Agent Representation with Music Partnership: A Reflection

So, I’ve finally got a fantastic agent, Lawrence Kershaw from The Music Partnership, and I cannot wait to continue my singing journey with this exciting collaboration!

I am a bit of a thinker and aside from constantly striving forward and looking at how much I have left to achieve, I like to make a point of reflecting back on my journey, and passing on what I have learned so that it might possibly help anyone who may be struggling right now.

I suppose I can’t not mention the big elephant in the room: this has happened during some very trying times, that is Covid-19. Everyone has been hit by this in one way or another, and Artists and the music world have been no exception. Much of the business of music-making depends on live interaction, both with each other and with audiences. Particularly in the classical music world which tended to keep to the more traditional ways of music-making and focused far less on the digitally-creative process and progress, it has been a huge learning curve for us to basically “take everything online”.

But I am not here to talk about that, because, well, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 months, you’re already pretty aware of the situation and have probably come across hundreds of social media posts talking about Covid struggles. 

I think what I really want to do is share some of what I have learned with fellow young singers out there hoping to find an agent. Honestly…it is a really tough world, and right now it is even harder, not just because of the fact that our industry is falling apart due to this dreaded virus, but also because (both pre-covid and post-covid) there is more competition than there ever was in the past (the distant past, not like recent pre-covid past). More competition, but less opportunity to be paid for what we do.

Some voices very easily fit into a box, and a lot of agents are looking for a nicely-fitting package that is easy to sell. Often, this means easy to type-cast, i.e. being cast according to a type – and if you don’t sound as you look, you’re kind of stuck. An agency is a business like any other after all, and it needs to make money to sustain itself. Perhaps influenced by the celebrity world, the classical music industry is always looking for the younger, fresher singer (confirmed by music professionals who have been in the business a while). The voice takes time to grow and develop, so that leaves the voices that take longer to do this (we are individuals i.e. our bodies and our personalities are all different), floundering about wondering what to do with themselves, as they seem to be stuck in some time-warp, too old to be a so-called “young artist”, too young to be singing fully-staged roles they will be singing in their mid-thirties. One hears so many stories, but to briefly mention a couple of my own personal experiences: I have been told to make up a different age for myself – the reason being to get around the ageist system, which is just the way things used to be, and are sometimes still done; and I’ve been told that I look like a soubrette but don’t sound like one, which can be considered a disadvantage (unless one is given the wise advice, like I was, to actually turn that into an advantage). 

I did try my fair share of fitting into a box, and it just didn’t work for me personally, like it does with so many singers. Quite the contrary, it really held me back, not just vocally, but as a person who could grow into my full potential. You see, for many singers, so much of who we are is defined by how well we are doing and on our level of success (and how we measure that success). It is so difficult to disassociate our vocal instrument from our being, because our instrument is a part of us. We carry it around with us every day of our lives, we actually love it like it were another person dear to us, if it hurts we hurt; if it doesn’t work, our essence of being seems to fall apart. If it isn’t happy, we are not happy. 

I was told many times: sing what you love to sing. I never really thought about that deeply enough…I knew I loved to sing, but I didn’t give myself enough space to explore more of what my voice could do. I was the good student, always doing what I was told, not taking risks. As a result, I killed some of my artistry, and slowly slowly eroded my self-esteem because I was not being true to my voice.

Over one year ago now, I felt I had reached a point in my career where I had nothing to lose…I took some advice given to me by various professionals in the industry, and started looking at what I felt in my heart I should be singing. Slowly things began to change and my voice was challenged in new ways, and practising became fun again; indeed singing became fun again. I fell in love with singing all over again. My perspective changed, as did my outlook on life and career, and I became happier; I found the excitement again. It also didn’t matter to me anymore where I got to sing and that I didn’t have an agent, what mattered to me was that I would sing to the best of my ability knowing that I am being true to myself and my voice.

Because of my change in attitude, I felt comfortable and confident enough to reach out to agents again, and I was encouraged to do so; I felt “ready”, not because I was not ready before, but because I just was not singing the right repertoire. Funnily enough, I can still sing most of the stuff I sang before (and much more securely), but it just is not about the notes…it is never about the notes, it is about the colour of the voice. 

But most importantly, I stopped caring SO MUCH, and I stopped worrying what others would think. I decided that I was going to stop trying to fit into a box, and I was going to find an agent who understood and believed in me and my voice.

So, for all young(er) singers out there:
 – stay true to yourself
 – be kind to yourself
 – follow your heart
 – listen to your voice, it probably knows you better than you know yourself

– Much love xx