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29 Days to Diva: Day 10 – Work For Someone Else (#29DTD)

February 10, 2016

What we think of as insurmountable obstacles when we get started, are actually 100% manageable. That is why we place such a high value on taking lessons, going to school, and doing the young artist training program trajectory. We need information and guidance. With the dominance of the information age, that knowledge seems to be coming from everywhere. How do we know what to take in? How do we know what to bookmark for latter? We need advisors. We need people to look up to who show us the way.

Your 29 Days to Diva Challenge for Day 10 is to Work for Someone Else.

Yes, I mean actually work. I mean punch the clock and take home the paycheck kind of work. Although, you could also be a regular, committed volunteer and that would count in this instance. Any place where you are part of the day-to-day inner workings and get a legitimate performance review from your boss is ideal. That is where we can get the most traction out of this challenge. If you have already done this in your career path, kudos! Use today’s challenge as a chance to think back on all of the information you gained during that time period.

Sybaritic Singer | #29DaystoDiva Day 10 - Work for someone else | www.sybariticsinger.com

Tell someone today that you are ridiculously proud of them.

Work for Someone in Your Field

This clearly makes sense. Working or volunteering for an organization that directly mirrors your career desires or serves your intended audience is going to be a wellspring of actionable information for you. The benefits here are obvious. Working for organizations built around classical music will teach you a huge swath of things including: how to write a press release, how to look at a creative project budget, how to schedule (an art in itself), how to run a meeting and how meetings minutes work, the basics of fundraising, the finer points of event planning, and so much more. You should consider this paid training for your diva life. In fact, you are getting paid to learn the rules.

A day job is just paid training for your diva life.Tweet:

Furthermore, working for someone else in your field gives you access. You are able to tap into networks that other people have built. Freelancers do not get this type of access easily. This means you can spend time learning names, making connections, and understanding the underlying framework of your field in an organic way.

Work for Someone Outside Your Field

The classical music world continues to need innovative thinkers. One of the ways we can increase our own innovative thinking is to regularly interact with variance. My mission as a classical singer became astonishingly clear when I began working outside my field. I was consistently presented with opportunities to explain my love for classical music (that is the real Iowa nice way to say that phrase) to those whose musical interactions began and ended with the top 40 radio station.

Many of these types of jobs get described as soul-sucking. Divas, I do not want you in those jobs! You should be building skills and demonstrating your talents in working situations that appreciate you. We are establishing dual careers and not because we need an option on which to fall back in case of failure. No! We want dual careers because we are brilliantly skilled and capable people and can offer the world much. If you are currently in this kind of job, or you think you are ready to add a job outside your field to your mix, try thinking of it as a conduit for investment in the arts. Your role in that company, firm, or organization is a gateway, in fact the first drop, to them funding the enchantment of music.

We need more zealots for classical music in the most unlikely of places.Tweet:

So, not only can you pick up an incredible amount of diverse skills when you work outside your field; but, you can also evangelize for the cause in the places where the message does not often reach. Practice winning over your most curmudgeonly colleagues and you will have no problem winning over a major donor.

Emotionally Work for Someone Else

I want you to think about your mentor. If you can work for them, please do. They will give you unbridled and invaluable access to the most necessary information in your career. Beyond that, though, I want you to emotionally work for your mentor. I want you to spend time today thinking about what it would feel like to have your mentor seek you out and say, “I am ridiculously proud of you.” Now, imagine what would make them say that. This is a wonderful exercise. It is not about how they actually see you. It gets to the core of what you believe they think about you. It mixes what you feel called to do with what your field desires most from you.

Yesterday’s post mentioned that building social proof takes a long time. Working for other people also helps you build that social proof. You are actively building your tribe. I always count it a win whenever I meet someone and they say, “I’ve never met an opera singer before.” I respond, “Oh, that means I got to you first.” You, alone, can have a significant impact on changing our culture’s associations with classical music by being more people’s “opera singer friend.”

Change our culture’s associations with classical music by being more people’s “opera singer friend.”Tweet: Change our culture's associations w/ classical music by being more people's


Speaking of friends…

Let’s be friends. Let’s be Facebook friends. You can find me on the Sybaritic Singer Facebook page and my own Megan Ihnen, Mezzo-Soprano page. I would love to connect with you there. Pop over there today and tell me about a working experience that helped you gain skills necessary for your diva life.

29 Days to Diva: Day 9 – The Singer’s Sales Funnel (#29DTD)

February 9, 2016

A sales funnel is technically an automated system to attract ideal clients and bring them into your creative endeavor’s orbit. Sales funnels are comprised of online presence, through content and distribution, and offers that entice consumers to work with you. Truthfully, a sales funnel in a competitive, service-based business like singing is a much more elusive enterprise. But, that’s not gonna stop us from considering it and applying it to our field like bosses though, is it?

Sales funnels are designed to entice customers to work with you. This one gets you gigs.Tweet:

Your Day 9 Challenge is to Consider Your “Diva Enterprises Sales Funnel.”

Today’s post is getting some serious help from the brilliance that Lisa Jacobs has shared over on her fantastic blog “Marketing Creativity.” I hope you’ll check it out (after reading through this, of course.) Her post on sales funnels for creative businesses really inspired me to write this one focused on singers. Lisa uses the following graphic to illustrate the ideal sales funnel for a creative business:

Lisa Jacobs | Marketing Creativity | Sales Funnel

Image Credit: Lisa Jacobs – Marketing Creativity – marketyourcreativity.com

This is a great starting place for us to talk about your Diva Enterprises Sales Funnel.

Step 1: Experience + Expertise + Attracting Your Intended Audience

During yesterday’s challenge we discussed lead magnets. In that conversation, we covered the need for really focusing on the audience that you are serving. Let’s be clear. The audience to which you are trying to gain access are people who have the ability to hire you for gigs. Their one issue? They need a singer who will be the best fit for their project. Funny enough, you just happen to be that singer. Let’s make a match.

It is somewhat discouraging to see so many singer websites put together like a memory box as a gift for their grandmothers. They’re on the right track – just stuck at the first step. We need to show our experience and expertise. Where this method is breaking down is the intended audience. Unless your grandmother is hobnobbing with the maestro on the audition panel, you need to rethink your audience.

Are all of your public-facing online sources of information sending out the message that you are a singer-for-hire that wants to work more? Your website and social media platforms should work as a self-motivating cycle keeping your audience thinking of you, as a singer, first. Do the major players in your musical orbit know who you are and how to contact you? Remember that your lead magnet is that first step in bringing them closer to you when they visit your website.

Step 2: The Grind Activity

Think back to our “grind activities” from Day 3. Delivering outstanding performances is your most important grind activity in our Diva Enterprises Sales Funnel. In previous seasons of 29 Days to Diva/28 Days to Diva, we talked about “upping your averages” which means we need to audition, perform, and just all around sing MORE to make sure we get in front of the right people. There is nothing more important in this business than building your reputation as an excellent singer and good colleague. Every performance opportunity is a chance to meet the person who will give you your next gig. This includes outreach performances, church/synagogue gigs, and weddings, friends. You need to show up and do your best even when you think no one is listening.

There is nothing more important in this business than building your reputation as an excellent singer and good colleague.Tweet:

Make sure you are saying “yes” to the right gigs and not just every gig. If you are overwhelmed and will not be able to give a good performance, don’t damage your reputation. It will stay with you much longer than you think. That is to say, look ahead and judge how much time you will need to prepare to do your best and do not double/triple book yourself.

Step 3: Social Proof

Inexperienced people in every profession lament the fact that humans love social proof. You need to be a socially proven diva to really see your star begin to rise. That’s where step two and step three intersect. If you can get people to vouch for your reputation in every corner, on every platform, in every medium, then you will find more of your intended audience beating a path to your virtual door. Again, let’s be clear: this doesn’t happen without ‘the goods’. You have to do the work and let people sing your praises genuinely. This does not mean that you should not ask influencers for their recommendation or for testimonials from trusted sources. Just be aware that real social proof builds over time.

Step 4: Your First Gig Together

When you accept any gig, think of it as the beginning of a long musical relationship. You will not be able to work with them every time they plan a gig. But, you certainly want to be the first singer they think of whenever they’ve got something on the calendar. When you are not able to take a gig, recommend someone good and do not spend time worrying about never getting them back as a “client”. You are a trusted advisor; not just a fantastic singer. They will come back to you because you continue bringing them good things.

Step 5: Repeat Musical Success

Stay connected to the people with whom you have had amazing musical experiences! Wouldn’t you like to recreate the feelings you had there? Wouldn’t it be a shame if a director thought you “stopped singing” just because they haven’t seen your name pop up on Facebook recently? This is a huge reason for wanting people on your email list! You do not have to write sleazy emails begging for gigs. Just stay connected. Thank them for taking a chance on you when you were building your reputation. Propose a project to them that you think would be perfect for their audience. Ask them how you can support them.

That’s it. The Diva Enterprises Sales Funnel. Do I wish that it could be an automated process? Maybe. But, now that I think about it, I don’t think I would automate it. I would miss all the fun. The elements of our sales funnel are the really good parts about this as a business. Now, on to conquer the world!

I’m ready to take on the world with the Diva Enterprises Sales Funnel!Tweet: I'm ready to take on the world with the Diva Enterprises Sales Funnel! #29DTD Day 9 http://ctt.ec/UdlDW+


Are you on Instagram?

Well, I am! And, I want your opinions. Find me over there and tell me who to follow, what hashtags you like, and whatever else you think is cool about the platform. Like everywhere else, I’m @mezzoihnen.

29 Days to Diva: Day 8 – Lead Magnets for Singers (#29DTD)

February 8, 2016

I want to work with you. I really want to work with you. I want all of my singing materials to suggest that I am the singer for your project, your company, and your production. It is my goal to encourage you to reach out to me about making your dream performance become a reality. Does this sound familiar? Don’t you want all of those things too? Are you able to convert page/profile visits into performance projects? If you want a better process for this exact goal, dear diva, you are looking for a lead magnet.

I am the singer for your project, your company, and your production.Tweet:

Your 29 Days to Diva – Day 8 Challenge is to Decide on a Lead Magnet.

Lead magnets, all the rage in the information products sphere, are usually content guides that solve a specific problem for your desired audience in exchange for their email address. This concept has been on my mind for quite a while when it comes to the classical singer world. Now, I am sharing everything I’ve found out with you right here.

My mad scene brings all the boys to the yard. | Sybaritic Singer | #29DaystoDiva

You can pin this #29DaystoDiva image!

The idea behind a lead magnet is that you want to build your email list and get those subscribers into your sales funnel. “Do I even have a sales funnel?” some of you are thinking. Yes! You want visitors to your website to offer you gigs.

Your lead magnet needs to solve a specific issue for your audience and/or provide value to them.Tweet:

Steps to Lead Magnet Awesomeness

First, we have to think about who is coming to our website, who we are marketing to in our newsletters, and what action we want them to take next. Your lead magnet needs to solve a specific issue for your audience and/or provide value to them. A couple of ideas that I’ve been tossing around specifically for singers:

  • Free tickets to upcoming performances.
    • You could offer the free tickets to every subscriber. Or, a likelier option is to pick a single winner from your subscriber list whenever you have a performance.
    • The idea here is that you want people to come to your performances and talk about it! Offering free tickets is valuable to both your subscribers and you!
  • “My 5 Minute Audition for You!”
    • Make a short video of an AWESOME mock audition and offer it as your opt-in gift.
    • Wishing you could audition more often? Make your website an extension of Nola Studios for casting directors to check you out in their pajamas.

In my experience, I decided that I want composers who come to my website to reach out to me about potential projects. I created a “Write for Megan” infographic to give them specific information about my voice and who I am as a singer. Wanna see it? Leave a comment below and I’ll send it your way.

I’d love to hear your creative lead magnet ideas for singers! Leave them in the comments or hit me up on twitter at @mezzoihnen.

Make Your Lead Magnet Available

(Divas, I hope you’re already using an email marketing service since we covered that in the most recent 28 Days to Diva. Need a refresher course? Email me for access.)

Next, to get visitors to sign up for your email list, you’ll need to make subscribing easy and fast. You’ll need to place your opt-in forms strategically to encourage people to sign up. I highly recommend SumoMe for anyone using a self-hosted WordPress site.

The process goes:

  1. A reader visits your website and sees your super cool lead magnet.
  2. They decide to opt-in and enter their contact info/email address.
  3. You set up an autoresponder message via your email marketing service provider to allow your new subscriber access to your lead magnet.
  4. Your subscriber follows through to enjoy your opt-in gift.

Finally, the most important daily action item from this post is to really think about what the visitors to your website want and need from you. What is the one issue that you specifically solve for your audience? Now, decide how you can offer that in lead magnet form. Your lead magnet is the digital business equivalent to the perfected “come hither” look at a cocktail party. Make it a stunner.


Don’t Forget!

Wanna see an example of my new music singer lead magnet? You just have to comment below and I will have it flying through the interwebz on its way to you. Need more examples? My Diva Audit ebook is available for email subscribers to the Sybaritic Singer.

 

29 Days to Diva: Day 7 – Outsource and Conquer (#29DTD)

February 7, 2016

“You should have kids early in your career…”

“You should wait to have kids until you’re established in your career…”

Know what those pieces of advice are? (Other than things you’ll never hear come out of my mouth?) Beyond being a terrible way to talk about family planning with creative entrepreneurs, those unsolicited pieces of advice are little heads-up moments that running your diva business is time-consuming. Whether you are thinking about adding offspring to your equation or not,  it does not matter. Singing is a time-consuming life choice. You will need to make decisions about where you spend your time and with whom. When you choose to play this game, singing will always demand to be one of the main considerations in your planner. How do we keep pursuing singing and spend more time with the people we love? Outsourcing.

How do we keep pursuing singing and spend more time with the people we love? Outsourcing.Tweet:

Your Day 7 Challenge is to Brainstorm Tasks You Can Outsource in Your Diva Business.

When you hand over tasks to other, probably more competent people – in that area, it frees you to earn more and spend time in the ways your truly care about. So much of our jobs demand that we are on-site. We have to be the person in the practice room, learning all the notes, drilling the rhythms, enunciating the text, and inhabiting the character. We have to be able to get ourselves to and contribute to the rehearsals and performances. We have to be the ones teaching the next generation. Living the life of a freelancer is “being on” one hundred percent of the time. Wondering what singer tasks you could possibly outsource?

“We have advantages... This is abundance. A luxury of place and time. Something rare and wonderful... We must do extraordinary things. We have to. It would be absurd not to.” - Dave Eggers | Sybaritic Singer | #29DaystoDiva

You can pin this #29DaystoDiva image

Let’s make a list!

This is just a beginning for you to create your own list of time-consuming activities that could be outsourced to someone for experience or money. Ready to take the next step and hire someone to help? I highly recommend Fancy Hands as the starter set for those who need some help with tasks here and there. (In fact, here’s my affiliate link.) Ready to upgrade? Another great site to check out is Onlinejobs.ph which comes recommended by the indefatigable Chalene Johnson.

Luxury is a free schedule.Tweet:

  1. Graphic Design Work – for your posters, social media posts, blog posts, YouTube or SoundCloud pages… I bet you personally know someone you could support by asking them to help you here. What’s 2 hours for you is 30 minutes for them.
  2. Research – you could easily have a Fancy Hands assistant make you a spreadsheet of every opera house in a certain geographic area or level with their programmed repertoire for the coming season, for example. Got projects in mind where it would help to have some assistance in the research area? Here’s your invitation.
  3. Audition Book/Performance Scores – Got an in-person helper? Outsource the copying, binding, etc to them.
  4. Photography & photo editing – no brainer here right? Call your photographer and get those headshots and publicity shots taken care of.
  5. Video Editing
  6. Social Media Posts/Comments/Scheduling
  7. Social Media Advertising
  8. Website Design
  9. Copy Writing – Does your bio suck? Don’t fancy yourself a writer? Give a writer your résumé and some key points and see what options they return.
  10. Inbox Zero – Have an assistant go through and set up folders and management of your inbox.
  11. Newsletter Management – You could outsource the set-up, list management, design, or even copy writing of your newsletter. Wouldn’t that make it easier to connect with your tribe?
  12. Audio Recording and Editing
  13. Personal Branding
  14. Public Relations/Press Release Creation and Distribution
  15. Event Planning – Put a real event planner on the case when it comes to your next self-produced performance. I bet that would revolutionize how you think about your audience and your event.
  16. Personal Styling – for events and auditions. Just one more thing you don’t have to think about. You don’t have to be good at doing your own hair. Have someone else do it.
  17. Taxes!!
  18. Travel Planning
  19. Setting Appointments
  20. House Cleaning – I cannot recommend this one enough. If you’re feeling a little overly Cenerentola-like in your life and not in the singer way, outsource this post-haste.

Outsourcing can feel off-limits to us because we think that it will be cheaper to do it ourselves. As part of your daily challenge, think about exactly how much money you could be earning in your speciality in the same amount of time you are spending on the tasks above. Some of these are literally $15-$25 tasks that could save you hours and will help you land more gigs in the future. Do you have any tasks that you can add to the list? Please mention them in the comments below – even if they are singer-specific! I would love to read them. There is definitely something to be said for learning the inner workings of these tasks but not spending valuable time on them after you know what you need. If nothing else, remember that luxury is a free schedule. Your time is your own. Choose to spend it in the most luxurious way possible.

Your time is your own. Choose to spend it in the most luxurious way possible.Tweet:


Comment & Subscribe

I am part of a huge, awesome new music community. I’m beating the pavement this year to spread the word far and wide. Every gig in every zip code contributes to what we can do together. I do not apologize for the music I perform. It is staggering and awe-inspiring that we can perform music from across the centuries and still be premiering new pieces today. Music can do that. I want to promote your stunning projects and the way that you’re spreading the gospel of classical music too. Drop me a line on twitter or email me and tell me what you’re about.

29 Days to Diva: Day 6 – Curate Your Gallery (#29DTD)

February 6, 2016

Imagine you are gifted with a chic gallery space in a heavy traffic area. White, blank walls. Filled with artwork, of all types, that you have made. People walking by at all hours peering into the big windows at the front of the space. Conversation flowing at the corner bar or coffee shop, “have you seen that new space? I heard the owner is sensational. We should check it out sometime.” Gift granted. That gallery space is yours. However, I bet you are not using it quite the way you would if you actually had foot traffic in and out of that physical space each day. As a singer, the art that you do needs to live not only in the opera house but online. Let’s curate that gallery to reflect the kind of work that you do.

Your Day 6 Challenge of 29 Days to Diva is to Update Your YouTube and SoundCloud Pages.

Video has become what a website was 10 years ago. For quite a while, people were skeptical about whether singers even needed websites. Hopefully that question has been answered with a resounding “yes” for you. Strong video is a cost-effective way for nimble, lean businesses like you, little divalein, to get an edge over the rest of the field. For this nuts and bolts #29DaystoDiva post, we are going to refrain from the larger discussion about the various pros and cons of having to “look good” on video. For our purposes, we are going to assume you want to be found; so, we better curate the gallery.

29 Days to Diva | Day 6 | Curate Your Gallery |#29DTD

You can pin this #29DaystoDiva image!

The other side of curating the gallery is sound. We opera singers are all about the sound! SoundCloud is one of the best tools for curating your sound clips at the moment. One of the best things is that SoundCloud operates as a social platform built around music that easily integrates into your other sites and platforms.

Let’s break it down…

YouTube

Video marketing is big business right now. Divas, we can use this information and synthesize it with what we already know to be true about music marketing in our specific field. We want to begin to position ourselves as a go-to singer of the repertoire that best fits us. We do this by going to audition after audition and our online gallery of clips can be an extension of that process. Our audition repertoire does not have to be relegated to just those 8.5 minutes (or less) in the room with the three person panel and never seen again — unless that is what you’re hoping for… We can build a portfolio of our work online in both our YouTube and SoundCloud galleries.

Shorter videos are gold. So, there are a couple of ways that we can spin this for ourselves or our ensembles. According to a Wista.com study, the shorter of two identical videos, one with an additional 10 second tag added at the end, was watched 72% of the way through. The longer version was only watched 50% of the way through. When you upload your arias, make a second “teaser” version that is less than a minute long that gets your highlights out there fast and furious. If they like the short version, chances are they’ll also watch the longer version.

Remember, any time you do a video it is potentially someone’s first exposure to you or to your ensemble. Take 15 seconds at the beginning to introduce yourself. Are you catching the audition connection here? Give them that “wow, I’d love to have coffee with her feeling” and then cut to a branded intro for bonus diva points. In the first 15 seconds or intro, show your name and social media details on the screen. To really bring it home, add your call to action at the end of the video. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A tasteful call to action can simply be, “please comment and subscribe.”

To really up the ante, I highly suggest working with some of the incredible arts documentation professionals in our field. Check out SALT arts documentationAndrew Nordstrum, and Arpeggia Media as a couple of my favorites (I think I got a little West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast in there. Please, please, please add your shout-outs in the comments below – shameless plugs always welcome!!)

SoundCloud

I haven’t mentioned this yet in the post, but it is an important reminder that creating a robust profile is the best first step. Use your headshots or other publicity photos as your profile pictures. Pick a system for titling your tracks so they give the most information in a clean and efficient way. Use SoundCloud’s genre tagging function to your advantage. Don’t leave it blank. There may not be as many people as we would like exploring “classical”, “contemporary classical”, “opera”, or “oratorio” on SoundCloud but maybe we can change that together. Make sure that your bio is up to date on each site. Pro tip: set a recurring calendar appointment in your phone to remind you to update your bios across all platforms. The more often you have to update your bio, the more diva points you’re amassing afterall.

People go to your SoundCloud to listen to you sing. They will either choose to listen to the first track or to the track with the most plays. Lead them to choose the sounds you want them to hear first. You do not have to put them in any order, chronological or alphabetical, other than the order that most makes them want to work with you.

Finally, a word about community.

Both of these platforms are social platforms. Remember your gallery from the first paragraph of this post? How much more foot traffic will your gallery see if you personally open the door and invite those passing by with a wave and a smile? How much more traffic will you see if you go to that corner bar or coffee shop and tip your servers? See where I’m going with this metaphor? Good.

We are so incredibly lucky to have all of these resources at our fingertips that we can use for free. It can be overwhelming, though, to use it in a chic and efficient way. Just keep thinking of these online spaces as physical spaces. Into what kind of gallery would you like to invite your fans? What would be the most welcoming space that would help them interact with your art? That should help you get to your online aesthetic right quick.


 

Thank You!

Thanks for joining me today on the first weekend of 29 Days to Diva. I hope you’re already getting some useful info from this series — even if they are tidbits you’ve already heard. I hope it is in a way that inspires you to try them today. I would love to know about your process with the series. Please leave me a comment below, comment on the facebook page, or tweet me @mezzoihnen. Plus, you know I’ll be checking the hashtags #29DaystoDiva and #29DTD. I can’t tell you how much it brightens my day to hear from you. Want to talk more about today’s topic? Hit me up social media to get even more nitty gritty details specific to your curated gallery.

Let’s Take Over the World Together, My Dear…

Have I told you? I’m on a mission. I’m on a mission to make people fall in love with classical music – especially new classical music. Want to join me on my quest? Subscribe now for all the insider world domination plans.

29 Days to Diva: Day 5 – Sexy Little Documents (#29DTD)

February 5, 2016

“Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.” Thanks to William Shakespeare for putting it perfectly. Nothing exemplifies the promise and common failing of expectation more than creative collaborations. Unmet expectations can sour even the strongest of musical partnerships. That, my friends, is why agreements are such a powerful tool. Yesterday, we were talking about strategy. The next few days are going to be outlines of strategic documents, tools, techniques, and more that will help actualize expectations rather than erode artistic relationships.

Unmet expectations can sour even the strongest of musical partnerships.Tweet:

On Day 5 it Was Written, the 29 Days to Diva Challenge is to Make Stronger Agreements.

Client Service Agreements (CSA) are those sexy little numbers that outline the expectations between you and anyone who wants to pay you to sing. This can be one of those awkward transitions for emerging professional singers. When you go from singing your aunt’s, friend’s, pastor’s, (fill-in-the-blank…) projects for experience on both sides to accepting gigs for actual money, you will want to have these ideas in place.

#29DaystoDiva | #29DTD | Day 5 - Sexy Little Documents | Client Services Agreements

The Four Agreements – Miguel Ruiz | You can pin this #29DaystoDiva image.

Tossing around creative ideas at the beginning of a collaboration can make colleagues feel like they don’t need an agreement. However, a signed document can be awkward at first, when it feels new, but it saves a lot of hurt feelings later. Furthermore, this could be the difference between a severed relationship and future ongoing projects.

Does this look familiar?

Hey Diva Friend,

Would you want a gig on October 4th singing in Gainesville? Let me know — it’s 3 arias, for a dinner party, the accompanist is the musical director in residence at the opera house. Might be a good contact for you and who knows, maybe future gigs there. Pay is $150.

That could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as they say in the movie. First, after receiving the email, you check with yourself to see if you really want the gig and if you are actually available. If you want to proceed, then you can move forward with the bullet points of your client service agreement. As you can see, we’ve already covered quite a few of the details in the original email. But, let’s talk about everything we want to have covered before we commit.

Client Service Agreement Basics

  • Pricing
    • Are you comfortable with the price they listed for the whole project? Do you know how many rehearsals or total hours that encompasses before you agree? You will want to outline what, precisely, you are committing to time-wise for that fee amount.
  • Payment/Invoicing
    • You will want to confirm exactly how that payment makes it way to you. This is as simple as asking, “what are your normal payment procedures?” Unless you’re in a position to demand a specific format, just figure out how you should expect to see that payment from them. Will they leave a check on your stand? Are you supposed to talk to the manager after the gig is over? Will their accounts payable send a check in their next payment cycle? Find out beforehand so you can save yourself an even more awkward conversation later.
    • There are times that accounts payable will ask you for an invoice. I highly recommend you set up an accounting service now so that you can generate these efficiently. I’m a big fan of WaveApps.
  • Deadlines
    • When dreaming up new projects, delineate multiple deadlines. This ensures that everyone is working toward the same goal at the same time. Plus, you avoid the nasty headache of overscheduling if you know yourself and your working process. ‘I can commit to x amount of hours devoted to this project during this specific timeframe.’ Boom. Done.
    • Deadlines for scores. Deadlines for payments. Deadlines for bios and resumes. Oh goodness, it is so much better to work things into your schedule than to scramble at the last-minute trying to fulfill a surprise deadline.
    • The inactivity deadline
      • This is one of my favorites if you find yourself in dream space a little too often. When fun coffee meetings turn into actual plans, but the process starts to drag on and on. Give yourself an inactivity deadline. (Call it something else if you think feelings might be hurt.) This is the deadline that you set early in the process that means, “if we don’t have x visible progress by x date, then we will table this project for the foreseeable future.”

When fun coffee meetings turn into actual plans, but the process starts to drag on and on. Give yourself an inactivity deadline.Tweet: The beauty of

  • Extras
    • In the diva business, this area could be really useful. Think about having some stock questions that are specific to different gigs. If you’re doing indie opera, you may want to confirm whether or not you’re providing your own wardrobe/makeup/hair.
    • Think about the last handful of gigs you have done. What question could you have handled earlier in the process to make your experience better and more efficient. Put that into your extras area.
  • Boilerplate Legal Language
    • If you this is the only contract you have with whoever is paying your fee, you will want to include liability clauses and attorney’s fees language here. If you’re going to sign their contract, double-check that this language is included and see how far it extends into your dealings together. Take the time to make sure you’re protected as an artist before you need to be protected as an artist.

Having these questions on hand will be useful each time that little ding in your inbox signals a new gig. The slightly awkward conversation now saves the larger head/heartache later.


Help a diva out!

Do you have any awesome agreement stories to share? Or, tales of woe when you wish you had set up an agreement beforehand? I’d love to hear about it. Share in the comments below. Or, you can hit me up on Twitter and we can share there @mezzoihnen.

29 Days to Diva: Day 4 – Play Your Own Strategy (#29DTD)

February 4, 2016

We can all wish for different educational experiences. However, that is not how it works in this world. We choose experiences before we know what we actually need. We get into the middle of degrees, training programs, and certificates before we realize we would have been better suited somewhere else taking those underwater basket weaving electives. Regardless of the teachers and coaches with whom you surround yourself, you will not know what questions to ask until your needs become painfully obvious to you. In the youth-obsessed diva life, the realization of what you really need as an artist too often happens after you’ve aged-out of the opportunities that can give it to you. Buckle your seat belts, lovelies, it’s about to get real.

You will not know what questions to ask until your needs become painfully obvious to you.Tweet:

Your 29 Days to Diva – Day 4 Challenge is to Build Your Own Diva School

Graduate school, pay-to-sings, and young artist programs are not one-size-fits-all. They are one-size-fits-most. Those programs, like 29 Days to Diva, are there as motivators to get you to take the next step toward what you need. They are idea catalysts. Think back to your most recent educational experience. What was the light-bulb moment there? Did you learn some new way to prepare a score? Did you gain insight on how to be more effective on stage? Did you realize there are people actually living the life you want? That’s a very powerful idea right there.

"Hope is not a strategy" | 29 Days to Diva #29DTD | http://www.sybariticsinger.com

You can pin this #29DaystoDiva image!

If you sign up for a training program because you think it’s going to gift you a career, you are delusional. Not even Lindemann or Merola can guarantee you that if you do not act on the information. Will it get you in the room with the connections that can have a positive impact on your life? Yes. Will you gain an incredible amount of knowledge from extraordinary mentors in the musical world? Yes. Will it guarantee a career? Dream on, little diva. It’s what you do with that information, the continued challenges you take on, and your ability to connect with decision makers in your field that will build your career.

It’s about asking bigger, unsettling, even disruptive questions about what you don’t know.Tweet:

The people who are most able to do this are proactive questioners. They have taught themselves to open their minds and wonder. It is about teaching yourself to ask bigger, unsettling, even disruptive questions about what you do not know. Most of us do this once we have left the academic setting. Boy, do we do it in a hurry. “I want to win a grant. How do I even apply for a grant?” Better learn this in a hurry. “I want to make a recording. How do I make a recording?” Better learn that in a hurry. You get the picture. Let the chorus be raised, “wow, I really wish they would have taught me this in school.” Chances are a lot of this information was available to you in your educational setting. You just didn’t know you needed it or how to get it.

Developing this questioning mindset will help you find/recognize all of the vast resources around you. It really is staggering when you open your eyes to it. It will make you aware of what you need to know and the first steps of where to find it. This questioning mindset will serve you once you’ve figured out the rules of your circumstances and it even works concurrently to learning those rules.

Your action item for the day is to look ahead at what you assume to be the next step of your career.

I want you to not only wonder, “how can I achieve that?” But push yourself further to ask, “what skills, aptitudes, or knowledge can I develop and bring to that experience to transform it?” For example, let’s assume that the very next step of your career is an elite young artist program. What can you learn between now and audition season about repertoire selection for auditions, about persuasive and confident body language in high pressure situations, about highlighting technical skill in brief meetings? Just to name a few jumping off points. Think about the situation you want and how you can provide that transformation to everyone else in the room. It’s not just about, “wow, she really came to play” anymore. It’s about making them say, “that just changed me.”

It’s not just about, “wow, she really came to play” anymore. It’s about making them say, “that just changed me.”Tweet: It's not about,

It is not the intention of this post to make you “wait” longer between education and implementation. It is a call to action to put yourself in both minds at the same time. Don’t let your various experiences apply their strategy to you. Absorb their strategy and see where it fits with your own. No more, “wow, I really wish they would have taught me this in school.” You’re ready to learn it and apply it now. You’re in a constant state of developing your own diva school.


Get Social with Me!

Wanna hang out on social media? You’ll find me all over the place on my Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. To follow along with what others are saying about the challenges this month, just check out #29DaystoDiva or #29DTD.

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