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
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:
Song list on this radio program:
“A Bakers Dozen” by Muriel Anderson
“Waterfalls” by Meghan Trainor
“Crayon Days” by Carl Wockner
“Wonderland” by Downhill Bluegrass Band
“Hearts” by JoJo Worthington
“From Joe To Betsy” by Jared Mahone
“Hurry Home” by Zane Williams
Title’ nets biggest debut for a female pop act’s first full-length album in over five years.
IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) is proud to announce that Meghan Trainor debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with her first full-length album, Title. The set arrives with 238,000 equivalent units earned in the week ending Jan. 18, according to Nielsen Music. It was released Jan. 13 on Epic Records.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).
“No words can describe how I feel. We’re making history!” said an ecstatic Meghan Trainor as she posted on her facebook page.
Title’s chart-topping arrival comes after Trainor earlier led the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with her introductory hit, “All About That Bass.” The song spent 9 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014. A variety of critics tipped “All About That Bass” as 2014’s “Official Song of the Summer”.
Title’s first-week units includes 195,000 in pure album sales, an impressive figure, considering January is traditionally a sleepy month for big new releases. The last album released in January to open with a larger sum was Justin Bieber’s Believe: Acoustic, which hit retail on Jan. 29, 2013, and opened with 211,000.
In addition, Title logs the biggest debut for a female pop artist’s first full-length album in over five years. The last to start larger was Susan Boyle, who sold 701,000 copies of I Dreamed a Dream in its first week (ending Nov. 29, 2009).
Trainor’s entrance is the largest opening for any solo artist’s first full-length set in more than three years, since Scotty McCreery’s Clear as Day arrived with 197,000 (in the week ending Oct. 9, 2011).
Both Boyle and McCreery had great TV exposure assisting their debuts, as they both competed on talent competition shows before their albums were released. Boyle rose to fame thanks to her star-making turn on Britain’s Got Talent, while McCreery won the 2011 season of Fox’s American Idol.
As for Trainor, while she wasn’t a reality-show competitor, she has had months of major exposure leading up to Title’s release. Her smash No. 1 single “All About That Bass” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 dated July 26, 2014.
Meghan Trainor’s Title is Epic Records’ first No. 1 album since the Sept. 25, 2010-dated chart, when Sara Bareilles’ Kaleidoscope Heart bowed atop the tally.
If Trainor is No. 1, that means Taylor Swift’s rule in the penthouse with 1989 is over — at least temporarily. 1989 slips 1-2 in its 12th week on the list, after hanging out at No. 1 for nine nonconsecutive weeks. It shifted 131,000 units for the week (down 15 percent).
Kidz Bop Kids warble their way to a No. 3 arrival on the Billboard 200 with Kidz Bop 27, moving 80,000 units. It’s the 20th top 10 album for the long-running series, which garnered its first top 10 effort nearly 10 years ago, when Kidz Bop 7 opened at No. 7 on the March 12, 2005-dated chart.
“What Meghan has achieved is such a far fetched dream that even superstars like Madonna would achieve that people find it incredibly hard to believe in an unknown debut artist. They asked: did that just happen? Can’t be right? IAMA doesn’t really produce superstars. But when they read the newspapers and checked the Billboard charts, they jaws drop and they were left flabbergasted. Even most music magazines refused to even admit it. It’s because Meghan started off as a young fresh unpolished indie artist and that grown to a worldwide phenom”, said Jessica Brandon, artist relations at IAMA. “I have worked in the music industry for 20 years and I have never seen this meteoric success before. Meghan has given so much inspiration to indie artists everywhere. She has achieved the absolute American Pop star dream; the number ones on the charts, platinum records, appearances on every TV show, songs on Top 40 radio all the time”.
As a debut artist with both single and album hitting #1 on Billboard Hot 100 Charts and Billboard 200 Album charts, Meghan joins an elite group of artists to ever achieve this feat: Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Britney Spears. Not even The Beatles, Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson has even achieved this amazing feat.
HOW SHE WAS DISCOVERED
However, 5 years ago IAMA entrants laughed when Meghan Trainor won Best Female Artist at the 2010 IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), she broke the record and still holds the record of the youngest winner on the history of IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards). She did it at a young age of just 16 years old. Many entrants asked “Why is this 16 year old girl that sounds like Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy winning an award at IAMA and not me? She isn’t all that great, I think I’m better”.
But when she hit #1 on Billboard Hot 100 Charts, #1 on the Billboard 200 Album Charts (each time she did it be toppling Pop Star Taylor Swift) and 2 Grammy nominations (Record or the Year and Song of the Year), selling over 12 million copies worldwide, they were shocked and speechless. They continued to be shocked when they saw her performing on TV at the famous Macy’s Day Parade and New York’s Rockin’ Eve. She was also nominated for Best New Artist at the American Music Awards.
Meghan Trainor has been grown from a Teen Phenom to a Global Phenomenon. Imagine when her first single “All About That Bass” was released on June 30th, no one outside IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) even knew who she was. And yet, in less than 6 months, Meghan has conquered the entire world: not only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts (#1 for 9 weeks), in UK and a total of 58 different countries, multi Platinum in USA alone (6X Platinum). It is the current longest-reigning number one on the Hot 100 by an Epic Records artist, surpassing the King of Pop, the legend Michael Jackson’s seven-week record with “Billie Jean” (1983) and “Black or White” (1991). It is also the second longest reigning number one by a debut artist (Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” is the longest-reigning number one by a debut artist). She is the youngest artist (at 20 years old at the time of her feat) with the longest reigning number one.
ONE HIT WONDER NO MORE & BEATLES FEAT
Yet critics dismiss her as a “one hit wonder” when she hit #1 with “All About That Bass”. That all changed when “Lips are Movin’” hit #4 on the Billboard Charts selling over 2 million copies in United States alone, going Double Platinum. And she continues her feat in December she made history as a debut artist when 2 of her songs are in the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts at the same time “Lips Are Movin'” and “All About That Bass”. the last time a debut artist had two or more songs in the Top 5 at the same time on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts was the Beatles.
SECOND TIME UNSEATING TAYLOR SWIFT OFF THE TOP SPOT
“I told everyone when I send our press release hat Meghan is going to be huge and they refused to believe” said Jessica Brandon. ‘We believe in all our winners in IAMA. If Meghan Trainor, an unknown artist can topple a huge music star like Taylor Swift, no just once but twice, you can do it too”. Meghan Trainor kicked Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” off #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts in September 2014. She did it again this time this week on the Billboard 200 Charts by kicking Taylor Swift’s album “1989” of the #1 on the Billboard 200 Album charts.
Since 2004, IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) promotes the art and excellence of acoustic music performance and artistry. Past winners include: Meghan Trainor, Charlie Dore (Billboard #1 Hit Artist), Kelley James, AJ Croce, Liz Longley, Maddy Rodriguez, etc. For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com