Plan C: The Unconventional New Singing CareerOct 29, 2023
If you answered, “a singer,” to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” then we’ve got something in common. We sang nonsense melodies on the top of our lungs in the stairwell because we seemed to like the sound of the reverb (when we were only 3 years old). We young vocalists didn’t know and didn’t care how we’d become professional singers - it was all so simple back then.
Flash forward to junior year of high school when the question of college majors comes up, and we may have sung a different tune. We start to think about how on earth singing would actually pay bills, and it just didn’t seem practical anymore. As for me, when I thought of my dream life, my Plan A scenario, I had two options: become an elementary school chorus teacher, or become Christina Aguilera. One was unappealing, and the other seemed impossible.
I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t have music industry connections, and I lived on the opposite side of the country from Los Angeles, where I thought you had to be to make it. These problems are often enough for most of us to give up on Plan A and go ahead to a more practical Plan B career.
I got lucky, though, and I found my first bread crumb when our public high school computer teacher taught a class he called Music Technology. He showed us how to use Garage Band loops, and ever so slightly introduced us to Pro Tools. This opened my world up to a possibility I didn’t know about before, which was the profession of recording engineering. This sounded a little more practical, so when I started to see that you could major in recording engineering in college, it just felt right!
Wrong. Ok, it was a breadcrumb in the right direction, but it was not what I wanted. But as a recording major, I needed to practice, so I figured I might as well learn recording engineering by recording myself! So I started to write and record very mediocre songs in my college dorm, upload them to Myspace, and one thing lead to another and I found my first music industry manager who got me signed to Sony ATV as a songwriter.
Close, but still wrong. Who knew that getting a major publishing deal would actually close more doors than it opened. I never got a placement on Rihanna or Beyoncè, and meanwhile there was a way to make money that I could not access: sync licensing. Getting my music into tv and film (a more practical avenue than writing for Beyoncè) was not much of an option for me because Sony had all my publishing rights tied up.
My Plan A dreams were falling apart. I did attempt Plan B and got into hotel management for all of five minutes. I went broke very quickly, but let’s fast forward again to the good part. Once I got out of my deal, I was able to start my career over from scratch. Only this time, I didn’t go back to Plan A and try again. New opportunities that didn’t exist when I was a junior in high school existed now. I found a Plan C.
Do you remember when eBay was a new thing? Etsy, Fiverr, Uber, AirBnb… PLATFORMS that allow you to use their infrastructure to make money. NOW if you have a service to sell, there’s a platform that will help you do just that.
The eureka come to me when a friend of mine asked me to record vocals for a song he wrote, and he paid me $250. That $250 was real money for my singing voice, and it wasn’t in any of the ways I had perviously gone after (Taylor Swift placements, sync licensing music to tv and film). So the idea occurred to me, much as it is occurring to you, that there are more ways than we knew of to make music as a singer online. So I took to google and went down a very big rabbit hole to find all the ways I could make money with my voice without having to perform on a cruise ship or for weddings.
I realized it wasn’t entirely my fault that my career went down the tubes, these platforms didn’t even exist yet. I found Soundbetter, Airgigs, LANDR Network, Vocalizr, and really started trying to make it as a demo singer from my own home studio.
I succeeded. Then I kept digging and asking myself how else I could make money with my voice, and here is a quick list of my favorites:
- Demo Singing
- Custom Songwriting
- Licensing Acapellas
- Sample Packs
- Sync Licensing
- Teaching group lessons online
- Writing eBooks and courses
- Lending my voice to Virtual Software Instruments vocal VSTs)
- Voice Over
- AI voice modeling
And you can download my full master list of 35 ways to earn an income without performing live, as well as check out my other resources here.
If you’re still in your Plan B life, you might be onto a trail of breadcrumbs that don’t lead back to Plan A, but to Plan C. You can make a career for yourself as a singer where you work on your own schedule, on your own time, and life will become whatever you want it to be. Isn’t that the real dream? Your passion brings home the bacon, and you get more time to spend with family and nature. That’s what I’ve experienced and I am eternally grateful I followed that first breadcrumb and took a chance on this life. It’s really a beautiful one.
Come spend some time with the Singers Success Path community on the first Friday of each month when we meet up for a casual mastermind hang on Zoom. You can sign up for that on this page when you get your copy of the Master List of 35 Revenue Streams for Singers. Let’s figure this thing out together.
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