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What musicians can learn from Joan Rivers

What musicians can learn from Joan Rivers

Entertainer Joan Rivers passed away September 4, 2014 at the age of 81. Edgy and in your face, Rivers blazed a trail through the entertainment industry that we may never see again. Whether you loved her or hated her, it’s safe to say we can all learn something from her remarkable career.

What can a musician learn from Joan Rivers? In a word, plenty. Here are 4 lessons from Joan Rivers sure to aid in your music career.

1. Diversify Your Music Portfolio - Listen, we all know Joan Rivers as a comedian & television personality. But, what you might not know was she was a Broadway performer, a writer, a fashion critic, voice over artist, as well as appearing in many films.

How does this pertain to you as a musician? It’s simple, become proficient with as many instruments as you can. Lets say you play drums in your current band. For any number of reasons, that bands breaks up. Another local band with great songs & a good following needs a bass player. If you had taken the time to learn the bass, you’re chances of finding another band goes up. Hence, the chances for success in this business greatly improve.

2. Success Takes Hard Work - Joan Rivers once boasted, that her greatest fear was having a day with nothing on her calendar. An entire day with nothing to do scared her to death. That is why she was constantly working on her craft. That is why it was not uncommon to see Rivers performing her comedy act at some no name casino, in some hole in the wall town. It wasn’t that she needed the money or fame, but rather she knew it would help perfect her craft.

Asked in an interview what she thought was the key to success in any venture, Joan Rivers responded, “It’s having an idea that you totally believe in and then working at it.”

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail - Those who have achieved success in the music industry will tell you, they’ve failed many more times then they have succeeded. The key is to learn from those failures, and use them as the fuel to power your future successes.

Joan Rivers career has been no different. She was a self made women who persevered- no matter the hurdles, no matter the rejection, no matter the odds or the sorrows. In the face of every career rejection, she got up, dusted herself off, and kept fighting for what she wanted.

4. In The End, It’s All About Business - As a professional musician it’s always a plus to have well connected in the business. Just a important is remembering, that just because you have those connection, doesn’t guarantee anything. Don’t forget, this is a business. As with any business, at the end of the day, decisions will be made and not all of them will favor you.

An example of this can be gleaned from Joan Rivers feud with Johnny Carson. After many appearances and numerous guest hosting spots on The Tonight Show, Rivers decision to take her own show in 1986 effectively ended her life long friendship with Carson. Now that she had become a direct competitor to Johnny, he had her banned from appearing on the show that had launched her career. As Joan puts it, “I’ve learned from my dealings with Johnny Carson that no matter what kind of friendships you think you have with people you’re working with, when the chips are down, it’s all about business.”


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