When I decided to close my biz and start singing again, I did so without researching how much the music business has changed in 30 years. I assumed the hardest part was getting booked after being out of it for 30 years. I found an outstanding book called “The 6 Figure Musician”, which has been invaluable as a guidebook for social media, marketing and inspiration in general. I never DREAMED the hardest thing to do would be finding a pianist who wants to work with me on a steady basis. I relish the collaborative process.
Years ago I had the same pianist who I worked with on all my gigs, (He’s now working as a conductor for a major Symphony. Bless his heart.) I was the house vocalist, working 5 nights a week, for over a year at one club. Those gigs don’t really exist anymore.
It’s all changed and it sucks! Accompanists rarely want to commit, in spite of my eagerness and willingness to book and promote us! (An area where most musicians are lacking.) I am required to have charts for everything, as opposed to creating a new spin on something together as we go. Now I must teach myself to write charts or pay some guy who already has them, but resells the same thing over and over again to other singers? Give me a break!
I’m beginning to feel like Vicki Edie, (a boozy lounge singer character, created by Bette Midler .) There doesn’t seem to be much of a mutual artistic endeavor. I know that musicians generally speaking, hate singers. But that was never my experience in the past. I guess they’ve been chewed up and spit out so much by club owners, they just don’t care.
(I envy my son. He is also a singer and writer. He plays guitar for himself on gigs. I play piano. But rarely. And when I do, I am far more likely to play Mozart or Beethoven, as I was only allowed to play classical until I finished practicing. By then I was usually worn out!)
Which brings me to something I NEVER thought I’d EVER even CONSIDER! I’m thinking of using back tracks. My friend Mike travels a lot on the west coast and tells me he sees talented singers using them all the time at 4 and 5 star hotels and even big fundraisers.
I’ve always been loathe to do it. He recently spoke to another singer (who had accumulated about $500 in tips that night.)
“It’s great!” She said. ” I have the upfront expense of the tracks, but I don’t have to pay anyone to play for me. And I rehearse when I want!”
Mike also makes the point that it would allow me to sing in places that don’t have room for a piano. I would go into the studio with a musician or musicians and cut reference tracks. My voice would be left off the recording, enabling me to sing to it live.
The natural argument to be made is, I’d be putting musicians out of work. But if they have little to no interest in working with me anyway, then who am I putting out of work??
So, if you have an opinion, would you please tell me what you think? I’m so frustrated! Have you ever seen a performer working with tracks where it didn’t appear totally tacky?
Here’s a sample of my singing. It may not be your cup of tea. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Warning…It’s a sad song.