|Paul Rodgers, lead singer of Bad Company, said aspiring musicians are best to get an education and to not sign away their songwriting royalties.|
That was the suggestion of two mega-stars with ties to the South Okanagan - Mike Reno of Loverboy and Paul Rodgers, lead singer of Bad Company, The Firm and Free. With the Okanagan having a large number of potential rising stars, both were asked what advice they would pass on to kids.
"Songwriting royalties is the most important part of the package," said Reno, who grew up in Penticton and later co-wrote such monster hits as Working For the Weekend, Turn Me Loose, When It's Over and This Could Be the Night.
"It's something that goes on and on - pass them on in your will. Even today, I got a cheque in the mail. It's important for people to protect their own songs. Unless you're sitting across the table from someone who wants to give you $5 million for a song, you might want to say 'I'll take $1 million and you can have 20 per cent of the song.' Protect it. It's yours."
Rodgers, who now makes his home in Summerland with wife Cynthia, wrote legendary rock songs including Feel Like Makin' Love, Radioactive and All Right Now.
"I made that mistake. Many of us did. I was very naive," he said of signing over his songwriting. "All of that Free material, who knows where it is now because I naively signed it away. We lost the Bad Company catalogue for 28 years, but it reverted back due to American law.
"You need to work with people you can trust, people who are honest, and read everything before signing it away."
Reno admits things changed drastically from his heyday of the early 1980s, when Loverboy collectively sold over 20 million records.
"What's happening now is you can cheaply record the music yourself if you get in a room with a bunch of people who know what they're doing. You can organize your songs, record the demo and post the songs on YouTube.
"We never had anything like that. It cost a fortune in those days to get a record out and to have your songs heard."
Reno recalls meeting people in the early days he considered "slimy" and believes proper management is imperative, praising the work of legendary Vancouver producer Bruce Allen.
"Finding the right people and being patient is key," he said. "The best thing to do when you write your own song is to copyright it. It's very easy to do. Simply mailing a CD to yourself, having it postmarked and never opening the sealed envelope guarantees those songs were written before the postmark date. It's an old trick that still works."
Rodgers believes schooling is important and that teenagers need to get an education. He also believes artists must be true to themselves.
"Don't worry about what's fashionable," Rodgers said.
"Listen to the music that really moves you and emulate that. That's what I did. I listened to music I loved. I copied it blatantly at first, but eventually it became my own style, which I developed over time."
Like the title of his band's most famous hit, Reno said hard work is imperative.
"Like any kind of business, pay due diligence. Think it through. Get to know people. We decided early on to make equal members of the band. Everyone is equally responsible and we made it an equal share for everyone. Everybody felt responsible to work as hard as they could rather than having one or two people running the whole thing."
Loverboy remains active on the classic rock circuit. Fresh off a Labour Day weekend concert at the PNE in Vancouver, the band is currently in New Mexico and then Oklahoma for state fairs. Bad Company, meanwhile, with Rodgers on lead vocals, just began a 40th-anniversary tour with its first stop being a Sept. 14 concert at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.