Melanie Taylor is a seasoned performer who in her extensive career has worked with the likes of Aerosmith, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, The Righteous Brothers, Connie Stevens, Donna Summer, John Mayer, Joe Walsh and many more. Melanie shares what she’s learned along the way, how she helps young artists develop their creative process, and insights on what it takes to be a serious performer.
Are you a singer who’s decided you’re tired of being on the road? Are you looking for ways to sustain yourself as a professional singer in your own home town? Then this is the episode for you! Meet April Kelly who discusses her experiences being a touring recording artist with a record contract and singles on the Billboard charts to becoming the leader of her own successful New Jersey based wedding band, Band of Gold, for the past twenty plus years. You’ll get advice on how to determine whether being the leader of a wedding band is for you, how to be an effective band leader, how to choose the right band mates and much more.
When you’re booking a wedding gig ask the couple what they’re looking for and how they envision their day. Be honest with yourself and the couple about whether or not your band is the right fit for that particular gig.
Have your agreement in writing so that everyone knows what to expect. It can be a simple one page document that outlines details for the day or even an email confirmation. It will create peace of mind for the couple and for you as a band leader.
As a leader you are responsible for the happiness of the band. Make sure you know ahead of time about pay, meals, parking, load-in, sound, electrical outlets, etc. All of these things will keep the experience smooth for you and the band on the day of the event.
When trying to decide what to charge for your service, you have to consider what all of your expenses will be. The location of the wedding also makes a difference. It’s a good idea to ask around to see what other couples spent or what other band leaders charged.
Make a promo video that delivers your message.
You need to have a wide range of music you perform from jazz standards to oldies to top 40 hits.
Invest in a PA system.
Reach out to someone who has a successful wedding band and ask to shadow them for a day.
If you are looking to be a working singer, you have to be professional. You can’t escape that part.
At your gig, put out business cards.
When you perform at a couple’s reception you have one opportunity to do it right. Decide if you’re a person who wants that pressure.
Your great voice won’t matter if you do business poorly.
Make sure you have a two pronged approach: you have your business together and you have your voice in great shape.
The end result of a professional approach are referrals.
Have you ever met a singer with an incredible career and
wondered how they did it? The road to a singing career can be full of twists
and turns, and every journey is vastly different. Meet Windy Wagner, who early
on even with a full time day job, always sang.
She had a band, wrote songs and even had a record deal, but like many
singers, reached the point where she had to take the leap and make singing her
full time career.
Just 18 months after leaving her full time job, Windy was
working with the likes of Barbara Streisand and David Foster just to name a few. Windy has gone on to tour as a background
singer for K.D. Lang and Joe Walsh of the Eagles. She is one of the most in
demand session singers, vocal contractors, vocal arrangers and songwriters in
Los Angeles with her work appearing in tv shows (Glee, Pretty Little Liars),
commercials (Barbie, Lexus, Macy’s), and films (Legally Blonde, Pitch Perfect). She shares how she built her successful
singing career, discusses her ‘Art of Pop Vocal Production’ workshop, and her
advice on creating thriving singing career.
Keep your reel updated and send it to your clients, colleagues, and friends to keep yourself top of mind. Do this when you have a new video or song as well.
Be observant when you step into a new professional situation. Take the temperature of the room, figure out who’s in charge, and gauge the vibe. Every job, live gig, session, room has a temperature you have to take.
Do what you can to set yourself up so that you have as few financial obligations as possible while you’re pursuing your singing career.
Take the steps toward what you want and follow through. There is a big difference between being a great singer and having a career. The through line amongst the career singers is that they follow up and follow through.
Take a workshop to sharpen you skills and gain new ones. It’s also a great way to build your singer community and get in the room with someone who might someday hire you!
We have to be willing to be vulnerable to hearing the not so great things in addition to the great things.
You have to be flexible. Be able to receive criticism and fix things (pitch, tone, enunciation, etc.) on the spot.
What’s great for working for yourself is that you can choose who you work for.
Always keep in mind that you’re providing a service.
Have a small network of singers you can rely on to step in for you if need be. You want them to be reliable, take care of their voices, show up on time, and have a flexible attitude.
Don’t give up. If you give up, you will never know what might have happened!
Singer, songwriter and vegan chef Kitten Kuroi is simply an inspiration when it comes to staying open and saying yes to life. Listen to how Kitten went from “Facebook star” to touring the world with artists like Elvis Costello, Engelbert Humperdinck, Natasha Bedingfield, and also how she took a chance and decided to take a spur of the moment artist’s trip to Ireland where she had many unexpected, but life changing experiences.
Stay open to possibilities and remain curious. Look for what resonates with you even a little bit and explore it. Those seemingly little decisions lay the foundation for larger opportunities to come into your life.
No matter your age, there is no expiration date on doing what you love. Keep finding opportunities to do it.
Keep saying yes to the things you really want to do.
When you’re a singer, it’s not just a job you do, it’s a part of you.
Passion and talent are timeless and will always find an audience to resonate with.
Erica Canales, singer, songwriter and vocal coach shares how she went from having singer burnout to touring with The Killers and working on projects for Gwen Stefani and Grace Potter. She also gives her insights on touring as a background singer, what makes a gig worth taking, and the healthy mindset of a “support” singer.
If you’re considering being a background singer, have an honest conversation with yourself about whether or not being a support musician is truly for you.
Whether you are on or off the road, find a daily ritual to keep yourself centered.
Nothing is more restorative for your voice than sleep. Get rest when you need it.
Determine what it means for you to make your own mark in the world. It’s going to come up a lot, but you’re going to have to define for YOU what success in your career means.
Everything happens in the time it takes to happen. Do the work, get good at what you do, and develop your craft.
Limit the comparisons (to other musician’s careers). We all have our own journey.
It’s the vibe, the money or the hang. You want a gig to have at least two of those three virtues. 😉
When you’re on the road the two hours you spend performing on stage is not the work. The real work is the other twenty-two hours you spend with the other people you’re on the road with. That’s the work.
Have you ever had a dream you put on the back burner? You need to listen to this episode. Celia Chavez is a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles who went from deferring her musical dreams to touring with P!nk, Melody Gardot, and is currently on the road with Enrique Iglesias. She has also created her “Harmony at Play” workshop that not only teaches non-professional singers how to sing with a group, but also tightens up the skillset of harmonizing for pros. Listen to her story now and be inspired!
Get out and get heard. Find jams and open mics so people know what you do and know what you sound like.
No gig is too small. You took the gig, so treat it with value. Use the opportunity to develop your work ethic and your craft.
Singers hire other singers. Find any opportunity you can to meet and support other singers. Got to open mics, join a choir, or take a sight singing class.
Don’t pre-disqualify yourself before the an audition. Come into an audition as prepared as you can. Sing material you know well. Get any coaching/guidance in areas you feel less confident in, so that you can go into your audition or interview feeling positive.
There is no linear progression to success in this career. You must decide what “success” means for you.
If you’re a professional singer, want to turn singing into a career, or simply love to hear stories from singers on the road, then “The Working Singer” is the podcast for you. My name is Jamila Ford, and on this podcast I chat with professional singers about how they make a creative living in the music business lending their talent to stars like: Enrique Iglesias, The Killers, Elvis Costello, and more. They share life lessons, business advice, and how they make a living when they’re off the road. We’ll also discuss vocal health, technique, performance, coaching and pretty much all things vocal.
Elevate your approach to your singing career, get enlightened about what the pros do, and be inspired with new ideas that you can make your own. For these stories and more, subscribe, download and rate on Apple Podcasts, or your favorite place to listen.