“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” - Plato -
First off let me say this. I am not a fan of performing gigs for free in the hope of getting ‘exposure’. Even though I’m not a vocalist (I’m a musician) I have also been burnt by that route early in my career. I’ve been given some food and shown the door. I do not advocate it as you can be easily taken advantage of. This series is not about that.
A vocalist, whether new to the industry or a seasoned pro, needs to have access to gigs that are meaningful, fulfilling and profitable. These gigs can take many forms. Not only are the ‘normal’ gigs of performing onstage are available, but there are jobs open in the advertising, gaming, film and education industries.
Breaking Into the Market
1.The first ‘do’ I would greatly encourage is to seek vocal training. Having your friends and family saying you can sing is nice but their views are biased. Nothing beats the harsh reality of an impartial vocal coach giving their opinion on your voice, your range, what needs to be improved and what training regimen needs to be undertaken. This has been advocated by world-famous vocal coach, Renee Grant-Williams. Knowledge about proper breathing techniques, nutrition, rest and knowledge of human anatomy are essential to maximize vocal potential. Practice …. and when you feel you’ve practiced enough …. practice some more.
2. Learn a repertoire of songs. This is vital as it shows your range. Even if you are partial to a particular genre you can still find a lot of manoeuvrability to express yourself. You have to find out, and utilize, the skills and qualities that set you apart from other vocalists.
3. Network, network, network!! Get your name out there. Find out where bands rehearse, join musician groups, check newspapers and online for bands or groups looking for singers (either lead or backup), go to conferences and audition in local, regional and national competitions.
4. Make social media your servant. The use of this tool gives you the ability to market yourself to the widest amount of people with the least amount of marketing dollars. The true cost to maintain (and widen) your digital footprint is effort and time. I would advise though that you obtain a website to market yourself instead of solely relying on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. These sites are not yours. The companies who own these sites change policies, appearance and ease of use on a regular basis. It is better to have your website as the main hub for information and use social media to spread your works and direct readers back to your website.
5. Do not use sex to get ahead. You may think that it will be kept secret but news can (and will) spread VERY fast within the music community. Your aspirations will be much harder to achieve, people who are capable to help you will respect you a LOT less and if they do you may find yourself in a very compromising position only to receive scraps. I have already given this advice to a few of my female friends in the industry here that you do not have to do ‘horizontal work’ to get ahead in this business. Keep your integrity.
This is a good start. What do you think? Leave your comments below. We will be continuing with Part 2 in my next blog in this series.