How They Made it on a Reality Talent Show

…and how you can, too!


American Idol started it all back in 2002, and now the popularity of televised reality talent shows have seemingly taken over major networks. From The Voice to the X Factor, our appetite for talent is insatiable, and major networks are cashing in on this trend. But show creators are not the only ones benefiting from this talent trend.


Everyday people who think they have what it takes to be famous have the chance to make it in front of millions of people, just like that. Even if these contestants do not make it to final rounds, the exposure is something that has never really been possible before these reality talent shows.

If you are looking for a few tips on how to prepare for an audition for one of these popular reality talent shows, consider a few of these steps.


The first step

Research the show you wish to audition for. Every show is different, with different audition guidelines and requirements. Find out when auditions will be held in your area and what deadlines are coming up.

Research what the process is like, what songs are typically chosen, and what people usually wear. View past shows and follow those individuals who made it to final rounds, noting what made them unique or different.

Beyond researching online, consider talking to someone who has previously auditioned, or check out “insider tips” posted online or otherwise by people who have gone through similar auditions.


Second step

Assess your skill level, and be honest with yourself. Singing in the shower or in your car is not the same as singing in front of millions of people, so if you have never taken voice lessons, you may want to consider signing up to at least develop your voice and to learn more. It won’t hurt brushing up on new techniques, right?

For most people it’s not a great idea to rely solely on your natural talent, though that’s a good start. Another idea, either before or after voice lessons, is to enjoin a few souls other than family and friends who will be honest with you and your talent. Pick those who can be bold and merciless to criticize the hell out of you! Please… don’t get your best friend! She can’t hurt you when you f*ck up. Audition in front of them, and take their criticism while trying not to be defensive.


The third step

After you have researched the show and prepared your voice and your skills, it’s time to choose a song that will highlight your strengths as a performer. Keep in mind, you’ll not be singing the entire song, so choose the portion of the song that best highlights your voice.

Again, go back and make sure you look at the guidelines for song selection. Most shows will give you guidelines and time limits, and it is crucial to respect those guidelines.

Remember, you may have only 3 minutes tops to show everything you’ve got. Be sure to choose wisely!


The fourth step

Once you’ve chosen a song (which you may also want to run by your voice teacher if you’re using one) it’s time to rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. When you go up in front of the judges, remember… …you won’t have lyrics in front of you and nerves may get the best of you. So prepare like your life depends on it!

For many shows you won’t even have a musical accompaniment so keeping in tune is also another factor to consider when rehearsing. One problem some singers run into is the urge to change songs if one doesn’t work out. It isn’t a bad idea to learn two songs; however, you can do it with just one if your voice is not as strong on that day. The critical thing to remember is to try to stick to your plan and use as much time as possible rehearsing.


And the final step is…

…for the day of the audition. Nerves are most likely going to be a factor so preparing both physically and mentally can help keep anxiety at bay. Properly preparing your voice physically is essential for a good audition, so consider a few tips that include breathing exercises, vocalization techniques and hydrating vocal chords.

If you have been taking voice lessons, I’m sure you have already learned some of these tips, but remember these exercises especially for the day of the audition, not just in the days and weeks leading up. As far as mental preparation is concerned, some singers have a mindset they go to when singing in front of people. Maybe envision yourself on a beach, all alone, singing out into the beach air, or maybe visualize yourself on the stage, in the final rounds of the talent show. Whatever works for you, try to maintain a clear head and the most crucial factor—maintaining a positive outlook.

If you do make it through a second round after your initial audition, return to a few of these tips and focus on honing your skill. You now have the confidence that you’re good enough to make it through to at least a second round, so use that positive energy to stay focused on your long term goals of making it to the final round!

If you don’t make it through the second audition, not all hope is lost. Don’t give up. The ones who made it, never give up. They persevere till they reach the top. That’s how they make it to the final rounds!

Go back over your audition and note points where you could improve, and most importantly, listen to the judge’s feedback and be bold and persistent—ask for more feedback. And once again… ask for more feedback. These judges may hold the key to success at your next audition, so never stop asking while you can, and see you in the final rounds!

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