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"...I've been successful in the music business for 40 years, and I can tell you that Jaci's book The Indie Guide To Music, Marketing and Money gives you that plan. You won't need to figure it out by trial and error. Now it's up to you to follow that plan and successfully spread your music."

Dennis Marcellino
Of Sly & The Family Stone, The Elvin Bishop Group, and The Tokens. www.DennisMarcellino.com

"I might have to eat my words about no one is going to come along with a magic wand...you come awfully close!! Boy do I wish I had half that information 20 years ago! What a gift you are giving so many up-and-coming musicians. I might even try to pursue my career again!"

-- Elisabeth Carlisle - Former A&M artist www.glacierrecords.com

 

How to Gain Success and Save Your Children in the Entertainment Business

by Best Selling Author, Jaci Rae

http://www.jacirae.com

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 Rimes

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.

 

Three 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 dollar check.

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.  

http://dating.about.com/od/datingadvice/ss/RelateBooks_6.htm

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: http://www.jacirae.com

To a better day in every way ~ Jaci Rae

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Song 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 (Bob Dylan)
Where I Used To Have A Heart 3:55 Sample (Craig Bickhardt)
Lost In Texas 3:48 Sample (Nelda Sisk/Deborah Berwyn/Gregory Delang)

Crazy 3:22 Sample (Willie Nelson)
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 (Unknown)
Completely 3:42 Sample (Jennifer Day, Liz Hengber, Tommy Lee James)
When The Time Comes 4:29 Sample (David Kavich)

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