Singer Job Description, Education, Training Requirements, Career, Salary, Employment

Job Description: Singers interpret music and text, using their knowledge of voice production, melody, and harmony to produce a vocal product. They sing character parts or perform in their own individual style. Singers are often classified according to their voice range soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, or bass or by the type of music they sing, such as opera, rock, popular, folk, rap or country.

Training and Educational Qualifications: Musicians need extensive and prolonged training and practice. Formal training may be obtained through private study with an accomplished musician, in a college or university music program, or in a music conservatory. Young persons considering careers in music should have musical talent, versatility creativity, poise and a good stage presence. Because quality performance requires constant study and practice, self-discipline is vital.

Job Outlook: Competition for jobs for musicians, singers, and related workers is expected to be keen. The vast number of persons with the desire to perform will continue to greatly exceed the number of openings. Talent alone is no guarantee of success. Most new wage and salary jobs for musicians will arise in religious organizations. Slower-than-average growth is expected for self-employed musicians.

Salary: The median figure for hourly earnings of musicians and singers is $19.73 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earn between $10.81 and $36.55 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $7.08, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $57.37. The median for hourly wages in performing arts companies is $23.37 and $13.57 in religious organizations.

Significant Facts:

•    Aspiring musicians begin studying an instrument or training their voices at an early age.

•    Part time schedules and intermittent unemployment are common; many musicians supplement their income with earnings from other sources.

•    Competition for jobs is keen; those who can perform a wide range of musical styles should enjoy the best job prospects.

Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?

Los Angeles, New York, Nashville.

What is your typical day like?

It’s always different. I make a lot of phone calls. Sometimes I’m rehearsing, and I might also be recording or performing.

What are your job responsibilities?

I write and perform songs.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Creative release.

What do you dislike about your job?

Lack of security.

Have you had any turning-point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?

Absolutely. The first happened while working at the Playmill Theater. My father was a musician and I grew up thinking that some day I’d do the same thing. Life happened so quickly though, and before I knew it, I was 24 and setting my sights on medical school while working in a really low-paying theater group. When I came across some video tapes of AI, I thought that might be an opportunity to give music a shot.

The second turning-point moment happened for me just after I was let go from American Idol. I was wondering what I’d do with myself whether I’d go back to school or pursue music. At that same time, I started writing my first songs. I had a really overwhelming feeling that this was what I wanted to do with my life so I stuck with it.

How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?

It makes me feel good that is how I knew this was the career for me.

What have you done in your career so far?

I have released one full length album, Stories from Hollywood, with all original songs. This album includes my double single “If I Go

Away/Man Like Me.” I also wrong a song, “It’s Christmas,” which was released by EMI Canada on the Now Christmas 2 compilation CD, and I recorded “California Christmas,” which was released on by Breaking Records for the Breaking Christmas compilation in 2006.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

Writing and recording a song that reached the top 15 in Canada.

If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?

Musical theater, acting, or voice-overs.

To what professional associations do you belong?

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

What professional magazines and Web sites do you read?

Rolling Stone, Blender, Spin, MTV.com.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

Every singer needs to find his or her voice. What I mean is that a singer is a dime a dozen, but there is something that is unique about each voice and that is what interests people. The only way to really make it is to pound the pavement you gotta hustle to be heard.

Did you have an internship in this field prior to starting your job?

Yes, I participated in Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist Program.

Do you know of which companies have the best internships in this field that are known to help launch a successful career?

There are many, but among the most well-known is the Metropolitan Opera.

What is your typical day like?

I spend two hours practicing, two hours on the phone making contacts, two hours administrative work (sending out materials or contracts) and one hour of exercise. On a performance day, the entire day is taken up in preparation and travel to and from the performance.

What are your job responsibilities?

Choosing repertoire for my concert programs, keeping my voice in shape, serving as my own manager and agent and overseeing publicity.

What is your favorite part of your job?

All of it!

What do you dislike about your job?

Not enough time to learn new repertoire.

Have you had any turning-point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?

When I was not hired by any opera house in Germany, I reassessed my career. I knew that the audience for programs of lighter music was much larger than that for classical vocal recitals. I had done these lighter programs for years and simply decided to expand in this direction.

How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?

When I began singing lessons in high school, I found that singing became a greater passion than literature.

How did you get into this industry?

When I was a student, I entered local pageants in the Miss Massachusetts Pageant program (part of the Miss America system). In the pageants, talent was always fifty percent of the points, so it was a good place to showcase my ability as a singer. I won several titles, the last being Miss Boston, had a brochure made up and mailed it out to women’s organizations. The calls started coming in for programs.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

The fact that I am still in demand, I am singing well, and continue to come up with ideas for new programs.

If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?

Arts administration, fund raising, psychotherapist, English teacher, voice teacher.

What professional publications do you read?

Opera News Magazine.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

If singing is a great enough passion, you will find a way to make it happen, no matter what obstacles you encounter.