If you want to know how to become a professional singer, we’ve put a few hints and tips together. We’ve also included some information on what singers can earn, what qualifications you might need, and details on whether anyone can learn to become a singer and how long it might take.
Like any other discipline, singing professionally takes some work. You’re not going to get those opportunities unless you search them out and put yourself out there.
Do you want to become a professional singer but don’t know how to get started? Read our tips below if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in singing.
How to be a professional singer
#1 Be on time, every time
Rule number one in how to become a professional singer is to be on time, if not early, for the event. If you have to sound check at 9.30am, get there with plenty of time to spare. There can be a lot of obstacles on a way to a performance including:
- Public transport delays
You can always grab a drink and chill if early, so get in good habits and allow extra time when leaving. Music performances often run on a time schedule, so if you’re late it can be difficult for them to cater for you tardiness.
Being late is something that people remember and isn’t going to help you when learning how to become a professional singer.
#2 Be respectful and have good manners
Manners matter in the music industry just as much as they do in everyday life and knowing how to become a professional singer can set you apart from other acts at performances.
Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to performing so be respectful to each act, regardless of their attitude. During sound check, applaud them when they leave the stage and when they are performing live, stay quiet backstage and be friendly before and after their songs.
This can leave a lasting impression and make people feel more compelled to help you out. Read on below for some tips on how to become a professional singer.
It can be a confidence booster to be around friendly musicians.
How to become a professional singer
#3 Make people aware
A wise thing to note when learning how to become a professional singer, is to make the venue and organisation staff aware of anything out of the ordinary. This could be any guests attending who need special seating to the unusual instrumentation you want to carry on stage before you play.
Organisation is so important before, during and after a performance. This also means that if you are unhappy with your sound check, let the engineer know and you can tweak your sound before the real thing.
#4 Be polite and professional
Professionalism is something that sets apart acts during performances. If you are waiting backstage, try and refrain from cursing or entertaining other bad habits and stay where you are asked to. Let your attitude show on stage, not elsewhere.
#5 Please and thank you
It should go without saying that in the how to become a professional singer rule book that general manners such as saying please and thank you are very well regarded. Venue and organisational staff are working and taking time out of their day to help put on this performance so shake hands at the end of the day.
It is possible to form working relationships with industry contacts this way and they will remember you for your manners next time around.
#6 Take singing lessons and coaching
You might have been to sing and have it in your blood.
But even the best singers in the world are constantly striving to improve their performance and singing techniques. The best way to do that is practice but also the feedback and guidance from a professional voice coach.
By taking singing lessons you can learn how improve your range, tone, technique, power, and volume – what you hear in your ear, isn’t always the reality.
With singing lessons you can improve your chances of becoming a professional singer with the help of a coach who has “been there” and “done that”.
#7 Create a promotional presence
There’s one thing that all professional singers have; promotion. This can be in the form of a website, a promo pack, and social media presence.
A promo pack is something that you can pass to venues, promoters, and agents and includes the following elements:
- Links to videos of you singing
- Links to your website and social media channels
- Download audio files of a studio session
- Photography and branding
- Your artist biography
#8 Get feedback at singing competitions
Your family and friends will be your biggest fans, but will they always be truthful about your performance? Perhaps not.
Some of the most successful professional singers in the UK cut their teeth in singing competitions and at open mic nights.
These are an opportunity for you to not only network for opportunities with other musicians and singers, but also to get great feedback.
For example, at our Open Mic auditions you can get the chance to be judged by music industry professionals. It’s a great way to learn and see how far down the road to becoming a singer you have got.
And with open mic nights around the country, you will gain exposure and experience from crowds that can sometimes be quite tough, and most of the time, very honest!
#9 Search for opportunities
There are so many ways in which you can make money from becoming a singer. You can perform at weddings, teach other people, provide background vocals, and much more.
The types of singing opportunities you can look for which can lead to earning money include:
- Local cover bands who need a singer
- Local gigs at bars and restaurants
- Singing on cruise ships and at holiday parks
- Providing vocal for electronic and dance music producers
- Offer local lessons for other aspiring singers
#10 Never give up
The music industry is full of examples where singers suffered knock back after knock back, but never gave up.
There will be times when you do get rejected, or you do get bad feedback.
It happens to the best of singers, but the reason they turned professional was because they never gave up and were prepared to chase their dream.
Can anyone learn how to become a singer?
They found that as long as you don’t have a severe vocal limitation, there’s no reason why you can’t learn how to become a singer. Voice training is very similar to physical training, and with a good coach, plenty of practice, and perseverance, your singing could get to a professional standard.
But there is a reason why you might not quite hit the standards of Beyoncé and Adele.
The University of Montreal released research in 2012 that found 20% of people aren’t able to exercise decent control of their vocal cords and muscles. Another 35% of people were unable to match pitch to the note they wanted to hit, and 5% of people couldn’t even hear pitch differences.
This shows that some people are just born to become a professional singer, as they will have genetic differences that will set them apart from others.
Don’t let that put you off though; you can still become a singer to a very high standard with training and practice.
What qualifications do you need to be a professional singer?
You don’t need any qualification to become a professional singer.
However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States did release some research to suggest that many singers working professionally do have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music.
Many people who want to learn how to become a singer will sometimes seek out the support of a professional coach. Others will simply practice themselves, watch YouTube videos, and learn from listening before trying out Open Mic competitions or publishing their songs on social media.
If you do want to become a professional singer and for it to be your career, it would be useful to be read music, understand composition, music theory, and how to perform.
There will be times in your singing career where you will be working with professional musicians, so having these skills as well as a good voice will be a great help.
How much does a professional singer make?
If you can make a career out of being a jobbing professional singer, then you could make some very good money. We don’t mean a superstar, but someone who gets paid to sing at events, functions, soundtracks, or as a session musician and so on.
According to the PayScale website, if you want to become a singer in the UK, the average earnings are reported to be £27,076 a year.
For those wanting to become a singer in the United States, the wage is between $45,000 and $65,000 dollars a year. According to research, professional singers in California are paid he highest hourly rate at $35.
How long does it take to become a professional singer?
This question is completely open to interpretation, as we need to qualify firstly what a professional singer means. If we mean a someone who gets discovered on the X-Factor, then it might be that they were discovered very young.
If it’s a singer who has been honing their musicianship and craft for years, and now works on cruise ships singing, then the length of time is much longer.
There really is no right or wrong answer to this question so it’s incredibly hard to say exactly how long it takes to become a professional singer. It will be different for everyone.
However, there is commonly repeated theory that to become an expert at anything, you need to train for a total of 10,000 hours (view BBC report).
We don’t believe you can apply to everything; and let’s face it, some people are actually born with a great singing voice, others need to work on it more. It’s an individual thing for sure.
How to sound like a professional singer
The best singers know the best hacks to improve their performance. We’ve compiled some very detailed guides on singing tips which you can read on the Open Mic website. Here’s a selection of those which will help you sound more professional.
- How to warm up your singing voice and vocals
- How to improve your microphone technique
- Effective breathing exercises used by professional singers
- How to get rid of a raspy and hoarse singing voice
- How to stop your voice cracking on the high notes
Did you take any qualifications and how long did it take you to become a professional singer? We would love to hear your comments no matter whereabouts in the process you are. Give us your thoughts below!