How to Gain Success and Save Your Children in the Entertainment Business
by Best Selling Author, Jaci Rae
Gaining Success for your children in the entertainment business can be a risky proposition. In today’s society we know that the moral
fiber of our communities is in peril. Why then, do we not protect
our children? We have a responsibility to safeguard our most
vulnerable; instead, we prematurely catapult them into a world
they are not mature enough to handle and destroy their innocence.
Quite often parents and friends
of aspiring “child stars” ask for advice and wonder about my opinion regarding how their child should attempt the shark infested waters of show business. Recently my publicist, Marsha
Friedman, President of Event Management sent me the following
question: “…After the performance I spoke with
her mom (who was in tears the whole time) about their incredible
daughter and her future. Their daughter's dream is to be on
stage singing professionally…I said I would forward some
information to you - to get your thoughts.”
This is what I wrote to the parents after much contemplation
(excerpt): “No matter how strong your daughter or your
dream is, wait until she is 18 to try for stardom. She is already
doing what she most wants, and that is to be on stage. Once
she is 18 and you are ready for her to sell sex to other teenagers
and older men in their 20's - 60's, she will be better equipped
to handle the response, as you will be also...”
While my words may strike you as vulgar and unnecessarily candid, the reality is that most parents
and children do NOT dream of just “being on stage.”
If that was the sole requirement for their happiness, then local
stage performances (a much safer avenue) would satisfy their
dream. Since the child may already be doing that, there would
be no more questions as the goal would have been achieved. Sadly, the aim as stated is wrong. What the parents and child really
want is stardom, without knowing the cost.
The unsuspecting child focuses on the Hollywood dream and the hopeful parent who may want to live vicariously through their child convince
themselves that the path to stardom will be a romantic ride.
The fantasy is filled with adoring fans, endless wealth, eternal
fame and glamorous travel. This illusion inevitably fades, and
what remains is disappointment, heartache, bills and endless
travel (in less than desirable circumstances).
More ominously, some of the “adoring fans” may actually be obsessed
with the child, to the point of danger. This should not be entirely
surprising as the child is being sold to look like the American
male fantasy of an adult woman. Many people reading this article will be convinced
that I am wrong, or at least exaggerating. I ask you to consider
the last time you saw a child “star” who looked
like a child in their videos? The typical images are a 15 year
old Britney Spears, a 14 year old JoJo, or a 13 year old Leanne
Britney Spears originally came onto the scene as a pure and perfect Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer. Once into her early teen years, the image teams allowed her to be
dressed up like a Catholic school girl with a really short skirt and loosely tied blouse, seducing the audience with, “Ooh, baby baby.” Leanne Rimes was dressed in a
black satin outfit singing, “How Do I Live Without You.”
(It should be noted that her ‘look’ would be considered
tame by today’s standards.) Why are they dressed this
way? Frankly, the music industry sells sex, sex sells.
The industry does this more to girls than boys (although Leanne and Britney are now
adults) and while they may be talented and beautiful, that isn't really what the public focus's on. These girls are strategically
packaged to entice older men. The fans who are young teenage
girls don’t care whether the artists are sexy when they
purchase music. However, continually seeing their idols dressed
seductively has made them aware of sexuality and they want to
dress the same way. This contributes to the cheapening of children’s
values and image, and the cycle continues.
One day when I was running on the treadmill at my
gym, I was stunned by what I saw on one of the news channels.
It was a feature about a modeling contest for children limited
to those twelve and under. The winner would receive a one million
dollar modeling contract, which of course sounds amazing! However, as the clip continued, mouths dropped throughout the gym.
girls (under 12 – contest requirements) dressed in skimpy
bikinis were being drenched with water and gazing at the camera
like they wanted to seduce each man watching. If the girls were
twenty five, aware of what they were doing and, as adults, making
their own decisions, I wouldn’t think much about it. However, the participation of twelve year olds is horrifying. Child pornography
is universally condemned and pedophiles treated with not only
revulsion, but the full force of the law. Doesn’t this
fall under the same category, just corporately condoned?
Prostituting children in this fashion perpetuates child pornography in a purportedly “legal”
manner. This practice must be stopped and the children in our society safeguarded, including the ones who are being prostituted. While the music industry
to date, has not participated in such an extreme level of exploitation
of children, I still believe that children should be kept out
of the music industry on a professional level until they are
at least 18. Even with the strongest family support possible, they are not emotionally equipped to handle the issues that
will inevitably emerge. Realistically, however, I know that
children will continue to be signed and sold long before their
eighteenth birthdays, let me offer some practical advice.
1. From a financial perspective, learn the business
inside and out. You MUST know: Who gets what, and why? How much
was made, or lost? What is the bottom line? If you don’t
make this a priority, you will join the host of famous artists
who have been forced to claim bankruptcy.
2. Put together a dazzling press kit. People receiving
the kit must be enticed into opening the package, so you will
have to present your child in their best light. The demo must
be well produced and include four of your child’s best
numbers. Keep in mind that each song will be listened to for
about thirty seconds before moving on to the next piece. It’s
possible to make a pretty impressive demo on your own for about
two thousand dollars, including pressing. Don’t fall victim
to the scam of someone guaranteeing stardom for your child with
a professionally cut demo if you simply write a ten thousand
3. If possible, establish a track record of sales
BEFORE any contact with recording labels. (Get your CD listed
on Soundscan.) You’ll have greater bargaining power if
you know your product value prior to negotiating.
4. If a label finances the recording of a CD, it is a loan, NOT a gift, and must be paid back. The recording
industry is a business, not a charity. Beware of becoming competitors
insurance. If you fall into that trap, you may lose everything.
(I detail all of this in my book, The Indie Guide To Music, Marketing and Money.)
5. The phrase is, accurately, “Show Business, ”
and your child must be prepared to put on a “show, ”
just as you and they need to learn the “business.”
Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna and Justin Timberlake
are great examples of how this is done and the work involved
to sustain sell-out crowds.
6. Provide acting, vocal and dance lessons for
your child, and register them for writing classes. Writers currently
receive 8.5 cents per song on a CD, while the artist generally
receives one point per album. Writers make the most money, with
little or no initial investment. Make sure you understand how
to legitimately copyright music. The aptly named ‘poor
man’s copyright’ won’t hold up in court.
7. Avoid anyone stating that for an up front fee, they can make your child a star. Managers and agents get paid
a percentage in the range of 10-20%. Managers usually receive
10-15%, while agents receive 15-20%. You also need to know and
understand the difference between managers and agents. Similarly, lawyers shopping a deal for your child on his/her own volition
will take a percentage of the contract. (Lawyers that you hire
on your own request, must be paid up front.)
8. Marketing and promotion are imperative and
can be very expensive. Labels have access to promotion capabilities
that most individuals cannot afford. However, there is no limit
or cost to imagination, so be creative! Affordable promotion
can be attainable.
9. Develop personal relationships with contacts
at the labels. Once you get to know people, they may offer you
a special code to put on the outside of your package which signals
to the front desk that your package is requested. (simply writing
“material requested” on the outside of the package
will not work) DON’T submit anything without permission;
most throw unsolicited press kits in the garbage and a few return
them unopened. Warner Brothers sends a nice note referencing
legal concerns, while Disney sends a nicer more detailed note
explaining their policy around copyright laws. Don’t waste
valuable product and time. A last note: Label representation can be an
awesome thing, but you must know the business first!
Jaci Rae Copyright Jaci Rae
Jaci Rae's grit and determination brought her from a poor childhood to a successful singer and performer who tours around the world. She is the recipient of the "Female Vocalist of the Year" award at the Golden Music Awards in Nashville, as well as a Barnes and Noble and Amazon No. 1 Best seller.
Jaci is the dating coach for igniteromance.com, on the dating team of Savvymiss.com, the relationship expert for lovingyou.com and is a relationship advisor for loveisgreat.com and singlescafe.net.
She is the author of The Indie Guide to Music, Marketing and Money, as well as Winning Points With The Woman In Your Life One Touchdown, Shop for a Day with Jaci Rae and Collista's Search for the True Meaning of Christmas.
Jaci spends her spare time working on her music, writing and hanging out with family and friends. For more information, go to http://www.jacirae.com http://www.christmaswithlove.com or http://www.winningromance.com
About.com Dating Guide lists Jaci's book, Winning Points With The Woman In Your Life One Touchdown At A Time in the top six of all time dating / relationship books.
Jaci also hosts the popular “Jaci Rae Show, ”
heard live around the world. With top music executives that
share insiders information such as: Thom King (former VP of
Clear Channel who now tells it like it is and works in getting
sponsors for artists), Mike Corbet (former A&R for Mariah
Carey, et.), Peter Visvardis former Director of A&R for
Sony Records, Harvey Cooper former VP of RCA Records, Jordan
Keller legal counsel for The Backstreet Boys, etc.
To gain valuable career advice, tune in every
Thursday night at 8 PM PST, by going to: www.jacirae.com and
clicking on the weekly show link to find out who's on and how
to tune in. Guests can email their questions live.
Dubbed by the media as "Racy Jaci"
because of her quick wit and "The Rae of Hope, " for
her powerful insight, please make sure to check her out at:
To a better day in every way ~ Jaci Rae
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Push A River
Title Time (Song Credits)
Goin' Till I'm Gone 3:07 Sample
(Mark Irwin, James Nihan)
A Broken Wing 3:33 Sample
(James House, Same Hogin, Phil Barnet)
Don't Think Twice 2:40 Sample
Where I Used To Have A Heart 3:55 Sample
Lost In Texas 3:48 Sample
(Nelda Sisk/Deborah Berwyn/Gregory Delang)
Crazy 3:22 Sample
Can't Push A River 3:29 Sample
(Stephanie C. Brown/Lynn Langham)
Something's Going To Happen 3:28 Sample
(Nelda Sisk/George Sisk )
Under The Rainbow 3:11 Sample
(Ray Methvin, James Nihan)
Boots On Her Feet 2:47 Sample
Completely 3:42 Sample
(Jennifer Day, Liz Hengber, Tommy Lee James)
When The Time Comes 4:29 Sample
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