Listening Room Network has a robust audition system that requires two live videos from artist applicants. Judges include industry professionals, but the majority are active house concert presenters. These hosts offer specific feedback to the artists regarding the materials presented.
We’ve seen thousands of video evaluations. Here are the most common problems they report to the artists about the videos. Here are the big three that have nothing to do with the songs selected.
- Not a listening audience. If you can’t command the respect of the audience in the video, why would we expect anything different when we see you?
- Different lineup than advertised. If you are booking yourself for house concerts as a solo act, we might enjoy seeing you with a violin player if we’re digging 5 and 6 videos deep into what you do. But the first two videos MUST be a good representation of what you are bringing to our house. Don’t make people imagine what you’d be like without the full drum kit and backline.
- Lip-sync, strum sync – keep it real, even if that means the audio won’t be pristine.
In addition, here are the most common problems with regarding the songs or performances.
- Long intro. Usually, the priority is the voice, and artists who strum their 4 chord intro* several times before getting to the vocal will lose the booker’s interest. Remember that people are busy, and your video could be in a long line of potential acts for that concert series. If you tell a story, tell it really well, make a point and be expressive.
- Not feeling any emotion – eye contact is often a factor here. You might be staring at lyrics/computer or just trying too hard and getting in your own way.
- Pitchy vocals or instruments. We don’t seek perfection in live video, but there are a lot of performances where pitch problems are relentless.
- Cover songs – the existing communities of house concert hosts tend to prefer original music, unless they book traditional, celtic, classical, and blues genres. Even though a couple of covers in a show is a welcome treat, it’s usually a mistake to introduce yourself with a video cover tune. Even if you love to play Cohen/Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” it doesn’t mean you play it in a remarkable way.
Most often, artists are best served by submitting two complete songs, especially if they can display an uptempo song and a ballad. Variety!
However, in the quest to show a lot of variety, many artists have applied with videos that show clips that are so short we don’t have time to connect with the song, or to get a true sense of the writing. That said, we occasionally see a compilation video that works. Here are two great examples.
When you submit songs or videos to a judging process, keep in mind that the judges will be listening to many artists in a row. Find a way to get to the essence of your content and sound quickly.
* Songwriting Tip: The intro to your song shouldn’t be a twenty second warm-up. It should get the same songwriting attention and care as the rest of the song. If the chords are no different than the verse, there better be something magical going on over it. If the intro is there simply out of songwriting habit, if it serves no purpose, get rid of it.