With a multifaceted career that spans music, screen, fitness, and fashion, Barry Conrad possesses a talent that is undeniable. He recently visited JMC Academy to talk about his experiences and provide some industry-only tips and tricks.
He’s opened for vocal giants Brian McKnight, Eric Benet, Craig David and K-Ci & JoJo, toured the globe with world-renowned artist Darlene Zschech and five-time Grammy winner Israel Houghton, penned songs for an array of artists – and even sung for the Pope.
We’ve pulled some of Barry’s key tips from his talk in case you missed it, to help you find success in the industry.
BARRY’S TOP 5 TIPS
1. Live in Preparation
Constantly upskill and grow in the knowledge of your craft. Stay ready, so you're not freaking out 'cause you gotta cram to get ready everytime an opportunity presents itself. Some people can believe if they’ve hashtag #MadeIt, then that’s it, they have arrived at the destination, but even the best of the best have coaches. Never stop being teachable, never stop being a student. Make sure you always try and don’t get lazy, work at your craft.
2. Embrace the Mundane
This is that day to day, daily grind. Whether you're setting aside time everyday to practice those scales, write those lyrics, produce those tracks, run those scenes, drill that choreography, staying on top of your health and fitness - even when it couldn't feel more boring and ordinary, and it looks like absolutely nothing is happening. Embrace that mundane, because it all counts. If you really want something, you have to work for it. Nothing worth having is easy.
If you’re a singer, you’re a vocal athlete so you have to train and take care of your muscles.
3. Invest in Relationships
A good friend taught me that "life happens at the speed of relationships". Though you're following a dream and do need to be careful who you share everything with, also don't isolate yourself in the process. Invest in great relationships professionally and personally. Make sure you surround yourself with people that challenge and inspire you to keep you pushing and working hard.
4. There is Power in Collaboration
We actually lose nothing by collaborating with other people, did you know that? Too many people are anti-collaborating. For example, I always meet artists who don't want to co-write with other people, because that means splitting the publishing on a song. You know what? I'd way rather have 10% of something freakin' unbelievably amazing, than 100% of something just mediocre. And that really applies to collaboration in any industry.
You might say, "Well I'm not a people person...". Well, learn to become one! Just because it might feel scary or awkward, doesn't mean it's wrong. It's OK to do things scared if they add to your life and contribute towards you reaching your goal.
5. Stay Patiently Resilient
Easier said than done, I know. But actually so important. Someone with average talent, willing to stick it out through what might feel like a lifetime of rejection, will a lot of times enjoy opportunity over an insanely talented person who just quits too soon. Don't quit. If you know that you know this is what you're meant to do, you've gotta be patient and stay resilient.
It takes good old hard work and resilience in the face of ‘No thanks, you are not what we’re looking for’. What you do and who you are, are not the same. They are two different things so learn to separate them. Casting directors or labels may not think you are right for a part or the right sound for their company, but it doesn’t mean you have failed as a person or are bad at what you do. There are so many different areas to work in throughout the creative industries, so don’t let a ‘No’ stop you.
After his Speakshop, Barry opened the floor to questions where the audience bombarded him with personal questions about his work as an ambassador with R U OK, and dealing with his own mental health, and about his time on the XFactor.
“I don’t regret doing the X-Factor as it made opportunities and broke down layers of myself as I realised I could let go of the control of a lot of things. Own your own choices and never regret anything. As much as The X-Factor absolutely was the catalyst for what my life looks like now, I almost feel like doing the show was even more for personal growth. One of the hardest and most rewarding things I've ever done.”
Barry on Finding Your Balance
It’s a way of managing your passions; start your week with a plan. Leave time to work on your mental and physical health and surround yourself with the right people.
How Appearance Affects Musicians
Sadly, appearance can play a major part in not just the music business, but the entertainment industry in general. Especially when you're working with big corporations like major labels. It's important to recognise that the 'Music Business' and 'Music' in itself are two very different things. Don’t seek validation from anyone but yourself.
Barry’s Vocal care tips
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t talk over loud music/noise
- Don’t yell at your partner
- Whispering is bad too – if you’re feeling like your losing your voice, just stop talking altogether.
- Warm up always and cool down after.
- Rock your scarf and keep warm after a performance.
- Try to avoid aircon if you can.
- Steam your voice.
- Sleep & Water are essential
Thank you Barry for your sound advice!
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