Question 1: What would advice would you give your younger self about pursuing music?
1] Practice, practice, and then practice some more.
2] Study music business as well as music.
3] Start a database of everyone you meet: fans, musicians, music business people, anyone remotely connected to you and your music. You will be amazed ten years later who ends up helping you. I got my first distribution deal because a friend from college chatted up a music distributor on a flight to Los Angeles.
4] It’s not all about you—be a fan of other musicians and help them out on their journey.
Question 2: As a vocalist, I’ve always been confused and fascinated when singers such as Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Bob Dylan, etc. refer to “selling their souls”, to the music industry. Since you’ve been through the industry, what really does that mean? And as a vocalist, if I ever did get a record deal, is that something I’d have to face?
I think it means that they gave up something very important to them in order to further their career. Sometimes they had to compromise their music and not do what they really wanted to do musically, sometimes they had to ignore their personal lives to tour and record and move ahead, and in the worst cases they actually had to offer sexual favors in order to get the deal—this happened to a friend of mine.
Artists now are much more business-savvy and informed than they were when I was a young artist, so they have a decent idea of what’s in store when they pursue a music career. The Me Too movement has made it more difficult for music business people to sexually exploit artists. But artists need to stay aware and informed-- read everything you can about the music business as well as reading about the journeys of other artists and how they made strides and overcame obstacles early on. Also, learning time management and stress management techniques is critical, so you don’t burn out or feel like you've lost your soul.
Question 3: What is probably the best decade of music, (60’s, 70’s, 80’s, so on,), to refer to as an artist? Or to get inspiration from?
I like the 50s, 60s and 70s: The 50s beatniks brought poetry to music in the 60s, and the hippie movement of the 60s brought an experimental atmosphere to music: tempo and key changes in songs were accepted, unusual chord progressions and melodies were welcomed. This combined with the great melodies from the Beatles and the Motown artists and writers and many others made for some wonderful music. In the late 60s and throughout the 70s the singer-songwriter movement brought deeper lyrics from artists like Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.