INDIANAPOLIS — Music has taken Lara Chapman around the world.
During her time in the United States from her native Switzerland, Chapman has graduated from institutions like the New York Film Academy in New York City and the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Before moving to Indianapolis, the 25-year-old lived in Nashville where she signed with a record label and recorded her debut album.
"I've never done anything besides music," Chapman told WRTV inside her home studio. "From, you know, the very beginning [as a child], I was already doing piano lessons, I played the recorder in school, I did every extracurricular musical activity that you could possibly do at all the schools that I went to, and for me, it just has been clear from the beginning — I'm going to do music. And that's the end of the story."
Now, Chapman's company "VoxTape Studios" has found virtual success by providing a relatable approach to singing lessons.
"I was just like ... there's got to be a better way, a more entertaining way to have fun when you're practicing," Chapman explained. "And so I created these pop song exercises where I take a pop song, and I make an exercise out of it."
Chapman's pop song exercises have gone viral on social media, specifically TikTok where just one of her videos has more than 20 million views and she now has more than 700,000 followers.
"I didn't expect it. I'm very glad it did, though, because it definitely put me on the board as a vocal influencer," she said.
@voxtapestudios right placement + breath support = more power 💪 #singingexercise #singingchallenge #singingtips #vocalcoach #vocalpowerchallenge ♬ original sound - VoxTape Studios
When the side hustle became the career
The music industry has always appeared to be as relentless a business as Hollywood has made it out to be. Entire movies — whether a biopic, documentary or musical — have been based on artists trying to break into the business and what it's like once they do.
The reality of how the music business operates was lamented in headlines recently (and quote cards on Instagram) following "Insecure" creator Issa Rae's interview with the Los Angeles Times, in which she called the industry "abusive."
"It’s probably the worst industry that I have ever come across. I thought Hollywood was crazy. The music industry, it needs to start over," Rae told Los Angeles Times' pop music critic Mikael Wood. "Conflicts of interest abound. Archaic mentalities. Crooks and criminals! It’s an abusive industry, and I really feel for artists that have to come up in it."
As a professional singer and songwriter, Chapman says she knows how grueling the ever-evolving music industry can be. Although she believed she was going to be the next Lady Gaga when she was younger, she grew into wanting less time on the road and more time at home.
"It's a hassle. You're constantly running around. And there's a lot of people in the industry that are not very nice people, people who take advantage of you. So I've been burned a couple of times," Chapman explained. "And I just realized that I guess I'm more of a homebody than I thought I was, and I didn't want to constantly go out, play gigs until midnight, get home at two, or just not even get home. Go on tour and do all these things. And so I realized that I didn't really want to do that, and that's when I pivoted."
Chapman planned an entire tour at the beginning of 2020 for that April when just a month before hitting the road the coronavirus pandemic forced her to cancel.
"And I was like, 'OK, this is the final straw. I'm done,'" Chapman said.
From Do-Re-Mi to Ri Ri
In August 2020, Chapman parted ways with who she thought she was going to be in the contemporary music world, took what was her part-time, side hustle at the time, "Lara Chapman Music," and turned it into what is now known as VoxTape Studios.
"I started creating online courses, and just programs for singers to help them achieve their singing goals without having to do one-on-one private lessons," Chapman said.
In order to get more clients on her roster, she had to promote herself. Which, in a pandemic world, means having a presence on social media.
Chapman created a YouTube account, a TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook page where she posts tips and exercises. Posts include how to release tension from your throat and instructions on how to sing the hook of a Billie Eilish song, or Chapman's most-viewed video, Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music."
"When I first started voice lessons ... I loved it. But eventually, after a couple of years — and I still loved it, don't get me wrong — But you know, those traditional exercises got really boring," Chapman said.
The 25-year-old soon found her niche and used her broad musical knowledge to take current pop songs and melodically use them as a vocal lesson. Something Chapman says people don't really get to experience when taking traditional singing lessons.
Not even two years later, the viral voice instructor has grown to employ four other contemporary singing coaches, has reintroduced one-on-one private lessons, and brought on a branding and songwriting coach.
Helping aspiring singers
Chapman doesn't see herself pursuing a singing career anymore.
"I am so much more passionate with just helping other people rather than trying to do it all for myself," Chapman said. "I love working with other people and helping them achieve their goals."
VoxTape has students all across the board, Chapman says. Some students practice as a hobby, there are others who do it for personal self-improvement, and singers looking to break into the music industry.
VoxTape now has nearly 60 people worldwide enrolled with the company, 15 of which are pursuing a professional singing career.
Outside of voice lessons, the studio is starting to offer songwriting, artist development, and social media help.
While Chapman's overall goal is to foster an online community where singers from all backgrounds and disciplines can come together to train, she hopes to eventually lead her clients to a record label deal or just to elevate them higher in their careers.
"A lot of people, they're like, 'OK, I want to do this, but I don't even know where to start.' And that's where I come in and just be like, 'this is how you do it. Let me hold your hand and guide you through this,'" Chapman said.
"Because if you don't have a following, you have pretty much no experience whatsoever, you don't have a manager; labels are not going to be interested in you because there are so many artists that have all of that. And for a label, it's so much less of a risk to work with those people who are already somewhat established," Chapman said.
Chapman's advice for people trying to make it into the business is to sing, write, and collaborate as much as you can. But her biggest advice?
"Oh my gosh, my biggest advice is to get a coach!" Chapman said, laughing.
Those interested in learning more about Chapman or booking a session at VoxTape Studios can visit voxtapestudios.com. Here in Indy, she offers in-person lessons, of course, as the pandemic allows.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.