The music industry has changed drastically with the digital revolution. Many fans no longer buy CDs, choosing to stream music and download singles. For musicians to build careers that support them financially, they have to focus less on selling a product and more on selling an experience. Fans are still willing to invest in music by attending concerts. “An artist’s biggest asset is their ability to take the music they have created and develop a performance to showcase it. But there is a science to creating ‘special moments’ within a performance and highlighting certain elements to connect with others,” says Regina singer/songwriter Amy Nelson.

Nelson’s career has been on fire the last several years. She has been nominated for 36 Saskatchewan Country Music Association awards, including Female Artist of Year six times, and received the 2018 Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year Award. She also recently had two Top 10 singles on Australian Country Radio. With these accolades under her belt, she knew her live performance was even more important.

An Independent Artists grant is helping her work with three coaches – voice, piano and performance – to develop a show that will engage and delight audiences.

Nelson has a classical music background in voice and piano. One of her coaches works behind the scenes as a vocal coach on the NBC television show, The Voice.

She assisted Nelson to create a sound that is more current within the country music genre. Two piano coaches, one in Australia and one in Nashville, are helping her build her skills so she can accompany herself at smaller shows. A performance coach will help her rewrite her songs, which were originally written with the assistance of an Independent Artists grant, to create room to tell stories and banter with the audience on stage.

While the training is ongoing, Nelson has already noticed a difference in her performance skills, which she highlighted at 2018 Canadian Music Week showcases in Toronto. “I have more confidence to play piano on stage and sing more openly. These showcases are a perfect example of how you need a performance instead of just singing songs. You’re expected to put on a show. When you’ve got that many artists that are all performing in a small place, it helps you to stand out,” she says. “That’s what gets people excited, when they’re able to connect with a performer on an emotional level and feel like they’re experiencing it with you.”

Nelson is excited to continue improving. “Once you have been doing something for a long time, you forget that you always have room to grow. I find it really inspiring because it feels like there’s no limit to what you can do,” she says.