Singdaptive is a platform that offers asynchronous 1-on-1 vocal coaching to professional singers and singers just getting started. Singers share video exchanges back and forth with vocal experts at their convenience. The online learning platform personally connects respected instructors, hundreds of on-demand lessons, podcasts, and articles with thousands of vocalists worldwide.
Tell us about yourself?
I was someone who always thought they were going to go to university to pursue performing. The first day that I started university, I had two things in my hand: an acceptance letter in one and a paycheck from the university in the other.
I had started teaching at the university when I was 18 — I taught people sound engineering for vocal jazz. It was partly self-taught and I had a wonderful learning experience when I was in high school after getting the opportunity to work with the engineers who were building a new theatre at my school. It wasn’t a paid education, but it was almost way better.
From there, I did some learning at UBC and Emily Carr, but I always stayed in recording and production. I loved, and still love, doing music, but I’ve always leaned to the technology and education side.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I’d tell myself it’s going to be okay. Creating a startup is just a constant nagging feeling of whether you have the right to do it. It’s a lot like singing, actually! It’s important to have a support system to remind you that it’s all going to be okay.
What problem does your business solve?
When it comes down to it, aspiring singers can go to Berkeley and spend $100,000 on an education and it can truly help them be a better singer and a better musician. It absolutely works, there is no doubt about it.
Or, you can find the right vocal coach and spend $7,000 a year on vocal lessons for periods of time in your life and that works, too. It’s not that we’re new to helping singers achieve the goals that they have, but those numbers that I just mentioned make it a really privileged club to be able to do it. That’s what we wanted to solve.
Singing is like running — you are the instrument. There is no equipment or anything, and that makes it an intensely personal experience. That alone can bring up all sorts of mental health issues, so you can’t just do it on your own.
Singing has this stigma that you’re born with a gift and it can’t be further from the truth. Singers work so, so hard, and it takes a big emotional toll on their confidence. Singdaptive aims to support them in every way so that every singer has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their financial situation or skill level.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
We were inspired by the people who haven’t had the resources—the money, the big team, and everything else—and their singing dreams and goals haven’t been realized because of it. Or, they’ve damaged their voice in the past or they turned down an opportunity that they were capable of doing if they had the support.
So often you’ll hear about the producer, the engineer,or even the vocal coach, but you hardly ever hear about the singer. There are less people who are willing to just be there for them. Singdaptive sees ourselves as a school; it’s a place where you can be yourself with a group of coaches.
It creates a team environment that lets the singer be the individual who has the voice, not their coach, because we’re a team of coaches helping that person. We really want the singer to have control.
What is your magic sauce?
In traditional face-to-face learning, it can take a number of lessons for the walls to come down.
People achieve learning outcomes best when they feel safe and understood in a controlled environment. There are countless platforms that push everything out to a singer or to a learner, but no one feels safe, engaged, or in control when they have things pushed on them and a platform that forces them to respond in real-time.
Our goal is that we wanted it to be accessible to people’s schedules, too. If you’re someone that struggles with confidence, you might not be able to turn it on and perform on a whim.
With Singdaptive, singers can post when they are ready, comfortable, and feel safe to do so because they are in their own environment. With that in mind, sometimes learning on YouTube isn’t personal enough; you aren’t getting the valuable feedback, thoughts, and expertise that singers need to feel confident. Our secret sauce is our online asynchronous format that lets someone that is struggling with confidence issues be able to work on their singing. It’s a team-oriented relationship.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We want more people to be able to have the privilege of working on their voice with a team. We want to be even more accessible to people and help bridge the gap between those that get to reap the benefits of having $7,000 a year to spend on singing lessons to those that don’t have access to lessons at all. I want Singdaptive to be the place where most singers work on their voice.
I also want to recognize that different singers have different needs. We’ll be developing both how we teach and the things that we provide. Our upcoming partnership with the National Youth Choir of Canada is a great example of that; choral singers need to be served in a specific way. They have different learning and professional needs than a musical theatre singer or a singer-songwriter. Addressing each and every need is integral to Singdaptive and we want to serve these different communities in regards to how we support and teach them.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
What we are doing is so new and different, people are often scared of change. We’re unique and the way people take singing lessons—in a classroom—is traditional. Helping students understand what we do is something that’s been a challenge. Singers need support and great singers have support — a lot of people don’t have that knowledge.
People also mindlessly search and watch videos on YouTube and don’t feel like they are getting anything out of it because they aren’t getting that support. For us, we want people to try out the platform and get involved. Begin working with an instructor and get personalized feedback and thoughts from someone who wants to help you meet your goals.
From a start-up point of view, singing is seen as the biggest niche market. It’s showing people that it’s an unserved market and it doesn’t take much to sway them once you show them the data, like the fact that in North America there are around 50 million people who sing in choirs. It’s been challenging proving to people that this is a huge market and opportunity to tap into something no one else is accomplishing.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
Honestly, it sounds easy enough but I’d recommend signing up for an account and trying a few lessons. It doesn’t matter where you are in your singing career—whether you’re a novice or more experienced—your first few exchanges will help you improve.
It means a lot to have somebody rooting for you in your corner and you’ll get that in our expert instructors. We’ve had parents who’ve joined and now their kids are singing, too. Singdaptive teaches you a lot about what it takes to sing and what goes on to get better at singing, performing, and taking care of your voice.