Fame, A Career, A Livelihood

If you decide to sing so you can be “famous”, you are in for a bumpy ride. You cannot create fame. You can create competence, you can create a high level of skill, you can be blessed with a good instrument, you can be emotionally communicative and musical, and you can do whatever you know to do to perform, but none of that will guarantee any kind of fame. You can be lucky and sing in just the right circumstance, for just the right people at the right time, and perhaps, then, be recognized by a small group of people who can put you in the public eye, but even those people cannot guarantee that you will be liked by the public once you are there. There really is a degree of just plain luck involved.

On the other hand, you can recognize that you don’t really need to be famous. You can discover that you are content being able to make a living singing, wherever and however that can happen. That could mean you end up doing covers in a wedding band (which pays well) or you create a band that works in local clubs or at social events, or that you sing for children’s birthday parties, or you have several jobs singing in churches and synogogues. You could perhaps make a CD and sell it on-line to generate income, and you can try to secure work singing back-up vocals, in a studio, or doing TV commercial jingles. All of these require that you work to get the gigs by being prepared, going to auditions, networking with others in the business, and generally being ready at a moment’s notice both vocally and musically when opportunities present themselves.

And, in the event that a career in one of these does not easily work out, you are faced with what you can do to make a livelihood from what you know or choosing to do something else as your main way to make money and singing “on the side”. This could mean that in addition to singing you end up doing a little teaching, you learn to play an instrument and can make money from that as well, or you find a way to sell other music and voice related services, such as transcribing music on Finale or Sibelius, selling songs you write to other singers, or all of these in some combination.

Being a singer requires that you are a self-motivated, self-directed person with a high level of motivation, a desire to be skilled and an understanding of professional level requisites for singers who get paid to do whatever type of singing they choose. If you are in a large city, it requires a great deal of competitive spirit, an ability to be flexible, and a willingness to work diligently over a period of time in order to get successfully launched. It might also require a rather large cash reserve to live off while all these things are getting worked out.

Yes, there are exceptions to this but you cannot plan to be an exception. You need to plan to be just like everyone else and hope that, when the opportunity finally arrives, you can prove that you are, indeed, something special. AND, if you have issues that get in your way, you need to recognize and deal with those issues, as they will absolutely stop you dead if you do not.

I know several really talented, skilled people who were afraid to face the highest level of success and consistently manifested reasons why they “couldn’t make it”. These people have “reasons” which end up being excuses for not looking at the behavior OUTSIDE of singing that causes them to fail.

If you do not know how to converse, if you do not know how to dress, how to conduct yourself in a professional manner, if you are always talking about your problems and your illnesses, if you are quick to look for a way to blame others instead of taking responsibility for your own life, if you run all over looking for someone to give you guidance but don’t actually take anyone’s advice to heart, if you cannot take reasonable amounts of criticism without feeling attacked, if you refuse to do the necessary networking and street pounding that all aspiring people have to do, if you always have something “come up” at the last minute that interferes with your career goals, if, if, if…………I could go on………do not be surprised if you do not end up famous, or with a career or even being able to make a living from singing. You can’t sell your throat as if it was not part of your body and your brain. The path is always from the inside out.

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2 thoughts on “Fame, A Career, A Livelihood”

  1. Wonderful post, Jeanie. Great advice, not just for singers, and a great antidote to the fame hunger that bombards us all daily. I especially love “you cannot plan to be an exception. You need to plan to be just like everyone else…” This trips up so many creative people.

  2. Great post! If we’re lucky, the thing we grow to know is that we are all unique beings and yet we are the same. It’s a tough lesson to learn that no one of us is more important than another. Career success takes a great deal of hard work and preparation. And then if you get lucky, fantastic! But I think it requires a significant amount of heart and inner maturity to transcend ego and understand that success doesn’t equate to more important. Being a working singer, musician, poet, teacher, is a blessing, even without public accolades. Success equates to being darned lucky to do the thing you love, hopefully to do it well, and wow if you can get paid for it! My two cents.

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