Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Audition Season: Forms & Fees

I'm supposed to talk about paperwork (audition applications) today, and I will. But before we shut down our right brains, I want to call your attention to this blog post by Seth Godin. One of the great things about Seth's posts is that they are rarely long, typically under 500 words. So visit the link. You have time.

Welcome back. Think about Seth's hierarchy of success as you approach this audition season, and focus on the top two as he suggests:

1. Attitude. This permeates everything, in surprising ways. More of it than you think is telegraphed to others, and it has unavoidable implications for your staying power and the quality of your work. Yes, working your way up in any business is tough, and the entry level in almost any field has its peculiar challenges. But if you find yourself bitter already, this doesn't bode well.

2. Approach. No amount of careful attention at the 11th hour will save you if your beginnings are thoughtless and haphazard. Care about the details. Which brings us to....


Paperwork!

Look at it this way. If you were pounding the pavement looking for a "real" job* right now, you'd be writing dozens and dozens of customized cover letters and tweaking multiple versions of your resume. So cranking your way through a modest number of YAP applications is not hardship duty.

Pay attention to the instructions. If it requires you to regurgitate things already on your resume, just do it. Do not say "refer to resume" if the instructions say not to. It sounds petty, but if I'm looking at 700-800 forms, I need to be able to compare apples-to-apples, not sift through resume columns.

Don't send materials that aren't requested. If you already have a press kit with audio, review clippings, professionally written bio, etc, then good for you. We just can't pay any attention to them right now, though. Although it makes me cringe to toss them, I will. For years I would set those things asidebecause I couldn't bear to trash them, then still have to toss them months or years later. Don't waste your time and money sending them to us. (More discussion of résumés and headshots in a couple of weeks.)

And finally, reconcile yourself to paying the fee if that's what's required. You don't have to like it. I don't like spending money either. And I know how little money you have. (A few years ago I found the ledger in which I kept a record of our expenses while my husband and I were in grad school. 25 cents entries for every newspaper or Diet Coke, meticulously accounted for.)

So if there were ways for us to avoid charging, we would. We've been looking for audition tour underwriters for decades and will continue to do so. We could hold court here in our own theatre and make everyone come to us, but that would be neither fair nor fruitful. So until we find a way to pay for the travel, lodging, space rental, pianists, monitors, staff time and server space, we'll have to charge a fee.

As to application fees vs. audition fees, well, that's a bit more volatile a subject. There are regular rants on this topic in singer forums and chat rooms. Every so often we discuss upping the amount and returning fees for those who don't get scheduled for an audition. So far we've not moved in that direction, and this is why.

First, we know (anecdotally) and believe (based on other models) that we would get many more irrelevant applications from folks who aren't really in our target demographic if application were free. And we'd get a lot more incompletely and inaccurately submitted materials. But I don't want to overstate this, for it isn't the big reason.

The real reason? It takes time (and therefore money) for us to seriously consider every application. Data entry isn't a big problem now because most of our stuff is digitally submitted and goes directly into the database. But we do have to pay for server space to receive and manipuate the data. We track submissions and match them up to materials (resumes and headshots) and recommendation letters (Studio only). Then at least two of us look at every single resume and form. In detail. We make remarks about our decisions. So that, if we turn you down (and yes, take your money), and next year you apply again with some significant progress being made in the meantime, we'll know that we should really consider your application in a new light. This process consumes most of our work hours for over a month.

So go ahead and flame if you like. We can take it, and we know you mean it in the best of all possible ways. :)





* Just kidding. Find yourself a sense of humour. It will be more useful than you can ever imagine.

1 comment:

MU1 Lisa Williamson said...

I just want to tell you that I love your interactive application. It was very easy to use!