As a professional singer myself singing on FOX TV, UPN Station ID’s, O’Charley’s and many others, as well as a former talent booking agent with the William Morris Agency, I can tell you that one of the biggest downfalls to most singers is their inability to be consistent with a broad range of singing styles while singing in the studio. It’s one thing to sit behind the piano with friends, and an entirely different thing to sing behind the mic in the studio where every nuance and tonal inflection is heard.
So how do studio singers who’ve been doing this professionally for years, get to that point of consistency, and how do they get the paying gigs and get called on in the first place? Those are great questions, and I will take the remaining time in this article to capitalize on concepts that most singers would likely embrace as the truth and realistic in answering them.
To begin with, singing in the studio and singing live in front of a crowd are two totally separate singing techniques and usually unequaled levels of singing expertise. It’s one thing to sing in front of a crowd where audibility of your vocals is not the main concern, but the overall groove and image is. Understanding the words on stage may or may not be a concern, but to the studio and session singer, it’s everything. You see there are marked differences in the ways that each of these singers takes their singing ability to the stage. You will find that many if not most singers don’t do both well. The singer who is great on stage in front of a large audience is usually not that convincing or lyrics that easily understood in the studio. That’s why jingle singers are paid such good money. It’s not easy to sing a commercial full throttle and not sound "ricky ticky" doing it with words that are easily understood. And as a side note, if you are interested in singing commercials, you might consider visiting ReelMusician.com for more information and download a free e-book on jingle singing.
So how do session singers get that consistency in the studio? Well, years of experience are one answer, but the other part of the answer is in how they practice. How serious are you in your dream of becoming a studio singer? In your desires to becoming a studio singer, you must commit to consistency, be easy to work with, and available. You might already have availability and easy to work with in the bag, but you’re still having problems with the consistency part. Let’s look at a few ideas that might help.
Finding a good vocal coach, that truly understands studio and jingle singing, is hard to find. Most, have preconceived notions and teaching ideas and attribute everything to a breathing technique of some kind. I’ll tell you the truth. I’ve met fantastic singers who breathe in a number of different styles, yet they are consistent as the day is long. Now I’m not suggesting that there aren’t better or proper breathing techniques out there, I am suggesting that many if not most vocal teachers, teach from a textbook style and not from a "I’m going to figure out your strengths and abilities and zero in on a workable and credible game plan that outlines a singing technique career pathway for longevity," style. There’s a big difference. The teacher who teaches out of a textbook and the teacher who is already been out there with success under their belt, no matter what business or job, has my attention and certainly should have yours. Find a credible and reputable singing coach.
You will want to practice your singing in the shower, the car and even in a closet or close up to a wall where you can hear what you’re singing. Ultimately, being able to record your voice, even onto a cheap cassette or into the computer to hear your progress or areas that you immediately recognize needing improvement, is the best way to go. This alone, if you take time out on a regular basis, will improve your singing far beyond what most vocal coaches can or claim they can do. Because of your vested interest and now your ability to hear and figure out what needs to be changed and corrected, will be the igniting factor in your singing career and goals of consistency. Certainly don’t ignore or reject the notion of finding a qualified vocal coach, but understand that America was founded on entreprenualism and not the textbook way of doing things and this includes your singing career as well. A good vocal coach will recognize and ultimately push you in the right direction as well by hearing and giving you exercises to correct singing deficiencies.
Get connected with session singers, and perhaps even try to take vocal coaching lessons from one of them. You will have to flexible as their session work will not always be easy to predict, but well worth any inconvenience. This will increase your odds of obtaining session work, and now you will be working with an individual, like we just mentioned, who is actively in the business and so pure textbook teaching will most likely not be in their philosophy and thinking.
Lastly, and I apologize and wish we had more time in this article, maintain a good attitude and an easy to deal with personality. Singers and producers like individuals who are not only fun, but they’re easy to deal with and who always come to the session with an uplifting spirit. You may visit ReelMusician.com for more articles and advice on this and other topics.
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