Billy Joel on His Advice To Younger Musicians

What advice do you give to younger musicians?
Depends on who it is. Deciding to become a musician for life is a big decision, and it’s scary because there’s no safety net. A lot your friends will say you’re crazy; you’re never gonna make it. Your parents worry about how you’re gonna make a living. Most musicians that play in clubs or restaurants have to have another job.

Some subway musicians are great.
It’s tough. Forget about being a star or a recording artist: If you can pay your rent and make enough money to buy food and necessities of life as a musician, that’s already a success. I tell acts who are opening up for us, “Just be yourself.” We are all a culmination of all our influences. Nobody grows up in a test tube. A lot of times you get accused of being a derivative. Well, of course you sound like people you admire! Eventually you practice it in your own way and it becomes original.

I have another theory. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, because the only original thing we ever do is make mistakes. You can be taught how to do something perfectly right, but only you can screw it up in your own inimitable way. We’ve left mistakes in recordings, thinking, “Wow, nobody would have thought of that!”