So You Want to Become a Pop Star and Recording Artist

Often I have been asked, “Jolita, How do I become a pop star or recording artist like you?”

After much thought, I have decided to do something new for my fans. So, I shall answer that question here with some guidance and suggestions. Be sure to check in, or better yet, subscribe to my blog if you wish to keep in contact with me and/or follow my career.

I shall covers topics of vital importance to anyone who wants to break into the music business and become a pop star or recording artist. Some people choose to pursue both sides of the aisle, while some choose to be either a pop star or a recording artist. I shall write this article for either.

Whether your specialization is pop, rock, R & B, alternative, metal, hip hop, rap, country, jazz, Christian, gospel, or classical music, the techniques can be applied in all genres, no matter what type of music you want to perform or record.

I can’t guarantee that you will become an overnight success. It takes hard work and practice – lots and lots of it. What I can tell you is that I shall write about what you need to know to build a following, get a record deal, and eventually succeed in the music business.

When you become a pop star or recording artist, you will touch people’s lives through your entertaining and music, while making money doing what you love to do.

Here are some of the things you will be called upon to do, when you enter this exciting and rewarding career:

* appear and perform in music videos of your own and possibly with other singers and entertainers;

* conduct interviews for radio, TV, magazines, and newspapers;

* go on promotional tours across the USA or around the world;

* do autograph signings at record, video, and book stores;

* appear for album cover and promotional photo shoots;

* attend award shows as a presenter or entertainer;

* be invited to lots of music industry parties;

* entertain in live performances; and

* interact with your fans.

And on top of all that, you will be paid handsomely for doing something that you enjoy. Now, that’s not a bad way to have a career.

Do Your Homework First

Before you even embark on your new career, there are several things you need to do to make sure that this is what you really want and to ensure your chances for success. So, your homework should include:

* creating your best image;

* making the most of your singing voice;

* identifying and refining your musical style;

* developing the key elements of your “star quality”; and

* creating a killer demo package that should include:

> ensuring you include the important and effective elements of your photos and bio;

> choosing songs that will give you the best chance at getting a record deal;

> recording your demo at minimal cost; and

> picking the right producer for you.

Becoming a “Home-Based Music Entrepreneur”

One of the best ways to land a recording deal is to learn how to start promoting and selling your music on your own. There are many involved steps. Here are a few of them:

* Record your own songs at home.

* Learn all you can about digital distribution.

*Build a following of fans through self-recording and self-promotion.

* Use the best home recording software to produce your own demo or full-length CD.

* Gain popularity through online self-marketing techniques that includes:

> Creating inexpensive music videos;

> Sharing yourself on blogs;

> Podcasting interviews;

* Increase your online exposure by getting your music onto popular sites like:

> MySpace;

> CDBaby;

> iTunes;

and others.

* Use other resources that can help you bring your music to a wide audience.

* Use other resources that can help you sell your music on your own.

Getting a Record Deal

So, to continue my chats with you about becoming a pop star and recording artist, here are some more thing you need to know and do:

* Get your foot in the door through music industry jobs and internships.

* Use effective methods to shop for your best record deals.

* Know the types of record deals you may be offered.

* Collect contact information for record companies.

* Find a manager and an entertainment attorney.

* Choose between major labels and indie labels.

* Learn how to select your best deal.

* Pick your target record companies.

* Hold out for what you want.

* Turn your name into a buzzword:

> Get your own press.

> Make the most of your live shows.

> Learn the ins and outs of showcases.

> Get into networking events to meet music industry insiders.

> Get your songs played in commercials, movies, and TV shows.

> Audition for shows such as American Idol and Making the Band.

From Signing to Stardom

To continue, let us look at what it takes to go from signing your first contract to reaching stardom. So, here are some things you need to know:

* Recoupable expenses and their effect on your signing bonus and artist royalties;

* Marketing and publicity including your first single and music video;

* What you need to know to maximize your earnings:

* What to expect on your first recording project;

* Getting paid for your songwriting;

* Live shows and merchandising;

* Advice on handling stardom;

* Income from producing.

Your Singing Voice

Singers come in all types of skills and talents. Patti Labelle and Mariah Carey, for example, have an enormous vocal range and dead-on technical ability, but there are singers, like Madonna and Janet Jackson, who don’t have the same technical ability or range, but have had long and successful careers. Despite your talents and technical abilities, you can have a long a successful career, too.

The first thing to remember here is that you don’t have to have to be a Patti Labelle or a Mariah Carey in order to have a career as a singer. The important thing is not to measure yourself in terms of other people, but to make the best of the abilities and talents that you have.

The best way to improve your singing voice is to take voice lessons from a vocal coach. There is a science to singing and techniques that have been developed using that science. These things like methods of proper breathing, placement of your voice, hearing and pitch, how to extend your range, and how to keep from damaging your vocal cords are just some of the techniques you will have to manage. A good vocal coach will help you put these techniques into action to help you get the most from your singing voice.

When to Get a Vocal Coach

Now, getting a vocal coach to help you get your singing career off to a good start. Once you’ve been signed to a record company, maybe they will pay to have you work with a vocal coach. Nevertheless, I think that it is worth it to invest in vocal coaching in advance. But, there are a couple factors you need to consider.

Let me share them with you: The first factor to consider is whether or not your voice is capable of handling the demands of your type of music. There is a big difference in the vocal requirements of different styles of music. The way you would use your voice as a gospel singer is a lot different than the way you would use it as a rapper.

* If you’re having difficulty meeting the vocal demands for your style of music, then you will need to invest in some voice lessons right away. I say right away because that is what you will have to do if you’re serious about getting your career started and having it become successful.

* If you have serious problems with your pitch, such as singing flat or sharp often, then consider a vocal coach to help you.

* Also, if you have an extremely limited range, don’t think a record company will sign you right away. You will need to work on it so that you will have an extended range.

* If you notice that your voice gets fatigued quickly, you will need lessons to learn to strengthen it. Some signs of vocal fatigue include your voice cracks, your throat feels strained, your natural vocal range diminishes, and you get hoarse easily.

* Final factor to consider: If you, your closest friends, and your family think you are tone-deaf, then it’s time to think seriously about getting a vocal coach. Tone-deafness is an inability to accurately reproduce a note of music. People who are tone deaf always sing off-key, no matter how hard they try. Tone deafness is not very common; what is common is a tendency for singers to go a bit flat or sharp sometimes (instead of all the time).

A vocal teacher can tell you if you are actually clinically tone-deaf. Most likely you are not and you simply need to work on improving your hearing and pitch. Voice lessons can help tremendously. A big part of the process is learning how to hear and reproduce notes accurately with your voice.

Finding Your Vocal Coach

I hope that it has been helpful to you so far. Remember, it is just my brief thoughts and comments on building your career in the music business. If you’re truly serious about having such a career, then I strongly recommend that you get the music guide that I’ll mention at the end. Now, here are my comments for today.

The best way to find a good vocal coach is through word-of-mouth within the music community. Other singers are the best sources for reliable information on who’s good. Talk to singers active in your local scene, call universities with music programs and music instruction schools in your area, contact music industry organizations, check with choir members from your local churches.

The top vocal coaches in the music business can be expensive ($100/hour and up), but it is possible to find reasonably priced voice lessons. Music instruction schools and lesser-known private instructors are your best bet.

One important thing to remember about voice lessons and vocal coaches: there are quite a few different methods and techniques that can be used for voice training. The method used depends on the teacher. To get the most bang for your buck, monitor yourself closely. Is your voice getting stronger? Is your vocal range getting wider? Are you getting better at consistently singing on key? If several months go by and you aren’t seeing any improvement in your problem areas, you may need to switch teachers.