As a vocalist you need accompaniment. If you don’t play an instrument (and sometimes if you do), this needs to be digital. But how – and where – do you find it?
The best music backing tracks for singers can help you sound amazing. They’re your band, backup singers and harmonies all blended into a handy piece of portable music. You can use them anytime, anywhere and you can even access free backing tracks for singers.
In this article, we’ll explain the different types of backing, how to get hold of them and which are likely to work best for you.
Finding the best backing tracks for singers
Good backing music should be high quality, on a clear recording, with a depth of sound (not tinny). It should also be appropriate for the genre and style of song you want to sing, and it must be easy to sing along to. These days there’s no excuse for dodgy recordings and naff mixing – it’ll distract from your vocals and the overall performance, exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve.
Here are some of the settings you’d be likely to use a backing track:
- At an audition. This may be for a music college, competition, to join a band, or to be in a show. The stakes are high and while judges can hear past a bad track, you’ll look and sound like a pro musician if you’ve made the effort to source a good one.
- During a performance. This includes gigs, open mic nights.
- For karaoke. Many of the commercially available backing tracks were created for this purpose. They’re not always the best ones, but if you plan to sing at a karaoke night, practising with the relevant track will ensure you nail it on the night.
- When playing an instrument. It’s not only vocalists who use backing tracks. Some musicians may have a need for backing tracks to fill out the sound and accompany a single instrument.
- Practising at home. Even if you have – or will have – live accompaniment, you probably won’t have it at home. So a recording is needed for your rehearsal time. You have the option to practice a cappella, but you risk embedding the wrong key into your muscle memory if you don’t have perfect pitch.
Professional backing tracks for singers
Often singers choose to have backing music and play an instrument also. This is often a problem as unless you are absolutely perfect the instruments will clash with the notes on the backing music (especially in terms of timing).
It’s difficult to work with a backing track whilst playing an instrument. If you feel like doing both will help your performance, make sure you practise a lot so you know when the instrument fits well with the backing music. Custom-made backing tracks are the preferable route for professionals wanting a bespoke sound. But they’re also almost certainly the more expensive option.
Custom backing tracks
As the quality can vary enormously with custom backing tracks, it’s important to be wise in how you source and create these. A bad custom backing track is much worse than one you’ve bought from a standard online backing track store. The dynamics of band harmonies and parts often requires a custom track. Bear in mind when recording backing music at home, that it may sound good in a smaller venue. But if it’s going to be played in a larger venue, it must be able to cope with greater amplification without distorting or sounding muffled.
As such, your best option for bespoke backing tracks is a professional recording studio. This is costly though, but it’s well worth it for professional artists, whether they be bands or solo artists. Backing tracks can be recorded at any studio with suitable facilities.
But if you don’t have a huge budget, there may be another way…
Free original backing tracks for singers
You may have musician friends and be able to record your own custom backing track. This is a fantastic option and a way to get custom backing tracks for free. But, as well as having friends prepared to give their time for nothing, who are great at what they do, you’ll also need top-notch recording facilities. Otherwise, your track will be of a poor quality, which as we’ve mentioned, will impact your overall performance a great deal.
A major advantage of creating your own backing track is that it’ll be unique. And if you write your own music, you won’t have an option to buy ready-made tracks online in any case. So custom made, will be the only way to go.
Free backing tracks for singers
But if you don’t have collaborators who’ll help you for nothing, there are more ways to get free tracks you can stream or download to your devices. These can then be connected to an amp or speaker via a Bluetooth connection or cable. Here’s a list of free online locations to get free instrumental backing tracks:
- Google Opinion Rewards scheme (earn points by completing surveys, then spend the points on Google Play’s massive range of backing tracks and music).
Another good way to access tracks is via a backing tack app. Read this article to find out more about these.
Free backing tracks with lyrics
Karaoke tracks are easy to find, there are lots of them, and they’re cheap. In fact, they can even be free. If you buy a karaoke machine, it will usually come with a package of free karaoke songs. The machine will have the ability to connect to a screen. This means you can sing along with the words at the same time.
Although it seems like the easiest way to get backing music with lyrics, the quality of the backing music on YouTube is often distorted. When downloaded from the third party like this, it can sound muffled. This is fine if just using it for practice purposes at home, as you can stream it. But beware if using tracks offline. It’s inadvisable for performances.
Backing tracks online
In a world of increasingly fantastic tech, the first place you’ll be looking for something to support and complement your performance is online. There are companies which specialise in creating professional backing tracks for singers, as well as bands and instrumentalists. Backing tracking for professional singers can be purchased in a variety of keys, as can bespoke tracks. Here are some of the sites you might want to consider.
In addition to the free sites listed, here are paid sites offering backing tracks suitable for singers:
- Backing Tracks Download
- Successful Singing
- Music Backing Tracks
- Standards Trax
- Steves Trax
- Backing Tracks Today
- Apple Music
- Backing Tracks
- Your Soundtube
- Mp3 Accompanist
- London Arrangements
- Sunfly Karaoke
- Mr Entertainer
- Sing to the World
- Zoom Entertainments
- Amazon Music
- Apple Music
- Sound Cloud
When searching for backing tracks online, you’ll come across a lot of karaoke tracks. Whether you use these is a personal choice – we’ll take a look at the pros and cons later in the article.
Paris Music backing tracks
Now we’ll take a look at the names of some reputable companies selling backing tracks. One of these which is well used in the music community is Paris Music.
Websites such as Paris Music allow you to search the song you want and download it from there and are relatively inexpensive. Alternatively, if you want bespoke backing music then you can into a recording studio although this could really take a day or two.
Orchestral backing tracks for singers
Professional backing tracks won’t have any vocal activity on them, although they may come with tutor tracks. These provide both an instrumental track without any vocals, and the same track with vocals, so you can use it as a guide when learning the song. This is an ideal way to pick up the melody and timing if you don’t read music.
Singing with an orchestra sounds phenomenal. But anything too complex can be distracting and hard to pitch – especially if it’s a part of a medley. This is often the case for instrumental music not designed for singers, but rather as standalone performance pieces. If you do want to sing with a big band or orchestra, use orchestral and band sound backing tracks, rather than their own covers of pop hits.
Karaoke backing tracks for singers
So what’s the difference between a karaoke backing track and a backing track for professional singers? And can you use them? In theory, there’s little difference. They both provide instrumental backing. But karaoke tracks are generally designed for pub singalong type purposes. They are not always the best quality, nor is there always attention to detail in the musicality. Karaoke tracks often have prominent backup vocals that sound out of place in other settings, like an audition.
Another problem with them is that they can actually be really difficult to sing – the melody can be tricky to pick out among the heavily processed electronic sounds of the tracks. You’ll also find they are in the key of the original artist. Which isn’t ideal if it’s not a great key for you – or the original singer was of different gender with a very different range.
If you’re singing for fun, on an amateur level, or have little or nothing to spend on tracks, then karaoke backing may be the best choice for you.
Karaoke backing tracks – Ameritz
Another big hitter in the world of backing tracks, is industry giant music publisher, Ameritz Music.
This name will come up time and again as you search for your backing tracks. There’s a distinction in their tracks though, so be careful. Some are for karaoke singalong purposes, some are backing tracks for singers.
Save your tracks to your phone. If you get a last-minute opportunity for a gig or to sing in front of someone influential, you’ll always be ready to perform. Always download your tracks, never rely on streaming for performances. If the WiFi drops out or you lose signal, you’ll be scuppered if you haven’t got the tracks downloaded. Whatever your budget, vocal range and musical requirements there will be track types to suit you and help you sound great.
- Why do singers use backing tracks?
A reputable, high-quality backing music website or a bespoke studio recording is cheaper than hiring a band every time you need to perform. And you don’t need to worry whether your venue has the right equipment. All you need is your phone and some kind of amp or speaker.
- What are the best backing tracks for guitarists?
There are backing track websites that specialise in guitar sounds too. Here are two of the best ones on the market. And their backing tracks are completely free too! GuitarBackingTrack and GuitarVoice.com.
- How do I download a backing track from YouTube?
Go to the video you want to download, then type the letters “pwn” before “YouTube” in the web address bar and hit enter. Choose from the options at the side to download the video, or convert it to MP3 – click on the one you want and save it.
Which do you think are the best backing tracks for singers? We’d love to see your links – and videos of you performing with them – in the comments below.