Singing For Your Supper

Singing For Your Supper
Finding the right fit between personality and career takes time – says Mark Baxter

Back in the days of the gold rush, California was a magnet for those looking to strike it rich.

While the few who hit pay dirt became celebrities, the real financial winners were selling picks and shovels.

Each year, the music business touts the success of a handful of artists that make the rest of us feel left out.

Take heart.

Just as opportunistic entertainers gladly sang for their supper in the saloons along Tin Pan Alley, there are many options available today for making a living with your voice.

Match Your Personality to the Gig

Success in any niche of this business becomes much less of a burden if you’re personality type matches the gig.

To sustain yourself as a street musician, for instance, would require you perform well without a stage.


If the street seems too hostile, yet you want to avoid the politics of the clubs – retirement homes, hospitals or corporate parties are always open to new ideas for shows.

No band – no problem. Singing to tracks has become widely accepted by audiences — as long as the idea is okay with you.

Performing cover songs seems to be the most under appreciated musical occupation.

Don’t make the mistake thinking it’s easy.

You will be in competition with bands who honestly love the songs they play and are relentless with promotion.

These bands will get the gigs and you will be frustrated that your back-up plan requires so much effort.

Also remember: weddings and functions require you to act as MC. If you can’t imagine yourself smiling while leading, “The Bride Cuts the Cake,” then don’t even ponder the potential of a fat wad of cash for a few hours’ work. It’s not for you.

Artistic Compromise?

If any of these paths smell of artistic compromise then do yourself a favor and cross them off your list immediately.

Emotional reservations show in the voice. Not only will you be financially unsuccessful, you will doubt your talent. It’s a lose/lose situation.


Finding the right fit between personality and career takes time.

An honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses is a good place to start.

A healthy respect for those who are parting with their money to hear you sing is a good place to finish.

It’s not like we have a choice. We’ve all got to sing, and we’ve all got to eat!

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Finn HP Finn HP – “Problem” (Cover)

Finn you nailed the three most important things when choosing a cover: 1) You chose a song sung by the opposite gender. 2) You took it to another genre. 3) You obviously really like the song! Great job – time to leave the covers behind and explore writing your own hits!

Sherri Bairos Sherri Bairos – “Almost Enough” (Cover)

Sherri your video is exactly why I preach about choosing a cover that’s from an opposite gender and bring it to a new genre. You sing really well but it’s too easy to compare your performance with Ariana’s. Hers has more heartbreak and builds to a bigger finish. I know you have it in you but you didn’t give of yourself in this one.

Celine Celine – “Rise like a Phoenix” (Cover)

Fantastic performance Celine. Great feel and technique. By allowing the lyrics to guide your inflections, your performance sounds very personal. The only criticism I offer is that you resorted to a growl a bit too often. It’s more affective if used sparingly. Keep singing!

 The Ultimate Guide to SingingMark is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing Available in print and Kindle versions in the US, the UK and across the world.

Mark Baxter Professional Shoot

Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson

  • jim hoggard

    i don’t understand the voice live gtx do you have a telephone number where i can talk tto someone