When you’re an aspiring singer, sometimes it feels like getting your foot in the door is an impossible task. Understanding how to start singing professionally can take some time to figure out. But in reality, if you have the skills, information, and knowledge, you can make your way into the music industry more easily than you think! You might not start at the top, but like any profession, you can work your way up.
One of the key elements to landing any job is networking. You’ll often hear things like “it’s all about who you know”— and in many cases it is. Networking is about subtly selling yourself without becoming overwhelming. It’s about paving the way to future opportunities and potential jobs and auditions. It is essential, because most people like to work with someone they know and trust.
In today’s digital age, there are endless singers hoping to make it by promoting themselves with videos, blogs, and social media. While those things are tools that can be helpful, there is nothing more important than face time. Face time makes us more memorable, and it can give you a chance to create an unforgettable conversation that allows people to get a glimpse of who you are, and more importantly, remember who you are.
Think of networking as a job in itself. You want to present your best attributes—in other words, behave professionally. Nothing says more about you than giving your word, and sticking to it, even in the music industry. Remember, the life of a professional singer might seem glamorous, but it is hard work as well. Networking can be a way to prove to people you’re capable of showing up on time, putting in the hours, and are willing to work hard and help out. Below are a few tips that can get you out there and singing professionally.
Tip 1: Volunteer or Intern
Nothing says you want something more than offering to work for free. Music festivals are a great way to start — they can also be the catalyst that lands you a job in the music industry. Festival jobs often involve things like taking tickets, directing people, or staffing an information booth. Volunteer regularly and perhaps you’ll get more advanced assignments and meet more important people, especially if you earn some good referrals. Contact various festivals in your area and ask what opportunities they might have, and how to apply.
Other volunteer and intern opportunities exist with community theaters. This an excellent option if you’re interested in a career in Music Theater. It’s also perfect for finding out how it all works. The more familiar you are with the behind-the-scenes process, the better you’ll interview/audition in the future. It also gives you insight into what it takes to make it big!
Interning can come in various forms. It might be a specific period of time with a major label, where only a very limited number of people are chosen. Other internships can be created — try calling or talking with industry professionals or local labels and asking about the possibility of an internship. The music industry is a place where you’ll hear the word ‘no’ a lot, but don’t take it personally. Pick yourself up, and move on. Networking is about persistence (but again, subtle and not demanding). Also, keep your eye on resources that let you know where the opportunities are. This can include music industry websites, magazines, or even Craigslist.
Tip 2: Get an Entry-Level Job
Work on your resume and/or audition, and get out there searching. Entry-level music industry jobs are things like concert runners, singing with a local choir, small parts in local theaters, managing a small band, or working as a karaoke host — find anything that has you working with music. Contact venues, continue your vocal lessons and practice auditioning, attend local concerts, and talk to managers and bands. Do everything you can to open the door to more possibilities.
Tip 3: Get Your Voice Out There
Even if you’re networking just to get to know people in the music industry, don’t forget to put your voice out there as well. Open mic nights are a fantastic way to perform. Take advantage of social media, join or start a band, and continue to do things that allow you to be actively practicing your passion while getting your voice out there.
Professional Singing Careers
What kind of singer do you want to be? Before you start networking, this might be the most essential question you answer. Are you interested in musical theater and opera, being a lead vocalist, backing vocalist, member of an international choir, composer, or lyricist? Fine-tuning your vision will help you determine what types of networking to pursue. While you make your way and learn how to start singing professionally by taking it one step at a time, remember to keep up with your training and lessons — and more importantly, keep dreaming. Good luck!
Photo by John Benson