Emerson Hart Reveals Lessons Learned In 20 Years Of Tonic


2016 marks 20 years since Tonic released their debut record, Lemon Parade. To celebrate, the band recorded an acoustic rendition of the classic album, that contained the mega-hit, “If You Could Only See.”

Frontman, Emerson Hart, recently wrote a very inspiring feature for Artist Waves where he detailed 20 of the biggest lessons he’s learned the past 20 years of Tonic. Here are the top 10:



1) Don’t cheat on your gift. I have watched a lot of people who I came up with or who came before me destroy the talent they have been lucky enough to be given. Its alright to have a good time but remember to keep your party habits in check as they will add up and get heavier to carry as you go. It’s hard to play a show or show up on time anywhere when you’re having to tend to the cocaine & booze addicted elephant in the room that’s you.

2) Be a fan. Don’t let whatever current disaster is going on in the music industry or your career make you jaded. Make time to go out and see a band you have never seen and listen for the love of music. In this world, every night an artist is walking on stage somewhere because they believe. Find them.

3) Don’t look sideways. Focus on your own beard or melody or style. If you waste time looking at everyone else and begrudging them their success you will miss the opportunity to be a better artist and most likely trip and fall. I’ve done it. The beard didn’t work for me.

4) Have a point. When you are writing a song, work as hard as you can to get to the heart of it and illuminate your subject.

5) Learn to listen. There is value when someone shares a story. Be still and listen. Even if you write a song about their story later — maybe they’ll be ok with it.

6) Don’t count on other people to do your Job for you. It’s ok to ask for help but there are lessons to be learned in the work of building your career.

7) Go through old song books. I have a ton of song books I have stumbled on in random book/music stores over the years. I learned how to play guitar with them when I was a kid starting out. I believe they have made me a better writer. Music, along with everything in this world, is cyclical. There are “old” songs hiding in books that need to be re-discovered and re-interpreted all over again. Go find them.

8) Be gracious and professional. Don’t show up at a radio or TV station acting like they owe you something because they don’t. Treat them with respect and roll with the changes that might happen regarding rescheduling and early hours. You can refer to #1 on this list to make the morning show easier. You will see these people again in different locations of the world in different stages of your career so be professional. There are radio DJs out there that still play my old songs, not because they’re working at a ninety’s station (they’re not), but because I did something right back in the day. Maybe I remembered their names, maybe I made them laugh, I know I showed up on time.

8-B: REMEMBER THEIR NAMES — if you take your whiskey goggles off (see #1), it makes remembering people much easier. Everyone appreciates it when you remember their name.

9) Use social media as a tool. People want to know what’s going on in your life and that’s ok. You can share what you feel comfortable with and let them know about tour dates, thoughts or musings. Never use it as a weapon.

10) Get as much of the Master share of your record that you can when you sign a deal.

To read Hart’s full list of 20 lessons learned, visit Artist Waves:


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