Starting a singing career requires more than just a great voice and performance skills. It is a business where you need to market and promote yourself to get gigs. As your portfolio improves, you may want to get agent representation to help you win bigger performances and recording contracts and to negotiate higher pay. To get an agent, you must demonstrate the skills they are looking for in a singer and build trust so they can rely on you to show up and do the job well.
- Skill level:
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Create a portfolio of your singing experience, voice training and other musical skills. As with all portfolios, include an objective that describes in one sentence your musical ambitions with the genre you sing.
Record a demo tape. A demo tape can be a recording of a performance, something you sing into a home recording device, or professionally created. The money you have available for this may determine how elaborate your demo tape will be. What is more important than the quality of the tape is the quality of your performance, showing range and tonal accuracy.
Get headshots. These are professional pictures that show you as a performer, not fooling around with your friends. If possible, get a professional photographer to do this. Make sure you look like you do when performing. If you can't afford professional headshots, have a friend take pictures of you in front of a simple background.
Perform at showcases. Many cities have regular showcases that allow artists to sing for an audience, gain stage experience and exposure. Many agents go to showcases looking for new talent.
Print postcards of your upcoming performance schedule including professional, amateur and showcase gigs. Include dates, times and locations of the performances.
Obtain a list of agents in your area. You can find music agents through the phone book or online resources. Send prospective agents a package that includes your headshot, resume and demo tape. If you are performing at a showcase or have another professional gig, invite the agent to see you perform.
Offer complimentary tickets to the agent and a guest. If you know an agent is interested in you, make sure he has every reason to see you perform. Reducing the cost of admission is a good incentive to get him in the door.
Follow up with an agent you are interested in. Many agents are bombarded with requests and your file may get lost in the pile. Don't hesitate to call and check in. Just be sure to remain polite to the entire staff and not pushy. Agents are busy -- at least the agents you want are busy -- negotiating deals and getting work for clients.
Sign the contract. Make sure you understand the terms of the contract and consult a solicitor to have it reviewed. Agents usually work on commission for about 10 to 15 per cent of your earnings.
Tips and warnings
- Be wary of agents who are plugging personal workshops and voice lessons where they are paid for your enrolment. An agent may recommend further study, but shouldn't profit from it. The job of the agent is to help you make money, not take it from you.
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