You hear the term bandied about a lot. “Paying your dues”. What exactly does it mean?
In the 70’s, it meant playing in garage bands, graduating to local bar bands, to the regional scenes, i.e. The Jersey Shore circuit, or the Florida circuit, maybe opening for a large act, then finally, after acquiring a following, graduating to the national scene. Much like Bruce Springsteen did.
Then there’s having a relative in the business opening doors for you. Getting those meeting that are so important to deal-making, hiring an agent, recording a demo, signing with a major label and putting out a CD. Like Ashlee Simpson. Doesn’t matter if you have any singing talent, your CD still gets played on the radio.
What about genuine talent? Where and how does that fit into the equation? What if someone has genuine talent? Do they still have to ‘pay their dues’ before they’re considered contenders for fame and fortune? According to most in the media, they do.
We hear this mostly in relation to the American Idol stars who make the Top 10, but especially those who win or come in second or third, especially those in the first two seasons. Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken. We hear them called karaoke singers or worse. Yet unbeknownst to most of the media, at least those who don’t do their research, these people have paid their dues. They’ve been singing since childhood, in bars, in church, in Community Theater, in talent shows, in choirs, in bands. Kelly Clarkson knocked on doors way before American Idol, making a demo CD and moving to Hollywood to try to get her foot in the door. Ruben Studdard sang Gospel at church; he majored in music at college, and performed with his band, just a Few Cats for several years before auditioning for American Idol. Clay Aiken sang in church, with The Raleigh Boys Choir, with a band called Just By Chance, and did several community theater productions, Hometown Connections, and Johnson County Community College Shows. He was also a wedding singer.
Why do people like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aquilera get a pass? Don’t forget, they were all discovered on the New Mickey Mouse Club. How is that different than American Idol? It’s not.
Britney Spears did off-Broadway productions as a child and was on Star Search.
was on Star Search before appearing on The New Mickey Mouse Club.
Christina Aguilera did local talent contests before losing on Star Search, then appearing on, you guessed it, The new Mickey Mouse Club.
There are all kinds of dues paying, it’s not just doing the local bar or club scene that counts, it’s any and all experience one accumulates throughout their lives in their chosen field of work.