be up to your audience to keep you there. Artists accused of sleeping their way to the top are never taken seriously. Instead of helping your career, it will only hinder it.
Sleeping with the boss is no guarantee of being treated well. Those singers still get dropped, left behind when the boss moves on, brought average music, and a lack of promotion. This is because the rest of the employees will not respect you. Unless you sleep with them all, expect poor treatment at the office.
If you lack that ‘IT’ factor, vocals or anything that would explain you being signed, the public will sense the real reason you’re there…Hiding your relationship will not work for long.