how to become a singer
Music Industry Singing

How to Become a Singer: Start Your Singing Career in 2023

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Written By Will Fenton
Music Industry Singing

How to Become a Singer: Start Your Singing Career in 2023

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Becoming a successful singer and getting noticed is not easy.

But you’ve probably heard this before.

We are not here to tell you how hard it is, but rather to help you overcome these challenges and any potential insecurities.

More importantly, we will show you how to become a singer and tell you what skills and qualities professional singers really need.

How to Become a Singer – Singing as a Career Path 

Many kids, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, say: a singer.

Being a singer is often associated with stardom, and that’s completely understandable.

However, being a singer is so much more than that.

After all, there are many job opportunities for singers, and you don’t necessarily need to produce chart-topping hits to be considered a successful singer.

That said, if you’re dreaming about becoming a singer, you have to think about what it is that you really want.

But if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already thought this through.

If that’s the case, and you’re sure you want to try your luck as a singer, you’ve come to the right place.

microphone with stand

If you want to become a singer, you first have to set clear goals.

Knowing your strengths and abilities will also help you determine what’s best for you.

Because there’s no single best way to enter the music industry – everyone has their own path.

However, there are certain things you can do to get things started. 

But before digging into specific steps for becoming a professional singer, let’s tackle some important questions related to choosing singing as a career path. 

What Do Singers Do?

As we mentioned a moment ago, singers have a variety of responsibilities.

And there are many paths you can take if you want to make money singing.

But generally, a singer’s job can include:

  • Performing vocal arrangements of songs
  • Memorizing lyrics
  • Collaborating with other artists and/or band members
  • Songwriting 
  • Touring
  • Promoting your music

Of course, the exact ‘job requirements’ and description depend on the type of singer you want to be.

Some singers also play instruments, some artists write their own songs, and others work as vocalists in a choir. 

In any case, the singer’s job is to deliver the song’s melody and lyrics to the audience. 

That being said, the sole requirement for being a singer is to have a voice – and, preferably, a good voice.

But a good singing voice is not something you’re born with.

Of course, some people are born with a naturally good singing voice – but they’re not born with singing skills.

Singing takes both talent and skill.

And from that perspective, anyone can learn how to sing.

But learning how to sing and becoming a singer are two different things – they are intertwined, but they are different. 

A person singing at a music concert.

What Does It Take to Become a Singer?

Needless to say, successful singers have great vocals.

They also have good control of their voice, and they’re familiar with a variety of singing techniques.

Having control of your voice means knowing how to stay in the correct pitch, without wandering off-key. 

Music phrasing is also important – expressive musical phrasing involves the lines you sing, your pitch, adequate volume, and good diction. 

But all of this is related to singing skills.

Besides improving your voice, becoming a singer requires thinking about some other skills. 

Some of the relevant skills that can help you become a singer include:

  • Music skills (piano or guitar, for example)
  • Communication skills
  • Musicality
  • The knowledge of basic music theory
  • Determination and self-discipline
  • Passion for music

Generally, musicians and singers typically don’t need formal music education to get a job.

But if you want to start a career in music, you’ll have to learn about a variety of things.

Bringing the best out of your voice is just the first step.

How Much Do Singers Make?

If you keep being patient and persistent, you’ll eventually get noticed and you’ll start earning money as a singer.

But how much money do singers really earn?

Well, that’s hard to say as it largely depends on the type of job they have.

But the average base salary for a singer is $52,832. 

Of course, there are many factors to consider when calculating an average salary of a singer.

And there are different ways to earn money singing.

Being a singer/songwriter and earning money by performing and selling music is just one way – and probably the most challenging one.

It’s not easy to become a famous singer, so you should keep your options open, especially if you want to start earning money right away. 

Some of the most common ways to make money singing include: 

  • Releasing and promoting your music
  • Joining a band
  • Becoming a vocal coach
  • Writing jingles
  • Starting a YouTube channel
  • Singing at events 

Now, when aspiring singers say they want to start making money from their music, they usually think about getting a record deal.

A record deal is a legal agreement between a record label and an artist, and it usually works in a way that artists are paid royalties based on record sales. 

Typically, the artist will earn somewhere between 14 and 18 percent of the record’s dealer’s price, and they’re usually given a monetary advance in return.

Also, the record company claims the rights and ownership of the recordings for a duration of copyright.

Alternatively, you can contact a music distribution service.

This is a great option for singers who want to go through the whole process of music production by themselves. 

A woman recording her singing using her laptop.

You can also hire someone to help you record and master a song.

Either way, if you have a song that is ready for distribution, you find a service that meets your needs.

With a music distribution company, you can usually keep your creative rights and get your music on popular streaming platforms. But we’ll tell you more about this option in a moment.

Is It Hard to Become a Singer? 

Many people want to know how hard it is to become a singer.

Once again, that depends on the exact career path you want to pursue. 

But regardless of your goals and dreams, you need to put the work in.

This is another popular question: how can I become a famous singer fast?

Well, the thing is, nothing happens overnight.

You need to work hard, and you need to practice regularly – that’s the only way to get results.

And you need to be prepared for many challenges.

There are countless artists who are trying to make it in the music industry.

And you shouldn’t let that discourage you – there’s a place for everyone.

On the other hand, with a saturated music scene, it’s sometimes hard to get yourself noticed, and you need to keep finding ways to stand out from the crowd.

Growing a fan base is another challenge.

You’ll have to invest your time and money into music promotion, especially in the beginning.

Luckily, with music promotion services, social media, and streaming platforms, there are many ways to promote your music easily and effectively.

But you’ll have to put a lot of effort into it nevertheless.

A man singing and playing the electric guitar.

Finally, being a successful singer isn’t always as glamorous as it looks.

Yes, your life will probably be exciting, but it will also be exhausting.

A professional singer’s life usually involves a lot of touring, long recording sessions, collaborations, and endless networking.

On the other hand, it’s very rewarding and in many ways quite privileged.

At the end of the day, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming a singer, you’ll have to accept a couple of sacrifices too. 

And once things start to happen and people start to recognize your music, you’ll realize it has all been worth it.

How to Start a Singing Career

So, what are the first steps you should take if you want to start a singing career?

1. Work on Improving Your Voice 

Whether you have a talent for singing or not, you should actively work on improving your singing voice.

And let’s get something straight – nobody is born with a good singing technique.

There are many things you need to learn to be a good singer, including breath control, various singing techniques and singing in tune. 

But before you start improving your singing voice, you should find your voice type and vocal range.

1.1. Finding your voice type

A vocal range is the number of notes a singer is naturally able to hit without strain.

Although every person has a unique vocal range, most people have a 2-octave vocal range. 

For instance, a very common male vocal range is C3-C5, and a common range for women is A3-A5.

Of course, some professional singers have a vocal range of over 4 octaves – like Mariah Carey who can sing across more than 5 octaves. 

But just because someone can sing high notes doesn’t mean they’re sopranos – it depends on the notes they feel most comfortable singing. 

Vocal ranges are normally categorized into 8 common voice types:

  • male voice types: bass, baritone, tenor, and countertenor
  • female voice types: alto, contralto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano
keyboard and the vocal ranges

Understanding different voice types will ultimately help you figure out what you need to do to improve your voice, and it will allow you to choose songs that fit your voice.

Choosing songs suitable for your voice type is important – every successful singer started out by bringing the best out of their natural voice.

And eventually, you can start expanding your vocal range.

1.2. Expanding your vocal range

Extending your vocal range is actually fairly easy – it just takes some time and practice.

Regular vocal exercises are essential here.

But you should also pay attention to some other things, such as:

  • Maintaining a good posture while singing
  • Breathing with your diaphragm
  • Practicing singing high and low notes 

Another way to extend your vocal range is by using a piano or a piano app to hit the lowest note you can comfortably sing, and then moving down one half-step.

If you sound too breathy or off-key, practice until it feels more comfortable. And when you’re able to sing these two notes naturally and smoothly, you can move on to the next note.

1.3. Singing on Pitch

Singing on pitch (or in tune) is every singer’s goal.

And most beginners struggle with hitting the correct notes.

But if you want to audition or perform live, you need to learn how to sing in tune.

Some of the techniques you can use to sing on pitch include:

  • Developing aural awareness and audiation / Ear training
  • Recording yourself
  • Asking for feedback
  • Correcting sharp and flat notes in your singing
  • Incorporating vocal exercises into your daily routine

Singing on pitch will ultimately make you a better singer.

And with good singing skills, you’ll be more likely to get that singing job you want.

Moreover, singing in tune will allow you to experiment with different singing techniques, styles, and music genres.

1.4. Vocal health

While practicing and doing vocal exercises, make sure you’re not straining your voice. 

You could damage your vocal cords otherwise.

If you want to become a professional singer, learning how to take care of your voice is essential.

Here are some of the vocal health tips you should remember:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid spicy foods and dairy before practice
  • Take breaks during long practice sessions
  • Don’t skip vocal warm-up exercises

Many professional singers face long practice sessions and live shows from time to time – and the overuse of the voice can lead to certain problems.

But if you apply this vocal health advice and take all the necessary precautions, you will keep your voice in good shape.

2. Take Singing Lessons 

Another way to keep your voice healthy is to have the right learning source.

With clear guidance and effective teaching methods, you’ll be working on your singing skills in a safe way.

Although it’s possible to improve your voice by yourself, we suggest considering singing lessons.

Many aspiring singers hire a vocal coach.

That way, you’ll have a personalized approach and the opportunity to receive valuable feedback. 

Your singing teacher will tell you exactly how to improve your weak spots, and it will provide you with vocal exercises ideal for your voice.

If you don’t have the opportunity to hire a vocal coach, you can also search for singing lessons online.

Many freelancer teachers offer online singing lessons at a reasonable price.

Online singing lessons come with many benefits, such as:

  • Learning from home
  • Learning at your own pace
  • Choosing a teacher
  • Focusing on your interests

Alternatively, you can opt for an online singing program – these programs usually offer short, effective lessons that will help you improve your voice in a fun and engaging way.

Lady singing on the laptop using online singing lessons.

Singing learning apps are another great option for beginners.

They are affordable and convenient, and they usually come with modern learning tools, games, interactive exercises, and so on.

All in all, you have many options at your disposal.

You just need to choose a learning source that fits your budget, schedule, and learning style.

The program you choose should also align with your goals – whether you want to extend your vocal range, learn how to sing high notes, or simply learn new singing techniques, there’s a program for you out there.

Some of these singing courses also include lessons on how to become a singer – they will introduce you to the world of the music industry and provide you with useful tips and tricks.

And some of them even provide lessons taught by famous singers.

That said, don’t be afraid to take advantage of all the possibilities to learn.

Even if you believe you have an amazing voice, enhancing your skills and expanding your knowledge can only be beneficial.

3. Learn Basic Music Theory 

The best way to expand your knowledge is to learn music theory.

As a singer, you don’t need to know how to read notes.

However, familiarizing yourself with standard notation and music theory will ultimately make you a better singer.

So, you don’t need to have a formal education in music (although a bachelor’s degree in music or singing wouldn’t hurt), but you should definitely put some effort into learning it by yourself.

Many online courses also offer music theory lessons, so you can check them out.

Music theory for singers also includes voice classification and vocal ranges we’ve already mentioned. 

But besides these fundamentals, you should also become familiar with common singing-related terms.

By learning musical terms and concepts, you’ll also be able to understand your voice – and that’s a must for every aspiring singer.

For instance, you should understand terms like:

  • Tessitura – the range of your singing voice that feels comfortable
  • Timbre – the color of your voice, what makes your voice unique
  • Musical phrasing – encompasses the lines you sing, your pitch, adequate volume, and good diction
  • Vocal weight – the lightness or heaviness of your voice

Furthermore, you should also learn about the types of voices you can use, including head voice and chest voice.

These are different vocal registers, and as a singer, you’ll learn how to sing in each one.

You’ll also learn how to sing in falsetto (hitting very high notes) – in falsetto, the vocal cords come slightly apart, and the sound that comes out is very light and airy.

4. Find Your Style

Learning about singing techniques and vocal registers will help you determine what suits your natural voice.

Some people feel more comfortable and confident singing in falsetto, and others like to experiment with vibrato (a slight variation in pitch) to add nuance to their performance.

Either way, you have to find what works for you and your music.

two men on a stage singing to the crowd.

Finding your own singing style is a very important step. 

If you know who you are as an artist, you’re ready to enter the music industry.

The thing is, when you’re pitching your songs to publishers or when you’re auditioning, you need to know what your music or your performance is all about.

You need to be able to deliver a message, and you need to show your strengths.

In other words, you need to show something unique.

If you want to distribute and promote your music, you need to show the world who you are and what your music is all about.

That’s the only way to be discovered as a singer.

Now, there are many music genres and styles you can explore, such as:

  • Pop
  • Rock
  • Country
  • Indie/alternative
  • Opera/classical
  • R&B
  • Hip-hop
  • Blues and Jazz 

Certainly, singers usually perform songs they love. 

However, just because you like a rock it doesn’t mean your voice is ideal for rock singing.

Of course, this skill can be learned and improved, but you could perhaps try out other similar styles to see if they fit you better.

The thing is, you should feel comfortable both emotionally and physically.

So, you shouldn’t sing a pop song just because your tone and vocal range might be right for it.

You need to find the right balance, and that’s not always easy.

Therefore, make sure to explore different styles and genres before committing to anything.

5. Make a Demo

The next step you should consider if you want to become a singer is making a demo.

The point of recording a demo is to demonstrate your capabilities.

But a great music demo also shows your song’s hit potential.

Now, you need live experience to make your first demo, but you should make it available both digitally and physically.

And you can choose from different recording methods such as using your smartphone or computer software or hiring studio space.

Either way, try to be creative as well as realistic.

Also, for most demo purposes, you only need about 4 songs, so make sure you pick the best ones.

And you can use these recordings to get gigs, contracts, and other opportunities. 

6. Promote Your Music

One of the most effective ways to become a singer is to promote your music.

With social media, digital marketing tools, and streaming services, promoting music has never been easier.

On the other hand, music marketing can be challenging for independent artists.

person typing on the laptop

Of course, if you have a deal with a record label, you don’t have to worry about getting your music out there.

But many record labels get interested in musicians only after they’ve grown their audience.

So, how do you grow your audience without having a record deal?

Well, there are different ways you can approach your music marketing campaign.

But here are some of the questions that usually help people create a powerful music marketing campaign:

  • What is the essence of my music?
  • What is my ‘voice’?
  • What is my message?

Generally, music marketing involves building a brand, planning and creating a social media presence, advertising, public relations, and so much more.

So, there’s a lot to think about…

For instance, you should build a strong online presence.

Manage your social media accounts effectively and share engaging content.

You should also create an appealing website where you’ll gather all important information such as tour dates, new release updates, and so on.

Also, don’t forget about standard music marketing strategies such as email marketing – make your EPK (electronic press kit), create a mailing list, and consider creating a newsletter.

Some other effective music marketing strategies include:

  • Getting radio promotion
  • Reaching out to journalists and bloggers
  • Reaching out to playlist curators (on Spotify, for example)
  • Distributing your music to streaming platforms
  • Utilizing offline marketing strategies (flyers, posters…)

Alternatively, you can contact a music marketing company.

Music marketing services and companies create engaging music marketing campaigns for their artists.

Their campaigns usually involve social media, Spotify streams, press releases, and radio plays.

All in all, getting in touch with a music promotion or marketing company will ultimately help you gain exposure.

And gaining exposure can help you build a fanbase and start earning money as a singer.

7. Make Connections

Besides distributing and promoting your music, you should try to connect with the right people.

This is especially important for aspiring singers looking for songwriters and producers.

It’s relatively easy to get your music out there if you’ve been through the whole music production process.

But if you’re looking for someone to collaborate with, making connections with fellow singers as well as producers, promoters, and other relevant people from the music industry is important.

Networking will also help you gain valuable information and bring you new opportunities.

8. Expand Your Knowledge

Besides vocal training and studying music theory, you should also learn about other music-related processes such as music production.

Music production is a complex process, and it involves songwriting, recording, mixing, and mastering. 

recording on a laptop and music pad

Of course, you don’t need to learn how to produce a song from start to finish if you don’t want to – many singers hire an audio engineer and a recording studio. 

But understanding the fundamentals of every stage of the song-creation process will help you approach music in a different way.

And it will help you learn how to write good songs.

Some singers write their own songs, and many of them collaborate with songwriters. 

So, whether you’re interested in songwriting and composition or not, you should understand what it takes to write and produce a good song.

If you want to build a singing career, you also need to become familiar with the business side of it all. 

You should learn about the legal aspect of the music industry (contracts, royalties, creative rights, etc) – that way, you’ll know if someone is offering you a reasonable deal.

Getting around in the music industry can be tricky, both for newcomers and experienced singers, and that’s why artists hire managers early on.

A music manager will help you with music PR, finding gigs, and negotiating contracts.

Nevertheless, you should be informed about every step of the process too – that’s the best way to fight for yourself and to become a successful singer.

9. Go Your Own Way 

Finally, if you want to start a singing career, you need to set clear professional goals.

What type of singing job are you dreaming about?

What is the music genre you feel most comfortable with?

Do you want to form a band or do you want to go solo?

The answers to these questions should shape your next steps.

For instance, if you’re interested in musical theater, you should search for auditions.

If you want to make your own music (as a solo artist or with other band members), think about the ways you want to distribute your music.

And if you want to sign a deal, focus on recording a demo and generally bringing your singing skills to another level.

Ultimately, do what works for you.

woman playing the piano while singing

Also, don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen quickly.

Pursuing a singing career is not an easy task, and there are many things you’ll have to get through.

But with practice and persistence, you’ll get there sooner than you think.

Tips for Becoming a Singer 

Regardless of what kind of singing career you want to pursue, there are some things you can do to build a good foundation.

1. Keep Practicing

The single best thing you can do for your future self is to keep improving your voice.

Try to integrate vocal exercises into your daily routine.

Even 10 minutes a day will help you keep your vocals in good shape.

But you should also ensure proper rest for your voice – avoiding strain on your vocal cords is just as important.

So, the goal is to find a balance.

2. Look for Opportunities

As an aspiring singer, you should always keep an eye out for opportunities.

In the beginning, try to perform live as much as you can.

You’ll probably sing in local cafes or at small venues at first.

And you can offer to sing at events. 

But eventually, you’ll get to the big stage.

Until then, try out different options – you can even try busking. Busking is a great way to promote your music.

Also, keep an eye out for auditions, competitions, and so on.

3. Gain Exposure 

Performing live and finding gigs is one of the best ways to gain exposure.

But you should also focus on music promotion and marketing.

Contact a music marketing company or work on developing a powerful music marketing campaign.

You can even consider doing a PR stunt; for instance, you can perform live at an unusual place.

And you should keep engaging your followers and posting interesting content.

Besides building a strong online presence, you should find different ways to find new listeners.

Create a YouTube channel and post your songs. Recording a cover song is another great way to attract new listeners.

And once you grow your audience, you should keep finding ways to connect with your fans.

Eventually, all of this will start to happen more organically.

But in the beginning, you’ll have to work on promoting yourself, especially if you want your music to reach millions of people around the world.

4. Don’t Give Up 

Being a singer also means being motivated and persistent.

Confidence is also very important.

But ultimately, it’s about working hard to achieve your dreams.

So, even if you feel discouraged or inadequate, remind yourself that it will pass, and think about why you’ve started singing in the first place.

signage

Just keep going – and things will fall into place eventually.

Meanwhile, work on your singing skills and network with fellow musicians.

The thing is, there’s no shortcut to becoming a professional singer.

But things can also change in a minute – and when that happens, you’ll be ready.

How to Become a Singer – Final Thoughts 

If you’re learning how to become a singer, you’re already on the right track to stardom.

You should keep expanding your musical knowledge, but you should also work on your musicality and your singing technique. 

With the right knowledge and technique, you can begin looking for opportunities.

And if you’re motivated and persistent, you’ll eventually be discovered as a singer and get one step closer to achieving your dreams.

You may also like: 15 Ways to Promote Your Music

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