how to be a famous singer

How to Become a Famous Singer (Even If You’re Not the Best Singer)

In the world of music, there is a strange dissociation between what the public thinks will make it big or who has what it takes to make it to the top compared to which artists actually become superstars. The idea is only those with the greatest musical ability or the absolute best voices can make a living as vocalists, but that simply isn’t the case. It’s a nice idea but it’s not necessarily how things go…and while this upsets some people, it can work in your favor if you learn how to play the game.

If you are looking to become a famous Singer, you should go through years of vocal lessons. But don’t think that if you don’t have the best voice (technically speaking), you don’t have a shot at succeeding. You will need the following six things and you’ll also need to truly believe you have what is required to become what’s missing from the music world, and then to fill that void.

The following half-dozen factors will all play important roles in regards to becoming a famous Singer…even if you’re not the best one out there.

1. A Voice

A lot of people assume that in order to be a professional Singer, you need to have a top-notch, powerhouse voice that can break windows and blow the roof off of any building you’re performing in. This would certainly be nice, but it’s not necessary, and, in fact, there are times when it’s not even the best option.

The world already has a Mariah Carey, an Adele, a Christina Aguilera, and hundreds of other professionally-trained near-perfect vocalists, and while I’m not suggesting you don’t need to learn how to sing, it’s not necessarily about having the “best” singing voice — it’s about making your voice work for you.

Look at some of the biggest vocalists in the music industry — Katy Perry, Kesha, Rihanna…the list goes on and on — none of these people are the best Singers who have ever come along, but they are some of the greatest and most successful pop superstars of all time. They may not have the range, but they know what they are doing, and they know what songs work for them, how to carry them, and how to command a room. They were chosen by A&R people and executives at record labels, despite some of their vocal shortcomings, and there’s nothing to say you can’t earn this attention as well.

You should take vocal lessons and practice regularly, but not every tune requires the highest of highs or the longest notes, especially if you’re looking to make rock, pop, electronic, or hip-hop music.

2. A Name

When you pick your name as a Singer, think long and hard before you finalize a decision, because once you do, you’re going to need to stick with it for some time. Your name should be something that stands out and is immediately memorable. It should be the sort of name that sells music, but which can also be used for many other purposes because you never know if you’ll end up becoming the next major star in the music world who branches out to other fields.

Your name is your brand, and while it might not be worth millions just yet, you should prepare for such a future. You want to make it a powerful, valuable one.

Some people are lucky enough to go by their given names —Kesha, Beyoncé, Adele — while others opt to choose something new. Sometimes it’s close to their real name — Rihanna’s real first name is Robyn and Katy Perry’s real last name is Hudson — and sometimes it’s something completely fabricated. Lady Gaga is not, unsurprisingly, her birth name.

No matter what you go with, it’s better if it’s short, unlike anything else out there, uncommon, and not taken. Look online, especially on social media platforms, to see if anyone has already been using your name or something close to it. If this is the case, you might want to find a way to claim it for yourself (perhaps they don’t need it any longer) or find something else. If you’re not already a stunning vocalist, your name can help define you as a star before anyone has even heard you. (Think Ke$ha or Lady Gaga before they blew up).

The world already has a Mariah Carey, an Adele, a Christina Aguilera, and hundreds of other professionally-trained near-perfect vocalists, and while I’m not suggesting you don’t need to learn how to sing, it’s not necessarily about having the “best” singing voice — it’s about making your voice work for you.

3. A Look

Have you ever been at a music festival or a concert and seen somebody walking by and immediately thought, “That person is a musician!” Was it their hair? Their clothing? Perhaps tattoos and accessories? Think about what made them stand out, and what makes the musicians who top the charts and release the art you love to consume immediately recognizable, and then think about how you can emulate this, but in your own way.

As a musician looking to make it big, you should have a “look.” What this means differs from person to person, as it should. Maybe you’ll have a unique haircut or color. (Think Hayley Williams from Paramore when the band first made it big). Maybe you will stick to wearing one color or a certain kind of garment. Perhaps a certain style works well for you.

Don’t work too hard overthinking this, because if you do, people will be able to tell right away, and the whole thing will come off as phony. This is especially true if your look is doing a bit of hiding your limited vocal range.

The idea is whatever you choose becomes part of your brand, and it helps people recognize you and remember you. If it seems a bit schticky, it is, but that’s part of the game. Not everyone has this going for them, but it can be helpful, especially for those looking to rise to fame in certain fields. Pop Singers are best-known for using this marketing tactic, but different types of artists can also use it to their benefit.

4. A Style

These days, genre means less to most young music fans than it has in the past. However, it hasn’t completely been done away with (at least not yet). As you start creating, you’ll find your music falling into one genre or another, or perhaps several, and that process is natural. It’s based on what you love and what you spend your time listening to, and you should allow it to happen because it is part of the creative process.

Blending genres and mixing styles in inventive ways is what music is all about. It’s important to help an artist stand out these days, but fitting into a certain category can also help. Being able to describe your music as almost anything, from “rock” to “dubstep-meets-folktronica” is key, at least when you first get started. Not having a chosen genre or a way to describe your tunes isn’t of use to those who might want to work with you, such as record labels, A&R professionals, or booking people, and it makes it difficult for those running stores and streaming platforms.

Balancing standing out and blending in is extremely difficult, but there are ways to do both of those things at the same time, believe it or not! Here’s a little piece of advice — if you’re not the greatest belter in the world, perhaps Broadway and classical genres (such as opera) just aren’t for you…at least not yet.

The road to success is littered with bands and artists who couldn’t keep going for one reason or another, and those who made it did so in part because they were determined and they never quit.

5. A “Thing”

Again, this is a little bit of a schtick, but it can be useful when getting people to pay attention to you. Should it be all about your talent and the music you create? Of course! Yet, this is never the only thing required, so you need to do everything you can to make it in this business.

Your “thing” (there are probably better ways to describe what I’m talking about, but since it’s fairly vague, I’m choosing to stick with “thing”) can be whatever you want, as long as it helps you stand out and furthers your career. Some artists are known for weird fashion choices (Lady Gaga is a good example of this), some are known for wearing masks (Slipknot, Slow Magic), some only want to party all the time (Kesha when she first started, LMFAO always), some groups wear matching outfits or near-matching get-ups (Destiny’s Child), some artists choose not to speak to the media, some are explosive performers, and the list goes on and on.

The idea here, like what I was discussing regarding a look, is there is something identifiable associated with the music, creating a full, wholly-rounded package. This can change, and it doesn’t need to be anything crazy, but maybe there’s a little something special that sets you apart and makes people remember when they saw you live or read about you.

If you have a once-in-a-lifetime voice, it can be your signature, but you might want to consider this item anyway, as every little bit helps in being noticed and remembered.

6. Determination

Whether you are the absolute greatest Singer to ever live or someone who talks into a microphone to get the lyrics out, you are facing an uphill battle when you enter the music industry. It’s a tough game, and no matter what you sound like, look like, or how great a performer you are, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other acts out there who can be compared to you in some way.

I spent a lot of time talking about standing out and being memorable in this article, and those are certainly worthy of discussing…but perhaps the single most important quality you need as a young artist just getting started is determination. You’re going to face a lot of false starts, quite a bit of disappointment, and more rejection than you should ever have to endure, but that’s just part of being in the music business, unfortunately.

Between working several jobs to pay the bills, putting in impossibly long hours to create your art, the rigors of touring, and every other difficulty coming your way, you’ll need to find a way to stay focused and determined. The road to success is littered with bands and artists who couldn’t keep going for one reason or another, and those who made it did so in part because they were determined and they never quit. Are you going to be one of them one day? You’ll never know if you don’t keep trying!

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