Success doesn’t start with having the right answers, it begins with asking the right questions. Ask yourself the following questions, record or write down your responses and keep them handy. Use it as a marker in terms of getting back on track or making adjustments due to changing perspectives. It’s a great way to chart your growth and help you stay connected and grounded in a business that often seems so chaotic and as if things are spinning out of control.
But fresh, new voices will arrive, along with new visions. And tastes change, it’s all part of a never-ending life cycle or more often than not, a recycle. Just like the world spins, so does the world of music, and the climates change along with socioeconomic shifts and influences.
Your Fan Base Or Target Market
One of the most important questions to ask is who is your fan base or target market? In other words, who do you reach? As you delve deeper into this look for common factors that help you further define the people you reach. Then, ask yourself what needs to be done to meet the needs of your fan base. Are there specific themes in the songs you sing? Is it your look or image they relate to? Is it your voice or singing style that grabs their attention?
As you begin to get a following, take time to get feedback so that you gain a strong sense of what’s connecting, what isn’t; what’s desired, and so on. As a singer you are a communicator and the more you can do off-stage or outside of the studio to relate to your fan base, the better, smarter choices you will make in growing your audience.
Ask yourself, why it is you sing, or write and sing if you’re also a songwriter, or play and sing if you’re a musician as well. Know what you value most from singing and making music, and respect those values. By gaining an understanding of what you value and what drives you to perform, it will help you with choice of material, booking venues, further refining your image, and will help you connect with your fan base. It further enhances communication in the sense that it lets you know what it is that drives you to deliver messages or evoke feelings that will resonate with your audience.
Ask yourself to define success. Make note of three to five things that would serve as markers to let you know that you are achieving success. These can always be adjusted as your career grows. This will help you stay focused and grounded while allowing you to stretch and push the envelope as a performer, singer, writer, or musician. When you look at these markers that define success, note where you’re falling short or feel dissatisfied. Then, make adjustments that will get you on track and move you in the right direction.
Some practical questions for songwriters include are your songs registered for copyright protection? Have any of your songs been published? Have you affiliated with BMI, ASCAP or SESAC? Do you sing your demos or do you find the right session singer for songs that your voice doesn’t fit? These are steps to take in making your dream real, staking your claim, and in advancing your legitimacy as a songwriter. Remember, your song is a product. You want to ensure its quality and proper delivery in the market.
Are you getting feedback? Be sure to get regular feedback not only from fans, supporters, friends, and family, but also from any music business contacts you have made. Invite feedback. But avoid the tendency to lose touch with what it is that you bring to the table as an artist. The business is very “trendy” in the sense that it goes through phases or waves. These trends are important to acknowledge and examine. But don’t imitate them. Study them and extract what you can that may be of use. Use feedback to also determine whether or not what you want to project is working. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Role Play As If
Practice your communication skills in person, as well as on the phone. Act out scenarios with friends, situations like what to do if you forget or lyric or you’re off pitch. Act out situations where you’re meeting with a potential manager or booking agent. Practice performing while friends interrupt or heckle you. That’s a great exercise for concentration and for keeping your cool. Remember, the unexpected may show up at any given moment so you need to be able to react to it, pick up, and move on without missing a beat or note.