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18-year-old scared before signing record deal...

Mark,

It was a pleasure speaking with you this afternoon. My name is F___. I am a record producer/recording engineer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been in the music business since I was a 19-year-old sophomore at U.C. Berkeley in 1978. I am presently 49, so I have been part of the music scene for a very long time. Several months ago, I purchased the MOOCT program because my 18-year-old daughter, A___, is in crisis (for lack of a better term).

A___ was born August 17, 1990. She has always lived with her mother, D___, in Texas. I was never married to A___’s mother. Musically speaking, A___ is far ahead of where my musical abilities were at age 18. She is a gifted singer and I have trained her well. At the age of 15, A___ stated that it was her ambition to be a pop star and asked me to work with her. She had excelled at every level, winning many scholastic vocal competitions and singing in churches. I agreed to work with her. The process started in June 2006.

Under my direction A___’s music career thrived. By January of this year she was established internationally and had proved that if she had a record deal she could generate substantial revenues. Malia Obama was one of A___’s fans and we had discussions with the Obama people about A___ performing for the Obama girls. In January, everything went haywire. I was negotiating a record deal for A___ with Universal Music Group. I thought everything was going well but then neither A___ or her mother would talk to me for almost 3 weeks. D___ finally contacted me on February 9 and informed me that she had enrolled A___ in a 9 month pharmacy technician training program at some cheesy Texas technical school. She said the reason she did it was so A___ would have something to fall back on if her music career was a bust. That reasoning made no sense because A___ and I had made an agreement long ago that in the unlikely event her music career was short lived she would go to a four year collage and I would pay for it. Her mother has always been in a state of financial hardship and constantly borrows money from anyone who will let her have it; me included. When I asked D___ why she had enrolled A___ in the tech school without discussing it with me first, she had two responses: “I don’t know” and “I told A___ many times that she needed to call you.” They didn’t discuss it with me because they knew I would have stopped them in their tracks.

D___ took substantial grief from people associated with A___’s career for doing something so stupid. A___ knew her mom was catching major hell so when I finally got to speak with A___ she said she didn’t want to be a pop star anymore even though she knew she had the talent to be successful. She went on to say she just wanted to lead a quiet life and she thought she could get by on a $10/hour pharmacy tech salary. This did not sound like my daughter in any way, shape or form. She sounded very confused. My position was she had no business in the tech school and I wanted her out of there immediately. She refused to quit. As a result, she lost her record deal with Universal, production team, songs written for her, $500/month allowance I gave her and the new sports car she wanted me to buy her. Approximately 2 weeks after this bombshell was dropped on me A___ told me she never wanted to work with me again. I was confused by this because I was under the impression she was done with music. She also stated that I was “too possessive.”

Several days after that conversation, A___ announced on the internet that she was done with pop music and planned to pursue a career as a Contemporary Christian Music recording artist. She also announced that she had a new manager, her mother, D___. D___’s management experience is limited to watching me work with A___. D___ is not qualified to manage any artist and readily admits it but she’s doing it anyway. The executives at the Christian record companies laughed their asses off when they heard A___ wants to be a Christian recording artist. After what has transpired they want no part of A___ or D___. Furthermore, the quality of A___’s recordings have tanked since I stopped working with her. A Christian record label executive described A___’s recent work to me as “unlistenable.” I agree with his assessment.

I have tried numerous times to talk with A___; she refuses to speak with me. She did send me a text message a few weeks ago in which she stated that she was really happy. It was a dig at me. My daughter is headed down a path that will not serve her well in the future. I feel like I’ve lost my daughter and that there is nothing I can do for her. Your statement in the program that kids won’t change until they’re ready reinforced my feeling that I should just let her go. It breaks my heart to see my precious daughter abandon her lifelong dreams to work in a low paying job and pursue a record deal in Christian music that can never materialize (for business reasons which are irrelevant to this correspondence). I have tried to help A___ to become an independent young lady who can take care of herself someday and be financially self sufficient. She was on her way until something happened down in Texas that derailed her. It is only natural that an 18-year-old would be scared before signing a major record deal with a company like Universal. I think that is where this mess started and then A___’s mother played on her fears. I could be wrong but that’s what I believe happened.

Any insights that you can provide would greatly be appreciated. Thank you.

F.

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Hi F.,

Based on what you've said, a few comments seemed to jump out at me:

"They didn’t discuss it with me because they knew I would have stopped them in their tracks."

"She also stated that I was “too possessive.”

"It breaks my heart to see my precious daughter abandon her lifelong dreams to work in a low paying job and pursue a record deal in Christian music that can never materialize."

I'm guessing that you (a) have been a bit too controlling in the past and (b) viewed your daughter as an extension of yourself (i.e, you had YOUR goals for her that are clearly not in alignment with HER goals for her).

She probably was a bit apprehensive with the idea of becoming a "big star" -- that's true -- but the larger issue may be her wanting to assert her will rather than follow your will.

Hope this makes sense. I feel like I am at least in the ball park on this one.

I would drop her a line and simply say, "I will support you in whatever you want to do with your life. You know what's best for you. I love you for who you are."

Then in future conversations, inquire as to what she is doing without providing your opinion about it -- just listen!

You can do that,

Mark

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