How to Become a Singer in Hollywood

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Hollywood is the destination for singers who hope to achieve success in any possible genre. Although Nashville is known as the country music haven, some country singers--such as Beverley Mitchell and Carrie Underwood--started in Hollywood. The same is true for pop, rock, rap, and everything in between. From the Orange County native Gwen Stefani to Olivia Newton-John, who grew up in Australia and came to find musical success in Hollywood, there are hundreds of Hollywood success stories for singers. It takes doing more than the norm to get ahead, though.

  • Make the move to Hollywood if you are not already a resident. Explore the city. Get established and know your way around. If you are pursuing musical theater, doing auditions in all areas of the city will be a part of your career foundation.

  • Determine your type of voice. Most singers in Hollywood are well schooled on their vocal abilities. You need to know your vocal abilities before gathering music that will best display your own special sound. You are either a soprano, alto, tenor, or bass. Some people have extraordinary abilities and can cross ranges, but that is rare. A soprano is a high female voice and an alto is a low female voice. A tenor is a high male voice and a bass is a low male voice.

  • Study music. Learn to read music if you don't already. Take up an instrument, such as the keyboard or guitar, to make your singing performances even more entertaining. If you have a knack for songwriting, write your own songs. This adds to your authenticity. Learn and expand your talent all you can before showcasing it for others.

  • Try out for "American Idol." While this is a long shot, so is having a singing career at all. This show provides a forum for singers with little or no experience and no professional backing to get an audience of millions and perhaps become a star. Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood made it to Hollywood singing stardom on "American Idol."

  • Go to open mic nights. This is a must for Hollywood singers. You never know who your audience will be. Kulak's Woodshed offers an open mic night for singers. It's located at 5230 1/2 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood. Call them at (818) 766-9913 to make sure you can perform on the night you want. Cafe Audrey offers open mic night every other Friday. Call them for a complete schedule at (323) 465-5359. There are many other places as well. See the Resources section.

  • Record and market your music. While demos are important for landing a record deal, more artists are starting by producing albums independently. Recorded music can reach a wide audience. Market yours on a website such as CDBaby. It lets independent artists sell their music on the Internet at a better per-copy profit than standard record deals allow. The only drawback is that a record label will heavily promote you while self-promotion on a national level is difficult, if not almost impossible without huge funding.

  • Establish pages on social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook. This is important for a Hollywood singer. Your location adds credibility to your page, showing that you are going the extra mile to get your voice heard. Add people you already know and ask for recommendations. If you spam people you're likely to be reported and your site may be shut down. Both websites allow you to upload parts of your songs which can be a great way to get an audience anywhere in the world.

  • Get a music manager. You want someone who can get behind you, establish your career and book dates across the country. When you're starting out, the key is to get your sound heard. A manager can use his connections to get your sound out there. Most go through referrals. Consult an entertainment attorney; he can often get you in touch with a manager or others who can help boost your musical career.

Tips & Warnings

  • Go beyond what you think the norm is. Going the extra mile for your dreams is what leads to success.
  • Don't give up if others criticize your music. In the beginning, it's going to be tough finding your authentic sound. Take negative criticism with a grain of salt--many people envy singers courageous enough to go for the dream. But try to accept constructive criticism as a compliment. The person believes in you and believes that you can improve. If the criticism has merit, experiment with the suggestions.

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