Should I add this Song to My Book (The Answer in Two Easy Steps)

How do I know if I should  add this song to my book?

As a rep coach, I get asked this question ALL the time. We all have those songs. The ones we flirt with forever, but ultimately keep in the back of our book or in the front pocket of our binder. Why the fear of commitment, people?! Put a ring on it, already! (Or, at the very least, a sheet protector.) I think people over-complicate this issue.  They ask themselves the wrong questions. They obsess over whether a song is “overdone,” or “range-y enough”, or “type appropriate.”

And why are these questions particularly maddening?

Because YOU can’t answer them.

These are all questions that attempt to read the mind of a casting director. The unspoken beginning to each of the above questions is: “Will a casting director think this song is…” And if there is one thing I’ve heard from every casting director I’ve taken a class with in this city it’s, “Stop trying to guess what we want you to be! Just be you!” So with that in mind, I present you with the 2 simple questions you should ask about every song in your book.

  1.  Do I have to tell this story?

Is this a story that you are excited to share? Will you enjoy singing it even when you’re walking into an EPA where no one is giving you the time of day? Does the character absolutely HAVE to tell this story? If so, chances are you’ve found a song with adequate stakes for an audition. If both you as the actor and you as the character have a drive to share these words, I guarantee you the CD will want to listen. Which brings me to my final question…

  1.  Do I have to tell this story?

(PLOT TWIST!! There’s only one question! It’s just the inflection that changed. Has your mind been blown yet?)

This question trumps the “overdone” question in my mind every single time. If you can truly bring yourself to the song in a way that others cannot, that is a song that belongs in your book. I don’t care if that song is “If I Loved You.” If you can authentically bring a different perspective to that song than the CD has ever seen before, it’s going to get you a callback. Stop trying to show the casting director what you imagine they imagine Julie Jordan to be. (That sentence hurt my head to write, so I can’t even imagine how exhausting it must be to actually attempt!) Allow yourself to be seen in your song.  Don’t leave them thinking, “Well, she did a nice job, but I can’t really get a beat on who she is…”

Let them know why you need to tell this story.

And there you have it! The Audition Rep Matchmaker’s only hard-and-fast rule for song selections. In the coming weeks, I’ll provide many more quick tips on how and where to find great rep, but always remember…

This above all: to thine own self be true.


Sara Glancy is an NYC actor and the founder of Audition Rep Matchmaker, a service that helps match actors with the audition materials that will book them jobs.

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Originally published on on Sept 19th, 2016. Updated Nov 2018.  Photo by Jessica Osber.

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