How to Become a Professional Singer

Have you ever experienced this while singing in the shower: your mind begins to wander, suddenly the tub becomes your stage, the mirror is surrounded by lights, your eyes are blinded by the popping bulbs of the paparazzi, and the running water turns into the sound of the rapturous applause of people who love you?  Anyone who adores music and singing won’t have any trouble relating to this. And most of us have thought or dreamed about what it would take to become a professional singer.

We all know that the music business is incredibly competitive and that becoming a star depends on a myriad of factors. It doesn’t solely depend on your voice and singing talent. It relies on your networking and marketing skills as well as your knowledge of music producers, bands and record labels.

That’s quite a tall order.

To be a professional singer doesn’t always mean to be a star. There are many ways in which singing can earn you a decent living. The music business has plenty of room for hard working singers; from career vocalists to songwriters, vocal coaches, and stage performers. Making a living from singing may not be as much of a pipe dream as you first thought.

For all those who are truly committed to making a career out of being a professional singer, here are our best tips to get you started on how to become a great singer.

Pick a Niche

Becoming a professional singer requires strong vocals, thick skin, and the persistence to succeed. But before all of that, you need to find your niche in the market. Famous singers can be found across the board – from opera singers to hip hop artists, classical music experts, and pop bands. Knowing your niche will help you to target the market you want to shine in.

The best way to pick your singing niche is to choose a genre you love singing and one that suits your vocal style. Knowing your vocal range and ability as well as choosing to work with a vocal coach can help you when selecting the right genre.

Find a Unique Angle

The singing market is saturated. If you want to fast track your way to professional success then you need to find a unique angle to promote yourself. Don’t be afraid to be a little different. Take risks (as long as they don’t hurt your voice), and present yourself in a way that sets you apart from the rest.

Perfect your Voice

Once you have decided that you want to become a professional singer, you need to work on becoming a great singer. Perfecting your voice is hard work and runs much deeper than talent (although talent can definitely be a help!).

Perfecting your voice means investing both time and money into getting great results. At home, you can practice your daily exercises, work on increasing your repertoire, improve your vocal range, and study superior singing methods.

If you want to take it even further in a shorter span of time, look for a good vocal coach who can work on your weak spots. Actions like attending open auditions can be great for conquering stage fright and getting feedback on your voice. At this point, you need to toughen your attitude when it comes to getting criticism of your singing. In other words, you need to be able to take it but not be crushed by it. This article is a great place to start on learning how to accept criticism. Confidence and a firm belief in yourself is key to becoming a great singer.

Understand the Industry

While working on your voice, you also need to work on your industry expertise. If you want to make it as a professional singer, you will need to understand how the music industry works. It is pertinent that you become familiar with how to reach out to music publicists, how to find a great music producer, where to send a demo, and how to communicate with record labels.

The more you know about the industry, the better equipped you will be to navigate it. Some singers may consider a bachelor’s degree in music to be a worthwhile investment on the route to success as it can equip you for a career in the music industry. While a bachelor’s degree in music isn’t necessary to be a professional singer, it can also help to introduce you to contacts within the industry.

You Must Invest to Become a Professional Singer

If you want to make it as a professional singer, you are going to have to invest a little something along the way. Reserving studio time for recording, mixing and mastering your demo, making a website, marketing and promotion – all require a budget. And creativity!

You can take a lot of work on yourself, especially promoting and writing songs. But unless you have the knowledge and equipment at home, you will need to bring in some outside help for things like recording your singing.

Record Something

No one is going to stumble upon you singing in the shower and automatically make you a star. If you want to be discovered, you need to put something out into the world for all to hear. Many singers and bands will start by recording a demo.

A demo will have a small selection of songs on it, recorded professionally by a music producer and showcasing the very best of your skills. Even if you aren’t trying to be a major star, it’s still a good idea to have a demo. It will be something under your belt for snagging any kind of professional and paid singing work.

Be cautious about putting all your money into recording a demo too early in your training. With more professional singing practice, your vocals are bound to get stronger and your songs better.

Book Some Shows

Stage fright be gone – if you truly want to make a singing career work, you need to get off the street and onto the stage. Any gig is great to get you started. You can even kickstart your singing career at karaoke bars. Karaoke and open mic singing will help you come to grips with using the microphone in a live setting and help you learn how to calm your nerves.

When you are ready to move into a more professional setting, you can look at bagging shows at private functions and parties, sporting events, live music nights, bars and clubs – whatever is on the menu!

Joining a band as a lead singer can give you even more leverage at this stage in your career. For inexperienced singers beginning in the music industry, working with a band can be a lifesaver. Many people feel a lot more comfortable singing when they have a band to back them up. Singing with a band can provide a setting for you to grow your voice and explore your style surrounded by other musicians.

Get Online

We live in a digital age; and while we may complain about the power and allure of technology, it is an amazing tool for helping us advance in all walks of life. YouTube for singers is an incredible platform for free marketing.

Make yourself a channel and don’t be shy about uploading your singing videos for the world to see. This does also come with a cautionary disclaimer: the internet can be a very cruel place. So before posting your videos, be prepared for a mix of good and bad comments. Or simply disable the comments and get a friend to check them if you are prone to sensitivity.  Criticism, both good and bad are common to those looking to become a professional singer.

The more of a unique approach you have, the more likely you are to draw attention to you on YouTube. Post regularly to build up a following. It may not get you famous with immediate effect; but when it comes to reaching out to record labels, music producers, and important people in the music industry, you will be able to show them that you have a built-in audience already.

Facebook and Twitter are also good marketing tools for getting your name out there in the world. It will also be helpful to your professional singing career if you have a website dedicated to your business. Promo shots, samples of your songs, and gig listings should all be available on your website for fans to follow.

Remember; online has become synonymous with the real world. If you build your profile up online, it can make things a lot easier for your professional life offline.

Network

Besides talent, the number one answer to how to become a singer is to network. Do your research and try to place yourself in locations where you know there will be industry experts. Go to album launches, singing gigs, band events, live performances, and anywhere musicians, producers and big wigs tend to hang out. To make it in the music industry, you need to put yourself out there so important people take notice of you. Here are some music networking tips along the way.

Never turn up at these events empty handed, and always steal a second to shine. Turning up at events with a stash of demos in your bag or a few business cards in your pocket puts you in the perfect spot to embrace unexpected singing opportunities.

Show a strong interest in the work of other musicians. You never know who you may end up forming a friendship with and who could end up introducing you to an agent or producer. Be genuinely interested in them as an artist as you don’t want a reputation for being fickle, especially this early in your career.

Figure Out What Success Means

Everyone has different ideas when it comes to the word success. For some it can mean a five-album deal and private jet straight to Hollywood. For others, it can be getting paid a fair fee to sing at the local club once a month. Both of these situations make you a professional singer.

Knowing what your goals are, both short term and long term can work wonders for directing your energy in the right place. If you are just starting on the path to a music career, just uploading a video to YouTube can be a massive step. So can getting a few paid gigs, making a website and starting to fishing for more business. The problem with lofty goals is that it can seem overwhelming to get there. Do yourself a favor and don’t promise yourself a six-figure singing salary in less than a year. Small attainable goals are one of the best methods for reaching your big goals.

Consider Competitions and Auditions

X Factor, American Idol, The Voice – these a few of the many singing competitions out there, both big and small. While competitions like these may seem like the fast track to becoming a successful singer, you should consider them carefully and realize that only are a few are chosen for major competitions.

These competitions can also be enormously cut-throat so enter with a thick skin and open mind. Look for regional and local competitions on a smaller scale, too. Auditions help you to toughen up and to build your experience as a professional singer.

Take Care of Your Voice

People tell singers to take care of their voice, but this is even more relevant if you are making your living from being a professional singer. Your voice is your instrument, and that instrument needs to be protected. Smoking and shouting need to go by the wayside, vocal exercises need to become a frequent part of your daily routine, and lemon honey drinks need be your “go to” drink of choice. There are lots of tips and techniques for looking after your singing voice, start working these healthy practices into your lifestyle.

Don’t Give Up

It may sound like a tired cliché; but if you truly want to achieve your dream of being a professional singer, you need to give it your all. In the music industry, it’s easy to feel disheartened. That path is full of disappointment, competition and rejection.

Remember that almost everyone who has ever made it big in the music industry had to walk the same difficult path learning how to become a singer. They have shed their own blood, sweat and tears to achieve the fame and fortune that finally came their way. Facing your fears head on, staying positive, constantly working on your singing voice, and having determination every step of the way will do much more for you than simply raw talent ever will.

Mike Elson

about the author

Mike Elson Mike loves to sing and make magic happen with computers and music. After trying lots of ways that didn't work to find... Read More

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