i cried me a river all the way to a standing ovation

I've always had a passion for singing. As a kid, I would watch American Idol and  always believed that Simon Cowell would say 'yes' to me. (And let's face it- he would.)

I had no idea how to get started in the entertainment business, but I would just sing my heart out in the car... and my mom would tell me that I sounded terrible!  She was lovingly speaking the truth. At this stage of my life I was so confident that Beyonce herself could not hold a note next to me. My mom saw how serious I was, so we decided to check out local voice studios. We looked at a couple in the area and they were ridiculously expensive for a low-income family that just wanted to test this out and see if singing was for her (me) or not.  I mean, I already knew it was for me. It was my mom that needed convincing! 

We stumbled across this little place called Destiny Voice Studio and MAGIC happened. Actually, a catastrophe happened in my first lesson, and the natural disaster of nature's choice was my voice. I decided to sing 'Beautiful' by Christina Aguilera and for once in my life, I heard what my mother heard... anything but beautiful!  Absolute screeching. I was pitchy, flat, off key and could hold out a note for as long as you can touch a hot stove (aka-I couldn't). The dose of reality made me sad, but I was not going to give up on this dream. I just found myself singing all the time, practicing over and over with the artist in the car, in the bathroom (you're welcome family)... everywhere. I put on full-blown concerts on Saturday mornings while cleaning. My audience of toilets and dishes loved me. I went into every voice  lesson with a goal to check off one song from my list-- to master it completely.

A few months after this journey began, I had the opportunity to perform at our school talent show. My performing and stage presence was decent because I had quite a bit of experience singing at church. I chose 'Cry Me A River' by Ella Fitzgerald, because I felt like the song would highlight my strengths, which were lower notes. It wasn't until I looked up and saw the whole crowd standing up and clapping that I knew I had actually done it. I was no longer a screecher or terrible singer! At the end of the show people came up to me and said how blown away they were and how much they enjoyed the performance.  I felt like an iPhone in a room full of Androids and everyone wanted to see ME. In that moment I knew that singing was for me and that I was closer to my dream of being the next Beyoncé. Thank you, Sarah, and Destiny Studio for everything. Teaching me, molding me, believing in me, instilling drive and determination, and giving me music vocabulary so that I can converse freely with other musicians. Thank you most of all for seeing my potential and never giving up on me. 

Abigail Achiri is 19 years old now and a student at Texas A & M University. In addition to singing for anyone who will listen, she is also an actress and represented by the Kim Dawson Agency.  Her passions (in no particular order): JESUS, Tori Kelly, pizza, smiles & hugs, Demi Lovato, sarcasm, and discovering undiscovered music.

for the independent artist

Any music career evolves through a series of transitions.  For some musicians those changes happen in a short period of time, resulting in a monumental peak in popularity, sales and demand often countered by a steep decline in popularity, sales and demand. For most musicians who are dedicated to their craft for the long haul – possibly even a lifetime – the growth is slow and steady.  And what seems small (but never insignificant) in the beginning, forms into a larger, sturdier career (and still significant) just a few years after inception.

Though some of you Destiny Studio folks may experience the first scenario of wild, overnight commercial success, most of you will be digging in for the long haul. Here are a few basic go-tos for those releasing your first record and wanting to build strong foundations for an independent artist career – and even for those with instant millions in their bank accounts! – longing to last a lifetime. 

  1. Songs!

For the Songwriters:

It is no secret, the heart of any great musical career are good songs. If you are a songwriter, hone your craft. Don’t worry about recording the first few tunes you put on paper. Continue to refine your songwriting strengths by exercising your talent and writing more songs. To get out of your head a little try co-writing with other songwriters. You just may end up in a legendary partnership. 

But before you begin recording, become a member and register your songs with one of the Performing Rights Organization (PRO below.  Though you may not earn any royalties right away, this will set up your systems for the future in case T. Swift comes a callin’ for one of your tunes or you suddenly find yourself with a platinum-selling record!

ASCAP: ascap.com

BMI: bmi.com

SESAC: sesac.com

For the Singers:

If you are covering other folks’ tunes, be wise in choosing material that reflects your personal heart and journey. The more you connect with a song, the more authentically you will be able to communicate it to your audiences. When you decide on which songs to record, be sure to properly clear and pay for them using Limelight. Check out these links to learn about how to clear cover songs.

Limelight: songclearance.com

Blog by indie artist Sy Smith about Limelight: songclearance.com/blog

ASCAP feature explaining Limelight: http://www.ascap.com/playback/2011/01/features/limelight.aspx

2. Recording!

Whether you are recording a three-song EP or a 10-song full-length project, how and who you go to for getting your music on tape can make a huge difference in your ability to communicate your material and market your music. As a former Texan myself (yee-ha!), my go-to man for recording is Will Hunt at Spaceway Studios in Fort Worth. I, and many artists in my current home of Nashville, and my former home of Texas, have trusted Will with their creative processes. Check him out.

Spaceway Studios: spacewayproductions.com

Will Hunt: will@spacewayproductions.com

3. Distribution

Once you have great songs recorded on a great product, it’s time to sell your tunes! The simplest and many times most effective ways to distribute your music digitally, with physical distribution options, is through a TuneCore or CDBaby – two resources who work on your behalf for a very low cost, getting your music plugged in to an exhaustive amount of distributors including hot spots like iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and so on.  Check out their services below.

Tunecore: tunecore.com

CdBaby: cdbaby.com or cdbaby.net

Happy music making for the rest of your life . . . 

andrew

A native Texan, Andrew is currently co-headlining Food for the Hungry's Hymns for Hunger Tour with multi-Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan, helping raise awareness and resources for local and international hunger relief organizations at tour stops across the country. He has also been a featured worship leader at Lifeway student camps. As a writer, Andrew’s stories have appeared in Christianity Today, CCM, and ParentLife, among other notable publications.  When not on the road, Andrew enjoys his home in Franklin, TN. 

www.andrew-greer.com  www.twitter.com/agreermusic    www.facebook.com/agreermusic