In working with people via skype and here in LA, the biggest issue for auditioning seems to be choosing the right songs. Understandably so, I might add. There are many factors to consider and I do advise spending as much time as it takes to find the most perfect songs for you and your voice.
1) Genre. If you are a country singer, do a country song. It sounds so moronically simple, but it seems as if it this obvious note evades a lot of us. Also, there is country, and there is country. Make sure, if you’re a Miranda Lambert style of country artist that you don’t do a Shania Twain rock pop crossover song. Be specific about “WHO” you are. There is a difference between Sheryl Crow’s country-ish songs to The Dixie Chicks. Also, what they imply stylistically is important too. In the same way, if you’re a Rock singer, there are many different types of Rock, Hard Rock, Glam Rock, MOR Rock (Middle of the Road) etc. So again, be what you are 100%.
2) Key. If the song works for you throughout the song except for that low note that occurs in the verse. Change the key. Don’t skimp on this. If you go in thinking, “well, it’s just one note and most of the time, I can hit it”, change it. Make sure the song is in a range that is accessible for you 100% of the time so you can be free to just perform. Ways you can make sure to sing the song in the key you’re singing in are; listen to a shard of the song in your headphones as you’re walking up to sing or take a pitch pipe.
3) Find the best part of the song. Perhaps, for whatever reason, you sing the 2nd verse better than 1st. Start with the 2nd verse. Perhaps the chorus immediately gets you in a zone where you can emote. Start with the chorus. There are no rules (unless given) when they only allow you to sing 30 seconds of a song. Find the best parts of the song and fuse them together. However, know the rest of the song in case they want you to keep going, at which point just start from wherever you are and sing the rest of the song, or adlib over the chorus.
4) Have other songs ready that you are slightly different, but still in the same genre. If you’re singing an Adele song, have other soulful diva songs ready to go. If you’re doing a Green Day song, again, stay in the genre.
5) Be creative, because you’ll probably be singing a cappella, choose a song sung by girl if you’re a guy or vice-versa and make it work in your range, change the key. Or take a song outside your genre and make it your genre, but if you try this, make sure it works! This is much harder to do a cappella than with music.
6) Choose songs you can connect to. I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables does not suit a 16 year old girl. It suits an older woman who is reflecting on her life, whereas, Castle On A Cloud from Les Miserable doesn’t suit an older woman. Make sure the subject matter is age appropriate and that you can connect with it. Find a personal experience to draw from that you can loose yourself in. If you are able to “perform” for the auditioners then you will have a better chance of getting attention.
Selecting songs should take a good deal of time but the good news is, once you have a handful of songs, you can keep adding to them and then this task becomes easier. Some songs work for you with a track (or accompaniment) but some songs don’t come across as well a cappella. The melody has to sing well when it’s all you have to carry your voice. If you are not sure how you sound than find a way to record yourself and play it back. Often it feels different from how it sounds and this should be a consideration.