When I’m networking on and offline, looking for promotion and performance opportunities, I often ask myself if the musician opportunity is actually for me as a singer.
I see ads like “looking for musicians” or competitions that are “calling all musicians" and wonder, are they including singers like me?
Technically, a singer uses their voice as an instrument, but sometimes advertisers and other music makers in the world don’t like to include vocalists under the umbrella term 'musician.' Are singers musicians? Definitely. Do all people follow this logic? Definitely not.
Let’s look at some instances where a musician is also a singer and other instances where there's a difference between a singer and a musician.
When you enter the world of professional singing and get paid for your work, you will be called a singer, a performer, an artist, and sometimes a musician.
Celebrity music artists often have the title ‘musician’ in their titles and biography on their professional profiles' introductory text.
It doesn't matter if you also play other instruments; you are a musician because you use your voice as a musical instrument and the industry as a whole understands this.
Related Post: How To Write A Musician Bio That Stands Out
If a job/gig is calling for musicians, most likely, they are not including singers. If they’re looking for singers, they will definitely state that specifically in the ad and not consider a singer a musician.
In the gig world, instrumentalists are far more flexible when it comes to doing temporary work, possibly filling in for band members on leave. The lead singer’s position is often more difficult and extensive a process to fill, so the ads for singers are always separate.
If you’re interested in teaching music to others, you will likely need to have experience as a musician.
This one is tricky: a lot of singers in styles like jazz and classical are trained to read and analyze music like an instrumentalist would, so they are proof that singers can definitely be considered musicians.
But if you don’t have a musician's background, including music theory, ear training, and sight-reading (which is something instrumentalists have way more often than singers), then you might not have enough musicianship for the job.
If you’re looking to perform without other instrumentalists, you will possibly be asked if you’re a musician or singer, or both. Or people will ask you if there will be musicians backing you up. Don’t take offense if you’re only using your voice as your instrument!
Many singers fix the confusion of this scenario by picking up either piano or guitar, which, more importantly, serves to help the musicality of their solo performances compared to using a backing track if you don't or can't hire other musicians.
Related Post: What's The Difference Between A Singer And A Vocalist?
So the question of whether a singer is a musician is subjective, and the answer can vary depending on who you ask.
From a technical standpoint, singers use their voices as musical instruments, and they can also have musical backgrounds that include training in music theory, ear training, and sight-reading. However, in some instances, job opportunities that are looking for musicians may not include singers.
When it comes to career titles, singers can also be considered musicians, as seen in the titles of many music artists' professional profiles.
In terms of teaching music, singers may need to have a musician's background, but this can also depend on the style of music and the requirements of the job.
Ultimately, it's important to remember that music is a collaborative art form, and the different roles and instruments involved all contribute to the final product.
Singers can enhance their musicality and solo performances by learning to play an instrument, but they should also be proud of their unique abilities as vocalists.
Whether you consider yourself a singer, a musician, or both, what matters most is your passion for music and your dedication to your craft.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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