It's that time again, NBC's "The Voice" is holding auditions for their next season. As someone who has auditioned for television shows MANY times and made it through different rounds of casting, has had many conversations with friends who made it onto these shows, and now communicates with different casting agents advocating for my own students to be a part of these shows, this is the advice I wish I would've followed when I started as a teenager.
1. REMEMBER, IT'S JUST A SHOW
This has got to be one of the most difficult things to remember as you are preparing to audition and the nerves set in. Not making this television show will NOT break your career. Just as making it may not actually MAKE your career. If you think of how many participants on these shows have actually had any kind of real career the number is actually quite small. At the top of my head I can really only think of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. The artists who actually do make great careers out of opportunities like that often have great business sense and hustle like crazy, and THEN also have the stars align for them in many other ways. This show can be a great opportunity to be seen, no doubt. But you are not worth any less, or any less talented if you are not exactly what they are looking for. Participate as much as you can, if you make it, FANTASTIC. But if not, get back to work and remember that when you just keep working often times the most fruitful opportunities come packages that look confusingly NOT fruitful.
There is so much life ahead of you and so many other ABSOLUTELY MORE POSSIBLE AND PROBABLE ways that you are going to create a great career for yourself. At the end of the day it's just a show.. it is just one more audition.. it's just one more opportunity to get to know who you are in these situations better. My advice is to talk to people, get to know the artists that are sitting next to you at auditions, tell them how great you think they are, get their contact information. Be kind. Being supportive of others on their same paths in music is very fulfilling and can lead to great friends and even great referrals for opportunities you may not otherwise get down the line. It is a great opportunity and one to always have hope for, but everything does not ride on it in the end.
2. VIEW IT AS EDUCATION
This is such a big one for me! Wow do I wish I would've had this mindset in my teens! I mentioned above that these auditions are so valuable in and of themselves because they can be an incredible way for you to have more chances to see what happens to you when you get overwhelmingly, fiercely nervous. Analyze yourself. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE STRESS?
Pay attention to your voice, pay attention to your mind and body.. what nervous habits do you have as a performer? What ways do you need to compensate for these nerves in your voice and body? How can you keep these things from happening next time you are overtaken with nerves like this? The people who make these kinds of shows are the ones who do REALLY well under pressure. They perform just as well with nerves as they do without them and the best way to get there is to pay attention. Do you overshoot or undershoot pitches? Do you get too loud or not loud enough? Do you have nervous ticks with your hands or legs? Do you forget the words to what you are singing? Put yourself in as many situations as you can to be this nervous prior to your audition and start to notice the things you do.. you CAN develop a system for dealing with these nerves and ensuring you don't let these simple things ruin you as a singer and performer. The more you know how you respond under pressure, the better you can prepare yourself to keep from making these mistakes in these more defining moments.
3. TAKE SONGS THAT ARE CURRENT AND FAMILIAR, THEN SING THEM REALLY WELL
In my experience when it comes to song choices with these shows, current and popular is better! There really is not a science to these things.. this advice is just speculation. But song choice is massive with these situations and over and over I have seen them turn down your more "old school" song choices and obsess over artists who pick more "popular" music. They frequently ask in private auditions for current and upbeat music. Remember, a lot of this industry is how profitable you can be to the show.. can you brand yourself well? Are you someone they can see and hear easily on the radio? Also, take more than one song. Chances are good if they have their eyes on you they will ask you to sing multiple songs on the spot. Be prepared.
4. PERFORM. A LOT.
This is good advice for so many reasons, a few of them correlate well with the things I have mentioned above. Really when it comes down to it people want to watch someone who looks truly comfortable on stage and who is ready to make a quick connection with the audience and communicate their song and who they are well. I have seen a lot of great performers with sub-par voices have massive careers in hollywood. It is much less often I see great singers with sub-par entertaining abilities make a large impact. Hone in your skills. Perform a lot and find a performance coach if need be. A performance coach can be very helpful at helping you to get out of your comfort zone and into connecting with the audience and your song. Learn what things you do really well and what things you don't, use your strengths to your advantage as often as you can.
5. THIS IS TELEVISION, NOT MUSIC.
At the end of the day the best you can do is work hard and prepare really well. Everything else is in their hands. This is still television we are talking about. The more you can recognize that they are literally "casting" a television show, not always looking for the best singers out there the easier this process will be. They still want to find people with incredible stories who fit well with what they are looking for that year. Yes, your abilities as an artist are a big deal, but to them so is your personality and your story. Share it!! Don't be afraid to talk about what you have been through and why they need you!
If by chance you are told "no" it doesn't make you any less than you are. Keep pushing forward, keep doing your thing. Remember that Tori Kelly and Jennifer Hudson were just among the few now prominent artists given this same "no" on popular television shows. If you keep perfecting your craft you will find your path.
To those of you auditioning this year, BEST OF LUCK! I am so excited for all of you and happy you are fighting for the things you want in life! I believe there is a chance for most anyone talented who is willing to work extremely hard in this business! If you would like to see more posts like this, let me know!