(The original version of this article was first published on the Mp3 Backing Trax website circa 2006 – 2012)
You can sound every bit as good as the professionals while spending much less on musical equipment and backing tracks with our tips and tricks!
Karaoke has a lot to answer for…all the karoake nights I’ve been to have been nothing but a succession of bad singers, each one worse than the singer before. I shudder to think how many nights-out I’ve had spoiled by these screaming, out-of-tune wannabe’s thinking that they are gonna be the next Madonna or Mariah Carey.
Then add the fact that, there’s usually some person presenting who, because they know how to put on a CD, think that qualifies them to be a professional karaoke presenter, then you start to get an idea of how embarrasing and appalling these nights can be!
However, that’s the downside to karaoke – there is also an upside.
If you’ve ever been to a karaoke night, you’ll also know that often, at some point in the evening, someone gets up on the stage to sing who is an exception – a fantastic singer with a great voice – a note-perfect sparkling diamond amongst all the out-of-pitch rhinestones! If that fantastic singer with the great voice is YOU, then this article is for YOU.
If you’d like to take your singing to the next level and embark on a professional singing career, here’s exactly what you’ll need to get started
Singer or entertainer?
There is a big difference between being onstage for 10 minutes, singing one or two songs (eg your average karaoke singer) and being onstage for 2 hours, singing 30 or 40 songs and “holding” an audience all night (ie keeping an audience entertained).
That’s why there is a big difference between a singer and an entertainer.
Look at the most successful entertainers in the world today – they aren’t necessarily the best singers in the world. But, they are entertainers – that’s why they are successful. Don’t think because you can sing two good songs at a karaoke night and the audience give you a thunderous applause afterwards that you’re good enough to be a professional.
It’s easy to keep an audiences attention for 10 minutes – it’s not so easy to keep them interested and hold their attention for 2 hours though!
I personally know many fantastic singers who can’t understand why, after many years of working in pubs and clubs, they haven’t moved up to the next level (theatre, TV etc) when they firmly believe they have the talent to go further.
I know why though – it’s because all they can do is sing fantastic. They can’t entertain an audience.
If you want to sing successfully and professionally, then being a good singer is not enough. You need to be an entertainer too.
The mark of a good entertainer is someone who has learned how to instinctively “read” and “handle the audience, move well onstage, present himself/herself well, introduce each song with appropriate comment, adapt to any type of situation or audience, and generally communicate effectively with the audience.
Learn these skills, and you will not only be a great singer, but also a great entertainer.
Start small and learn your trade
Making that transition from good singer to good entertainer doesn’t come overnight. Most successful singers start small and “learn their trade” as they go along. That means gaining experience by working in the smaller venues like pubs, small clubs etc.
The first thing you should know about pubs and clubs is that you’re not the star of the show! In the pub, the beer and conversation is the star of the show. In the small clubs, the bingo or raffle is the star of the show.
In these environments you have to work hard to “win over” your audience. That’s why you MUST learn to entertain. If you are a wonderful singer who can sing one wonderful song after another and you do it wonderfully, don’t expect the venue to think you’re wonderful and ask you back! You haven’t entertained your audience so, even if you think you’re good, it’s unlikely you’ll make any lasting impression! Get the idea?
Equipment you’ll need
Below, I’ve made a shortlist and reckon that for well under £1,000 you could have all the equipment you need to get started singing and entertaining in small/medium venues.
The bigger the venue, the more sound equipment you will need but if you’re starting out in the pub/small club type venues, the range of equipment we’ve picked below will suit these small venues.
Even if you do progress to bigger venues in the future, the only thing you’ll need to change will be the PA system (because bigger venues require bigger sound systems to fill them with sound). However, you’ll still be able to use the same microphone, playback machine, and backing tracks, irrespective of the size of the venue.
Here’s a guide to equipment you’ll need to get started:
2 Backing tracks
3 An mp3 playback machine to play your backing tracks on
4 PA system
In a small pub or club you could be expected to sing as much two or three sets of 40 – 45 minutes each plus another 5 or 10 minutes at the end of the night when the audience (hopefully) shout for more. You’ll need a repertoire of at least 40 to 50 songs, probably more, before even attempting a gig.
Good backing tracks aren’t cheap so you should budget for spending around £100 – £200 on backing tracks, and around £800 or so on musical equipment.
Once you have your act all set up, rehearsed your sets, and you’re ready to get out there and “do it”, remember to get your act promoted and listed on the internet so that people can find out about you and your act and you can take bookings online.
At a later date, if the gigs are going well, you may want to think about adding some stage lights, a smoke/haze machine, a radio microphone, some fancy clothing (stage wear) etc but this isn’t absolutely necessary just when you’re trying to get started.
Many clubs have lighting systems, and a designer shirt or suit for the guys and a nice sparkly designer dress for the girls will give good enough stage presence to get your show on the road.