Music Entertainer: Career Profile

Sep 14, 2019

You'll need extensive musicianship experience in order to be a successful music entertainer, and variety of formal education opportunities can better prepare you for this position. Additionally, music entertainers usually earn an hourly rate but their pay varies greatly based on a number of factors.

Essential Information

A music entertainer or musician may play an instrument or sing to earn a living. Musicians may be self-employed and earn money by performing in a variety of venues, or they may find permanent work as session musicians or as instrumentalists with a professional choir, to name a few options. Many jazz, classical, and opera musicians earn Bachelor of Music degrees. Others obtain their training through close study with professional musicians. Those hoping to work as professional musicians should be prepared to work sporadic hours.

Required Education Bachelor's degrees for opera singers, classical musicians, and jazz musicians are recommended but not required
Other Requirements Long-term musical training
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 0% (for musicians and singers)*
Median Hourly Wage (2018) $28.15 per hour (for musicians and singers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Music Entertainer Career Overview

A music entertainer is an individual who sings or specializes in instrumental musicianship. This type of music professional might play one specific instrument or style of music, but someone who has a broad range of musical abilities typically experiences better job prospects. Musical entertainers commonly perform in front of live audiences, but they may also be recorded. They might work alone, with orchestras or with other musicians. Creative stage performances with elements of dance and visuals arts can boost the entertainment factor. Entertainers should be prepared for irregular work hours, late nights and traveling.

Earnings Information and Career Outlook

As of May 2018, there were 187,600 professional musicians and singers employed in the United States, according to the BLS. There are many factors that can affect how much musical entertainers are paid, including whether they are self-employed or whether they work in an orchestra or band. In May 2018, the BLS reported that musicians in the 90th percentile or higher earned $73.34 or more per hour, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $10.40 or less per hour. The BLS reports no growth for musicians and singers through 2018.

Education Options

The BLS states that professional musicians must have a significant amount of training to do their job. One option is to work and study with a professional musician. This type of training can begin when aspiring musicians are young.

Another avenue is formal education, offered at colleges and music schools. To enter into such a program, individuals typically must audition. Various programs are offered, including the Associate of Fine Arts in Musical Performance, Bachelor of Music in Performance, Bachelor of Arts in Music and Master of Music. In addition, undergraduate and graduate certificates in performance are available.

Topics of Study

Formal programs include studies of music history and theory as well as performance-based courses in vocal music or instrumental music. Students learn about techniques of listening designed to improve their musical skills and may be required to take classes in conducting. They are exposed to worldwide musical styles and professional practices; they could study jazz, sacred music and Broadway. Students often must demonstrate their musical performance and entertainment abilities through participation in recitals or other ensembles.

As a musician you'll have a variety of viable career paths each with their own unique set of rewards and challenges. While there is no formal education path that guarantees success or a consistent career as a music entertainer, there are many ways one can further their knowledge and talent in musicianship. Music entertainers often work under irregular and inconsistent work conditions and their pay reflects that; however extensive practice and formal training can help make for a more consistent career.

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