• Carol Kay

7 Things To Do Before Hiring a Demo Vocalist

I came across a great blog post from multi-award winning composer & songwriter Carol Kay. Check out her 7 Things To Do Before Hiring a Demo Vocalist. Be sure to check out more of Carol's blog and music at

by Carol Kay via

One of the great perks of being a studio vocalist is getting to meet all kinds of enthusiastic and passionate creators willing to do anything for their art. It's a beautiful thing to get to see such love between songwriter and song-baby. As a vocalist, it's my job to bring their vision to life, and put just as much love into it as they would, if they could sing it themselves. We singers have quite a hefty responsibility on our hands. So, in order to ensure that you walk away with a smile, I've compiled a checklist of 7 things to do before you hire me or any other demo vocalist to sing your song.

1. Finalize your lyrics

- This is a HUGE one. I can't tell you how many times I've had songwriters go way over their recording budget because they kept changing words, or lines. One of my all-time favorite songwriters, as successful and prolific as he is, James Taylor still scraps and rewrites each and every one of his songs numerous times before he finalizes his lyrics. Take the extra time to edit your song.

2. Structure your song

- Most common song structures are: Intro / Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus / Out

- Structuring your song in a commonly used format will help both vocalist and future listener.

3. Add a few bars of intro

- I love an introduction because it helps bring me into the song. I can catch the vibe, get in tune, and really feel the life of the song if I have a few seconds to prepare.

4. Don't go over 5 minutes

- Aim for higher retention rate with your listeners by keeping your song within 3 minutes and 30 seconds to 4 minutes.

5. Record a decent scratch guide melody

- The easier you make it for your vocalist to understand your vision, the better result you'll have in the end. It's great to give your vocalist creative freedom to truly express what they do best, but for someone who has never heard your melody and phrasing before, it's a good idea to record yourself singing your song. iPhone recordings are perfect for this.

6. Be on time

- If you're using midi to create your backing track for a vocalist to sing on, quantize it.

- If you're recording live to create your backing track for a vocalist to sing on, record to click

7. Agree on terms

- For whatever you agree on with your vocalist in terms of payment, percentage, contribution, delivery format, dates or any other responsibilities that are expected, have it in writing. Email is sufficient, a contract is even better.

Here are some questions to consider:

- How will you pay your vocalist?

- Where is your vocalist expected to perform the recording?

- If your vocalist is recording remotely, have you inspected their setup to properly ensure they are well equipped to deliver professional results?

- When is your deadline?

- Are revisions additional charge?

- Are you willing to give, and is your vocalist willing to accept a percentage of your song instead of upfront payment? (As a rule of thumb, I generally don't do this unless I'm convinced the song is going somewhere. And, that is a personal choice.)

- What kind of harmonies is your singer able to perform?

- How many layers are included in their quote?

- In what format will they deliver the vocal?

And, that's all! As always, thanks for reading. Be sure to sign up for updates on new blogs and fun stuff.

If you're looking for a vocalist on your next project, feel free to check out my profile for demos and pricing.

Good luck and happy music-making!

#carolkay #demosinger #hiringavocalist #hiringademosinger #studiovocalist #carolkaymusiccom

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