Steve Martin’s Advice to Young Rockers

Question: How would you guide the current generation?

Steve Martin: Well, there’s a lot of different things. As far as like if they’re trying to make it as music- playing music or working music for a living- this happens all the time. I mean, whether it’s relatives or friends or whatever- somebody’s like, “oh, my friend wanted to get in touch with you,” or “somebody’s thinking of making a career change or someone just, you know, friend’s kid just got out of college, wants to talk to you,”- I tell them all the same thing, is- if you’re thinking of getting into music to make money, then just forget about it. Go into the business of money to make money- you know, well, I mean, they just laid off what? Seventy-six thousand people on Wall Street? So that might not be the best advice, either- but, I would say like go into something that has a sort of set financial value. You know, people say, lawyers at a big firm start at this price, and when you’re a doctor and you get your first internship or residency, or whatever it is, you start at a certain wage. The creative fields, I mean, that’s like saying I’m, you know, I’m gonna start writing scripts for plays because I wanna become a millionaire. You know, it’s not gonna work anymore on that scale in music. You have to have passion about the music that you’re doing, or that you’re promoting or that you’re working with. So that’s one thing I find myself saying a lot, that’s advice. And the other thing is- be exceptional- I can’t say be good- I wanna say be good- but that’s relative, of course. You know, that’s subjective. But the fact is you have to do something that’s exceptional, that nobody else is doing. Because otherwise- you know, you could do something okay that someone else is doing, and you might get to a certain point- there’s certainly a room for that, a space for that, I guess- but it’s dwindling. You know, why should somebody give you their hard-earned money when gas is over $4.00 a gallon if you’re doing something that anyone from Ryan Adams to Beck to Metallica or whoever, you know, whoever just won American Idol- is doing better? You know, there’s not really much room for it. I mean, people have to think about it- they don’t wanna go to a stadium and watch a game featuring a bunch of mediocre athletes- why should you expect to- if you’re a mediocre musician or a mediocre songwriter- why should you expect people to wanna give- them to wanna support your career? So, I think that’s where it’s going, you know- I mean, we were talking about the whole mess of the internet before- stuff that’s not exceptional is really gonna fall by the wayside. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing- like should we really be complaining that, oh, there’s fewer bands around these days, but they’re much better? You know? I mean, I don’t really see that as a complaint. I see it more as survival of the fittest.

Steve Martin tells the kids to forget music if they are only looking to make money.

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