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Careers in Music

Dec 06, 2010

Does music move you more than business or banking? Don't miss these 10 exciting musical career opportunities for performers, educators and industry professionals.

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studio musician

Performance

Many young musicians dream of becoming rock stars, but only a few will make it to the top. Here are a few performing careers you can pursue to pay the bills while you work your way toward stardom:

Session Musician

Also known as a studio musician, these musical artists can be heard on almost any recording. From backup guitar on your favorite pop artist's new hit track to that chorus of violins on a movie soundtrack, session musicians are the background backbone of the music recording industry. Getting a few gigs as a studio musician can also be a great way to meet the right people to get your own recording contract.

Happier on stage than in the studio? Many session musicians also go on tour playing backup for your favorite musical stars.

Background Vocalist

If your best instrument is your voice, then consider a career as a background vocalist. Similar to a session musician, these singing artists put their voices to work supporting major artists in recording sessions and at live stage shows. Background vocalists may also find work singing advertising jingles or performing on the radio.

Floor Show Band

Most musicians are entertainers at heart and putting together a floor show band is a great way to exercise that urge. These groups work in resorts, night clubs, hotels, casinos, cruise ships, bars - anywhere that a musical group is needed to liven up the atmosphere and entertain the crowd (think Vegas!). This career requires a little more entrepreneurial spirit to get started, but many established floor show bands have regular gigs that bring in a reliable income.

Orchestra Musician

Do your talents lie in classical music and instrumentation? Try auditioning for the local orchestra. Although orchestra positions are highly coveted, and therefore competitive, it's worth the work to get the job. A career as an orchestral musician can give you the opportunity to travel the country - and even the world - playing music.

Accompanist

If you enjoy playing music with a wide variety of different people, this is a great gig for you. Accompanists work with other performers in rehearsals, at auditions or during theatrical performances.

Songwriter

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Jazz
  • Music Composition and Theory
  • Music History and Literature
  • Music Merchandising and Management
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music Performing
  • Musical Conducting
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology
  • Piano and Organ
  • Stringed Instruments
  • Voice and Opera

Industry

Not interested in a career as a performer? There are hundreds of other positions in the industry that has built up around music. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Songwriter

While some famous performers are poets as well as musicians, many have built their careers on songs written by professionals. There are many different positions for songwriters, including freelance, staff writing at record labels and production companies and jingle writers for radio and television. Some songwriters even become music supervisors for film or TV, scouting out or commissioning the best music for movies or shows.

Music Journalist

If you'd rather write about music, consider a career as a music journalist. From local rags such as LA Weekly or The Village Voice to internationally distributed magazines such as Rolling Stone, many publications still employ staff and freelance music critics and journalists. You may also want to start a music blog in order to break into the fast-growing online media industry, which includes popular music sites like Idolator.

Music Teacher

One of the best ways to share your passion for music is to teach, and there are many different ways to break into the music education game. Private tutoring and personal lessons are very popular because music is easier to learn with a lot of individual attention. People who are interested in earning a teaching certificate can also teach in schools at the elementary or secondary levels. And if you want to study music all the way through the doctoral level, you can also pursue a career as a university music educator.

Concert Promoter

Do you love to throw parties and events? Are all your friends in bands or running nightclubs? Then a career as a concert promoter may be the music industry job for you. Promoters can work for individual venues or large production companies, scouting bands, advertising shows and doing whatever it takes to get people excited and in the door.

Talent Agent

Talent agents, also known as publicists or booking agents, represent the other side of the concert promotion business - the bands. Agents typically have a stable of musicians and bands whom they represent, finding them gigs, negotiating fees and helping them get known in the industry. A talent agent should be an excellent schmoozer and have no trouble making contacts in the music industry.

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