Last Updated: June 2020
So you want to be a superstar, huh?
Well by the end of this guide you’ll know exactly how to become a singer professionally and what next steps to take next.
We’ll go over training your voice, making your music, and how to approach the business side of music to set yourself up for success as an independent music artist
The Guide to “Making It”
When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to know what you need to do to “make it.” And the idea of “making it” is very misunderstood.
Understand one thing – the chances of you turning into the next Ariana Grande are about as good as you hitting the lotto. It can be done. But it’s TOUGH.
Literally one of the most difficult things in the world for a person to do – even if you have unlimited money and resources. The stars, the planets and the entire damn galaxy just need to align right.
BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t absolutely become a “successful” singer. You 100% can make a living from creating music.
What to Do
It just takes WORK and DEDICATION.
And that’s important to understand, as well – you need to treat this like a JOB and a A BUSINESS.
I get it – you love music. You just want to have fun and sing when and how you feel like it. Fine, then get a day job and do this music shit as a hobby.
But if you want to make money from music and build a career – you better treat it like a real business and J-O-B.
Guess what you do at a job or business? You WORK on shit you don’t necessarily feel like doing regardless of what you’d “rather be doing.”
What Not to Do
A lot of the time people just wait around writing songs and shooting YouTube videos hoping they’ll be discovered by Usher and made a famous rockstar.
They rarely try to get better through singing training or investing money in their music.
And that’s 100% wrong. You’ll go nowhere with that attitude. You have to take your career into your own hands. Write songs, make music, and promote that music.
You don’t need a major record label at this point. You need to build your own career.
How to Become a Singer Professionally
Here are the steps you need to take to sing professionally:
- Train your voice daily (i.e. practice)
- Write your songs (topline melody and lyrics)
- Find production/instrumentals for your songs
- Record your vocals and build up a small catalog of songs
- Release the songs to the public (Spotify, iTunes, etc)
- Promote the songs to potential fans, press/media/blogs/etc.
- Play live shows, sell merchandise and license your music to companies.
This is all about 2 main things – building your own fan base and building your musical catalog.
That’s it. You focus on those two things and you’ll do well. But make sure you’re putting your all into BOTH areas. The music AND the business.
Here’s what you need to be on top of as an independent singer:
- Vocal Training and Practice
- Getting Instrumentals or Working With Producers
- Recording Your Vocal Performance and Structuring Songs
- Mixing and Mastering Your Songs
- Shooting + Editing Music Videos
- Distributing Your Music to Place People Buy/Consume Music
- Promoting Your Music (Online, Radio, to Press/Media/Blogs, DJs, Fans)
- Hitting up TV/Film/Ad Agencies to Try and Place Your Songs With Them
- Getting/Promoting Music Merchandise (MP3s, CDs, T-Shirts, Posters, etc.)
- Performance, Touring and Playing Live Shows
That’s a lot of shit to take care of.
That’s why all the big artists have a team behind them, handling all these different aspects. Don’t worry, you can get to that stage too.
But right now, forget the team because you can handle all this by yourself. And you should. No one is going to hustle harder for your music than you.
And no one will give you a shot if you don’t prove you can handle all this stuff yourself.
Don’t worry, though. Handling all that stuff above isn’t as hard as it seems. With the internet and a few resources you can basically run your own independent record label, with you as the main artist.
How To Handle Your Business
Everything we listed above can be taken care of by you. Don’t believe us? Let’s break it down.
Songwriting + Singing/Rapping
More likely than not, with you as the singer or rapper, you’re probably writing your own lyrics.
If you’re not (or feel like you can’t) then you can always team up with a local songwriter or learn to write good songs with the dozens of books and websites about the subject.
Also make sure you TAKE SINGING LESSONS! I don’t care how good you think your voice is, there’s someone out there that’s working harder than you to make their voice better than yours.
Don’t let that happen. Take lessons and practice/train your voice DAILY.
And of course, keep it locked to DeviantNoise.com – we’ll keep sharing good resources we come across for singers and songwriters on our blog.
Related Content: Learn to Sing in Falsetto Voice
Getting Instrumentals or Working With Producers
There are TONS (I mean it..) of music producers out there.
And there are tons of ways to learn how to make your own beats. You can either team up with some of the online producers out there (there are free beats, $20 beats and $500+ beats for you to choose from), or find a local producer in your hometown.
We also have beats for sale here at Deviant Noise.
You can also check out places like BeatStars, YouTube, BandCamp, SoundCloud and AirBit to find producers you can buy instrumentals from.
One quick note: if you end up writing a song to a beat and plan to release it publically – MAKE SURE you BUY the license for the beat from the producer. Don’t release a “free download” you got on Spotify, etc.
Recording Your Songs
Music recording equipment is super cheap nowadays.
You can pick up a really good microphone and a pro sound card for your laptop/computer for a couple of hundred dollars. And there’s a great piece of software out there called Reaper that will let you record your vocals on top of a beat for free.
You can literally record your own music in your bedroom.
Here’s a quick run down:
- Hook up the sound card to your laptop
- Hook up the microphone to the sound card
- Install Reaper and open the program
- Setup Reaper to use your sound card as the audio source
- Add a new track and drag the instrumental audio file into that track
- Add another track and enable the “record” mode on it
- Make sure audio is coming into the computer and you can see levels moving when you test the microphone
- Hit the record button
- Start sangin your hear out
- Do more takes
- Choose the best 3
(Yea, there’s more to explain about that stuff – we will have an article about recording your own vocals soon).
Make sure you know the song you’re recording inside and out. Memorize your lyrics and practice your performance a bunch of times before actually stepping up to the mic.
Mixing and Mastering Your Songs
This is important.
It’s the only way your song will stand up next to all the other pro artists out there releasing music. It’s one of the most important parts of making professional music.
Have you ever noticed that when you record your voice on a beat it doesn’t sound anything like your favorite songs on Spotify or YouTube?
That’s because you haven’t mixed and mastered your music. It’s where an audio engineer makes your vocals sound nice and makes sure the levels of the instruments in your beat sit together nicely so nothing is over powering. Then they add effects like echos and distortion to make it all phat and juicy.
Yea, you can learn to do it yourself, but it takes a LOT of study and practice.
It’s easier to pay your producer to do it for you. A lot of times, they’ll include mixing and mastering in the price of an exclusive beat license.
Shooting and Editing Music Videos
This can throw some people off, but high quality cameras are super cheap now. Hell you could even shoot your entire music video on your phone camera (as long as it’s a high quality smartphone).
And there are probably a ton of amateur video producers in your city you can team up with to make your music videos. Check out college film students and independent music video directors near you and collaborate with them.
Better yet, you should be saving money to invest in your career so just hire a professional music video director and get a really solid visual of your song filmed and edited.
Trust us, it’s not as hard as it may seem at first. It can be expensive, but remember this is your career – you need to invest in it! If you don’t, why should anyone else?
Music videos are a must now – it’s the age of YouTube, and if you’re not visual, you might not be heard by everyone that might like your music.
This is HUGE.
If you want to call yourself a professional singer, you need to be able to make money from your music.
You can make all the music you want, but if no one knows about it, no one hears it. And I’ll be totally real with you – there’s a lot of competition (read: noise) out there, especially on the internet.
That’s why making your songs and blasting them out on Twitter and Facebook isn’t enough.
That shit doesn’t even work… No one cares. And you’re annoying people by telling them to “check out your music.”
We’ll have future posts here on DeviantNoise.com with specific strategies on promoting music but just know you have to spend twice as much time on promoting yourself as you do making your music.
I told you this is WORK.
There’s a TON to music marketing, but you can do it all yourself and really get your music heard if you do it right.
Touring and Playing Live
Playing live shows is sooooo important in the music business today.
- It’s a great way to build a local/regional/national fan base
- It’s a great way to make money
Now it’s a chicken and egg sort of situation – when you first start you need to play shows to build fans, but you need fans to play shows.
But it’s still important to do even when you’re playing to an empty bar.
Go to “open mic nights” and perform as an opener for other artists in your city. Submit your music for showcases and just play live wherever you can – both locally, in your state/province and around your country.
You can book your own shows and set up small (or big) tours. There are a ton of resources online that help you with all this stuff. And we’ll have a guide on here in the future.
BUT make sure of one thing – just like you practice your vocals and practice your singing performance, you NEED to plan and practice your live show. You need to move people in the audience with your music AND performance. So WORK on making your live shows something special.
Don’t just stand in front of a microphone and sing your song. People can get that at home on Spotify. You need to PUT ON A SHOW!
Not only can you get paid for your shows, but you can also sell merch…
Selling Products and Licensing Music
So this is another way to make money from your music. But it’s not just about selling MP3s and CDs. Most people don’t buy music anymore. But they DO want to commemorate their experiences at awesome events.
So if you can put on a GREAT live, you can sell lots of different products to people in attendance. I’m talking about posters, t-shirts and other merchandise. Some people may still want to buy a CD or vinyl copy of your music, so it’s a good idea to still have that stuff on hand. But don’t limit your product line.
You’re a brand. And you can use your brand (as long as you build it right) to sell all types of different products with your name on it.
The other side of money making from your music has to do with “music licensing.”
These are also called “sync placements.” It’s where you get your music placed into things like television shows, movies and commercials. It’s a tough space, but it can be very lucrative with the bigger deals out there.
A Lot of Spinning Plates
And that’s pretty much it – that’s how you become a professional singer and build a career as an independent music artist.
Get one thing straight – there’s no better time to become a singer. Everything is available to you and at your fingertips. You just have to be willing to grind. And I really mean you need to work harder that EVERYONE else at each of the areas we described above.
It’s a lot of things to focus on. But if you’re serious about this, you can do it.
Next Steps to Take
Start with the music.
First, your voice. Take singing lessons and practice daily.
While you’re doing that, start looking for beats online and write songs every single day.
Once you’ve got a bunch of songs written (I’m talking 10+), pick the best one. Then perfect the song (rewriting is KEY) and your performance of it, and record it – either yourself, or at a studio. Once you’ve got the song done, do it again.
Once you’ve got 4-7 songs recorded, you can start working on the business side. Release the songs online and then learn about how to promote your music. Then start playing live at open mic nights and coffee shops. Keep learning and keep moving forward. But only do the promotion and business side after you have a solid set of songs to showcase.
You Can Do It
When you’re an independent music artist, you have to handle everything on your own in the beginning. It’s like a full time job. And you won’t make a lot of money, at least for a bit while you’re building things up. So you’ll need another source of income to help you survive.
Consider yourself as having 2 full-time jobs. One that pays the bills, and the one that builds your dream.
It’s gonna be a grind.
But eventually you’ll meet people and build up a team that can help you handle all the different areas. And if you get successful enough a bigger label might want to do a deal with you.
And then you just keep on building.
I’ll tell you one thing – you only need about 1000 true fans of your work to be able to support yourself as a full time singer. So start building that fan base.
If you’re happy with just making music for your friends to hear, that’s cool too.
We want to help you make great music for the world to hear, love and appreciate. Whatever your aspirations are.
So now that you know how to become a singer professionally, stay tuned to Deviant Noise. We’ll have more guides on each of the areas of the music business coming in the future.
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