How To Become a Background Vocalist

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A background vocalist sings back up for a lead singer or a band. These singers are often professionally trained, but they remain in the background of the performance, harmonizing with the lead vocalist and entertaining the audience by carrying the chorus. Most background singers are paid by the hour for each gig they perform. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, these singers average about $22 per hour in pay.[1]

Background Vocalist.jpg

Flickr: Akeem Koss
Education High school diploma[2]
Starting pay $8.50 per hour[1]
Median pay $22.39 per hour[1]
10 yr growth Average[2]
Related professions Singer, dancer
Author Selena Robinson

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Background Vocalist Job Overview

The most important part of a background singer's job is to provide backing vocals during a performance. Often, these performers work in groups of two, three, or four, adding their voices in key places during a song. Background singers may sing much of the song's chorus or bridge. In addition, some background singers also dance during the show while singing back up for the lead performer.[3]

Musicians also use background vocalists during recording sessions. They may sing the chorus or harmonize with the lead vocals by singing an octave above or below the main singer. A group of three background vocalists may sing in three different octaves as a three-part harmony.[4]

Background Vocalist Education

Background vocalists do not need much education beyond a high school diploma. Some may even find work without ever completing high school. But, they do need to have well-trained voices, which they can achieve through practice or through formal vocal training. Obtaining a college degree in a musical major may help some new vocalists to land their first paying gigs.[3] Occasionally, a major musician or pop star may hold open auditions for new background singers, which can give an aspiring backup vocalist a chance to get started in the industry.[5]

Background Vocalist Training

Since background vocalists may have to perform with a variety of musicians and singers, much of their experience is gained as they work. At each gig, the vocalist learns how to adjust his or her voice to accompany the lead singer and how to sing in harmony with other backup singers. If a background vocalist gets hired to work on a musician's tour, he or she will have to adapt to life on the road by learning how to perform in different venues and completing long rehearsal sessions.[6]

Vocal Training for Background Singers

Professional voice lessons for aspiring singers

Also See: How to Become a Singer, How to Become a Dancer, How to Become a Composer


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