A healthy pursuit of your singing success requires healthy doses of nurturing, streamlining, and refining in the process. You must make a daily commitment to strengthening your voice. You must continuously sharpen your live performance skills. Your image and choice of material requires constant attention and periodic evaluation.
You must also continue to network as you grow your fan base, find financial backers, and build relationships with industry professionals that can help you develop strong survival tools and increase your knowledge of the music business. Each of these will impact your self-confidence and comfort levels.
Think of the pursuit of your singing success as a living organism that needs nurturing, discipline, grooming and instruction in order to grow and mature to its greatest potential. This development of confidence, knowledge, and a clear sense of direction, purpose, and place requires feedback.
Whether it’s a voice lesson, a meeting with a potential band member, an audition for a musical, or a performance at a neighborhood venue; invite comments so that you have a clear sense of what you did well, what you can do better, and what else you must learn to do in order to increase your chances for success.
Whenever you receive comments about your performance, behavior, work ethic, image – anything related to your career – ask questions to get those offering feedback to be more specific or to clarify what they mean, especially when you hear things like: that was great or I didn’t like it. Ask them, what specifically was great or what exactly it was that they didn’t like that turned them off. This gives you something to work with or dismiss if it is an issue of someone’s personal taste. The more specific the comment, the better you can develop a strategy for addressing a real concern or to take clear steps that will reinforce something that is working.
Ask Specific Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you were trying to achieve in the delivery of a song or during an audition or business meeting. If the person did not connect with your objectives or pick up what you were going for, ask them what they did get from your performance, conversation, lesson, audition, interview – whatever the situation. Ask for advice on what you need to work on to be more effective as you press on in your career pursuits.
Ask questions to gain an understanding of where they're coming from and see if that helps you better understand the feedback you’ve been given. Learn more about the musical tastes of those that give you feedback. Ask questions that solicit opinions or thoughts on what you feel you represent as an artist. Get a better sense of who your target audience is based on those that positively respond to your tastes, goals, ideas, creativity, energy, and strongest points of view. That critical feedback you receive can provide a wealth of vital information that will help you target an audience, choose some of the songs you sing, shape elements of your image, and can possibly lead you to make wiser better-informed decisions about venues to play.
Circle Your Connections
If the person providing feedback works in the music business or entertainment industry, find out more about what they do, the positions they’ve held, and how long they’ve been at it. Ask for their views on trends and how the industry is changing. Thank them for any advice they give you and express an interest to keep in touch as you make an effort to exchange contact information.
The music business is an ever-evolving network of circles that interconnect and often overlap. When you make a contact, do so with the understanding that your paths may cross again down the road. That person that has given you advice may show up again but will be serving in a different capacity.
Politely But Firmly Stand Your Ground
Sometimes you get negative comments from family members and friends. You'll also hear "expert" advice from people that simply don't get where you’re coming from. In these cases seek to better understand their perspective, personal taste, and any agendas they may have. Thank them for their comments, and move on.
You can state your case for the choices you make, but don’t be defensive or argumentative. Point out the things that someone has stated so that you make sure that what you’ve heard is what they meant to say. If you do find that you're starting to get defensive, stop yourself right away. Apologize and explain that your singing is a sensitive, emotional issue. If you disagree with the feedback, don’t be defensive and don’t attack. Simply restate, reaffirm, or offer to shed new light on where you're coming from – if you feel it’s necessary. Bottom line: be a voracious reader of people and listen to their feedback.
Emphasize positives you see and hear in fellow performers, singers, singer-songwriters, singing musicians and others in the industry. But also make note of ways that you think their performance, material, image, mix, craftsmanship, and so on can be improved. If you feel the timing isn't right or you have a potentially sensitive comment to share after a performance or meeting or event, get their contact info and send them your thoughts in more specific detail or make an appointment to get together and talk. Be sure to offer suggestions for improvement and to share any resources or contacts you have that have worked for you and that you think they might find helpful.
Stress The Best
In the feedback you give others always stress the positives that stand out. Talk about what's working, what you liked and enjoyed – but be specific. Be sensitive to the emotional aspects of singing. Come from a place of care, comfort, concern, and support in the comments you share.
Always lead with positive feedback and express your understanding of what you feel they were going for. Talk about how a song moved you. If you were impressed by their technique or range or rhythm let them know it. Ask about challenges they have faced in honing their craft and becoming a better vocalist with stronger technical skills.
Affirm interpretive choices and a choice of material as it applies. Ask about songwriters they work with, and share information on any writers and musicians that you feel might be a good fit for them as a resource for material or back up.
Let Them Lead Your Witness
If a performance you've seen has been shaky or even a bit embarrassing, but you've been cornered for some comments, start off by asking them how they felt about their performance. This can get them to talk about areas they’d like to work on. It may even get someone to admit they were not at the top of their game. This opens the door for you to be compassionate and understanding as you offer your feedback.
Suggest To Address
Offer suggestions for changes or adjustments that can help them improve, but ask first. If you see something they can fix, and you have information that can help them, ask a question first about things they want to work on. Use that as a lead in to things you are addressing as you become a better singer and performer. Then, offer the advice or pieces of information as you affirm something you see in them that they can do even better.
Don't be afraid to suggest songs they should explore that you feel could better showcase qualities that you see hints of in them but aren’t being fully engaged.
Hooked Up SSTV
Ask if they know about SSTV and invite them to check us out. Find out if they're familiar with Brett Manning and his programs such as Mastering Mix and Singing Success. Ask questions about their current training, and invite them to supplement it with products and resources available through SSTV. .
A Feast of Forums
Use the forums at SSTV to vent your frustrations, share your concerns, post your progress, and actively invite feedback. The more you share, the more you receive. Carefully consider the feedback you get, and also carefully construct your criticism.
Position the feedback you provide in such a way that all points you make are clearly expressed, backed with specifics, and designed to make them better. The best feedback nurtures and nourishes. Whether it seems sweet or sour, abrasive or silky smooth, the best feedback provides essential nutrients that will help you survive, arrive and thrive in the music business and entertainment industry. The best feedback honors your fullest potential for singing success.