I received the following email from Bret at http://bret.workshed.com/. He gave me permission to post it (which I am extremely thankful for! Only with discussion and sharing do we have the chance to truly learn anything without making the mistakes ourselves!)
I think one of the best tools you can teach your kid is how to promote herself. Most labels will require that she tour once she signs on with them, and touring is the best way to get exposure and build a following. However, before one can reach that point, they have to lay some groundwork. This is where I think that these rock star camps fall short. I get the impression they are trying to show kids that they can learn a few things and then BAM! they are suddenly fighting off offers from major labels. I am probably being a bit harsh on them, but I am jaded. :-)
The bands that I see who are the happiest, are the bigger indie bands who have stayed indie and lived on their own terms. In many cases, these people have a strong Do it Yourself ethic, they diversify by either starting a record label, releasing music under several side projects, or getting in the trenches in a number of different ways. They also have much more control over their own destiny.
Ultimately, anyone can attend a rock star camp, but the only true determining factor is, can they write a good song? You can take a crappy song, polish it in a studio, put a corporate record label marketing department behind it, and tour as an opening act for someone more established, but in the end, it's still a crappy song.
With that, I think your daughter -- or any kid wanting to get a foot in the door -- should work on writing songs first and foremost. It's that creative passion that makes all the difference. If the talent is there, the opportunities (and the slimeballs) will follow.
So have her focus on writing her music, performing it whenever she can. Once she has 6 or so songs, then she should work on recording them. Don't invest in home recording gear first off. Have her go to a real studio to record, but carefully interview some studios to see what their approach is. Some engineers will help produce the music, some will be hands on and offer personal service, others will be hands-off and just go through the motions. Find someone who cares and wants to help her learn.
Once she is done recording and mixing her album, have it professionally mastered. This adds a final sheen to the recording that adds that extra level of professionalism. Then have a professional layout done for the CD, hire a graphic designer to do it. Make a web site, have the web site design tie into the CD packaging design. Have a promo photo taken. Then put together a simple press kit and send the CD out for review and to get shows. Get her promoting her shows, making flyers, posting them, get as many people to come see her as possible. Clubs will be impressed by the turnout and book her again.
For the $1495 you will spend on the Power Chord Academy (not to mention the additional money for airfare and lodging), you could pay to do most of the above and she will have first-hand experience doing it all for herself accompanied by a strong sense of achievement and self-sufficiency. It will also give her the business benefit of learning to work with a budget. If she has $1700 to work with, she will have to learn how to break each need down by cost and how to cut corners when appropriate.
Another approach is to set her up with a small home recording studio. If you think she is technically inclined and would like to learn how to record herself, it gives her a lot of freedom to experiment with various sounds and songs at her own pace. I wouldn't recommend going this route until she has been in a real studio at least once, though.
Being a musician is like any art, you have to do the art before the business. You can't take a three day workshop and become Picasso, so why would you be able to take a three day workshop and become Green Day?
Back to the diversification and business side, once one has a strong batch of songs, it helps to get the songs licensed out wherever one can. Register the songs under ASCAP or BMI so you can assure royalties will be paid for all public performances. Get hooked up with a company like http://www.rumblefish.cc, who will place her music on commercials, TV shows and films. The more songs out there, and the more places her music is being played, the more money she will have coming in.
It's a lot of work, but if she really is passionate about what she is doing, it will be time and energy happily and well-spent.
Lots of thoughts here that we will digest!
About Powerchords, I told Bret that I am looking to Powerchords to show my daughter what is possible and to meet other kids like her. He is eagerly waiting for the review! And like good bloggers everywhere, he is willing to revise his opinion based on data, which I am eagerly awaiting to give him!
And on the Indie subject, I have looked at this book: I Don't Need A Record Deal!: Your Survival Guide For The Indie Music Revolution. Lots of good stuff in here!