So what's a up-and-comer supposed to do?
The easiest way is to record your own vocals on your laptop. It doesn't have to be super complicated or intricate but at least get the vocals down. You can then send them to a studio engineer to fix it up and make it sound professional through mixing and mastering techniques.
Where to Start
The next couple of pieces of equipment you'll need are a microphone and an audio interface for your laptop. There are some good microphone options at TheMicCheck.com so definitely check them out when choosing a microphone.
As far as USB audio interfaces go, there's some good options you can find if you do a quick search online. The stuff from UAD is great but expensive. Try out the Focusrite Saffire series if you're just starting out and low on funds.
What you do is take your microphone, hook it up to your audio interface and then hook your audio interface up to your computer. The audio interface helps your computer process the professional quality audio.
Obviously you'll also need a microphone stand (you don't want to hold the mic in your hands when singing or rapping). You should also get a "pop-screen" and the proper cables.
Getting Your Vocals Recorded
Install the software on your laptop and get it to recognize your audio interface. How your audio interface and software works really depends on what type you have, so go to youtube and learn the basic workings of your particular audio interface. You'll basically just plug the microphone in, open your software and add a blank audio track in. You set the audio track to record by pressing the "arm" button and then turn up the microphone channel's gain knob until you can see an audio signal coming into the software. Then hit record and you can start singing your song or rapping your verse.
If you've got a piece of instrumental music that you purchased (like a rap beat or r&b beat) that you'll be singing on top of, importing it is easy. Just create a new audio track in your software, and drag the MP3 or WAV file onto it. It'll automatically render out and allow you to record your vocals on top of the song music.
Like I said, if that makes no sense, just search out some video tutorials on youtube. A lot of people show you how to use different pieces of software and hardware in the studio.
Getting it Sounding Professional
Then once you've done that, record a second take and some doubles/adlibs on top of the original track.
The software you're using makes that super easy to do. You're able to record different takes on top of each other. You can hear yourself (the original take) if you want while recording secondary takes, or you can mute them out. Up to you.
Once you're done and have chosen the best takes it still won't sound super clean and professional. But that's where mixing and mastering from a professional audio engineer comes in.
So send off the audio to a studio and ask them to do a quick mix on your vocal track. You'll be surprised how amazing a sung vocal sounds with some EQ, compression, reverb and delay. And if those words don't mean anything to you, then you should definitely reach out to a studio and learn with them while they mix your vocals!
The best way to improve your singing voice, however, is through online singing lessons. So once you're ready, take a look at these.
I hope this article gave you some useful information and inspiration that makes you record more music than ever before. Just get your shit all set up and do it!