Rockstar Manual: THE ROCKSTAR JOB DESCRIPTION

Click here for the downloadable pdf version of  Rockstar Manual – Rockstar Job Description.

IN A FLASH:

  1. It is a job so treat it like one.
  2. Prepare a killer CV.
  3. Deliver.

If you are going to make the music business your business, then you have to treat it like a regular job. There is accountability, expected results, skills and knowledge that you need to posses and master in order to perform that job well.

And just like regular jobs, we will start from the top, beginning with your CV.

The Rockstar CV

Whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie, you need to have a killer CV. It has to be regularly edited and updated and reflects your personal style as an artist. Your employer is the music-buying public so you need to be able to impress and convince them that you are the best person for the job.

In today’s age, a lot of musicians turn to the web and post their bio online. I am of the personal opinion that you need to have both an online CV and a printed one. The printed one is useful when you are meeting press, sponsors, investors, promoters etc. They may not have heard of you at all and they need a starting point to evaluate your potential and saleability. This is also the reason why the CV needs to reflect who you are. While you can get someone to write them for you, you need to be involved in the process and think thoroughly about how you want yourself to be seen.

The Rockstar CV should contain:

  1. Biodata
  2. Discography
  3. Photographs
  4. Music Samples (in high quality please, the best quality you can afford)
  5. Testimonials (reviews, collage of newspaper clippings etc)

If possible, try to prepare the CV in multiple languages so that you can pull the right one depending on who you are seeing.

BIODATA

Writing a biodata can be a daunting task. Thank God for the internet, there are many resources that you can refer to (just use the search function in Google and type “musician bio”). But the basics of writing a biodata are the same:

  1. Para 1: answer the 5Ws (who, what, where, when, why) – who you are, what kind of a musician you are, where you came from, when you started and why you are in the industry. Remember, write in the third person, not in the first person.
  2. Para 2: provide a backstory. Like any good novel, you need a backstory to set the scene. You can talk about a particular incident or piece of music that you heard that inspired you; or the experience of holding your first guitar or performing live in public. In this para, insert a quote or two (from yourself and band members, if you are a band). The story must be INTERESTING. Everyone has heard the story about a young boy dreaming to be a rockstar someday and that is not interesting. What’s interesting is the story of how the 4 of you worked in the construction business in the day time and played in small dingy clubs at night, sharing a can of beer because you could not afford to buy one each.
  3. Para 3: about the music. This is where you shamelessly plug your album. You should split it 3 ways: your most recent work (the bulk of the para), your past work, and where you are headed. Share important achievement or events; or focus on selected tracks on the album. Talk about the style of the album, how you have evolved over the years and the inspiration that made you wrote the album.
  4. Para 4: close it. Conclude the bio with tour and contact information. If you have a website (if you don’t, you should), direct them to the website (we will cover what should be in the website in a different section).

Examples:

SealBeyonce | Fiona Apple

You will see from the samples above that the number of words do not exceed 700 words. I personally feel that the biodata portion should not exceed one page. Anything you have to say, say it in one page and be done with it. If it exceeds one page, look at it again and slash slash slash until you can condense it into one tidy A4 page. That way you are forced to put only key information and the choicest tidbits about your life.

Delete all superlatives. This is one of my pet peeves, which also happens to be the most common sin in writing a bio. Don’t label yourself as “brilliant” or “genius” or “extremely talented” or “one of a kind”. It makes you sound so full of yourself. For instance, “choicest” is a superlative. Don’t you feel like banging your head on the wall when you saw that word in the previous paragraph? One of the best tips about writing that I received was to use little words and short sentences. Keep it simple. So, after the first round of writing, go through it again and take out the superlatives. The only permissible superlative would be when you are quoting someone else; but even then use it sparingly.

Lastly, check your bio for typo. Ask someone to read it and read it again before you print or post it on your website. I know typos sometimes escape scrutiny but try as much as possible to ensure that your bio is error-free.

DISCOGRAPHY

Discography should be factual and chronological. You can split your discography into several sections such as singles, albums, awards and nominations, sales, concerts/tours etc. Again, keep this to one page only. If you have a long list of achievements, choose recent key ones in the past 3 years. Everything else you can relegate to the website.

I like the way Wikipedia does discography so I am going to use that as the example though I think the print version doesn’t need to include peak chart positions. This is how the discography for Jewel is categorized:

Albums

- Studio albums

- Compilation and specialty albums

- Singles

- Album appearances

Miscellaneous

- Tributes

- Soundtracks

- EP promos

PHOTOGRAPH

A photo of you taken for laughs at one of your gigs is not acceptable. Publicity photos are serious business because it forms the “judging the book by its cover” first impression of you. So, plan your photographs and select them carefully. Your selection of photos should be between 3-5 photos only (don’t go camera crazy and put 20 in the CV), and these must be press-ready, meaning the press can use any of these photos at any time whenever they write something about you. That is also the reason why you need to update these photos from time to time so that it is representative of the present you.

The 3 compulsory shots would be:

  1. A close up
  2. A profile
  3. A casual, off-camera pose, possibly with your instrument (only if you play one; if you don’t, DON’T fake pose with one).

If you print these, rearrange them in one A4 page and the print on proper photography paper. Or, develop them individually in 8’ x 10’ size (ask your friendly neighborhood photography shop). The digital version should be in high resolution i.e. 300dpi or above (8 Megapixel cameras should suffice).

Editing your photos or photoshopping them is fine, just make sure that you don’t go overboard. Do not put in any effects or frame, the photos should be straightforward. You can touch up your zits or wrinkles (you can leave them in too, no harm about that) or red eye; you can make it look slimmer even. But the final product must be believable and look like you. Also, try to keep the background as clean as possible like a blank wall. It will make it easier for press to use it. And no, those photos don’t have to be boring. There are many ways to make them personal and interesting. The important thing is to be comfortable and that the photos accurately represent you are as a person and as a musician.

Example:

The Solo Rockstar

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi

The Glam-Rock Band

Japanese visual-kei superband Glay

Japanese visual-kei superband Glay

The Dancing Floor Queen

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

MUSIC SAMPLES

Choosing your samples, especially from a diverse catalogue would be tricky. If cost is not an issue, do a medley of the album that you are promoting and time it so that it will not exceed 1:30. You want to grab people’s attention, so think of your music like a commercial. If you are doing a short promo video on TV, what would be the bits and pieces that you will use? Also if possible, do the medley in video format and include footage of your live performance so that the viewer can see you in action. This is very important if the viewer is a potential sponsor or investor or a promoter. You can include full tracks (audio only), but place the medley as the first track so that when people play it, that would be the first thing that they hear or see.

How to choose? Should it be a mix of old and new? Should it be purely your own songs or should you mix it up with covers? Should it just be your recent works? Should you include instrumentals? Should you mix studio releases with live performances?

There are several ways to choose. But I would recommend limiting your song samples to just 1 medley+ 3 full tracks. For example, you can choose them based on:

  1. Theme:  soundtracks only; or love songs only;  or acoustics only;  or instrumentals only.
  2. Musical style: slow + mid + fast; contemporary + jazz + rock; old song + new song + unreleased song
  3. Language: BM + English

There are many other variations that you can consider. Just remember, you don’t want whoever’s listening to your music to get bored. Listen to your selection again and again and change them or make adjustments. Think about what you want the listener to feel as they listen to the samples.

And, very important this one, the songs must relatable to the majority of the people. Don’t be an elitist. You may have a terrific song that is so complicated only 4 persons on earth understand it. That is not the kind of song you choose as a sample.

TESTIMONIALS

This can be in the form of good reviews of your album or concert, or tasteful articles written about you by a third party.

When selecting testimonials, use those that come from industry reviewers or independent party rather than fans coz objectivity and credence is important.

PRESENTATION

Ok, a quick review.

The Rockstar CV should contain:

  1. Biodata
  2. Discography
  3. Photographs
  4. Music Samples (in high quality please, the best quality you can afford)
  5. Testimonials (reviews, collage of newspaper clippings etc)

Now you have to figure out how to present this CV. Like I mentioned earlier, have it in print version (and include it as soft copy in the music samples CD that goes with the CV) and web version.

This CV is probably the most important document in your career. It serves as a door opener and creates the first impressions about you. Design it to reflect your personal style and who you are as a musician. You don’t have to spend a lot of money; in fact some of the most impressive press kits I have seen over the years are the simplest ones printed on regular A4 paper. The things that they have in common are the dossier is striking; the information it contains is precise and easy to understand; and it is placed in a folder or envelope so everything is in one place and easy to file and store.

You can go to these websites to see various resume designs for inspiration:

DELIVER

No matter how impressive your Rockstar CV is, it means squat if you can’t deliver. In other words, you need to master certain skills and gain certain knowledge in order to do the job. I will cover managing the press and fans and performing live in different articles, but below would be a quick rundown of the basics.

  1. You must be able to perform at a moment’s notice. If you are in a meeting with your sponsors and they ask you to sing, don’t fake an illness and say you have a cold or something. Pretend like you are in Wembley Stadium in front of 300,000 screaming fans and rock the room.
  2. You must be able to perform live. I have a lot to say about this that it earns its own standalone article. Stay tuned.
  3. Dress the part. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just presentable. Simple things count. Comb your hair. Make sure your shirt doesn’t look like you had just rummaged through your laundry and picked whatever’s least dirty. Shower! Shave! If you’re a girl, be sensible and tasteful with the make-up (you must wear some, by the way). You can wear something sexy but stay away from the tawdry category. If your instinct says it is too sexy, it is too sexy. Cover it up or choose something else. Remember, by choosing this profession you abide by the rules of the society that you live in. Meaning, you are no longer a “private citizen”, so what you wear and how you wear it is up to public scrutiny.
  4. Mind the time. Meaning, just because being a rockstar is not a 9 to 5 job it doesn’t mean you can be liberal with time. 9:00am means 9:00am. Being late is rude and disrespectful. If you are running late, call the people you are supposed to meet and inform them. When you arrive, apologize. Do not take time for granted. This is, hands down, the most common complaint I hear from sponsors and press – that celebrities have an awful sense of time. No excuses. Remind yourself that this is a job.
  5. Practice Practice Practice. Music is a discipline. Just because you don’t have any projects or jobs lined up, it doesn’t mean you should just lie around watching House MD all day. I read that Murakami forces himself to write at least four (4) hours a day. All you need to do is something that has to do with music. That can be watching concert videos or MTV or listening to an album. If you are a singer, discipline yourself and run every day to increase your stamina; and then do vocal exercises and sing. If you play any instrument, spend a specific amount of time every day (an hour, two hours, whatever) to play it. Even when you are sick. Even when you are not in the mood. Imagine if you hold a regular office job, sometimes you don’t feel like going to work and sometimes you are assigned duties that you hate and work with people that you don’t like. But that is not a reason for you not to go to work.

It is the same with being a rockstar. You need to master your craft. You need to work it. If you are tired of looking for gigs, then take a break from that. But you cannot take a break from music.

I can’t put it better than these para that I found while looking for tips to become a good singer:

Successful singing requires not only the will and ability to express your emotions in a song, but also the correct singing technique and skills. Since emotions are channeled through your singing support system, your system must be fully developed for the emotion to come through powerfully and convincingly.

So to be a good singer, you must build your voice and the support system that produce that voice. With a good mastery of your voice mechanism, your own singing style and interpretation of songs will be much more enhanced. You do not have to be concerned about sounding like a copy of other good singers when you perform.

Yes, there are born voices, but there are no born artists. Each and every singer must develop his/her own individual skills to be an outstanding artist. It is not just how good a singing voice you have. It is what you can do with your individual vocal resource that is the crux of a good singer.

from streetdirectory.

So be it a singer or musician or a combination of both, you need to build your skills and support system that produce the creative work. And to do that requires you to practice practice practice.

You can read these articles for inspiration:

For more articles go to Rockstar Manual.

-END-

About these ads

1 Comment

Filed under Rockstar Manual

One response to “Rockstar Manual: THE ROCKSTAR JOB DESCRIPTION

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s