What?! You’re a musician?! Then you know it’s tough out there.
On the road, in the studio, in your bedroom practicing, writing, getting ready to bare your musical soul.
Here are some tidbits of advice from 10 ladies who have put their doubts and reservations aside (Yes, they still have them, but that’s a topic for another article). They’ve faced skepticism, arrogance, confusion, exhaustion and so much more. And they’ve been gracious enough to share a morsel of inspiration with all of you who are doing the same.
While I’m at it, here’s my bit of worldly wisdom: I believe in good karma. Help your friends, co-workers and fellow musicians -- without asking for anything in return. Don’t be a patsy, but DO be generous. Somehow it comes back to you in ways you could never dream of!
And now, a few words from some amazingly talented ladies. Read on and be inspired!
Mostly I’d just say to remember that music is the reward. Sometimes people get their feelings hurt, or they start to feel unappreciated, and maybe they’ll start comparing themselves to other people’s careers. It’s just a sad trap to get into, because really if you get to play, that’s the success. Anything else you do with it is icing on the cake. Money and music aren’t related!
My advice is don’t get too focused on female or male, because music is music and it has no gender whatsoever. So when you play, you have to become you. The idea is to become the music you’re playing for, just forget about who you are. You are a man, or a woman, or an old lady or a dog or whatever. Play and practice and be inspired more than being disciplined, because discipline is fucking boring. Instead, if you get inspired, you want to play all day long.
As an artist, I think that’s it’s important that you be unique. The more that you do who you are, and no matter what that is, no matter who that is, that is how you truly will shine. The most important thing I would say to anybody is really do you. And if you are doing yourself, you are gonna find the people who totally get you. I promise you this. And it’s going to feel right, and it’s gonna be right, and it’s gonna move mountains.
And I also would say, you should treat people the way you really want to be treated. And I think it’s important to... For me, no matter how anybody runs as a business aspect, however anybody does their business, YOU always be fair. And always stick to your ground.
I think it’s just really important to figure out what you want and listen to yourself. Take time to do what’s best for you, and that’s not always the same for everybody, for all musicians. Musicians are all people. And I think, that a lot of times people think there’s some formula that you have to follow, y’now? And being a musician, and getting your name out there, and doing certain types of tours, and all kinds of stuff. Really, you can just do it however you wanna do it. And that it’s different for everybody. I think that would be my best advice.
I rarely take my own advice on tour, but I would just say try to stay positive, take Emergen-C and don’t yell at people!
I always bring earplugs and a sleeping mask for the plane rides and long bus and van rides on tour. Shut out the outside world and try to get some sleep even though everything is a loud chaos around you!
For me, one of cool things about guitar is there are no rules with it. I totally used this instrument to find my own voice. One of the techniques I use when I’m working with a girl at Girls Rock Camp, is come up with your own chord, come up with something that you just like the way it sounds. So that’s the first thing, to not think you have to sit there with some technical book and learn everything just right because it’s rock n’ roll, ultimately. I think there’s a freedom with that, which people need to tap into. And just have fun! When else can you have a chance to totally hold nothing back and scream and have fun.
I will tell you that I completely believe that the next generation of musicians is going to be flooded with women because of what we see at our shows. It’s just so neat to see in all of these girls because there’s something gutsy about being a woman in music and a woman in rock n’ roll, specifically, because nobody, even now, nobody tells you that, “Hey, this is an option.” You know, it’s still that way. So you have to kind of buck the system a little bit and carve out your own path. I tell people all the time, “I traded in the marry-your-high-school-sweet-heart-with-the-white-picket-fence thing for the sweaty guys in the bars and guitar.” I wouldn’t trade it for the world because again, you don’t have to be something just because it’s normal, and everyone else has done it first for hundreds of years.
The stronger I am in my personal life, the more energy I have to look outward, to address my society. When all you can think of is your own personal problems, you have nothing to give to your society. If you’re trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from, you can’t go march on Washington. For me, it’s like the stronger ground I have in my personal life, then the more will I have to fight the good fight.
I’ve gotten lots of advice through the years but y’now, it’s not necessarily the right advice. So I’m always careful and try not to give any myself. I think that when you’re doing music, you just need to take chances; you have to do things that are off the map. The rules are not to be followed. There should not be any rules in art-making. You have to just cut your own niche.
Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Dean Markley, Agile Partners, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the co-producer of the Women's Music Summit and the lead singer for the rock band, Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.