Want to make singing your career? Here are some ideas from Brooklyn, NY voice teacher Liz T. to make a living using your voice!
Having the gift of a great singing voice is not something you should let go to waste! While you are out there auditioning and recording, waiting for your big break, there are many performing opportunities that will help you get to the next level of your singing career! Check out these fun, unique jobs for singers that I have personally enjoyed doing.
1. Theme Parks
Theme parks are a great way for young singers to get performance experience. The entertainment is always top quality at parks such as Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Hershey Park, Cedar Point, Dollywood, and of course all of the Disney parks. Theme park shows include many different styles, including country, rock, R&B, and even opera!
If you get a summer gig working at a theme park, be prepared for hard work. Most singers’ schedules are six days a week, with possible shows from 10 am to 10 pm. You have to keep your body healthy during this intense schedule, especially if you are performing outdoors in the hot summer heat. Theme parks can pay anywhere from $400-$1,000 a week, depending if you are equity or not (some theme parks will hire both equity and non-equity actor/singers). Make sure to check if the theme park gig comes with housing, a meal plan, gym access, etc. — some parks will have these benefits for singers, while some will not.
Also, theme parks are a great way to take advantage of the holidays! Many of them have special Christmas or Halloween shows. They may need carolers for their Christmas season, or actors for their Halloween haunted house. Work as much as you can during these holidays, and your bank account will be happy!
2. Cruise Ships
Cruise ships are a great opportunity to perform the music you love, and to travel the world. You might be singing with a jazz big band, a Latin trio, or in a musical theater show. You can find opportunities directly with cruise lines, such as Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, and Disney; there are also many agencies that you can audition for privately that can place you on these cruise ships.
The perks of working on a cruise ship are that you get free room, board, and meal plan. On board as a performer, you will work pretty much every single day, including holidays, but only for a few hours, usually in the evenings. You will have your days free to spend in port, sightseeing. Performers are treated very nicely on the ships, with many cruise lines giving you special guest privileges to the spa and gym. It’s also a great way to interact and meet other crew members and guests from all around the world. Most cruise contracts range from 3-10 months straight at sea, with no time off, and the salary ranges from $400-$1,200 a week.
Being a musical soloist at your local church or synagogue is a great way to share your musical passion with your community! Often, cantors are needed for masses, weddings, and funerals. Cantors will need to be familiar with classical, gospel, and American music. Compensation may be different for each service. Singing religious music is also a great way to stay in vocal shape and to work on your sight reading! These gigs are also great because they are mostly on weekends, so you can still take other work.
Also if you have piano or musical directing skills, you can become a musical director in your place of worship. This includes putting together the musical liturgy every week and perhaps directing the choir or ensemble.
These are usually quick, easy jobs for singers to supplement their income. Big organizations or freelancers often need singers to sing or speak for their original recording, which could be a radio ad, jingle, web series, or podcast. I would first approach this as a freelancer, looking in your local entertainment job listings. Make sure you have a demo of your vocal recordings — you can also pitch these to agents and casting directors. You’ll find many jobs if you have a versatile voice, such as being able to record in different accents, languages, and age ranges. Rates for voice-over projects vary depending on your union status, and don’t be afraid to negotiate!
5. Teaching Voice
There’s no better way to share your love for singing than by teaching others! If you have received your training and hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in Music, then you are qualified to teach in most institutions (each state varies). There are many schools looking for choral and general music teachers, as well as artists-in-residence for after-school programs. Also, you can start off being a private lesson teacher to students in your community. This is a great option because you can set up a studio in your own home, as well as set your own rates and times. You can even become a voice teacher with TakeLessons!
6. GB Bands
Creating your own GB (general business) band or cover band is a great way to get out there performing! Your band might perform at weddings, restaurants, or corporate events. It’s a great way to make some nice money and also get comfortable performing on stage with a live band (and audience). These gigs pay pretty well — sometimes you can make up to $1,000 on a weekend! All you need is your own microphone, and the patience to have a few hundred cover songs under your belt! It’s also a good way to develop your own material, and put your own songs to practice. (Make sure you have a nice video reel to send to companies or promoters booking your act.)
As you can see, there are tons of good jobs for singers to look into! You can absolutely make money and do what you love at the same time. Get on out there and sing!
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!
Photo by Jeff