One of the highlights of SXSW 2010 in Austin, Texas last month, was the keynote interview of the incredible Smokey Robinson. Here are a few key points from Smokey’s talk. I wish I could bring you tha man himself, because he is truly amazing!
Smokey just put out his own independent record. And it was a whole lot more work than he bargained for!
He doesn’t believe there are any new artists… if someone makes a record when they’re 15 years old, they’ve been doing it since they were 5. Nobody gets started in music on Tuesday and then is recording on Friday.
Just to prove his point, Smokey told us he started writing songs when he was 5 years old, and at 16 he had a note book of over 100 songs.
Smokey’s advice to artists: Thicken your skin.
Showbiz is a life where you see the success stories. But, in reality, show business is a life of hard knocks. You have to have thick skin because there are a lot of doors closed in your face, and there are a lot of ups and downs.
Smokey says, “Still today… I’ve been doing this for 50 years and there are still ups and down. … There are peaks and valleys… and I let the valley be a lesson… and I’m not going to let it discourage me. I can’t think of anything I would rather have done with my life.
Secondly, he says he would encourage you not to take yourself so seriously.
Smokey says, “If you think you can sing, I’m gonna take you to my church… and there are going to be 20 people there who can blow you and me away. And they can’t get a break!”
I’m trying to imagine one person who can blow Smokey away… Yikes!
So, he reminds us, when you get some notoriety and think, “The world can’t live without me…” – don’t kid yourself!
If fame is your goal, and you make it, then count your blessings. If you get a break, use it, and count your blessings.
Keep your feet on the ground, and keep a thick skin.
Thanks for the advise, Smoke!
And just in case you’d like to see the entire Smokey Robinson interview for yourself, here it is!