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Advice to Aspiring Artists

Guitarist and songwriter Ray Parker, Jr. has had a long and varied career as a guitarist backing up the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Spinners and Gladys Knight and the Pips; as the leader and chief songwriter for the chart-topping group Raydio; and as a writer of hit songs for artists like Rufus and Chaka Khan, Diana Ross and Barry White. He has also had a successful solo career, most notably topping both the pop and R&B charts in 1984 with his performance of the theme song from the film Ghosbusters.

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Ray Parker Jr. is a musician and songwriter from Los Angeles. Parker offers advice to aspiring musicians. He talks about how to tell if you belong in the music business. If you will be miserable unless you make it big, then you are right for the industry. An artist must dedicate their entire life to their music. Having a backup plan is not an option. Parker also discusses the importance of understanding the business - knowing enough to not lose your money. Artists need to make money to make music.

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I have so much words of wisdom for a new starting off musician ‘cause remember I was one of those guys at one time and it goes like this.

Here is how you know if you should be in the music business or not. If you can picture yourself at 60 and you never tried to have a hit record and that’s okay with you, then you don’t belong in the music business. But if you’re gonna be one of those guys at 60-years-old and you’re gonna look at your kids and say, “Oh, I was just as good as Prince and Ray Parker. I mean, I could have done all that stuff,” and your kids are looking at you like – you know? If that’s okay with you, then you shouldn’t be in the music business. But if you’re gonna be miserable, right, ‘cause you only live on this planet one time – if you’re gonna be miserable with that thought and you’re gonna really say to yourself every time you see somebody getting a Grammy, “I coulda done it. I shoulda been there. I shoulda been,” then that’s for you. You need to go do it, right? ‘Cause you could – I think you can always get a job. You can always do certain things later, but if you really have it in your heart and you just can’t live without this, that’s how you know it’s something that you should do.

And then if that is the case, then you have to dedicate your entire life to that and not backslide and not try to get things to – not be a secretary and back up to this or not learn how to do drafting and have that as a fallback. Because you need to spend all your time doing what it is that you’ve really committed and decided yourself to do. It’s almost like a war. It’s like a – what is – they said some of the great generals, they burned – blew up the bridge behind them and the guy says, “Well, how we gonna escape?” “Well, we’re never gonna escape. We’re going this way. We’re going forward.” And so, music is really like that and you have to have some – at least enough business sense to show up on time, be polite to people. You also have to have that personality, too. So you just can’t go off and offend everybody and say, “I’m the genius,” and turn your back to the audience. You really have to have both. So if someone really wants to do that, it’s really possible that they can make it and it’s not that one in a million that everybody wants you to believe because what they don’t count is the other 900,000 people, some of them are getting drugs, some of them don’t believe in themselves, some of them are doing it part-time and it’s like any other business. You know, you have to eliminate all the people who are not really trying.

It’s important for musicians to understand the business because if you don’t, the guy who does understand the business usually makes all your money. I don’t know why that is. You know, it’s a – it’s just one of those things. As much as I like to tell everybody be true to the arts, learn all you can, do great, play music. It’s just a known fact that at some point, in order to keep the music alive, you have to make some money. You just do. Any great musician, at some point if they really, really get under, they stop making music because they just can’t do it. They can’t afford to make it anymore. And if you can – you know, if you don’t any business sense at all, you need to be able to, you know, combine yourself with somebody that does, who’s not gonna cheat you, which is almost impossible. It’s like getting married or something like that. But it has to happen.

At some point, you have to have just enough business sense to keep yourself alive to keep making the music. And that, for us, is probably the most difficult thing ‘cause most musicians are so far to the left, you know, they go spend everything in one weekend and wouldn’t even make it to the next year. I was looking at something on TV the other day about some rapper who made – got $1,000,000.00 and spent it in two months, you know, and then he was gone. That was just it. He didn’t even make it for the whole year, you know, let alone the rest of his life. And so, there’s something that’s inherent about musicians or performers that the same craziness that allows you to get on stage in front of 25,000 and think you’re okay, you know, is the same thing that takes you off the other end. You know, it’s the same animal.

I’d like to say thank you to all my fans and people who supported over the years and for those who don’t really know what I do and just think I wrote Ghostbusters, you know, type Ray Parker Junior on Google or something and you’ll get about 50,000 hits and you can read about it.

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