The Anti-Formula For Success

Why does somebody make it as a singer, singer-songwriter, or band? Is there some magic formula that will guarantee success? Are there any common factors that vaguely contribute to a plan for success?

We live in a culture where we’ve become masters at hyping or marketing, creating a buzz. But that only goes as far as the public’s response and desire to hear more and see more. With the tough economic times we’re facing, people are much more discriminating about how they’ll spend their hard earned cash.

There really aren’t any surefire steps to follow in charting your singing success. There are many gifted, talented singers and singer-songwriters out there that work two or three “regular jobs” to support their muse.

Audience Appeal

One of the keys that factor into success is obvious: audience appeal. What makes them want to hear you, see you, buy your music, follow your career? Appeal to that, and you’re at least moving in the right direction.

The song you sing or write and the image you project must resonate with your audience. They either see themselves reflected in your work or they share the dreams, perspectives, hopes that come through. The audience feels you’re speaking for them, representing their hopes, fears, loves, frustrations, and experience.

We’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating, with a slight twist. In helping you explore and define your image you were asked to think about the singers and artists that you find appealing, the ones you looked up to or appreciated, your heroes and role models as performers. Now, set aside some time to think about those artists that you feel you can or could relate to personally as a friend or family member. Ask yourself what it is that you relate to. This will tell you something about what it is about them that connects with you outside of the performer. It’s the part that lives and breathes in everyday life.

Sell Yourself Without Selling Out

Now, take a look at what artists are selling. Then, ask yourself what it is that the audience needs or wants that they can identify with. What is it that touches the heart, uplifts the spirit, triggers thoughts and dreams? What is it musically or melodically that stays with you? Think about songs that you’re routinely drawn to or find yourself humming or singing to unwind or vent? This will give you a better read on who you are, what you like, and will put you on a more clearly defined track in terms of what you want to present will appeal to real needs of a listener and prompt them to want to hear more. So, you need to know yourself and understand your image, but you also need to find great songs that reflect and project that image.

Bottom Line: It’s A Business

One area where many creative types flounder is on the business side of things. They tend to turn off or reason their way out of becoming more business literate. But if you want to be successful and draw attention to yourself as a viable creative force in the industry, you have to stay informed.

There is tons of information available that will help you as a artist be able to assess yourself as a product or commodity. In the grand scheme of the numbers game, let’s face it, it’s all about profit margins, ticket sales, itunes downloads. But don’t freak out. There is some practical research and education that is artist friendly.

For at least once a day take time to read industry-related business materials, websites, trade papers. Get on line and search for music business blogs. Study the charts to see what’s selling and know what people are listening to. And always relate it to what you bring to the table as an artist. Ask yourself, where do I fit in? What do I have to say on this issue? How do I see this differently? Relate to the trends personally and see how that can be translated into music and performance through songs you sing and image issues. Read music reviews of concerts, new releases, even theatre.

Honesty Is The Only Policy

On the road to your singing success you must remain brutally honest with yourself about what things you are and aren’t willing to do in order to make it. Ask yourself, what kind of image do you want? What kind of lasting impression do you want to make? How do you want to be remembered or defined? Do you want to be a role model? Do you want to be mysterious or aloof? Speak to current trends in the culture and put your own spin on them. If you want to be remembered for your uniqueness, ask yourself, what makes you different. And then, don’t bury it or get rid of it. Use that uniqueness to your advantage.

Get together with others, or at least one other person, who will hold you accountable and put together a workable plan for strengthening your knowledge of the business side of things while continuing to hone your craft and sharpen your image as a singer, performer, entertainer, or singer-songwriter.

Know yourself, know the market, and map out a plan for your unique market share.