Encore - It's VE's First Anniversary!
Welcome to our first Vocal Edge Blog, Encore. My name is Jan, known as Voxfugit on LINE and Smule Sing! As Vocal Edge's Official Blogger, I will be using Encore to keep you apprised of all things Vocal Edge; From contest commentary and results, to a vocal teaching panel drawn from some of the best on Smule and news about specific VE projects or auditions.
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We chose to launch today to help celebrate one full year since the first Vocal Edge competition began. A lot has happened in one year. So for this anniversary of the original contest and our first formal blog, we are going to start with a brief trip down memory lane with Brett, founder of VE. Brett recently answered some questions for Encore. The resulting answers have been minimally edited.
Encore: How was the original VE Competition concept developed?
Brett: I created Vocal Edge as a competition for members of a website over ten years ago, called DareToSing.com. At that time, we didn't have smartphones, and recordings were created using offline tools, such as PC studios, and then uploaded to the site for judging.
The name came from my roots of where I had started singing online, as a member of a group of singers in Yahoo karaoke voice-chat rooms, which was called V0c4l 3dg3, and I wanted to stay true to what had caused me to start singing on the internet, and keep that personal feeling to the competition.
When I created the original VE [in the Yahoo chat room] there were no other comparable options, and originality wasn't a problem. But when I redeveloped VE for the Smule environment, I did so around several core values. I knew I wanted [the contest] to be honest, challenging, original, understandable and most of all, reliable, and it is from those values that I created VE. Looking back a year later, its very different now to how it was then. Most of the current judges were contestants, and the idea has grown as much as I have.
Encore: What was your goal, or what did you hope to get out of it for yourself?
Brett: When I started competing on Smule, I found myself frutrated for a number of reasons:
Critiques were not freely given, or were clearly fake - which led to people being eliminated and having no idea why...
Many contests had bias to friendships or groups which meant that it felt pointless to compete because it wasn't about talent...
There was anonymity of judges - leading to scores which didn't need justification (and compounded the problems above)
Competitions regularly had judges leaving, or drama - or even were simply cancelled part way through - that truly frustrated me.
I felt that I could do better - and so I resurrected The idea of VE from that yahoo karaoke chat room. My desire was to see if I could bring something a little more respectful to the Smule community. More importantly, I had hopes of creating a competition through which maybe I could affect the environment to accommodate those vocalists who wanted to improve, and not JUST to have fun.
Encore: When you started a year ago what were you thinking in terms of numbers of contestants would mean you had been successful?
Brett: The average number of contestants in those Smule based competitions I had taken part in seemed to sit around 80-100. I simply wanted to match that, which we did, and I was pleased.
Success to me, was about managing to provide a positive experience, in which people felt they had gained some advice, knowledge or experience, and had been treated fairly.
When I think now, of our most recent season, which had 1954 auditions, and approximately 1500 actual participants, its crazy to realize how much we have grown.
As for the success, I think we've been successful, and I mainly base that on the fact that people return to our competition time and again. We currently are running an all-star season, which just shows that even the most talented people that have previously competed still want to return for another try. That's success, I think, and I'm extremely thankful.
Encore: What VE accomplishment are you proudest of as you look back over the last year?
Brett: Oh dear. There is so much to choose from!
I'm extremely proud of the growth I see in people. I can genuinely say that some of THE best music I've heard on Smule has come from Vocal Edge contest entries.
But I'm proud of more than just the contestants, but also those who come onto the judging team. It isn't an easy job, and it is very often a thankless job to donate your time and effort to listen to others, and even more than that, to give honesty when sometimes it isn't taken well. But we do it for the learning experience that people will take from it, so I'm extremely proud of the team I have built over the last year.
More than that, I'm proud of the brand we have grown, now extending out into multiple spinoffs, and with a reputation to be proud of. People know when they join VE, that they are going to be judged by talented people, with good experience, giving clear constructive, useful advice.
VoxFugit Comment: Is Vocal Edge perfect in attaining the goals Brett outlined that they seek to achieve? No, but they are clearly trying and are more often than not successful in their goals. It is an organization that seems to be continuing to learn how to reach it's goals in better and more creative fashions. Further the multitude of contests which in many ways mirror the open feedback and often even the style of VE would suggest that VE has influenced the broader Smule community.
Vocal Edge All Stars
Currently the Vocal Edge All-Stars competition is well underway.
Round One featured the All Stars revisiting the Madonna comeback challenge from Season One.
The All Stars showed their strength and out of the top 12 in round one, 9 were All Stars.
KeilaMarieA and Sam_ORSA established themselves as early favorites placing one and two respectively.
Full results are available here: https://quip.com/btkRAhhazxtk
Round Two combined challenges from previous seasons and called for an Acoustic Harmony Pop Mashup. This challenge required an acoustic pop song mashup with noticeable three part harmony. This challenge proved difficult even for some of the All Stars and we saw the first of the All Stars leaving the competition including Dgreenifyd (finalist in Season one of Once More With Feeling), and Momybanana (finalist in both Season one of OMWF and Season one of Country
Sam_ORSA remained atop the leader board again establishing herself as an All Star to be beat if you want the crown.
For full round two results, click here: https://quip.com/JaYPASJ0um1K
This week's Round Three challenge, involves performing songs done at the live finals or semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest.
For those of you not in the contest room, we will bring you coverage of the results the day after they are released.
Until then, check out these sample songs by the judges:
EXAMPLE: Brett - Rise Like A Phoenix - Conchita Wurst (Austria, 2014) EXAMPLE: Dottie - Undo - Sanna Nielsen (Sweden, 2014) EXAMPLE: Perry - Love Can Set You Free - Englebert Humperdinck (United Kingdom, 2012) EXAMPLE: Nina - Hero - Charlotte Perrelli (Sweden, 2008)
Next week's Encore will look into one of the latest projects VE has taken on: Virtual Community Theatre through Smule, an interview with the co-director of VE's RENT audio book will be sharing with us.
In week three, you will have an opportunity to meet our VE 'Better Vocals' panel.
Get your questions ready!
Again, you won't want to miss a single issue of Vocal Edge's Encore so be sure and register by providing your email address on the website homepage at www.vocaledgeonline.com.