The Non-Technical

Last week I watched ’20 Feet From Stardom’, a documentary about the backup singers that perform with music superstars such as Bruce Springsteen, Luther Vandross and The Rolling Stones.

The singers are technically a lot better than the stars that they support. So why is ‘The Star’ up front in the spotlight, and the awesome backup singer playing a secondary role? Or, as the film somewhat inartfully asks, why is Judith Hill singing backup to Kylie Minogue?

Musicians within the jazz realm tend to view one another using a lens of artistic merit. But as backwards as it may seem from the viewpoint of a serious artist, don’t we owe it to ourselves to lump other data onto musician’s datasheets as well? Factors which will separate two equally-talented musicians, and make one a star while the other struggles to find restaurant gigs (Hey, I resemble that remark!)? To that end-

Doug’s Impromtu List of Non-Musical Things For A Successful Music Career
1. Person looks attractive.
1a. (Based on observation from movie) Not overweight- usually remarkably thin.
2. Dresses well.
3. Has an overarching vision of what he would like to achieve.
4. Willing to do a ton of work to achieve that vision.
5. Has a sense of drama, rhythm on stage – knows how to perform.
6. Shows up on time.
7. Communicates politely and in a timely manner.
8. Treats other musicians with respect.
9. Willing to continue pursuing career goal indefinitely – e.g. for 40 years.
10. Has complete faith in self.
11. Thinks what he has to offer is great, but doesn’t act conceited about it.
12. Has a sense that he deserves, or is destined to be famous.

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