For Your Supper"
(Want to make a living with your voice?)
in the days of the gold rush, California was a magnet for those
looking to strike it rich.
the few who hit pay dirt became celebrities, the real financial
winners were selling picks and shovels. Each year, the music
business touts the success of a handful of artists which makes
the rest of us feel left out. Take heart. The riches of a relative
few are no gage of your talent or your chances for recognition.
The coveted seven figure record contract is not the only game
in town. Just as opportunistic entertainers gladly sang for
their supper in the saloons along Tin Pan Alley, there are many
options available today for making a living with your voice.
A common mistake, though, is to think of these alternative career
paths as something to fall back on.
in any niche of this business takes nothing less than everything
youíve got. However, this becomes much less of a burden if youíre
personality type matches the gig. To sustain yourself as a street
musician, for instance, would require you perform well without
the defines of stage or schedule. Some singers relish the idea
of breaking down the barrier between performer and audience,
and the chance to sing for hours on end, while others are intimidated
by the prospect. If the street seems too hostile, yet you want
to avoid the politics and smoke of the clubs, there are plenty
of outlets to make a musical dime. Retirement homes, hospitals
or corporate parties are always open to new ideas for shows.
You donít even need an ability to play an instrument, sequencers
and Karaoke tracks have become widely excepted by audiences
-- as long as the idea is okay with you. Be aware that the more
formal the setting, though, the more you will be expected to
entertain. It is not a given that youíll need a repertoire of
cover songs; I know plenty of singers who perform originals
for a living. Just make sure the audience matches your genre.
cover songs seems to be the most under appreciated music related
occupation. It requires a lot more than just pulling together
a bunch of musicians and learning the current top forty. You
will be in competition with bands who honestly love the songs
they play and are focused and relentless with promotion and
mailing list duties. These bands will get the gigs and you will
be frustrated that your back-up plan requires so much effort.
Also remember, weddings and functions require you to act as
MC. If you canít imagine yourself smiling while leading, "The
Bride Cuts the Cake," then donít even ponder the potential of
hundreds of dollars for a few hourís work. Itís not for you.
career options for singers who canít envision themselves on
stage. Studio sessions and voice lessons can provide a great
living, but youíve got to have chops-o-plenty. Session singers
are vocal nijaís. They are hired to check their egos at the
door, lay down precision singing, and then leave in a flash.
Voice teachers run the gambit from those who combine their studies
in music, psychology, anatomy and physical therapy to singers
who simply hand down exercises theyíve learned along the way.
Regardless of level, sustaining a career as a voice teacher
requires you posses the patience of a saint.
If any of
these paths smell of artistic compromise then do yourself a
favor and cross them off your list immediately. Itís tempting
to think you can pull off any situation for the right price
but the philosophy will backfire every time. Emotional reservations
show in the voice. Not only will you be financially unsuccessful
-- you will doubt your talent. Itís a lose/lose situation. Finding
the right fit between personality and career takes time. An
honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses is a good
place to start. A healthy respect for those who are parting
with their cash for your abilities is a good place to finish.
Itís not like we have a choice. Weíve all got to sing, and weíve
all got to eat.
Baxter is a vocal therapist
who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call:
(800)659-6002. Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com
with the kind permission of Mark