Early Saturday morning, students gathered at Brock Recital hall to hear guest speakers give a talk titled “How to Make it in the Music Industry.”
Simon Lythgoe, a producer for American Idol, was the first to speak, and began by instructing students to move to the front rows.
“If you want to audition, the first thing you want to do is be seen. Lesson number one,” he explained.
Lythgoe emphasized the business aspect of the music industry.
“You’re a product,” he said. “You are selling yourself. You are selling your music.”
Lythgoe also encouraged students to search for opportunities to stand out.
“There is no gospel music in the UK. What a great opportunity,” he said. “That is the way you have to look at your music business. What has worked in the past? How did it look? What can I do differently?”
Grammy nominated producer Jan Smith, also known as “Mama Jan,” ended the presentation by sharing her story of success in the music industry. Smith began writing songs at age 9 and continued to pursue music into adulthood. Though she originally planned to be a performer, she eventually found her calling as a vocal coach.
“By saying yes to helping someone else, it changed my life incredibly,” Smith said.
Smith also described her nonjudgemental approach to helping musicians shine brighter than before. One example she gave was working with her client, Usher Raymond.
“He’s amazing. That said, in this conversation to him I said, ‘you’re fast, but you’re not accurate,’” she recalled. Smith used a piano to show Raymond where notes were clashing in his songs, explaining the music theory behind what notes worked together and what notes did not. Using this new knowledge to his advantage, his next album, “Confessions,” became the benchmark for his career.
Smith also emphasized taking care of personal health as a musician.
“Get a steamer,” she said. “Steam is your friend. It’s not going to keep you from getting Omicron. It’s not going to keep you from getting a common cold. It’s not going to keep you from getting the flu, but it helps your vocal cords remain hydrated.”
At the end of the presentation, Samford senior Taylor Wilson was invited to perform an original song for Smith. Smith listened and gave advice, suggesting that Wilson lower the mix and reposition her head.
“We sing from the inside out, not the outside in,” Smith instructed.
As morning became afternoon, Smith closed with one final piece of advice.
“Make wise choices and make even better mistakes,” she said.