It’s not uncommon to dream of making it big as a singer. You’re up on stage, belting out songs. Your adoring audience found you just as milions of other fans found you – on your masive social media presence. After the gig you pick up a massive pay cheque.
Sounds like a great dream. But, what do you actually need to make it as a professional singer?
First, lets clarify what is a professional singer?
Professional singers don’t necessarily perform to massive audiences or have massive social media followings. Being a professional singer means sometime pays you to sing. Examples of opportunities for professional singers that people don’t typically think of:
- Session singer
- Product demonstrator
- Cruise ship singer
- Background vocalist
- Demo singer
- Top-line melody writer and singer
The majority of singers making money “singing” are not known as famous lead singers. What they do share in common is that is habits around practice, support system and spending their time wisely.
Regular, Thoughtful Practice
The popular phrase, “practice makes perfect” is flawed. Regular practice on its own can actual firmly establish bad habits, poor technique and the end result; poor vocal health. The practicing needs to be thoughtful.
Vocal Performance Coach, Leontine Hass, writes on Singdaptive’s blog that, “Singers, like everyone else, need a purpose. If you are practicing in a void, then I am not surprised that you are stalling.”
A vocalist needs to consider what their performance goal is and establish the type of practicing that is best for their voice type. Regular isn’t about spending every waking moment singing. It’s about practicing frequently enough that you establish the muscle memory required to get your voice to produce the sounds you want in a healthy way. But what is a “healthy way”?
Professional, Personal Support
Nobody questions the use of a professional coaches by golfers or hockey players. In sports coaches are an accepted and useful tool – at the amateur or professional level. Yet, with singing, even if someone uses a vocal coach it’s kept as a deeply guarded secret. In reality, professional singers need to stay healthy and be able to perform right to the edge of their abilities to realize a successful and sustained career. An experienced vocal educator who knows the singer personally is who a singer should spend time with to achieve those goals.
The common fear is that vocal coaches just make a singer sing a very certain way and with a certain method. A 21st century vocal coach for Disney, Jamie Babbitt, shares the exact opposite truth; “We love your uniqueness, your je ne sais quois. We don’t want you to sound like every other singer. We don’t even know how to make all our clients sound alike.”
Get Your Support Online When You Want It
The modern singer doesn’t have time to schedule lessons, drive to someone’s house for vocal coaching sessions or pick up music. They have so many other events to schedule such as rehearsals and gigs. So they make use of as many online tools to make their lives easier. Sheet music? No singer is going to a music store – they’re buying individual lead sheets online and in apps.
The same is true for working with a singing coach. They may do zoom lessons, or a new concept is asynchronous online singing lessons where the singer records their singing and questions, then submits them to a vocal coach for their review. This gives freedom of asking for advice when you want it and need it.
Pro Singers Do These Things
So steping into professional singing, and maintaining a career as a singing musician can come down to practicing with professional support in the most efficient way possible.