You spend weeks on a song.
It sounds great. Almost.
There’s something missing.
If you’re like most producers, this is something you struggle with: finding a vocalist.
“What does the process look like? Where can I find someone? Am I looking for the right person?”
I’m here to tell you that…
A) you shouldn’t shy away from working with vocalists, and…
B) it’s not that hard to find them.
This article will help you get started.
We’ll look at:
- Who a vocalist is and what they do
- Why your current approach isn’t working and what to do about it
- Different ways to find a vocalist
- Leveraging your existing network to reach that person you want
- How to go about hiring a vocalist, and what not to do
Let’s get to it.
Who Is A Vocalist?
In case you’re not aware, a vocalist (in the context of music production) is simply a singer that you feature on your track.
Maybe their name is featured on the track, maybe not. But they provide a top line that can take your track from background music to full-blown hit.
But maybe you’ve tried reaching out to a a singer or vocalist, and something’s not sticking.
Your Approach Isn’t Working
It’s true. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.
Here are three potential reasons why your approach isn’t working:
- Your track isn’t ready
- You’re aiming too high
- You’re looking in the wrong places
Your track isn’t ready
First, consider that your track may not be ready for vocals. It might be the track itself, the quality level just isn’t there yet. Or it might be your general production skill level, in which case you need to work on that first.
Perhaps the chord progression doesn’t make sense, or there isn’t a clear difference between the verse and chorus. Maybe the mix is bad and the vocalist can’t hear what’s going on.
Keep this in mind: if your track doesn’t make sense, a vocalist will have a hard time putting down a top-line.
So, take a step back and make sure the production and arrangement are as best as they can be.
You’re aiming too high
Your track is polished and professional, it sounds as good as any song on the radio.
You only have a small following, but that shouldn’t matter, right?
Unfortunately, it does.
For many people, collaboration is a numbers game.
Many vocalists will be turned off by your small following. This is just how it is.
You can complain about “real music” not getting recognized for the rest of your life, or you actually can sit down and do the work.
Keep your expectations in line and find a vocalist a bit closer to your level.
We’ll look more at this later.
You’re looking in the wrong places
The last potential reason is that you’re looking in the wrong places.
Or rather, you’re not looking in enough places.
As the rest of the article will show, there are plenty of ways to find a vocalist.
If you’re done hitting dead ends on subreddits and Facebook groups, read on to learn new approaches for find a vocalist.
Leverage Your Network
The first and most obvious piece of advice is to leverage your existing network.
It’s more likely that a friend or mutual friend of yours will sing on your track than someone who doesn’t know you.
You can ask your circle of friends for recommendations or post on social media that you’re looking for a vocalist. You’d be surprised how many aspiring vocalists are within your network. Ask your friends to share the post to increase the odds of finding the right fit.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid of this approach.
Maybe you don’t want your high school friends to know you produce (this was me for a while), or you are too embarrassed to share your music online (this was me for a while too).
Whatever the reason, this is something you’ll eventually have to get over.
If you want a semblance of a career in this industry, you’ll have to get comfortable showing your music to complete strangers.
Use this as an opportunity to get past your fear of rejection.
An Example Post
An example social media post might be:
“For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been producing for a little over a year now. I’m looking for a vocalist for an original track of mine. It’s a (artist/genre) style track that I’d love to have original vocals on.
If you or a friend would be interested, post a comment or send me a PM. You can PM me for the demo as well.
(If you are a beginner, you could include the following)
I’m just starting out with production, so the track isn’t too polished. Nonetheless, I’d love to work with anyone who’s interested!”
You’d be amazed how many vocalists will hit you up. These posts (in my experience) can get anywhere from 5-15 brand new connections.
But what about recording vocals?
Many vocalists don’t have access to a recording studio.
This is a loophole many of you will have to jump through. If neither of you have a place to record, consider renting out a local studio to record them.
A recording session at a local studio isn’t as expensive as you might think, especially if you agree to split the cost (Around $20-$50 per hour in my area).
Scour The Internet
If you want to find a vocalist, you need to go where vocalists hang out.
Where do vocalists hang out?
Soundcloud, Youtube, and Instagram.
Sure, there are others, but these are the big three.
The Soundcloud approach should be quite obvious.
Look for featured vocalists, or, better yet, independent artists who need original music.
Use Soundcloud’s “Related Tracks” section to find artists similar to the style you’re going for.
Try to connect with these artists via social media or email.
Don’t be the guy that just sends them a DM saying “collab?”
Be respectful, and be courteous.
Here’s an example reachout:
“Hi (vocalist), my name is (blank) and I’m a producer from (city). I heard your track (blank) on Spotify and was blown away. My buddies and I have been playing it nonstop since you released it.
Would you be interested in singing on a track of mine? I have an instrumental that I think your vocals would fit great on. I’m imaging a (genre) style vocal, similar to your track (blank). You can check out the demo here (private Soundcloud link).
If you’re interested, I’d love to jump on Skype or Facetime to talk about the direction of the track.
Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing!”
You get the idea.
Introduce yourself, compliment the artist, offer the demo with a basic direction, and give them a way to follow up.
Recommended: How To Get More Plays on SoundCloud
Soundcloud is just one way to find a vocalist.
The next place to look is YouTube.
YouTube is where aspiring singers go to get discovered.
It worked for Justin Bieber, so it could work for them too, right?
Anyhow, this means there are thousands of aspiring vocalists on YouTube that would be willing to work with you.
Many of them only release covers of popular songs, and don’t know how to find instrumentals or a producer.
I recommend searching for a track similar to yours, adding “cover” to the end.
For example, if you want vocals similar to Sam Smith’s Latch, your could search “Disclosure Latch Sam Smith Cover”.
Run through the results and use your best judgement to find a vocalist you feel will be a good fit.
Lastly we have Instagram.
Similar to how vocalists will post covers on YouTube, there is an increasing wave of singers posting snippets on Instagram.
Probably because it’s easier to hide their imperfections in a low-quality 15-second clip.
Sarcasm aside, Instagram is a great place to find vocalists who need tracks to sing on. Think of hashtags that might connect you to vocalists in your style.
Using #coversong should give you more than enough results to go through.
Hiring a Vocalist
Leveraging your network and using social media are great, but often times these can lead to dead ends.
Between finding a recording studio to writing lyrics to processing vocals, it can be tough to reach a finished product you’re excited about.
If you’re tired of dead end collaborations, you should consider hiring a vocalist.
Hiring a vocalist saves you the time and effort spent dealing with unreliable vocalists.
For a one-time fee, you can get the vocals you need to take that strong demo to a polished original.
If the only thing stopping your music from being finished is an original vocal, bite the bullet, find the cash, and hire a vocalist.
Here are my favorite resources:
- Soundbetter.com – The most professional and comprehensive website for finding a vocalist for hire.
- Melody Nest – Has a great selection of vocalists to book.
- Voclio.com – Think of it like a beat store for vocals. You can buy both exclusive and non-exclusive vocal acapellas, as well as put up your own for sale.
- Vandalism Sounds – Vandalism Sounds offers high-quality custom vocals at reasonable prices.
- Craigslist (or you local classified ads website) – I’ve found a ton of vocalists for sample pack work on Craigslist. A $50 session gives me 2-3 packs worth of content.
Hiring a vocalist is a great option if you’re a beginner and simply want original vocals to work with. It’s a great practice exercise that can prepare you for future opportunities.
I hope this gave you a better understanding of how to properly find a vocalist for your music.
If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them below!