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Session Singing – Your Day Job!

By Tom Gauger You’ve always had the dream, you want to go for it, but you hesitate because you’re not quite sure how to enter the market.  You know that if given the opportunity, that you would rise to the occasion, do it and be successful!  That’s a common theme among singers who want to embark upon a career as a jingle or session singer.  As a former talent booking agent with the William Morris Agency, I can attest to the frustration that many feel, trying to break into the singing market.  In this article I will attempt to describe some ways and ideas that you can incorporate into your singing career and hopefully one day you will look back with a roster of singing clients and artists and jingle houses who have used you on numerous recording sessions.  As a professional session singer myself, singing on numerous sessions and jingles, I can attest to the degree of apprehension that many young artists face today with the ebb and flow of not only competition, but the degree of difficulty marketing themselves as qualified and able singing talent.  Let me embrace your desire for singing success, but also encourage you that there is always, as they say, room at the top – And beyond that, there is also always room for those who push and market themselves well.  So there is hope and there is room for you to break into the music industry as a session singer and fulfill your dreams.  Let’s look at some key concepts to get you there. First off, what are you doing right now that’s relevant in obtaining and getting you to your dream of becoming a session singer?  Are you just dreaming, or have you started a career blueprint for success?  I’m very serious about creating a workable game plan to get you to your goals.  I wish that success just fell in everyone’s lap, but unfortunately it sometimes takes a lot of effort and push.  I want you to, everyday, start working on defining your main goal.  Do you want to be an all around session singer, or do you want to specialize in jingle singing and the money that can be made in that market?  After you have defined your main goal, understand that sometimes, everyone’s goals take twists and turns in the road no matter how well defined.  Sometimes an individual who produces this or that type of music takes a liking to your singer reel and starts giving you all kinds of work.  You need to create goals based on today, this week, this month, year and five year goal plans.  Make sure that you are very defined in your goals.  Now you have to get there - Let’s look at some concepts to get you there. In any business, image is everything.  I heard the story of a dentist who started his business and wasn’t obtaining as many clients as he would have liked to.  He decided that he would go out and purchase a fancy convertible parked out in front of his office.  You know what happened? – Because his image was of success and because people thought he was successful, his business took off and he became a very successful dentist.  Your convertible is going to be your singer demo reel and any bio and pictures that go out with it.  Unfortunately, so many individuals want to be stars and the stories go on and on when you are in the music industry about this individual or that individual, who don’t even have the basic marketing items, namely their singing reel, but want you to represent them.  These folks want you to spend all of your time marketing and doing all of the work that they could have and should have been done, for free.  In terms that anyone can understand, your demo reel has to sound like it was produced by some of the best in the industry.  You can not afford to go over to a friend’s house hoping, that with a computer, keyboard and a mic, that you can put together a singer demo reel that gets you work.  Your demo has to be the quality of that fancy convertible we were talking about.  Competition dictates that you absolutely have the best singer demo available.  You might want to visit for any questions or ideas about singer demo reels, artist bio’s, etc.  Many Free e-books and information is also available.  Whatever you do, your demo has to shine and you need to look successful like you’ve been doing this kind of work as a seasoned session singer for years. Your approach to how you contact and follow up with producers, jingle houses and various music industry personnel is going to be key.  Some individuals really benefit from actually writing down potential questions and rehearsing their answers and potential questions they might ask the producer before they get started.  You will need to have a succinct way in which you keep records of individuals that you talk with after demos have been sent out.  Be very detailed including, time, date, type of singing work, response, misc info and of course names and contact numbers.  Your weekly goals ought to incorporate how many individuals you are going to contact, follow up contacts, and thank you or birthday cards when appropriate.  I’ve mentioned this in other articles, but actually sending out your demo by snail mail is probably more effective then emailing an mp3.  While emailing is virtually free, the effort is not as great.  People like to get mail, open up their mail and with your picture, bio and incredible sounding and professional looking singer demo package; you have a much greater chance of being called on. After you develop a relationship with certain individuals, you might be able to email a current mp3, but I wouldn’t advise it prior to developing a relationship and their permission.  In closing, you will want to possibly look at multiple singer reels, so that your name and contact numbers cross a potential client’s desk a few times.  This is very helpful and sometimes is the factor that ultimately pushes you to success.  Don’t be afraid to ask for singing work.  Tell them that you are a seasoned singer and want to develop a professional singing relationship with them and plain want the opportunity to work together.  Don’t be afraid to push a little, but always with kindness and a great attitude.
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