Last week the article on “5 Things I Would Tell Anyone Wanting To Make A Living From Music” was well received. However we think this is only half of the story - sometimes the issues may not be with the kids, but with the parents. If your kids love music and want to try and make a living from it, then you may need advice too. So here are 5 tips from one parent to another…
1. They Won’t Grow Out Of It
Sadly, trying to make a career in music can often be ridiculed at worst, or at best parents just see it as something their kid will grow out of. As a parent, I see it as my God-given responsibility to help my kids make their dreams come true. Now I’m not talking about when they are 5 and tell you that they want to work in a zoo or own an ice-cream company, I’m talking about when they start to develop into adults and start dreaming of what they might want to do in life. We spend far too many hours trying to make money to pay the bills, so anyone forcing their kids into doing a dull, grey job, as a means to an end, needs shooting. I’m 46 this year and I still haven’t figured out what to do - all I know is if I can make a living from music, then I’ll forgo anything to make that happen.
2. Be Their Number One Fan And Their Biggest Critic
I don’t need to tell any parent this, it should be part of your parenting DNA - you may not like thrash metal or dub step, but being their number one fan is an essential part of making sure they have at least one person who believes in them, even when the rest of the world doesn’t. Conversely, as a songwriter and a producer, I know there are plenty of people who will criticise my work simply to have an opinion - the jokes goes ‘how many producers does it take to change a light bulb?’ the answer’s ‘10, 1 to change it and 9 to say they could have done it better.’ Joking apart, having trusted people around you, who you know love you enough to want the best for you, are priceless when you need someone to critique your work.
3. Don’t Try And Live Your Dreams Through Them
My son was in a band, which was ‘managed’ by his friends’ Dad - the band fell apart eventually, it would seem mostly because the dad wanted his ideas right in the middle of the band, in a sense, to be in the band by proxy. We need to do all we can to encourage our kids, but trying to impose our unfulfilled dreams on them is asking for trouble. The same can be said for soccer dads, or cheerleader mums and a million other ways we try and live through our kids. That normally happens because no one told our parents number one in this list, and so we settled for the grey career, and let our own dream die - sorry if that sounds harsh, but you made your choice and you can’t fix that through your kids.
4. You Can’t Buy Them Success
When I was 16 I decided I ‘needed’ a Tascam 244 Portastudio to further my career. It was £1299 in the early 80s and I was earning £70 a week, so do the math. I asked my Dad to buy it for me to help further my career. He refused to buy it for me, but instead loaned me the money at 0%. I think I paid him 50 a month for a couple of years and then he wrote the rest off. However, I cherished that 244 and got every last ounce of use I could, trying to craft songs on it. Throwing money at your kids with gear or studio time is not going to make them any more successful and in fact simply feeds into the ‘entitlement’ thinking that seems to pervade our modern society. If they want you to take their career seriously, then do that by teaching them that, as with any successful career, it takes a lot of hard work to achieve.
5. Keep Them Grounded
If even the smallest success comes for them; be that as a writer, musician or producer, then you need to make sure they stay grounded. I know people who had huge careers 20 years ago and who now sell insurance. The money and the fame do not last long - one thing you can do to make sure they are taken care of, is to make sure they don’t spend all the cash or believe the hype. You may need to remind them now and again that you used to wipe their ass or sing them to sleep, when they think they are the world’s “next-big-thing” and that’s the reason they give as to why they can’t load the dishwasher.
In this article we are going to give Russ the last word. He says....
The greatest gift in my life are my Mum and Dad - I’ve had some whacky ideas over the years, but not once have they told me what job I should do; instead they have been there to nurture and support me. Recently, my Dad (who is now in his eighties) told me how he wished I had joined him and taken over his insurance business when he retired. This was the first time he had ever said this to me, several years after he sold it. That sums it up - he had his dreams, but he saw I had mine and he loved me enough to let me try and make them happen.