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#1 2011-06-08 03:47:00

moondragon
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2011-06-08
Posts: 1
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Business advice forum category

Hi, I happened across your forums today and was disappointed that there wasn't a forum for singers to discuss their experience with the business side of being a singer. Working as singer-for-hire has different stipulations than joining a band. Studio work has different requirements than live performance. All of these things require contracts of some kind, and with all the possible variations in such contracts, it would be neat for experienced singers to be able to advise those who are new to the field.

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#2 2011-06-18 19:00:28

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11204
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Re: Business advice forum category

Excellent point. And on the main website, there are a few essays kind of pointed in that direction. Mostly, in this forum, people are concentrated on the foundations of technique, repertoire, artistic expression. And yes, neglecting the business side, if one is to be a pro, is dangerous and can lead to financial ruin on the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

And while a section of the forum could be set up for that, it would need to have the interest of the majority of people here to make it work.

We have a mix of types here. From pro singers and vocal teachers to people like me who don't sing for a living, though we would like to do so. But I also know from the school of hard knocks that technique alone does not guarantee success. Nor does working hard guarantee that. Look at the story of Anvil.

First, get to the gig.
Second, play the gig.
Third, get paid for it.

The third is the hardest part.

For some of us, as well as other singers, singing in studio is different than singing live. And what it takes to be a good studio singer is not necessarily what it takes to sing live. Also, to be a studio singer-for-hire, one needs a musical education. The ability to read sheet music and understand intervals, ala the Nashville system. The ability to subjugate your artistic expression to the will of the recording engineer or mixing engineer. That ability to do the same take over and over again. And what would the studio singing entail? Being a background singer?

Any famous band already has a singer of some notoriety who is usually not a back-up singer.

Any business deal is a risk. What if you take a flat rate for recording performance? You do the track, you get your money and go. And the track becomes a monster hit. And you don't get a piece of the royalties because you signed a contract waiving rights and accepting a labor contract rate.

Or, you think a song will do well and you take a percentage instead of the flat rate. And the song dies on the vine or only sells 500 copies, mainly to radio stations. And you got a whopping $15 for your 3 cents per unit sold percentage. Business is business and you have to deal with the Devil.

Many of us have never been paid for singing. We get up and sing where they don't run us out.

The ones that do have a band that gets paid are out there, getting paid.

So, how does one get paid? That depends on the venue. You might play a club and get a flat rate. Or, a percentage of the door (cover charge paid at the door, of which you get a percentage.) The owner will not share a percentage of drink sales as, in America, there is so much tax on alcohol that he must keep all that receipt to pay the taxes. If you get a flat rate, you get paid the same, even if the club made a huge amount of money that night.

What kind of club should you play in that will appreciate your music? Should Boy George play in a country bar? (Actually, Culture Club did that in an episode of "The A-Team.") Look at what the music market is doing. How many people are going to clubs and to hear what kind of music? And do they prefer it live or just dance to the stereo system? You will not go from a lesson with your voice coach to playing the Cotton Bowl.

Is the music scene changing? The Beatles were just about the first to play to half a stadium. Before that, performances were mainly in theatres and such. And many is the big band of the 80's that is sharing the bill with another group and playing theater sized venues like the event centers at the Winstar Casino and Choctaw Casino, both in southern Oklahoma. The size is about the same as an opera house. At least, around here. Though there still are arena shows for big names, such as Paul McCartney and U2. But those guys paid their dues the hard way. Travelling in van and playing little clubs and bars.

And getting paid and not paid along the way. And now, with digital downloads and illegally shared content, many of them are getting not paid even moreso. So many people are just downloading to i-pods and smartphones rather than buying the cd. And so record companies are taking bigger losses in hard media sales, such as cd's.

However, in places like South America, the arena show is still big business. That is why Guns and Roses tours a lot there. The market is there as fans appreciate that style of music. And are will to come out in such numbers that only an arena could contain the show.


"Keep on rockin' in the free world." - Neil Young

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