By Cari Cole
A few days ago I spoke to a fledgling artist trying to make it, like so many. And during the phone call, I noticed something really important. She came at me with all of her doubt, confusion and literally “panic” about making it. I first assured her that I “get it,” it’s a natural feeling when you’re approaching a career that seems so out of your control and tough to pull off. I thought that she might calm down enough to hear the advice I was going to offer because I knew if she didn’t take a deep breath she was going to miss out. And that’s exactly what happened. Because she was in SUCH a hurry she completely missed the opportunity to take her music to the next level. But hopefully, this blog will save some of you from that common conundrum most artists find themselves in. Oh, and she was 21. I know in time she’ll come to realize that no matter how much you try to put music away or hide it in the closet, it will never leave you. So you might as well go about the art of doing it well before you die.
Here’s some of the best music advice I was given and thankfully followed (eventually lol)!
1. Study Music and Become the Best Musician You Can Be.
This message first came from my Mom (the classical musician) whose devotion to her instrument inspired me early on when I started reading music and playing classical guitar and flute at 6 years old. I later got that message reinforced internally when I was in a rock band writing songs for the band. After hitting a few walls, I realized I wanted to go to music school and fill in all of the missing links of theory and composition. There I met the most amazing musicians who again, reinforced this message to me. While it was a bit of time before I could really integrate this knowledge without sounding stiff, I’m so glad I took that road. I think I’d always have regretted it if I didn’t. If this is you, don’t wait. Music is never going to go away. You might as well do it well before you die ;).
2. Take Voice Lessons if You Want to Go Pro.
So I was 18 turning 19 singing and playing rhythm (and a little lead guitar) in an original rock band called “Fallen Angels.” A band that later got the attention of A & R rep Carol Childs of Geffen Records. We were working with producer Bill Russo (who has since passed away) who also was the Founder of The Music Paper in Long Island NY. Bill was the first person who saw my talent as a vocalist and suggested I become a serious singer and study with a vocal coach. He led me to Katherine Agresta who became my mentor as a singer and later as a teacher/coach. One of the BEST things I ever did. Can’t imagine my life if I didn’t listen to that advice. Thanks Bill ❤️. I never looked back.
If you’re on the fence about training your voice and you want power, strength, and longevity without anyone screwing up your sound, take the plunge. The right vocal coach will make you sound 10x better than you do now. If they don’t, they aren’t the right one.
I make room in my private exclusive 1-on-1 VIP schedule every year for a small group of private students. To find out more click here to apply and get on the waiting list (3-4 mo wait, but when you register you get my vocal warmups and materials right away so you can get a whopping head start!).
3. Treat Your Music Like a Job.
In order to own your artistry + performance, you have to put in your 10,000 hours, period. When you’re stuffing your music hours in between your day job hours, or dividing your time between business, music and other responsibilities, it’s tough to get them in. The best way is to “calendar” your music practice, rehearsal, gigs and development time, and track the hours. Make those hours non-negotiable. Once you treat your music like a job, everything changes. Don’t put off the inevitable. One year from now you’ll be so glad you did it.
4. Get Yourself in the Music Business.
After years of being together and listening to my music, my husband said to me, “You need to get yourself in the music business instead of on the outside.” It completely changed everything. I didn’t realize that like most artists, I was so consumed by the artistry of being an artist (writing songs, performing, recording etc.) that I wasn’t working enough at building relationships or working with people in the industry. I didn’t even really know where to start. It’s now one of the central things I teach artists (and show them exactly how to do it no matter where they live). I’m so grateful for that advice and for my ability to share it and transform artists’ lives.
5. Being a Musician is Never Going to Go Away, So You Might As Well Do It Well Before You Die.
I released my first record when I was 40. If I had listened to my mind telling me I was too old, I never would have touched 40,000 people’s lives with my music. There is no greater time than the present to get into action, matter of fact, it’s all you have. Stop living in the future or in the past and just do it now. Lucinda Williams was 48 when she made it. There are many other stories, especially today. Stop worrying about how long it takes, Just Do It. Anything is possible.
6. Hire People Smarter & More Experienced Than You (with a track record).
I’ll admit, this one took me a long while to get. It wasn’t until I took a mastermind 10 years ago that my coach imprinted this on my brain and it finally sunk in. I’d heard it forever, but I never realized the power in it. I now reach higher up when it comes to staff, music industry pals and connections (friends too!). I see tremendous improvements in my professional and personal life to boot! If you take one thing from this article, take this one!
7. Raise the Bar, Don’t Lower It.
Once again, it was my husband that taught me this about record making. I never realized the importance of quality and how to make an award-winning record before his guidance. He is a bass player (signed to Columbia and toured Europe and Asia in a “long hair band” before Nirvana wiped them off the map ;)) and a producer. Everything he ever produced got signed. Nothing notable, because he didn’t really produce as a profession, he was just helping his musician friends, but the results proved great ears. He taught me how to do things by raising the bar not lowering it. Some of the most powerful advice I was ever given (and now give) ~ thanks babe!
Share the best music advice you ever got below!! Can’t wait to hear it! Musicians need all the help you can get!! Let’s take this up a notch!