In a world so intensely focused on achievement and finished products, a singer can find the idea of success elusive. When do you know you’ve “made it?" Where are all these incredible opportunities hiding? How do you answer both the need to be artistically fulfilled and the need to pay rent? These questions are especially relevant for singers who have recently graduated and no longer have school to provide built-in performing, working, and teaching opportunities. However, success is not always measured objectively, and you have more power than you think in creating it. If you're not sure where to begin, here are some ideas to get you started!
Define success for yourself.
Knowing what you’re working toward is the first step in any action plan. Is it making a certain amount of money? Is it getting a particular number of students in your studio? Is it singing a recital at Carnegie Hall, or singing an outreach recital to spread awareness about a topic near and dear to your heart? Your success may not look like someone else’s, so it’s important to take time to assess your own definition of the concept.
Set financial and achievement-related goals.
Great things are not accomplished overnight; the path to success consists of small, consistent steps. Dream big, but be practical. If your goals are financial, start thinking about ways you can do the things you love and use the skills you have to reach them. If your goals revolve around achievement, start thinking about their money-making potential. Then, under each goal, make a list of specific action items that you can do in ten minutes or less, and pick one to do every day. Examples could include sending an email to a venue, making a phone call to a colleague, or writing a promotional social media post. Breaking down these larger goals into bite-sized chunks will help you to be consistent in your progress.
Take action and reach out.
No need to wait for other people to contact you first or for invitations to drop into your lap. Even if it’s uncomfortable, reach out to new contacts and invite them to check out your website, or follow up with the people you meet at performances. Utilize your current network, especially your current or former classmates from school; they are the ones who will be (or already are) out working as singers, instrumentalists, and conductors and running their own companies all around the world. Foster those connections, and let them know you are always interested in collaborating.
Think outside the box when it comes to opportunities.
Don’t limit yourself to the kinds of gigs you’ve always done; forging a new path can open up opportunities that are both intriguing and lucrative. Think creatively about what niches you can fill using your skill set to gain experience, exposure, and credentials. Whether you decide to start a collaboration with a local nonprofit or organize a recital in a non-traditional performance space, these unique experiences have the potential to help you reach new heights.
Combine singing with another skill or hobby.
Having multiple streams of income is a great way for a singer to be both financially stable and creatively stimulated. Consider what other skills you already have - cooking, painting, photography, fitness coaching, writing, or fashion styling - and think of ways you can relate them to the realm of singing to reach your ideal clients. Starting an Etsy shop, designing targeted workshops, writing a handbook, or offering customized service packages are all great ways to monetize these skills.
True success is just as much about what value you are contributing to the world as it is about the number of figures in your income. That’s why, as artists, it’s important to have integrity when setting goals and working toward them. Maintaining an attitude of diligence and perseverance will help you gradually build your own version of success while staying financially and artistically honest.