A music degree (or two) and no clue

Photo by Natalia Sobolivska on Unsplash

Imagine you’re a young singer with a bunch of raw talent. You do the things everyone does in school when you’re talented. You’re in the top school choirs, you get big roles in school and community musicals, and you earn accolades in all-county, all-state, all-region choirs. You excel at playing multiple instruments, including piano, and win multiple state piano competitions. You attend elite music camps in the summers. You’re hired all over town to sing and play in church services, civic events, weddings, and funerals. Everyone around you believes you’re going to be a successful artist someday, and they all believe college is the way to get there. So you go.

You get a big scholarship and go to a great school. You get straight A’s in every class and reach your performance requirements at an accelerated rate. You sweep almost every music accolade in the department. Graduation is a day full of high fives and tears and congrats and the feeling that you’ve ticked every box to prepare yourself for your next steps an artist.

(Optional: Go to grad school. Repeat.)

And then you enter the world of having to fill venues and make money as an artist. There is no guaranteed audience of peers and teachers at recitals anymore. You quickly realize the average audience member isn’t going to come to a gig because of your degrees or grades or accolades. They’re going to come to your gigs because they believe you can make them FEEL something. They will come because they connect to YOUR STORY and YOUR VIBE.

You realize that being “good” or “talented” isn’t enough. Yes, all of the skills and knowledge you gained can help you tell your story in a very skillful way, but they’re not the end game like they often were in school. Your story is. The connection is. The feeling is.

You realize you’ve never really thought about your story or your vibe or what makes you unique. You definitely don’t know how to amplify your uniqueness in your song choices, or how you dress, or how you market yourself, or how you set up a stage or talk to an audience.

Everything you did up until this point was ticking other people’s boxes. Filling other people’s containers. Taking on roles in other people’s systems and organizations and visions. You have yet to design and create your own system…one whose primary function is to amplify you and connect you to your ideal audience. Despite everything you learned and achieved, you feel clueless.

This is a common scenario. It was mine. It is the path of every promising artist I’ve ever known who graduated from an academic music program.

Even if academic music programs aren’t part of your story, you likely have never been given helpful information about creating a system that tells your story and connects to your people. Most folks believe their options are either going viral on TikTok or YouTube, winning a singing reality show, or getting discovered by a record label. They don’t realize just how rare and fleeting these scenarios are, and that there many are other ways to be an artist.

This should not be the experience of talented singers who are trying to find a way to develop and maximize their talent and artistry.

I believe that when a developing artist begins working on their voice and musicianship, they should also start connecting to what makes them unique…plus learning how to help that shine through in what they do…which will then give them the information they need to start connecting with their ideal audience.

I’m passionate about providing an alternative to what I experienced, and what so many of my clients experienced. In fact, I built an entire coaching business around it. If my story feels familiar, I’d love to chat with you. Apply to work with me here. Learn more at truecolorsvoiceandartist.com.

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