Every day, each one of us does the exact same thing. We wake up and put our feet down on the stage. Our stage may be different – the stage of life, business, parenthood – any number of arenas. What we choose to do on that stage will be our own unique “performance” as well. The key to making it a successful performance is confidence – walking out under the lights, in front of the crowd, and owning that stage.
The Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger had to gain confidence at some point to develop that strut. Billy Idol didn’t always have that sneer. And Lady Gaga? She’s developed her confidence to the point where she can now wear and do anything on stage! So, how do you gain confidence to take centre stage and succeed? Preparation. When you’re prepared for anything, you have more confidence. But how do you prepare to be the rock star you know you should and can be?
First and foremost, make sure you’re doing what it is you want to do. If you aren’t, use all of the following steps to make a change. Even the best rock star job in the world has its problems and tedious moments and only passion will get you through these times. Passion makes you want to get up early and get to work. Passion gives you the energy to work harder and longer than anyone.
In addition, not only do you have to do what you love, you have to give your fans (customers and clients) what they want; you need to feed their passions! It’s human nature to enjoy working with and being around people who are interested in what you’re interested in. When you indulge the passions of your fans, you develop a stronger following.
Keep up with your industry and the news around you. I’ve always said that I never played “Stairway to Heaven” or “Freebird” any different than any other deejay. What I did do, was read constantly, always having things to talk about and tidbits to drop in during my broadcasts. That extra work added a new dimension of entertainment to my show and connected me to the passions of my listeners.
KISS’s Gene Simmons, one of the most successful rock stars of all time, once told an audience at a business conference that the thing he attributes his success to is reading. Keeping up with your industry and the world around you not only keeps your mind sharp, it also gives you the ability to recognize trends and opportunities before anyone else.
Long before I knew what networking meant, I schmoozed. After a concert, we would “hang out” backstage with the bands, fans, the other deejays, and the music reps. Relationships were formed and phone numbers were exchanged. I helped the bands by playing their music and they helped me by doing interviews on my show and giving me access backstage. It should always be a reciprocal relationship.
I met my husband because of a favor I did for David Crosby of Crosby Stills & Nash. It’s too long of a story for this article, but suffice it to say, I did something for David because it was the right thing to do. I never expected “Charlie the Wonder Husband” and our three great sons to be part of the deal!
Networking is about forming relationships and finding ways to work together on any number of projects. It’s how musicians find bands and bands find record deals. Think of it this way, would you rather do business with someone you know or someone recommended by a friend or a complete stranger? Schmooze away rock star!
Let the world know what you do; most of us don’t read minds. Bands start out in small clubs, hanging signs around town and networking on MySpace. The ones that have a chance of succeeding have a website, a very attractive presence on social media sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter), free music downloads available online, CDs to give away, t-shirts and hats, etc. I always have copies of my book in my bag and in my car. I carry a handful of guitar picks with my information on them as business cards.
You should always have something to leave behind, whether it’s a business card or some other item. That’s a great trick the music industry learned a long time ago when promoting music at radio stations – they left behind freebies. One of my favorites? To promote the Spinal Tap movie soundtrack, I was given a shiny new colander. In the movie, the band has a replica of Stonehenge on stage, but it appears in inches instead of feet because someone wrote the measurement down wrong during the planning stages. (Take my word for it, a very funny scene on the big screen.) The colander came with a note explaining that it was supposed to be a “calendar” but it too had been written down wrong during the planning stages… a brilliant play on the movie, very funny, and I still have a lovely colander.
Early on in my rock career, my mentor managed Sammy Hagar and later Van Halen. I was given a front row view into the operation of one of the biggest bands on the charts and on the road. Everything from the actual tour, to press, to marketing was planned out well in advance.
Months go into the planning and organization of tours with tour managers; they even organize and plan for the things they hope won’t happen. One of the questions I’m asked most often, other than, “Did you even meet Van Halen?” is “How do you have so much confidence in yourself and in front of others?” the short answer is: I have a plan. I know what I’m going to say. I’ve done my research, searching facts and figures on Google. I have contingency plans, extra batteries, and my presentation on flash cards as well as on my computer. And my list goes on. When you have a plan and you’re organized, I guarantee you’ll have more confidence at whatever it is you do.
Say thank-you along the way for a job well done – to everyone, from the fans to the roadies. No matter how big or small your organization is, never underestimate the importance and the power of saying thank you. Billy Idol once played a show at a Houston theme park, breaking all attendance records along the way. As a show of appreciation, management turned on some rides at the adjacent water park at 1:00am, gave Billy and his entourage bathing suits and towels and said, “Thanks, that was amazing!” From that day forward, I realized the incredible power of gratitude, no matter who you are. I also realized that thirteen people in a water park are a lot of fun and the only way to do it!
Also, never underestimate the old fashioned power of a hand written think-you note. In this fast paced, high-tech world of emails, posts, Tweets, texts, and more, a hand written thank-you note speaks volumes. It communicated the fact that you took the time to add a personal touch and show your sincere appreciation for something. It leaves a lasting mark on the recipient.
For the most part, what all of us do in any industry is not brain surgery (unless of course you’re a brain surgeon). Most of what we do is not life or death. Relax. Breathe. Rest. Eat right. Take care of yourself. And remember to enjoy the ride. You’re only as happy as you decide you’re going to be each day. find something you love, work hard, and allow yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Believe, rock stars find ways to have fun, there’s no doubt about that!
So, as you stand in the wings, waiting for your introduction, be confident in the knowledge that you’re practicing the seven steps above. Close your eyes, imagine yourself in the spotlight, take a big breath and let it out slowly. Stand up straight, throw your shoulders back, walk into that spotlight at center stage, and think to yourself…
Why yes, I AM a rock star!