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Musician vs. Singer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Music is a passion for many people, and there are a variety of ways to make a career in this field. Two common roles are that of a musician and a singer. Though both positions require talent and practice, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a musician and a singer, and we provide additional music-related professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is a Musician?

Musicians play one or more musical instruments in a group or ensemble, such as an orchestra, band, or jazz group. They may also play music by themselves as a solo artist. Musicians must be able to read and interpret sheet music, which is a written representation of the notes that should be played on an instrument. They must also be familiar with the timbre, or tone, of their instrument and how to produce the desired sound. In a group setting, musicians must be able to play in harmony with other instruments and follow the lead of the conductor.

What is a Singer?

A Singer is a professional who uses their voice to sing songs. They may sing solo or as part of a group. Singers perform in a variety of genres, including pop, rock, jazz, classical, opera and country. They may sing in a recording studio, on a stage, in a movie or on television. Some Singers write their own songs, while others perform songs written by other people.

Musician vs. Singer

Here are the main differences between a musician and a singer.

Job Duties

Musicians and singers share some job duties, such as practicing their craft, performing in public and recording music. The major difference is that musicians perform using an instrument or multiple instruments, while singers perform vocal performances. This means that a musician may use the voice as one of many tools to create music, while a singer uses music as one of many tools to create vocal performances.

Another key difference is that a singer typically works alone to record vocals, while a musician often works in a group to record other instrumental parts for an album. Singers also usually work alone when they prepare for a performance, while musicians often collaborate with each other during rehearsal to create musical arrangements.

Job Requirements

Musicians and singers typically need to have a bachelor’s degree in music or a related field. Some musicians and singers also pursue a master’s degree, which can help them land more advanced positions. Many programs include coursework on topics like music theory, ear training and sight singing. Students might also take classes on their instrument or voice type. In addition to their academic coursework, many musicians and singers participate in ensembles and other performance opportunities to gain experience performing live.

Work Environment

Musicians and singers often work in similar environments, such as recording studios or concert venues. However, musicians may spend more time practicing their craft than singers do. Singers also typically perform for a live audience, while musicians record music to be played on the radio or television.

Musicians may travel with their band to different cities to play shows, but they can also practice at home or in other locations where they have access to instruments and equipment. Singers usually only travel to perform for an audience, so they don’t need to pack up all of their belongings when traveling.


Both musicians and singers need to have excellent pitch and rhythm. They also both need to be able to sight read music, which is the ability to look at a piece of sheet music and play it correctly on the first try. Musicians and singers also both need to have good breath control so they can hold notes for long periods of time without running out of breath.

Musicians need to be able to play their chosen instrument well. This means they need to have good technique and be able to play complex pieces of music. Singers need to have good vocal technique so they can sing in a way that is pleasing to the ear and does not damage their voice. They also need to be able to control their volume and projection.

Both musicians and singers need to be able to perform in front of an audience. This means they need to have stage presence and the ability to engage with an audience. They also both need to be able to work well under pressure and handle nerves.


Musicians can earn an average salary of $48,415 per year, while singers can earn an average salary of $69,614 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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