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More to Karaoke than Singing!
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Tips for Singers:
"Singing For Your Supper"  
(Want to make a living with your voice?)

by Mark
Back in the days of the gold rush, California was a magnet for those looking to strike it rich.

While the few who hit pay dirt became celebrities, the real financial winners were selling picks and shovels. Each year, the music business touts the success of a handful of artists which makes the rest of us feel left out. Take heart. The riches of a relative few are no gage of your talent or your chances for recognition. The coveted seven figure record contract is not the only game in town. Just as opportunistic entertainers gladly sang for their supper in the saloons along Tin Pan Alley, there are many options available today for making a living with your voice. A common mistake, though, is to think of these alternative career paths as something to fall back on.

Success in any niche of this business takes nothing less than everything youíve got. However, this becomes much less of a burden if youíre personality type matches the gig. To sustain yourself as a street musician, for instance, would require you perform well without the defines of stage or schedule. Some singers relish the idea of breaking down the barrier between performer and audience, and the chance to sing for hours on end, while others are intimidated by the prospect. If the street seems too hostile, yet you want to avoid the politics and smoke of the clubs, there are plenty of outlets to make a musical dime. Retirement homes, hospitals or corporate parties are always open to new ideas for shows. You donít even need an ability to play an instrument, sequencers and Karaoke tracks have become widely excepted by audiences -- as long as the idea is okay with you. Be aware that the more formal the setting, though, the more you will be expected to entertain. It is not a given that youíll need a repertoire of cover songs; I know plenty of singers who perform originals for a living. Just make sure the audience matches your genre.

Performing cover songs seems to be the most under appreciated music related occupation. It requires a lot more than just pulling together a bunch of musicians and learning the current top forty. You will be in competition with bands who honestly love the songs they play and are focused and relentless with promotion and mailing list duties. These bands will get the gigs and you will be frustrated that your back-up plan requires so much effort. Also remember, weddings and functions require you to act as MC. If you canít imagine yourself smiling while leading, "The Bride Cuts the Cake," then donít even ponder the potential of hundreds of dollars for a few hourís work. Itís not for you.

There are career options for singers who canít envision themselves on stage. Studio sessions and voice lessons can provide a great living, but youíve got to have chops-o-plenty. Session singers are vocal nijaís. They are hired to check their egos at the door, lay down precision singing, and then leave in a flash. Voice teachers run the gambit from those who combine their studies in music, psychology, anatomy and physical therapy to singers who simply hand down exercises theyíve learned along the way. Regardless of level, sustaining a career as a voice teacher requires you posses the patience of a saint.

If any of these paths smell of artistic compromise then do yourself a favor and cross them off your list immediately. Itís tempting to think you can pull off any situation for the right price but the philosophy will backfire every time. Emotional reservations show in the voice. Not only will you be financially unsuccessful -- you will doubt your talent. Itís a lose/lose situation. Finding the right fit between personality and career takes time. An honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses is a good place to start. A healthy respect for those who are parting with their cash for your abilities is a good place to finish. Itís not like we have a choice. Weíve all got to sing, and weíve all got to eat.

Mark Baxter is a vocal therapist who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call: (800)659-6002. Visit his website at:

(reprinted with the kind permission of Mark Baxter)

Singers, looking for great quality custom Karaoke backing tracks? Try these links below:
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