How to Become a Backup Singer for a Well-Known Artist

Whether you work in the recording studio or performing live on stage, becoming a backup singer for a well-known artist can be rewarding, Backup singers travel, meet major recording artists and get paid for doing so. Although this career path seems like a glamorous one, not everyone is cut out to work in the field. According to an interview with two professional backup singers on Music Biz, some of the traits that make a good backup singer include being able to take direction, being able to catch on easily and having knowledge of various musical styles. With talent and preparation, you too could be singing backup for a well-known artist.

Get a vocal coach. She will teach you how to breathe correctly, exercise your voice and care for it properly. A vocal coach can also help you perfect your personal singing style.

Record a demo. Include three to four songs that have varied tempos to showcase your voice. Barter with a recording studio to get free studio time by offering your singing services for studio projects.

Get a press kit. According to Music Biz, some of the major components of your press kit include an 8-by-10 black-and-white glossy photo, a 1- to 1-1/2-page biography (also known as a "bio") and a CD.

Sing often. Seize any opportunity to sing. Doing this will give you exposure and experience. According to Music Biz, some places to get singing experience and exposure include church choirs, karaoke bars and talent contests.

Network. Make your desire to become a backup singer for a well-known artist known to your peers and any music-industry professional you encounter. Ask your vocal coach, choir director and other singers about backup singing opportunities. Always have a copy of your demo available upon request. Network with studio engineers and music producers. Get a job in the music industry, such as working at a music publishing company or recording studio to increase your odds of meeting well-known artists.

Networking helps to get you working as a backup singer. According to an interview on LA Music, Dorian Holley, a professional backup singer who has worked for Lionel Ritchie, Rod Stewart, James Taylor and others, got a job working for Michael Jackson through a fellow friend and background singer. (See Resources.)

Things You'll Need

  • Demo CD
  • Press kit
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About the Author

Dee Ferguson has been writing professionally since 1989. Her specialties include arts, business, finance, music publicity and travel. Ferguson's work has been featured on and various other websites. She has previously worked as a marketing assistant for two major nonprofit organizations. Ferguson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.