A great way to grab the attention of your potential listeners as a singer or original artist is to cover songs that are hits. Beyoncé and Imagine Dragons already have a fan base that loves their music — and those fans will probably love your sound if you match theirs (or Adele’s or Shawn Mendez’s…you get the idea).
So let’s talk about how to capitalize on a market that already exists, while making you stand out as an artist too!
My three main pieces of advice are:
- Don’t be a copycat. If you are unable to sing it better or different, then pick a different song! My biggest pet peeve is when an artist sings a song EXACTLY like the original. A trick for females is to choose a male song, and vice versa for males. If you are in the early stages of recording and learning, then this isn’t as important. But once you’ve had some experience and made the decision to be an ARTIST, this is a MUST in order to carve your own path in this business. (See “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by UB40 or “Wild Horses” by Alicia Keys for examples.)
- Understand the lyrics. It’s your job as a singer and performer to tell the story. It’s surprising to find out how many singers actually don’t understand the words or message they are singing about. Rewrite the lyrics in your own handwriting, or retype them and print them out. Grab a marker and highlight what you think are the main emotional words or phrases of the song. Listen to the song while reading the lyrics. Live and breathe the song as if you wrote it yourself.
- Match the genre, not the artist. If someone tells you that you sound like Bruno Mars, DO NOT pick a Bruno Mars song. Sure you can use this as inspiration and a guideline, but in order to be recognized for your own unique sound, it’s important to choose a song that is not like an artist with a similar tonality as you. You’ll want to choose a song in the genre of Bruno Mars. But if I can’t tell the difference between you and Mr. Mars on your cover of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”, that’s probably not the right fit. Perhaps an Usher cover would work better for you.
For inspiration to choose a cover, visit Billboard.com’s chart page: http://www.billboard.com/charts#id-chart-category-pop. This link takes you to the pop charts, but you can choose other genres when you get there.
Until next time,
Lessons and practice are certainly important as an artist. You want to get to a point where you’re not even thinking — you’re just in the “zone” and the music takes over.
So how can you increase your odds of having this kind of mind blowing performance? Make these seven tips part of your pre-show routine and you’ll begin to see a difference — both for yourself and for your audience.
- Relax the day of show. We have all experienced pre-show jitters, sometimes so much so that it affects the quality of our voices. To steady your voice, try humming, feeling that breath on your lips, in your cheeks, even in your eye sockets. It’s a soothing feeling, even if you’re not about to perform.
- Keep your stomach (somewhat) full. An empty stomach could send you onto the stage with a dizzy feeling, leading to poor vocal quality and forgetting important techniques you’ve spent weeks rehearsing. Try eating a banana before you perform. It will lower that empty or nauseous feeling in your stomach, but won’t make you feel too full either.
- Stretch! Some people hold tension in their arms, their legs, even their faces! Stretching various parts of your body is great way to reduce the tension in your body. Even try puffing your cheeks to loosen your facial muscles or wiggling your toes to remind yourself that you’re rooted in the ground — and remember, you got this!!
- Avoid Caffeine. This should be a huge “duh” for any singer. Caffeine is a HUGE no-no. Caffeine can not only make you more anxious, it will dry out your system which is just plain being mean to your vocal chords. Now, if you’re a caffeine addict, this isn’t the time to try to quit. (The withdrawal can cause shaking, headaches, or even vomiting!) Just don’t have extra caffeine on the day of the performance. You may think that it will make you perform with more energy, but it will actually make you feel more nervous and jittery.
- Get adequate sleep the night before. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and late night parties once you’ve been exposed to the spotlight. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to sleep at least 8-9 hours a night, especially before a performance. Your body is actually preparing for the show as you sleep, through repairing and replenishing itself in your comfy pj’s! Don’t deprive it of this oh-so-important part of the preparation process.
- Confidence is everything. Lets face it, confidence is everything in this business. If you believe you are good enough, the audience will too. Confidence comes from within, so get your meditation on and focus on how amazing you’re going to be on stage. You will exude positive energy that will become infectious, and the audience will be able to do little but explode with applause!!
- Bring real-life experiences to the stage. This is a tough one, but it might be the most important. Imagine saying “I love you” to someone you care about while doing something unrelated — maybe cooking dinner, reading the newspaper, or just simply not paying attention. Would that person really feel that you truly love them? Probably not. When performing, you need to be in the moment and allow yourself to feel real feelings. Believe me, the listener will relate to you so much more. Try thinking back to that time when your heart was broken. Or, if you’ve been so lucky to not have your heart broken, think of a movie or a book that touched you, or a friend or family member. It’s important you humble yourself and remain vulnerable and open. Your audience will not only hear and see you, but even more importantly, they’ll feel you.
You might notice that these seven tips not only apply to performing, but to life in general. But that’s what music is — it’s life! We’re performing every day, sharing our gifts with each other. Make these part of your everyday living, so much so that they become habits. Little by little, you will begin to build your story and help define the person you are to become!
Until next time.