Is Your Amazing Talent Going To Be Enough?
On December 3rd, of this year, we lost Scott Weiland. We remember our favorite STP songs and Velvet Revolver songs (the “Fall to Pieces” video has now moved from behind the scenes rock-star-chic to disturbing and heartbreakingly downright pathetic). We relish our favorite memories of the glory, the tours, but none of us see the reality. The work, the pain, the struggle, the compromise, the effort, the dedication, and the compulsion that define the drive necessary for success.
I read THIS ROLLING STONE ESSAY written by Scott’s ex-wife Mary Forsberg Weiland and his 2 teenage children Noah 15, and Lucy 13. The takeaway to this article was the bone chilling last 2 sentences of the first paragraph.
But the truth is, like so many other kids [of addictive parents], they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.
This cut me to the bone. I seriously teared up. Not because of the loss of Scott as a person and his artistry (which is horrifying), but because I was thinking of his children and ex-wife.
Scott couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work on himself. He clearly had to outwork all other front men artistically with his bands to get to the heights he achieved, but he failed to turn that drive and that perseverance inward to improve himself.
Heroin, crack, cocaine, and alcohol were not what killed Scott Weiland, they were just the weapons that were used. It was the hole he was trying so desperately to fill with these drugs that ultimately became his demise.
When addicts are trying to fill holes and partying “for the wrong reasons” they often bounce to new addictions after kicking the old ones. Heroin, cocaine, prescription pills, alcohol, sex addiction, and codependent relationships are the common interchangeable lily pads they land on.
So if kicking a drug like heroin doesn’t stop addiction, then heroin isn’t the problem, is it? The question is “Why are they behaving in this manner?” not “What poison should we eliminate?”.
The solution is eliminating the demons, not so much the drugs.
The hole can be filled if the owner is willing to endure and go through the struggle it takes to fill it. It’s never easy, no matter how heavy or light the demons are that reside in said hole. Hell, I went through therapy for a spell to change some things I didn’t like about myself. It’s frustrating, aggravating, annoying, and scary. It makes you feel introspectively defensive and spotlights the deep inner conflicts you have going on every day.
It’s also worth it.
Nikki Sixx has done this and come out the other side a better man for the effort.
Stevie Ray Vaughan did it too, and then died in a helicopter crash.
You have to do the work.
There is just no way around it.
Much like weight loss. I’m feeling a little heavy these days. There is no pill or shake that is going to magically change my weight. Changing my diet and increasing my exercise is the plain and simple, tried and true answer.
You have to do the work.
We only see the fame, the glory, we never see the struggle. It’s hard to conceptualize and relate to the work if all you see is the end result.
You HAVE to make yourself aware of this.
This makes me worry about the artist community that read my articles. I worry because so many of you are completely missing the point.
You want the success without the struggle. It’s really understandable to a degree because the press never shows us the struggle; only the glory.
Too many of you are falsely betting on your talent to make you successful.
You’ve heard how “talented” you are your whole life so you justifiably surmise, “that’s the ticket”. If your parents, friends, and local fans see it, why not the bigwigs in the music industry?
I got news for you, your success won’t be about your talent. Not one bit.
You see talent is just a way we categorize the successful.
There’s a talent totem pole of success that we subconsciously use to rank the artists we’re aware of. Somebody has to be John, somebody has to be Paul, somebody has to be George, and somebody has got to be Ringo.
Sure there are hugely successful less-talented artists, there are mildly successful supremely talented artists, and a ton of able bodies in between.
There are also a million unknown, super talented phenoms that we will never hear about because, for whatever reason, they either can’t or choose not to make it out of the basement.
I personally know the most AMAZING singer. Her vocal control and tone blows away Whitney, Mariah, and seriously rivals Adele’s.
Her talent got her a major label deal back in the 90’s. Guaranteed 2 record deal.
She worked with the BEST producers and the best teams in the industry.
She was invited by Quincy Jones to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival. (That’s a BIG DEAL, man.)
She’s not an addict, but the way she handles her intelligence, strategy, and business ensured that you’ll never know about her.
Total bust for the record label.
So once again, your level of financial success or fame has nothing to do with your talent.
Talent just gets you noticed.
Success comes because of intelligence, strategy, hard work, and perseverance.
Once you’re successful, it’s especially awesome to the fans (and the industry) when you’re also super talented. Your success and far reach means your talent will get to touch more people.
But making a living at your passion, what I would define as success, has nothing to do with talent.
I hear so many of you tell me that you just need that one important industry person to “believe in you”. Once that ship comes in, it’s all puppy dogs and ice cream. You’ll get PAID. You’ll be FAMOUS.
Here’s another factual smart-bomb. I think every top Producer, A&R exec, Label President, Booking Agent, Manager, and industry professional would agree, we don’t need to believe in your talent because your talent will be obvious.
When we talk about “believing in an artist” as industry pros, we are talking about all the other disciplines that a talented artist needs to succeed.
We wouldn’t be talking about you if you weren’t talented.
There have been so many labels that got burned by not looking more closely at this dynamic.
Y’all probably never heard of Mother Love Bone. They were the band that blended the 80’s metal glam with 90’s grunge and really ushered in the Seattle scene. Kurt Cobain and the boys from Nirvana considered them heroes. They OWNED the Seattle scene and with Soundgarden, they paved the way for all the big Seattle names we know and love in the grunge scene to get their shot and become successful.
Mother Love Bone was important, man.
The band was comprised of front man and dreamy lyricist Andrew Wood backed in part by Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard who would eventually become Pearl Jam.
Andrew Wood overdosed on heroin days before the March 1990 release of the first major label LP Apple was released.
Bradly Nowell was the front man and main writer for the infamous Southern California underground band, Sublime. He overdosed on heroin 2 months before the release of their debut major label release on MCA Records.
These 2 stories are just the tippy top of the iceberg and more well known. What you don’t know, and should understand, is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of stories where industry people wanted to “believe” in an artist and got totally burned because the artist didn’t have the disciplines, outside of their amazing talent, to follow through.
I remember Tom Zutaut (A&R exec who signed Guns & Roses and Mötley Crüe) being asked if there was ever a band that he was jealous he didn’t get to sign. His answer was something like, “No, but I had a band I really wanted to sign badly and was glad I didn’t get to.”
That band was Mother Love Bone.
Too many of you want someone to bet their money and more scarce, their precious time on YOU because of your talent.
When you realize that success is about follow through, intelligence, perseverance, and good business, you’ll start to look for ways to showcase that along with your obvious artistic abilities.
Y’all know someone or know someone who knows someone that is supremely talented in anything (not just music) but doesn’t have it together.
God, I just want y’all to WIN and I want y’all to be healthy doing it!
Do the work
Do the work on yourself: Attack those demons. WE ALL HAVE THEM. Generally speaking the more successful people in life learn what they want to change (because we’re all broken) and then take active steps to change it.
I was once told by my manager that therapy should be mandatory like a driver’s license. It’s like college but for your mind. Just for you. You’ll be AMAZED by what you learn.
Do the work on your artistry: Constantly be improving.
Do the work on your marketing: The internet means the world is your oyster and you no longer need to wait around to find your audience. They’re out there. Find them. LEARN to market.
These are the traits that make a talented artist sexy to the industry and to big money.
We want you to prove you can work and work with an immeasurable consistency.
If we’re talking to you, we already know you’re talented.
So if you’re good enough to have relationships with industry people, and you’re not getting the love that you want, your talent isn’t the problem.
Could it possibly be your work ethic, the pain you’re willing to endure, the struggle you’re willing to tolerate, the compromises you’re willing to make, the effort you’re putting forth, the dedication you’ve shown, and your compulsion that defines the drive necessary for success?
Maybe it’s the work outside of your talent, or lack thereof that is making you unattractive and therefore hindering the success you seek?
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