7 tips to become a professional singer

If you are a great singer who wants to turn your passion into a profession, then there are a few key things that can help make or break your career in the Music and Entertainment Industry. The music industry is a highly competitive landscape with a variety of skills required of singers that extend past just being able to hold a tune. Below are 7 Tips to becoming a Professional Singer.

Develop Your Singing Skills

Investing time and energy into developing your skills as a vocalist is an important part of being a professional singer. Depending on your chosen music-style there may be certain vocal abilities that are required as well as musicianship or aural skills necessary for you sing to an Industry standard. Lots of practice and experience will help guide your vocal development and so you may find it worthwhile partaking in one to one singing lessons or applying for performance degrees that cater to your development as a singer by providing vocal, aural (ear) and performance training in an environment of likeminded, driven individuals. Additional skills such as a song-writing, arranging and production can also be hugely rewarding in the long term as you grow a singer and industry professional.

Familiarise Yourself With Your Industry

Having a successful career as a professional singer requires familiarising yourself with the environments, artistic/business practices and roles involved in the Music and Entertainment Industry. Knowing where to go, what to do, who to speak to in addition to understanding how to communicate with the variety of professionals that make up this industry will be to your advantage. If you are new to the Music and Entertainment Industry you may find that your mentors and network from University can teach you how to navigate both the performance and non-performance parts of being a professional vocalist. You can also start participating in events/jams which are open to newcomers, grow your network through interacting with musicians and other industry professionals, and/or find an industry professional to mentor you directly.

Have A Press Kit

Paid work as a vocalist can come about from your professional network, agencies, word-of-mouth from past clients, people who have seen you perform or those who have come across your work online. It helps to have a Press Kit (also called a Media Kit, Press Pack or Promo Pack) so that evidence of your work is available for agencies to distribute and to show your skills as a professional vocalist to potential new clients. Having professional headshots, a biography, social media accounts and quality demos to distribute can make a big difference. Demos and videos of you performing are important for landing clients and should feature a variety of songs which showcase your voice and style. Ensure that the audio and video quality of your recordings are to a satisfactory standard. If you cannot do this yourself, working with a producer is an option.

Perform Live at Gigs, on Shows, at Events

Opportunities to showcase and practice you craft should be taken if you are serious about being a professional singer. All vocalists start somewhere and it is your experiences performing that will often grow your network, develop your performance stamina, push you as an artist (if you are participating in different kinds of styles and performance concepts) and develop your sound as a professional singer. Opportunities such as going to open mic nights, offering your skills at community and local events, entering competitions, auditioning for musicals, being backing music in restaurants and busking can lead to paid work at live music venues, corporate and private work, session-work and fund new equipment/recording goals all while helping work through things like stage fright and troubleshooting in different environments. On top of this it increases your presence and gets eyes on your craft which can lead to even bigger opportunities.

Network and Always Be Professional

Opportunities will not fall into your lap. The industry is far too competitive, and your network is often what will open opportunities for you as a singer. Those who know you can become those who know of you with word-of-mouth being a powerful tool that can make or break your career. Meet with new people, socialise with industry professionals, learn the names of the technicians on your gigs/projects and always be professional. Being professional involves maintaining and working on improving your skillset, being on time, being prepared and treating people with respect. The more positive experiences people have with you the more likely they are to want to work with you again or trust you enough to recommend you to someone else in their network.

Look After Your Vocal Health

Even big stars like Adele can have problems with their voice if they don’t look after it properly resulting in cancelled shows and enforced down-time. Looking after your vocal health is yet another part of your professionalism and should be integrated into your professional practice early on before your workload starts to intensify. Activities such as smoking, shouting, talking over loud environments, not staying hydrated, over-using your voice (talking or singing) and not looking after your sleep and nutrition can contribute to vocal fatigue and potential injuries. Stay on top of your vocal health by monitoring your performance stamina, drink lots of water, don’t talk after an intense gig, monitor your volume when socialising, warm up before singing and cool down afterwards.

Create An Online Presence

The internet, namely social media, can be both friend and foe depending on how you use it. Unlike live performances, digital content on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok can be viewed all over the world and is an incredibly powerful promotional tool. Massive opportunities can arise with the growth of your online presence as it shows that people are interested in what you are doing and want to see more – careers can be started and maintained from an online following alone. It is a mistake to ignore social media’s importance in today’s Music and Entertainment Industry so record/stream and share your live performances, online performances, practices or behind-the-scenes you are proud of to build your audience and influence. Ensure that you have someone on your team who can help fend off the negative sides of the internet and use social media to its full potential.

The Music and Entertainment Industry is highly competitive, requires a diverse skillset of singing and performance ability, creativity, business and, communication skills. This may seem intimidating but to those of you interested in becoming a professional singer with the talent and work ethic to forge your own path, it is still an industry in which fulfilling careers can be experienced.