How to become a session vocalist...
If you're a talented singer, you may be considering how you can make a career out of your vocal ability. It's no secret that making a living as a musician requires a lot of hard work, dedication and yes, unfortunately some good fortune, but it can be done.
For those of you who are lucky enough to have been blessed with the ability to sing, there are ways that you can generate an income without resigning yourself to demeaning shows such as 'The X Factor'. Maybe its time to consider a career as a session vocalist?
So what exactly is a session vocalist?
Traditionally, a session vocalist is a singer who works in a freelance capacity and is available to hire for a variety of projects that need vocals. The scope of this work varies, but some common jobs a session vocalist would work on might be:
- radio and TV jingles
- recording vocals for demo songs by unsigned and sometimes major artists
- lead or backing vocals for DJ's, producers and record labels
- remix work by artists and DJ's (recording a version of another song for a flat fee)
- tracks for TV/film soundtracks
To be a session vocalist you will obviously need access to high quality recording equipment. In years past this would have meant hiring a studio for your session work, but nowadays many session vocalists can work from a home studio setup and achieve similar results.
So what does being a session vocalist pay?
Generally, it can be tough to make a full time living as a session singer, especially in the first few years. This is a practice that will reward dedication, and you will need to become established in your field before seeing a substantial income.
In the beginning, you may work for an hourly rate of you choosing. Depending on your experience level, this could be anywhere between £20-£50 an hour. If you have a home studio facility (which we would strongly recommend you invest in), you can afford to keep your hourly rate down as you will be cutting down on expensive studio hire.
In the beginning, getting a good portfolio of work is the most important thing you can do, so a realistic hourly rate is a good starting point. As your portfolio and experience grows, so to will your demand and you can then start reviewing what your hourly rate is worth.
What skills do I need to be a successful session vocalist?
#1 - be reliable
Session vocalists are becoming more accessible through services such as our own, so you must be reliable and punctual with all deadlines. Be sure to respond to any enquiries immediately, as many people do not like to wait for an answer and may move on to somebody else. It's also vital that set realistic deadlines for delivering vocals that you can stick to - don't say you will deliver in three days if you think there's a chance you might not make it!
#2 - learn how to record
This might sound a little patronising, but just because home studio setups are readily available now doesn't mean you have the tools to deliver just yet. For example, using garage band and singing into your laptop through a cheap microphone is not going to cut it. Take some time to do a few tutorials on your DAW, invest in a high quality microphone and make sure you have a room set up for recording dry, quality vocal sounds. A little time investment in this area will help your career massively, and for a little investment you can become skilled in this area very quickly. Check out our other blogs for advice on setting up your home studio and getting a great vocal sound.
#3 - polish up your promo
If you are selling your services as a session vocalist, then make sure you have some good promo to back you up. This means some professional photos, maybe some audio showreels showing different vocal styles you have worked on, and even better a promo video. The better package you offer, the more likely you are to get enquiries that could lead to opportunities and long working relationships.
Looking for session vocalists?
At Kollab we have some very talented session singers ready to work on your track. All of our vocalists are experienced professionals and have worked on all manner of the projects we have talked about. Here are a couple of our most popular vocalists - you can message them directly now to discuss your vocalist needs:
Vicky is one of the UK's leading tribute artists and session vocalists. She has written and performed on songs for Hed Kandi, and had numerous vocal sessions appear on radio 1 dance charts. Vicky is also a talented topline writer and can provide melodies, harmonies and lyrics. Send her a direct message about your project here.
Josiah is a full time professional session vocalist and Gospel artist from Miami. Josiah has released 5 albums and worked on hundreds of tracks for artists across a variety of genres, such as gospel, soul, R & B, dance and more. Josiah's soulful voice has won him many repeat clients, and he is a master at delivering additional harmonies that will lift your track. Send him a direct message about your project here.