Many people dream of being a rock star…so many in fact that a very small percentage of those that aspire to be rock stars will ever achieve their goals.
If you love music and are struggling to get by as a musician, you may consider getting a job in the music industry. That way you can work in an environment you enjoy. You may also be able to build connections that will get you closer to becoming successful with your own craft.
In the world of music, there are so many careers you can get into. Here are just a few to consider.
A & R
It is typical for larger music labels to have an A&R department. A & R stands for Artists and Repertoire and the department is responsible for scouting artists and helping them develop.
There are many positions available in a record company’s A&R department including the following:
A&R Administrator: An administrator takes care of clerical tasks in the A& R office. It’s likely you won’t need a degree to land this position, but administrative experience will help. It’s a good way to get in on the ground floor of a music industry career.
A&R Director: An A&R director oversees the A&R department. He or she has a powerful position in the company and is responsible for the direction that label is going in.
A&R Manager: Managers negotiate with artists on record and publishing deals.
A&R Rep: An A&R Rep goes out in the field to find new artists to sign.
Artist Manager: An artist manager works closely with an artist keeping their best interests in mind. They work with other parties to make arrangements for performances and appearances, business deals and press and media and they may even help the artist develop as a musician.
Business Management: Managers can also manage music related businesses. This can include anything from shops that sell musical instruments to rehearsal and recording studios to venues… and the list goes on. It is helpful to have a music business degree if you are opening your own business, but it’s not necessary.
No musician sounds great if they don’t have a good soundman supporting them.
If you are a musician, it’s likely you’ve already picked up on some basics that will help you develop as a soundman, but it’s helpful to have some sort of degree or certification under your belt. Once you have earned some experience, here are some career fields to consider.
Record Producer: A record producer works in a recording studio. It is up to them to decide how they want the recording to go as far as who records what when and so on. They will also have input as far as the sound they are looking to get out of the finished product.
Record Engineer: It is a record engineer’s job to follow the producer’s wishes. He or she does the actual recording, mixing and mastering to make sure the songs sound their best. In cases where no producer is present, the band may act as the producer telling the engineer what needs to be done.
Live Sound: If you do live sound, you will be responsible for getting a mix in a live setting. It will be up to you use a soundboard (digital or otherwise) to manipulate the sounds onstage to make sure everything is even and balanced. As a live soundman, you may work in a club, an upscale rehearsal studio or you may tour with a band doing their sound as they perform at various venues.
It is important for musicians to stay in the public eye. To do so, theyl need a public relations people working for them. Here are some jobs you can get in the public relations department.
PR Person: As a PR person, you will be responsible for writing up press releases and sending them out to media outlets to see who bites. PR can be frustrating because there’s no guarantee that you will get the band you are promoting a writeup, but if you make enough connections, you will be successful. PR agents may own their own business or they may work for an existing company.
Social Media Marketing: As a social media marketer, it will be up to you to make sure the artist you’re representing has a strong online presence in their social media platforms. You may be given existing content that you will need to post or it may be up to you to create and post the content.
If you have to create the content, you will need strong writing skills and you will have to know what type of posts will appeal to the artist’s target audience. A social media marketer may work for a PR firm, a record label or they may do freelance work.
Blogger/Journalist: If you have strong writing skills, you may consider getting a job as a music blogger or journalist. A journalist typically works for an existing publication while a blogger can start their own blog or work for a larger online media source. If you start your own blog, it may be a while before it takes off, but if it does, it can pay off big time.
Tour Publicist: A tour publicist makes sure bands are well organized to promote themselves while on tour. They set up interviews in each city seeing to it that the artists they represent get a fair amount of local exposure. They may work for the artist’s PR firm and connect with the band virtually or they may actually go on tour with the artist to oversee meetings so everything runs smoothly.
In order to work in the field of music law, you will need a music law degree. It can take many years of education before you earn your degree, but it is quite a lucrative career field.
Music Lawyer: As a music lawyer, you will look over all official documents for the artist you represent. These can include anything from record contracts to booking deals and so on. If the artist ends up getting sued or filing a lawsuit, you will need to represent them in court.
Music Legal Secretary: A legal secretary does more than make appointments, file and data entry. He or she may also need to review legal documents before passing them onto a lawyer. Therefore, it’s helpful if a secretary has a degree or prior experience working in the music law industry.
Musicians make a lot of money, but many of them end up going broke. That’s why it’s important for them to have a strong financial team. If you are good with numbers and love music, here are some career paths you might consider.
Business Manager: A business manager oversees their client’s financial affairs. They are responsible for making a budget, dealing with taxes, collecting money, paying invoices and handling investments.
Entertainment Accountant: An entertainment accountant is responsible for handling the bookkeeping and taxes of music artists and music related businesses. In order to qualify, you must be a licensed CPA. Experience in the entertainment industry will also be helpful.
Royalty Coordinator: Royalty coordinators review contracts and solve discrepancies. They make sure artists, record labels are properly compensated.
Music is very much about a live experience. We already talked about how important it is to have a great soundperson working with you but there are other factors that play a role in how well a live show goes. If you are all about making things happen in a live environment, here are some career options to consider.
Promoter: A promoter is in charge of booking bands and they will also promote the show. They may work with one specific club or they may represent the band or a promotion company.
Event Producer: An event producer will oversee how the event is organized. They will be in charge of deciding the order of the bands. They will work with others to make sure each band gets on and off stage on time and direct other aspects of the show that may come into play. The job of an event producer can get pretty taxing if they are producing a festival or a live show of similar magnitude.
Booking Agent: A booking agent works with artists to book performances. They usually book entire tours but they may also book one off appearances. It is up to a booking agent to make sure the artist gets paid and to see to it that all the items in their waiver are agreed to.
Tour Managers: Tour managers go on tour with bands. They make sure that everything runs smoothly while the band is out on tour. They see to it that the pay is collected, that all merch is handled properly, that travel arrangements are going as planned and that everyone is on the bus when it’s time to head to the next city.
Roadie: Typically a roadie is designated to one band member. It’s up to them to make sure their musician has everything they need when they’re on stage and that their instruments are tuned. They may also have to do odd tasks such as running out at 3 AM to buy a bag of Cheet-ohs or to steal the opening band’s clothing before they go onstage.
It’s difficult to make money playing in a band, but another option for being successful as a musician is to compose music and hope it gets placed in a movie or TV show or that a well-known artist uses it and makes it a hit. However, even taking this route, you will need someone to represent you. Here are the people who can make it happen.
Music Publisher: Music publishers secure and manage the copyrights of music compositions. They promote their catalogue’s songs in the hopes that they get picked up by film, television, advertising groups or another artist.
Music Supervisors: Music Supervisors select and license songs and recordings to be used in movies, TV shows and video games.
Song Pluggers: Song pluggers pitch songs to artists and record labels hoping they can make them a hit.
Working at a radio station can be a pretty exciting job. You can hear new music as it comes in and even push it into rotation to give artists a leg up. People who work at a radio station may also get perks like free tickets to music events, swag and more.
Even though deejays are the voice of radio, running a radio station takes a big crew. Here are some jobs that are available.
Program Directors: A program director controls the direction the radio station is going in. They are in charge of their on air personalities and they oversee what music gets played on the station. They keep track of what deejays and music is getting the best responses and they make improvements as needed.
DeeJays: DeeJays are in charge of playing music and announcing the songs and artists being played. They may also add other interesting tidbits to keep the audience engaged. Talk show hosts are similar to disc jockeys but they do not play as much music (if any) and they talk to the audience a lot more.
Producers: Producers are in charge of the radio show’s content. They decide what guests will be interviewed, the talk show topics and what current events should be announced and discussed.
Board Operators: Board operators operate control boards at radio stations. In doing so, they oversee how long programs will be, when commercials air and when other content is scheduled. They are also in charge of making sure the station complies with FCC rules and that the equipment runs properly. They activate the Emergency Alert System in case of serious weather conditions or a missing persons report.
Account Executives: Radio stations rely on advertising for financial support. It is up to account executives to cultivate and maintain relationships with their clients to ensure the station has the funds to keep going.
Jobs for Musicians
While it’s difficult for musicians to earn a living playing original music, there are jobs that they can do to make money while doing what they love to do. Here are a few suggestions.
Studio Musician: There are many solo artists who don’t have set musicians they play with. The musicians they use may come in to play on recordings and they may also end up going on tour with the artists. They can get paid a decent amount of money.
To be successful as a studio musician, you really have to hustle make connections and, because jobs are temporary, you may often find yourself scrounging for your next meal. But once you make a name for yourself in the industry, your career can really take off.
It is helpful for studio musicians to have a music school degree and an ability to read music.
An Orchestra Musician: If you are classically trained, you may get a seat in an orchestra. You will have to work hard to pass auditions and maintain high standards but the pay is terrific and the lifestyle is somewhat glamorous. You can also make a name for yourself as a successful musician.
While it is common to think of orchestras as playing classical music only, there are also orchestras that play jazz, show tunes and more.
An Orchestra Conductor: There have been plenty of jokes about orchestra conductors and whether what they do would be considered a skill but, believe me when I tell you, they are laughing all the way to the bank. Conductors can make millions of dollars and are kind of like the rock stars of classical music.
Songwriters: Previously in the article, we talked about music supervisors and publishers and song pluggers and how can place songs to help songwriters make money. Well, not only can you be the person that places the song, you can be the person who writes the song. You might not have a great voice or image, but if you have a knack for writing hits, you can make tons of money.
And if you are better at writing ambient music, you can try your hand at composing music for movies, TV shows, video games and more.
Cover Band Musician: With everything old being new again, there is plenty of demand for cover bands. People have fun and get nostalgic when they hear their favorite songs being played by cover bands, especially when the musicians that originally played them are deceased or too old to tour.
Because cover bands are in demand, promoters tend to compensate them well when they play in their clubs. Musicians can make $50 to $100 a night which can really add up if they play out frequently enough. Some cover bands are so successful, they end up touring which can result in even more income.
The music industry is very exciting but it can be difficult to make it as an artist. Fortunately, there are tons of other career options for those who are intent on moving forward in this field. What position do you feel is right for you?