Vocal Insurance - Do You Need an Agent?
Written by Diana Yampolsky
Insurance is a must! No insurance ? No car driving. That is the law! No proper technique ? Possibly no performance. Recent examples of a few well known artists who neglected to take out some form of 'vocal insurance' are Julie Andrews, Run of Run DMC, Leann Rimes - all recently lost their voices and were unable to continue performing at their previous capacities and had to cancel tours.
Regular insurance agents suggest to buy term insurance as they say life insurance is not going to give a sufficient return to a beneficiary compared to the money spent to obtain the policy. I say otherwise!
On a day to day basis, our lives are revolving around all kinds of insurance. We have car, home, business and all other kinds of insurance policies. How come nobody in the music industry ever thought to "insure" their prime commodity: the ARTISTS in whom they are investing thousands upon thousands of dollars for their recordings, performances, etc. What I mean by insurance is the intellectual property being instilled in the artists, which will allow them to insure the proper use of their voices in such a manner that they will be able to produce a high level of performance with the minimum possible effort. This, in turn, will save and protect their vocal anatomies FOR LIFE! The artist becomes a beneficiary who throughout his artistic life would enjoy the positive dividends from the policy - quality of the voice, strength of the voice, assured aimed vocal delivery, i.e. the total performance for life. The "policy holders", i.e. managers, producers, record companies, will also be able to sleep comfortably knowing that their artists are completely "covered".
I truly believe that with regards to protecting their "assets" that singers and their mentors can learn a lot from the example set by athletes. For example, a sprinter such as Donovan Bailey has actually taken out quite an extensive "insurance policy" on his "instrument", i.e. his mind and body. He has a coach who has given him the proper mental and physical instructions that will allow him to always perform at the highest possible level. He also employs massage therapists, doctors, trainers and nutritionists that "insure" that his body will not break down or succumb to injury. In essence, his "policy" insures that he will run in scheduled races and always perform at his maximum capacity.
Essentially, if I could reinforce one idea with this article it is to point out the importance of the people behind the scenes who make all the difference in the world, regardless of if you are talking about sports or music or anything else for that matter. (By the way, according to Celine Dion herself, her travelling crew includes over 97 people, who she acknowledges are an important part of her success.)
With regards to my own experience as someone who insures proper vocal performance for my clients, I would like to share with you the story of one of my former students. This person came to me asking for help; she informed me that she had been hired to sing on a record even though she had no idea how to deliver a "safe and sound" performance. She sang! But she had no direction with regards to where her sound was going and also admitted that she was worried she was ruining her voice, as her throat was becoming dry and scratchy. To help her "instrument" I had to give her some natural herbs and remedies. To help the "player" herself, I had to put her through my special speech exercises, vocal exercises, and the reading of the lyrics of her song in the proper fashion, i.e. using her cheekbone muscles (instead of the vocal chords) in conjunction and coordination with her abdominal muscles. This enabled her to completely release her vocal box from tension and assure a proper aimed vocal delivery without any pain or strain on her vocal anatomy. In my opinion, this has "insured" that my client will be able perform at her optimum capacity and complying with established standards of professional singing. Just as importantly, the safety of her vocal anatomy was also "insured".
For those in the industry who did not obtain a similar type of "policy" in time, they may find that their clients are victims of vocal disability. In cases such as these, I also have personally been able to offer an additional benefit to the original policy: Vocal Disability, i.e. voice repair consisting of the use of the aforementioned natural remedies, speech therapy, special low-range vocal exercises, etc., which will result in the restoration of the lost vocal abilities.
Another additional benefit to the above is Voice Maintenance, i.e. vocal tune up, mental, physical, emotional & vocal fitness, and Dr.Zinger's diet prescription (see my book Vocal Science - Flight to the Universe, p.83). This benefit will also "insure" that above everything else, your artists will be able to survive that nasty upcoming tour, where the singer is required to sing at least four 45 minute sets each night in a usually smokey environment. All of these benefits are "cashable", which means that they are equivalent to "money in the bank" and guarantee that everybody involved will be laughing "all the way to the bank" as opposed to crying all the way from the bank because somebody forgot to purchase a "Vocal Policy" which would have secured their investment.