By Kenny Kerner

To be successful in any business you must first focus your attention on achieving very specific goals. Then, you set up a plan of attack and go for it. Seems simple enough, right? Well then, why aren't more people making millions of dollars in the music business? Why is it so damn hard to get signed? Why can't very talented artists attract competent personal managers? What's up with that?

The answer is also simple: Most people who aspire to be Rock stars or great writers or powerful managers or attorneys, for the most part, don't know their strong points or limitations. In short, they don't really know who they are!

When I first began my career as a record producer, I knew I had an instinctive talent for hearing great songs and great artists. But, at the same time, I also knew that I had no stomach for engineering and turning knobs. To me, that wasn't creative enough. It was that knowledge of my shortcomings that allowed me to always work with the finest engineers in the business so that I could concentrate only on the producing side of things. I had no ego about it whatsoever. I produced and someone else engineered. Since the engineer needed my approval for everything anyway, I couldn't lose!

I had about seven successful years as a record producer (KISS, Gladys Knight, Jose Feliciano, Badfinger, Steve Marriott) before getting bored with it and moving into other areas of the business.

The point is that I knew who I was. I knew my limitations as a producer and that enabled me to really take advantage of my strong points. It made me more confident, more aggressive, and more of a leader in the studio.

Do you know who you are? I mean really know who you are? Do you know what you're good at and where you need improvement? Are you willing to ask others for help so you can improve?

If you're a great guitarist but can't carry a tune, why are you insisting on being you band's lead singer?

And if you're a great lead singer but a poor writer, don't force your songs on your band—find someone who writes better songs than you. Always aspire toward greatness. Don't settle for mediocrity.

The recording artist that I manage now, a 22-year-old singer named Heiarii has an amazing voice but is just learning to write his own material. So, for his first American release, a CD called DANCE!, I produced an album of songs written by other people. Check it out at

As a music journalist, I've interviewed hundreds of local, unsigned bands who've claimed that they were proficient in writing and performing in a variety of musical styles. Rather than admitting to be a great Rock band, artists feel compelled to profess expertise in several musical genres. Who are they trying to impress?

Some of the biggest and most successful bands in the world excelled in only one single category. The Beatles were the greatest Pop band ever; Led Zeppelin, probably the greatest Rock band. Why then would a band called Molly's Pipe from Peoria, Illinois, tell me that they play Rock/Reggae/Metal/acoustic music on their CD? Why? Because they don't know who or what they are!

Okay, Kenny, so how do I find out exactly who I am? Well, here's a little checklist I put together that might help you.