I’m a 13 Year Old Singer from Oklahoma. Can You Give Me Any Advice?

Here’s a letter we recently received from Rylee Anthony, a 13-year-old singer from Oklahoma trying to chart her future. ย She’s really just looking for some good advice, so please share whatever nuggets you can.

ryleeanthony

(republished with permission (including the parents!))

57 Responses

  1. Rikki

    As a DJ and board op and an internet radio station….I am very picky about audio quailty…

    Invest in good quality mics….learn how to use them….or pay someone to record you correctly.

    The same goes for video…dont use an iphone nothing detracts more then bad audio on video too…

    If you have a windscreen on your camcorder turn it ON….it cuts the bass before being recorded…I notice ton of videos on Youtube sounds fine then BOOM the bass distort the heck out of the video…

    In todays world you need LOTS of content….and all in one place to be take seriously

    ——-NOW THE SCARY PART…..register your name ASAP

    ryleeanthony.com IS AVAILABLE…….(godaddy) and so is the .net .org.info

    Reply
  2. GGG

    Take voice lessons. Don’t use melisma until you actually know what you’re doing. Listen to a ton of music. Practice. Write and write and write; get all the junk out of your system.

    And most importantly, don’t try to make it until you’re emotionally matured enough to handle rejection and comments by the GGGs of the world.

    Reply
  3. Pat

    As a musician who didn’t seriously start performing and working until age 22 (played in school bands and whatnot growing up)… you definitely have an advantage in that you know what you want to do at such a young age.

    First and foremost, you need to practice seriously. You might think you practice seriously now, by running through vocal exercises every so often, maybe even everyday, but that’s not enough. Do you want to be a professional? Then be a pro. Train with scales and vocal warmups everyday, but don’t stop there. Listen to some of your inspirations and try and emulate what they do, but more importantly, understand why they do what they do. Let’s say you like a singer like Amy Winehouse. She sings certain melodies that work over the underlying chords. As a singer, you don’t have to know the ins and outs of music theory (although it helps, a lot), but you should know something. Like let’s say there’s an A major chord being played? What are the most important notes? Well, chords are constructed out of 3 notes, the 1 3 and 5 of the scale. In the key of A, that would be A, C#, and E. Use these note as the most important tones you hit in your melody as it sounds pleasing to the listener and fits. You can then extend melodies based on feel, what you hear, most likely the extension notes will be something along the lines of a flatted 7th, 9th, 13th.. etc. If this is all super confusing to you, then do some research. Now that we are graced with the luxury of the internet, you can find tons of topics on this. Research chord construction. Then practice your scales and really hone in on these three tones.

    Another important aspect of singing is the rythym of your delivery. Most music these days is in 4/4 common time, so practice counting 1, 2, 3, 4. Those are whole notes that make up one full bar of music. So two bars would be counted as 1,2,3,4 2,2,3,4 etc.. From there, add in eighth notes, 1&2&3&4&… the &’s are basically splitting the bar from a phrase of 4 to 8.. but it’s staying within the same length of time. Then there are 16th notes which are counted 1-e-&-a 2-e&-a 3-e-&-a 4-e&-a… again in the same length of time. But just doing that is boring, once you have the count down, start experimenting with what’s called sycopation. This basically means that you leave space in between the notes.. sing one note as a whole note, then follow that with a few 8th notes, and sprinkle in some 16th notes.. again all within the same 1 bar time lenth. Keep practicing different combinations of rythym while singing your scale exercises and you’ll get a real feel for how to deliver your vocals (and develop your own style along the way).

    Now, without the technical skills, it’s hard to do anything. So, make sure you always practice. You’re at a very young age and the real world hasn’t hit you yet… so time is on your side, take advantage of it.

    Now to the part on HOW you get where you want to be. Play with as many musicians as you can. Go sing in local choirs, bands, with some homeless guy on the street… whatever it may be. As much diversity and practice as you can obtain will be incredibly useful. Every musician has a different approach to making music and being able to step in as a singer and adapt with the differing styles will set you apart from many, many people.

    Aside from that, I recommend moving to a market that’s a little larger because there’s more demand for live music consumption. You have to move to a bigger market, even though small markets also love live music (are starved for it and gigs may pay better), you won’t get the same level of recognition. Quite frankly there are more people, better musicians, and more chances in larger markets.

    Consider starting a band, or vocal group, or jazz combo, whatever type of music interests you…. or get a good producer if you’re trying to do a solo thing. A lot of producers will promise you things, but be weary of that. If you have to pay an absurd amount of money for some produced tracks from an unknown producer, keep exploring your options. They try and take advantage of naivity. I see it all the time. You want to find someone who’s enthused about your voice and is excited about what they can produce for YOU, it’s not all about them lining their pockets with your hard earned cash.

    A final thought: keep practicing your technical abilities. Without that, nothing else I mentioned will play out. You have to be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Having a good vocal coach, even if you get to a point where you feel you’re good on your own, will always help. They’ll challenge your abilities and teach you how to sing properly to avoid damaging your vocal chords (which is a very real, and serious problem if you want to be a singer).

    Good luck!

    Reply
    • Rylee Anthony

      Iv been singing with local church Choir. on Christmas of 2012 My prestbytearian church in Jenks has a Christmas dinner. sang and there were approximently 150 people there and i was on the stage and i interacted with everyone in the crowd i walked around the room while singing and everyone looked like they were having such a fun time. and I also sing with my School choir

      Reply
  4. Voice of Reason

    DON’T DO IT!! Sing for fun, don’t become a musician. You will be in for a life of being broke, no future, constant rejection and your twilight years will be spent living in one of your Appaloosa horse’s trailers! 99% of musicians FAIL. Go to college, take music courses, get the most joy out of it you can, just don’t go pro. That’s if you’re good enough to even do it! I know it sounds harsh now but you’ll thank me later. If you are a lover of animals, become a veterinarian ๐Ÿ™‚

    You’re Welcome!

    VOR

    Reply
    • Rylee Anthony

      Im going to collage thats not an opition for me. Studying music,I just want to be successful as Taylor Swift, Adele, Blake Shelton ECT. Thats my dream and i tend to go after what i want until i get what I dream:)

      Reply
      • Visitor

        …make sure you have a back-up plan. The new generation is being raised and indoctrinated by the Big Tech corporations to believe ‘music is free’ (all the while the Big Tech Corps are stealing the money that should go to the artists…) It’s not fair, and it’s a bitter pill. Unless we (ALL of us) fight for our rights, we won’t have any rights to fight for.

        Reply
      • Pat

        Hi, I gave you the advice about practicing and whatnot early on, i believe it was post #3 from the top. Regarding this.. it sounds as if your mentality is skewed, which is expected. Now, to dream of having success at the levels of Taylor, Blake, and the others is fine. But, define your level of success. Does success mean being on TV and producing rather crappy songs, but being ok with it because your a TV celebrity and making a ton of money? That’s not a musician sweetheart, I’m sorry. You have to ask if you want to be a musician, or a celebrity. Most musicians, and I use that term loosely, on TV are glorified celebrities. Sure, they have skills in music and used them at one point in time to get to where they are. But now I feel they’ve fallen victim to the spotlight moreso than the craft they began with (the music).

        So, if you eventually want to be a celebrity, you have to be a musician first. Set your goals and make them reasonable first. I’m afraid after hearing that you want to be just like Taylor Swift and everyone else you see on TV that you’ll be very quickly disappointed. Just because you’re a good singer doesn’t mean you’ll be famous. I’m going to now tell you something you don’t want to hear. There are millions of girls your age that are thinking the same thing as you, and here’s the bad part, they’re just as talented as you; and here’s the worst part, someone out there is working harder than you on the craft (odds are a lot of them are).

        Your goal as a musician should be this: be able to make enough money to eat. That’s a successful musical career in my opinion. Why? Because most musicians can’t afford to eat on their music based pay alone. And these are the musicians that are a million times more talented than you and have been performing their craft for decades. There no schlubs, that’s for sure, they’re professional level musicians struggling.

        You have to do this only if you have the true passion to sing in front of people for the right reasons. Not for fame and fortune, no, but for changing a person’s opinion on something. Maybe they’re in a bad mood and this makes them feel better, maybe they think you suck and you want to prove them wrong.. whatever it may be, you have to be passionate about the music first. The fame and fortune may (I stress MAY) come. If that happens, that is great, and if you’re on the verge of getting there then there are definitely some steps to take to help you meet the right people who can throw millions into marketing to help propel you to a celebrity based music career. However, you have to keep your expectations in the real world here. I’m not trying to bash your dreams, in fact, I think it’s great that you’re dreaming big and I think all people should dream big. It’s better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit, so they say. At the same time, you have to realize that only way to even have a smidgen of a chance at achieving your dreams is to work hard and care about the craft, not to be sidetracked by the celebrity glitz and glamour that comes from it.

        I see this all the time, young musicians have this attitude of “we’re the best band in the land and we think we’re going to move to LA and change the record industry and show people how great we are and open the doors for others (usually they don’t say that as they’re too absorbed with themselves)”. It always ends in disappointment. Just keep in mind that you will WILL be disappointed at least a handful of times, but probably closer to an uncountable amount of times. Persistence.

        Reply
  5. TuneCity.com

    Just keep doing what you’re doing and you will improve. You’re already showing initiative in performing wherever you can, and being proactive in contacting industry people. There are few things more important than persistence.

    Reply
  6. mars

    no american idol!!!!! and no covers. don’t be another follower, be a leader. if you can’t write original music yourself, form a team with new aspiring songwriters, and start locally. eventually you’ll become an original artist with loyal fans. it requires a lot of time and effort. you may be tempted by a promise of fast and ephemeral popularity. try to resist. good luck

    Reply
    • Rylee Anthony

      I wasnt planing on going to American Idol, X Factor , or any talent shows. at first i thought about it but i changed my mind i want to start from the top and make my way up. I preformed at a salvation Army in Sapulpa right outside of Glenpool and i sang a few of my favorite songs. Love story and Our song by Taylor Swift, Call me maybe by Carly Rae Jepson, and Wanted by Hunter Hayes. when i was done all the kids stood up to clap for me. and when i started walking away a little girl adn some of her friends came up to me and asked for my autograph and a hug. it made my day so much. i know im not famous or anyting but when i walk in to that Salvation Army its like i am, they always want me to sing. Singing is the only thing that can clear my mind next to riding my Horses.

      Reply
      • mars

        ok, if all you want to do is be a singer, you can even try american idol, when you’ll feel ready, but beware: I heard about a girl who was so depressed because she was “rejected” by american idol, as if american idol was the one and only supreme authority in music. remember it’s just an audition. they may be wrong. you can still grow or make it elsewhere. that’s why it’s important that you keep your feet on the ground and build slowly.

        Reply
    • Jabsco

      Do not listen to this. The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen came up doing covers. It is a completely viable way to learn the songwriting craft and how to interact with audiences.

      Reply
        • Geeker

          Van Halen did covers…. covers can help pay the bills and help with stage time. Learn the craft of writting songs from covering songs. I hate when people say “only do originals”. You set your self up for failure…. Slip in an origin or two at your cover shows.

          Reply
        • Geeker

          Van Halen did covers…. covers can help pay the bills and help with stage time. Learn the craft of writting songs from covering songs. I hate when people say “only do originals”. You set your self up for failure…. Slip in an original or two at your cover shows.

          Reply
    • Rylee Anthony

      Sorry i am going to read it, I need all the advice i can get so i can improve and advance in my music

      Reply
      • Marmuro

        Don’t EVER quit… people in here giving you advice about pitch perfection, practice, and dumb strategies on how not-to-starve by having a backup plan, college degree, etc… THEY ARE INSANE! Or at least jealous that they never had such drive to pursue a career in what they love (did they love it that much that they became music bitter critics posting the absolute truth – theirs at least)…

        They don’t understand that sometimes is not about money, it’s about being complete, about being happy, satisfied with the road you took and how you walked through… I think though, you are very young and don’t see the big picture yet. To make it big it takes a lot, and having Taylor Swift as role model may not help you… take a look at more music genres, more artists, expand your ears and you will find more than what you already search for… take a glance at Pearl Jam’s opinion regarding music, they don’t aim for fame… yeah they make money, but honest one, success is about doing what you love, and if that involves being paid by giving a message through music, so be it! Some will say “yeah in PJ they already have millions”, but read about their deal closure with mainstream labels, the lawsuit agains Ticketmaster, that should be a good start to understand that people like them (or like me) are pursuing a life project after music, not money as a primary need, but the satisfaction of waking up and smiling because you dedicate your life to the most magical thing in the world (music), is worth living.

        Reply
  7. ask your parents first

    If you are really 13 years old you need your partents’ permission to participate in public online discussions.

    Reply
    • Rylee Anthony

      how do you think i sent the letter. my mom has my ful support and let me sent the letter she is the one that told me he sent me an email back and him putting me on here

      Reply
    • Rylee Anthony

      I wouldnt be on here if it wasnt for my parents or paul sent the letter to him to try to get the best of advice that i could get.

      Reply
      • manicmonkee

        Rylee,

        The best advice I can offer you is find support in your town. See if you can find musicians or producers to talk with. Also, particiapte in music conferences, go to panels where music industry experts speak and listen to what they have to say. Reach out to Organizations like SESAC, ASCAP, BMI who give give you references for OK. Get yourself a Reverbnation page and start building a fan base. Play coffee shops, schools, what have you.

        there are also sites online where you can get advice to get you on the right path. http://www.musicxray.com is one, they charge a fee sometimes, but people on there offer up advice if you can’t find anyone else. Also check out http://www.sonicbids.com you can submit for opportunities as well. Also, keep writing music, very important and find a place to practice your music. Talk to your school band, maybe you’ll find people that want to start a band with you.

        Record your music and put it up on your bandpage, Reverbnation, Soundcloud so people can hear it. You’ll get there.

        Reply
        • Rylee Anthony

          Thank you i will look in to it. i have all kinds of support. but i will get more support.

          Thanks

          Reply
          • Rylee Anthony

            i can do that, i do have a Guitar but no piano. My mom has skills in Piano. all she nows it Beatoven and the classics. and i need a new guitar which i am saving up for hopefully.

  8. wallow-T

    A friend, who is a voice teacher who sometimes works with teenagers, would say:

    Don’t “push” the voice for volume and high notes yet, the body needs to be more developed. (Which means, don’t try to be Charlotte Church or Jackie Evancho.) Singing with a youth choir would be good at this point in your physical development.

    Learn some basic musicianship — the terms, how to read music, music theory. Studying piano for a while is excellent for this, even if you have no intention of becoming a pianist. These skills are important for communicating with other musicians.

    Reply
    • Rylee Anthony
      Rylee Anthony

      No, no demo (yet) or a soundlink. i dont have time with my animals and family but soon i am hoping to record a demo and i will let you know

      Thank you!

      Reply
      • JTV
        JTV

        ok.

        maybe you should try this:

        pick one of your favourite’s songs, one you know how to sing.

        find a musician/audio engineer who can create the backing track for you and have some recording gear.

        record a good cover song, with professional quality (no demo-like sounding).

        put it on iTunes with services like ours, CDBaby or any other you may like.

        promote the song with your friends, social networks, during your shows…etc.

        this will be a good test.

        Reply
        • Music Is My Life
          Music Is My Life

          Never give up on your dreams. If very musician was to give up on there passion to create music, what would the world be like? Dull, sad and depress. Our communities need to support thier local musicians. Have faith, those who are telling you to give up…have giving up on themselves and thier dreams.

          First thing you did right was accepting your gift and dreams, you must hold on, no matter how hard it may seem. Only those you believe shall and will succeed.

          I know you will Be a great Singer who will change the lives of many through your music.

          Reach Beyond the Stars!

          Reply
  9. Yves Villeneuve

    People take you more seriously if you have a reputable manager, label and are played on radio. Get a professional demo done and shop it around to managers of successful artists.

    Reply
  10. Christine Ben-Ameh

    Dear Riley,

    Whatever you do:

    1.Get a college degree.

    2. Get a voice coach and guitar lessons (or get lessons online which save cost anyway)

    3. Record lots of covers and listen to music from different eras and genres (Grow your versatility)

    4. Never give up. Patience and Persistence are key

    5. Be friendly but learn to draw the line between good relations and being a walk over.

    6. Enjoy yourself. Don’t make music your sole source of livelihood. Have a life outside of it.

    7. Nobody can love you like family. Whatever you do respect their opinion.

    Bless you,

    Christine

    Reply
  11. R.P.

    1. Learn your music notes.

    2. Practice your notes on a piano as a singer until you know what notes are playing just by the sound.

    3. Try to learn about voice leading:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_leading

    4. Study all of histories greatest songs and their chord progressions. Chord progressions are the key to some of the most popular music.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_progression

    5. Find schools, including colleges, that specialize in Music, such as Oberlin, if you are serious about music as your life that is.

    Best of luck.

    Reply
  12. Paul Resnikoff

    This one may be out of left field, but if you can, I highly recommend attending Musexpo’s Radio Summit in Hollywood, and pitching there. The conference assembles lots of top radio programmers, they review submissions in front of an audience.

    Try to get your music included in this review process, they will give you lots of information and feedback on whether you have a hit, a dud, or need to go back to the drawing board. I think if you start the process early, you can get included (A&R Worldwide in LA is the coordinating group).

    The PDs will try to be kind and not crush your ego, but they are also not going to go too far with the sugar-coating. Try to listen to their feedback, and recognize that radio is often a big part of playing this game.

    (Yes, it’s a game in many respects).

    Reply
  13. Chris

    My advice?1 – Practice, practice, practice, practice and then practice again. Then when you’re done practice some more and some more after that. Practice so that you can sing songs blindfolded, can change key, can improvise, change speed add new lyrics on the go. Make music the beginning middle and end of each of your days.2 – Keep performing. Church is great but go and perform in places where the crowd might not be as accepting. I’m not suggesting bars at your age but plenty of community events come up and you shoudl be there. Does your school have a choir – join it. If not start it.3 – Go and find out a studio close to your home. Beg them to let you sweep the floors in exchange for use and teching of their equipment. Find a local community radio station and do the same. Find a local record label – do the same.4 – Find somewhere online where people can discover your music. I’m in the UK but if you’re good enough I will find out about you and I’ll want to hear your music. 5 – Learn about the music business. Read books (Donald Passmann – All you Need to Know about the Music Buisness). Read Blogs (Bob Lefzetz, The Trichordist, DMN). Learn the difference between what happens in the USA and the rest of the world. Know what every term on a contract means – learn as much legal stuff as you can.6 – Be willing to change. Your vocals will develop overtime – learn to adapt and change.7 – Keep it real. 13 year olds can’t sing about marriage and expect to taken seriously – but sing about what you know. How your teenage years are confusing – use your experiences to guide and map your songwriting. Can’t understand boys? Then write about it!I wish you the best of luck with it all

    Reply
  14. Jason Miles

    There is no easy road to success. If someone tells you they could make it easy for you,run the other way. There is no easy route. One things is for sure, you need to have your own voice. and your own personality. Don’t be in a rush and enjoy being 14. You will not be young and carefree forever. Enjoy it now because life doesn’t get easier and the music world definitely has very big challenges ahead.

    peace,Jason

    Reply
  15. Andy DeVoid

    Everything about this letter makes me sad. Before you go forward, watch the smash-up derby that is the opening weeks of American Idol and notice everybody who sings in their church and says that everybody loves them. Then they open their mouths and are dreadful. All those people had experiences like yours, which means you could be one of them.

    That said, people who can sing are a dime a dozen; people who have something to say are far rarer. Really, you need to get better dreams because you’re aspiring to be disposable on a very high level. Yours will likely lead to a lot of disappointment and heartache because you’re chasing the moving target of popularity.

    If you really want to be an entertainer, do whatever it takes to be attractive and do whatever it takes to be seen and heard. Learn to be shameless and relentless. Throw all those good church values in the trash because they’ll only slow you down.

    Reply
  16. Tony Gottlieb

    If you love singing, then sing. Practice singing, study singing, perform singing and do it everywhere, all of the time.

    If you want to be in the business of music, then simply get a hit. Everything else will find its way.

    If you confuse the artform with a commercial success in the business then you risk your unhappiness.

    For the creative, opportunities are vacuums they are not targets.

    Reply
    • Oklahoma City
      Oklahoma City

      Check out [email protected], Rylee. It’s a very good connection to the music industry, and it’s in the heart of BRICKTOWN in Downtown Oklahoma City. I received my 2nd degree there.

      Reply
  17. hippydog

    My primary piece of advice would be. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

    Besides that.. Be realistic or at least have multiple goals..

    I’ve met many young kids who because of the taylor swift (etc etc) decided their goal in life was ” to be famous like her”.. I’m not out to crush your dreams, but honestly the chances of that happening is at least equal to winning the lottery.. you see.. “being famous” is NOT just about talent.. Talent makes a big difference, but a lot of it is about luck, and “who you know”, and “being in the right place at the right time”..

    Having said that.. There is NOTHING wrong with having an enjoyable career in the music industry.. But have reasonable expectations, and plan on those reasonable expectations (IE: “dont put all your eggs in one basket”)

    Starting now, think about it as MUSICAL career.. Learn guitar and piano.. go to college.. Take a dance class. PERFORM EVERYWHERE..

    and remember.. its not a “path” its a direction..

    Reply
  18. Minneapolis Professional Songw

    The first thing you must do is become famous in your home state, and have hundreds of people come to hear you every time you sing.

    If that doesn’t happen first, then you will not become famous. It’s really as simple as that..

    You cannot control whether they like you or not. You can only sing your best and write the best songs you can.

    If they love what you do and come to hear you over and over, then you begin to have a chance at becoming famous.

    But I have to tell you that becoming famous like Taylor Swift is the same as winning the lottery. And it costs a lot of money to play the lottery.

    You may find it hard to believe, but there are many girls out there who can sing as well as Taylor Swift. And they all want to be famous, too. So there are a lot of people out there like you.

    They all want lots of people to come and hear them sing.

    I think you should get a college degree in something where there are lots of jobs.

    After that you can try to play the lottery once you have saved up a $10,000 or more for marketing.

    Reply
  19. Ben Laski

    You can go to tryout.net where you can have access to professionals giving advice and you can even submit yourself to a contest with Fanlala.com that will fly you to Los Angeles and have you meet with professionals. See tryout.net/channels/fanlala.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  20. Lou

    So many great comments and suggestions! Only thing I have to say is remember to cross your Ts.

    And have a day job to sustain you through it all. Education is essential, go to college!

    Reply
  21. Ben Stauffer

    Ryley,

    Record yourself singing in videos and post them on YouTube. Make sure that the sound and video are of a good quality, and vary up your song selection from ballads to popular, upbeat songs to country or whatever genre(s) you think suit your voice the most (and your interests). Stick mostly with covers, but if you have some well-written originals, put some of them in, too. Post often and get your friends to share them on social networks, and get their friends to share them.

    If you can develop into not only a good singer but a prolific songwriter as well, you will be much more marketable and interesting to the music business community. Write, write, and write again.

    Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Mike Corcoran
      Mike Corcoran

      Im surprised it took 3 days on DMN for someone to mention YouTube. Definitely, YouTube is the way to go. Sing your favorite song from your bedroom, upload, repeat. This is what some guy name Justin Beiber did, and I heard it worked for him.

      Also, hit your local Karaoke place in your town. Taylor Swift spent every Monday night for 2years at hers, and it worked out for her, too.

      Don’t worry about managers, labels, or anyone else who says they can make you a “star”. That’ll come later. For now, just sing.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
  22. Reality Check

    I’m surprised no one has really mentioned the importance of learning the business. Yes, practice and technical skills come first, but much of your potential success as an artist is highly contingient on knowing what you’re getting into. The business has changed so much, and if you don’t know how to manuver within it, you’re likely to get burned even if you DO get the chance. I highly recommend taking a music business classes (or even minoring in it) when you get to college. Learn the publishing world and about the many different types of recording contracts. Learn how you can make a decent living just off touring and merchandise, and how to register with a performance rights society. Remember that people don’t really buy music anymore and if you’re going to do it and sustain yourself off of it for life (remember, your parents aren’t going to support you forever, at least, they shouldn’t), you need to find ways to market yourself as an artist beyond just your skills. You’ll get a firm reality check in your twenties when you don’t have a paycheck and they’re about to cut off the power in your tiny, overpriced apartment. People don’t skyrocket to fame and fortune anymore like they used to; they often spend a long time struggling, so be prepared for that.

    Also realize that the majority of people that are successful in doing this is becuase they’ve worked EXTREMELY hard with little to no payoff for many many years. I’m talking about having to give up practically everything and put your desire to do this professionally as priority Number 1. No more time for friends, family, horses, boyfriends, church, anything. You need to eat, sleep, and breathe it. And remember, for as talented as you may be (or think you are), there are thousands of others out there that are likely further along than you. You need to do something different to stand out. Everyone starts out by singing in choirs or in church, that doesn’t make you unique or more hungry for it than anyone else. Sorry, but it’s true.

    (Sidenote – if you’d like to see exactly how you stack up against others your age doing this, I recommend attending an intensive music program or camp in the summer, like Interlochen, Idyllwild, or Walnut Hill. They provide concentrated classical training and take your perspective to a whole new level. Interlochen is the superior choice, if you can get accepted.)

    And yes, go to college and you’ll need to move to New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville. That should be obvious. And take music theory. You need to know it – well. It will put you at so much more of an advantage above others.

    Reply
  23. Peggy Dold

    Dear Rylee:

    My family is from Tahlequah. I have been in Sapulpa and Locust Grove gzillions of times in my life, before I left for LA, NYC & Miami to work for 32 years in the music industry.

    I would be happy to do a Skype call with you and at least one of your parents, and will share any nuggets of advice I have. If Skype is a problem, I can send you a conference call-in #.

    All my best to a fellow Sooner,

    Peggy

    [email protected]

    http://www.navigationpartnersllc.com

    Reply
  24. Pancho in JAX, Fl

    Dear Rylee:

    Psalm 37: 4. : Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of your heart.

    Reply
  25. JW

    This is cliche I know, but enjoy the journey regardless of results. What/where/how/who in your journey is completely your choice if you want it to be. Never forget this is your life and you only got one. Make choices that are yours. Peace of mind leads to happiness not financial reward though financial security helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good Luck!!

    Reply
  26. Steven Mudd

    I’m 26 and knew I wanted to do music as a career at 13. And now have a great career in music.

    It can be done.

    Here’s the catch –

    I was a singer starting as a kid, sang in children’s choirs, sang in operas. Thought I wanted to sing and act onstage at that time.

    Then I hit jr high. And started playing drums with and for my church. So as I entered high school I wanted to be in a band. And started a band. And helped write songs. Took as many gigs as we could get. Played a lot.

    High school ended and we wanted to continue to pursue it so we did. Practiced for 20 hours a week. Kept taking gigs. Played conferences. Made a record. It was a good year. Then some of them wanted to go to college so we broke up.

    And I went to college. Never wanted to, but did. Thought “hey. Maybe ill be the music director for a church. They need a degree” Before college I bought some basic recording gear. We had made a record as a band and I thought – that looks fun. I wanna try my hand at that. So went to college for music. Started another band. Still singing the whole time.

    And recorded a record for them. Then I recorded a record for another guy. And the schools worship band. I thought – this is fun. I want to be a record producer. So I dropped out of college and went to a one year recording school in LA.

    I finished the program stayed in LA. Recorded some people. But they weren’t famous so it wasn’t good money. And I had just gotten married and needed money. So I took random gigs. Started teaching piano (which I learned along with singing in children’s choirs) started doing live sound for churches (which I picked up while playing in the bands). Told my wife “I’d rather do random music gigs that I’m not overjoyed with than work some $12 / hr day job”

    And made money that way til I thought “wait. I wanna still make music”. So I did. I wrote some songs I thought were marketable and promoted that EP. And a friend heard it. And showed his friend who owned a music house (putting music on commercials) and they said “hey. Wanna try to compose music for commercials?” And I said “yes”. And here I am 3 years later. Making good money. Singing all the time. But doing more than just that. Writing music too. And recording. And producing other artists. And still teaching on the side. And it’s rewarding.

    And guess what? I’m 26. So I’m sure it won’t end here. Sure I’d still love to play with a band. Or produce records for other bands. Or be a music director at a church. Or sing and act onstage. And who’s to say those things won’t happen? Times young Rylee and so are we ๐Ÿ™‚

    whats my point in this long story?

    1. If you know that’s all you want to do. Do it. Don’t let naysayers convince you. They can’t chart your path. Only you (and God) can

    2. Learn new things. Learn an instrument (or 2). sing with groups. Start or join a band (singing lead or backups while playing an instrument). Learn to record yourself (at least your voice. its relatively cheap these days. And all but necessary with how music is going.) every new thing you learn will only help your singing

    3. Don’t have tunnel vision. You may want to just be a singer now. But life takes a lot of twists and turns. Say yes to every music opportunity. I faked my way through a lot of stuff until I eventually got the hang of it. And have ended up in a place that I’m good at, provides for my family and that I enjoy

    4. Educate yourself. Certainly all through jr high and high school. Watch YouTube videos. Learn basic music theory. Eventually read about music business and publishing (don’t worry about this one now. You’ve got time) if you go to college great! If not – keep learning elsewhere (ps – people extol the virtues of college and then finish with overwhelming amounts of debt and bleak job prospects. At least over the last 7 years. It’s for some. It’s not for everyone)

    5. When the time is right. Move to a music city. LA, New York, Nashville. Heck. Even Austin or Denver or Seattle. Somewhere with an ear to the cultural ground. You’ll get more experience and more work.

    Im excited for you! Time’s on your side and you know what you love. That’s miles ahead of most kids in college. Stick with it and drop me a line (with your parents of course) if you’d like ๐Ÿ™‚

    -Steven

    Reply
    • Steven Mudd
      Steven Mudd

      I forgot to say

      6. Listen to all kinds of music. Pop and rock and jazz and country and classical. Americana, indie. You’ll find your voice gravitating to a certain sound as it matures. But keep singing all types. And copy those artists inflections, stylings, maye even their tone. See what you’re capable of! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers

      Reply
  27. JazzGirl

    Hi Rylee,

    It sounds like you’re doing a lot of great things already.

    If you are already performing and have people who love you, one thing you can already start doing now that is very helpful is collecting email addresses of the people who come to your performances. That way, when you have another performance somewhere in town, you can let them know about it and they may come out to see you again. Maybe they will bring a friend this time, and then you collect that friend’s email address too. Etc.

    Let’s say you have 10,000 email addresses by the time you are 20. If you now make an album, you have people to sell the album to. Or if you don’t have the money to make an album, you can fundraise it from your fans. Then, no matter what “happens” later, you will always have a direct relationship with people who love what you do. Record companies are also more interested when you already have your own dedicated fanbase (a LOT more interested).

    Also, in addition to developing your talents as a singer/musician and on the business side of music (publishing, copyright, recording contracts, etc), I suggest becoming knowledgeable about promoting yourself online, interacting with fans online and dealing with online criticism, etc. It’s a new world out there, and there is a lot to know about it.

    It’s quite a lot to do. But so is anything else worth achieving in life.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  28. Mr. Gee

    I think it’s very important to enjoy the journey, realizing that becoming a professional entertainer is that. Now I say this because some folks see the journey as a pure ordeal that they have to put up with until the big day when … TA DAH you’re a star. But what if you don’t become a star, what if you don’t have your dreams come true quite the way you anticipated, what then? Hence the encouragement to enjoy “getting there”, wherever “there” may be. One other thing to add to that, your passion for your music will take you a long way and there may be times when that’s all you have but if you have that then you’ve got a lot. Everybody in this business started out at the same place — the beginning. Once upon a time they couldn’t play a C chord, once upon a time then didn’t have enough stage presence to last past one song. Keep those things in mind as you aspire to be one of the chosen few. Of course my fondest hope is that you’re getting a whole lot of parental support because without it, the road is even tougher. I wish you al the best and … God Bless.

    Reply
  29. Tony

    Hi Rylee,

    I’ve done quite a bit of work with young girls who love to sing, so I’ll give you my two cents worth of advice. First and foremost, remember that you are 13 years old and not 25. I can’t stand it when I hear a girl your age trying to sing like she’s in her 20’s. Your voice is developing and may not be ready to do what you would like it do. You will be surprised at how much your voice will change by the time you are 18, and then change more as you get into your 20’s. Sing a little everyday, but don’t over do it. You don’t want your voice to get tired and don’t push your range beyond what’s comfortable, at least for now.

    Don’t worry about being as successful as artists who have big labels behind them, especially Taylor Swift. Don’t get caught up in that now. Work on being a good singer. I will give you three singers to listen to who are my top three female vocalists of all time. You may have never heard of them, but you can find them all on You Tube for sure. They are Connie Francis, (Mama) Cass Elliott and Linda Ronstadt. Not only did they have great voices, but they could really sing. Even without knowing what kind of music you really like, I’d still suggest listening to them. Good luck and remember; this is a marathon and not a sprint.

    Reply
  30. Jodi

    Hi Rylee,

    Your head must be spinning with all this advice from everyone!..

    In one of your responses …you said you don’t have time to m ake a demo…if music is your passion …you HAVE to make the time…you are so young and music WILL change as it does every 10 years or so and you have to adapt with it and that I mean technology, music styles.( what you like now won’t be around in 10 years) Example ..I love the 80’s but I don’t write in that style if I want to make money on my music in 2013.)

    DON’T waste time..but also enjoy life and music too!

    It’s true about alot of the other comments..but most importantly..have a plan and be DISCiPLINED with your music!

    Reply

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