Mike Ragogna: AJ, what advice do you have for new artists? I know we already got a lot of it from your musical history, but please, it would be great if you would put it succinctly.
AJ Croce: We’ve done this before and I question my own advice. Clearly, I’m not a superstar or a household name or anything like that. If that’s what you’re looking for, then my advice is probably not going to be any good for you. But if what you’re looking to do is be the best that you can be and you don’t really care for the celebrity or the fame of that side of it–that’s fine if it happens. But if your goal is to just do your thing whatever the result may be as far as success in the public eye, I would say a couple of things. I would say figure out what you want to do besides music. Figure out three things that you would want to do in your life besides music. It’s something that was proposed to me when I was looking for my second manager, I met with a guy and that was one of the questions he asked me and it stuck with me, clearly. That was a long time ago. Besides music, what’s important in your life? To know that is to know that you might sell millions of records and if music is your only focus you could be fifty or sixty years old and have a ton of accolades but be completely lonely. You could be in a milliion different situations but I think that to know what you really want besides music is the key. From a musical standpoint, I think you need to keep your ears open.
I think you need to try and play as many styles of music as you can. You need to listen to every genre of music until it’s not a novelty. When you first listen to a twenties recording, espeically on a 78, it’s a novelty. It’s fun and it might be cool or it might be funny or it might be ridiculous or it might be anything that you can think of, but at a certain point if you listen to it enough that novelty wears off and then the actual art of it becomes really clear. Same thing for music that you may not listen to whether it’s jazz or hip hop or metal or classical or electronica, with any kind of music the more that you listen to it the broader your palate’s going to be. Even if it’s not your thing, no one needs to hear your hip hop album, your electronica album, especially if that’s not who you are. But I really believe that if you practice it and you listen to it until the novelty has worn off and you see the value and the art in it, I think you become much more able to contribute something unique.
MR: And that’s basically what you did.
AJ: It’s what I do.