Applying and Auditioning for TV Talent Shows

I wanted to answer some questions many students ask by sending out some guidance on TV talent shows.

Now, I am a bit ambivalent about these shows. You always have to bear in mind that they are about TV, not about music. I’ve known overwhelmingly talented people who didn’t get very far. Then again I have written songs with and for graduates of The Voice Norway and The Ones to Watch in the UK and I found those artists to be gifted and professional.

This year’s application process for The Voice UK can be found here.

If you’re not sure these shows are for you, they are by no means the only way to a music career. If you want to pursue other avenues, check out this blog.


Your Application

So, if you’re sure you want to apply, go for it! The first thing to bear in mind is that shows like The Voice used to have open auditions. Now you have to apply with a video of your singing. You need to think about:

  • Singing a piece that really showcases your voice bearing in mind the producers will not listen to much of it. The wow factor has to come in from the start!
  • Choosing a piece that a million other people won’t sing.
  • Follow the rules to the letter… if it says no original songs, don’t do an original song!
  • Send a link to a video of yours that has alot of views. It will show people are interested in you.
  • Seek an informed opinion on which song sounds best when choosing your application video.
  • How you look is important. It’s all about TV! But don’t go over the top as that could actually be off putting. In the video, keep your outfit simple but it should reflect your style of music. For example, don’t wear an evening dress to sing country.

Your Audition Preparation

So, you submit your application and you get an audition invitation. If you don’t, either apply next year or plan another way to achieve your goals but don’t take it personally. The producers are looking for something very specific and you just weren’t it. That doesn’t mean you aren’t amazing!

Anyway, let’s assume you get the invitation email. Be sure you read it carefully and fully understand what you are being asked to do. You usually need a song for the first round (where you will be auditioned in a room with other people) and another song incase you get through to the second round. You will normally only sing a verse and a chorus of the first song. The most important thing is to choose the right material. Ask yourself:

  • Does this piece reflect who I am as an artist? Would I want to be known for singing this kind of music?
  • Is it comfortably within my range?
  • Is there scope for improvisation/melisma/changing voice qualities to make it my own? (see the Improvisation lecture in Advanced Singing: Aim a Record Deal).
  • Does it begin with an impact?
  • Will dozens of other people sing it?
  • What are the panel likely to be looking for?
  • How will I answer questions like ‘why do you want to be on the show?’ and ‘What is your experience to date?’

So, you’ve prepared your pieces and practised them. Hopefully you’ve recorded them on your phone so you can hear where you need to improve. The next thing is to plan what you are going to wear. People who dress in an eye catching way are more likely to get through to the next round, but people who go a bit nuts with their outfit are going to be considered a bit of a joke. Remember, you are aiming for a huge recording contract at the end of the show. If a label is going to invest money in you, you have to look and be professional. Also remember, block colour looks better than patterns on camera and shiny fabrics will reflect light and make you look bigger. For the women, foundation with SPF can make your skin shine on camera. The most flattering makeup is the old fashioned pan stick. Definitely wear make up!

On the Day of Your Audition

  • Be sure you know where you are going and plan your journey in advance so you are on time.
  • Be prepared to queue!
  • The audition process can take quite along time if you get through to a second audition, so be prepared to be there all day.
  • Don’t get into too involved conversations in the waiting room. Be friendly and polite but don’t overshare with the competition!
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by your fellow candidates’ achievements. You would not have been asked to audition if you weren’t good.
  • When you sing, look at the panel and communicate.
  • If you’re singing to camera, look at the camera.
  • Smile and try to seem relaxed (even if you are having an all out adrenaline rush).
  • Do the siren exercise as a warm up but don’t do a whole lot of mad arpeggios etc.
  • Remember to use the breathing, posture, range, improvisation and projection skills taught in my courses.
  • Plan which voice qualities you are going to use beforehand.
  • Say thankyou to the panel after the audition!
  • Answer their questions as honestly as you can: be yourself. Don’t try to exaggerate your past experience… it comes across badly and it’s just not necessary.

Waiting to Hear Back

Don’t send emails if you don’t hear back quickly, It irks people. Generally, if you have gotten through you will hear back quite quickly.

If you get through, you will need to plan time off work etc and ask yourself if the gains of the show will be worth the loss of earnings.

If you don’t get through, there are lots of other ways to get a record contract, as detailed in my Advanced Singing: Aim for a Record Deal course. This just wasn’t the opportunity for you and there are cons as well as pros to these shows, anyway.

The biggest thing to remember in all this is that not every route into music is right for every musician, and you need to find the right route for you. Talent shows are all well and good, but supporting touring artists, getting press and music education are all very important as well. This is not your only shot. Far from it.

Get my online course, Advanced Singing: Aim for a Record Deal here

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