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How a Small Town Singer Can Find Success

Rebecca Rain on a dirt track

Rebecca Rain has opened up for The Strumbellas and Whitney Rose, and was top 4 in the songwriting category for CMT’s Tailgate Music Competition.

She talks to us about being a small town artist and how the powers of the internet have boosted her career.

Small Town Locals Want to See You Succeed

Here is a video Rebecca created with the app, Vidial.

My local community are super supportive – even our mayor used to be a musician and is a real driving force for local arts. Local emerging artists are encouraged and supportive to ‘get out there’. The community want to be proud of you.

I grew up in Wasaga Beach in Canada, just across the border from Michigan. I spent a year in the big city but I learned that I was probably busier, more content and creative living at home.

In a big city, there are so many people doing the same thing as you which is inspiring and encouraging but it’s harder to get noticed.  There are more venues and record labels, but it much more competitive.

You may need to ask yourself “where am I going to stand out the most? And, where am I going to reap the biggest benefits?” Make it your mission to stand out from the pack.

I see many artists from small towns do well, not only from the loyal local following, but also their reach on social media.

Musicians Find Inspiration in Peace and Quiet

I know many County artists who still live where they grew up. They find that these special places nurture them.  It is fun to go to the big cities, but it’s at home where they feel most comfortable. They can focus on their craft and immerse themselves in their local culture.

Social media enables you to go from a local artist to an international artist.

It’s really important for songwriters to feel comfortable – this is when inspiration comes. They have to feel in their element, and this often comes down to where they are living. I feel more comfortable in my home town and certainly feel more creative when I’m in a comfortable space. Feeling at home and feeling free to be yourself unleashes creativity.

I get many of my creative ideas when I’m in the car taking a long drive, perhaps even towards home at night time from a gig in a big city. It’s funny because so many musicians I’ve spoken to say the exact same thing!

I have recently been working with a full band – including drums, steel pedal guitar and banjo. I found one of them online, but there are so many musicians in my area.

You often find that musicians, especially experienced session players will move out into quieter areas. You may be amazed by what you find if you network within your small community. I found players in my area that I was so impressed with.

The Internet Makes You International

Rebecca applying lipstick

“There is so much pressure for artists to fit in a certain mould or sound like what’s on the radio.” Credit: ZEDPROMEDIA

It’s great if you are able to grow a local following, but when you start releasing music, you need to reach further to get your music out there to different audiences.

There are people who listen to my music from all around the world – places that I have yet to perform. Social media enables you to go from a local artist to an international artist.

I spend at least 2 hours a day on social media. Consistency is key – you have to post every day to maintain the public’s perception of you. If you only post occasionally, you are not keeping your fans engaged and you are not including them on your journey. Not only do fans want to listen to your music, they want to be involved in your experiences.

Behind the scenes post of me writing, rehearsing and recording are always interesting to the public. They get a glimpse of what it is like for a professional musician and feel more connected to you on a personal level. People want to know the person behind the artist and behind the story.

Focus on Yourself as an Artist

There is so much pressure for artists to fit in a certain mould or sound like what’s on the radio. The most inspiring artists are those who know who they are and know what kind of message they are trying to convey. Being who you are is the best way to resonate with and connect with people.

After years of training in a classical style, I took pop vocal lessons. These lessons encouraged me to sing more in my speaking range rather than all up in my head voice. The classical lessons really helped with my foundation technique, but pop lessons helped me find a more natural, authentic voice more suitable to my genre.

Everyone’s voices are unique, and keeping it as close to your speaking voice in terms of tone will help it stay unique. There is no need to try and sound like anyone else.

Create your own professional looking videos with the brand new app, Vidial. Find out more here: www.vidial.com

rebecca-rainFor Rebecca Rain, there are three things that matter most: family, the small town she grew up in, and music. There’s something about growing up in a small town– strangers become friends, friends become family, and family is inseparable from one’s self. Drawing influences from childhood favourites like Loretta Lynn, June Carter Cash, and Patsy Cline, Miss Rain has crafted a sound that is equally modern and traditional, all delivered by a voice that is hauntingly pure, and with a reflective songwriting style wise beyond her years. www.rebeccarain.ca – Facebook

  • M.L.H. Javert

    What about those of us with college degrees in music that DON’T compose our own music, and aren’t pop/rock/punk/metal/country artists (not part of the kind of the genres you hear on radio daily)? I hold a degree in vocal performance, but what I studied in college was singing things like Händel oratorios & some opera? I can’t just cut an album using Apple Garage Band, and sit around on social media sipping a latte & shamelessly plugging my album/brand. That doesn’t work unless you’re in something more mainstream.

    What kind of advice do you have for those of us in non mainstream genres?

  • keith

    I took opera lessons for a bit, man that was awesome! A whole new approach and view of music. I suggest musically versatility, do the blues, rock, opera, cowboy, do it all.

  • M.L.H. Javert

    I would diversify, I really would, but there’s zero chance any local bands in my neck of the woods is ever gonna pick me up as their singer. I’m not originally from here, and I live in one of those podunk small towns that will outcast you for the rest of your life if you weren’t born and raised here. I came here to go to the private university in this town, from which I’ve since graduated (almost 4 years ago), but have been unable to leave (since nobody elsewhere seems interested in hiring people with an out of town address for non-managerial or non-executive jobs).

    As such, I have nothing to fall back on. I don’t have a teaching credential (and I don’t really want one. One time through High School was enough for me, I don’t need to relive the nightmare teaching it), and since I’m not a pianist (I can barely play 3 parts at a dramatically slowed down tempo), and not a strong composer, I can’t just write my own shit, play MIDI backgrounds into GarageBand, and try to market a solo album for income, because literally – I’d need someone with better keyboard skills than me, and frankly would probably need the assistance of somebody with stronger composition skills than me to help me write songs to begin with (two things I’m not likely to find here).

    That’s my dilemma. It seems that you pretty much need to live at least close to (if not in) a larger market to get ahead, or be a born and raised local from the boonies to stand a chance of getting anywhere.

  • keith

    I’m in a small northern Canadian town, there is live music everywhere, musician’s paradise, loads of drop-dead superb locals and also brilliant talent that has moved up from the “big smoke” (city). Our best local performer still drives trains, there’s no full time work for musicians here either. We all work 9-5 and sing our hearts out on the weekends though, it’s not a living at music but it’s next best thing…

  • M.L.H. Javert

    Lucky you. I live in a moderate sized town in South Dakota with no local music scene outside of the high school and private liberal arts college’s music departments. There are a couple of crappy country bands around here that occasionally play bars for free (I’d never want to sing for any of them, because I don’t work for free, and I don’t really have the twangy sounding voice that is expected for country). As such, I would kill to even be in any sort of town with any sort of real music scene (even if it required some sort of a day job, although I would prefer to make money on nothing but my craft).

    But, being poor, and unable to move leaves me trapped within this damn Hell hole. Right now I feel like what’s the flippin’ point? I have no creative outlet to utilize my singing talents (as I said – I’m no composer… just because I had to take composition in college, doesn’t mean I’m actually good at writing anything. I was good enough to graduate, but not good enough to write stuff that’d sell as an indie album, or online), so I can’t really write my own material and shamelessly plug my works on social media as the article’s author would suggest doing. If I could, I would… but I don’t see it being in the cards.

    That’s the whole problem with rural towns in the Midwestern United States… the only thing that matters to these people are farming & ranching, drinking, and watching local high school sports. Heaven forbid you want to bring in other forms of entertainment like, oh IDK – local music.