Advise On How to Become
A Professional Singer/A Recording Artist? ~ by Jin Loh

I am often approached by my singing students and many emails enquiries, asking me to advise on 'How to become a singer?', 'What should I do to become a professional singer/a recording artist?' or 'What are the criterias/requirements  to be a singer/recording artist?".

Besides teaching and coaching my singing students on how to sing like a singer, being a trained free-lance music arranger gives me the opportunity to have first hand experiences working with music studios and recording companies. Meeting and talking to Artists and Repertoire (A & R) people from different recording/music publishing companies (people who are responsible for scouting new talents for record labels), gives me valuable insight into the criterias or requirements needed to be a singer/artist.

Knowing how A & R people from recording/music publishing company decide to sign a person or not as their artist, allow us to train and prepare ourself better, to be a singer/recording artist that the record labels are looking for.

If you are thinking on: 'how to get myself a recording contract and be signed as an artist, singer?', I hope the following advise and suggestions will be helpful and useful to you. :)

Guidelines and Advise on How to Become A Professional Singer/Recording Artist

Step 1:   Understand your reasons/intentions/motivations to become a singer/recording artist.

Try to ask yourself why you would like to become a singer/recording artist in the first place. You may try to do the singer’s personality test to see if you have the potential to become a singer/artist. The test is just a guide. Please do not take it too seriously.

I always tell my students that nothing is impossible ! It depends on how much you really want something. You would naturally put in a lot of effort, thinking, strength, energy..etc to make it happen.

Even the singer's personality test result may show that you do not have very high potential to become a singer/artist,  that does not mean you should abandon your dream! Even when everyone tell you you are not good, it is not possible...etc, if you still think you can do it (no one knows better than you, yourself!), please go ahead and do it.  

Step 2:    Try to do some research and find out what are the pros and cons of becoming a singer/artist.

Yes, like many other things in life, there are also some disadvantages of becoming a singer/artist. Normally we tend to look at the beautiful side/advantages of becoming a singer/recording artist... 

Step 3:    Try to ask yourself honestly, Is that what you really wanted? To become a professional singer/recording artist?

After you have considered even the disadvantages of being a singer, if you are still determine to become a singer/artist, I will ask my students to imagine ~ if you really become a singer one day, will you regret of doing it? Taking into all the considerations of all the things you may need to sacrifice, in order to make this dream come true.

Try to ask yourself again, will those sacrifices be worthwhile? Is that what you really want?

* Please take some time, a few days or weeks, months or more time to think carefully, if you really want to become a singer/recording artist, before you invest your time, effort, energy and money into preparing and training yourself.

When you are ready and you have made your final decision, I will try to explain what I know and learnt all these years and hope I would be able to help you by giving some suggestions on how to make your dream come true to be a successful singer/recording artist.

If you are ready, please continue to read the following suggestions on how to become a successful singer/recording artist.

Step 4:   Decide which kind/type/style of singer/artist you would like to become.

For example: pop singer, classical opera singer, jazz singer or singer-songwriter? Besides your personal preference, you may also need to consider the nature of your voice and your character/personality. If you are a very cute, sweet person and have very ’sweet’ voice, training yourself in a rock singer's way, and turning you into a rock singer may not be a very good idea... Try to discuss with your vocal coach about your voice nature, your voice range, what is your vocal strength and what type of singer may suit you.

Step 5:    Once you have decide the type of singer you would like to become, try to get the necessary training you need accordingly.

For example, if you would like to become a singer-songwriter, you may need to study and learn how to compose songs and write lyrics effectively. If you want to sing in a musical, getting some training in acting/drama will be important and useful to you. If you want to be a pop singer, getting some training in dance maybe useful for you in your future singing career.

Step 6:   Exercise regularly to work on your stamina.

No matter what kind of singer you would like to become, good singing requires a lot of stamina. Imagine one day you have your own concert, singing non stop for almost 2 hours.. You will definitely need a lot of stamina to sustain for a 2 hours good concert! :)

Step 7:   Try to maintain a good healthy life style and have a good diet.

Your voice is your asset. Your inborn musical instrument. You can’t find or buy your voice again. You won't be able to buy your voice like piano or violin or any other musical instruments, even in the most prestige music shops, if your voice is missing. So please always take good care of your voice and yourself. :)

Step 8:   Try to think and experiment on what kind of styles or image may suit you as a professional singer/recording artist, for example, your hairstyle, make-up or clothing style/fashion.

Do you want to be known as for example, a very cool singer, a very sweet, energetic, young singer? Try to develop your own unique image/style. So that people can easily differentiate you from other singers. Think of a way that your fans can immediately recognise you and remember you by your voice or style/image. :)

Sometimes if you are lucky, your record labels may hire a good image consultant to help you to find a suitable style before promoting you as their new artist. But sometimes due to budget constraint, new singers may not have good image consultant to help them. So just try to do whatever you can on yourself, instead of relying completely on external help. 

Step 9:   Try to learn other skills and read more books to improve/enrich yourself, not only music/singing related skills/books.

For example, learning acting/drama maybe useful. Some singers do not only sing, they also act as actress/actor in TV shows, movies or drama series. Acting in movies, dramas..etc help to increase your 'exposure' or 'popularity rate'. It is an effective way/method to let more people know you. 

Reading books for example, marketing & sales books, finance books are also  quite useful for singers/artists. Try to imagine yourself as a product or a brand. Think of what would you do to promote yourself and let the world know about you, a potential superstar singer? :) 

Step 10:   Try to find out more about singers/recording artists source of incomes.

I always advise my students, doing what we like is very important. But at the same time, try to think of whether you will be financially stable doing the thing/job you like, is also very important. 

Try to do some research, read some related books and equip yourself with some financial knowledge.

A singer may not be famous forever. The 'popularity' life span of a singer is normally quite short. I always ask my students to imagine 'what if one day you are not famous anymore'? No jobs = no income. How are you going to survive? What can you do? ' Please think of all these possibilities that may happened in the future. Try to prepare them earlier and you will be fine. :) 

Step 11:   When you think you are ready to become a singer/artist, then it is time to think of the ways/methods to let people know about you.

'How can you promote yourself as a singer/artist?' You may try:

  • Sending in quality demos to record labels, 
  • Taking part in major and more established, well-known singing competitions
  • Using the internet - youtube to promote yourself. It is a good way to form your own group of fans. If you already have quite a big group of fans, chances that the record labels will sign you as their artist is much more higher... Because there is already a market out there! The record companies do not need to spend a lot of money to promote you as a singer/artist anymore to the people.

Step 12:   Even if it may not be the right timing for you to become a singer/artist yet, please continue to equip yourself with more skills and knowledge. Continue to study and learn. 

Please remember most of the famous singers do not just become a superstar over night/very quickly. It normally takes many years before they are recognised and become a superstar singer. Only a very, very small portion of singers do become a superstar very quickly. Even then after some time, their popularities may start to drop. They may not be as famous as before and people may start to forget them when another new and young singer comes in to take over...  

Especially young students/singers, please continue your studies. I always tell my young students that your studies are still the most important thing you need to concentrate, no matter what happen. Keep studying and be a smart singer/artist. :) 

Why can’t you stop your studies and concentrate fully on training yourself to become a singer/artist? 

Because the old saying said, ‘Never put all your eggs in one basket…’.

If you only do nothing but concentrate on singing and dancing, what happened if you are not selected to become a singer/recording artist? Or one day you can’t sing/dance anymore?  If you have other skills or knowledge, you can still do other things to survive. That is my sincere advise for young singing students/singers.

Step 13:   Try to go to to good live concerts to learn from other good and established singers.

Try to go to various good live concerts for example, musicals, Classical Opera concerts, Jazz live concerts by good singers. Try to learn from these singers. Try to think and analyse what made them so successful and famous. :) 

Step 14:   You may need to find other jobs to do while you are waiting your chance to become a professional singer/recording artist.

Maybe you may think of setting up a small business to do, opening your own on-line clothes shop so that if you become a singer one day, you can also sell your own products. You will have another source of income. :)

Wish you all the best! :) May your dream to become a successful singer/recording artist come true! :D

Personality Test to Find Out If You Have the Potential to Become A Singer/Recording Artist

I have designed a short personality test for my singing students, or anyone of you who are interested to become a singer/recording artist. :)

The reason I designed this little personality test is because I noticed that most singing students or anyone who want to become a singer/recording artist, focused only on how to improve their singing skills. Of course, it is very important that a singer should be able to sing very well, but in reality...,

To become a singer or recording artist in the music industry, record labels do not only look at how well you sing, there are also other contributing factors that affect the A  & R (Artist & Repertoire) people's decision to sign you or not as their artist.

Just like we may be the top student in our school/college/university, but when we actually go out to the real world to look for jobs, our employers do not only look at our academic performances or results, to decide if they want to hire us or not. There are also many other factors for example, our characters, personalities, communications skills, leadership..etc that an employer will look into, before they decide to offer us the contract.

Same goes for singers/recording artists.

Being able to sing very well is very important as a singer, when we want to 'apply' the job to become a singer/recording artist. But at the same time we should also try to prepare/train ourself in other areas. In this way, the chances of getting 'hired' or being offered a singing contract from record labels are much higher. 

I always tell my singing students who wish to become a singer/recording artist, a true story, and a valuable lesson that I learnt from my singer friend many, many years ago.

I have a friend who can sing very well. She learnt how to sing when she was young and she has a powerful voice. She won many singing competitions since young including a 2nd prize in a national singing competition when she was 19 years old.

I introduced her to a A & R person from a recording/music publishing company. Hoping my singer friend would become a recording artist! :) 


My friend was not accepted... The A & R person told me that even though my friend could sing very well, my friend did not meet the other criteria to be a singer/recording artist.

Her experiences made me understood for the first time, the reality on how singers are chosen/selected by record labels/record companies.

It is like understanding and accepting the fact that even having higher education knowledge like a master degree or a doctorate degree may not guarantee you being hired by an employer or getting a good job that you want.

So being able to just sing fantastically well, may not guarantee you to be signed by a record labels.

So what should we do.....?

We should try to find out what the record labels ('our employer') want. What are the record labels criteria/requirements to sign a singer/recording artist. 

♪  Click Here for Personality Test to Find Out If You Have the Potential or Qualities to Become A Singer/Recording Artist that the Recording Labels/Companies Are Looking For  ♪