How Young Musicians Can Compete with Major Acts

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    In every corner of the world, there are young men and women honing their chops, learning riff after riff, singing note after note; with hope that, one day, they will get their break at stardom. Metallica, U2, Katy Perry and other successful singers and musicians have carved a trail for each and every one of these young up-and-coming artists. playing harpWhy, then, do so many talented individuals go unnoticed?

    Having spent over a decade in the entertainment industry, I have seen talent tossed by the wayside by those unwilling to work and uneducated in the art of promotion. To become successful in the music business, it takes time, twice as much effort and enough integrity to stomach even the most slippery of con artists preying on those looking to make their dreams a reality.

    Whether you are a songwriter, singer or instrumentalist, the rules are the same. The ways in which you interpret them and make use of their wisdom are also identical.

    Focus on Yourself

    Focus on YOUR Sound — Creativity is good. It is the trademark of any entertainer. In the realm of popular, mainstream music, however, it can instantly kill a career. If your musical repertoire is too diverse, you are, effectively, finding a “creative” way to keep you out of the spotlight. Find YOUR sound, the one that is YOUR best, and run with it! AC/DC is probably the most famous at this. Their sound was forged early. Each song was similar in structure and key. Even today, at the slightest hint of a guitar riff, people know, immediately, that it’s AC/DC. An entertainer’s “sound” is something most musicians fail to factor into their strategy.

    Knowledge is Power

    Become Knowledgeable — Learning how the music industry works is a daunting process, especially in today’s world of new media formats and expanded royalty opportunities and liabilities. Read everything you can get your hands on, from music magazines to books on entertainment law and accounting. If you’re still boggled, look to a reputable company for assistance.Finding someone who understands these issues and is willing to take a young act under their wing is just as difficult. Never try to navigate the legal waters of the business without a knowledgeable oar to guide you. Look to a company or representative that knows the inner-workings and has the experience to lead you through the hodge-podge of music industry mumbo-jumbo.

    Be Yourself

    Above All Else, Be “You” — Too many times, struggling artists sell their souls, sound, looks and morals to become slaves and resign themselves to the bidding of a record deal. You don’t have to become the next Brittney Spears or Katy Perry to make it in today’s music world. There are plenty of music fans to go around. If you are true to your sound, look and musical integrity, there is no reason to change. As a record label executive, I would much rather have songwriters who have dedicated themselves to their craft and are unwavering in their pursuit, than a horde of Brittney Spears clones, auto-tuned to teen-pop specifications.

    About The Author

    The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and current CEO of Straight Edge Entertainment, a Michigan-based entertainment company. With almost two decades in the entertainment industry, he has helped many local musicians reach the next levels of their careers, along withsolidifying his own as an award-winning songwriter and former WIOG Mid-Michigan Idol semi-finalist.


    1. I can’t help but agree. It’s very difficult for young and starting out musicians to make a name for themselves, and pay the rent.


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