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So you want to be in a rock band?: They have more than a PhD in Rock N’ Roll

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | September 8th, 2008



While researching for this piece, I stumbled upon a posting in which a blogger adamantly declared that musicians have no right to speak out for causes they support, and that they should solely stick to music on account of the fact that they have no post-secondary academic training, and therefore are inadequately equipped to contend with such global issues.

While I encourage the expression of individual opinion, I do not condone speaking on subjects about which you have little to no knowledge such as the above described individual has, because in fact, he couldn’t be more off-base. Not only does this blogger fail to acknowledge that it is more often media personnel cornering musicians into situations where they are forced to speak out on these types of issues, rather than the musicians making these efforts on their own (perhaps with the exception of someone like Bono). But on top of that, this blogger is clearly unaware of just how many of our talented songwriters are, in fact, schooled in far more than just how to play a 12-string.

From Dexter Holland’s (Offspring’s frontman) Masters in Molecular Biology to Mick Jagger’s degree in Business and Economics, to Huey Lewis’ Ivy League record at Cornell, to David Draiman’s (Disturbed’s frontman) triple university major in Business Administration, Political Science and Philosophy, clearly our rockstars are more intelligent than the average person gives them credit for.

All of this buildup, of course, brings me to the issue at hand - that of rockstars with academic credentials.

Though this is not a subject that is often touched upon by most music media, I think it is important to demonstrate that even people who have achieved rock-stardom at its pinnacle prepared themselves encase their careers took a different direction. I know many of you do not want to hear about the importance of having a “plan b”, because I too, was once in your shoes arguing with my parents that no matter what, music was my life and I was born to rock. However, after actually going through the industry and experiencing first hand all of the crookedness and the false promises, I gotta tell you - I’m forever indebted to my folks for making me stay in school.

Had I not entered the industry with my strong background in PR, negotiations and entertainment-related business know-how, there is no way that I would have been able to accomplish the well-respected reputation for being a “professional” that I have. Without this training, I would have found myself the victim of a lot more entertainment industry scams. Most importantly though, if being a professional musician is truly the path that you desire to pursue, you need to recognize that fame is transient and that musical fads come and go. If you want to be able to maintain career longevity, you need to know a thing or two about how to stay as a leader in the pack, and procuring a good education is definitely a good start.

There’s always the fact to consider that after you’ve had your stint of fame, perhaps you’d like to move onto other ventures - it wouldn’t be the first time. Did you know that, for instance, Craig Ferguson, host of NBC’s “Late Late Show” was originally the drummer in a Scottish punk band known as “The Bastards from Hell” or that Mike Rowe, now the MC for Discovery’s Dirty Jobs, started out as an opera singer or that there was a time in history in which Henry Rollins actually played music?

It is possible, even though I know you likely won’t believe me, that once you’ve worked in the industry, you’ll come to the conclusion that it wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and so a career change will be in order. Though school will always be there, I’m sure most of you don’t want to end up in your late 40’s still living at home with only a high school diploma in hand waiting for your rockstar dreams to come true. Trust me, I’ve met people like this, and it ain’t a pretty picture.

Think of it this way: knowledge is a weapon, and the more you have about your craft, and the industry itself, the better able you are to protect yourself. Plus which, from a sheer songwriting perspective, the more worldly and cultured one is, the better his/her songs will be and the greater good he/she can do with his/her influence.

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