Okay. So, I really want to help you out here. I want you to be successful and grow in the music industry and make money doing what you love in no time!
In order for me to do that, I’m about to make myself really vulnerable here and expose a mistake I made and also some I’ve observed from other people. I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career but there were some rookie-style errors I’m hoping you get to avoid so you can hit the ground running!
Okay, let’s get straight to it!
Mistake No. 1: Not observing protocol.
Okay, here’s the story….*an ever so slight side eye at my past self….*
I was on a gig a very long time ago. I was in a choir singing backing vocals for a popular artist at the time. I got chatting to the artist and he mentioned he had a tour coming up which he potentially needed singers for. I was completely green at this point in my career and very enthusiastic and really wanted to be on that tour! So I mentioned that I would love to be selected to him and he told his management. I may have even mentioned to his management too, I can’t remember (definite side eye at myself). His management then told the choir director who then drew me aside to give me a telling off.
Why? I had made a rookie error and I hadn’t observed protocol. Obviously, being as inexperienced as I was, I didn’t know this. You should never, EVER, approach an artist directly about being selected for a tour or for future work. There’s a ‘chain of command’, as it were, which needs to be adhered to so you don’t get wind up looking bad or getting fired. I was naturally quite a bold go-getter and genuinely believed it was a done deal because I had said something (hilllaaaarious). It must have looked like I was trying to cut out the middle man (choir director) and disrespect management by going to the artist directly.
So… this ‘chain of command’ aka protocol, in this scenario, goes like this.
Singer > Choir Director > Management > Artist
Notice how much space there is between singer and artist? That’s because there’s a very marked boundary between artist and backing singer and management usually like to keep it that way. But that’s a topic to expand on for another time. When you’re the artist, you can do things as you wish obviously but in the pop artistry this is how it goes!
What I should have done was this. Artist is talking about needing singers for a tour? Congratulate them on what’s coming up for them then leave it there. If you’re going to be selected for a tour in that type of scenario, the choir director who originally booked you will be the one to ask your availability. If you’ve been asked, it’s because management have already given them their approval of you.
Mistake No. 2. Being the ‘frustrated singer’.
If you’re doing backing vocals for an artist when you really want to be the artist and feel frustrated that you aren’t the one in front it causes all sorts of problems!
Remember, whatever energy you carry gets emitted without you even trying. What I have observed with frustrated singers is this. When you want to be the one in front all the time you stop being able to play your role as the supportive vocalist.
So, no. You won’t get the same treatment as the artist. You don’t have to sing all the time in front of band members or management (when you’re off the microphone) in order to get ‘discovered’ or noticed. These things are so off putting to those around you. People can sense your energy from a mile off and want to work with those that actually want to fulfill the role they’re being paid to do!
As a session singer, you can be doing backing vocals for an artist or you can sing lead vocals for other projects. If you’re not getting enough work doing what you specifically love, create it!
Mistake No. 3: Encroaching on other singers’ gigs.
This is a no-no and I’m so fortunate that I haven’t come across many people like this.
If someone is already booked for a gig, do NOT (ever, never, never) approach the band leader or management about being selected for that same gig. This poaching practice is particularly vile and word will get round that you cannot be trusted! Even if you know the band leader or a member of the management team happens to be your boyfriend/girlfriend, never do this.
If it’s somebody else’s gig, back off. If there’s space on that gig in the future and you get asked to do it, then you’re selected. Your reputation will do the work for you and if they need or want you, you’ll get the call!
This industry is based on good relationships (as are all thriving industries). Treat people with kindness and good ethics and you’ll go so far.
So, these are some of my tips on how to grow your reputation get on well with others by observing protocol and make a consistent income doing what you love.
If you want more tips on how to create income from session singing then download my FREE e-book, Session Singing Secrets: The Beginners’ Guide to Professional Session Singing at www.myvocaltherapy.com/sessionsingingsecrets.
If you want to know how to make more contacts, more gigs and more money as a Session Singer then join me on Session Singing Uncovered: Live on the 15th August at 8pm BST. We’ll hang out live online and you can ask me all the questions you want to so you can get ahead! Download the book and you’ll be directed to a link to register.