If your 12 or 13-year old wanted to get married, would you be ok with that?
Probably not. In fact, most parents I know are not ok with their 12 or 13-year-old dating yet.
Why? Because they are so young, impressionable, vulnerable, and they have their whole lives ahead of them to experience so many things and learn life lessons that will one day help them have a successful marriage.
For me, that is exactly how I feel about kids who are signed with record labels at a young age.
You might have heard about the talented metal band, made up of a 12-year-old and two 13-year-old middle school kids, out of Brooklyn who call themselves Unlocking the Truth, and just signed a $1.7 million deal with Sony.
That news caused me to cringe.
I have a talented 13-year-old. I have had people in the music industry ask me if I was interested in having him signed. I decided to look into that and see what the music industry was all about. Of course I do not know that details of Unlocking The Truth’s deal, but in general what I know, and what makes business sense is that Sony is willing to front $1.7 million dollars to record and market the albums of these kids. All – I repeat – all of the money that Sony pays for production, distribution, and marketing has to be recouped before the kids make a dime. And once that money is recouped they will make a small percentage of their sales. Also with the change of the music industry, most labels are signing 360 deals, which means that Sony gets the lion’s share of not just their music sales, but merchandise, performances, sponsorship deals and so forth.
And Sony wants to make money so they will work these kids. So much for high school life – or any normal life – or making any of their own decisions.
And how many kid stars have had a really sustainable career into their adult life? Not many. Because the pressure of being a kid star robs kids of their childhood.
If you have a talented kid, my advice, from one parent to another, is to get them opportunities to perform. Let them learn the business on their own by selling their own concert tickets and merchandise. Get them marketing their band as well as their individual brand. Let them develop a strong fan base to the point that when someone like Sony comes knocking on their door – the negotiating power is firmly in their favor – and they know the business enough to be able to take a deal or walk away and be happy with their current path.
There are so many opportunities for musicians of all ages today – that I just get sad when I see any musician not take full control of their career. And at the age of 12 or 13, really, should those kids even have a “career” yet?