MusicBizAdvice.com answers your questions about the music industry.
Q: I am very interested in backup singing. What do you have to do to get into it? I’ve been singing since I was three but have no professional experience.
A: For the purposes of this column, we’re assuming you have talent. There are many ways to break in, but the most common is to get to know the engineers, producers, and studio managers at recording studios in your area. (Most major cities have at least one local studio. Start with the smaller, lesser known studios.) Record a demo, create a promo package and make sure the studio personnel hear it. (see Demo Package Contents) Invite the local music industry to your shows, and tell them your goals. Then keep checking back. Meanwhile, do the same with local bands and solo artists in your area. Network with local songwriters, and offer to sing on their demos. Enter local talent contests, especially those sponsored by radio stations. If you’re involved in church or school, join the choir, try out for solo parts, and tell the choir director or music teacher about your goals. They may know someone who’s working on a project. Check with your vocal coach, too. Sing karaoke while doing all of the above, if that’s what you have to do to get your voice out there. As soon as you can afford it and meet the eligibility requirements, join the union, too.
You’re more marketable if you read music, so if you can read charts, be sure to state that in your resume along with your range.
You’ll also have better luck breaking in if your day job is involved in the local music industry, because you’ll be in a position to make contacts and let others know about your goals.
Also, check out our roundtable discussion on background singing with Gabrielle Goodman, Kudisan Kai, and Darcie-Nicole Wicknick. Gabrielle and Kudisan have worked with artists like Beck, Elton John, and many more.
Got a question about the music business? Email your questions with “Q&A” in the subject line. Include your name or initials, city and state, and the name of your band, if applicable. Questions of a general nature will be answered as space allows. (Be sure your spam filter is set to accept email with hyperlinks from firstname.lastname@example.org so we can let you know your question is answered and can direct you to additional information if necessary.)
Answers in the MBADC Q&A are to be taken as general advice only and are not intended as a substitute for legal advice from a competent entertainment or intellectual property rights attorney.