|Sing Jingles - Your Singing Investment!
by: Tom Gauger
After being in the music business as long as I have, you meet a lot of
people – many of whom are extremely gifted and others, well there are
others to. As a professional jingle singer, former talent booking agent
with the William Morris Agency and founder of ReelMusician.com, I’ve
heard it all – The excuses that is. Many individuals want the
glamorous lifestyle of studio singing work, but they don’t want to
make the investment that is needed to put them on the map singing
commercials. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at a typical investment
to get you started singing jingles and general session work.
By now, you’ve seen all kinds of services, prices and wonder what you
should do in terms of your singer reel. Let’s spend a few minutes
exploring what you shouldn’t do. The biggest mistake new singers make
is to assume that their friend’s studio is going to get the job done
– That might work for a rough draft or even a fairly polished song or
artist demo, but when you want to play in the game with the big cats
singing commercials, you better have a singer reel that sounds like
downtown. You can’t afford not to have an incredible singer reel out
there and chances are, your friend can’t write or figure out what the
jingle producers are looking for and what will catch their attention.
There are jingles that are sung professionally on the air and then there
are the singer reels that have to establish credibility with producers
and writers and believe it or not, sometimes there is a big difference
on what you should include on your reel and what you shouldn’t even
though it sounds like current commercials. Remember you have to grab
their attention and that may or might not be different from the niche of
jingles currently in vogue.
How much should a jingle cost and where do I go? Great questions. There
will be significant difference in prices when you’re looking to record
your singing reel. There are plenty of folks online who will try to
charge you a mint and you wouldn’t be any better off with them as
opposed to your friend’s studio. At ReelMusician.com we try our best
to offer affordable jingle reels for singers trying to break into the
market and deliver the demos that just knock your socks off. We don’t
let anything leave the studio until it meets the needs of the singer
capitalizing on their strengths and weaknesses. When you are looking to
record your first demo always ask for samples or at least listen to them
online and you might ask them for references.
How much should I plan on spending to get my jingle reel done right? You
should plan on investing a minimum of $500 and really push to spend
closer to a $1,000 when it’s all said and done. Just to give you an
idea, at ReelMusician.com, and because of the demand our prices will
most likely increase shortly, we start out with jingle singing packages
of (3) for $290, (5) for $380 and (7) for $495. You will have to include
studio time to record your lead vocals on these tracks, which doesn’t
have to cost an arm and a leg, but you might figure an additional $200 -
$300 and then the cost of making your CD. Most individuals burn their
own CDs with easy software that creates the jewel cover artwork.
That’s a realistic picture of your costs. And believe me, we’re not
getting rich at those prices. Think about it and divide the total cost
by the number of jingles and it’s actually very affordable and cost
effective. For individuals really willing to make an investment in their
singing career, it’s a great way to go. What stops most individuals
from following a very doable dream? I’m not sure I have all of the
Many individuals have the dream, but not the follow through. Many yet,
have the dream, but are willing to spend $5 - $7 for an appetizer a
couple of times a week and blow all kinds of money frivolously before
they are willing to make a real investment in their future. You will
find that most individuals fall into what I call the “I have a dream,
but refuse to follow up with any significant resources to make it happen
even though I spend all kinds of money on drinks at the bar, and many
other a sundry of frivolous spending. These individuals will often make
the call to ReelMusician.com asking if we represent folks for
commercials, but when told of the basic costs and needs of a
professionally written and produced jingle singer reel, tell you that
they will, “think about it” and get back with you. They have no
intention of getting back with you because they spend their money on
what they want to spend their money on – And so we can’t help them,
nor should we. We try as best we can to help individuals who are really
putting forth their best effort not because they are spending money with
us, but because they have the dream and are really going after it.
Your investment in your singing career will also require a start up time
investment of meeting with jingle singers in your area to get their
ideas, contacts, etc as well as finding the key players in your
immediate area who are writing commercials and industrial music. Once
you have established or are building your singing base in your area, you
will want to branch out and do the same in other markets. You will want
to follow up in markets that tend to pay well if you are going to travel
like Chicago, L.A., New York, Atlanta, Dallas, etc. You will need to
keep a simple contact sheet either in your computer or on paper and keep
up with the conversations, telephone numbers and all contact
information. Your follow up will be key.
In closing, get the best possible jingle singer reel, with a great
looking CD cover, and follow up with individuals like I’ve just
described and you will be well on your way to singing studio and
commercial work! Email us and let us know how you’re doing.
INSTRUMENTS OF EUROPEAN ORIGIN
Accordion: An accordion is an instrument that has a small keyboard
on the front and free-vibrating metal reeds that make noise when
air is generated in a pumping motion of the main body of the
instrument. This part contains pleated bellows that expand and
contract to create the sound that powers the accordion.
Aulot: This is a double reed pipe that was played at public
functions such as religious ceremonies in ancient Greece
Bagpipes: The bagpipes are a wind instrument that most people
recognize as a native Scottish instrument. There are many
different types of bagpipes. They are most popular in Eastern and
Western Europe. The bagpipes have several tubes; one of the tubes
plays the melody while the other tubes sound the drones and the
held notes. What happens is the windbag is filled by the player
through a mouthpiece. Then when the bag is squeezed the air pushed
out creates the sound
Balalaika: This is a guitar like instrument that comes from
Russia. It has frets like a normal guitar but has a triangle body
and only three strings. It is used in traditional Russian folk and
dance music. I have actually seen this instrument played in
concert. It does look kind of strange but by no means easy to play.
Banjo: The banjo is a plunked string instrument. It hails from
the guitar family. It has a round body that is kind of like a small
snare drum. It has a long fretter neck. It was brought to
from Africa by early slaves.
Bass clarinet: This is a woodwind instrument that belongs to the
clarinet family. It has the lowest range of clarinets
Bass drum: The bass drum is the lowest sounding drum even though
it has no real definite pitch to it. On modern drum kits it sits
on the floor and there is a foot pedal that is used to hit it. The
end of the stick has a larger soft head on it. In classical music
the bass drum is usually standing and is struck while holding the
Bassoon: This is a double-reed woodwind instrument. It is the
lowest of all the woodwind instruments so has the lowest range. It
has a very low breathy sound to it.
Bugle: A bugle is a brass instrument that's kind of like a
trumpet. It's a brass instrument that originates from the
military. Used as a battle field trumpet.
Celesta: This is a keyboard instrument which looks just like a
normal upright piano except a miniature version of one. It has
tuned metal plates instead of cords that are struck by the hammers.
The hammers, like on a normal piano are operated by the keys on
Cello: This instrument belongs to the string section. It's
basically a larger version of a violin but the cello has a lower
range to the violin. So it's kind of like a bass violin. It
darker richer tone than a violin. This is actually one of my
favorite instruments. I think it's because I like the dark kind of
textured sound it can produce. Some of my favorite classical music
is written for the cello.
Chimes: These are a percussion instrument. You've probably
wind chimes around people's homes. These are basically the same
thing. They're a group of tuned metal tubes of varying length that
are suspended by a frame. More often you use a stick to create the
noise but sometimes you can just use your hands.
Clarinet: The clarinet is a reed instrument. So it belongs to
family of instruments like the saxophone. It's a wooden tube like
instrument with a reed at one end that produces the sound when air
is blown through the mouth piece. The reed is basically a small
thin piece of can, reeds are very important
Clavichord: This is another version of the piano. It is a
keyboard instrument that was used early on before the piano was
around. It was most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque era.
It was never loud enough for anything other than a small room.
Contrabassoon: This is a double-reed instrument that has the
lowest range in the woodwind family of instruments. This is
basically like a large longer version of the bassoon. This is also
sometimes called a double bassoon.
Cornet: This is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet.
It has valves like a trumpet but it has a slightly more mellow tone.
Cymbals: These are a very important aspect of percussion.
Cymbals are basically two quite large brass discs of varying size
and thickness. They are used to produce quite high end frequencies
to counter the lower frequencies of the other lower end percussion
instruments like the drums. They are struck with a stick and their
effect is usually quite shattering.
Crotales: These are a pair of small cymbals that are usually
mounted on a small frame. They are also sometimes called
"splashes". They also come in chromatic sets.
Double Bass: This is the lowest sounding string instrument. The
double bass has a very thick heavy low sound to it. When referring
to it in classical terms it's often called a 'contrabass'. It
looks kind of like an oversized violin standing up. You can play
the double bass with a bow, or you can pluck it. It classical
music it is often used with a bow, but in Jazz music is it plucked.
Dulcimer: This is an early folk instrument. It has a sound box
similar to what a guitar has and like a guitar has strings that are
stretched over the sound box. With this instrument however the
strings are struck with hammers rather than plucked.
English horn: This is another instrument that comes from the
woodwind family. It has a double-reed like the bassoon. It's
quite a lot like the oboe but it's larger and has a much lower
Euphonium: This is another brass instrument that kind of looks
like a tuba. It's basically a baritone horn.
Fiddle: This is basically a colloquialism for a violin. It's
mostly in folk style traditional music.
Flugelhorn: This is a valved bugle. So it's a brass instrument
with quite a large bell. It looks a lot like a trumpet but the
flugelhorn has a much more mellow sound compared to the trumpet.
It's used quite a lot in jazz music because of it has a less harsh
tone to the trumpet.
Flute: This is a wind instrument. It's a long metal
tube that has the mouthpiece on the side of the instrument. So
when you hold it, you hold it horizontally and your mouth rests
just on the flute and you blow down to create the sound. It's a
very difficult instrument to play and I respect flute players a lot.
French horn: This is a kind of coiled wind instrument. It
produces quite a nice low mellow tone in contrast to something like
a trumpet. Apparently the French horn is a descendant of an
ancient hunting horn.
Glockenspiel: The name glockenspiel in German means "to play
bells". It looks kind of like a small xylophone. It's
tuned steel bars that lie horizontally and you strike it with
wooden or plastic mallets. The glockenspiel makes quite a high
bright metallic sound.
Gong: This is like a large cymbal that's used by percussionists.
It's suspended in a large frame and is struck with a drumstick.
Guitar: Pretty much everyone knows what a guitar is. The
definition is that is a plucked or strum string instrument that has
a hollow body where the sound resonates. There are a huge variety
of types of guitars. Most common are the acoustic and the
electric, which uses small microphones to pick up the sound which
is then amplified rather the sound resonating in the body.
Harmonica: This is a small mouth organ. It's a small metal box
that can fit in your hand and has reeds that are mounted inside it.
So you blow air into the front and move the across back and forth
to get the different notes. Used quite often in Blues music.
Harmonium: An organ like instrument. It has keys like a
but has a sound more like an organ. It's quite a lot smaller than
an organ or piano though. For this reason it's quite popular for
Harp: They are a string instrument that you pluck. They are
different kinds and sizes of harps. They are one of the most
ancient of string instruments. They are very difficult to tune.
They often play arpeggios or broken chords. They are quite
recognizable, cupid has a small one.
Harpsichord: This is a very early keyboard instrument. It was
around before the piano in the early Baroque period. It looks a
lot like a piano but the main difference is the sound. It's kind
of a bit tinnier than a piano and less resonant.
Irish harp: This is a plucked instrument that has around 30
Lute: This is another plucked string instrument. The lute was
most popular in Europe throughout the middle ages.
Lyre: It's one of those instruments you see in movies set in the
middle ages that a minstrel would use. It got used to accompany
singers and poetry. It's basically an ancient type harp.
Mandolin: A string instrument that's also plucked. It has a
body and strings and frets like a guitar. It's used commonly in
folk music and some country and western music.
Metallophone: The metallophone is any percussion instrument that
produces the sounds by striking and the vibrating of metal bars.
They are usually struck with a mallet.
Oboe: This is a double reed wind instrument. It has a
in which you blow into causing the two reeds to vibrate creating
the sound. The oboe is long and cylindrical and made of wood.
Organ: This is a cross between a wind instrument and a piano. Air
is fed to a series of pipes by the mechanics of the organ. The
pipes get controlled by the keyboard and the pedals of the organ.
You might have seen an organ in church with its huge set of pipes
that extend really quite high. They're size can be quite
Panpipe: A panpipe is a wind instrument that has a whole lot of
small tubes or pipes of various length and you blow across the top
of the different pipes to create different tones. The pied piper
was probably using a panpipe.
Piano: The most recognizable keyboard instrument. Inside a
the strings are struck with hammers that connected and controlled
by the keys on the keyboard. The pedals on a piano can make the
notes sustain and ring for longer or make the note shorter and
quicker. Pianos vary in size and shape. There are upright
in which the strings stretch vertically and there's the grand
pianos in which the strings stretch horizontally.
Piccolo: This is a little flute that has a very high sound to it.
It's the instrument with the highest tone in the orchestra.
Portative organ: This is an organ that dates back to the medieval
times. It's an organ that was small enough to be carried around,
"portative" being portable. It usually had only one set of
Recorder: This is a woodwind instrument. It has a whistle
mouthpiece and is usually associated with quite early music. When
I was young I wanted to learn the saxophone and my music teacher at
my school told me that I had to learn the recorded first. I didn't
like it very much and now I don't think she was right in making me
learn the recorded before the saxophone.
Regal: This is a type of small medieval reed organ.
Sackbut: This is one of the earliest brass instruments. It's
of like the first trombone.
Saxophone: This is a woodwind instrument made of brass. It has
mouthpiece that has a single reed in it. There are several types
of saxophone; baritone, the tenor and the alto are most common. It
used mostly in popular music, big band music and it's also very
common in jazz even though it was originally intended for
orchestra. People who play saxophone are appropriately called
Synthesizer: This is an electronic instrument. It's designed
produce artificial sound using sound generators and modifiers.
Tabor: This is a cylindrical drum used in the medieval times.
Tambourine: This is a percussion instrument that most people are
probably familiar with. It's a small hand held round drum that has
small thin metal disc's that sit in its rim. Playing the
tambourine is done by tapping or shaking it.
Timbrel: This is an ancient relative of the tambourine.
Timpani: This is a percussion instrument. It has a round head
that's stretched over a sealed drum. It's quite large and is free
standing. The tension can be altered by a foot pedal. It's
by either a hard or a soft mallet.
Tin whistle: This is a small flute that's used a lot in
traditional Irish music.
Triangle: This is perhaps one of the smallest members of the
orchestra. It's a thin rod of steel that's bent into a triangle
shape. It gets struck with a steel beater and has a very high
Trombone: This is a brass blown instrument. It's Italian for
"large trumpet". It has a large moveable U-shaped slide
controls the tones. It's quite a rich full sounding brass
Trumpet: The trumpet has the highest range of the brass
instruments. It has a very clear bright sound.
Tuba: This is one of the bass-range brass instruments. It
valves to alter the pitch.
Uilleann pipes: These are a type of bagpipes used a lot in
traditional Irish music. The air is created by using the elbows to
manipulate the bellows.
Vibraphone: This is a percussion instrument that has a series of
toned metal bars. It has electrically driven rotating propellers
that create a vibrato to the tones. It's used most often in jazz.
Viola: A viola is a bowed string instrument. It's kind of like
large violin. It's the middle range in the violin family. It
a slightly more mellow tone to it than the violin.
Violin: The violin is one of the most well know string
instruments. It has four strings and the player uses a bow made
from wood and usually horse hair but some models use synthetic
Little Richard (born Richard Wayne Penniman, December 5, 1932 in
Macon, Georgia) is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist, and
an early African-American pioneer of rock and roll.
One of twelve children, Little Richard says he "came from a family
where my people didn't like rhythm and blues. Bing Crosby -
'Pennies From Heaven' - Ella Fitzgerald, was all I heard." (Hamm
1979, p.391) Raised in the Seventh Day Adventist church, he learned
gospel music in Pentecostal churches of the U.S. South. His early
recording career in the 1950s was a mix of blues music and rhythm
and blues, heavily steeped in gospel music, but with a driving beat
and breathlessly delivered lyrics that marked a decidedly new kind
Richard Penniman had begun his career singing with Johnny Otis, but
had little success until he sent a demo tape to Specialty Records
in 1955, and met for a recording session in New Orleans. During a
break in that session, Richard began singing an impromptu recital
of "Tutti Frutti", an obscene, lusty song he had been singing on
stage. The lyrics were changed from "Tutti-frutti loose booty"
"Tutti frutti all rooty" because record producer Bumps Blackwell
felt they were over the line. (Tutti-frutti was a slang term
meaning a "gay male" and booty means "buttocks").
The song, with its introductory
bam-boom!", became the model for many
future Little Richard songs, with its driving piano, saxophone solo
by Lee Allen and its Miss Molly". His frantic performing style can
be seen in such period films as Don't Knock the Rock (1956) and The
Girl Can't Help It (1956), for which he sang the title song,
written by Bobby Troup.
Despite the raw sound of his music, the singles were carefully put
together, as documented on the three-volume album The Specialty
Sessions, which include many false starts and variations. As an
example of Richard's craftsmanship, he and Blackwell rehearsed the
line from "Long Tall Sally", "He saw Aunt Mary coming and
back in the alley" for a full day until he achieved machine-gun
Gospel years and later career
Little Richard quit the music business suddenly in 1957, while in
the middle of an Australian tour; he reportedly renounced his rock
and roll lifestyle, removed four diamond rings worth $8,000 from
his fingers and threw them into Newcastle's Hunter River. Richard
then enrolled in a Christian university in Alabama and became a
Pentecostal minister. While Specialty Records released a few new
songs based on past sessions, Richard did little musically,
releasing some gospel songs in the early 1960s.
In 1962, Little Richard returned with an enthusiastically received
tour of the United Kingdom. The Rolling Stones and The Beatles,
long-time fans, supported him. Richard took the Beatles with him on
a tour of Hamburg, and they performed with him at the Star Club.
The Rolling Stones opened for Richard and the Everly Brothers
before they ever had a recording contract. An interesting point of
trivia is that for a short time in the mid 60s, a young Jimi
Hendrix was in Little Richard's band.
Since then, Little Richard has had a periodic career in movies, as
well as releasing occasional singles and enduring as one of the
legendary flamboyant pioneers of rock and roll. In 1986, when the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened, Little Richard was among the
first inductees. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been
recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He returned to
performing almost full-time in the late 1980's, stating that he had
come to realize that God wanted him to be Little Richard. He still
holds his minister's license, however, and occassionally oversees
celebrity weddings (most notably those of Cyndi Lauper and of Bruce
Willis and Demi Moore.)
He appeared in the movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills in 1986 and
scored his first major hit in years with "Great Gosh-a-Mighty!"
which led to a resurgence in popularity. A made-for-TV film, Little
Richard (2000), starred Leon in the title role.
Most recently, Little Richard has been working with other R&B and
Soul greats and contempories on a charity single written and
produced by singer/songwriter Michael Jackson titled, "From the
Bottom of My Heart". Proceeds from the single, set for a Christmas
release, will go to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Also in 2005, Little Richard appeared, along with such luminaries
as Madonna, Iggy Pop, Bootsy Collins, and The Roots' ?uestlove, in
an American TV commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone.
Little Richard was famously quoted as once saying "Rock n Roll is
evil, because Rock n Roll makes you take drugs, and drugs turn you
into a homosexual." This is after Richard's controversial
renunciation of his own homosexuality, which some attribute to the
pressures of public scrutiny and the prevalence of homophobia among
black communities. His homegrown views on religion may have also
influenced this, as he later became more conservative and devoted
his life to evangelical Christianity.