How Did Katy Perry Make It?

Katy Perry
"Katy Perry" by Doctormadrid is marked with CC PDM 1.0
She had more than a fair share of failures and set-backs along the way - explains Lisa Popeil

Unlike ‘normal’ jobs, there is no direct path to financial independence for singers in the commercial music industry. I’ve always been curious about how so-and-so ‘made it’ – what was their path to their first hit song. Today let’s look at a female artist whose story looks anything but successful – at least at the start.

The Daughter of Pastors

Katy Perry was born as Katheryn Hudson in Santa Barbara, California, the daughter of two Evangelical pastors. She grew up listening to gospel music and only discovered pop music secretly through her friends. Her parents suggested that she take vocal lessons – which she did between ages 9-16. Katheryn began singing at her parents’ church at age 9. After receiving her first guitar at 13, she began publicly performing songs she wrote. Katy completed and left high school early at age 15 to pursue a musical career.

Dropped by the Label

Katy briefly studied opera before catching the attention of Nashville rock artists who invited her to hone her writing skills there. Katy signed with Red Hill Records and released a gospel album title “Katy Hudson” released in 2001 which sold only 200 albums before the label went bankrupt.

Wide Awake by Katy Perry

After moving to LA, she signed with Island Def Jam as the female vocalist of the group The Matrix though Island Def Jam cancelled the album before it was completed.

She was dropped by the label and her solo album project with producer Glen Ballard was shelved. Perry was also signed and dropped by Columbia Records and went to work for Taxi, a song pitching service.

Finally, A Breakthrough

Katy was recommended to Virgin Records chairman Jason Flom, who was convinced that she had star qualities and signed her to the new Capitol Music Group in 2007. Her debut album, One of the Boys, was released in 2008 and generated three top-ten songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Perry’s third album produced five #1 singles.

Take Away Points 

1. Where you start musically may not be where you end up.
2. One can still be successful after tremendous disappointment and rejection.
3. It only takes one person who believes in you to change your career trajectory.

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