Download this file


Essentials for Surviving and Thriving as a Singer in Today’s Music World

By Susannah Martin, Vocalist & Teacher

Learn how to succeed as a professional singer in your local market.

Gain the respect of your fellow musicians and the adoration of your fans and get gigs!


  1. Strive to Be a Whole Singer

    1. maintain great physical health, vocal health

    2. cultivate excellent mental/emotional health,

    3. learn how to move through performance anxiety

    4. appreciate the gift of being a musician

    5. cultivate authentic presence with yourself and with your audience


  1. Educate yourself on your genre(s) of music

    1. Read, watch educational videos, etc on the history, style & prominent artists

    2. Create a listening library of prominent artists/bands, analyze, compare

    3. Listen to the vocals & analyze the style, but ALSO listen to the instruments and what they are doing to create the style, make it unique and great

    4. Find out who’s current and who’s up and coming and why


  1. Learn essential music theory

    1. Basic piano, treble and bass clefs

    2. Piano sight-reading, sight-singing

    3. Rhythm, values, meters, tempos and keeping time

    4. Chords, triads and extensions

    5. Scales- major, minor, blues, pentatonic

    6. Transcribing and transposing

    7. How to write charts – creating the map for musicians


  1. Improve your vocal technique

    1. posture

    2. breath management, abdominal support

    3. mask area, “inner smile”

    4. diction, lips and tongue

    5. singing through and balancing your registers


  1. Find your own voice and style

    1. If you have a distinctive sound or style already, capitalize on it and cultivate it

    2. Also, mimic a variety of other artists to learn what makes “their style”

    3. blend styles of other artists to create fused styles, experiment

    4. sing a cover tune in a different style than you’re used to

    5. record yourself, listen and decide what you like, don’t like


  1. Organize your charts and band books

    1. Create a binder for each band member (or have at least 3)

    2. Number your songs, create an index by alpha and number & style/tempo

    3. Transpose songs into the key best suited for your voice that is also relatively easy for musicians to read (Bb, C, D, F & G, Gm, Am, Bm, Dm, Em are best, then A, Eb, E)

    4. Get help from musicians to make sure the “changes” (chords) are good

    5. Create a lyric binder (alpha) for yourself of popular songs with keys indicate



  1. Check out live music in the area, learn about and support other artists

    1. weekly entertainment publications, websites

    2. connect, network and “join the club”

    3. be gracious, supportive and humble


  1. Find outlets for amateur live singing

    1. practice singing at karaoke bars, work on singing production, interpretation

and stage presence

    1. get together with friends and jam

    2. Go to jam sessions and open mics

    3. As a rule, don’t invite yourself up on the stage or ask to sit in

      1. unless it is a prescribed jam session or open mic

      2. or you can tell that the musicians would welcome your asking

      3. it’s fine to introduce yourself as a musician/singer to the band

      4. but if it’s someone else’s gig, it’s better to wait to be asked to join


    1. Learn how to impress the band and lead them

      1. bring your songlist and keys

      2. learn your tempos

      3. learn how to count off a song

      4. how to discuss and decide on Intros/Endings

      5. know the arrangement, when to come in, when not to sing, when to let the musicians solo

      6. what to do if you get lost during the song

      7. stage etiquette and attitude

      8. rapport with musicians, audience and venue


  1. Invest in a good sound system & learn how to use it

    1. mixer – 4 channels at least, powered or unpowered (need amp)

    2. speakers – 10-12 in. and stands, monitor as well

    3. reverb, learn how to use it

    4. microphone – good vocal mic (Shure, E-Voice, Sennheiser, etc.)

    5. stands, cords


  1. Good Marketing

    1. professional promotional materials ( demos, brochures, biz cards)

    2. a compelling internet presence (website, Reverbnation, youtube, FB & other social networking sites,etc.)

    3. media, press releases, psa’s (public service announcements), posters

    4. venues, booking agents and managers

    5. mailing lists, correspondence with fans, email campaigns, newsletters

    6. recordings, sell/promo CDs, or sell online, digital download, etc.

    7. 'relationship' marketing with your fans & your audience

      Copyright 2010 Susannah Martin