Pop Music Careers

How to become singer

What does a singer do?

Singers perform in a variety of styles to suit a particular audience. They could be involved in rock, pop, jazz, folk, country and western, world, or light music. Singers can work as part of a duo, in small groups, or as soloists. It is common to hire the services of an agent, or manager, to find work and negotiate recording contracts.

Singers may include dance and movement as part of their performance. They might appear in videos or on television, if successful. Some popular musicians also compose their own work. They sometimes record music for albums or session work.


What's the working environment like for singers?

Singers work long and irregular hours, commonly working evenings and weekends. Time is often spent learning music, in rehearsals, or looking for new work. Recording in studios frequently takes many hours and can run until late at night.

Singers perform in a wide range of places, from arts centres, restaurants, theatres and music venues, to hotels, pubs, and clubs, and some large concerts and festivals are held outdoors in parks, arenas or stately homes.

As with other types of musician, singers can spend considerable time travelling both around the UK or abroad, and can be away from home for long periods. They usually need their own transport, and if in a group, might have a van and road crew.


What does it take to become a singer?

To be a singer, you should:

  • be musically talented and creative

  • enjoy performing to an audience

  • have a lively and energetic personality

  • be resourceful, independent and disciplined

  • enjoy working as part of a team

  • have good health and stamina

  • have the self-confidence to accept occasional criticism, disappointment and rejection


It's not all rock n roll

We asked a working musician what he thought was important to remember when getting into the music industry...

'You have to be hard working; you’ve got to be prepared to roll your sleeves up and you have to have a certain mindset. Quitters won’t survive a second in this industry. It’s all about the clichés like, ‘No means not right now’ – never take no as a solid answer from anybody. Even people who don’t like you, if you keep doing what you do and believing in it, they will come round. Just don’t give up.'

Read the full interview here


Career opportunities

Opportunities exist in musical shows, clubs, bands, film or recording companies. The majority of popular musicians are self-employed, as opportunities for full- time employment are fairly limited. Many singers work on a part-time basis and combine performing with another job. Opportunities often depend on the success and reputation of the musician.

Some progress to composing for other musicians or teaching music.

Much of the work is based in London or other major cities. Increasingly, there are opportunities to work abroad on cruise ships and in holiday resorts.


Watch our video

Jade and Oscar explain what education is needed to be a singer...

Further information

If you would like to know anything about being a singer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Phonographic Institute (BPI)


British Actors Equity Association
Guild House
Upper St Martin’s Lane
Tel: 020 7379 6000


Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)
10 Stratford Place
Tel: 020 7629 4413

Musicians Union
60-62 Clapham Road
Tel: 020 7582 5566

245 Sandycombe Road
Kew Gardens
Tel:020 8332 6303

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St

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