by Coreen Sheehan
Every performance has the potential to impact your career, so it is important to choose the right songs to perform for auditions, showcases and live performances. The comments made by judges, A&R reps and audiences can either help or hurt your prospects for success at your audition, showcase or bookings. Preparing to nail any one of these performances takes a lot of thought before you even begin rehearsing. In the following article, professional singer and instructor Coreen Sheehan offers insights that every performing artist should take to heart.
1. It Must Be PERFECT
Always perform songs that you have honed to perfection. Do not choose songs that you can’t perform flawlessly. If you can play or sing the song at 98 percent, that’s still not good enough! Find a way to correct that two percent or choose something you can perform perfectly. For example, if that two percent is a higher note that is difficult to sing, then sing a lower alternate note that you can deliver perfectly.
However, if there’s another problem you can’t fix in time for the performance, choose a different song. Think about a time when you went to a show and the artist performed great up to a point, but then suddenly played or sang some bad notes. What did you remember about that show? The bad notes are more than likely what you remembered. Most people won’t say, “Well, let’s ignore all the flaws in that performance and only think about the good parts.” In the real world, it doesn’t work out that way. Obviously mistakes can happen during a live show, but if there’s a problem that you know about in advance, avoid showcasing until you’ve solved it by working out the issue(s).
2. Choose the Right Songs for the Audition
If you are instructed to perform only a single song, choose one that is up-tempo. If you are instructed to choose two songs, choose an up-tempo song and a moderate to slower tempo song. Perform the up-tempo song first, followed by the slower song. Often judges will have you perform the first verse and chorus of the song and make their decision based upon just that. Vocalists often think that singing a ballad is the best move. But they may not realize that the judges have been auditioning vocalists all day, or for days! And guess what the judges have been listening to all day long? Ballads. If you sing an up-tempo song, and you sound awesome, you will energize the atmosphere. Grabbing the judges’ attention immediately will help your performance stand out from the rest.
3. Choose the Right Songs for the Showcase
Normally a three song setlist is performed for a showcase event. Showcasing your songs with versatility is best. Your performance should include an up-tempo, slower-tempo and moderate-tempo song selection. Each song should represent your music genre. Sometimes bands/solo artists will play an original song that sounds like it belongs to another genre category. To a professional that will suggest the artists haven’t found their sound yet. It is best to prepare three of your best songs that represent your style and genre. You should also rehearse with segues from one song into another without interruption so that there is a smooth transition from song to song and that all songs are not in the same key. Without a segue, the dead space between each song can seem a bit awkward, especially since you’re only performing three songs. Prepare properly and rock your showcase with segues so you will appear to be a professional.
4. Choose the Right Songs for the Live Performance
Arrange your setlist so it has a dynamic musical flow. When selecting the order of the setlist, make sure that each song’s tempo/BPM (beats per minute) as well as the key signature vary from song to song. The first song and last song of the setlist should be an up-tempo song. It is also important that the first song is one that you can play and sing perfectly without exceptional monitors. Why? Usually during the first song of the set, the M.E. (monitor engineer) and the F.O.H. (front of house) are usually tweaking sound levels, so keep this in mind when selecting your first song. In between the first and last songs, choose those that have different tempos from one another. For example, add a few segues between songs and also allow space between songs for the lead vocalist to speak and interact with the audience. Arranging the song setlist in this order will ensure that your live performance has a dynamic flow.
5. You Must Put in the Time
It is imperative to maintain a regimented rehearsal schedule regardless of upcoming performances. Otherwise, cramming rehearsals will inevitably result in fatigue, which will create further problems. Record audio/ video during your rehearsals and then review and critique yourself. You will positively learn what you need to practice and perfect before your upcoming audition, showcase or live performance.
6. Deliver Pure Emotion
This is what performing is all about! To emote fully in performance, you must allow yourself to let go. “Letting go” means not worrying or doubting yourself. Focusing on what might go wrong prior to performing will vibe-slay the performance. If you fill your head with doubt and worry before getting on stage, the odds will be against you delivering a flawless performance. Instead, think of how much work you’ve put into preparing your songs and what inspired you to perform them. The objective here is to tap that original emotion, that place where you were when you were first inspired to play and sing. If you can tap that emotion, that special energy, you will feel confident and, as a result, stack the odds in favor of you delivering a spectacular performance!
(Reprint permission by Music Connection)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
COREEN SHEEHAN is a co-author of the new book Five Star Music Makeover published by Hal Leonard Inc. She has toured with major artists (Foo Fighters) worldwide, coached vocalists for a VH1 show who were singing with Rod Stewart and instructs and guest lectures at Musicians Institute, M.I. Japan, the Grammy Museum, UCLA Extension and more. See coreensheehan.net.
For more information on the IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
Top Seven Rules For Getting Music Gigs
by Tessie Barnett & Jessica Brandon
Are you looking for Gigs? Here are a few helpful tips for the best practices in the gig business.
Many artists and professionals have built a solid, organic following with their talent but struggle to get beyond a certain threshold. It’s a point at which some artists give up and others get big. It is possible to grow your business to the level of name and brand recognition. It just takes consistent movement, time, and exposure. By incorporating these tips into your own business, you can attract loyal clients and jump to the next level in your career.
When you’re performing or engaging with your fans, there needs to be energy—and lots of it. An audience can very clearly see when an artist has become stagnant or bored. Having experience in your field is a benefit for obvious reasons, but after the initial excitement of performing wears off, you should be aware of how that affects your output.
Try to push yourself at all times. What would be an unusual addition to the song you’ve gotten hundreds of requests for? What could you bring as a visually appealing element to your performance? How can you get closer to the audience? The performers who involve their fans make a lasting impact, and those fans are eager to tell others about it.
Too often, entertainers will pass up an opportunity to perform because it doesn’t pay well—or at all. Yes, it’s a controversial subject and this is your livelihood we’re talking about. But in order to increase your exposure and networking opportunities, it’s going to require a little give and take.
Charity and nonprofit functions are just a few events that will request donated performances. We’ve seen many artists advance their business by taking advantage of this outreach. The event organizers responsible for raising funds for a particular cause have to entice people to attend. What better way to do that than with live entertainment? With that in mind, they’ll promote your talent to the community as it benefits you both.
These charitable events are typically attended by community leaders, business owners and journalists, so the exposure and networking opportunities can be well worth a performance donation.
Speaking of networking…
It’s imperative to take advantage of the outreach capabilities available through social media. These days, artists are able to connect with fans more than ever, so it’s become easier for them to expect this direct engagement. In order to gain traction in your industry and build a loyal following, you’ll want to make yourself accessible. Your social media platforms can be used to promote your talent, of course, but it has increasingly become a way for your followers to get to know the person behind the talent.
Networking is about creating ongoing relationships. As your business grows and your calendar starts to fill up quicker, you may find it difficult to maintain each of these relationships. Your network can evolve on its own simply by displaying client reviews on your website. A recent consumer review survey showed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Request reviews from your client right after a show when your performance is still fresh on their mind. This is the optimal time for feedback. Fans are still pumped by your intense energy and often times want to give back any way they can.
Another benefit to the review process is that it requires the client to list details that, over time, could be forgotten. Because they took the time to reflect, your performance can be imprinted in their memory which will make them more likely to recommend you.
We’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with any new trends or practices that can help you get more gigs. Until then, be passionate, be open, and be everywhere.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” -Steve Jobs
There is a need to be not just “good enough”, but GREAT. Why settle for less? Whatever developing stage you are at, go beyond it, re-commit yourself to your instrument or voice. Take lessons, or better yet, sit yourself down and watch on YouTube or at your CD player and choose a favorite musicians record, and listen closely to what they are playing. then re-play it, and re-play it again. Challenge yourself to go beyond your limitations. Who knows, maybe you will fall into some new territory, wherein you will find yourself, your “sound”, and increase your chance to stand out from all the mediocrity that is your competition.
Believe it or not, record labels love to hear innovative, accessible new sounds. Actually in their heart of hearts, that is what they are really hoping to hear on every new demo, and from every new act they go see at a live venue. You see, in the business of music, when we hear something new, original, and accessible to people, we can then invest in you with more security, believing that if we put our “label brand” on you, with our talents of promotion and marketing coming to the front, then we “have something”, and your music becomes our music, and we work together to broaden you audience appeal.
To some this is a regular, fundamental practice. To others, there isn’t much thought put into it, or they don’t make one at all.
There are several advantages to taking the time to write out a set list:
When each band member knows what song is next, the show will run much smoother.
You can properly time your set.
You’ll learn how to make the show flow and reduce or eliminate “dead-air.”
You’ll be able to go back over it and review what worked and what didn’t work.
There is a definite art to constructing a good set list – especially one that works well over and over again. When it’s done correctly, you’ll consider keys, tempos, genres, and especially – your audience, and put it in an order that makes sense.
The primary objective is to take people on a ride by dictating the mood in the room with the way you put your sets together. Creating and utilizing great segues and medleys is also a must to keep things moving and to keep the crowd engaged. With practice and tweaking, you can come up with brilliant set lists that make your band look like pros.
This is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of your live show. There are many factors to consider including your genre, the ability of the musicians in the band, the venue, and the type of gigs you are playing.
The priority here, of course, is to make sure that the crowd is enjoying the show. If someone has walked into the room where you’re performing, they’ll be much more likely to stay if they like the songs you’re playing. You’ll never be able to please everyone, so you want to focus on what the majority of people want to hear. It’s important to always remember that you are not playing for you, but rather, you’re playing for the people that are listening to you.
As previously mentioned, your show and song list should be catered to the people in attendance. If you have a regular following, you should have a good idea of the kind of music that they expect to hear you play. Just like a company that has a physical product that they are looking to sell, your band has to have an intimate understanding of what the people want.
One of the best ways to determine the preferences of the crowd is to simply talk to them individually. Ask them what they like and don’t like, why they like you, and how they think you could improve. Quite often, you won’t even have to ask, and people will just voluntarily offer up information. Your job in this case is to simply pay attention and take it all in. Then you can process what you have to work with and base your presentation on what will yield the best results for everyone involved.
GigSalad is the largest entertainment booking platform in the U.S. and Canada. This marketplace connects event hosts with entertainment. GigSalad can help you do what you love. www.GigSalad.com
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
7 Ways to Improve Your Music Recordings
by Jessica Brandon
Today, I’d like to give you 7 ways to help you meet your music recordings and help you grow yourself as a music artist.
A lot of musicians/music artists waste a ton of money on demos/recordings because they haven’t spent enough time choosing the right sound for their music act. Get clear about who you yourself as a music artist/band and who your audience is. Once you do this, you’ll cut your waste to zero and start getting maximum results from all your music.
If you are still comparing and competing with other music artists, then your Sound needs work. We get comment from music artists describing themselves “I sound just like Ani DiFranco, but better”, or “I sound like the band “Kings of Leon, but more acoustic sounding”. Create a sound that makes your music the clear and only choice for your audience.
When you have run of ideas, you may want to co-writer with another songwriter or producer who may bring other ideas to the table to help you with your next song.
Are you tired of your homemade recordings, sound and need fresh ideas? You may need to look for a professional recording studio and seek a music producer (with whom the recordings that the bands you recorded you respect).
If you have a regular gig at a club (or try out at an Open Mic event), you may try performing your song and see what kind of reaction from the audience you get. If it doesn’t work, you can always tweek the lyrics and chord progressions when you get home.
Competition for attention of you and your songs are at an all time high. Too many music acts are sloppy and don’t give enough care to creating good, relevant, compelling songs —consistently. Learn the fundamentals of crafting compelling songs and resist the temptation to just whip something up and get it out. Poor songwriting will alienate your audience—sometimes permanently. While a consistent compelling songs will get them wanting you more.
You might be surprised how many of your great music and song ideas have “gone missing”. Record your ideas on your smart phone or voice recorder as you go through your day. Just a one line change, a lyric change, a chord change may dramatically improve your song and go from good to great!
Doing one of these things will improve your recordings. Doing all of them could make a tremendous impact. Pick one or two to start and once you’ve implemented them; move on to another one (or two) on the list.
To enter the IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
Musician Tips: Music, Marketing and Me
by Grant Genske
Music is one of the few things that come quite naturally for me; I don’t know why I love it, but every day I wake up and know that I am excited to keep writing, recording and singing. It’s been that way for a while now. I spent most of my gangly, awkward childhood listening to my father’s old Led Zeppelin CDs, stumbling through piano lessons, and waiting until my family left the house so that I could practice shout-singing My Chemical Romance songs. Though my tastes have changed, music has always been at the center of my life.
Although musical expression is almost instinctual for me, ideas surrounding “brand awareness and development” have, for a long time, felt clunky and awkward. I think that this stems from being genuinely shy as a child and disdaining self-promotion, or maybe from being raised protestant (I learned early on that God doesn’t like a show-off).
When I first began recording myself, I felt uninspired doing cover videos, which, for many artists, seems to be the most viable social vehicle in the YouTube/ Soundcloud era. I hated sitting in front of a camera, with no audience, and presenting myself for all the world to critique. I generally thought, “I am very bored watching myself do this, so why would anyone else want to watch me do this?”
I did not see much potential for advancement of my career until I discovered my ability to write music. At that point, I became highly engrossed in the process of creation – currently, I write anywhere between 1-3 songs per day and record demos almost as frequently. I rediscovered a passion for music and dedicated my life to writing and recording, and that was when I ran into the problem: how do I get people to listen?
I am happy to say that my work as a social media marketer continues to provide answers to that question. It has made me more confident in my self-promotion, and it has made the process of audience development feel a lot more natural. The following lessons are my musings on what has worked well for me – they may or may not work for you, but I think there is some universality in all of them.
Your personal network is important and highly relevant to your success, but at the end of the day your career is reliant on capturing the attention of people who you may never meet. I was very good at getting my friends to pay attention to my work, but once I started collaborating with people around the world, I realized that I needed to be working to get people who had never met me to engage with my music.
As much as we love to glorify the X-Factor stars and social media sensations who seem to become successful overnight, most musicians have been working for years to gather fans before they hit their big break. It makes sense to assume that you are going to have to build your fan base yourself if you are truly committed to having a sustained career.
There are many ways to organically do this; you can design graphics to give engaged users a shout-out, you can give away signed merchandise at your shows, or plan surprise shows and invite your most active fans as a reward. I would also suggest looking to curators to grow your reach – these include YouTube/ Soundcloud accounts that post new music and bloggers who write about your genre. You cannot do all the legwork yourself.
Technology cannot replace originality and authenticity, but damn if it doesn’t help with making the work easier. I am a strong advocate of using tools like Crowdfire to organically grow a Twitter following or utilizing websites like EDM Lead to convert Soundcloud downloads to follows. If you have money to spend on marketing, investigate how you might run a targeted campaign with Facebook.
Nothing good happens overnight, so be wary of “get followers quickly” schemes – they aren’t worth your time and they rarely work. Get comfortable with tools and with doing something small every single day to keep your fan base growing.
Over the past 2 months, I used social growth techniques to to more than double my Twitter following, triple my Soundcloud following, and increase my Facebook likes by 125%. I never spent more than 15 minutes per day doing any work, and I saw strong returns because I learned how to integrate organic interaction and technological innovation. More importantly, though, my followers are engaged and interacting with my posts, and I am actually cultivating a community around my music.
Instagram is the platform where we see the most brand interaction, and studies on Instagram success point to brand consistency as being a really important factor in conversion to follows. This means both posting with some regularity and posting content that is somehow thematically linked.
Brand fundamentals include color palette, tonal consistency and anything that makes you unique, be it your product, sense of humor or simply an idea. Any choice to change these things is permitted, but it should be a choice, not a result of ignorance or laziness.
If this is to be truncated into one sentence, just try to think about how your friend would describe you to someone else: “Oh, he or she is the _____ girl/guy/person. He/She/they does _______.” If you can’t fill in those blanks, it’s important to think about why and strategize about how you might be able to do it better. It’s definitely my biggest challenge.
Looking at YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter or Facebook, it is really easy to see that the same logic applies. The most successful producers on Soundcloud are constantly posting their own new material and reposting other content. The most followed YouTube accounts are incredibly active, uploading new content as frequently as every week.
It goes without saying that, as much as you want consistency, you also want people to remain engaged with you and to feel some growth. Look for ways to keep things fresh – identity collaborators and work together on something new, find a partner who can offer a new spin on your same photo arrangement, work current events into your brand content. Never let things get stale – the social world moves incredibly quickly and you will get left behind.
It is really easy to lose your identity as you try to grow. When you are attempting to capture and keep someone’s attention, it is natural to think about what they like and how you can conform to that. The stakes are pretty high for music artists; audiences have so many choices, and it can be tempting to try and be all things at all times. But the reality is that, if you are doing something that feels artificial, bland, or trite, it probably is. If you are doing something because someone told you it would make you successful, and it hasn’t made you successful, you might want to stop. It may be time to switch up your strategy.
For me, I realized that I wanted to focus less on covers and more on original music. I spent a lot of time not getting any recognition for it and being really bad, but then I got better at it. I am constantly getting better at it, and I am feeling momentum.
(Reprinted by permission)
Grant Genske is a marketing associate with BEGIN who works primarily with indpendent artists in their talent division, New Music Empire. But that’s just his day job. He’s also a singer and songwriter living in Los Angeles, California and a producer of the College Star competition that produces talent competitions on college campuses.
To enter the IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
Do You Have a Band Partnership Agreement Yet?
by Glenn T. Litwak
Why even have a written agreement between the members of a band or group? Entering into a band partnership agreement is advisable, not necessarily because you don’t trust your band mates, but because it forces the members of the band to address difficult issues and hopefully reduce misunderstandings. To paraphrase Timothy B. Schmit, bassist/singer with The Eagles: “In my experience, all rock & roll bands are on the verge of breaking up at all times.” Yes, disputes will arise and you will be in a better position to deal with them if you have a comprehensive band agreement––in writing.
Band Name: The agreement should indicate the band name and any logo. It should also indicate who owns the band name. This issue has come up with some famous bands, like The Beach Boys. When a band breaks up, the question often arises as to who owns the name and, consequently, who can record and perform using that name. There are alternatives for ownership of the band name. For instance, the agreement can provide that the band owns the name, and departing band members have no right to use the name. Or let’s say two members were instrumental in forming the band; the agreement could say “should those members leave, the band shall cease using the band name and logo.”
Other Projects: The agreement may provide that band members can participate in other music projects (solo albums, solo performances, side artist appearances, etc.) so long as it does not interfere with band obligations.
Representations and Warranties: The agreement should include typical (“boilerplate”) representations, such as: members have the legal right to enter into the band agreement; they will not do anything to harm the band partnership; that members are under no restriction that would interfere with the agreement; and that they will not sell their interest in the band without the consent of the other band members.
Profits and Losses: The simplest way to divide profits and losses is to provide in the agreement that the band members will share equally in them. This provision should also provide for a specific definition of “net profits.” And it should specify expenses: such as band salaries, accounting, legal and office expenses. However, splitting band profits and losses may not be equitable to all band members under certain circumstances. For instance, where one band member does all the songwriting, is already famous, or invests most of the money in the band, the profits and losses section can have special provisions for that
Publishing: There are a number of options with regard to splitting publishing income. The band agreement can provide that the band will split all music publishing income (writer’s and publisher’s share) equally among the members. Or a more complex formula can be used such as publishing income is shared equally, but songwriter income is to be equally divided among the writers of the composition. It all depends on what is fair under the circumstances. Where one member does no writing or one member does all the writing, the agreement should take this into account. If a band publishing company is set up it can have the worldwide exclusive right to administer and control the copyright ownership in the recorded compositions and the right to enter into sub-publishing agreements or otherwise deal with the copyrights.
Meeting and Voting: The agreement should provide when there will be meetings and may provide that any member can call a meeting. It should also provide what types of things require a majority or unanimous vote. For instance, perhaps it will take a unanimous vote to expel a member, or a majority vote to admit a new member, or for bonuses, or entering into band agreements.
Books and Records: Books and records on the band’s business dealings should be maintained and available for inspection by any band member.
Adding New Member: Adding a new member can often lead to disputes. The procedure for adding a new member should be spelled out in the agreement. It should specify if all members have to agree to a new member. And it should require any new member to agree to the band agreement. In addition, a new member should usually not have any right to income from recordings created before the new member was admitted.
Leaving Member: The agreement can provide for voluntarily or involuntarily (death, disability, being expelled) leaving the band. It should specify what will constitute grounds to expel someone from the group. One possible provision could be that any member who leaves must give 30 days notice and that written notice will be given to any expelled partner. It should also provide what a leaving member is entitled to: share of net worth, royalties, etc.
Binding Arbitration: Providing for binding arbitration of disputes is usually a good idea. You will often have a quicker and less expensive resolution of your dispute. You could also provide for mediation (informal settlement conference with a retired judge) before an arbitration to try and settle without the costs of a binding arbitration.
General Provisions: There are a number of typical provisions included in a band partnership agreement. These include: California law applies to any disputes; email signatures on the band partnership agreement is sufficient; the agreement shall be binding on each member’s successors-in-interest, and if one provision of the partnership agreement is held invalid by an arbitrator or court, the remaining provisions shall remain in effect.
Finally, each band member should have an independent attorney represent him or her with regard to the partnership agreement and each band member should receive a copy of it.
[Reprinted with permission]
ABOUT GLENN T. LITWAK
Glenn T. Litwak is a veteran music and entertainment attorney based in Santa Monica, CA. He has written numerous magazine articles about the music biz. Litwak is also a frequent speaker at music industry conferences around the country, such as SXSW and the Billboard Music in Film and TV Conference or check out his website at www.glennlitwak.com
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: