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How To Become A Professional Singer

Making the transition from amateur to professional in any field can be a daunting task, but even more so in a performing art like singing.
It doesn't have to be like that if you have prepared yourself properly and learned the art of performing.
To learn to sing for fun whether it be to perform at a karaoke bar, in a local choir or just for friends is a far distance from performing on stage and getting paid for it. There are so many other things to consider other than just singing well, it can almost be thought of more like acting. Let's take a look at the requirements to be a good professional singer. No matter what type of singer you wish to make as your profession, the basics are the same and the singing tips below will help you give a better performance..

The Voice
It would be pointless to try and make it as a professional singer if you can't sing well. This may seem an obvious statement but I've been amazed at the amount of "professional" singers I have come across over the years who can't sing very well. Needless to say their careers don't last very long.
The problem seems to be that "they" think they sing well however they have never actually found out how to sing properly. So before you embark on your new career as a professional singer, it may be a good idea to find out if your voice is good enough for people to pay money to hear you.
DON'T 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. Instead ask people who you don't know well to give you honest feedback and be prepared to take on board what they say as they represent the type of comments you will get when you're working professionally.

Presentation
The way you present yourself to the listening public is crucial to how you will be perceived by the audience. Like any job 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 well and make you look as though you're serious about what you're doing. The same can be said if you are a cabaret act, your dress/suit, (make up) and hair should be immaculate.

Music
If you are using sheet music i.e. working with live musicians, make sure you have professional arrangements for all the musicians.
Make sure you know the arrangements so that there will be no error. It's a good idea to keep the originals safe and make copies to use on stage as it is common for drinks to be spilled or music accidentally torn or lost. If you are using backing tracks, make sure they all play at the same volume, are professionally produced and you know the arrangements. Read the article in my blog here.

Material
This may seem obvious but there is no use singing the wrong material to the wrong audience. You wouldn't be able to sing opera to a bunch of bikers in a hard rock cafe. Nor would it be appropriate to sing heavy metal to musical society audience. It is important to recognize your style of singing and target the correct audience. Just as important is to work on your 'set' (the songs you should sing and the order you should sing them).

Representation
As a professional singer you must be able to represent yourself to an audience. This means you have to speak to them and show your personality. I know many good singers who can get up and sing to an audience without any problems but when asked to talk, lose all confidence and don't know what to say.
Singing is only 40% of your performance with 30% on presentation and 30% on personality and therefore your whole act should be well rehearsed, including introducing yourself as well as the songs you are about to sing. As a professional you must be in control of the music and the audience.
Set out an area in a room 15ft or more and use this as an imaginary stage. Don't just stand in the middle for your whole set but use up the whole stage, engage the audience (don't be afraid to talk to them individually if necessary) and remember, If you're afraid of an audience they will sense it.

Finding Work
It is advisable to start out as a semiprofessional, doing your full time job by day and working as a singer at night until the singing alone can support your lifestyle.
A good way to break yourself in gently to becoming a professional entertainer is to do a few shows for charity.
Find out about any local charity events and offer your services free. This way 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 your local music shop. Most have adverts on the walls looking for singers and musicians.
If musical theatre is more your style then perhaps audition for an amateur musical society and then progress to professional companies. To perform cabaret you will need an agent and your local telephone book will have a list of entertainment agencies.
More information on this topic and how to get the best from your voice can be found in The Singing Tutor E-Book

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