In the autumn of 2012, I was trying to figure out how to clone myself. As a singer, the time when your phone is ringing off the hook and you’re being asked to do multiple gigs at once comes only once in a blue moon. Then you have to do the awful thing of turning work down, because we can’t clone ourselves can we?
At the time, I was working on The Voice and doing promotion for Robbie Williams and Rihanna, but the time came when I had to choose. So, I made my decision (Robbie and Rihanna won the day) and began to look for someone qualified enough to take my place on The Voice. This was no easy feat – I’d like to think I’m irreplaceable. The job for which I was casting was so specific that it was difficult to find the right person – and so began the hunt. I made phone calls to everyone one I knew. All the girls on my “go-to” were out working, so I had to keep digging. The search was taxing but finally, amidst the night time casino madness of Las Vegas whilst on another gig, I found her, and she was a keeper. Exhausted and never wanting to do it again, I thought to myself “there has to be a better way.”
And there should be. What was needed was a place where all singers are listed, with their photos and resumes/CVs, bios, vocal and video reels: a wonderland of wonderful voices just waiting to work. Realising that there was a void that needed to be filled, my colleague and I, Kara Britz (lead vocalist and head vocal contractor for The Voice) began brainstorming and putting together a database of singers from which we could cast. Four years and four different business partners later, this has become the singers’ department of The Eighteentwentysix Agency in Los Angeles.
Yes, we spelled it out.
Back in February of this year, my friend, colleague and database member, Nicole-Kehl Sanchez (vocalist for Rihanna, Iggy Azalea, Nick Jonas, Zayn Malik), and her husband Joe Sanchez (owner of Eighteentwentysix, production manager for Rihanna, Muse, Coldplay and Calvin Harris) invited me to join them. Along with Janee Lynch (former director of The S Agency, we have formed an alliance to develop and cast singers for various musical projects. It is a dream come true for me. Finally, there is a place where singers are easily accessible to employers, and where singers themselves can come to look for work. Under Janee’s direction, I’ve been working around the clock to integrate singers into newer casting systems, giving them options beyond the traditional means.
In LA, singers are usually booked:
- Directly by musical directors
- Hired by contractors/fixers
- Through word of mouth and referrals from fellow musicians.
Over the years, I have had so many singers approach me looking for help and referrals or advice about the direction they should take in their careers. I’ve always done my best to try to help them, but now I’m so excited to have a team and a system that I can efficiently use to help give my fellow singers every opportunity for a successful future.
For many, relocating to a new city or country can be scary, daunting and intimidating. So, too, can be the prospect of seeking out and connecting with a community and finding work in an obscure, non-traditional and often “invite-only” industry. Not to mention that it can take a very long time. With the Eighteentwentysix Agency, I hope to change that and open doors for singers.The Eighteentwentysix Agency currently represents dancers and, now, with the addition of multi-talented singers, we can provide access to many other parts of the industry, including live performance, tours, sound recording for film and television and musical theatre. We’re not only committed to offering singers ways to transition into other genres and developing them artistically, but also to providing buyers (those who hire) with quality talent and a streamlined process to find it. Our clients include Alessia Cara, Iggy Azalea, Nick Jonas, and Zayn Malik, to name a few.
It’s still a long road ahead and change and transition is not easy. Taking on the role of agency director is yet another transition for me, but one that I’m happy and willing to take on. It’s all about paying it forward, support, making sure we singers have a future and continuing to ensure that we can work in an ever-changing, unstable, but exciting industry.
In this issue, iSing connects with three Eighteentwentysix Agency singers in LA. Meet Amita, Kenneth and Lydia Elle. Each has had a different journey. Listen as they share their experiences of being in the industry and being an Eighteentwentysix singer.