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There are many ways in which a singer can earn a living although the wages vary considerably depending on style and competance.  Whilst many performers are happy to sing for pleasure rather than pay it is always nice to be paid for something that you enjoy doing.

The following information is a guide to various types of vocal styles plus singing and voice related job opportunities. Competition is high, therefore any singer needs to be proficient and the majority of experienced singers will diversify by performing a variety of musical styles depending on their vocal capabilities and educational training. For many singers, live performance is a secondary form of income. Other types of jobs available in the music industry and information on self-employment is available in the Music Careers section at the Electric Blues Club.

Opera Singer

Male opera singer Opera is considered to be one of the most demanding forms of singing as the standard is exceptionally high and pupils are expected to have extensive vocal training.  A popular form of classical singing which many vocalists aspire to achieve proficiency in, singers are expected to pass examinations which are graded by presentation as well as performance technique.

The scene is highly competative and many excellent singers never receive the recognition they deserve, however there are a myriad of competitions, venues, educational establishments and grant funded groups to encourage, employ and promote all standards and the possibility of worldwide recognition for successful artists.

Pop Singer

Female singer with mic Pop is an abbreviation of Popular. The term describes music having wide general public appeal, usually with easy to sing melodies and repetative choruses so any age and standard can sing along.

The majority of songs performed by pop acts are 'covers' of songs that were made famous by other artists. Most pop singers are required to include dance routines into the performance. The standard varies considerably from the local pop pub singer to famous pop idols.

Professor of Voice and Vocal Pedagogy

Lecturer on Podium Those with a love of teaching and interest in vocal pedagogy can further their education to become qualified as a professor of voice.

Professors are contracted by educational establishments or work as freelancers hosting lectures and demonstrations to vocal students and teachers.  Vocal pedagogy specialists research the science of teaching.

Pub Singer

Female Pub Singer Throughout the ages public houses have used live music to entertain their customers. The type of material performed and equipment used may have changed with the times but the role remains the same.  A wide variety of material in a range of genres is required with the most popular singers being those who are versatile in several styles of music.

Solo's, Duo's, Trio's and Bands can find paid work anywhere in the UK. Pubs have diversified considerably and there are performance opportunities for original and covers acts with wages ranging from nothing to 500 per show depending on the popularity and size of the act.

Punk Singer

Punk Singer Punk music was introduced in the mid 70's by bands like the Sex Pistols, The Jam and The Damned whose songs of rebellion were loud and full of energy.

Punk bands still find work and attract record companies and although the musics popularity has waned it continues to influence todays new artists.

Rap Singer

Animated Rapper Rap singing is a rhythmic form of speech that the artist performs with or without musical backing. The musical accompaniament can be of any style although hip hop, house, reggae, soul and rock music tend to be favoured.

DJ's and singers perform at night clubs to promote themselves but most successful rap artists record their tracks then distribute them through the underground and dj networks.

Recording Artist

David Bowie Recording a single or album used to be the sole province of artists signed to a record company or with the finances to afford professional recording studios. With todays technology a professional sounding recording can be achieved by anyone who is prepared to learn how to use the equipment effectively.

This has led to the rise in small independant record labels who are often owned by singer/songwriters and bands who frustrated with major labels produce and distribute their own records.  Signed artists are expected to produce several recordings for release and there are many singers who make a career of providing backing and guide vocals for producers and songwriters.

Rock Singer

Rockstar The term Rock Music covers a wide section of musical styles including Gothic, Heavy Metal, Punk, Progressive and Rock n Roll with a variety of 'flavours' in between!  Rock is a popular form of music and whilst venues for heavier stuff is more limited there are still plenty of performance opportunities in bands at festivals and on radio and television.

Most rock acts like pop artists aim for a publishing or record company to promote their music but rock singers can also make a living by working the pub and club circuits to suppliment their income.

Session Singer

Female Singer A session singer is a vocalist who is hired for a contractual period, usually one track, one performance etc., of any style of music.  Sight reading and the ability to work well with other musicians without rehearsal is essential although some session singers work by 'ear'.

Many singers start their professional careers through deputising for bands and providing backing/harmony/guide vocals for studios and songwriters. This can also open the door to a solo career as shown by artists like 'Sam Brown' whose no 1 hit 'Stop' is still performed by female rock covers artists in pubs & clubs nationwide. Read more about Session Singers.

Singer Songwriter

Prince Writing and performing your own material is a satisfying career that many vocalist aspire to achieve.  Whilst many write original material there are few who manage to make a career from their efforts.  Competition is fierce and most record companies are wary of using material that does not follow established formats, however, successful singer/songwriters like 'Carol Bayer Sager' and 'Paul McCartney' can continue their careers indefinately by writing songs for other singers.

The introduction of the internet has allowed all styles, ages and abilities to record their masterpieces for downloading by surfers worldwide.  The limitations in musical style imposed by the vagaries of the music industry no longer apply making a far wider range of styles and artists accessable to anyone who possesses a computer and internet connection.

New venues, acoustic and showcase nights have increased providing new acts with a platform where they can perform to a mixture of general public and music industry personel.  Wages are usually non-existant unless the artist is signed to a publishing contract or record deal or chooses to promote themselves and their work by producing and marketing their own CD's.

Singing Teacher

Teacher at Blackboard A vocal coach or singing teachers job is to provide voice training and encouragement to clients who want to learn how to sing.  There are many types of teacher, some of whom are professionally qualified, others who do not possess educational qualifications but have gained their experience through working as a semi-professional or professional singer.

A good teacher should be competant in communicating and demonstrating correct techniques, in the areas of breathing, posture, vocal and microphone techniques, music theory, timing, phrasing and pronounciation. Lessons for individuals last between 30 minutes and 1 hour which can be charged at 10 to 50+ per hour depending on time allowed, competance and professional reputation of the teacher.

Opportunities are also available for qualified voice tutors at schools and educational music establishments. Browse the Singing Teachers Database.

Solo Singer

Michael Jackson Soloists are singers of any style who perform as individuals, either with their own equipment or as a session singer.  Opportunities are only limited to the competance and determination of the singer who can find work in pubs, clubs, cabaret, nightclubs, radio, television or as a recording artist.

Non-writing solo singers often team up with songwriters and producers who share their aim for a deal. Other popular and lucrative avenues for solo singers include live performance of covers and production of a Tribute Act. Read more about Solo Artists

Soul Singer

James Brown The term 'Soul Singer' can be used to describe any vocalist who sings from their soul.  Typical examples are Tina Turner who has more of a rock voice and the godfather of soul 'James Brown'.

Opportunities for performance are available in pubs, clubs, cabaret, radio, recording and television.

Theatrical Singer

Singer kneeling A combination of acting, dance and singing is required of vocalists wishing to pursue a career in theatre.  Plays with songs range from classical to modern with songwriters like Andrew Lloyd Webber providing musicals for all ages.

Successful shows can run for years with showtunes becoming chart hits like 'Memory' from 'Cats' performed by Elaine Paige, who has since recorded several albums.

Tribute Artist

Elvis Presley Tribute acts have become very popular with everyone from Elvis Presley to Kiss being copied by singers of all standards in talent competitions to corporate functions.

The ability to look and sound like the artist/band you are portraying is essential........ go on..... swivel those hips elvis!! Read more about Tribute Acts.

Voice Doctor

Mad scientist Probably not the correct terminology but 'voice doctor' will have to do until some nice medical person tells me otherwise.  There are doctors who specialise in treating ailments common to singers and other voice orientated professions.

So if your seeking an alternative voice related career do please consider this as an option......... Singers in the UK will be most grateful!!

Voice Over Artist

Red Singer The voice over artist is similar to a session singer providing their vocal talents to backing track producers, jingles producers, advertising agencies, radio stations and television stations.

A wide variety of voices are required for all sorts of projects both spoken and sung.  Various short courses for the spoken voice are available (I recommend Kit Carsons 1 day course, usually advertised in The Stage Newspaper).

Both In-House and Freelance voice over artists are employed for different projects and a demo cd showing your full vocal and spoken versatility will be required by potential employers.  Community radio stations offer a good way to gain experience and provide an essential service at the same time. Click Here for more information on Voice Over Artists.

Voice Therapist

Singers Head There are different types of therapists that specialise in aspects of vocal therapy.  Some are also qualified singing teachers and combine their skills to aid people in regaining their voice after throat and vocal chord operations.

There are also voice therapists who concentrate on using music and voice as a means to communicate and encourage mentally and physically handicapped people. Whilst some medical knowledge is required, vocal therapists are not always qualified doctors. Search for voice therapists in the Singing Teachers Database.

Wedding Singer

Wedding Singer Appearing at weddings throughout the world......... well, maybe not!!  If you want to gain some insight then zap down to your local video store and hire the film 'The Wedding Singer'.

A varied repertoire is required that appeals to all the family, so many wedding singers team up with a friendly dj to provide a full evenings entertainment.

World Singer

Caribbean Singer World music is a general term that covers bangra, african, oriental and other forms of music.  Popular in their country of origin, ethnic rhythms, sounds and styles have been successfully combined with pop, rock, dance and other genres.

The crossover into western charts has opened up possibilities for singers worldwide in live performance, radio, recording and television.

Further information on self-employment plus other types of Music Career can be found at the Electric Blues Club site or Click Here to return to Singing Careers Page 1.

Useful Links

100 Careers in the Music Business
by Tanja L. Crouch takes the mystery out of job titles like song plugger, product manager and engineer and presents easy to understand explainations of duties and necessary qualifications. A must read for anyone considering a career in music.

Channel 4 TV - Ideas Factory
Careers section provides features, information and careers search plus a host of other resources and advice on a wide range of industries including music and performance provided by Channel 4 TV.

Free Musicians Classifieds
Browse jobs, find musicians, singers, bands or post your details.

Music Industry Careers Center
free service for music industry professionals to post and browse job listings and resumes provided by (USA)

Yahoo Careers
You can search hundreds of jobs in a range of catagories, research salaries with their salary wizard, research a company or post your resume with their easy to use tools.