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How to Choose the Right Songs for Auditions, Showcases and Live Performances

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How to Choose the Right Songs for Auditions, Showcases and Live Performances

by Coreen Sheehan

How to choose songs to perform for live performancesEvery 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

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USA Songwriting Competition Podcast 2016

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  1. “Are You Ready” by Distant Cousins
  2. “Bigger” by Steven Cooper & Akon
  3. “It’s There” by Arika Kane
  4. “Half A Heart” by Gail Swanson & Willie Nelson
  5. “Don’t Let It Fall Through” by William Nutter
  6. ”Good Ole USA (We’ve Got Nothing But Love to Prove)” by Darrell Scott
  7. “Can’t Help Calling Your Name” by Tim Mathews and Josh Bernard
  8. “I Faked It” by Mo Kenney, Gordie Sampson, Joel Plaskett & Willie Stratton
  9. ”Feels Like Yesterday” by American Authors
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IAMA Winner Wins Grammy Award, takes the Music World by Storm

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IAMA Winner Wins Grammy Award, takes the Music World by Storm
by Jessica Brandon

Meghan Trainor, IAMA winner accepting a Grammy Award for Best New Artist

Meghan Trainor, IAMA winner accepting a Grammy Award for Best New Artist

Meghan Trainor who started out as an unknown indie artist, won IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) as a 16 year old, just won Grammy award last night for Best New Artist. She has broken a staggering number of records of IAMA: youngest to win IAMA (at 16), the only IAMA winner to have to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, #1 on the Billboard 200 Charts, and main category Grammy award of Best New Artist. Her hit “All About That Bass” is one of the best-selling single of all time by a debut artist, hitting #1 in 58 different countries (US, UK, etc) and selling over 15 million copies.

This shows you that anything can happen as an indie artist. When Meghan first won IAMA 6 years ago, IAMA entrants laughed when she won. But when she got signed and chalk up one hit after another, they were shocked. She has a total of 6 songs that have hit the Billboard Hot 100 Charts so far and shows no signs of slowing down (Watch her Grammy Acceptance Speech Below).


Meghan Trainor couldn’t hold back her tears While accepting Best New Artist Award, weeping through her acceptance speech. Past Best New Artists winners include: John Legend, Carrie Underwood, Sam Smith and Mariah Carey

“I have to thank L.A. Reid for looking at me as an artist instead of just a songwriter,” she said while accepting the award from presenter Sam Smith, who won the award last year. “And my mom and dad.”

Last year she was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year (both for “All About That Bass”), but lost out on both.

“This is me forever balling my eyes out. Can’t believe what happened”, said Meghan. “My dad whispered “you made it” before I walked up and I lost it. I love my family so much. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you to my team and everyone who got me here. Gonna cry happy tears all night”, said the jubilant Meghan Trainor.

Besides winning the Grammy Award, Meghan has also won two Billboard Music Awards.

MEGHAN IS NOT THE ONLY IAMA WINNER
Meghan Trainor was not the only nominee of IAMA. Ron Korb (this year’s Best Instrumental Winner of the 12th Annual IAMA) was a nominee in the Best New Age Album category. Ricky Kej (this year’s Best Open Winner) won a Grammy Award at last year’s Grammy Awards.

For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
http://www.inacoustic.com

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Size does NOT matter: The REAL secret of great musicianship with Meghan Trainor

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by Kate Beaudoin & Jessica Brandon

Meghan Trainor, singer-songwriter

Meghan Trainor, singer-songwriter

How did Meghan Trainor do it? It’s been a year since pop singer Meghan Trainor hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts with, “All About That Bass.” Within the year of the video’s release, it racked up an impressive 1 Billion views on YouTube. Before long, the single hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for nine weeks (also hit #1 in 58 different countries) and helped Trainor’s debut album, Title, debut No.1 on the Billboard 200 charts. The media has written that Trainor came from nowhere, but did you know she was discovered in IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) in 2009 and won Best Female Artist with an acoustic song “Waterfalls”? And she became one of the most-talked-about artists of the year. And she did it all on the mantel of empowerment — at least, that’s what she’d have you believe.

 

“All About That Bass” was so successful in large part due to the idea that it was the new feminist anthem; after all, 2014 was the year of the booty and empowerment was in. But to those who read between the lines of Trainor’s clever marketing ploy, it’s clear as day that “All About That Bass” is as far from a feminist anthem as they come. Trainor’s problematic stance extends far beyond that single. By simultaneously claiming a feminist mantle and advocating an anti-feminist agenda, Trainor has become a threat to all the gains that pop music has made in feminism recently.

What the lyrics are really saying. The messages in Trainor’s songs are often ostensibly about encouraging healthy self-confidence. “I hope [‘All About That Bass’] helps girls love themselves more, because they’re adorable. Women too,” Trainor told Glamour. The issue, however, is that those supposedly empowering lyrics encourage impressionable girls to be happy with themselves only when men deem them acceptable. People criticized “All About That Bass” for its skinny-shaming, but even more concerning is that Trainor claims your worth comes from what men think of you.

“Boys like a little more booty to hold at night,” Trainor sings, explaining why it’s OK not to be a “skinny bitch.” It’s OK not to be a “skinny bitch,” but only because some boys prefer you that way.

The crown jewel of Trainor’s anti-feminism is easily “Dear Future Husband.” When the video for “Dear Future Husband” hit YouTube in March, many rightly claimed that her message was sexist. Trainor’s lyrics advocate outdated gender roles (“Cause if you’ll treat me right / I’ll be the perfect wife / Buying groceries”), seeking self-worth based on men’s opinions (“If you wanna get that special lovin’ / Tell me I’m beautiful each and every night”) and, of course, confirming the idea that all women are crazy, emotional creatures (“You gotta know how to treat me like a lady / Even when I’m acting crazy”). But those who defended Trainor claimed that it was just a song and shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

“I don’t believe I was [being sexist],” she told MTV. “I think I was just writing my song to my future husband out there, wherever he is. He’s chilling right now, taking a minute getting ready for me; it’s going to be great.”

He’s getting ready — doing crunches and 200 pound dead lifts so he’s ready to be strong enough to impress Trainor!

 

For more information on the 12th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com

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IAMA Winner Debuts #1 on Billboard 200 Album Charts, Makes History

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Meghan Trainor Hits #1 on Billboard 200 Album Charts, unseating Taylor Swift off the Top Spot

Meghan Trainor Hits #1 on Billboard 200 Album Charts, unseating Taylor Swift off the Top Spot

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”.

 

AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT

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

 

 

 

 

 

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