How to Succeed in Hollywood

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By Bruce Edwin

Depache Mode continues to be, year after year, one of the greatest bands of all time, due to their constant innovation, soulful music, masterful songwriting, and massive talent. They tour the world again this year in 2013 after a four year hiatus, with their new album 'Delta Machine.'

Bruce Edwin is CEO of the A-list firm Starpower Management LLC, publisher of The Hollywood Sentinel, and producer of motion picture. His services, based on his years of expertise and success in the music and film industry are sought out and used by some of the most powerful companies and stars in entertainment. This article series, a precursor to his upcoming book series, is his way of giving back to models, actors and bands, with knowledge, that in its totality and with its unabashed honesty cannot not be found anywhere else—for free.

Advice to musicians, singers, bands, actors, and models looking to get signed by an agent or manager (for those who are not yet a star), there is a right way to submit your work, and then there is a wrong way. I usually see the wrong way. Here is an example of just that, by the following e-mail;

Hello, ___ here, songwriter / artist / producer, I really need management. I make really good music, i'd appreciate if guys could have a listen and tell me what you think...thanks,

This is actually how it ended, no name, no contact number, a band name that has zero SEO (Search Engine Optimization) visibility, improper grammar, and then four attachments of four songs totalling nearly 10,000 bites of data. The only good thing about this submittal was serving as a perfect example for me to show you how bad something can be that you should not do. First of all, if you call yourself something, such as a producer, prove it, show me the money—show me the valid source of what makes you a producer.

Secondly, I don't want clients that make really good music, I want clients that make life changing, earth shattering, mind bending, soul shifting, phenomenally great music, the greatest ever. Can you imagine someone pitching the first Public Enemy, Jane's Addiction, or Bob Dylan record with a submittal like this? I don't think so.

Thirdly, if you don't know how to spell, use proper English, or write an exciting cover letter, get someone who does. Pull a kid out of an English college class and pay him fifty bucks if you have to, but make it good. The following list here is further information on what you should and should not do when submitting your work. There are endless more things, but this should help you.

1. Do not send bulk e-mail submittals. They will most likely get deleted.

2. Include the name of the person you want to work with in the body of the e-mail. People like to be addressed by name. If you don't know their name, find it out, or if you can't find it out, list the name of their company and the department you are addressing such as New Faces, New Talent, A&R, or similar.

3. Mention the name of the person you are sending the e-mail to in the subject line of the e-mail, so it is not marked as spam.

4. Do not send attachments unless you know the person and know that they do not mind if you send them. Attachments are seen as hostile or at the very least annoying to many, if they get them from a person they do not know. Malicious data can be sent in them, and secondly, they take up lots of space in e-mail storage systems.

5. If you do know the person and know they will not mind an attachment, make sure that the attachment is supplemental to your message, not the only message you send that you want to communicate. Make the main message you want to communicate be in the body of your e-mail. Consider that the attachment may get deleted or not opened, and so you still have to get your message across in the body of the e-mail. So for example, if they tell you to e-mail an attachment of a song, send a facebook or You Tube link to it as well if you have it.

6. Do not send links to unknown or obscure website or blog links to someone you want to work with in the industry unless you know them and know they want it, or they request it or give you the go ahead. Here too, websites can have malicious viruses that you may not know about. If your site accidentally gives the recipient a virus on their computer, you can forget about working with that person ever again. The safest thing is to send links on well known, established sites such as MySpace or similar, that the recipient is familiar with and can trust clicking on.

7. Do not send e-mails to anyone you want to work worth trying to sell them tickets to your show or similar, or to vote for you or give you money you are raising for on an online campaign. Anyone that can help your career will generally not give you money or buy a ticket. When I get e-mail donation requests from musicians that I do not know, the first thing I do is mark it as spam, and never communicate with that person again.

8. Do not tell us about your bad experiences you have had in the music industry with other labels, agents, or managers. We have had bad experiences with bands and musicians too, do you really want to hear all of our stories? We guarantee you, our list is longer! Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want.

9. Always include your direct telephone number of the decision maker of your band, or if you are an actor—yourself, in any e-mail, and in every e-mail thereafter and in all phone messages. Don't assume that just because you e-mailed your contact information once, or gave it to them once, or you saw them type it in their phone, that they still have it. Even if you are client, you should always include your phone number in all e-mail and phone messages.

10. Always have all of your recorded material of music copyrighted and registered, or don't send it out.

11. Make sure you own and control anything you record, and if you don't, then get the paperwork in writing of who you share the ownership with (called a 'split sheet,' and list out all of that data in writing and be able to produce that if wanted or needed. There is little more annoying than a singer or musician approaching us and telling us how great a song is they wrote, and being told they wrote it all and own it all, only to find out later on that in fact, they only co wrote it, and another musician wrote some other parts, and so we have to deal with multiple other persons for the rights and clearances and contracts in addition to the first party if we want to to proceed. I have dropped many artists due to this, when they lied about ownership. Be honest! If you don't know what you are doing with split sheets, don't try making a masterpiece with another party until you get the rights handled, otherwise, you may be stuck with a great song that no one will touch, and your work and creativity will be wasted in legal limbo. The ideal scenario is—own everything yourself.

12. If it smells like a fish, it's probably a fish! Don't try working with someone that you really don't like or don't trust or that disrespects you, just because you love their work. Going for the short term gratification of a big name or big talent collaboration is not worth the long term pain, discomfort, or even loss you may suffer if that person or persons are really not good people, or don't respect you. Think long term-it may even be right around the corner.

13. If an agent or manager asks you to do an action, such as send them your number so they can call you, do it, and don't try to control the cycle and tell them that it would be better for you to contact them instead. If you can not agree to a simple request, how can you expect an agent or manager to believe you can be managed? Here too, I have not gone forward with many artists due to this.

14. If an agent or manager that you want to work with offers to meet you, you should make every possible effort to meet them when and where they want, with no excuses or delays. Generally, you need them more than they need you. Show your appreciation and go out of your way if need be, to make it happen. One band leader has been e-mailing me for nearly a year, telling me their career is in a rut and they need my help, but has rejected every proposed time and day I offered to meet them. Their excuses were things including; busy with class, have a gig soon, have an audition, too much traffic, have a cold, have the flu, and other worthless and lame excuses I get from them. The fact that they were repeatedly sick was enough of an indicator to me not to want to work with them. What employer would want to hire someone always sick and making excuses? We don't want it either. Finally I blocked their e-mail, and I predict they will be in the same position of non existence on the musical map in one, five, and ten years from now.

15. Don't ask for references. An A-list agent or manager is not going to give you any personal data of a person such as a star that will impress you, they are going to keep that information highly confidential and protected. And any referral of a person they will give up, of someone not a star, won't matter much anyway, as it won't really impress you. Do your own homework confidentially on them, and make up your own mind by looking with your own eyes. An A list rep does not need to prove themselves with a reference to a non star, and generally will not.

16. Avoid drugs—that includes pot, pharmaceutical, and psychiatric drugs, and avoid too much alcohol. NEVER drink and drive. I have terminated working with many artists after I found out they were on cocaine, crystal meth, had recent DWI's, or in one case, was on so called anti-depressants and was having repeated experimental surgeries that her shrink advised.

17. Eat healthy and work out often to keep your energy up and body in shape.

18. Only commit to an action if you will follow through on it quickly and with 100 percent certainty.

19. Treat your social media avenues as a the business lines they are. Don't post on your FB wall for example about all those dumb things you just did over the weekend, or how bad your hangover is. Keep in mind that labels, agents, and managers are looking at these things. I know that I have decided not to sign a number of people after checking out their social media pages. Keep them as selling tools for you and your work, not something which will chase the industry away from you that you want to be in.

20. Hang out with and go and see and support other singers and bands. Some bands treat others bands like an enemy. This is foolish. Smart musicians will become friends with other bands, especially ones that are bigger than they are, so they can learn from them, and even possibly one day get a great opening spot on their national tour. Being jealous of other artists is self defeating, and will get you no where. If you are an actor, go to plays, be in plays, and always train and perfect your craft. If you are a model, go to fashion shows and meet designers you can work with.

21. Be nice to everyone. I'll never forget one day I was working at a record store during college, and a band came in to buy a ton of music. I discovered they were a band that had just gotten signed to a major record label who had actually just recently sent me their material, and I liked their record at the time. The band was so incredibly rude to me, it was unbelievable. They were arrogant, bossy, and rude. I did my job, and didn't react back in the same manner. I laughed to myself when one of them actually had my own magazine—Subnormal that I self published in their hands. I didn't bother to tell them it was mine. The next few days later, their major record label called me and told me they were in town and invited me to go and interview them and asked me to review their record. I told the publicist the story of how incredibly rude they were, and how I was going to write about it. She literally begged me not to write about it, and she made the band get on the phone and call me and apologize. They did, and they then asked me if I would do an interview with them. Being the punk rocker I was at the time, I basically told them to screw off, and I ran the story about what jerks they were. You've heard the line about 'Be nice to the waiter? He could be the next big director?" Or, "Be nice to the kid at the video store, he could be the next Tarantino?" This is true. Treat people the way you yourself want to be treated. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's simply good business.

I published this next piece of advice before, and literally thousands of people have promoted it. Kristen Stewart fans are definitely dedicated! I feel it is worth stating again, so here it is once more, revised.

22. Don't trash talk the stars. Don't be one of those people who goes on gossip tabloid sites and posts hateful things about stars, or who wastes their life complaining about them to others. I recall one day when a client I had started getting so angry in my office that Kristen Stewart was a star and she wasn't. She argued with me about her talent, and insisted how she was hotter and more talented than Kristen—she wasn't, and how that should have been her, not Kristen, and how Kristen didn't deserve it.

That mindset is so childish and stupid and foolish. For one, Kristen Stewart has been working in the industry since she was a little girl, and worked her way up, and secondly, even if this wannabe actress was more talented and pretty, and also had a mom who was a casting director like Kristen, which was not the case, being jealous of others success will get you no where. This girl couldn't act to save her life, had never even attended an acting class, and failed to get every audition I sent her on—even though the jobs were based on looks more than skill, yet, she thought that she was more entitled to fame and fortune than a stranger she had never even met.

Putting attention on fear—fear of not being good enough, fear of never making it, and hate—hatred of others success, hatred of stars, jealousy that they have what you want and they have and you don't, will lead to more and more misery. Progress, abundance, and success come from building up, not from tearing down. Stop trying to tear down the rich and famous, and either honor them, or ignore them if you want, but don't live a life of hatred and jealousy.

I recently saw one post of a geeky girl laughing how she looked younger (and presumably better) than Britney Spears. She didn't look younger or better. Most in the industry will not want to deal with a hater, or a jealous person. They are not pleasant to be around, so don't be one.

Anne Hathaway is a phenomenal talent; a great actress, a great singer, and even a great dancer. Her talent heralds the old days of Hollywood during the studio system when stars were actually all trained, and could not only act, but could also sing and dance. Ms. Hathaway is also charming, self deprecating, and sweet in her public persona. And yet, she has reportedly become one of the most picked on and insulted stars in Hollywood. Why? My guess is because she is a woman, and many in society—including some women—hate women, and hate the idea of strong, multi-talented, successful woman in a position of power that they can not find major flaws in. Anyone who attacks Anne Hathaway should get a life.

The other reason not to trash talk stars—aside from you don't know them, and that it's the wrong thing to do, is, the person you may want to work with could actually give you a chance of working in a film or on a record with them. I once had a client who said how he literally hated a certain company—for political reasons. The film I was working on at the time had a sponsorship from the company, and I had him there to meet a casting director for the film. After childishly whining and ranting to us against the company in his puggish demeanor, he was told, OK, forget it, you're not getting considered for this job, since you hate this company.

When the Twilight castings came up, the girl described above would have been a perfect fit for some of the vampire clan roles. But of course, I was not about to have her considered, and didn't. She continued with her frustration about Hollywood, and like so many, disappeared, just as did the guy described above.

23. Do research on the company and person before you contact them and know what they like. By research, I don't mean gossip blogs, or libelous sites that extort money from people for a living like one I know, I mean the company's actual official sites, and testimonials by people in a position of power—not dropped, bitter ex-clients or other psycho exes. I have had many contact me, asking me to work with them, and they did not even take sixty seconds to look over any of our official content, then expected me to take my time explaining to them what they could have read had they done their job. That is foolish. Know your prospect fully, and find commonalities that you both share and can discuss during the first call.

24. I have stated this many times before, but it needs repeated again and again. Always leave your phone number in every message to anyone you call—even if it's your agent or manager and you think they should have it! Every second you save someone will be valued. Keep your messages short, brief, and professional.

25. Always follow up on a phone call or meeting with someone you want to do business with, with a thank you card or an e-mail, thanking them for their time and consideration of working with you. I met with an actress about a year ago, and even though she had a great look and decent resume, she did not follow up with me until around a month later, and never thanked me for a meeting. I told her that I had wanted her to follow up afterwards, and she apologized. An entire year later, I met with her again between another two appointments, and, guess what happened again? Another month has gone by, and still—no thank you or follow up from her, even though she indicated she wanted to sign! Amazing! Months later, we communicated again, and she had the biggest self-entitled, arrogant attitude, and tried blaming me for not following up with her. Despite the fact that she had a great look and I could have done a lot for her, I refused to deal with her insane ego.

Closing a deal—including getting signed with an agent or manager, requires follow up! If you don't follow up with a phone call or e-mail and express gratitude, the world will keep passing you by for those that do. Always follow up and say thank you.

26. When you are trying to get something out of someone, whether it be a meeting, to get signed, or whatever, there is one magic word that goes a long way. Many actors, models, writers, bands, and others do not know this word. They never say it. They never write it. When one tries to tell them they want them to say the word, it makes them angry and they refuse to say the word. The word is called 'please.' I have gotten countless recent query letters from screenwriters wanting me to read their scripts—even though I do not accept unsolicited scripts or query letters from non WGA agent repped writers. However, most of the letters are overly arrogant, and do not even ask me to please read the script. They are ordering, wrongly assumptive, or simply indicate nothing at all. If you want someone to read your script, read your query, listen to your band, meet with you, sign you, get you auditions, get you a go see, or help make you a star, one word will help it all go better, and will increase your chances of success, and it won't kill you to say it. Please! And, while you're at, throw in a few 'Thank You's as well.

I hope this has helped many of you. I will share more with you in the next issue of The Hollywood Sentinel. If there is a specific area you want me to address and discuss, let me know by writing me via the front page of The Hollywood Sentinel. To read other articles of How to Succeed In Hollywood in The Hollywood Sentinel, click on the series number here below to link directly to the How to Succeed In Hollywood article.

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