5 Steps to a Singing Career

5 Steps to a Singing Career
There are 5 areas of action that will maximize your assets and lead you to a career – says Juliet Russell

You can sing and perform and you’re focused on your goals. Fantastic.

How can you get from here to a career?

The answer is found when you move ahead in these areas:

  • 1. Create Content

    Think about how your uniqueness can help you to stand out from other artists. Creating content that reflects this is essential.

    To think more about your content, click here.

  • 2. Be Visible

    Connect your singing to others both live and online.

    To think more about improving your visibility, click here.

  • 3. Be Ready

    Do the background work. Practice, develop and be the best that you can be vocally, creatively and as a performer.

    To hear a great story of preparation meeting opportunity, click here.

  • 4. Build Relationships

    If you are not yet in the music industry, get to know people who are.

    To think more about how to build the right relationships, click here.

  • 5. Keep on Moving

    Think about the artists who have longevity and usually it is the ones who keep evolving and challenging themselves.

    To think more about your mindset, click here.

    If you combine strategy with talent and effort, you can build and sustain a creative and fulfilling career.

Create Content for Your Singing Career

Think about how your uniqueness can help you to stand out from other artists. Creating content that reflects this is essential.

By content, I mean anything from YouTube videos, to blogs, to a demo song or excerpts, to exciting gig news to photographs.

It includes your live set: original songs and / or covers that represent you as a singer and personality.

Maximize Your Gifts

Don’t wait for someone to spot your potential.If you have a gift of connecting with an audience, create a live video rather than a studio one.

If you have an amazing high range, show it. If you are a brilliant songwriter, record your songs.

You have to do these first steps yourself. Don’t wait for someone to spot your potential.

If this is your first step, think about a song you sing well and how you can present it as professionally as possible.

With smart phone technology it is easy to create a simple video.

Get it to the best standard that you can. If it takes a few goes before you get a take or recording you are happy with, that’s fine.

Keep it Fresh

As you develop, update your content.If you already have some content, think about scheduling new items, maybe with a new video or song each month or two months.

This will help you stay motivated and your audience will see growth and evolution.

As you develop, update your content. Keep things fresh and relevant.

* Big shout out to all of the brave singers who submit their YouTube videos for VoiceCouncil’s Peer Review. You are already creating content and sharing it. I’m proud of you! *

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Be Visible for Your Singing Career

You have created something so you need to share it.

Online

There are more ways of getting your music to an audience than ever beforeThe good news is that there are more ways of getting your music to an audience than ever before.

The caveat is that until you start getting a serious number of hits or go viral, you are unlikely to be noticed by the wider music industry.

Think of YouTube, social media and other platforms as a shop window; what is going to draw people in?

If creating your own website, you need to get traffic to it by linking to other platforms and regular news and content updates.

Live

Memorable performances will help build your audience and your word of mouth buzz.

Never underestimate the power of personal recommendation.

Never underestimate the power of personal recommendationAlways be a step ahead and have your next gig booked. Let your audience know where else they can see and hear you.

Aim for residencies or events with a good reputation, where the venue will help to promote you too.

Also, keep evolving. It is easy to get stuck in a scene.

Press and Promotion

Create a (true) story about something bigger than you, particularly before you have built a name for yourself.

For example, are you e.g. playing somewhere unusual / doing a charity event / supporting a big name?

If yes, contact local press, radio and websites who are usually keen to include fresh local content.

Always remember that this needs to be relevant to other people and not just to you.

Keep updates to your growing fan base interesting and regular, but not overwhelming.

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Be Ready for Your Singing Career

Practice, develop and be the best that you can be Do the background work. Practice, develop and be the best that you can be vocally, creatively and as a performer.

Hit songwriter and singer Sia recounts that when landing in London, a friend from Australia asked her to sing at an open mic night in Camden.

She did and someone in the audience was so impressed that he became her manager.

This same man played Sunday football with the manager of Zero 7 and passed him a cassette tape (way back when) — this led to Sia recording 3 albums.

Of course there is an element of luck in both scenarios, but she had to be at that gig in the first place (on the other side of the world from where she was born) and be individual and impressive enough to catch this manager’s attention.

Not everything you do will lead to a golden opportunity, but... something will.It is a perfect example of preparation meeting opportunity.

Not everything you do will lead to a golden opportunity, but the likelihood is that if you put yourself in the right environment, something will.

Having already worked on your craft and uniqueness, you will be ready for the next level.

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Build Relationships for Your Singing Career

If you are not yet in the music industry, get to know people who are.

Like any other industry, the music business thrives on relationships. The saying “Fortune favors the brave” is a great one to remember.

I am much more likely to remember the singer who stays behind after a master class to ask my advice or the person who volunteers to do a solo than every individual in a large group.

Get clued up about the industry and start building relationships with like-minded partners.You will find many music industry professionals giving master classes, appearing on panels and giving online seminars etc.

Get clued up about the industry and start building relationships with like-minded partners.

Personal endorsements and word of mouth recommendations are an incredibly useful advert for what you do. Word spreads.

Your job is to make sure that it is spreading to people who can help move you forward.

In some ways the music industry is relatively small and if there is enough of a buzz about you, people who can help your career will find out about you, but usually from other people in the industry – trusted promoters, scouts, DJs etc.

Seek out opportunities and instigate relationships.

Approach venues, producers, management companies, DJs, bands, potential collaborators, etc. and get used to flexing that proactive muscle.

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Keep on Moving in Your Singing Career

One key to success is to keep developing your skills, experience and expertise.

Think about the artists who have longevity and usually it is the ones who keep evolving and challenging themselves.

Where do I want to be, and what do I need to do to get there?Develop this mindset. Consider the creativity of Lady Gaga, Pharrell’s collaborations, David Grohl’s transition from drummer to front man, Jay-Z’s rise from rapper selling his records from the boot (trunk) of his car to becoming a CEO of Def Jam, with his own clothing line.

Ask yourself – “Where do I want to be, and what do I need to do to get there?”

Resilience is another key quality of success.

There is more than one way to achieve something. If your initial approach doesn’t work, analyse why and try again. Create a new song, a new set, choose a different collaborator, etc.

If you are hearing “NO” too often, it usually means one of two things, either what you’re doing needs crafting to a higher level or you are approaching the wrong people for you.

All information is good information so without hassling people, don’t be afraid to ask why something hasn’t worked.

It is absolutely possible to have a singing career. It is absolutely possible to have a singing career.

However, a lot the outcomes will be determined by you, and your combination of personal qualities, awareness and skill.

If you combine strategy with talent and effort, you can build and sustain a creative and fulfilling career.

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My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Jayce Ruiz Jayce Ruiz – “Falling Slowly” (Cover)

I enjoyed this version and you brought the lyrics to life well. You made me listen to the words throughout. Your smooth movement from chest voice to head voice is very effective. Nice control there. Occasionally the high chest voice notes feel a bit tight in the verse. Relax the jaw a bit more and don’t feel that you have to squeeze the sound. The notes sound within your range so try different approaches such as applying twang. You could work on more dynamic variation throughout the song and be more conscious of physical performance. You’ve done a good job over all. Well done.

Alvymarie Rodriguez Alvymarie Rodriguez – “Titanium” (Cover)

You have a lovely, contemporary sound and a very nice tone. I like the breathy quality in the first verse, but also that you move away from this and become stronger as the song builds dynamically. Generally your control is very good and you don’t sacrifice emotion for this, which is great. It’s an expressive performance. A couple of things to work on; you could improve your enunciation of “Fire away”. Sometimes the consonants are as important as the vowels and this phrase is significant so needs to be spot on. Also, while I very much enjoyed your version, I still think we need to hear the high notes in the chorus. Be brave with your range. You are not struggling with this song at all so challenge yourself. You can do it!

William Spears William Spears – “Remember The Day” (Original)

I felt like I was at a gig listening to this – in a good way! There’s a very nice live vibe to this performance. It’s a believable performance too. Technically, I enjoyed the way you use vocal agility. It feels very natural and not overdone. The song is good too. I think you have  more to give vocally, so it might be good to add a freer, more ad libbed version of the chorus as the song develops so we can hear a little more power and range, just to support the dynamic development. Nicely sung over all. Well done.


Juliet Russell is a coach on BBC1’s The Voice, and has coached Grammy award winners, Brit nominees and X-factor finalists. She is passionate about developing artists and working with individuals and communities to develop their voices and creativity. As a performer she has sung with Damon Albarn, Paloma Faith, Imogen Heap, Yoko Ono, Alt-J, Seal and Ringo Starr, and has composed music for film, TV and radio. She runs Expressive Voice courses for singers wanting to explore their voices creatively, grounded in knowledge of vocal anatomy. Juliet holds a Masters degree in Music Performance and is also a vocal arranger and choral director..
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