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Tips for Singers:
How to Avoid the Sharks
by
Joy Fraizer - source Singer Magazine

Singer MagazineWhen artists and songwriters dream, some will do whatever it takes to make it real, no matter what the cost.

Every day our office receives calls and letters from artists and songwriters who have made career moves which have proven to be detrimental, costing them precious time and money. Often, they are discouraged. That burning desire for fame and fortune is all but extinguished. If you are planning a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, either to strike out on your own or in response to a magazine or newspaper ad...be careful. It is simply not as easy as some make it sound. Before committing to any agreement or contract, read, re-read, and then read the fine print once again. Don’t let your aspirations cloud your common sense!

In Nashville, misconceptions about the cost of producing a demo run rampant. While it’s true that all major labels are constantly seeking new talent, getting in to present your demo package to label execs, booking agents, publicists and managers requires persistence and patience. There are no guarantees of getting a record deal. In fact, if any organization promises you a hot recording deal, there is probably something hidden in the small print that you will come to regret later. My advice? Run! No one can offer you a major recording deal except a major record label. Even then you have no guarantees that you will ever have a hit record.

The Dilemma
Think for a moment. You are desperate to gain credibility within the recording industry. You need to be “in the loop.” To get there you have spent considerable time and money putting together the best presentation possible. Its been a lot of work and not something you entered into lightly. So delicate is the process in fact, that Karaoke Singer Magazine has presented, over the past year, an entire series dedicated to helping singers design a presentation package which should increase their chances.

If you followed that series of articles, you know that a proper presentation package includes a professionally recorded demonstration recording, high quality photographs and your biography. Often, artists want to obtain million-dollar deals on a dime-store budget by sacrificing quality for quantity in their demos. This is ludicrous from an industry standpoint. On the other hand, know exactly what the record label is really going to do for you.

Unprofessional recording companies make big promises with no intent to deliver. Their sole purpose is to make money off of the uneducated artist. Basement tapes are just that. It costs money to record a demo. However, it does not cost the thousands of dollars some unscrupulous companies will try to get from you. Remember...you are only as professional as your presentation.

Yes, there is help! People hire investment brokers to help with managing their financial assets because investing is risky. One bad move can cause a loss of thousands of dollars. The same holds true in the recording industry. You’re the talent. Just because you can sing doesn’t mean you automatically know how to manage your recording career. Artist development agencies are in the business of keeping you clear of sharks while helping you launch your career.

ADAs have the contacts and knowledge to help you attain your goals and objectives, and charge accordingly. It is wise to interview several of these agencies before deciding on one. Choosing a development agency can go a long way in protecting your limited finances and fragile ego. Each agency you interview should be able to show you samples of their work and provide company references. You are entitled to this information, especially since you are paying for the production deal out of your pocket.

Most development agencies will ask you to sign a production agreement. This is not a management contract. It is a document designed to protect you, the artist, from getting a poor quality recording package. Again... be cautious!

Sign nothing until you have had all questions and details explained completely. Even then it is advisable to consult with an entertainment attorney when you are dealing with agreements or contracts that you may not understand.

While it seems obvious, it’s important to keep your interests primary. There are decisions that you are very much in control of. If you consider all your options and make each decision carefully you may very well be on your way to success. The music business is not easy. Getting your first deal is not where the work ends, but where it all begins.

Now you’re in the loop
Don’t confuse signing with an artist development agency with landing a record deal. The ADA’s charge is to guide you toward getting a record deal. Artist development agencies have the contacts essential in getting hooked up with a record label. They are, in fact, your way into the loop. They can get your project heard by the appropriate industry professionals. Finding songs, hiring musicians, making telephone calls and shopping your product to the major labels is a time consuming endeavor. A good development agency should be able to open doors you could never open on your own.

Pack your bags?
There is a continuing debate in the industry as to whether or not you need to be in Nashville fulltime to work this business. Some artists trying to break into the music business think it is necessary to move to the “Music City” in order to pursue music as a career. This is not necessarily true.

Assuming you have transportation to get there when the need arises, you will probably be better off staying where you are and continuing life as you know it. Many artist development clients perform regularly in their home towns and surrounding areas. Giving this up to migrate to Nashville could be a huge mistake. Many desire to become demo artists for publishers and songwriters. They think that moving to Nashville will give them an immediate edge in the industry. Not so. This is a town where demo singing is as competitive as getting a major recording deal.

Nashville is full of “starving artists” waiting to make it big. It doesn’t make sense to walk away from your regular paying gigs to chase a dream that may take years to realize. Stay where you are and let your development agency be your voice in Nashville. That’s what they do. Act cautiously and keep pressing on along your road to fame.

Joy Fraizer and husband Jim are professional recording artists who own an artist development agency in Nashville, TN. They also host a monthly call-in radio talk show designed to help new artists. You can reach at (615) 834- 8576.

(reprinted with the kind permission of Singer Magazine)

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