Budgeting for Essential Media

Since the pandemic, it has become clear that the classical music industry has changed regarding auditioning and hiring. The need for faster, safer and cheaper hiring processes has severely decreased the regularity of live auditions in favor of digital media submissions and website perusing.

While this change has led to a more streamlined (though in some cases less desirable) audition seasons, it has left many singers in a lurch, unsure of how to create and afford a digital media package that will set them apart.

As many singers become aware of these needs, they are simultaneously met with the ever-present roadblock we so often face – how do I afford all of this, especially during a pandemic? Investing in your business (because let’s face it – you are a business) is as basic of a principle as it comes. But the practicalities of it can seem exhausting and scary when looking at a long list of expensive yet necessary items. The good news is, you do not need to invest in every piece all at once, and there are many different levels of price point to choose from!


Setting a budget is the first step in any type of investment you will ever make in your business. A good investment is one that will help create valuable return (in this case, help you get hired to make more money, have more experience, create more connections etc.). This will ensure that you can continue to invest in yourself for years to come!

Begin with understanding what you can afford today, whether that number is $200, $1000 or nothing yet. From there you can begin to plan to set aside a small portion of income every week or every month to work your way down the list of items you will need. Before you know it, you will have an organized plan for digital media success.


Most of us will not be able to afford every piece of media needed at once. The following is a suggested order of where you should invest first.

1. Bio/Resume/Press quotes – this item is listed first because it is free to create. Most likely you can find a kind soul to proof your resume and biography. Put these together using templates from Word or Google Docs. Approx. cost – free.

2. Domain – also at the top of the list because it is incredibly cheap and necessary. Your domain is the “name” of your future website (e.g., www.sallysmith.com) and it can only belong to one person in the world. Purchase it now from Google or any other domain buying website before someone else does and it is gone forever. Approx. Cost – $10-14/year.

3. Audio – since people are hiring you to sing, you need one good audio recording with piano. Often you only need to invest in a decent microphone and the time for a pianist and recording space. Approx. cost – $100-$200

4. Video – this one is a little tricker but necessary. Many companies will ask for 2-3 video recording submissions for YAPs or competitions. Having 3 would be ideal. The best idea is to share the cost of a video camera with other singers who also need recordings. You can always pull audio from a video recording, so a separate audio recording session might not be necessary. Approx. cost – $300-500.

5. Photography – this is often overlooked as an essential, but it is the most important piece of your digital package after your recordings. With decent photography, you can make your own website look beautiful and simple without a web designer which will save lots of money. It is suggested to have 1-2 good head shots and a least 3-5 landscape portraits (to be used in a website for page backgrounds). Approx. cost – $400-$2000

6. Website – whether you build on your own or hire a web designer, the minimum cost will include your domain name and hosting subscription. There are many places to build a decent website (e.g., WIX, Squarespace, Showit.co) and they all have different levels of subscriptions. Building your own can be time-consuming and tricky, but with good photography you can keep it simple and beautiful. Approx. cost – $200/year for subscription/domain + $1000-$5000 for professional design.

Investing in these digital items is no doubt a long-term project for most people. With a little creativity and some careful planning, you can work your way down this list in no time and be on your way to digital media heaven!

Gillian Riesen

Gillian Riesen is the Founder and Creative Director of EMITHA – media design and management for artists and artistic businesses. She has collaborated with over 100 classical artists on photography, website design, branding and digital media curation. Gillian is also an active mezzo-soprano with ADA Artists and now lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband and son.