If you have a nice singing voice, chances are someone has said you should go audition for The Voice, NBC's reality singing competition judged by a panel of celebrity musicians including Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and, announced for next season, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson. Production starts months before the season airs, with open call auditions across the country drawing thousands of talented singers hoping to win a chance at performing live for the Blind Auditions. But what is 'The Voice' auditions process really like?
If you've ever wondered about it, you're in luck. FIRST Copy Editor Rebecca Abma recently auditioned at an open call. Here, she shares some insider tips about what The Voice auditions process is really like.
How Do 'The Voice' Auditions Work?
Come very early or very late. My audition time was set for 7 a.m. to noon on a Sunday morning. I got there around 7:30 a.m. and left around 12:30 p.m., so about 5 hours.
People who queued up in the hours before call time were leaving as I was getting there. And people who came between 10 and 11 a.m. finished up shortly after I did. If you can’t get there early, come late and avoid the lines.
Be prepared to wait. The first line to get in the building was short, but the security checkpoint took about 90 minutes and the registration line took another 90 minutes—standing all the while. Bring snacks and water.
I occupied my time in line talking to people from all around the country. The girls in front of me kept busy by sitting on the floor with coloring books. A very smart older woman brought a cane that turns into a chair. Some people brought instruments and entertained.
Most of the women wore flip-flops and carried their heels in their purse. Some still had curlers in their hair. Some changed from street clothes to performance clothes after getting through registration.
This is not a blind audition. Once registered, I was assigned a chair in a row for the next phase of the wait where we were free to roam around until our row was called. At this point, the serious primping began in the ladies’ room. The show may start with Blind Auditions, where only your voice is heard, but the open call auditions are about the total package.
The Voice website says to dress as the performer that you aspire to be, and the styles were wide ranging—from pony-tailed women looking like they were going to the grocery store to one red-sequin gowned woman who looked like she was going to the cabaret. There were guys in hoodies and suits, women in tribal prints, and hair in every color of the rainbow.
The producers aim to put together a cast with a variety of artists and different styles, so be yourself and don’t take it personally if you don’t get a call back. You don’t know who they are looking for, and odds of getting a coveted “red card” for a call back are about the same as winning the lottery!
Have fun and meet new people. In the main waiting area, people took the chance to warm up and get out their jitters. Some singers stood facing the corner and used the room’s acoustics to project their song.
At one wall, a crowd was gathered in a circle where singers took turns performing their audition pieces, clapping and cheering each other on. This was the highlight of my day. I met people from all over America, heard songs from new-to-me artists, connected with other singer-songwriters and had a few good laughs.
You only get 30 seconds. When my row was called, we were ushered to a hallway outside the audition rooms—about 10 or so rooms—to wait in groups of 10 outside the audition rooms in silence. The only noise was when someone came out of an audition with a red card, we all cheered.
You go into the audition rooms in groups of 10. Inside one producer sat a table with a computer and we were instructed to sit in a row of chairs. When your name is called, you step up to the taped line in the middle of the room and get 30 seconds to impress.
You can sing any part of any song, but once you get to 30 seconds you are cut off, sometimes mid-phrase. I sang Whipping Post in honor of Gregg Allman’s passing and was cut off right before “Good Lord, I feel like I’m dying” at the end of the chorus.
Half-a-minute goes by fast! No backing track or instrumental accompaniment are allowed, and absolutely no cellphones. In that 30 seconds, I had to hope I remembered my starting pitch, gauge the odd acoustics of the room and try to impress the producer, who had spent the last 5 hours in the room.
My group had a few really talented singers, but no one got a call back. She said there was a lot of potential in the room, to keep singing and try again next time.
In the end, it was a great experience, a long day, but a lot of fun.
Rebecca Abma is a copy editor at FIRST for Women magazine. As a singer-songwriter, she performs as Rebecca Rydell. Check out her YouTube channel here.