The music industry is changing at an ever increasing rate of speed. The Internet and advances in technology have opened up opportunities to independently produce and self-promote. While resources and exposure in major markets such as Nashville, New York and Los Angeles still drive success, there are more avenues for creating a buzz, building a fan base, establishing a reputation, and getting some serious attention.
Greater access to more avenues of opportunity means more traffic. So it’s vital to do all you can to increase your chances of standing out, being heard, and establishing a healthy, long lasting career.
There are many things you can do that just might make the difference between booking the gig, being in demand, creating a positive buzz, and reaping the rewards of singing success. So, here are five of ten tips to use as a checklist for making sure that you stay committed to being competitive.
Be On Time
Think how you feel when you’ve planned an event or you’re meeting with someone to go see a concert, but you end up waiting for someone who makes you late. You miss the event or a critical part of it. It wrecks you, makes you angry, is hurtful, or even worse. Now multiply that times the cost of booking musicians, technicians, and studio time for a session. Or factor in auditioning for a venue or for a producer for session work.
Time is money, courtesy, commitment, character – the list is endless in terms of potential damage to your reputation for being late even once. Yet, as obvious as this sounds, it is amazing how many opportunities are missed and reputations tarnished because a singer either can’t tell time or doesn’t respect or value the time of others.
Always proceed as if that window of time for any opportunity is your potential break. See each appointment, audition, writing session, rehearsal, and meeting as a stepping stone to your singing success. Make it a habit to be a few minutes early or don’t bother showing up. Your career and the success of others are at risk when you don’t show up on time.
You never know who may be watching when you book that gig at a neighborhood venue but you’ve thrown things together at the last minute or cut back on rehearsal time because you figured everybody knows you or because it’s just a local hangout. For example, someone may try a new song that they just learned; and so, instead of communicating with the audience, their attention is focused on a cheat sheet that’s flopping around as they fumble through a potentially moving piece of music. Never go into any situation with the attitude that you can “wing it.” If you have new material or a new concept or style that you want to share, make sure it gets the attention needed in rehearsal. Treat each performance as an opportunity to showcase your very best. You’ll never fly if you try to wing it. In fact you’re more likely to be shot down, swatted away, or dismissed.
Respect The Song
Respect the work of other composers, songwriters, and the people that support them, especially if you’re trying to get studio session work. When you’re gigging out and performing original material, always give credit to the songwriters or your co-writers, and show respect for their work. Do not improvise or rewrite their lyrics because you failed to learn the song or because you think you have a better idea. If you have feedback for the writer or composer, share it with them personally and privately. Don’t use a public forum such as your live performance to take liberties with their work.
Listen to what you are being told. If you’re in a studio session and given direction by a producer, songwriter, or other key player, listen to what they’re saying, ask about anything you’re not clear on, and then take the time necessary to process and deliver as instructed. If you’re auditioning, more often than not, you’ll be given a few minutes to make interpretive or technical adjustments to the material. How you respond to direction plays a huge role in the amount of work you can generate as a session singer and the positive reputation you can build as a quick study in part by honing your listening skills. Many times a singer gets so focused on how he or she sounds that they neglect what someone else is saying. Make sure you clearly communicate any potential lack of understanding a direction you’ve been given. Ask a question to confirm understanding or to clarify by mirroring what the person giving the direction has said. Or, simply provide a quick vocal example of what you’re hearing based on the direction you’ve been given. It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many singers get so caught up in their own voice or sound that they miss opportunities to get more gigs or advance their careers because they can’t take direction. In many cases the inability to take direction comes not from misunderstanding but simply from not listening.
Make sure all elements of your press kit, website and other promotional materials are accurate and up to date. Be sure your headshot, publicity stills and video clips accurately reflect who you are. If there have been physical changes or adjustments in image, make sure it is duly reflected in these materials. If you’ve gained or lost weight, made dramatic changes in your hair, invested in cosmetic enhancement of any kind, or gotten a few years older – make sure your current press and promotional material reflects the most recent change. These materials will prompt and pique the interest of others. It will provide additional post performance support from people who want to know more about you. So, keep it fresh. Keep it current. And above all else, keep it real. On the road to your singing success there will likely be lengthy periods of financial challenge, times you’re rejected or overlooked because of quality competition or because the market is growing so rapidly through opportunities created via the Internet, technology, and the growing indie artist market.
An Extra Edge
Rejection will make things more challenging and often more discouraging, but it also provides an opportunity to make a commitment to do your best and increase your chances for success by following these five basic tips. Give yourself the best chance at success by strictly following these five simple rules. Use the products developed by Brett Manning and available here at SSTV to hone your craft and experience the full potential of your unique voice. It will help to give you the extra edge you need as a force to be reckoned with on the road to your singing success.