While there are several vocal studios that teach singers how to use their instrument, there are very few that provide an environment to nurture the artist and foster growth and development. I’ve been involed in artist development for many years now in the heart of New York City and have worked with literally thousands of aspiring artists. Helping artists find themselves artistically is one of the key inspirations of my daily work. All of my life has been dedicated to being a musician, singer and songwriter, and as I have walked this path I have helped many other artists walk theirs. And over the past 10 years, I have acquired a team of very talented musicians, coaches, record producers and other songwriters to and create a place in NYC where talent is shaped and produced.
While a lot of singers come to me for the vocal technique that I am known for, there are many who are looking for guidance with their music and careers. Many young singers have come to me for help with their songs and style. We start to write songs with them and start the recording process. Through our various workshops, they build their performance skills and learn about the industry. Through our showcases, they built new audiences and got exposure. Some singers are ready to record and we spearhead many projects every year. Sometimes we are working with an established or independent artist to renew their sense of their craft or to reinvent their style or message or simply to return to themselves. Sometimes when artists have been in the industry for a while, with everyone telling them what they should do, they lose sight of their natural instincts.
I will speak first to the artist who is just starting out and doing their first record and then to those of you who’ve been out there for a while.
So everyone’s telling you to record an album and sell it on the Internet and you too can have your chance at stardom! But how are you going to put that all together? Where do you find the right musicians and writers to work with? And what about finding a producer who isn’t just in it for the money? How can you find people that will help you and not break your wallet? Are you even ready to do that yet? Are your songs ready to record?
Let’s say that in this process of being an artist there are two major aspects. Business and artistry. Both are equally important. The two are interconnected but are completely different energies! Today, because artists are more business conscious, there is a stronger focus on the ‘business’ side of things. That’s good because you can be more in charge of your career decisions. But what about the ‘artistic’ side of the craft? Just as business is crucial to your progress, development your artistic vision could put you on the road to attracting key players much faster! There are a lot of good voices out there, but how often do you come across a great artist? If you haven’t nurtured the artist in you, you may leave your greatest offerings to be undiscovered even to yourself!
For those of you just starting out, there is a lot to get into place and learn before you rush out there. Let’s talk about ‘artistry’. Three things have to come into place before it is time to even talk about the industry.
- Your voice
- Your songs
- Your music/product
The first two key ingredients are your voice and your songs. Without a good expressive voice and without good songs, no matter what your friends and family tell you, you are still at square one.
1. Step One is improving your voice.
While I sang well before I was trained, I wanted to do more with my voice and set out to learn technique through vocal lessons. Little did I know it would become a profession for me. As I started to train I was amazed at how much you could improve the instrument and gained tremendous respect for the pedagogy and exercises. In my opinion, every great singer uses training to help them expand their vocal ability and control their sound. So that is the first step.
2. Step Two is writing songs.
Get a songwriting book. My favorite book to date is ‘Six Steps to Songwriting Success’ by Jason Blume. Take a songwriting class. There are lots of great classes out there at the New School and The Songwriters Hall of Fame. Our online songwriting program at CCVM is special because it’s specifically designed for singers and many of our students frequent them. In SSC you get private A & R Direction and private songwriting sessions with our staff writers who will help you hone your lyrics and write melodies and music to them. The process of developing an artist always starts with writing. As the songs emerge, the vision of the artist becomes clearer and the larger picture starts to unfold.
3. Step Three is working with musicians and/or a record producer.
Depending on your budget there is a variety of options. We have relationships with many top producers in NY who work with record labels and well-known artists. Artists who come to work with us are presented to these key players when their voice and songs are ready to go.
For singers who are already songwriters and recording artists, there is a completely different set of challenges. We embark on a path of inquiry and exploration to find pieces of their art that have remained hidden or unexposed to them. Sometimes it’s as simple as providing a space that is free from the pressures of the ‘business’ that will open things up and get them flowing. Sometimes it’s about letting go of concepts and images to fall into the void of nothingness from which to create again. Sometimes it’s about opening up new doorways of sounds and chords. Sometimes we have to feed our ears with new music and expand the chords we use. Sometimes we write new melodies or vocal lines playing with approaches and sounds to stimulate new ideas. Creating music is like growing a garden. It needs constant nurturing and attention. You’ll take away as much as you put in.
Want more great tips, solutions, and some free guidance? Join my FREE 6 Week Online Artist Development Program: Step Up to the Spotlight. This program has helped over 13,400 artists amplify their impact and skyrocket their careers. I want you to be next.