If you’re an independent artist there’s a good chance you go through many stages. There’s a good chance you go through a lot of your stages alone. You may be longing for advice. There may be times where you feel like you have no where to turn. There may even be times where you question your career. No matter how difficult things get as an indie artist, never question yourself. The reality is being an indie artist or pursuing a music career will come with ups and downs. No matter how many times you research “how to start a career in the music industry” or research on a guitar pedal forum or similar, you’ll come to a difficult era. This doesn’t mean you’re not good. This doesn’t mean you won’t make it. This simply means you’re going through what all artists go through at one point or another. Not only indie artists. Even mainstream artists have had trying times.
Here are 7 inspiring stories and music artist tips to help inspire you as you pursue your career.
1) Stevie Wonder Motown Audition
You’ll be amazed to learn legendary singer and artist Stevie Wonder audition for Motown Records didn’t go picture perfect. Motown founder and then owner Berry Gordy was initially not impressed with Stevie Wonder. How shocking is that? When little Stevie Wonder (his name at the time) was brought in to be seen by Berry Gordy in 1961 at the tender age of 11 years old, Berry Gordy was unimpressed. According to Berry Gordy himself everyone else at Motown was instantly impressed with Stevie Wonder. They were amazed at the fact that he was only 11 years old and blind yet could sing so well and play so many instruments. Little Stevie Wonder played the piano during his audition, then the drums. The entire time he was playing and singing Berry Gordy stated he wasn’t impressed. He said the entire time he was thinking “how am I going to tell this kid I don’t like him.” The very last instrument Stevie Wonder played during his audition was the harmonica. According to Berry Gordy as soon as Stevie Wonder whipped it out and started playing it he was then impressed. This was the last instrument Stevie Wonder played at his audition and it was the instrument that got him signed to Motown. Stevie Wonder went on to sing, record and write countless hits while at Motown. He became one of the label’s most successful artist. He became the 1st child star on the Motown label. He also became one of the most successful and celebrated artist of all time. The moral to this story is even greats like Stevie Wonder at one point in his life had to prove himself. Even Stevie Wonder was once doubted. One of the music artist tips that can be applied to this is not everyone will see your potential initially. However, you can’t let it stop you. You can’t give up.
2) Mariah Carey Demo
Phenomenal vocalist and songwriter Mariah Carey demos constantly got turned down. That’s right, in the beginning of Mariah Carey’s career her demo got turned down by many. This seems unreal considering how great of a vocalist she is. You would think the very 1st label she submitted her demo to would be happy to sign her. However, Mariah Carey’s initial demo she shopped got turned down. It wasn’t until her demo landed into the hands of Tommy Mottola in 1988 that she finally caught her big break. Then the rest was history. The biggest music artist tip to take from this inspiring story is not everyone is going to see your potential. The reality is not everyone is meant to see your potential. Sometimes it’s only meant for that special someone to see your potential.
3) DMX Turned Down by P.Diddy
Before he became one of the most beloved rappers in the world DMX auditioned for P. Diddy (aka Puff Daddy). It was in the early 1990’s when DMX had the opportunity to audition for P. Diddy. According to DMX, Diddy was honest and told him what he didn’t like about him. Diddy felt like DMX voice was “too rough.” Not too long lately DMX was signed to Def Jam records. When P. Diddy found out he actually got in contact and then offered DMX a deal. However, DMX decided to stay with Def Jam. One of the biggest music artist tips to learn from this inspiring story is to not get discouraged. Literally not too long after DMX got turned down he was picked up by another major label. A great piece of music industry advice to learn from this story is how sometimes it’s the record label that takes the loss, not you as the artist.
4) Jay-Z Starting Roc-A-Fella Records
Everyone that knows legendary rapper Jay-Z know he also started and founded label Roc-a-Fella records with Dame Dash and Kareem Biggs Burke. Although none of the parties mentioned own Roc-a-Fella anymore, at the time it was a huge success. One of the most impressive things about the rap based record label was the fact that it was started from practically nothing. All 3 men started the label and financed it themselves. However, if you knew the reason behind why they started the label you’d be even more inspired. Jay-Z himself stated originally they didn’t think to start their own label. Originally they shopped Jay-Z’s demo to just about every record label they could think of. However, every label turned them down. This is what inspired them to start Roc-a-Fella records. The inspiring lesson and music artist tip to take from this is to never give up. But also sometimes all the no’s is there to push you to start your own business and brand. It’s better to build your own table then to beg for a seat at the table.
5) Michael Jackson 1981 Grammys Snub
When many think of legendary artist, singer and dancer Michael Jackson you simply think of successful and superstardom. Being crowned the King of Popand named the greatest entertainer of all time, it’s hard to believe Michael Jackson was ever snub. However, before his record-breaking night at the 1984 Grammy Awards where he won 8 award in one night MJ was once snubbed. During the 1981 Grammy Awards show Michael Jackson was unjustly snubbed for many awards. The album that this happened with the legendary Off the Wallalbum. Although not as record-breaking as Thriller, Off the Wall was still a classic. It was extremely commercially successful and at the time biggest selling album by a black artist. Many assumed this is the album where Michael would clean up at the Grammys. Unfortunately he was robbed. He only won 2 awards that night and neither was for album of the year, the most desired award to win of the night. Needless to say Michael Jackson was hurt and angry. He knew in his heart he deserved to win. After the show Michael looked into the camera and told a reporter “next year I’m going to come back and take them all.” He didn’t come back the very next year but he did come back his next album. His next album was Thriller which debuted December 1982. The album success carried throughout all of 1983. The next time Michael Jackson attended the Grammy’s was in 1984, the 26th annual show. The rest was history. Michael Jackson not only came back next album like he promised. It was widely successful, nominated for 12 grammy awards and won a record-breaking 8 awards. Michael Jackson was deemed the king of the show, the night was his and he skyrocketed into mega-stardom. There are so many amazing music artist tips to take from this story of triumph. The biggest is that sometimes be cheated or robbed can be your biggest motivation. Sometimes getting the “short end of the stick” can be the action that inspires you to create a masterpiece.
6) The (Hit-less) Temptations
Legendary and pioneer all male group The Temptations were once known for being hit-less. As hard as that may seem to believe at one point the The Temptations had no hit. They were known throughout Motown as the “hit-less Temptations.” Of course this was very discouraging for them. Many of the group members were depressed and upset. Some even begin to second-guess the group’s potential. This hit-less streak lasted for about 3 years. Then when Berry Gordy decided to let Motown singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson write a new song for the group, things changed. The 1st song Smokey Robinson wrote for the The Temptations was “The way you do the things you do.” The song became the group 1st hit. From this moment on things turned around for the group. Smokey Robinson was chosen to write another song for The Temptations. This would change their life and the state of the group forever. The next song written was “My Girl“, which featured singer David Ruffin on lead. This song became the group’s 1st number one hit. It was a huge success and is still considered the group’s signature song ’til this day. The next songs that followed were hit after hit. The moral to this inspiring story is just because you’re not an “overnight success” doesn’t mean you can’t end up being successful. The other music artist tip to take in is sometimes what you think is an “overnight success” really take years to build. The most important thing to remember is no matter how slow things may be never give up.
7) The (Hit-less) Supremes
Another legendary Motown group that was once dubbed as “hit-less” were the Supremes. Due to their ground-breaking phenomenal success it may be hard to believe. However, yes it’s true at one point classic female group trio The Supremes were a struggling group. Much like The Temptations, the 1st three years of The Supremes being signed to Motown record their initial songs didn’t do well. While other girl groups were enjoying having hits, The Supremes were known throughout the label for being a struggling group. It wasn’t until Berry Gordyswitched the group’s songwriters line up that they received their 1st hit. Songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote a song titled “Where did our love go” in 1964 for fellow girl group Marvelette’s. However, The Marvelette’s didn’t like it and turned it down. The Supreme’s reluctantly recorded the song. They didn’t like it either but was encouraged to record it anyway. However, within a few months of 1964 the song became a huge hit. One day before they walked on stage to perform the song, and were surprised at the huge applause they received. They had no idea the song was so well received by the public. The song instantly shot to number 1 on the Pop and R&B charts. The group was surprised yet very delighted. One of the main inspiring music artist tips to take from this story is faith. Sometimes you have to have faith in yourself. Sometimes what you think won’t be a success, turns out to be widely success. This is why it’s so important to never doubt yourself. You never know how the public may respond to you.
These 7 classic, yet amazingly inspiring stories don’t stop here. There are so many more touching behind the scene stories regarding music artists. There are so many more music artist tips to learn from that goes far beyond these 7 stories. If you’re wondering how to be a successful music artist?, or how to make it in the music industry? stories like these and similar ones will surely inspire. The most inspiring factor about all these stories is the fact that every artist involved ultimately became successful. This should tell you no matter what obstacles you face to never give up.