Reality TV and the Classical Singer


by Valerie White Williams
For those of you who do want to try your luck at auditioning, however, here are some things to keep in mind:

Do Your Research

Reality TV shows and talent-based contests are springing up everywhere. American Idol and America’s Got Talent are the biggies, but other reality TV shows pick new Broadway stars (Grease: You’re the One that I Want) or look for talent in a specific region (Gimme the Mike). Each show has a different format, style, concept, audition process, judging, voting, and age limits. Don’t wait to be surprised. Find out what each show is looking for and how well former contestants are doing. Most reality TV shows have websites with information about audition venues and rules. 

Prepare Your Audition 

Both of the big ones (American Idol and America’s Got Talent) require singers to sing a cappella for only 90 seconds in the early rounds. The judges can stop singers sooner or may ask for a second and sometimes third selection. You must be compelling and get to your strengths right away. 

Look Good

. This goes without saying for most singers but with reality TV, it moves up another notch. TV is such a visual medium. Study each show to learn its focus and style. Practice with your outfit—sing in front of the video camera and see how well it works on the small screen. 

What’s Your Backstory?

 Everyone who auditions has to fill out an extensive application full of interview questions. Have you had any special challenges or setbacks in your life? Reality TV loves inspirational and/or emotional content. Human-interest stories are a big part of these types of shows. In addition, be able to describe your talent and explain how you are unique.

Understand the Contract

When you audition, you must also sign a contract giving the show the rights to your image and voice. Be aware that the contract also gives the shows permission to use that material any way they choose, whether it is truthful or not. The video editor has all the power. The audition contract is often available on the Web as well. If so, read it before you go.

Understand the Concept

This is a TV show not a talent competition. The people who find talent for these shows are called “casting” producers. They are often looking for certain “types” to cast as the characters they have in mind for the show. This means that if the show does not choose you to advance, it wasn’t necessarily because you weren’t good. You may just not be what the casting producers are looking for that year.

Copyright © 2008 Classical Singer Magazine, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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