I’m an American Idol Wannabe

I do it in the car, the shower, the kitchen, my bedroom, on the couch, in my head, even at my computer. Yes, I’m doing it right now. So we’ll file this under the TMI category yet again.

But it’s also a great lesson in Marketing.

What is “it” you ask?
I sing.

Yes, I’m one of those people that does spontaneously break forth in song (giving truth to the notion that life IS a musical). But lately, it’s been very specific snippets of song. Like about a minute to a minute-and-a-half of the gutsiest part of a song.

Which is when I realized I’m an American Idol Wannabe.

I’m not a big fan of American Idol the TV show, and honestly I can barely remember the names of the past winners. I don’t really think that matters so much anyway. Because in the grand scheme of the music biz, it really comes down to how you market yourself, not whether or not you’re the Annual AI winner. I even have some evidence to that fact that I’ll post at a later date.

But I still find myself wishing I was a few years younger, or that the stupid fools that made “the rules” for AI would open up the age limit for entrants.

You see, I’d like to be an entrant in American Idol. Sounds stupid, I know. And frankly, I don’t really even want to win. I just want to get my picture taken with Randy and Paula and… who’s that other guy? Oh yeah, Simon. That’s his name, right?

Wouldn’t THAT be a cool pic on my blog?

Seriously, I don’t follow the show. I think I’ve seen 5 or 6 episodes in my lifetime, and one was the Finals last year, I think.

Wasn’t that when “the grey hair” won? For the life of me I can’t remember his name either… some sort of hick or something.. Oh Taylor Hicks. Thank God for Google!

I thought for a fleeting moment that I still had an AI chance when he won. Then someone told me he was only like 28 and my heart sank.


See, I just turned… ahem… 33.

Which means I’m TOO OLD for American Idol. Which frankly sucks.

I mean LaKisha Jones (is that how you spell her name?) was from Flint. I am STILL in Flint. She went to the same high school I did, sang in the same choir I did.

Are you laughing yet? Well, stop it, because it’s all true, you know.

It’s true. I’ve tried to deny it for over a year now, but I’m an American Idol Wannabe.

But I’m not about being on AI to win. I’d really like to just make it to the televised audition portion of the competition.

But I can’t decide if I’d take it seriously and sing my best (because I can sing fairly well, I think), or if I’d like to do something kind of “Weird Al” and change the words to a song just enough to rip on that Simon guy – who no one really seems to like anyway.

I “rehearse” my audition periodically throughout the week. Most of what I “practice” though is my pithy comeback for Simon’s snide remarks.

Which is when it REALLY hit home that I’m and American Idol Wannabe.

I’m not caught up in the culture of the show. And the only reason I can even remember Paula and Randy is because Randy is a “Jackson” and Paula sang “Cold Hearted Snake”.

You remember that video don’t you? Man! That was back in the day when she could really move. And I still own a copy of her “dance workout” video. On VHS. SERIOUSLY.

But I digress…

Yes, I can tell you the exact time marker in Mark Schultz’ “Walking Her Home” that I start the song (2:11 to be precise). It probably has wear marks on the back of the CD from me fast forward and rewinding so many times. I know my kids are getting sick of hearing me do it. Sometimes I get sick of hearing me do it.

How is this a great marketing lesson?

You’ve heard of the world famous “elevator speech” right? Or the 30 second commercial? You’ve essentially got about as much time as my 11 year old ADHD/ODD son can sit still to engage a probable purchaser and gain interest enough to get to the closing interview. For some people that interview may be an actual sales presentation, or in the home party market: a booking. Or in the case of an AI Wannabe, it’s 3 yeses and a “Welcome to Hollywood, Dawg!”

So I’ve watched a few auditions here and there over the last week (and I can’t ever sit through a whole episode because I have 2 sons that would much rather see something more “thrilling” than bad singing).

Ho-LEE-COW! Talk about a BAD elevator speech!

Think about it like this. You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. And THIS is on NATIONAL TELEVISION. Can you believe that some of these jokers actually thought they were putting their best foot forward?

Now I will grant that nerves can take you out of tune in a heartbeat, you can lose your place in a song and all those good things, but this is the BIG TIME, people. You need to be polished, prepared and ready to knock the wind out of Simon’s bag with the absolute best performance you’ve ever done in your life.

So goes Marketing. Only it’s even MORE important.

With National coverage, you’re sure to get at least your 15 milliseconds of fame. But up close, and personal, where your dinner is on the line? It’s even MORE important.

You need to know yourself. Know your product and your opportunity down cold.

When I was in middle school band, I played saxophone (I still have that horn, too). My Band teacher, Ms. Smith, made us learn our music in the dark.

Did I mention our bandroom had NO windows. It was in the “basement” of the school, and the only light you could pray for was the sliver of hall way light that might slip under the crack in the door, but it was so far from your music stand you still couldn’t see the notes on the page to save your arse.

Ms. Smith would say if you know it in the dark, with no music, and no director to guide you, you know that you know it. Besides, if the lights went out at festival, we had to keep playing no matter what.

So we’d turn our stands around, turn the lights out, get the count off….
And some of the music in that room was some of the best music I’ve ever heard played to this day.

She demanded excellence – not because she was nitpicky, but because she knew we could deliver. And we did. Under her direction, we constantly earned superior ratings at local and state music festivals.

Do you demand excellence? Do you know your material cold? Could you survive an “elevator speech” in the dark?

Everyone’s elevator speech is different. It’s that window of opportunity you have to take the sum of everything you are and let it shine in such a way that people want to know more about you.

What are you doing to be ready for your elevator moment?

What do you mean “it takes work!”? OF COURSE IT TAKES WORK!
Many good things come to people that do nothing to deserve them. Nothing great EVER came to anyone that did nothing to deserve it.

Trust me on this. Working at being great (or being the greatest) may be challenging, but the rewards of being great are exponentially better than doing nothing and getting the occasional “good” scraps.

So think about your “elevator speech” moments. Do a postmortem on the ones that didn’t go so well and figure out how to be ready for the next time.

Because contrary to popular belief, there is ALWAYS a next time.

Think of all the people who DIDN’T win American Idol that went on to get a record deal.

I reset my case.

But I’m still gonna petition them to open up the age limit on AI. And when I do, I’m bringing my workout video to see if Paula will autograph it. It might actually fetch a couple of bucks on eBay if she does.

I mean, it’s not like I’m actually USING it or anything.

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