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Do-It-Yourself Steps to Singing Success

You dream of making it big as a singer, but the music business is one of the most competitive industries out there. What can you do to get noticed?

"Continuously practice perfecting [your] craft, network, learn from others who are living out careers in music, and work hard to create opportunities," says Maggie McClure. She's a Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter who has released three studio albums of original material. Her songs have also been featured in various TV programs, including the TBS show "Cougar Town."

McClure says the old way of breaking into the business - sending out demo tapes - is increasingly less relevant. "People in the industry do not use/accept demo tapes as openly as they did in the past due to the access that we all now have to recording software," she says.

"I would recommend not sending anything to anyone unless it's 100 percent finished. It may be the only thing that a person in the industry may ever hear of yours, and if it's a poorly recorded song, then they may never give you another shot."

The real key to success these days is promoting yourself online. Record labels are only interested in artists who already have a fan base.

"Social media is tremendously important in today's entertainment business," says McClure.

"YouTube is great for attracting new fans by doing cover song videos and then keeping those fans engaged by releasing original song videos as well as covers. Also, doing a web series on YouTube can be a good way to gain new subscribers."

"I would argue that having a YouTube presence with a solid fan base is as important as radio [play]," says songstress Lisa Heller. She has opened for such acts as American Authors and Rachel Platten. Her recently released single, "Hope," netted over a million views on YouTube in less than two weeks.

"Radio is still important and can always help, but it isn't the main driving factor in getting established," says Heller. "I can share videos of behind the scenes of a music video, how I warm up for a show or talk about my love of fashion. Fans want to know the artists' personality today. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all allow fans to get an inside glimpse of the artist and their life."

You should also perform as much as possible. That means singing in churches, schools, fairs, nursing homes or anywhere else that offers you the opportunity - whether you get paid or not.

"When a musician is first starting out, it's best to take any gig that comes along to build their resume and to gain performance experience," says McClure.

You also need to learn how to connect with an audience. Check out your local music scene and watch people perform. Study how they play to the crowd and how they use the stage.

"It is extremely important to have a good live act," says McClure. "If your recordings are better than what you can pull off solo at a live show, surround yourself with and hire musicians who can help you take your live show to the next level."

"I really believe in putting in the time to practice and making sure the show will be immaculate because at the end of the day your fans are coming out to be entertained and it's your job as an artist to leave them with a memorable experience," says Heller. "Engaging with your fans is what makes them want to listen to your music and support you."


Maggie McClure
See how she promotes her work

Lisa Heller
Check out the video for her single "Hope"

Recording Industry Association of America
Check out the latest industry news

Music Connection Magazine
Check out this online music industry magazine

National Association of Record Industry Professionals
The biggest music business network in the world

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