There are career development people and then there are agents, producers, music company executives and the rest that just do their job.
The career development people are the ones who make stars. The others just play out their various roles in the scheme of things.
Remember music may be an art, but the music industry is a business. What any business ultimately wants is a reasonable profit for its time. Believe me, no one wants to put money into a band, no matter how talented they are, to only have them get into a personality spat and break up six months later, or to have them refuse to listen to seasoned advice because they are arrogant and know it all. So, there are a number of things that career development people and most others in the music industry are looking for besides talent.
When you present yourself you want to have all of these things in place--not just talent.
1) But, yes, you do need talent. And, your talent must be developed to professional levels. But, it is a given, an understood. Everyone knows you need talent. But talent doesn't have to be the best thing ever, but it does have to achieve professionalism. Talent is unfortunately only about 1/10 of the formula.
2) Longevity. The longer your act can last, the more money everyone will make. This is obvious and can happen is several ways: Youth--you are young (this is why you see so many young kids developed into stars) and you have a potentially long career ahead of you. So you see a talented 15 year old has an advantage over a talented 50 year old. But don't despair, if you are not 15 any more. Longevity, can be presented in other ways. A 30 year old Rocker may have a longer potential career ahead of him than a 15 year old rapper, because if the difference in the sub-industries. So, whatever your age (even if you are 50) don't give up on longevity, just figure out how you can present a case for it. Show them how you will potentially have a long and prosperous career.
3) Built in audience. This guarantees sales, and sales means everyone will potentially make a profit. The bigger the existing audience the better. Use to be you had to go on the road a couple of years to develop a national audience. Now My Space can do it for you.Groups who have never been on the road are signing record contracts solely because of their MySpace following. Shows there is more than one way to skin a cat.
4) Staying power. Having lots of material means you are not a one song wonder. Three CDs worth of material is good. It means you will be around awhile (Longevity again.) Most career development people feel it takes three CDs to make a star. Have this in place when you start meeting people and it will go better.
5) You haven't given the whole pie away. No one in the industry wants to work for free, or less than they feel they should. Probably one of the biggest deal killers is the bands who have sold half their publishing rights to this guy, half their movie rights to this other guy, and they are locked into an obnoxious contract with an manager, etc. Career development people are going to have to work with you for years. They won't do it if you have given half the pie to other people. Approach them with the whole pie in place.
6) Cooperative nature. No one wants to work with a snarly, crazy, egotistical, arrogant, fool of an artist. So don't be one. People working with you would rather work with the guy who has a pleasant easy to get along with personality. So be him, not the other guy.
7) Crossover potential. If you music can cross over into other genres, there will be more sales. If you as an artist can also, act and dance, there is a potential for movie deals and good concert sales. The more income streams you can tap into, the more attractive you will be. Know your strengths and abilities present your ability to tap into multiple income streams.
8) Do you have surveyed material or are you guessing? All successful career development people survey. It isn't how good you think your material is. It is how good others think it is. So start now. Survey your own material. Ask your fans to rate your songs on MySpace and after a performance mingle and ask people what they liked the best. Play your songs for school children and teenagers, get them to rate what songs they like best. Be willing as writers to throw away half of your material and develop fully surveyed CDs of your best material. Music is a communication. If it doesn't communicate to anyone but you, it is pointless. If you have surveyed show those record company people the statistics. It will go a long way.
9 Watch who you get hooked up with. There are many famous people who can kill your career. There are famous people who have backstabbed others along the way to their success, and now others don't trust them. Check out the people you hire and chose to work with. No one will want to invest a lot of money in you if they think your manager, or agent, or producer, or lawyer is just going to screw them sooner or later. If you hook up with the wrong people it can result in what is in effect a partial blacklisting.
(c)2007 Stan Medley
About the Author
Stan Medley is the CEO of Viscount Productions, Inc. which specializes in career development. Additional information on this topic is at