Over the years we have made some great friends in the industry so we thought we would ask some of them to give us some insider tips. We had a chat with Hatty Keane, Lucy Spraggan and Ben Price and they have provided us with some invaluable advice for those of you hoping to make it in the industry……………
Lucy Spraggan – UK Artist, Live and X Factor Finalist
Can you tell our students the process that you go through when writing your own songs?
I write songs about things that inspire me, whether it’s someone or something I’m really passionate about or something that has really made me feel like I need to tell other people about it; these can be good or bad things, but either way, I have to have experienced it to write about it. So I guess that is the first part of the process, if I sit in my house doing nothing all day feeling uninspired, I can’t write anything.
The second part is usually thinking of a melody, but sometimes it’s already in my head, and then working it out on the guitar – I have half written songs that are years old, just because I can’t get the melody right to finish the song.
The chorus is usually the easiest part to write, I try to make sure it’s catchy and something that the listener will relate to.
After that I just practice it, and make sure the song ‘makes sense’. Once it’s finished I’ll play it one of my friends, or my partner and ask them what they think of it (they are the most critical people I know) and if they seem to like it, I’m usually very happy with it.
How did you learn to play the guitar?
My older brother is a self-taught guitarist and I always thought playing the guitar was very cool. My Mum bought me a cheap, little blue guitar for my 10th Christmas and I made it my aim to be able to play. I messed around with it for 2 years and then started writing songs to go with the chords I’d learned from books, my brother and trial and error and from there I’ve just sort of picked it up – I’m still learning!
What made you want to become a singer/song writer?
I love telling stories to people to see their reaction. The reason I love performing the songs I’ve written is because I can tell someone all about who I am, what I believe in or things I’ve done at one point or another. I tell people the background behind my songs before I sing them and it’s the best feeling ever when someone comes up to you after a gig and asks ‘Did you ever see them again?’ or says ‘I have a friend who is exactly like the person you just sung about.’
I wanted to be able to make a person laugh, cry or smile by telling them my story in less than 3 minutes, and I try my best to do that at every chance.
Find out more about Lucy Spraggon and future releases
Hatty Keane – UK R&B Artist
I had singing lessons and took part in the musicals at school to get my confidence up, but apart from that open mic was my first venture into the music industry!
What has been your best experience since winning the competition?
Performing for 20,000 people in Essex on bonfire night was amazing, a taster of what I’m hoping is to come! And also hearing my songs on the radio is surreal.
What advice can you give to our singing students?
Just be yourself, and be confident in yourself that way nothing will knock you down!
A lot of people suffer from nerves before performing what advice can you give to help ease this?
Give yourself space just before you go on and try to calm yourself down, maybe create a ritual, and just try to enjoy it, it’s taken me a while but now I just know I’m going to be fine once I’m onstage and I just go for it without thinking too much!
Find out more about Hatty Keane and future releases
Ben Price – A&R Future Music
Vision, identity and commitment. I talk to a lot of people who’ve worked with successful acts and the one thing that always comes up is vision. Bands need to know who they are, what their market is, and where they fit in it. If there is a blurring of the lines in where they fit in its normally because they won’t fit in! Commitment is more important than ever with the unsigned market as competitive as ever. Anyone can publish their own music on the internet so the market is vast and it’s vital to keep your audience/followers engaged constantly. Competitions like Open Mic UK give aspiring acts the chance to take their music beyond the internet and into the ears of some top music professionals.
For those who win the competition what can they expect the following year to be like?
Exciting hopefully! The trick is not to think the hard work is over once you’ve won, in actual fact the hard work begins at that point. We can’t make somebody an automatic star overnight they need to be committed to the cause. The first year is exciting though, if you get through that then you’re in good stead to be a star.
What piece of advice would you give to those who don’t make it through this time?
Don’t despair. Competitions like Open Mic UK give you a chance to develop so whether you get through your heat or not, hopefully you’ll be a better performer for the experience. Keep doing what you do if you enjoy it and work on the feedback you’re given from the judges as they know what they’re talking about. Stay committed and come back next year to prove the judges wrong.
Is there anything any bands or artists can do in order to increase there opportunities in the industry?
Be committed to the cause and take the rough with the smooth. Learn to take knockbacks as more doors will shut before one opens. Be consistent and interact with your fans and followers as much as possible, let them know what you are up to and tease them with what’s to come soon. Make sure you capture the attention at gigs and make sure the audience know who you are and where they can find out more. Give them something to retain (flyer, E.P) so they’ll check you out the next day rather than you being a distant memory.