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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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Top Seven Rules For Getting Music Gigs

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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.

Lord & LadyMany 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.

 

  1. Be Passionate

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.

 

  1. Be Open

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.

 

  1. Be Everywhere

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

 

  1. Know Your Music Inside-Out.

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.

 

  1. Make Set Lists

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.

 

  1. Pick the Right Songs

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.

  1. Know Your Audience

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

 

 

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5 Simple Truths I Learned About Music Career Success

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5 Simple Truths I Learned About Music Career Success

by Kari Estrin             

 

Derik Nelson, singer-songwriter

Derik Nelson, singer-songwriter

There’s lots of advice on how to have a successful career in music, but in the end, knowing these five tips will give you a “leg up.”. Of course, each of us may define what success is differently – but however you define it, these tips will also help you chart a steadier course along the way.

 

1) BE AN AUTHENTIC ARTIST

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to be individual, be true to what special talents you have, what you’re writing and your vocal style. Although some artists may imitate others, your best shot (unless you’re into tribute bands) is in developing your own unique sound.

 

2) CRAFT YOUR ART

Sometimes the best song you ever wrote happened in five minutes with no edits. That is a gift from the muse, but that’s not always the usual case. Don’t be afraid to edit your songs to make them even better, take voice lessons if you need to hit the notes the way you’d like, or beef up your instrumental work with lessons when you’re starting out. Do what it takes to refine your sound by editing, rewriting, resigning and of course, practice. Reach out for help and expertise – it’s all around you and some of it is free for the finding!

 

3) DEFINE YOUR IMAGE/BRANDING

You may have written songs that are jazz, blues, pop, singer/songwriter and country, but just because you have all that talent, know what are you trying to project to your audience? It’s great to be multi-talented and to occasionally throw something atypical into a set artfully, but with so many choices of talent, you need to have a sound and image that people will instantly recognize as yours. Otherwise, you’ll dilute your appeal and have a harder time standing out above the crowd.

 

4) DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE/WHO DOES YOUR MUSIC APPEAL TO?

Do you understand who comes to see you and if so, do you know can you reach them? Is Instagram or Twitter the social media your audience prefer – or are your fans mostly on Facebook? Knowing your audience, the medium that they will respond to in order to engage them to come to live shows, sell your music and reach them on an emotional level is important.

 

5) BE BOTH PROFESSIONAL AND SHARP IN YOUR BUSINESS:

Arrive at gigs on time and prepared; thank those who work with you or do your sound, serve the drinks or do your backstage catering and let them know you appreciate them. When you’re starting out and even after you “make” it, making those around you comfortable and valued goes a long way to your longevity in business. But learn your business as well – there are resources, including info on the ‘net to help you know the best way to negotiate a contract, how to deal with conflict, what are common music business practices, etc. There are plenty of people who might want to take advantage of you in the business, so if you know more about best how it works and are savvy, you’ll be more protected. Although many bands we may worship have/had a lot of that “bad boy” image – trashing hotel rooms, demanding those brown M & M’s,that’s generally not the smartest way to think you’ll advance yourself or survive in the business these days!

 

Kari Estrin

Kari Estrin

Kari’s wide expertise in the music industry spans four and a half decades. Starting in the early 70’s to her concert/festival production days in the 80’s in the Boston/Cambridge area (Harvard, The Berklee, Symphony Hall, Newport Folk, etc) Kari carved out her national reputation. She managed/booked/tour managed guitar legend Tony Rice in the early 80’s and world music act, The 3 Mustaphas 3, who reached No. 1 in Billboard Magazine, truly establishing Kari as a sought after professional. Her groundbreaking Career Assessment System predates “coaching” and has helped a wide variety of artists, from beginning to established, to take their careers to new heights and expanded levels as Kari pioneered working with the “whole” artist in her integrative and holistic approach. She is also is an acoustic music radio promoter and her artists have topped the Folk DJ charts for roughly 17 years. http://www.kariestrin.com

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

 

 

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Would You Let Donald Trump Use Your Song?

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Donald Trump on his Presidential Campaign Trail

Donald Trump on his Presidential Campaign Trail

It’s become a perennial news story: Multi-Billionaire and multiple headline maker Donald Trump, the very first reality TV star who became a major party United States presidential candidate uses a hit song on the campaign trail, and the artist makes headlines by voicing his disapproval.

Queen — the British rock band best known for its openly bisexual (and unapologetically fabulous) frontman Freddie Mercury — was upset after the homophobic and xenophobic Republicans ended their Klan rally with one of Queen’s most popular songs, “We Are the Champions”.  Queen stirred up the conversation on the first night of the Republican National Convention, calling Donald Trump’s use of their song “We Are the Champions” unauthorized. Usher, Michael Bolton, and John Mellencamp recently appeared to perform a musical plea for politicians to stop using their songs.

Just a couple of weeks later, Queen emerged victorious — Trump is now banned from using their music at his events.

But the legal reality behind “unauthorized” use like this is often pretty misunderstood.

In most cases like this, the law is actually on the politicians’ side at first. Performing rights organizations (PROs) enable venues and event hosts to purchase the rights to play song catalogs. The three main PROs — BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC — cover most of the music published in the US. As long as the venue or the campaign pays those fees, it’s allowed to play whatever music is included in the PRO’s catalog.

That means that Trump — and any other politicians who get into trouble for their song choice — is legally in the clear if he secured the PRO license.

So every time musicians speak up against the use of their music at events, they aren’t exactly pointing out an illegal action. It’s more of a request for courtesy toward the artistic intent.

But under BMI (the PRO that licenses Queen’s music), musicians are allowed to request that their songs be pulled from a given politician’s available catalog if they don’t want their work associated with the campaign. After Queen and Adele made such requests this year, BMI sent letters to the Trump campaign and the RNC detailing the artists’ objections. That means their songs are no longer available to Trump under the blanket license.

So no matter what the polls say, it seems like we won’t see Trump walk out to “We Are the Champions” again anytime soon.

Now the big question: if you were given the chance, would you let Billionaire Donald Trump use your song? If so, which song would you let Trump use? Please leave your comments below.

For more information on 2016 IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) , please go to: http://www.inacoustic.com

 

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7 Ways to Improve Your Music Recordings

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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.

  1. Get focused on your target goals
Recording Guitar

Recording Guitar

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.

 

  1. Fine tune your Unique Sound.

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.

 

  1. Co-write your songs with another Songwriter, or Producer.

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.

 

  1. Get into a Professional Studio to Record, Arrange or Remix.

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).

 

  1. Test, Test and Test.

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.

 

  1. Get better at Songwriting.

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.

 

  1. Record Your Music/Song Ideas As You Go Along.

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:

http://www.inacoustic.com

 

 

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