This is a true story.
I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show when I was about nine or
ten years old. I knew at that moment that I wanted to make records when
I grew up. When I was nineteen, I happened to be in a music store and
overheard one of the employees say, "I'm taking this Arp String Ensemble
to Criteria for Stills." I knew that Criteria was one of the largest
recording studios in the world at the time and it didn't take a genius
to figure out that "Stills" was Stephen Stills. I asked the delivery
guy if I could take a ride with him so I could see what a real studio
looked like. He said it would be okay, but I'd have to wait for him
in the studio lobby because Criteria was a high security kind of place.
I waited for
the gentleman to disappear from sight and carefully opened the door
far enough to ask the receptionist if the less than friendly man was
the owner. She said, "Yes, that's Mack Emmerman." I now had all the
information I needed to begin my career in the record business.
I went home
and called the studio. I called five times a day every day that week.
Twenty five calls in all. On the fifth day and twenty-fifth call, Mr.
Emmerman came on the phone. He said (in a rather loud and unfriendly
voice), "You're driving my receptionist nuts! If I interview you for
this job and you don't get it, do you swear you'll never call hear again
as long as you live?" I promised to grant him his wish. An hour later
he granted me an interview. I got the job.
Now, I realize
that a "job" usually means some form of remuneration is in order, but
not this job. It was an "internship," and there were a hundred other
people that would take it in an instant if I didn't want it. That was
just fine with me. I didn't care if I couldn't afford to eat as long
as I could work in a studio. Nobody ever swept floors with as much zeal
as I did. I admit that I was a little less enthusiastic about cleaning
the toilets. I eventually graduated to cable wrapper, then to tape box
labeler, then to dub room king. I learned how to make great cassette
copies, and I loved every minute of it.
One fine day
I was called to the front office. I thought my glory days were about
to end. Instead, the studio manager asked me if I was ready to be an
assistant engineer on a session. Of course I replied, "Yes, I've been
waiting for this my entire life!"
was an unknown band that none of the other assistant engineers wanted
to work with because they weren't "famous." The group was called FIREFALL.
Was I ready? Hell yes. I'd waited my whole life for that moment. For
the next month I was an integral part of what would quickly become a
gold record. Not bad for my first time aroundnot that I wrote the
songs or anything, but I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing
with my life. I was living my dream, and I was finally getting paid
for doing it.
A few months
later I was asked to work on some sessions with Eric Clapton. A few
months after that I got to work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
I was working hard, keeping my mouth shut and my eyes and ears wide
open. I began to get good enough that I got to push some buttons every
now and then.
became an full-fledged engineer and worked with many of the great bands
and artists of the day. I especially enjoyed working with Neil Young,
and am fortunate to have credits on several of his records. In just
a few short years, I had gone from music industry dreamer to engineer/producer.
All this came
about not because I was the smartest guy you'll ever meet, and not because
I'm the best looking, but because I saw an opportunity at the music
store and I acted on it. I saw another opportunity a scant thirty minutes
later and acted on that as well. But even more importantly, I didn't
take "No" for an answer. I was persistent and didn't quit calling until
I got what I wanted.
You can apply
this approach to your life and get what you want as well. How many times
have you passed up an opportunity without even recognizing that it was
an opportunity? How hard have you really tried to succeed in your musical
career? It's a lot safer and easier not to try, but you will never be
rewarded if you don't try.
most people don't try to succeed is because they fear that they will
fail. That's natural. The fear of rejection looms larger for some people
than death itself. It's part of human nature to protect yourself from
things that may hurt you, and failure can definitely hurt. But how much
does it really hurt you? How much did it hurt me to not get through
to Mack Emmerman on my first twenty four tries? Not that much. After
all, if you think about it, it wasn't me that was being rejected. It
was the situation he was rejecting. He didn't know the first thing about
me, Michael Laskow. How could he possibly be rejecting me?
The same holds
true for you when you send your tape to somebody and they reject it.
They're not rejecting you, they're rejecting that tape or that song,
but not you personally. You may have written the song, or you may be
singing the song, but that only represents your work, not your self.
You can always write another song. You can always sing another song.
Look at that one defeat as just thatone defeat. By my way of thinking,
you still have twenty-four more chances.
opportunity. Seize opportunity. Be persistent as hell, and you won't
have to go to your grave knowing that you didn't honestly try your best
to live your dream. That would be very painful. Don't fear failure,
use it as the adrenaline to make you work harder.
Wanna publish this article on your website? Click here to find out how.