Title got your attention right? Good. In this ever changing landscape that is the entertainment industry, you have to decide what success means to you and go for it. You have to learn to be happy with what you have achieved and as long as you have given it everything that you have, you have to be okay with the results. What does this mean?
Let’s look at an Olympic level athlete for example. Most American Olympic level athletes are no different than entertainers. They make no money from their profession. Very few athletes make any money and have work a regular job, scrimp, save and try to find endorsement dollars just like any entertainer. The great old United States of America does’t pay for or provide anything for it’s athlete’s like most other countries so it is completely upon the athletes to make do with what they have. They have to become the very best at what they do in the same harsh environment that any entertainer does. They have no money, huge bills to pay for coaches, fees, travel etc… We are talking at least tens of thousands every year just to train and compete only a few times a year to achieve the world wide platform they are looking to get to.
The difference is Olympic level athletes are completely and utterly dedicated to achieving their goals. They get up at ungodly hours, put their bodies through absolute hell training 6 to 8 hours a day usually at minimum, work, have families and all the issues in life everyone else has. They have to pay someone a fee to coach them. They have to pay for all their gear, all their costs just like any entertainer does. “Their families tell them many times, why don’t you just give this up and focus on a career? There is no money in this.” However, you never hear them complain about it. You don’t hear them whining about how hard it is or how no one pays them for being the best at what they do. Ever. Yet every entertainer, most of which are not even close to the best at what they do always complain about not being paid while bringing nothing special to the table.
You see, the special people have a dream. A goal they know is almost impossible to achieve as so very few ever do. They accept it, plan for it and actually put the plan into motion to achieve their end goal. Every day of their lives. No exceptions, no excuses. They put their bodies, families and careers through hell for that 15 minutes of standing on a podium, hearing their national anthem and knowing at least for that little bit of time, they are the very best at what they do and that is all they need.
Almost every entertainer I have met isn’t like this. They whine and complain how no one takes them serious. They say things like “if only I could get some to….” In other words, they want other people to do the real work. The booking, the planing, the social media, the PR…. everything and pay them almost nothing for it. Heck most don’t even know what they average pay is anymore, they still think it’s 1985. This is the most infuriating thing about the entertainment business.
You see for years the entertainers complained about other people making all the money, but the reality is, they were doing all the hard work. They did the work no one else wanted to do and usually fronted all the money. Now we live in a different dynamic. The money isn’t there any more. The entertainers got what they wanted, control of their careers. But that comes with actually having to adapt and learning how to run a business. Doing the things they bitched about having to pay so much money to have other people do. Just like any other business. You have to pay people to work for you and you pay a much higher price for experts in their field. Entertainers haven’t adapted to this new dynamic yet. They still think that people will work extremely hard for no or very little money which I am afraid isn’t going to happen.
You see, entertainers first of all need to do what they love just for the love of it just like the athletes do. Secondly, they have to dedicate themselves to the process of achieving your dreams just like the athletes do. What does this mean? It means getting your ass out of bed early and working. It means, put your money in your dreams not in your local bar or vice of choice. It means figuring out a way to pay for all the help you are going to need because you know you can’t do it on your own and quit hoping that someone is just going to “discover” you. That doesn’t ever happen normally especially now. The entertainment business is like any sports field, only about 2% of the people actually make it to the top. The rest have to learn to be happy with what they did achieve.
So this is my question to all you entertainers out there because in my experience your actions don’t match up with your words. How serious are you? Are you serious enough about your career and goals to dedicate your self with the focus it takes an Olympic level athlete? Or are you just another person with dreams but not the drive to actually back up your words?
Think about this before you pester people for help, before you tell everyone that you are the next big thing and if they would only just take a chance on you that you would prove it. Because, reality says 98% of you aren’t that dedicated to your dreams and goals. Which percentage do you want to belong in?
I wish you the best and I hope this lights a fire! To do anything in life takes and immense amount of work, money, trial and error but most importantly drive. Without this, you have no chance at making it.
Look at your goals and career like your are training for that gold medal and make it happen. You are the only one that can and no one else will put that kind of effort to back you, if you won’t do if for yourself.
August 16th, 2013 at 7:22 pm
I agree that absolute dedication is a necessity. But comparing performers to athletes, in this way, is a little bit misleading.
What the athletes have that really assist them in pushing forward every day that entertainers don’t, is the opportunity to participate in competitions regularly. Occasionally, they win, or come in second, third, etc.
This gives immediate, real world, feedback. You win, or you don’t, in a very tangible way. It isn’t a guessing game. It doesn’t have a thousand variables.
Entertainment is infinitely more subjective in a way that winning a race or game, is not. The messages are not clear to us, either because they are not made clear or they are not made at all.
You may be at a level that is fabulous, but this agent may not like your style. You may need work on one aspect, but not another, you don’t get the jobs, but there is no clear reason why.
You can get help; lessons, a friends opinion, the occasional agent/manager/club owner who might be willing to tell you. But overall, you’re on your own. You can be the best, but still miss some other points.
Yes, complete dedication to your craft is essential. No argument. But most people need a definitive marker from which to push off from, and that is sadly lacking for us. There is no standardized progress chart. No complete list of all the things you need to learn to make it in the industry.
That is a big reason people seem to be unable to sustain the drive forward.
August 17th, 2013 at 7:54 am
Thank you very much for reading and commenting. But let me point out that I disagree completely.
First of all, this wasn’t a comparison of industries but a comparison of drive for a single goal and from that stand point there is absolutely no difference.
I myself spent 6 years training at an Olympic Training Center and I can tell you, being an athlete is much, much harder. It’s harder to raise money, it’s harder to get up every morning and put yourself through the pain and torture you go through.
It’s just as petty, political and is completely based on entertainment value. The IOC is always worried about ticket sales, which sports bring in the most viewers etc just like any major label or promoter.
What the athletes go through with self doubt, corrupt judging, personal issues on a daily basis are things you can’t get around, can do nothing about and it weighs much heavier. You see an athlete has basically one shot realistically at a gold medal. Most athletes don’t make it back for a second shot. Every competition is vitally important to your chance to make it.
Musicians don’t ever have to deal with this. You can have as many shots as you are willing to take. You might have one shot with a label, but there are many out there. And trust me, if you ever started making a buzz, you’d get another one. Musicians have competitions they compete in all the time, as a matter of fact they have support in it many times which athletes do not. You have battle of the bands every week somewhere. You have the opportunity to watch your numbers grow which is your direct real world feedback.
If a band handles themselves properly, they don’t need the label, they have their own support base and can do it all on their own. They have many people in the band that help contribute to that success, where as athletes usually just have themselves except in team sports.
All in all, the race is the same, the results wanted by the “governing bodies” is the same i.e., ticket sales, the personal ups and downs are the same, the ability to raise money is the same i.e., the more “visible” you are the more sponsorships you can get.
There is not much different in the big picture, just little things. It is much easier to be a musician with a shelf life that could go on for decades than an athlete with a very short window of opportunity and yet the drive for success is a necessity that is equal to each other.
Sports is entertainment, Music is entertainment. They parallel each other pretty closely if you have ever done both on a big level you would see it immediately. Just look at the UFC and listen to Dana White. It’s all about the athlete that sells the most tickets, not necessarily the one with the best record.
Good luck in your endeavors!