Maggie Rogers was just a college student when she first met Pharrell Williams at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU.
They were asked to prepare a song and bring it to class to be critiqued. She had no idea that the critique would come from a world-class recording artist and producer.
She also had no way of knowing that “Alaska” would bowl him over and that the video of his reaction would go viral, resulting in a record deal, a full album, and what seemed like overnight success.
Sounds like a lucky break, right?
Maybe it was.
But think about this: Maggie Rogers started playing music at the age of seven. She started writing songs when she was in middle school.
Before she met Pharrell, she had already released two albums, the first of which was recorded in a broom closet.
By the time of her lucky encounter, she had already been performing, writing, recording, and releasing music for most of her life.
Lucky breaks are often a result of being at the right place at the right time. But in order to be at the right place at the right time, we need to be putting ourselves out there consistently.
And in order to be “discovered,” we need to create music that’s worth discovering, which requires years of creating, performing, and learning.
Overnight success is rarely ever built overnight—more often than not, it’s built slowly and out of sight, until it’s seen by the right person at the right time.
Practical steps for breaking out
What practical steps are you taking to get your music or voice out into the world?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Write a song every day. Think that’s impossible? Dolly Parton has been known to write at least one song every day for over 50 years! Maybe start with the act of songwriting every day; daily practice will hone your craft.
- Share online. Whether you have 5 followers or 5,000, put yourself out there—online. You may attract a following, but if not, chances are you’ll get immediate feedback as to what songs or sounds are resonating with listeners.
- Collaborate. Find a songwriting partner and attend a writer’s workshop. Start a band. Enlist a duet partner and record covers.
- Always improve. The best artists and singers are constantly improving. If you’re not continually honing your craft, you’ll get passed by the hordes of singers who are. Schedule regular voice lessons, set up a daily practice routine, and hold yourself accountable!
- Say yes. Go to that audition, open mic, or writers circle. Say yes to opportunity—you never know where it will lead.
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