Singers sing in recording studios or for live audiences in a variety of settings. Many professional singers have the ability to perform in a variety of styles like rock, classical, jazz, country, opera, or hip-hop. Though you can hear professional singers on the radio, you can also be a professional singer in a Broadway play, sing for commercial jingles, or even entertain on cruise ships.
Watch a video to learn what a singer does:
How to Become a Singer
There is no one path to becoming a singer. However, performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree in music theory or a performance-based degree. In addition those who want to work in Broadway must also have some formal education such as a degree or attend a music program. To be accepted into a music or degree program you often are required to submit a recording of your abilities, audition in person, or do both.
If you do seek an undergraduate music degree you are taught music history, styles, and methods for improving your vocals and musical expression. These undergraduate voice programs also teach courses in diction that helps students perform and sing in foreign languages. Singers require extensive training and practice to achieve the knowledge and skills necessary to sing at the professional level. Most singers who sing professionally begin training at a very young age.
Job Description of a Singer
Singers perform a variety of music for recordings and live audiences. They audition for positions in choruses, orchestras, bands, plays, and other types of music groups. They may also play instruments along with singing. Often times singers promote themselves through websites, photoshoots, social media, and interviews.
Singers may choose to specialize in a particular vocal style like jazz or opera, while others perform in a variety of styles. Some singers become background singers supporting a lead singer. Opera singers act out a story by singing and may perform in different languages. Sometimes singers write their own music to perform and record. They may also choose to teach in which case, a bachelor’s degree and teaching license is usually required. A singer needs to have dedication, discipline, musical talent, physical stamina, and self-promoting skills.
Singers work a variety of hours but usually includes a lot of weekends and nights. They also spend numerous hours rehearsing and usually only have intermittent work. Most work part-time and have other jobs to compensate times that are not getting paid to sing. It can take many years to get signed on by an agent or recording studio therefore it can be very competitive in nature.
Singer Career Video Transcript
Music is a universal form of self-expression. Musicians and singers convey a culture’s musical traditions and create new forms as well. An ear or talent for music often shows up early in life. While vocal training for singers usually begins in later teen years when the voice matures, musicians can start learning an instrument even sooner. For those who specialize in classical or jazz music, it’s typical to take formal instruction, such as studying with a “master” or earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music.
Many musicians working in popular music genres, like hip hop, rock, and folk, are self-taught. Musicians and singers need a great deal of skill, tenacity, and sometimes luck to earn a living from music. While they may find work through competitive auditions, most need to promote themselves to find consistent work. Gigs (or performances) are often scheduled in the evenings, weekends or holidays and can require travel away from home.
Musicians and singers often teach or hold another day job to support a performing career. Offering lessons and performing for different venues is a form of self-employment. Financial and business experience or classes can be helpful for managing the business side of a self-employed music career. While a music career isn’t an easy one, for many, the joy of performing more than makes up for the sacrifices the art demands.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Musicians and Singers.
National Center for O*NET Development. 27-2042.01. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.