"Can't Buy Me Talent" by Elizabeth Grimes
It was a simpler time for the music industry back in the 1940s and 1950s. Crooners like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Elvis had to have one thing. Talent. A voice that dazzled in every setting, and a stage presence that entranced the audience were the only necessary ingredients needed to create a star. I guess that’s why they call it “the good old days.”
Not that today’s artists don’t have talent and stage presence. Some of them surely must. But have you ever wondered why your favorite singer sounds amazing on the album yet so different when you fork out the 200 bucks for concert tickets? I can think of a few reasons: vocal stacking (for added power), vocal auto-tune (it’s exactly what it sounds like – automatically tuning the vocal pitch with a computer), copy and pasting (so they don’t have to sing the same chorus twice, studio time is expensive), and reverb (that’s the pretty echo you hear). Not to mention a choir of back-up singers and thousands of dollars worth of microphones and state of the art equipment to filter out the tiniest vocal imperfection.
What happened to the days when Ricky Ricardo came to this country with only “Babalu,” hard work, and a bongo? Now, in order to have a fighting chance in the industry, you need thousands of dollars for a producer to record a professional track before anyone will so much as look at you. And if you haven’t recently come into your inheritance or already know someone in the biz, your dream can seem more and more unreachable.
Somewhere in our American hearts, we must still believe that true talent will prevail. Until then, fellow-broke-wannabes, heed this humble advice:
-Find an internship with a recording studio or publishing house. You’ll learn the business and meet people who can give helpful advice. The possibilities are numerous near New York or L.A.
-Go ahead, try out for American Idol. You never know.
-Plug into your local musical community, song-writer’s guild, and open-mike nights. The support and networking are half the battle.
-Consider websites such as www.sellaband.com where people worldwide can financially invest in your music career if they feel you have the talent and potential.
And finally, I know you’re sick of hearing it, but don’t give up. Keep playing, performing, and writing because in the end, American hearts are everywhere and we are pulling for you to prevail.