One of the basic objectives put forth in Brett Manning’s coaching is to bring out, strengthen, and support what uniquely defines your voice. The challenge comes with feedback that is framed in terms of pigeon-holing or categorizing and then marketing you as a singer, singer-songwriter, or performer.
Whether we like it or not, this issue of grooming you in terms of marketability while being viewed as a product is a fact of life in the music business. For you as an artist, it requires taking a good hard look at what you can live with in terms of how your voice is defined, your image is designed, and the marketing package is refined. And, you need to identify what’s unacceptable or even dangerous.
To help you live with any choices you may have to make for the sake of mass appeal, you have to know yourself, be confident, and be comfortable with who you are on the inside. Otherwise you may fall prey to becoming a people pleaser and doing things that are self-destructive; things that work against what drives your heart and feeds your spirit.
Be True To Your Cool
If you’re talented, grounded, driven to succeed, but won’t compromise for the sake of marketing pressure, you will most likely have to travel a much longer, even lonelier road to success. On the positive side you’ll have a career you can live with, not be ashamed of or embarrassed by, and the bumps in the road won’t come from issues of self-abuse. As long as you stay committed to your gift with integrity and are talented, you will succeed at some point!
The danger with not knowing yourself, or being so caught up in the drive to be a star with benefits, is what happens to you on the inside. If you instinctually do not agree with what you are putting out in the public arena as a performer, you will begin to self-destruct in your personal and private life. That will also ultimately help to define and undo your public life as a performer.
One of the things to become clear on is why you want to sing or perform or write – whatever your gift or gifts. You need to set aside some quiet time to ask yourself a few pointed questions that will give you a better sense of where you’re coming from. These questions simply get you to look at motivation, desire, and other emotional factors that not only serve as driving forces, but they can also make you vulnerable to manipulation, compliance, injury, and self-destruction. You want to identify these feelings so that you can objectively consider the pros and cons of any consequences and circumstances.
There are five simple questions that will help you get a read on what you want, what you need, and what it may cost you. These questions are: Why do I sing (or perform or write)? What do I treasure most about how it makes me feel, and why? What do I want my audience to take to heart from what I offer? Who are three people I know that I want to see pleased by my success? Is it more important to be respected or to be popular?
It’s best to consider each question one day at a time. In other words, take five full days to think through and respond to each question, one by one. You can write out your thoughts or speak them into a recorder, whichever works best for you. It’s important to set aside separate days so that your responses don’t influence or feed off of each other. But you must take time to honestly answer each daily question as completely as you can.
When the fifth question is answered, don’t go back and review your responses until a full week has passed. Resist the temptation to change your responses during the week. You want to give yourself a break from responding so that you’ll be in a position to review what you’ve written or recorded with fresh eyes and a little distance.
So how exactly can what these questions reveal help with advancing your career? Plenty! It will give you a sense of your personal inner truths and values, as well as make you more aware of external factors that will make appeals to wants, needs, wishes, dreams, hurts, hopes, cravings, and goals.
It will give you a clearer picture of who you are without the influence of image consultants, market research, product development, stylists, booking agents, managers, and others that will have a hand in shaping your career.
Stand Firm In A Fickle Market
The bottom line is that you need to know who are you and what you stand for. How it feels to share your gift will give you a clearer sense of internal versus external drivers. For example, if you can be happy singing and not making money or feel fulfilled as a singer by playing to an empty house, you’ll survive emotionally, which is a good sign. But, of course, you need an audience. You want to attract a growing fan base in order to have a viable career.
You need to look at those three people you want your craft and art to please, and consider where they’re coming from. You need to look at what you want your audience to receive because what it says about what it is in others you hope to reach or connect with, says a lot about motivating factors in you. It’s also critical to see that the issue of respect and success is not one of being entirely exclusive of one another. You need to understand that they can and often overlap.
Share Your Cares
Get together with a close friend or fellow artist to discuss your responses, but only after you’ve had time to do your own, private, deeply personal self-evaluation. There are so many potentially invasive, viral influences that can sabotage the pursuit of a career in music. So being grounded, having a healthy perspective, and positive support, should be one of your first priorities. It must also remain an ongoing concern of the highest order as a tool for survival in this industry. It will help you thrive once you arrive on the road to your success as a singer, player, writer, or performer.