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In Person Vs Video: Networking

September 16, 2019

 

If you’ve ever bought something in person, it’s a very different experience than buying the same product online.

 

The same can be said with auditions.

 

I recently assisted with casting a large-scale regional production. We listened to over 400 singers over the course of two and a half days, and had many others on standby that we were not able to hear. Because of this, many actors chose to send in recordings and videos rather than audition in person. Management LOVED this, because it allowed us to see as many people as possible without scheduling issues or paying to rent the space for extra hours. It was a quick and easy way to flip through a multitude of people at our leisure.

 

…I personally didn’t care for it.

 

I spoke about this later on with the other panel members. I felt that I had a stronger recollection of the singers who had come into the audition room than any of the singers who had submitted a video recording. I was surprised to learn that all four of my fellow panelists felt the same way—in fact, many of us could not remember any details about the singers who had auditioned via video, from what repertoire they offered to what color they wore.

 

The entire experience reminded me of the last time I bought a dress from Amazon rather than taking the time to go into Macy’s. Instead of taking the time to drive over to the store and try on a million styles, I read reviews, checked my measurements against the chart provided, and clicked away. It was quick, painless, and required little to no thought.

 

 Coincidentally, that’s about as much thought as I’ve ever given that dress. In fact, after I wore it once, it sat in my closet for months before I used it again. There’s nothing wrong with the dress, per say. I still wear it sometimes, now and again, whenever an occasion pops up—but the important thing to note is, I never think about it in particular. There isn’t a strong memory or relationship related with this dress. Buying it took little to no thought, so I never was put in a situation in which a real, meaningful relationship (good or bad) could occur.

 

There’s value in the last step of a purchase, in physically handling the garment and trying it on, in staring at yourself under those horrible fluorescent lights that never seem to make anyone look good.

 

…and trust me, there’s value in taking the time to physically show up in an audition room. (And PS—just like a dressing room, hardly anybody actually looks or sounds the way they usually do in an audition room. Maybe they’re all using the same light bulbs? 😊)

 

Before you start panicking, I want to be clear--there isn’t anything wrong with video auditions per say. They are completely acceptable in today’s industry standards, and sometimes they are the only option you might have due to geography or scheduling. In fact, I’ve auditioned for productions in which the ONLY way to audition was via video.

But if you’ve ever walked away from a really GOOD audition--one in which you were at ease and presented yourself well and maybe even chatted a bit with the panel-- you’ve experienced the value created by the last step of the process: a memorable interaction.

 

See, THAT’s the factor that our digitally-obsessed age can’t seem to wrap its head around—there is still value in doing things the old-fashioned way. Auditioning is a grueling job for both parties. Panelists will often sit for hours at a time, being sung at by a grab bag of talent and rifling through several hundred (or thousand) people a day. It’s exhausting and tiresome for everyone involved—so being the singer that walks in the door and gives a strong audition can make you instantly memorable. And being memorable is one of the most valuable assets a singer can utilize in their career. After all, when the lead soprano gets sick two hours before the curtain, you WANT your name to be the one that gets mentioned before the phone call, don’t you??

 

The same way there are no shortcuts to learning a particularly hard passage of coloratura, there are NO shortcuts to networking. You need to physically show up, put in the time to have a human interaction (hopefully a pleasant one!), to take a chance to be MEMORABLE. Being memorable will not only directly impact your career, it raises your overall market value. Start being remembered more and you can start singing more. If everyone already wants to use you, you’re considered a commodity and can start asking for more pay per appearance.

 

Houses want butts in seats. Companies are looking more and more to hire singers with large, direct followings—they believe hiring these singers will bring in guaranteed

audiences.

 

There are thousands upon thousands of factories vying online to sell their generic products to larger name-brand companies that happen to own customer relationships.

They are recognized as leaders and innovators within their own industries. They’ve taken the time to grow a following, to have a tribe that identifies with them and their brand.

In this interaction, maybe 80-90% of the sales profits go to name-brand companies that make the sale, not the factories who actually made the product.

 

That’s because while the factories make the thing, they don’t do the work.

The hard part is gaining attention.

 

The hard part is earning trust and recognition as ‘quality’.  

 

The hard part is helping someone make their choice, because you’ve made the decision so easy for them.

 

 A Broadway producer makes a profit while the chorus members eke out a living.

 

Either you’re actively doing the hard part, or you’re being actively left out of the transaction.

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