I sent an email to my newsletter subscribers in July on the topic of “Going Pro”. After having to deal with LOADs of musicians as the show producer for a massive event recently I realised there were 3 elements of being a professional singer I left out that are CRUCIAL to making it in this industry (or any vocation to be fair). I’ll get to these in a sec.
The highlights of my ‘Going Pro’ email were this:
1. Understanding that you, your voice & your body are your ‘product’
This means nurturing every aspect of your voice & body.
2. Liken yourself to an athlete EVERYDAY.
The body actually IS your temple as we know all sorts of food, lifestyle & environmental factors massively impact our voices (i.e; stimulants like coffee can be dehydrating, lack of sleep & second hand let alone first hand smoke can irritate our vocal folds).
3. Listen to your body & figure out what makes you feel good when it comes to food & exercise – it doesn’t have to be drastic changes to get on track, start small like me with cutting out energy drinks & I was single handedly supporting the Red bull economy!! Become aware via journalling of any changes that may be happening to your voice or body so you can action preventative measures or seek professional advice if it’s an ongoing vocal issue.
4. Train specifically, with a coach for each event.
TRANSLATION: Specific song study or technical study with a vocal coach for each performance.
5. Get your head in the game
To see the needle shift for us as singers & performers we need to get out head straight as much as our focus on physical practices. Once you decide to ‘go pro’ you may notice that others around you (family, friends, colleagues) may innocently (or intentionally!) try to sabotage your plans for greatness. Why? Because they like you just the way you are!! You going pro means not partying with them til the wee hours because you want to rest vocally in preparation for the next days practice, vocal session or gig. Let alone your own negative thoughts or insecurities about yourself as an artist!
6. Warm Up
Athletes warm up in a way that gets their body ready for the challenge ahead – EVERY TIME – NO EXCEPTIONS (yes I am shouting)
Athletes understand that their muscles are interconnected & a tense muscle in your hamstrings can affect corresponding muscles that support your voice. It helps us relax mentally & enhances focus.
8. Cool Down
All of no. 6 & 7 but in reverse – you need to bring your voice back to it’s resting/talking rate gently after placing a huge work load on it.
9. Sacrifices or Positive Change (Depending on how you see the glass…)
You have to make all kinds of changes to get better at anything. Start with the things that are easier. Ie; adding a daily warm up doing gentle sirens. Work up to the bigger ones like stopping smoking & adding an hour a day to focus on practice.
Life has to be lived as well as focussing on your goals. Find out what balance means to you without making life unbearable!
I did note a disclaimer that I try live by the 80/20 when it comes to the above. However the next points really need to be happening 100% of the time.
I’m going to expand on the three things that JUMPED out at me as lacking across the board (dancers, musos, singers of ALL levels of experience) & I’m going to do it in a series of 3 blogs called – ‘Going Pro – get your singing business ducks in a row’
So let’s kick off with the most exciting one first (LOL!!) – Tax & Invoicing. I am NO accountant but having knowledge of your business affairs in these areas especially is key to having a successful & long career!
Look, I know it’s super boring & that we should all be focussing on creating music or singing & not making up invoices but it’s an essential skill & you want to make every cent you earn work for you cos the struggle is real when you are a full time muso unless you are Beyonce!
It is a weird topic to write about so I’m going to keep it short & share a invoice & tax how-to vid I made for you & a link to the super helpful IRD site – running a business – as this will cover most bases. I’ve even made you up a template (BNGV Tax Invoice Demo) that you can have to use for your own invoicing so NO excuses.
Tax/invoicing & book keeping is a massive topic so the best approach is to always seek professional advice through a tax agent or accountant. I know when you are starting out it may seem like a massive outlay but it really will save you money down the track especially if you are a true creative. I mean you can focus on writing a song or creating something but not follow that focus through to your admin! I am guilty as charged but changing after learning the hard way (i.e: owing THOUSANDS of penalty tax AND interest to the IRD for not filing on time!!)
You could look at an accounting package like Xero too. https://www.xero.com/nz/
Start slow & work at your own pace, just be aware that you really do need to be invoicing, using the correct tax code, keeping good records of your earnings & filing a tax return every year!
I’d love to hear your thoughts experiences on this topic so comment below or flick me an email.
Happy singing (& tax invoicing!)