Be Your Own CEO

Part One in a series of posts containing audition season advice submitted by Wolf Trap Opera alumni.

I had intended to kick off this series with some nuts-and-bolts advice, but the podcast I heard on this morning’s commute changed my mind.

It’s Not the Product, It’s the Person*” aired on This American Life last week. It’s full of thought-provoking reminders that no matter how we may protest that our art should speak for itself, we must accept that fact that we are its personification.

A take-away from the podcast: “People are just excited to invest in other people.” That’s why audiences love singers even more when they know their back stories. It’s why artists who telegraph a strong sense of self and a firm grasp of their strengths have an advantage over those who are less self-possessed. The dirty truth? All other things being equal (or roughly equivalent) – technical facility, vocal timbre and size, grasp of languages and style – an audition panel is more likely to throw themselves behind a performer who signals that she is serious about her career.

Be Your Own CEO: Run your company and your reputation like a business.

Professional Image

You are your own brand. You are selling yourself. Make sure you are putting product out there that companies want to buy. If you are put together professionally in your dress, appearance and preparation, you will see rewards. It’s not just about how you sing. You are the CEO of your own company.

Web Presence

Remember to clean up and revamp your websites before setting into auditioning.  It’s good to have something easy to navigate up and running in case casting directors want to follow up with website media.

Email Address

When I began auditioning for YAPs, I had a somewhat silly (punny, actually) email address.  It was actually very helpful at first, as it was eye-catching and an ice-breaker at auditions.  But, as I moved into out of the “young artist” category and more into real professional work, it became more of a setback; so I switched to a straightforward address that was essentially just my name.  Keep in mind that your image as a very young artist will be different than as a professional, and what may help you as the former may hinder as the latter.

It’s About Relationships

Be nice to everyone you come in contact with, whether it’s the doorman, the person checking people in, or the singer next to you. You don’t know who they are – their interaction with you could mean more than you think!

Tomorrow: Audition Day Strategies

* If you have time to listen to part of the podcast, go with the Prologue and Act One. But if you go for the whole thing, you won’t be sorry. Act Two will make you laugh (probably ruefully…) and Act Three will demonstrate that there are even quirkier career aspirations than that of opera singer. 

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