It’s the daily passionate pursuit of discovering and affirming a singer’s full potential for Singing Success that drives CEO, Ethan Opelt.
“I’ve worked with bands and artists for 11 years,” he said. “We have products for aspiring singers who want to learn to sing or just how to sing better. If you’ve been singing your entire life, we have advanced techniques and programs that you’ve likely never used before, like Mastering Mix and Jesse Nemitz’s Top 7 Secrets of the Super High Mix. You learn how to protect your voice, relieve strain on your vocal cords, everything you need to make your voice stronger.”
The native of Indianapolis cut his music industry incisors working in road management, marketing, and merchandising, as he toured with a diverse roster of entertainers that included country artists Josh Turner, Terri Clark and Jimmy Wayne, as well as Christian singer and artist Jaci Velasquez.
He spent a few years at Universal developing digital marketing concepts and initiatives as new media manager at Universal Records South for artists Joe Nichols, Kathy Mattea, Marty Stuart, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Shooter Jennings and others. This is where Ethan learned the value of social networking, increasing brand value and constantly providing fans with content and information.
In 2006, he developed Movement Nashville, which is a support community for artists that popped the lid off of more traditional boxes and packaging associated with Music City artists rather than the traditional cliché of country and gospel music.
“It became sort of a sorority and fraternity for talented artists in Nashville that were not country or gospel,” he said. “That was back when people talked about what was referred to as the “Nashville Curse”, where no bands could break out of Nashville if they weren’t country or gospel. I wanted to show people the other side of the music scene, like the emerging rock and pop scene in Nashville.”
His natural instincts for social networking helped create a buzz of support within the music business community that appealed to the freshly eclectic, and alternative tastes of a growing number of hungry artists and consumers. Immediately, Movement Nashville began selling out shows one after the other. The concept of sharing fans rather than competing with other artists for fans proved to be VERY effective as a marketing strategy.
“We had 16 artists on the Movement Nashville roster and 12 of those signed major and indie record deals” he said, citing Paramore, as among the most successful.
With his friend, Jason Moon Wilkins, they created Next Big Nashville Music Festival and Conference, an annual multi-venue event that celebrates the rich textures, vibrant colors, and wide range of music that soars above and beyond the campsites of Nashville’s country and gospel traditions.
“So far, we’ve featured over a thousand bands and acts, and we’ll be going on our sixth year starting in the fall of 2011,” he said. This past year, the Next BIG Nashville Conference really took off with special speakers and panelists including Lady Gaga’s manager, Kings of Leon and a host of successful and creative music business minds.
In addition, Ethan ventured out on his own to explore innovations in marketing as he created social networking initiatives, database development, online media concepts, and ad revenue for clients as diverse as the Ryman Auditorium, Opryland, The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Nashville and well-known troubadours like the Grammy-Winning Blind Boys of Alabama and Patty Loveless.
Throughout it all one clear truth stood out for Ethan.
“I love to align myself with talented artists who have the same passion as I do,” he said. “To help people succeed in the music business, whether as a performer, a songwriter, a singer, or business-person.”
The Brett Factor
In August of 2009, he found his way to Brett Manning and Singing Success. He remembers how on his very first day Brett asked him to sit in on a few lessons and observe.
“There was this really great guy who was probably in his 40’s and had been a singer for most of his life,” Ethan said. “I remember that in less than 30 minutes into the singing lesson, I saw his eyes water up. He told Brett that he’s been singing for 30 years and that Brett had tapped into something he didn’t know he had in him. Any time I’m having a rough day, I think back to that first hour of my first day when I watched somebody’s life change right before my eyes. I knew instantly that this Singing Success was my new home and that we were a match made in Heaven.”
It wasn’t long before Ethan was persuaded to submit himself to a singing lesson with Brett.
“Honestly, I was a little intimidated,” he said. “I’ve never had this inner-desire to be a fantastic vocalist, but I most definitely want to know how to sing. In just that one lesson, Brett increased my range and power just while I was singing Amazing Grace. It was great seeing Brett work his magic on someone with no formal training. Associate vocal coach, Jason Catron, was also in the room and he said that he could see improvement in my voice in that short singing lesson. Now I’m thinking, if I can improve in that short amount of time, how much better can I sing if I keep working at it?”
Ethan has also sent a stable of strong vocalists to Brett to get their expert opinion on the experience. “I literally try to challenge and stump Brett by sending him the BEST vocalists that I know personally and he consistently teaches them something they didn’t know about their own voice. Every single time, they come out wondering how and why they didn’t know the information that Brett taught them.”
These singers include Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer, Jimmy Gnecco of Ours, Mikky Ekko, Courtney Jaye (signed to Island Records), Kyle Andrews (Film and TV placements with Dell, Holiday Inn, Doritos), and Jeremy Lister (Runner-up on NBC’s Sing-Off), with each one having been blown away. You can watch their testimonials here: http://singingsuccess.com/testimonials
“Jimmy Gnecco said he hit notes he never even knew existed in his range,” Ethan said. “This reassured me that the Singing Success method is more than legit, it’s life-changing. Brett is a genius teaching people to hone in on their craft, from great singers, to those that couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket yesterday.”
Ethan said that in his role as an artist manager, he developed a test for knowing whether or not an artist was someone he wanted to help develop. This test is 100% out of your control but you know when someone passes it.
He calls the test, the hair-raising factor, where listening to an artist literally makes his hair stand on end.
He had this experience with two acts he managed that have gone on to sign major deals. The two acts were AutoVaughn (Epic Records 2007) and Ricky Young (Singer of a band on Interscope Records that is recording their first album in Spring 2011). He also had the same hair-raising response when he heard Mikky Ekko, Jeremy Lister, and Paper Route, to name a few.
“When music of that caliber enters your ears and tells your body to freak out, it’s overwhelmingly powerful and creates a feeling you can’t pirate like copying a CD. The live experience is the only thing that can’t be stolen or recreated… yet!” he said. “When I find something like that, I know I want to be involved as much as I can. To work with so many talented singers and to be a part of a company that helps people achieve their dreams and make other people’s hair stand up, that’s pretty cool.”
His Singing Successes
Since becoming CEO for Singing Success, he has spearheaded the launch of Mastering Mix, the best selling advanced singing program in the world for learning how to sing with the Mix Voice and to make experienced singers stronger.
He launched SingingSuccess.TV in August 2010. In less than a year, the online video singing lesson and support community has more than 16,000 subscribers with over 40,000 monthly visitors, and it’s growing on a daily basis.
He worked to form a partnership with YouTube that now offers more than 300 Singing Success videos that cover a variety of topics such as vibrato, high notes, compression, vocal warm-ups, range extension, phrasing, music genres, and others that can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/singingsuccess.
“Working here is so affirming,” he said. “Each day over 250 people sign up for our newsletter, join our YouTube channel, and add us on Facebook and Twitter and that tells me that word is getting around that Singing Success is worth looking into!”
Ethan has also worked to create joint ventures with the MasterWriter program for songwriters and also with Avon. He is committed to the ongoing integration and optimization of new technology, such as the iPhone app VoiceCoach that released in early February, 2011.
He’s developing new product offerings, with several designed to complement existing programs by exploring specific sub-topics in much more depth. “I’m hesitant to discuss specifics of the Research and Development initiatives that we are constructing, but I can assure you that Singing Success is about to revolutionize even more aspects of the vocal training industry by partnering with some GRAMMY-winning singers that are co-authoring up-and-coming products with Brett Manning.”
Several groundbreaking programs are also being developed as a result of customer demand and suggestions.
His Early Years
As a kid growing up in Hoosier territory, Ethan’s parents required him to play one sport and one musical instrument.
“I played baseball and was “compelled” to learn piano; but I switched to the drums, and then the guitar,” Ethan beamed. “In high school, the guitar helped me move up the social ladder because it was a great conversation piece and girls liked it!”
He came by his passion for music through his father who was an accomplished violinist.
Ethan listened to a wide variety of music as a child.
“I moved to Nashville to manage bands” he said. “I realized quickly that my passion was to be involved in the business side of the music business rather than as a performer. With my job at Singing Success, I look forward to getting up and coming to work every day. With a tight-knit group of incredible people that are part of the Singing Success staff, I know I’m doing right thing with my career. And the company is doing the right thing with my directives. It makes me want to get more singers in here.”
Art + Biz = Success
He firmly believes that in order to be successful, singers and artists need to strike a balance between their artistry and their business sense.
“So many talented artists don’t understand that it’s 2011, and record labels don’t hold your hand anymore,” he said. “They expect you to build a following, sell some records, utilize your viral marketing skills, and generate some press to prove that you have both talent and business savvy. You have to get out and put up posters. You need to create content daily and get out there performing as much as you can. To make it, you have to work your butt off. Just being good isn’t enough anymore!”
Focus On Vision
Ethan is committed to Brett’s vision of enhancing the unique strengths and qualities that an artist brings to the studio so that they can accomplish more with their voice.
“You have to be willing to put it all out there, to just be vulnerable so you can get better,” he said. “When you commit emotionally and mentally to singing, it opens up opportunities to grow stronger. I feel excited each morning to come in to work here, to help change lives for the better. Every morning I email myself a list of things I want to accomplish with Singing Success and when I get to the office we start chipping away at it. I am definitely the type of person who benefits from creating lists. The same way you make a shopping list to remember what items to buy, I use lists to remember what ideas I have and to ensure that we are working on them!”