How a Failed Experience on a Reality Talent Show Changed my Life – For the Better!
First – My Experience
Everyone who goes on reality television has a different experience. Unfortunately for most – it’s not a great one.
As singers we assume that our experience will be different – that it has to be. You know how talented you are, you’ve heard it from friends, neighbors and parents.
The truth is a hard pill to swallow. You probably are talented, but the show isn’t looking for talent. It’s looking for ratings.
Having done auditions for many television shows and making it through every single time, I assumed I kicked ass. I assumed they knew what I was worth, because I knew it; so the first time I decided to actually go on the show, I was planning on walking out with the gold.
I picked my song, prepped for weeks, and with all the show’s producers telling me that they saw something special in me, I was ready to go out and become the biggest singer in the country overnight.
I get on stage to sing in front of the judges – and lo and behold, I can’t hear myself sing!
I’ve performed many times in front of a crowd, but always with a soundcheck. It turns out that on this show you need to hold the microphone differently than on most stages. Wish I knew that earlier! I sang the entire song fully knowing that I wasn’t singing the way I knew how, and that the first time on television was going to be a terrible first impression impossible to overcome. I continued to smile at the judges. What else could I do?
I was one of the lucky ones. While the judges were telling me that I had no idea what to do with my voice and that I had a lot of growing up to do – one of them asked me to sing one more time. Of course, this time I knew better, and from ‘you have a lot to learn’ it became ‘wow, we almost missed out on one of the best singers on the show’.
I passed with all yes’s, but it didn’t change a thing about my shaken self-esteem. In my mind, I was a failure. I became self-conscious over every sentence, hyperaware of every singer that I suddenly believed sang better than me.
I didn’t make it past round two, and I knew that I wouldn’t even before I stepped on stage. They had gotten all the drama they could out of me, and I had nothing more to offer the show. I got along with all the contestants, I wasn’t making noise while everyone else got louder and louder.
It’s so easy to lose hope after an experience like that; if I was really any good, why did this happen to me? How do I show my face in public?
What the hell do I do now?
At this point, I had figured out two things:
1. I wasn’t made for reality TV. Not even a bit.
2. I should have prepared more before going on the show, to better utilize the potential of a TV appearance.
Everything changed for me the moment I received a phone call from a producer. While wallowing in self-pity, I hadn’t realized that many other producers had seen the show, looking for new talent. I met with him and he was exactly what I was looking for. An international producer, who believed in me and wanted to invest in my talent. We started off with a bang – 20 demos in a month, all originals!
I decided it was now or never – I’m going to break into the music industry, and give it my all.
What I’ve learned on this long and harrowing journey is the following:
You have to do the work. No one will do it for you. Put in the work, meet producers that’ll work in your price range and that have real connections.
If you made it on a show and didn’t pass, or even if you didn’t make it – that says NOTHING about your talent. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself because someone said you weren’t good enough. For example, both Colbie Caillat and Ed Sheeran did not make it on singing shows – didn’t even pass the first auditions!
Prepare! I assumed I knew everything, and boy was I wrong. I could have made sure my appearance was a much bigger breakthrough than it had been, and I learned the hard way.
Please don’t assume that if you’re talented you can make it. It takes a lot of work, real investment, time and money to start seeing results.
Keep learning from whoever you can, build on what you know and then build on that again.
Social media is your best friend. Use it all, learn it all.
Last but not least… I would never advise someone in the beginning of his career to go on a TV show. Take time to grow, build an audience. Patience is the real game changer, it’s what will make you stand out.