Hundreds of thousands of dollars up to maybe a million dollars worth of prize money are what is at stake in reality TV shows like American Idol or The Voice. Will all the voice and piano lessons in Las Vegas carry you through to the golden pot?
Singing competitions, whether it’s the glittery and glamorous reality TV show versions or city-regional variety, have been around for a long time. Some contests launched careers up to the stratosphere, while others went bust. Is there a template for winning? There probably isn’t a silver bullet that’ll make you win a competition. Several factors are at play like you don’t know the quality of your competitors. They might be better than you or worse than you. And the judging can be subjective regardless if it’s done by professional judges or the public at large. That being said, it won’t help if you do something to increase your chances of winning.
What’s at Stake
Let’s look at the big ones. American Idol 2019 winner, Laine Hardy will get paid 250,000 for his first album plus $4,000 per month while working on the album. But that isn’t the real prize or prize money. Those who make it big, like first Idol winner Kelly Clarkson and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, end up with recording contracts and a strong and stable career. Clarkson and Underwood are reportedly worth around $45 million and $65 million, respectively.
Local competitions, usually organized by schools, associations, or other community groups, would award cash prizes up to a few thousand dollars. Some matches also offer scholarships.
Increasing Your Chances
You must be passionate about music to join competitions and be equally excited about winning it too. Winning any game requires dedication, perseverance, a lot of heart, and, of course, talent.
- Thorough preparation. It’s not just about preparing your vocal cords and being good at singing songs that you like. Total development means being able to cope and perform under worst-case scenarios. Prepare for songs or genres that you’re not comfortable with, but one that might be asked of you to sing. Knowing how to recover when forgetting the lyrics of a song might be forgiven if you demonstrate confidence.
- You do need to prepare your vocal cords. Athletes stretch and do warm-up exercises before getting into a game. You should do the same when joining singing competitions. Warming up your vocal cords prepares you to hit the notes necessary for you to nail a song. Tongue twisters also help flex your tongue and will positively impact how you enunciate lyrics.
- Be true to yourself. And your voice. Judges will not only be assessing the quality of your voice. They will also be looking for authenticity and how your song choice fits your voice. Tony Bennet, a crooner and jazz singer, was able to remain faithful to his style while destroying the gap between his and the MTV generations, with collaborative work with artists.
- Go small before going big. Try out first at local and regional singing competitions before going for nationally televised auditions on American Idol. Local competition is an excellent training ground. While there is pressure, it wouldn’t be as intense as when singing in front of Lionel Richie or Katy Perry.
Stay loose when performing. It’s perhaps easier said than done, but that is why you should practice first in smaller competitions. Hone your talent by working with the right vocal coach. And as they say, “practice, practice, practice.”