Got the voice but not sure how to crack the industry? Our insider’s guide is here to help…

YOUR ROUTE IN Marvin Humes, 28, lives in London and is a singer with JLS
‘I inherited a love of music from my family – my aunt would take us to church and my dad worked as a DJ. The first time I performed in front of a crowd was at my little brother’s christening when I was about seven. You need a certain amount of talent but training and making contacts are also key. From the age of eight, I went to theatre school on Wednesday nights and Saturdays, which helped build my confidence. My first pro gig was in the chorus of the musical Oliver! and I went on to be in Grange Hill. I was in a band called VS in 2004 and we had three hits. After we split, I worked in property sales for a few years to earn some money. I hadn’t lost faith in working in music but you have to be realistic. Then a friend put me in touch with Oritse, which led to us auditioning for The X Factor in 2008. Now JLS are famous, the hard work still hasn’t stopped. We spend our days honing our craft, learning routines and songs. Some days, we rehearse for 12 to 14 hours. You don’t have to be in the charts to work in the music industry. There are many roles from a session musician providing backing vocals to being a singer in a wedding band. It’s possible to turn what you love into a job you can make a living from.’ D&B School of Performing Arts in Bromley offers a Marvin Humes Scholarship for three years of full-time tuition. Marvin will also act as a mentor throughout the training. 

A DAY IN THE LIFE Beth Macari*, 19, is a singer from Newcastle
‘I’m juggling a lot of projects so there’s no such thing as an average day. Dealing with emails offering work is a big part of the job. I’m glued o my iPhone from the minute I get up until I fall into bed at night. I have to promote myself so I spend a lot of time in meetings about my website and logo. Image is a big part of the job so I’m always trawling the web for style inspiration, too. I perform my own material and front a covers band called Betty 8 The Bad Cats. I’m also going on a national tour with Jane McDonald in August as a backing singer, so I’m in rehearsals most days, I enter singing competitions, too – the prize money comes in handy with my unpredictable income. As my schedule is all over the place, having a social life is difficult and I’ve had to miss friends’ birthdays to take a job. But I’d rather skip the odd night out to follow my passion.’ 

WHAT THE JOB AD WON’T TELL YOU Sarah**,21, is a rock singer from Durham
‘There’s a huge amount of rivalry in the music business. I gig across north-east England and there are loads of rock bands vying for gigs. I have a tricky relationship with a singer from a rival band. She posted snide comments on Facebook about how she was tired of me copying her – it couldn’t be further from the truth. She even got into a fight with my sister when she tried to defend me. There’s pressure to look a certain way. I once wore leather hot pants on stages and when I read the review the male critic focused on what I was wearing rather than the music, saying I should go back to my dressing room and put a skirt on. It can really dent your confidence, so you have to have thick skin. I enjoy the attention I get from fans but they can sometimes get a bit weird. One guy who came to every gig started sending me pervy Facebook messages, telling me how he liked to look at certain parts of my body on stage and describing what he’d like to do with me. I still have to work part-time in admin to make sure I can pay the rent. I travel with the band a lot and when we stay overnight we all share one shabby hotel room. It’s not very glamorous – sometimes you play in pubs to just a handful of people. It takes a lot of self – belief to keep going – I know we probably aren’t going to make the charts, but I do feel lucky to be making music pay at all.’

STARTING SALARY: Fees for gigs range from free to £150
AVERAGE SALARY BY AGE 30: £20,000, but many people supplement gigs with part time work.
WHAT’S THE MOST I COULD EARN? Chart stars can earn £100,000+ but for a session musician, around £40,000
KEY QUALITIES: An amazing singing voice, willing to work unusual hours, commitment to practicing regularly.
QUALIFICATIONS: Most colleges offer a BTEC Level 3 in performing arts.

(Please Note: The information is from the More Magazine article ‘So you want to be a singer’ in Issue 22nd April 2013, I did not write this!)

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