Singers’ auditions can be fun and exciting or they can be brutal. But until you become a household name, auditions are inevitable in a number of wide ranging situations. Some auditions may have little more consequence other than to provide an outlet for a singer to hone those all-important audition skills. Others, like auditioning for work, can be important if you and your band want to eat next week. Auditions for nationally-broadcast competitions or for a major record label can be career making (or breaking).
But what do singers’ auditions really mean? You should try not to take the outcome of auditions too seriously. Those who have been on both sides of the judges table know that many, many factors influence the outcome of all singers’ auditions. If you lose, it doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t sing well or had a bad hair day. It simply means you weren’t the one they were looking for. If you were, they would have hired you or immediately moved you forward to the next round. And, if you do win or get the gig, it doesn’t mean you’re the next Aretha; it just means that you were what they were looking for that day. Period.
Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the person auditioning you as a contestant on American Idol, or to sing in their club, or for a record deal from a major record label. Then ask yourself; what is it that they want? Here are three auditions situations with different issues in play. Typically, these venues are not looking for the same things in a singer, therefore each must be skewed its own singular way.
Contestant for American Idol and AI-type competitions
American Idol’s choices indicate that they appear to be casting for a show. They audition so many singers that they can easily cobble together a diverse, well-balanced cast. So, if you are the wild and crazy girl with the weird hairdo type and they’ve already got 15 others of the same type, you’re out of luck. American Idol is in the entertainment business and not necessarily in the A&R business of grooming young singers — which is their right. So relax and just do your best knowing that Fate plays a large role in this behemoth competition. Oh, and you might want to brush up your high notes and elaborate vocal fills too.
Nightclubs and honkytonks
During singers’ auditions for booking club dates, they are not necessarily looking for the best singers either; they are looking for someone who can sell beer. That’s about it. Or at a more pricey venue, it would be wine and cocktails. If a singer can convince the club owner he or she can sell drinks, they’ll get the job. Solution? For the honkytonks, present to them a high-energy, audience-engaging, rowdy show and you will do well. For fine dining and cocktails, you may want to show that you can keep your music from interfering with romance or business talk.
These are probably the most intimidating singers’ auditions of all. At some point during the negotiations you are going to be asked to sit in an office and sing with just a guitar or a piano in front of people you are asking to gamble at least half a million dollars on your career. That’s scary! But again, how can you know what they are looking for?
You might know which other artists are on the roster at the label, but you don’t necessarily know how the label is planning to round out their roster and who else they may have committed to. So, if they are looking for a Latin act and you are from Norway, don’t be surprised if you walk away empty-handed.
Should you do singers’ auditions? Of course, if only for the practice. But don’t judge yourself too harshly if you don’t succeed. or get, what we in the South call “The Big Head.” if you do succeed. You simply may or may not be what they’re looking for this time. But, take heart, it’s a big ocean and there are still a lot of fish out there.