Do you watch 'The Voice','X Factor' or 'Britains Got Talent?

Think you've got a good voice?

These days most singers have one major problem when starting out in the music industry... 'How do I get myself noticed?'.

As you may have noticed, there are plenty of other singers out there too, and often it's not enough just to be a better singer than them. But having a great voice is a terrific start. So, the next thing that you can do as a singer to set yourself apart from all the other singers is to perform some great original music! Singing good versions of old classics or favourites is great, even performing them in your own style is equally laudable (there are numerous tribute singers/bands around now making a good living on the thriving UK circuit) but original music is the best thing you can do as a performer.

The question is, how do you get access to original music?

The first and most direct way is to write your own songs or you could collaborate with other musicians. If you are mainly a lyricist you can find a musician to write with or vice versa. Finding songwriters who are not also performers is another avenue to consider. (There are plenty of musical composers and songwriters around on the internet who are willing to consider co-writing). Whether you see it as part of your musical experience, you may wish to join, or are prepared to join a band or group, but this is entirely up to you. The pros and cons are there to be thought about. My own view for what it's worth, taking into account the 'music industry' we have today, is to always try and keep as many options open as possible without compromising your integrity.

So now let's try and clear up some frequently asked questions I regularly find in my in-box about song writing!

Do I need to be able to read and write music in order to write songs?

The answer is of course you don't... There are plenty of singers and songwriters around, past and present, who haven't got the first idea about how to read music, let alone write it as well. As long as you can record it down to a playable format in some way. If you have any kind of computer it's very easy to get expensive, midrange, cheap, free software (depending on your budget) that is simple to use and will allow you to record it onto your device hard drive the only other kit you may need is a compatible microphone, though having said all that even an old Dictaphone would suffice. Now you've got all the equipment you need to get going.Music existed long before people worked out how to write it down. More recently we developed a method of explaining it, 'Music Theory' is a way of defining how music works. In fact you probably already know quite a lot about music theory, just by having developed a taste in the music that you like. Everyone who has any kind of interest in music (and I would say there are not many people that don't in some way) might find the time to look at a basic Music Theory book, especially songwriters, as you'll find that learning a little about how music works will be a huge help with the basic things like song structure and working out what chords go with which notes.