Career Facts

Investigate MORE INFO on all professions that sound interesting. Take your time. Don't skip a step.

Job Outlook: 0% (Little or no change)

  1. Is WHAT YOU DO enjoyable?
  2. Does the WORK ENVIRONMENT feel comfortable?
  3. Are you ok with THE REQUIREMENTS?
  4. Is the PAY ENOUGH?
  5. Is the JOB OUTLOOK positive- more than 7%?
  6. Still interested? WATCH THE VIDEO
  7. RELATED OCCUPATIONS Click here to view similar jobs.
FIND A JOB and more.

What Musicians and Singers Do About this section

Musicians and singers
Musicians in bands may play clubs and bars while they try to build enough fans to get a recording contract or representation by an agent.

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. They perform a variety of genres, such as classical, jazz, and rock.

Duties

Musicians and singers typically do the following:

  • Perform music for live audiences and recordings
  • Audition for positions in orchestras, choirs, bands, and other types of music groups
  • Practice playing instruments or singing to improve their technique
  • Rehearse music and parts to prepare for performances
  • Find and book locations for performances or concerts
  • Promote their careers by maintaining a website or social media presence or by doing photo shoots and interviews

Musicians play one or more instruments. To make themselves more marketable, many become proficient in multiple musical instruments or styles. Some diversify by both singing and playing instruments.

Musicians play solo or in orchestras, bands, or limited-size groups, such as trios. Those in bands or groups may play at small venues, such as private parties or bars, sometimes building enough of a fan base to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Musicians who work in orchestras perform in venues with a stage large enough to accommodate all the musicians and their instruments. A few orchestra musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals.

Singers perform vocal music in a variety of genres. Some specialize in a particular vocal style, such as opera or jazz. Singers may perform in different languages, such as French or Italian, particularly if they specialize in classical music or opera. In addition to singing, those in opera and musical theater productions must act during their performances.

Musicians who specialize in playing backup for a singer or band leader during recording sessions and live performances are known as session musicians. Singers who provide background vocals to harmonize with or support a lead singer are known as backup singers or backing vocalists.

Sometimes, musicians and singers write their own music to record and perform. For more information about careers in songwriting, see the profile on music directors and composers.

Some musicians and singers give private music lessons to children and adults. Others with a background in music may teach music in elementary, middle, and high schools, which typically requires a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. For more information, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

Work Environment About this section

Musicians and singers
Some musicians and singers spend time in recording studios.

Musicians and singers held about 151,300 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of musicians and singers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 44%
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 43
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 9
Educational services; state, local, and private 3

Musicians and singers perform in settings such as concert halls, churches, and clubs. Musicians and singers travel frequently for performances, either locally, nationally, or internationally. When recording music, they may spend time in a studio.

Work Schedules

Musicians and singers often have irregular work schedules. This includes rehearsing and performing during the day or night on weekdays and weekends.

Many musicians and singers find only part-time or intermittent work and may have long periods of unemployment between jobs. The stress of constantly looking for work may require them to accept full-time jobs in other occupations while working part time as a musician or singer.

How to Become a Musician or Singer About this section

Musicians and singers
Those who work as classical musicians or singers may pursue a degree in a field such as music performance.

Musicians and singers typically do not need formal postsecondary education to enter the occupation. However, those pursuing careers in some genres, such as classical or opera, may choose to earn a bachelor’s or higher degree. Musicians and singers need extensive training and regular practice to acquire their skills.

Education

Musicians and singers typically need no postsecondary education to enter the occupation. Musicians and singers of some genres, such as classical music and opera, may pursue training that leads to a bachelor’s degree in a field such as music theory or performance. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants typically are required to submit recordings or to audition in person and sometimes must do both.

Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles. In addition, they teach methods for improving instrumental and vocal techniques and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also may include courses in diction. Courses in a foreign language may benefit students who intend to perform in that language. Some business courses, such as marketing, may be helpful for learning about the self-promotion often required for professional musicians and singers.

Some musicians and singers choose to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts or music.

Training

Musicians and singers need extensive training and regular practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to perform music professionally. They typically begin singing or learning to play an instrument at a young age by taking private lessons and school classes. As they advance, they may participate in music camps, festivals, or fellowships.

Advancement

As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers. Some musicians and singers advance to leading musical groups or becoming section leaders in an orchestra. Others may advance to become music directors and composers.

Important Qualities

Dedication. Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers must be determined to continue auditioning after receiving rejections.

Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must practice and rehearse consistently to improve their technique, style, and performance.

Interpersonal skills. Musicians and singers need to work well with a variety of people, such as agents, producers, and conductors. They must be able to build connections and create good working relationships.

Musical talent. Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.

Physical stamina. Musicians and singers who perform on stage or go on tour for weeks or months must be able to endure frequent travel and irregular performance schedules.

Promotional skills. To build a fan base, musicians and singers need to promote their music and performances through local communities, word of mouth, and social media.

Pay About this section

Musicians and Singers

Median hourly wages, May 2021

Musicians and singers

$30.49

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$23.78

Total, all occupations

$22.00

 

The median hourly wage for musicians and singers was $30.49 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.47, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88.77.

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for musicians and singers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries $36.73
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 31.11
Educational services; state, local, and private 29.13

Musicians and singers often have irregular work schedules. This includes rehearsing and performing during the day or night on weekdays and weekends.

Many musicians and singers find only part-time or intermittent work and may have long periods of unemployment between jobs. The stress of constantly looking for work may require them to accept full-time jobs in other occupations while working part time as a musician or singer.

Job Outlook About this section

Musicians and Singers

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

13%

Total, all occupations

5%

Musicians and singers

4%

 

Employment of musicians and singers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 20,800 openings for musicians and singers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession of 2020 and is likely to occur early in the projections decade.

Digital downloads and streaming platforms are expected to continue to make it easy for music fans to listen to recordings and view performances, which could lead to increased demand for musicians and singers. Moreover, some musicians and singers license their music for use in advertisements or for other commercial purposes, creating more exposure and revenue opportunities.

There may be additional demand for musicians to serve as session musicians and backup artists for recordings and to go on tour. Singers may be needed to sing backup and to make recordings for commercials, films, and television.

Employment projections data for musicians and singers, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Musicians and singers

27-2042 151,300 157,700 4 6,400 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about music careers and compensation, visit

Future of Music Coalition

For more information about music degree programs, visit

National Association of Schools of Music

CareerOneStop

For a career video on musicians and singers, visit

Musicians and Singers

O*NET

Musicians and Singers

Video