How To Be A Professional Singer

By Chris Chew

So your friends have been telling you that you are a talented and good singer. You have a rich clear singing voice, a unique performing style and that you could even make it to the finals of the American Idol show or the singing idol contest of whichever country that you are in.

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You are basking with joy with all these compliments pertaining to your singing ability and is toying with the idea of becoming a professional singer, but you do know that to break into the music and entertainment industry is a very stormy ride. So the question is how are you going to become a successful professional singer and to be a good one at that?

First of all, let us be realistic. Making the all important transition from an amateur to a professional in any field can be a daunting task and even more so in a the entertainment industry like singing or acting.

By having a good singing voice and vocal talent do not necessarily mean that you can make the cut. Have I surprised you?

Ok, just take a look at major singing contests like the American Idol for instance. There are many contestants who have fantastic singing voices and talent that can make many professional singers blush with embarrassment and yet, they don’t even make it to the finals of their respective contests. Why is that so?

Singing for fun with friends at a karaoke bar, a local jam club or in your church choir is a far cry from performing on stage professionally and getting paid for it. There are so many other factors to consider and to master other than just being able to sing well.

Most people just thought that by having a good voice, an accurate pitch and being able to stay in time to the rhythm are all it take to be a successful singer. Well, this may land you a gig or two, but not enough to go big!

So what does it actually take to be a good and successful professional singer? Needless to say, the first thing that you have to master is your voice quality. You may think that your voice quality may be excellent or even your friends think so, but do understand that it may not be the case and is usually not the case albeit with some exceptions!

Forgive me for bringing back the American Idol analogy again. Thousands of aspiring American Idol wannabes auditioned every year for a chance to become the celebrated winner of the country’s most watched singing talent show, right? Then let me ask you a question. Weren’t you laughing till your belly ache at the antics of thousands of those American idols wannabes in the early stages of the competitions?

You did, didn’t you? I’ll bet you agree with me that many of the contestants can’t even hold a proper note, not to say they sing atrociously, right? Then what on earth make them think that they can win the nation’s most prestigious singing contest? I hope I have made my point.

The reason is simple. They must be thinking that they have fantastic voices and all their friends must have been telling how them how great singers they are or how else would they have the gumption to think that they could have a chance of being the American Idol unless they are off their rockers?

This brings us to the stark reality that it would be useless to try and make it as a professional singer if you can’t sing well. Period! So the first thing to become a good professional singer is to develop your voice quality!

Don’t you ever make the mistake of asking family and friends to give you an honest appraisal of your singing because they won’t want to hurt your feelings by giving any negative comments. Even if they are honestly frank about their opinions, what do they know about professional singing in the first place? Ask those American Idols who were knocked out in the auditions and you will know what I mean.

Don’t even ask Simon Crowell for that matter as he will give you a comment that will probably bury any of your singing ambition forever. Just check with anyone whom you don’t know well but are well qualified to give you an objective and professional opinion.

To be a successful professional singer you must master the way you present yourself to your audience. This is crucial to how you will be perceived and received by the listening public. Like in any profession, if you don’t look presentable you will not be taken seriously.

If you sing in a rock band where jeans and T-shirt are appropriate, then make sure they are clean, fit you well and make you look as though you are indeed fired up about what you’re doing.

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The same can be said if you are performing a club or cabaret act, your attire and deportment should be immaculate. Common sense, you say? You would be surprised how many so called singers lack these basic “common sense”.

If you are using sheet music and are working with live musicians, do make sure that you have professional arrangements for all the musicians. This is critical. You do not want to be messed up by other people making you sound bad although you are singing very well!

The next thing you must look into is your presentation and performing material. This may seem obvious but there is no use singing the wrong songs to the wrong audience. C’mon buddy, you can’t be singing gospel to a bunch of roughneck bikers in an outdoor rock concert, can you? But these kind of things do happen, very often because the singers have limited repertoire, limited style of music and songs or worse, are completely unprepared! This is absolutely inexcusable for a professional singer!

As a good professional singer, you must be able to present yourself to an audience.This means you have to speak to them and show your personality. I have personally seen many good singers who can whip up the audience into exciting frenzies without any problems but when asked to talk, lost all confidence and don’t know what to say. They just simply went blank and start to stutter on stage!

I mean look at all the great singers from Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble or even Madonna, all of them, without fail can speak so eloquently when interviewed on stage even when the interviews were on impromptu basis!

You must know that you are a performer entertainer first and then a singer. Good singing only make up about 40% of your performance with 35% on presentation and the other 25% on your personality and that is why your whole act must be well rehearsed, including introducing yourself as well as the songs you are about to sing. Hey, this is showbiz and not your kindergarten poetry reading man!

One way of breaking into professional singing is to do some charity shows. Find out about any local charity events and offer your services free. By doing this, not only are you doing good deeds, you also get the opportunity to gain public performance experience and who knows, may even get noticed by some entertainment venue owners or the local press starts giving you the publicity that you need for your break!

Furthermore, you get to practice in front of a live audience and the audience will be more tolerant if any part of your act goes wrong.

Getting your first paid gig depends on what type of music you want to perform. If you want to be lead singer in a band, a good place to start is to get information from your local music shop. Most of these shops have advertisements looking for singers and musicians to perform gigs and show engagements. They may even provide you studios for free practices and link you up with other musicians if you do not have a band of your own!

So you still want to be a professional singer? Then keep in mind the above pointers and don’t make the mistakes other aspiring singers do.

The American Idol series can provide you with many tricks and tips and you can even learn a lot from the judges’ comments. Do learn from them and you will be on your way to become a great professional singer!

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About the Author: Chris Chew is the editor of music education website at Effective Singing Lesson and a relationship consultant at Effective Pick Up Lines


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