Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Vocal Benefits of Practicing Character Voices


Sounding crazy as this guy looks in vocal exercises? GOOD!

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There are some very strange vocal exercises that work wonders for the voice. In fact, if someone hears you doing these, they might wonder if you've gone a little nuts! Not to worry... that's a sign you're probably doing them right. 

Some of the funniest and very effective exercises I teach involve doing character voices. I find cartoon voices especially beneficial! Before we get into them, let's explore the how and the why.

How do we sound like someone else?

First of all, you have to know that we learn to make vocal sounds by listening to other voices. The vocal apparatus actually tries to configure itself to match the sounds of the voice it's listening to, for the purpose of being able to communicate well with the other person. That's how we learn language and songs in the first place, and why people in the same family tend to sound more alike. From the article titled "Are You A Good Mimic" in Frontiers in Psychology, 

Vocal imitation provides a basis for acquisition of both languages and musical systems.
The article also shares research that suggests there is some phonological filtering called 'interference' that makes it difficult to change the vocal choices and habits from our 'mother tongue' or dialect. However, we can ALL change our voices by making conscious choices to change the way we normally move parts of our vocal apparatus and configure our throat channels.  

Secondly, it's important to understand the difference between mimicking and imitating another voice. Award-winning voiceover artist Victoria DeAnda has an article where she explains that mimicking is just repeating what someone else says or sings, while imitating is repeating it the WAY the other voice talks or sings.

For the purposes of the vocal exercises I'm teaching you here, we want to IMITATE another voice, not just mimic it.

Why should you do exercises in character voices?


If you need to sound like someone else to do a sound-alike voiceover, to play a role in a production, or to authentically learn another language, you really have to dig into exactly how the voice you want to imitate is doing it. There is a great video on some specific movements to investigate called 'voice breakdown' from New York Vocal Coaching's speech coach (the good stuff starts at 2:06).

But for my purposes, I train voices to speak and sing from the fully optimized, warmed up and flexible vocal apparatus. So I use character voices to help expand the voice and give it options before that voice's authentic performance. I use at least 3 specific characters to open and tighten parts of the throat channel to limber everything up, expand & contract spaces, and smooth transitions... it's kind of like kneading bread dough.

OK, let's do some!


Let's choose our text. Speakers, just decide on a few lines of speech. You might even use a poem or lyric. Singers, choose a portion of a song. Notice that changing the way you move your eyes (raising or lowering an eyebrow), jaw (dropping, tightening, making a chewing motion), hands, and arms can help alter your sound. We literally call this facial and body language!

I'll start with a very short demonstration for speakers using this weird phrase: 
'In a distant galaxy, somewhere over the rainbow, way up high and far, far away.'
1. First just say it in your normal voice, noting how your voice feels and sounds.

2. Secondly, while sounding hooty, low, and dark, in a voice like Smoky the Bear, Cookie Monster or Bullwinkle. 

3. Third, say that phrase sounding like a munchkin, chipmunk, or like you've been breathing helium (NOT recommended, btw).  

4. Now go back and try to speak in the middle of those opposite tones, which will be more like your normal voice. Doesn't your voice feel good and sound a little more agile and interesting than the first time you said it?

Singers, do the same thing but pair the words with a melody.

For example, let's use
'you are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey'.
1. First, sing it normally.

2. Second, sing it with a hooty tone like Smoky the Bear, Cookie Monster, or Bullwinkle

3. Third, sing it as if the treble is all the way up, like a munchkin or chipmunk.

4. And fourth, sing it with a tone that's in the middle of those voices, which should be close to your normal voice.

When you sing it that last time, does your voice feel easier and stretchier and sound more open, resonant, and interesting?

Now get creative!


Use any voice you can think of; try sounding like a chicken, a robot, a character from a movie like Ice Age or the Secret Life of Pets, or an alien in Star Wars or Men in Black. Try sounding like a kid or elder very different in age than you, try over-using a different accent or dialect than your normal one.

You can do this with any text or song. The results should not only warm your voice up nicely but also give you more vocal control and resonance. If you try this, do let me know how it works for you! Leave a comment here, or join the All Things Vocal Facebook group and comment there.

Also (if you haven't already) - signup for my 5-page report on vocal health, to protect your instrument so you CAN work on it with vocal exercises like this! You'll also get updates on new All Things Vocal posts, with free vocal training that can make all the difference.

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Monday, June 13, 2022

Chat With Ron Oates - Legendary Music Maker

Ron at his gorgeous white piano

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What do Gladys Knight, Dolly, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Big Bird have in common? They have all benefitted from the musical genius of Ron Oates!  Ron has more success in music than most Music Row executives these days, with stories to match. Though as a veteran session pianist, it's his fingers that usually sing), he loves and understands voices and I'm honored to say he is my dear friend. From just a small sample of stories from his career, you'll understand why he is 'one of the boys who make the noise on 16th avenue.' (a line from a Thom Schuyler anthem about Nashville's famed Music Row, sung by Lacy J Dalton).

Bonus story we didn't get to chat about:

Ron played piano on Dolly's master recording of her now-classic song 'I Will All Ways Love You'. They were doing a simul session with players and Dolly performing at the same time. On the first pass in the studio, Dolly missed coming in on her recitation because she was listening to the music Ron and the other musicians were playing. Yep. The power of music and a good song can even overwhelm the Songstress/writer of THAT song!

More About Ron: 

Ron Oates is a 60-plus-year veteran of the Nashville music industry as a revered session piano/keyboard player, arranger, producer and songwriter. Ron was the first pianist/arranger included in the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum's tribute to studio musicians. He was recognized and placed in the Congressional Record by US Congressmen Bob Clement of Tennessee and David Phelps of Illinois. In part, the honorarium states that...

 Ron Oates is one of the major creative forces behind an amazing list of hit records, and millions of record sales. 

Among the legends he's worked with are Gladys Knight, Dolly Parton, The Oak Ridge Boys,  Olivia Newton-John, Anita Pointer, Eddy Arnold, Lefty Frizzell, The Judds, Vern Gosdin, Keith Whitley, Lynn Anderson, Marty Robbins, Bobby Goldsboro, Dottie West, Billy Joe Royal, Earl Thomas Conley, and tons more. Artists he's produced include Engelbert Humperdinck, Vern Gosdin, Doug Supernaw, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Dobie Gray and far too many more to list. 

He also played on tons of national jingles including 'Where's the Beef, and worked on several movies including Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, 9 to 5, and Sesame Street - Follow that bird, the Exterminator and 'The Buddy System. Ron has orchestrated the sound of decades of country music. 

  • Ron's website: https://ronoates.com/ (being revised presently)
  • More of Ron's credits: https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ron-oates-mn0000664052/credits

Announcing: ATV Podcast now has a Facebook Group! 

I'd sure love for you to join us at All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast group for discussion of this and other episodes, or just any random thoughts or questions you have about the voice! The group is a great place to share YOUR stories and to help others if you have some good advice for singing, speaking and vocal careers, too. Or, leave a comment on this blog, which is always welcome!

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Monday, June 6, 2022

How I Lost My Voice (So You Don't Have To!)

Me, Jennifer O'Brien and Gary Pigg on the third day of our 40 song bgv marathon: 
Notice the jacket I'm wearing:)

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If you follow me or have taken a vocal lesson from me, you know that I specialize in preventing and getting rid of vocal strain or fatigue from overuse in singers and speakers. I believe (and still do) that we can use our voices as long as we want and not have vocal strain - IF and ONLY IF - we prepare ourselves and our voices for the performance we're about to do. OK now about that 'if'...

Recently I had a serious reality (humility) check when I sang 40 background vocals in 4 days without practicing what I preach - and temporarily lost my voice! 

Here's my cautionary story:

I was hired to be group leader/contractor, arranger, and singer on 40 background vocals in 4 consecutive days. I called Jennifer O'Brien and Gary Pigg who are veteran studio session singing friends of mine that sing with me like a well-oiled machine. I was extremely busy in the days before these sessions with producing the artist's lead vocals on those 40 songs, preparing the AFTRA contracts, printing out multiple copies of all lyrics, canceling all my vocal lessons for a couple of weeks and joining my session buddies doing Covid tests the night before our sessions started. First day went well, but long story short, at the end of the second day I started feeling a dreaded hot, scratchy feeling in my throat and the even more dreaded signs of vocal issues. I was losing my voice! It looked like I might be unable to sing the last 2 days! 

Factors that led up to my vocal problems:

  • The allergy levels in Nashville were up. Focusing on the arrangements and on singing with pitch accuracy, I began having to deal with an unusual level of phlegm in my voice. Without thinking I started clearing my throat too hard between recording takes. I got by with it the first day, but not the second.
  • The studio was cold and I didn't bring a jacket! I know to ALWAYS bring layers so I can wear what I need to based on the conditions in the vocal booth!
  • I didn't bring pineapple juice!! I only had water - which is important but not nearly as soothing to the throat as that juice. 
  • Unbelievably, (I am so embarrassed to admit this) I didn't warm my voice up! I was too busy with everything else and I guess my lizard brain's hubris was telling me I do exercises all the time, I would have no problems skipping them!
  • I went from zero to 90. I hadn't sung full voice for 6 hours straight in a long time! Now I had to do that 4 days in a row. WARNING: No matter how many vocal exercises you do, the voice is not able to suddenly perform full voice much longer and harder than it has been without experiencing negative consequences. 

This may surprise you (click to tweet):


You need both kinds of voice work - the exercises and the full voice performance. You should sing full voice at least 4 days before doing something important that you haven't been doing with your voice. This advice is in contrast to those who think vocal exercises should push the voice to fatigue or strain in order to strengthen the voice and be effective. But from my experience and that of my students: If your voice doesn't feel BETTER after doing vocal exercises, they are useless - and can even be harmful.

OK back to my story: I deserved the vocal strain. I absolutely did. I know better!

Here's how I was able to get my voice back and finish this vocal marathon:

  • First of all, towards the latter part of the session when I did notice my throat irritation and my voice going south, I started doing two things: 
    1. talking as little and as lightly as possible and 
    2. 'lifting my voice above the lava' as I sang. I used my pulling technique, very consciously dropping my jaw, using my eyes, and lifting my soft palate to avoid pushing my voice through phlegm. Doing these two things and drinking enough water, I was able to finish out the backgrounds for that second day. 
  • Next, as soon as I got home I used the kitchen sink approach - I did everything I could to fight any possible infection trying to take opportunistic hold in my swollen throat tissues. Please note that everyone's different. It's important to experiment (with a doctor's ok) with different immune strengthening, pathogen-fighting strategies to see what works best for you. Also, please check your pulse... you're human; sometimes nothing works, and you and I will have to get sick and heal. But my strategy included the following:
    • gargling with hydrogen peroxide, plus gargling with salt water 
    • taking a hot epsom salts bath to alkalize, detoxify and raise my temperature to an artificial fever. I bundled up and sweated it out as I drifted off to sleep, first saying a prayer that I didn't have covid or a blown vocal cord!
WARNING: 
Do NOT soak in a hot bath if you have circulatory system issues or could be pregnant. In fact, run any prevention protocol you consider using by your doctor to make sure it's safe for you. 
If you suspect covid, get a test - and if positive, get to a doctor!
  • The next morning before leaving for the session, I drank my lemon juice and protein smoothie, took another warm bath, deeply breathing in the steam. Then I took some time to seriously warm my voice up with some careful, targeted vocal exercises, including a new one based on a scale my fellow coach Mark Thress had shared with me. At first, I had some glitches in my range, and using this new exercise with morphy slo-mo vowel modification I was able to stretch and smooth those areas out. I'm now using it with students who need more flexibility and help with vocal glitches, and it's really working! So even this scary situation came with a silver lining. Oh, the research I do for you guys! I also worked my head voice up slowly and did staccato scales throughout my vocal range to pump interstitial fluid out of my puffy morning vocal folds.
  • I brought my jacket and had 2 six-packs of pineapple juice at the studio waiting for me and the other singers. All day long I limited my speaking, kept drinking the diluted pineapple juice, and used excellent vocal technique, lifting up and pulling notes into place as if from the sky. 

Bottom line - IT WORKED! 

  • Thankfully, my voice not only worked, it got better as that third day went on! My tone blended well and I had no vocal issues. The fourth day my voice felt pretty much like normal - and I found fresh faith in vocal techniques and strategies that work for serious performance. More importantly, our producer Paul Thomas and engineer Joe Carroll were thrilled with the results of our background vocals! I resolved to swallow my pride and share this as a cautionary tale with you:)

Want to learn that new vocal exercise? Let me know!

As penance for my disregard of my own protective advice, I'm going to give it away. You're welcome! Just contact me through my website, and I'll tell you how to join me Tuesday, June 14th in a free short workshop where I'll teach it to you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Chat With Lachi - Recording Artist, Disabled Inclusion Advocate

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click the title of this post and go online to hear. You can also  listen & subscribe on iTunes, TuneIn RadioStitcherSpotifyAmazonPodbean, most other podcast apps

                                         PLEASE REVIEW at ratethispodcast.com/atv

NOTE: If you prefer to watch, here's a YouTube video of the interview https://youtu.be/fDWHxCvJmlk

Have you ever felt like there was something about you that would keep your voice from certain opportunities, careers or stages? Maybe you're the wrong race, wrong gender, wrong size, too old, too young, too dark, too light, too weird, too loud, too shy. How about being... too blind? Today I talk with Lachi - a highly successful force of nature who fully embraces and USES her blindness to make the entertainment industry a place where the disabled are successful and where universal access is the norm. Wait til you hear where HER voice is successfully performing! After listening, don't be surprised if you feel a fire in your own gut to think outside the box of your perceived limitations, and go after some dream you may have tucked away.

Things we talk about include:

  • How her early successful but unfulfilling occupations led her into making a risky but much more satisfying journey into the creative arts.
  • Her journey from low-vision to no-vision, and why she asked 'how can I use this?'
  • The formation of her amazing foundation 'RAMPD'.
  • Why we should all embrace universal access.
  • Her award-winning Youtube series 'Off-Beat - Going Blind and Just Trying To Stay Fabulous' where she does things like sky dive!
  • How that led to hosting the PBS series 'Renegades', where she filmed the pilot about deaf stuntwoman Kitty O'Neil.
  • I asked her why where others get stopped, seems to be right where she begins her best work. She tells me how she finds her north star in being exactly who she is.

More about Lachi:

Lachi is an award-winning recording artist, songwriter, speaker and inclusion advocate who's collaborated with major and international labels, brands and some of the biggest names in Dance music. Boasting millions of streams, Lachi's music has debuted on national charts, aired on TV, radio and film, and has been featured in Billboard, Forbes, NY Times, Hollywood Reporter and Essence to name a few. 

Legally blind, Lachi advocates to amplify disability culture and promote inclusion, visibility and accessibility in the Music Industry. She co-chairs GRAMMY Advocacy (NY), founded 'RAMPD' (Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities) and independently keynotes and consults major firms, productions and non-profits on Disability inclusion, including the White House, and the Kennedy Center.

Lachi's links:


Want to find your voice for what you want to do? Schedule a lesson by contacting me and we'll dive into your strengths and weaknesses, and raise your vocal ability and communication skill to another level.

Prefer to watch? 

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Monday, May 2, 2022

Improving Vocal Attributes for Communicating Well

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click the title of this post and go online to hear. You can also  listen & subscribe on iTunes, TuneIn RadioStitcher, Spotify, Amazon, Podbean, most other podcast apps

PLEASE REVIEW at ratethispodcast.com/atv

First of all, just to let you know... I'm baaaaaack!
My apologies for going missing these last couple of months! I had a lot of recording production work and other front-burner things to do, and couldn't get to this blog and podcast til now. 

To get the ball rolling again, the following episode was written by Lawrence Blackwell of  Matinee Multiligual voiceover and subtitling agency which is based in the UK. I hardly ever allow guest posts on All Things Vocal, but this one is really good and important information for voices that I agree with, so my thanks to him for sharing it exclusively with me for you! Let's dive in: 

The human voice is incredibly complex – for instance, did you know it’s able to make in the region of 800+ unique sounds? From a technical perspective, sound is produced when air is blown over the vocal folds at about 110 cycles per second in men, 180-220 cycles in women and 300 cycles or more in children. Combine this with rich words and language, and the result is our ability to communicate vocally with others. That being said, some people are naturally better communicators than others. So, what can we do to improve our vocal communications skills? Let's talk about improving some... 

Vocal Attributes For Communication

It’s important to understand that there is a huge range of vocal attributes that can come into play here, often described differently depending on who’s referring to them and in what context, and they can also change depending on lots of different factors. However, here’s a basic overview of some of the more common vocal qualities that you could be thinking about:
  • Aphonic - Whisper
  • Biphonic - Two pitches at the same time
  • Breathy - Air in the voice is heard
  • Covered - Muffled
  • Creaky - Sound of friction between surfaces
  • Flutter Or Bleat - Sounds like the bleating of a lamb
  • Glottalised - Low clicking, seen in Kim Kardashian's voice
  • Raspy - Dry and grating
  • Pressed - Loud and harsh
  • Twangy - Sharp
  • Wobble - Variations in sound
  • Yawny - Sounds like a yawn in the voice
This is a small section of a list by just one physiologist, but in reality, many of these table types exist and they all differ in many ways.

As a vocal performer, you don’t need to know about all of these and other attributes, but you should at least have a basic understanding of the most important attributes when it comes to vocal communication. By understanding these, you can work on developing and improving them to ultimately improve your craft. Here are some key vocal attributes to consider:

Tone

When you speak to people and convey a message, the tone of voice you use applies meaning to words. For example, the phrase “I don’t know” can have many meanings. Emphasis on the “I” could suggest defensiveness or that you know somebody else does know. Going pointedly down at the end of “know” could suggest that you are putting an end to the point and you really don’t know. If you go higher on “don’t” and then slope down on “know” from high to low, it could be more of a questioning sentence, that suggests whilst you don’t know, you’re curious to know who does know.

Understanding how tone of voice impacts the words you say gives you huge control over the meanings you apply to your words.

Volume

This might seem like an obvious one, but it really is so important. Speak too loudly and you’ll come across as brash, harsh and overly confident or perhaps even aggressive. Speak too quietly and you could sound not very confident, sheepish and unsure. Listening back to your voice will help you understand microphone control and where to position yourself for the very best volume. Playback features in professional voice recording studios are also useful for this practice.

If you’re struggling to project you might want to work on breathing from the pelvic floor, which can help a lot with getting your voice out clearly so your audience can hear you better.

Pitch

Generally, lower-pitched voices are considered nicer or easier on the ear. Whilst this doesn’t mean you need to radically change your voice, it does allow you to be mindful of placing your voice within lower AND MID ranges so that it might appeal to your listeners/audience than if you constantly speak in your higher range.
"We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
The topic of vocal attributes is a complex one, but one that it’s important to get your head around if you plan to pursue a career as an actor, voiceover artist, podcaster, singer or one of the many hundreds of professions that rely heavily on the voice and vocal communication. Once you understand the key vocal attributes and how they can be used and modified to help you communicate, you’ll realize you have the power to improve how you come across to your listeners and ultimately present your message. This is particularly the case if English isn’t your native language – many of the attributes noted above will be used entirely differently in other languages such as French or Spanish so it’s important to make sure your approach is appropriate for the message you’re trying to convey.

Ultimately, understanding how to better use your vocal attributes is a skill that won’t just benefit you in your career, but ultimately all aspects of your life. Think about it... almost all of us use our voices for reasons - every single day! 

And shhhh... here's a sneak peek for you:
Here's my very first mention of what I have coming up: in the next few weeks I'll be launching my first video vocal training course on Teachable! This video course will be... on the Speaking Voice! Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Mechanical Licenses For Recording Projects: What, When, How [updated]

Selling music? License first!

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear. 
 Available also on iTunes , Google PlayTuneIn Radio, Android apps


If you are doing a recording project of music that you intend to sell, you need to know about mechanical licenses. Of course, if you're a songwriter or publisher, and want to get paid properly for your intellectual property, you need to understand mechanicals, too!

In a nutshell, mechanical fees are paid on physical or digital products. This is different from radio play or venue performance fees, which are collected by PRO's - performance rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC in the US, SOCAN in Canada, and others in other countries.

Let me address labels, and let's be clear, most indie artists today own their own labels. No matter how small a "run" of your project you print or make available for download, you need to understand the legal and ethical responsibilities you have to the publishers of your songs. Here's a simple summary from the Harry Fox site (Harry Fox is the leading provider of mechanical licenses in the US):
If you are manufacturing and distributing copies of a song which you did not write, and you have not already reached an agreement with the song's publisher, you need to obtain a mechanical license. This is required under U.S. Copyright Law, regardless of whether or not you are selling the copies that you made.

You do not need a mechanical license if you are recording and distributing a song you wrote yourself, or if the song is in the public domain. If you are not sure if the song you are looking to license is in the public domain, and therefore does not require license authority, we suggest you use the search on www.pdinfo.com.

How much does a mechanical license cost?

The current US statutory mechanical rights fee is $.091 (9.1 cents) per physical or digital copy. That 9.1 cents is to be divided among all publishers, who then distribute to their writers according to the contract they have with the writers (not the label's responsibility). So if a label want to buy a license for, say, 1000 units... divided as 500 physical plus 500 digital copies, they would divide $91 among all publishers per song on the recording project. In addition, if the license is obtained through Harry Fox, there is a small processing fee for their service.

How do you get these licenses?

The record label or label rep is legally obligated to obtain licenses either directly from the song publisher(s) or through the Harry Fox Agency if the song is licensed there. This is the tedious part... the label must contact and obtain mutually signed  mechanical licenses from all publishers and co-publishers who own each separate song. Publisher info can be obtained by contacting and asking the writers who their publishers are. If you're an independent songwriter not affiliated with Harry Fox... have a blank custom mechanical license handy that you can fill out with your info and provide a label when you find out they've cut your song! (scroll down to find a custom license with fillable fields!)

When do you need to get these licenses?

Before releasing the project! In fact, before recording the songs, labels should make sure the license is obtainable! The potential problem is: publishers have the right to choose who first releases their song. With a new unreleased song, the label needs to get the license to affirm they have permission for first release, or the recording budget for that song could be spent on something that can't be sold.

To recap... The label should pay for a mechanical license for each song before they are sold. The label would estimate how many digital or physical units they would want to sell at first and pay $ .091 per unit per song (for 1000 units this would be $91 per song) to split between publishers.

Information you'll need to collect for each song:

  • Writer and co-writer name(s), PRO(s) [BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc], percentage(s) and addresses

  • Publisher and co-pub name(s), PRO(s), percentage(s) and addresses for where to send payment

Other random FAQ's about mechanical licenses:

  • Licensor = Label rep would be whoever represents the record label.  Licensee = the publisher of that particular song.

  • Yes, you need a license form for each song, even with the same songwriter and publishing co.

  • No, the songwriter does not sign the license… the publisher does. The agreement is between label and publisher.

  • The label would then pay the publisher the mechanical license fee.

  • How the songwriter gets paid...  if contractually obligated, the publishing company will split mechanicals with the songwriter, according to the contract they have between them. This is not the label's responsibility; it's the publisher's.

Need A blank custom mechanical license?

When a record label approaches me concerning one of my songs, I give them any co-publishing information so they can contact those publishers, and I use a custom license from my own publishing company. I got the following form from an independent record label, and created a fillable form you can download here:

Free Download! Custom Mechanical License (blank fillable form)

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Creating a win-win situation for the artist/label and the writers/publishers keeps great music rewarding for all. Understanding mechanical licenses for music projects is information every record label, songwriter and publisher should have. If anyone has any other questions or can offer any other information about mechanicals, I welcome your comments!

Singers: For the best pre-production money you can spend, be sure to check out www.SingingInTheStudio.com.

Production teams: For the best training to know how to help your singers capture magic, check out
www.VocalProductionWorkshop.com .

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Monday, January 17, 2022

How To (REALLY) Make It In Music - Updated 2022



 What does your personal, unique picture of music success look like?

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear. 

Available also on iTunesTuneIn RadioStitcherSpotifyAmazonPodbean, most other podcast apps

PLEASE REVIEW at ratethispodcast.com/atv  
So how do you know you've become 'successful'? Well, there's an old (unfortunately relevant) joke that goes 'how do you make a million dollars in the music business? By starting with 2 million!' Lets come up with some better strategy. I strongly advise you to decide on the front end of any money/time/heart that you spend on training/writing/production/performing or anything else: What would ‘success’ look like to you for you to consider your investment in music to be worth it?

Some goals and pictures of  music success you could go for:

  • You want to sing better (write/play, whatever you want to be able to do better). 

It’s important to your heart and part of your life-balance to be good at your music. It’s not necessary that you make music as a career, or that you ever make money at it. But you love doing it, and it fulfills you to do it well. Karaoke, choir singing, jam sessions with family and friends, the occasional show, that sort of thing.

  • You want to get good enough to compete

... or participate in a talent show of some kind and not embarrass yourself, maybe even place or win. Perhaps you want to audition for a college music program or for a part in a musical or other production.

  • You want to do seriously good music on the side.

Perhaps you want to do a recording project that may never pay for itself but is a legacy for you. You want to do some special performances, to get a casual band together to do some part-time gigging. It's important for your life-balance wholeness to be able to make some very good music and do it well.

  • You have a professional reason to get better at singing (playing, writing, etc). Such as...

    • You're a side-musician that need to sing background better on live tours,
    • you're getting live show background vocal, jingle or studio session work and want to go a level up, etc.
    • You're a songwriter and need to sing and/or play better to write better melodies and perform or demo your work.
    • You're a public speaker, salesperson, teacher, coach, voice-over talent, minister, receptionist, reporter, waiter. etc. and you may need to get rid of some vocal strain or gain vocal ability that will make you a more effective communicator.

  • Or perhaps you are potentially good enough to have a main career as a recording/performing artist, and decide to devote a certain amount of time to finding out if you can get the bandwagon rolling.

    • For this, you need to understand that the odds are great you’ll never break even. It’s a gamble you must be willing to take, and like all gambles, you need to be as fully informed of your chances as possible.
    • You will need to develop a network of industry insiders… and that takes time, patience and careful persistence. Your reputation with them will be based on things like your personality, ability, and usefulness to them and others.
    • You’ll need money for training, recording at least a demo, and gigging costs (at first you will play for free). You'll either have a backer, savings you're willing to dip into, a day job or all three.
    • You’ll need to develop a circle of accountability to keep you safe - an entertainment attorney, friends/family with good business instincts, other singers/writers/insiders who have gone down the road before you. A good circle will both caution you when you’re about to step off a cliff or be scammed, and encourage you when you’re almost there but losing heart. And you'll reciprocate by doing the same for them.
    • You’ll need a strong constitution for all the ‘no’s’ you will receive.
    • You’ll need to get and stay informed about the current music business marketing and promotion strategies that are working. Here are some sources for current music business training I recommend, some free blogs and podcasts, some paid personalized career guidance:
Wendy Parr
PCG Artist Development
Rick Barker
Bree Noble (and her Female Entrepreneur Podcast)
New Roots (for new female artists)
    • And you’ll need to be satisfied if at the end of the day you can’t make your career pay, that at least you tried, and it’s important enough for you to do so.

Now that your goals are clear - Get Practical!

Too many people are depressed or defeated in their music aspirations because they don't do what it takes to be successful at it. They worry, try, hope, gripe, give up or stay in a perpetual state of failing but they don't get practical and…

1. They don’t research what it takes to be successful with their music goals.
2. They don’t assess the vocal, musical or business skills they have at this point in time.
3. They don’t get to work on acquiring those skills and assets they’re missing.

Take a Step!

I used to counsel people in women's prisons and juvenile detention centers, in a trained volunteer program with 5 steps called "Better Decisions". The funny thing is, I learned as much as my inmate students did about getting to better places in life. You and I can use these same 5 steps:

1. Know the situation ( assess where you are right now)
2. Know what you want (where you want to be)
3. Brainstorm the possibilities (and get other sources to help you do this)
4. Evaluate and decide (choose your strategies and tactics according to your life values)
5. ACT! (without this step, the others are useless) You may need to do something, face something about yourself, learn something, network with someone, make some calls, try some experiments. Wishing isn’t enough… schedule these into your calendar!

Make a Plan!

You can't plan for every contingency, as the pandemic era has proven, but without a morphable plan, success is a pipedream - not a real one with legs and not just wings. I strongly advise long term and short term planning:
Create a 5 year plan, where do you want to be and what do you want to have accomplished by then?
Work back... what do you have to in year 1, 2, 3, 4 to reach your goals in year 5?
Work back further... what do you have to do in each month to work towards your 1 year goal?
Work back further still... what do you need to do for the next 4 weeks? for the next week? for the next 7 days? Today???
Create a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly agenda. Know that it will be a plan on rollerskates; revise as necessary but keep moving towards your goals.

Do your due diligence

,,, on anyone you’re thinking about working with. Never sign anything without running it by a good entertainment attorney. 

If you're thinking of working with me, here's how I can benefit you:
  • I will kindly but honestly assess your commercial potential for the music business (though I never say 'absolutely never' because a lot depends on your persistence in developing your craft and learning the biz, along with some luck)
  • I will make you the best singer you can be, helping you discover your uniqueness, conquer any vocal problems you have, max your ability and protect your voice.
  • I am also a studio producer and/or vocal producer with other production teams, and offer the best of those services, too. Or you can check out my training course Singing In The Studio.
  • You can use me as a wall to bounce off potential music business strategies your considering, but I do not promise any networking. That is up to you.

Don't Stop:

Don't ever stop dreaming, but do put legs under your wings. Don't waste any more time; do something proactive and get to work towards your chosen music goals, today!  

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