Sing Commercials For A Living
By Tom Gauger
Ever wonder why some get to sing commercials and some don’t? Have you ever thought about singing jingles? What makes some more apt and able then others to break into this business with other individuals with incredible talent never getting the break? These are great questions and the truth is, most anyone can break into the jingle singing and session singing world provided that these next few concepts are in place.
Unique is a quality that prevails. Jingle houses and ad agencies are always on the lookout for new talent – Unique talent. Having a unique tone, singing style, a different approach is key. Notice I didn’t say absolutely the best singer is the key, not that having talent to back up your unique singing quality isn’t important, but I said unique, but not necessarily the best. You’re scratching your head, but it’s the truth. Really, how many singers and actors or actresses are that special that a gazillion other people couldn’t do it if given the opportunity. As a booking agent with the William Morris Agency, booking many household name stars, I saw this phenomenon every day. Unique is paramount in this business from a purely contextual outlook. There are other elements that play an important role, but being unique will definitely land you work.
For those of you who, being honest, don’t believe they have the most unique voice out there, all is not lost. Your role of obtaining work will differ somewhat, but you can break into the session singing market and earn a significant living doing it. Your role will most likely revolve around blending and group singing. Now there is definitely more competition revolving around this type of singing work and so your diligence, attitude and go get it nature must remain consistent. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not being the latest and greatest, admitting it, and yet still going after your singing dream and accomplishing it. You can do it. It’s difficult within the writing constraints of an article such as this to hit every angle here, but if you will read to the bottom and go to the website ReelMusician.com there is a Free “Jingle Singer’s Guide” that you may download.
It’s not uncommon for singers, who are certainly not considered to be on the "A" list for session work, but admittedly choose to go after session work and not only obtain it, but make a significant living doing it. These singers possess a great attitude. As previously mentioned in other articles, your attitude must be that of getting along with anyone, while having good creative ideas and not afraid to speak them, also tempered in such a way as to know when to back off, when to nod your head and say “that sounds good,” when you’re sure your idea is in fact better. Your attitude of being gracious and kind and generous with people will go along ways in this business and may be the single reason you get called back time after time when there might be better singers out there. Never underestimate a good attitude.
The next element in your marketing campaign must include creativity. Great singers invariably inhibit a creative let’s get the job done and make it sound great even when they’re not dealing with the best of tracks, lead singer or producer - They just get it done! You might consider getting involved with musical groups or ensembles that will give you the practice creativity outlet if you feel creatively impaired or unready. Musical creativity is learned, but is also practiced and honed and those with some musical input can over time become real creative forces within a group session.
From the practical side, the big difference when it comes to breaking into the music industry is going to be your determination or the lack there of. Be sure to create a 5 year, 1 year, 1 month and each day set of goals and go after them. Keep track of all the producers and music contacts and mention conversation, last spoken, and follow up information. Make sure you have the absolute best jingle demo reel – not the “my buddy can do this for me for free” demo reel, but a really pro and polished jingle demo reel like you’ve already arrived. At ReelMusician.com we specialize in just that – Jingle Reels! Your jingle demo reel must sound like major national spots. Good and even pretty good will not work here. Your jingle demo reel must turn the heads of your listeners and knock their socks off. There’s too much competition out there to be wasting not only your time, but a jingle producer’s time as well. You may want to consider multiple reels, one that highlights your voice over abilities and one or two that emphasis your singing abililities ad that can be rotated to producers so that your name is crossing their desk a number of times. If finances are a factor in producing your demos, then start with one reel with 5 -7 jingles that absolutely sing no questions asked.
Follow up will be key. You must have a way to file contact info, conversation gist and any additional information that is vital to your career path. Go after this like it’s a job offer – Because it is a job offer and can be very lucrative if you do it right. Find a way to say hello whether by a card, email or phone call after your initial contact. That’s when a second jingle reel would be handy, but again, not absolutely necessary. You need to find a way to get your name out there to whom you’ve contacted. You might want to consider small snippets from time to time that you can mp3 and email to these same folks – Again just make sure that whatever you are sending out is first class.
Above all else, keep at it. Those with the staying power are usually those with the keep at it drive which in all reality, most people don’t have. If you can maintain a professional jingle reel, with goals firmly established and a concrete way to catalogue your conversations, you will be well on your way. Please feel free to contact at my phone or email address below.
Tom Gauger is a former talent booking agent with the William Morris Agency and has been heard on numerous TV and radio spots including Fox TV and UPN. Gauger is the founder of www.reelmusician.com and can be contacted through this organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-300-5030.