Guest blog: Tommy Fleming speaks about his success and struggles in the music industry

Audience seats - photo credit (Flickr)
Audience seats - photo credit (Flickr)


Sometimes, especially at this time of the year when college is coming to an end, assignment deadlines are near, and exam dates get closer; giving up can often seem like an easier option. But it’s in times like this we have to look at the bigger picture, think about our future and focus on the success we want to gain, and the people we want to become.

Success quote - Photo credit (Flickr)
Success quote – Photo credit (Flickr)

But success doesn’t come easy. Success is the outcome of hard work, determination, courage and a whole lot of patience. One person who knows this better than anyone else is one of Ireland’s most talented singers and entertainer, Tommy Fleming.

Tommy was born in Aclare, Co. Sligo in 1971. He has spent his life building a career in the music industry doing something he loves. His success has led him to tour and perform all over the world, entertaining audiences in Canada, America, Australia, and many more.

Although a celebrity, I can honestly say that Tommy is a genuine, kind, and down to earth family man, who will always do his best to help out friends and family.  He kindly wrote a piece for me about the success and struggles he has faced while trying to break through in the music industry. I wish Tommy all the success in the years to come, and would like to applaud the success he has achieved so far.

 Tommy writes:

Are we ever considered successful in the entertainment industry? Well I suppose the answer is no. There is always something else to achieve, and someone else just as good as you coming along. I consider that my success is being able to say that I managed to make a good, honest living doing something that I love and enjoy.

My career choice was not a deliberate one, but really happened by chance. I started singing as a young child and was encouraged to do so by my parents and teachers. At that time I had no idea I would make a career out of it, and have the opportunity to travel all over the world performing. It was during my late teenage years I very quickly realised I could make some decent money by performing in pubs and clubs during my school holidays. As others my age were struggling trying to get summer work, I was making my money singing by night and having the summer days free.

During a charity performance in Westport in 1995, I had the chance to meet renowned performer and composer Phil Coulter lead. Phil invited me to perform at his concerts nationwide tour, which exposed me to a whole new larger audience. After the success of the Irish tour he invited me on his USA tour. This gave me the tools I needed to break away and begin my career as a solo performer.

Concert stage - Photo credit (Flickr)
Concert stage – Photo credit (Flickr)


I got my first record deal in 1997, but while on the road promoting the album, I was involved in a serious car accident which left me with a broken neck and a career break, or possibly, a career end.

After several months convalescing, I went back on the road and tried to rescue any part of my career that might still exist. The accident had pushed things back several years and I had to start at the beginning and build a reputation and audience all over again.  It was a long, slow, frustrating process.

I got totally frustrated with the business and the people that were around me that seemed to be offering little or no advice for me, yet were still making money from my hard earned career.

I took a decision to leave the music industry and joined GOAL, so I headed to Africa for several months to work as an aid worker. While I was living in South Sudan I never sang or performed, I only worked extremely hard feeding and providing medical supplies to those who were a lot less fortunate that me. I had a lot of time to think while I lived there, and knew I had to make some important decisions that would determine the rest of my singing career.

On my return, I removed myself from all those around me and decided to become my own manager, agent, and record company, and do everything the way I wanted to. From that day onwards things only improved and my enjoyment in doing what I love grew more and more. I took a risk removing myself from the group of people I worked with, but this led to more creative projects and more albums been release due to the success of previous ones. Now 25 years since becoming professional, I am happy to say I have experienced a lot of success, but I am still determined to create even more accomplishments in the next 25.

Audience seats - photo credit (Flickr)
Audience seats – photo credit (Flickr)

I firmly believe that if you are willing to work hard and are determined, you can achieve anything, and we all determine ourselves how successful or otherwise our lives will be.

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