What is a Session Singer? The Basics of Pro Vocals Explained

Vocals can make or break a track. The right singer on the right song can turn a common instrumental into hit material.

But vocals aren’t easy… Especially when singing isn’t your thing. You can’t fake good vocals.

That’s where session singers come in.

In the session singer and vocalist guide you’ll learn what session vocalists do, why they’re a great option for adding new layers to your music, and how to find and hire session singers for your next project.

Let’s get started.

What are session singers and vocalists?

Session singers, or session vocalists, are musicians that provide vocal performances and recordings for producers, bands or artists on a per-contract basis. Session singers duties can vary based on the needs of a project.

What do session singers do?

Roles and duties that session singers carry out for different projects can vary greatly.

A contract may call for only a few simple vocal melodies, while others include writing duties, lyrics and performances across an entire album or project.

The most common types of session singers and gigs are:

Backing vocalists and backup singers

Backing vocalists typically provide recorded or performed supporting vocal or vocal harmonies to existing compositions

Lead singer or featured singer

Lead singers and featured singers working on a session typically provide lead vocal or featured vocals for recordings such as demos or syncs.

Lyricist singers

It’s not uncommon for session singers to also compose and write lyrics in addition to providing vocal recordings.

It’s not uncommon for session singers to also compose and write lyrics in addition to providing vocal recordings.


A topliner is a vocalist that provides lyrics, melody, or both to an existing composition. Topliner gigs are most common in electronic genres like EDM and house.

Why should you hire a session singer?

Singing and recording good vocal performances is one of the most specialized talents in music.

Working with a session singer helps you unlock all the potential of professional vocals without attempting to do it yourself…

Vocal samples will only get you so far, and nothing compares to the richness or layers backing or lead vocals can lend to a project.

Plus, there’s tons of different approaches to choose from on musician networking platforms like LANDR Network giving you access to a huge vocal range to choose from.

There’s not faking good vocals, so hiring a session singer is an incredible opportunity to add some new layers to your music.

How to find and hire session singers

Working within your local network to find vocalists that fit your project can be tough and takes time to find the right fit.

Online networking platforms for musicians have made it much easier to find a whole range of vocalists for hire that can complete all types of session singer gigs big and small.

Gigs can include something as small as a few vocal recordings you can sample later all the way to lyrics, topline and recordings across an entire album.

Browse Session Singers to find the perfect vocals for your track.

How to work with a session vocalist

Hiring a session singer does require a bit of preparation on your end. Just like any other collaboration, you need to do your best to make it a success.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind as you start reach out to session vocalists for your project:

Make sure your tracks are ready for vocals

You’ll get much better results from working with session musicians if your material is organized and ready to go.

That means session files or stems that are easy to interpret for a vocalist.

The more streamlined your project is, the easier it will be for a session singer to give you the best possible performances.

Know what you’re looking for and communicate clearly

Consider writing a short brief for each vocal performance that includes information like notes on specific approaches and inspirational cues that match the sound you’re looking for.

Be clear and up front about your process and revisions and give the session vocalist clear and actionable instructions.

This will help you get the most from your collaboration and pave the way for future work when everything goes well.

Remember, even though you’re paying for the gig, it’s still a collaboration. Be prepared so the process can stay creative and fruitful.

How to become a session singer

If you’re a passionate singer with strong musical chops, you might want to find work as a professional vocalist.

If you’re a passionate singer with strong musical chops, you might want to find work as a professional vocalist.

Session singers tend to be highly trained or experienced with their craft. Sought after pros often have extensive music education and hours of performance under their belt.

Even so, you can make money as a hired singer if you’re willing to work hard and grow your network.

Getting started comes down to making sure you’re available and reachable with good recordings and demos of your vocal range and a solid online presence that outlines what your abilities are.

Start small. It’s tough to expect tons of session gigs right away. But by building lasting relationship and referrals through each gig, building a good network of clients is achievable.

Think vocal

There’s no substitute for a perfect vocal performance on the right track.

Vocals don’t have to be hard. Working with session singers opens new doors to vocal performances of all types.

So start looking for the right vocalist today and find out all the benefits of adding a session singer to your next project!