You want to go on stage? First steps for singers

Bernadette & Friends29 December 2022
Different people sing into a microphone

Today I am addressing all of you who have not yet stood on stage and are wondering what the first steps there might be. Many of my vocal students have developed a solid singing technique and know what kind of music they want to make and for which audience. They sing in choirs, in bands or are on the road as solo artists. But there are also others, especially young singing talents, who still have their first performance in front of an audience ahead of them.

Live performance experience

The path to the stage can be very different. Some of my singing students have gained their first performance experiences in the circle of their family and friends. At birthday parties, private parties and family celebrations. They sing birthday songs, Christmas songs, favourite songs of family members or friends, cover songs or even songs they have written themselves. They accompany themselves or sing to a playback. Among friends or family: the private sphere is the most obvious environment to sing live in front of an audience for the first time.

But "audience" does not accidentally include the meaning "public". The next step is singing in public. If you want to gain experience, you have to get out of your own four walls and onto the stage, in front of a foreign audience. Therefore: Dare to step out of your comfort zone at home and sing in front of an audience of strangers! Take every opportunity to do so as soon as you have rehearsed a song to the point where you can perform it with confidence.

You will learn a lot every time, get better and gain more confidence in dealing with the audience. The greatest stars were always not only good singers but also outstanding performers. You can only test and develop your ability to entertain and carry away an audience with your singing live. Suggestions for improving your Live performance can be found here.

Very popular and recommended for gaining first live experiences are public karaoke or open stage events. In jazz, but also in the rock or singer-songwriter scene, the open stage is a classic and almost a must for newcomers. Many know these events as "open mic" or "jam session". Those who sing there usually don't get paid. In return, the participants can test themselves in front of an audience and a real stage with sound and light system is available to them.

Open stages or sessions bring you many advantages. Not only do they offer you the chance to do your first public performances and develop confidence in front of an audience, or to work with Learning to handle micro and stage technology. You also get to know other musicians, experience how they play live, how they play together with you, make contacts. Open stage events are often a contact exchange for aspiring singers who find musicians for their first band.

By the way: Although it is not a compulsory requirement, it makes things easier if you can play an instrument as a singer. The most common instruments are harmonic instruments like guitar or piano, because you can accompany yourself well with them. It is also helpful for the coordination with other musicians if you already know the beat/rhythm, keys and chord changes of your songs from your own instrument and can demonstrate them.

Social media & website

In this age of global digital connectivity, you need little more than your smartphone and a laptop to take the next step: Introduce the world to you and your music! You can already create good quality videos with your smartphone. Film yourself singing songs or ask a friend to film one of your performances. With the help of simple software, you can edit the best clips into a video.

If you follow the copyright rules, YouTube can be a good starting point for you to publish videos of your songs and performances - YouTube has helped many a newcomer to international fame. One of them is Charlie Puth, who started uploading cover songs on YouTube. Until, as he is already known, he released his first single of his own. It is the title "Marvin Gaye", sung as a duet with Meghan Trainor:

Not only YouTube, but also TikTok, a Facebook page and an Instagram account offer opportunities to show yourself with short videos and pictures. For many artists, these social media are something like a free homepage replacement. For classic communication channels, however, your own website is still a good platform to present yourself and your music to the public in a complete package.

Your website should include: Your bio (your musical life story), photos (showing your personality and style), media (videos and audio recordings of your music), a calendar (with your next gigs) and a contact page. Links on your website to other artists can also expand your network and thus your reach: If the others link to your website on their pages, their fans will also find your music.

Earn money with singing

If you want to make a career out of singing, then the social media channels and your website are the springboard for your self-marketing - alongside your live performances, with which you make a name for yourself and gradually build up your fan base. I deliberately say "self-promotion" because at the beginning of your journey there is no manager, no agency that can get you paid gigs. It is essential to take care of it yourself from the beginning, to build up contacts with promoters and bookers.

Of course, hardly anyone starts their career with well-paid gigs. On the contrary, it is important for unknown singers to take advantage of every performance opportunity, paid or not. However, as you become better known and attract audiences who come to see you, you get a "market value" and can charge for your performances.

This is a crucial step in your development. Because as soon as you get paid for your art, your career becomes serious. You prove to yourself and others that your singing is worth something. But again, I recommend that you try as many things as possible first. Clubs, hotels, restaurants, lounges, variety shows, festivals, even wedding parties or company celebrations offer opportunities to perform for pay.

Again and again, good voices are sought for commercials or music productions in the recording studio. Or, an exciting challenge for singers interested in acting: musical roles for productions in musical theatre. Hiring through music exchanges as a singer in an existing band or as a background singer in a band with gigs in hip venues can also be rewarding. And don't forget: Casting shows, of which "The Voice of Germany" is only the best-known format among many.

I hope this article has encouraged you to take action and plan your first steps on stage. Please also have a look at my Online singing courses in.

Sing A Song - Be Happy

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