1. Find a mentor
- Look around for a mentor to guide you, someone who’s been there and done that. A mentor should be encourage you, help you to eliminate your weaknesses, identify and bring out your strengths, and provide honest feedback on your progress. Your mentor will not sugarcoat anything cos the only way to learn is to improve from your mistakes. Be careful not to pick someone who has an ulterior motive to help you, because that never turns out well.
2. Open Mic Nights
- Start performing at Open Mic nights – this will help you get out there and provide you with a platform to perform for the first few times. There is usually a supportive environment as well, full of musicians like yourself. Take baby steps as you find your feet in live performance, which is a completely different experience from jamming in your bedroom. You will be able to get feedback as well, as to which songs are stronger and evoke more emotion from the audience. There are quite a lot of Open Mic nights in Singapore now. A fellow singer-songwriter, Marcelle, has compiled it all into a list which you guys might find useful! http://marcelleepereira.com/open-mics-in-singapore/
3. Join competitions.
- Competitions such as Noise Singapore, Eco Music Challenge are a good way to meet likeminded music lovers and also to get exposure, especially if you do well. Noise Singapore, in addition to the competitions, has mentorship programs where you will be mentored by established local musicians, for example Sara Wee from the band 53A, Don Richmond and Kevin Mathews. Noise Singapore: http://www.noisesingapore.com/mentorship/tmm2013/ Eco Music Challenge: http://nea.ecomusic.sg/
4. Be thick-skinned, but not annoying
- Ask for help, ask for advice, ask your friends to come for your gigs, like your page etc, Be persistence but not obsessive. People most likely will help you if you ask nicely and don’t get on their nerves. Be sure to return the favour at some point!
5. Keep Trying
- Keep writing – some songs will be great, other might be crap but you’ve just gotta write it out until you find the gems. Keep singing, you will improve after hours of going at it. Keep learning, it’s a lifelong journey and you’ll only get better.
6. Play for free
- Don’t be afraid to play for free at the beginning. You need the exposure and the experience – the learning curve is steep. Before you are confident enough on stage to expect people to pay you for it, you might have to play some gigs for free. Well, admittedly, some people are against this but I feel like it’s something that’s part and parcel of growing as a musician. It’s quite unlikely that the first time you perform on stage you’re gonna be fabulous! Unless of course you are amazing from the start, then sure, by all means, demand to be paid! Watch some performance tips by http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2012/05/is-your-live-show-any-good-two-performance-tune-ups-with-tom-jackson/
7. We all have to start somewhere
- Look at Tiffany Alvord (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsR5P-zWXuM vs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsR5P-zWXuM – Compare these two videos in terms of her vocals and the production value of the video). If we’d never had the courage to put ourselves out there, we’d never have built up a fan base in the first place. Sure, you’ll have some negative comments and haters but that’s only natural. There are so many trolls hiding behind their computer screens, but most people are supportive and will continue to support as long as you are improving. I had a fan who told me he’s so proud to have seen how far I’ve come and how much I’ve improved, which is such a nice thing to hear. People appreciate the hard work and effort you’re putting in. So don’t worry if you’re not where you wanna be, you will get there if you keep working at it. That said, there are two schools of thought here. Some say never release anything till you’re READY. Others say it’s better to just get things out and move on from there. But the question is, ‘When are you really ready?’ There is no such thing as perfection. So, I believe it’s more important to get your music out, let people hear, learn from the feedback, keep improving and build your fan base one video at a time!
8. Take lessons
- If you feel like you need extra help, save up and attend lessons for singing, guitar playing, songwriting etc. These would probably be able to help you and push you to the next level.
9. Release a demo first
- Once you feel like you have one or two nice songs, or even a handful of songs, it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money going into the studio to record an EP, let alone a full-length album. Find some friends who are into music especially music production, to help you record a good demo quality song, together with some videographer friends who can help you make a simple YouTube video. This is a good way to start out, get some exposure and publicity and build your fan base.
10. Surround yourself by amazing musicians
- You learn the most by absorbing, watching, observing the best, so make friends in the music scene, help each other, teach each other and support each other!