Don Reed -
budding artists, the sky's the limit.
your life you've been told that you're a great singer. You sang
in the high school chorus, church choir, and now you have three
or four karaoke hot spots that you frequent on a regular basis.
Everywhere you go, your friends and peers tell you that you
ought to move to Nashville and try to make it big. You hear
things like "You should record an album," and "Why
aren't you singing professionally?"
already know it's not quite that simple. And the reality is,
Nashville is full of starving artists. The music business resembles
the NBA (National Basketball Association). There are thousands
of high school basketball teams and hundreds of college teams,
but there are only twenty-nine pro basketball teams, each with
only fifteen to twenty players. That's it. Out of the 50,000
plus individuals playing basketball every year at the high school
and college level, less than 500 make it to the big time. That's
less than one percent.
The reality is, landing a big recording contract or number one
hit presents a similar scenario. But, this in no way means that
pursuing your dream of becoming a professional,successful vocalist
is hopeless. In fact, quite the opposite. The key is setting
your goals, determining your strengths and then beginning to
capitalize on them.
so many venues and opportunities for you to exercise your talents.
Jobs like demo and back-up singers, radio and TV commercial
artists, voice-over talent for ad agencies, and casinos and
cruise ships all employ vocalists professionally, and pay fairly
well. The important thing to remember is no matter weather you
are pursuing a major label recording contract or the lead singer
position in a New York musical, there are certain basic criteria
that you'll need to know and understand.
Your approach to the executive branches of the music industry
must impress decision-makers. In many cases, your first impression
could be your last. It is important to follow the industry guidelines
for submission of your demo in order for it to be labeled as
solicited material. The following guidelines do not insure success,
however, they will helpyou impress the people you are trying
to reach, thus placing you further up the industryladder.
must have talent. This is a given, and by now you know in your
heart if you truly have the talent to be working professionally.
You must have a positive attitude. This industry is full of
bumps in the road. You must always keep your chin up.
Be determined. You know the cliche, If at first you don't succeed
. . . Very few artists make it without paying their dues. Tenacity
You must be able to take rejection. You may have to knock on
a thousand doors before anyone will even care to know your name.
Know that going into it. And when you're turned down, always
thank the executive for the opportunity. Never leave someone
with a bad last impression. You never know when you might see
Develop a style of your own. Watch others and borrow certain
aspects, but create your own image. Unless you're serious about
impersonating Elvis professionally, stop acting like him.
There's No Free Lunch
You must have an airplay quality demo and press kit for presenting
yourself to industry executives. They both require money, and
almost always out of your pocket. Dont believe the statement,
"if youre good enough, you dont have to pay."
It is a complete myth that a record company will pay your way.
True, once you've signed a deal, things become a little different.
However as an unknown, becoming known is up to you. One way
or another, you will be responsible for the money it takes to
get started. Set up a budget to begin saving money. The less
you go into debt to promote yourself, the better off you'll
be. The people who make decisions regarding signing new talent
put their jobs on the line when they sign and commit resources
to an unknown artist. From their perspective, it is much safer
to invest in an artist who already has some sort of track record
and following. One good example is Country recording artist
Chris LeDoux. He sold 250,000 copies of his music from the back
of his pickup truck long before any major label was involved.
You must be willing to work for yourself if you expect others
to help you! There is no substitute for honest, consistent effort
on your own behalf.
Through the use of the Internet, your audio or video performance
can be e-mailed to every branch of the music industry. This
type of promotion is very affordable and increases your chance
of being seen and heard by decision-makers.
advice of legal council trained in the music business. Learn
the laws pertaining to the music business. Understand copyrite
and royalties issues. Especially if you're writing original
material, you'll want to know how to protect your work and gain
full credit if you ever try to sell it.
with companies related to the music business. Many jobs related
to the music business will give you a better understanding of
the industry and possibly put you in a position to get to know
someone who can help you further your career. Jobs like audio
or video engineering, working for booking agents and management
companies, and working with advertising agencies for radio and
television commercials, are just some of the possibilities.
Contact the convention bureau nearest you and inquire about
a membership in the bureau. This could give you access to names
and addresses of the contact persons in charge of hiring entertainment
for the corporate functions coming into the area. You may be
able to gain some additional exposure by getting to know these
Learn how to recognize companies that are only interested in
your money, not your career. Know exactly what these companies
are going to do for you and get it all in writing. Consult a
music attorney before signing anything. It's very easy to spend
$3,500 for a poorly produced cassette tape demo and a black
and white photo. Ask lots of questions. Ask for referrals. Talk
to others who have used their service. Thousands of talented
singers and songwriters audition each year for the music and
recording Industry. Their goal is to become a recording artist.
Not having the proper education about the recording and entertainment
industry, many fall prey to companies charging thousands of
dollars for useless demos.
you get the picture. Education is the key to success in the
music industry. Become an expert on every aspect of the field.
Your future as a singing professional depends on it.
it an investment into you dreams. It won't always be an easy
task, but in the end, whatever the outcome, you can have a real
sense of knowing you did your best. And after all, that's all
we can ever ask of anyone.
Reed is a music consultant.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit his web site at www.yourmusiccareer.com.
with the kind permission of Singer