A singer is a popular type of musician whose instrument is their voice. They must have excellent control over their vocals, spend time writing and memorizing music, and collaborate with other musicians.
Today, singers have many job options, ranging from solo careers to Broadway performances.
Whatever your interest in singing, here's a detailed look at what singers do and some tips to get into the career.
What Is a Singer?
Let's start by discussing the definition of a singer. A singer is anyone who sings professionally, and you can also call them a vocalist.
“Singer” is a broad umbrella term that covers all different types of artists. No matter what, a singer uses their voice to create musical tones. Typically, other musicians or instruments play with the singer.
But realistically, there are numerous examples of singers. You're likely most familiar with well-known solo singers, like Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, or Billie Eilish.
These artists usually focus on becoming famous for a specific genre, from the classic blues to modern rap. Professional recording singers find a sound they're passionate about and develop their voices to match.
Outside of professional artists, there are also a few different singing careers.
Some singers choose to spend their lives spreading the art of music by working as singing teachers. These artists help other singers develop their vocal skills.
You might also succeed as a singer by working at small venues, like clubs or weddings. Typically, these singers will cover work by other artists and enjoy performing in front of a crowd to entertain for the night.
Another career option is to be a cruise ship singer. These artists enjoy contracts with cruise ship lines and spend their time singing at sea.
If you'd prefer to sing privately, you can try to find work as a voice-over artist. These singers usually record vocals for movies, commercials, or other productions in the studio.
For more theatrical options, singers can find work in theater productions, on Broadway, or performing as opera singers.
Opera is one of the most traditional forms of singing, and it still is thriving today. Although this style of singing is one of the most challenging, requiring dedication to performing for hours.
Becoming a Broadway singer can be a glamorous career that mixes singing and acting skills. Theater support and productions are similar but on a smaller scale.
Still, many famous actors and singers have their roots in theater and Broadway. Ariana Grande first began singing in the musical 13, and Idina Menzel began with Rent.
Finally, if you'd prefer to share the spotlight, you can find singing options as a backup singer or in a choir.
Backup singers perform with professional recording artists or other bands to provide background vocals.
Chorus singers usually have an involvement with an orchestra or religious institution. These artists perform as part of a larger group to provide a harmonic performance.
What Skills Do You Need To Be a Singer?
Now that you know more about singers, we can walk through some of the skills they need.
First and foremost, singers need to excel at music. They should be able to read music, understand variations in tone and pitch, and develop a strong ear for listening to the fine details of the music.
Vocal control is also crucial, as singing requires the ability to adjust your voice quickly. You should also develop skills with breath control to properly control singing volume and durations.
While it might be surprising to some, singing is a skill that you can develop and learn by dedicating time to training the vocal muscles.
It's often beneficial for singers to know how to play other instruments, although this isn't entirely necessary.
Having skills in other instruments can help liven up your performance. It can also help you save your voice by testing tones and rhythms on instruments instead of constantly singing.
Singers should also have skills with crowds and be outgoing, as they must perform in front of large groups regularly. Additionally, it's challenging to succeed as a singer, so they should constantly network with other artists and performers to create professional connections.
If you're trying to become a singer, it can also help you to learn to dance. Many people prefer to see an artist dance around the stage while performing rather than stand and sing.
Plus, any theatrical singing career will require you to dance.
What Education Do You Need To Be a Singer?
Now that you know a few skills necessary to become a singer, you may wonder how to develop them.
Education for singers varies greatly, as some may not need any, while others can benefit from structured lessons.
Vocal, dancing, and music lessons are the most important. Many people trying to become a singer may pursue a musical degree.
This education can help you fine-tune your skills, especially tone identification and reading music. Time spent at a musical school can also be an ideal opportunity to build a network.
Realistically, you usually don't need the education to become a singer.
However, if you'd like to work on your skills, you can find some educational resources at home. For instance, YouTube offers plenty of vocal coaches who can help you learn the basics without spending money at school.
There is one exception to this rule. If you plan to become a singing teacher, you'll likely have to complete a musical degree. In addition, you may need a teaching certificate to work in schools.
What Does a Singer Do Daily?
If you're interested in becoming a singer, it can help to know what you can expect to do daily.
Many people may incorrectly assume singers usually relax, party, and perform.
Singers actually must work long hours and often work during personal time. They can be required to travel long distances or spend time doing promotional photoshoots or interviews.
Usually, one day to the next will be very different for singers. Their daily schedule will also change dramatically depending on if they are currently touring for performances or spending time recording.
Generally, singers spend time in collaboration with producers and other relevant members, like bandmates or choir mates.
They might spend their day on phone calls or working closely in the studio to perfect a song.
Additionally, singers usually spend a large portion of their day rehearsing. These rehearsals can involve dancing, singing, and work following a director's instructions.
Most nights for singers will be performances for large crowds that can go on late into the night, depending on the profession. Cruise ship singers may wrap up after dinner time, whereas club singers could be working past midnight.
On the other hand, singing teachers will likely spend their time working during the day only. But they must also dedicate their nights to creating curriculum or grading assignments.
Aside from the time they spend working, they also have to dedicate some time to perfect their performances. That can include activities like reading over the music to memorize lyrics or practicing performances alone.
Professional recording artists must also write new songs, spending time crafting new lyrics and rhythms.
During periods, professional singers or singers with bands will have to spend their days touring. This period can include cramped quarters on a bus or travel daily by plane.
Finally, a singer should usually spend time daily on their vocal health. Constantly using your vocal cords can cause damage, which could ruin a career.
To avoid this, you can try to regularly warm up your voice before performing and keep hydrated.
Unfortunately for many professional singers, fame has led to a breach in their private life. Some singers may have to include time in their daily routines to avoid the paparazzi or disguise themselves to do chores.
How To Become a Singer at Home
If you'd like to become a singer at home, there are a few tips you can try to start your career.
First, you should spend time developing your vocal and music skills. You'll have to feel confident to perform for people, and you should work on perfecting these skills to wow the audience.
Additionally, proper vocal control helps keep your voice healthy and avoids accidental damage.
Next, start to find ways to perform. Today, the most common method is to post videos of singing online.
Record yourself covering a pop song, and you may find your video going viral. Of course, this isn't likely to happen the first time you try, but keep working at it!
Becoming a singer requires plenty of perseverance.
Learning some basics of online marketing can help you reach an audience. Participate in popular trends and post your videos at peak times.
Besides trying to upload singing videos to an online platform, you can also start by finding local performances.
Many people live close to bars or other venues that may hold open mic nights. You can also try to join music clubs, find musical camps, or other organizations that support small singers.
Performing for these small crowds will help you build confidence and spread your name. You can also look for local choir or theater groups that can help you build that necessary experience.
What Does a Singer Do? Final Thoughts
Singers are hardworking professionals who train themselves in music, dance, theater, and the vocal arts. They often lead busy lives, collaborating with large groups to create polished performances.
Professional singers are the most well-known, but many others work hard daily to provide us with the music we love.
Becoming a singer isn't easy, but you can work to develop your voice skills. Ultimately, it's a creative career that requires perseverance and talent to succeed.