When you’re thinking about building a career as a recording artist, you’re really talking about turning yourself into a multi-layered, multi-faceted business empire. It only takes one person to sing, but it takes a team to build a career.
Your team must include a producer, a lawyer, a manager and an agent. And while there are certainly other members you use on your team, like publishers and, of course, a voice coach, these guys and their counterparts are absolutely crucial to your success. When do you need them? Really, it’s a question of which comes first—the chicken or the booking agent?
How do you know when and how to start building this team of yours? You might be surprised to learn that it all starts with YOU. Can you answer yes to these questions? If not, perhaps you need to wait a while before bringing the professionals into the picture.
1. Have a substantial history of playing out?
2. Get paid for your performances?
3. Have a fan base?
4. Have original material?
5. Have a good 3 song demo?
6. Have a recording that a radio station would consider playing in place of an established star?
7. Have a large social media following? (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Reverbnation)
If you can’t answer yes to these seven questions then perhaps you are not ready to run out and start looking for a manager. After all, if you don’t already have these things in place, what would a manager manage?
Record labels no longer spend money to develop a singer -- those days are long gone. You must already be a star, larger than life, before you start to assemble your team. Spend this time working on you, the product. Work on your voice, songwriting, and performance skills.
Don't wait until you are working in the music business to learn how the music business works. Be prepared. Knowledge is always the best defense. Educate yourself. Read everything you can about the business in which you intend to excel.
One of the most frustrating for me as a vocal coach is that I’m often put in a difficult position when a young singer comes to me excited about getting ready to pitch a demo or a completed album to the labels. If I feel in my heart they are not ready, I’m not shy about making my feelings known. But I also realize that if they don't heed my initial hints, there's probably no stopping them.
Sometimes I suggest they "A-B" themselves with leading singers on the radio. Sit in a car in the dark, with a great car stereo surround sound system and listen to your favorite artists and then to cuts you have recorded. Then listen back and forth.
I try to get people to imagine that they are a radio program director pondering, "Let’s see, will I play the new Carrie Underwood single today or the new Mary Smith single? Let’s see, Carrie Underwood? Mary Smith? Mary Smith? Carrie Underwood? Uh, I think I’ll play Mary Smith today and the new one from Carrie tomorrow." When you can honestly imagine that, then I would say you might be ready.
Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams reveals the trade secrets that have already helped hundreds of aspiring singers become celebrities: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera...
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