How to Get a Job in the Music Industry Music Industry: What is it A Quick Overview of Music Industry Employment Joining the Music Industry: What Will You Need First Steps to Getting a Job in the Music Industry Best Ways to Find a Job in the Music Industry How to Apply for a Music Industry Position Nail Your Music Industry Interview Final Thoughts
How to Get a Job in the Music Industry Music Industry: What is it A Quick Overview of Music Industry Employment Joining the Music Industry: What Will You Need First Steps to Getting a Job in the Music Industry Best Ways to Find a Job in the Music Industry How to Apply for a Music Industry Position Nail Your Music Industry Interview Final Thoughts
Updated 24/11/2020

How to Get a Job in the Music Industry

Is music your second nature? Do you love it so much that you are ready to make it your career? If the answers are yes, our guide is your helping hand in achieving this goal.

Is music your second nature? Do you love it so much that you are ready to make it your career? If the answers are yes, our guide is your helping hand in achieving this goal.

Music can change peoples’ moods and even help them go through a difficult time in their lives. As Bob Marley once said,

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

It’s a remedy for our souls. At the same time, it’s an exciting industry for employment—especially today, when we are witnessing radical changes in the music industry. A significant milestone was crossed in 2015 when digital music revenues exceeded physical music sales for the first time. And the process did not stop there. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry stated that in 2019 global recorded music market revenues grew to $20.2 billion while streaming revenues reached $11.4 billion. That’s more than half of the global recorded music income. The popularity of streaming services with a paid subscription has been growing rapidly and now has more than 300 million users worldwide.

Working in the music industry can be challenging but exciting. Due to its speedy evolution, this industry offers many opportunities for people with different skills and ideas.

There is tons of advice on how to get a job in the music industry, but our guide goes beyond generic recommendations. We will explain how to get into the music industry with no experience, what works in practice, and why it does. So let’s get started.

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01

Music Industry: What is it

First, you need to understand that the music industry or music business is not only about musicians, singers, bands, and record labels. It covers music creation, performance, recording, marketing, and managing. Moreover, copyright and music licensing agencies, law firms, live booking organizations, and PR companies play an integral role in this process.

In general, the operation of the music machine can be described as a network of partnerships on three sides:

  1. The music creation side with singers, songwriters, and producers;
  2. The customer-facing side with streaming and public performance platforms;
  3. The business side with labels, managers, distributors, etc. that connect the first two.

Every process in the music business requires professionals. Thus, it significantly expands employment opportunities and enables people with more than just musical skills to work in this area.

02

A Quick Overview of Music Industry Employment

Employment in the US music industry began to grow substantially since 2012. In 2015, the sector employed 1,758,930 workers, while in 2016, it created 1.9 million jobs across a variety of fields in the USA. We continued to observe gradual growth through 2019, but the COVID pandemic has affected this trend. Taking this into account, you will have to try hard to get into this field.

To better understand the music industry and find your place in it, you need to understand its career opportunities. As you might have guessed, we are talking not only about a career as a singer or musician. That is why we’ve compiled the list of five most popular music jobs that can be a helpful tool even for entry-level job seekers.

  1. Concert Promoter

    A music promoter publicizes upcoming live events and concerts on the local and national levels. This person organizes events, books artists and bands, and conducts advertising campaigns to bring in as many people as possible.

    Both experienced and junior specialists can work as concert promoters because the key to this job is to get along with people and solve problems.

  2. Sound Engineer

    A sound engineer is a unique profession. On the one hand, you should be a tech-savvy person, but on the other hand, you need a creative mind. This specialist ensures high-quality sound recording and controlling technical parameters to get the most suitable tone color.

    Having little or no experience, you can start as a sound engineer assistant and learn on the job to get promoted.

  3. Music Journalist

    As a music journalist, you can write reviews and analyze artists’ work, performances, and trends in the music business.

    This profession requires good writing and analytical skills. Previous journalism experience will be an advantage.

  4. Music Teacher

    By choosing a career as a music teacher, you can work at a school or independently as a private instructor. You can choose what to teach: theory or practice, depending on your knowledge and skills.

    If you want to teach music, you need to be an excellent communicator to transfer your knowledge to students. Moreover, you should be enthusiastic and passionate about what you are doing to motivate others. However, remember that schoolwork requires appropriate education and certificates. For becoming a private music teacher, a music degree is not essential, but it can be beneficial.

  5. Producer

    A producer’s primary responsibility is to organize musical material production and create a musical project’s image and style. However, this specialist can also perform administrative duties.

    Producers should have some musical background. This position also requires some experience, both technical and managerial. If you choose this career path, you may want to start as an engineer in studios, as a session musician, or as a concert promoter.

    These five professions are just the tip of the music industry’s giant iceberg. There are still many in-demand and well-paid professions hidden behind the curtain that make our favorite artists’ performances possible.

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03

Joining the Music Industry: What Will You Need

When choosing a particular profession, job-seekers may ask themselves, “What do I need to get it?” Do I need special education or experience, or both? Let’s dig into this question together.

Do I need a degree to enter into a musical profession?

The answer depends on the type of job you want to get and your goals. Those planning to become performers, singers, or play in music bands don’t necessarily need a professional degree. Although it can be an excellent way to gain knowledge, they can’t get independently.

However, some music industry professions require specialized education, such as record label directors, promotion agents, concert managers, etc.

Suppose you are considering a music industry managerial position. In this case, you should get a bachelor’s degree or join business school classes to learn some basics of budgeting, accounting, and preparing business documentation. A music business degree is an excellent educational option to learn the music business operations and trends in publishing, licensing, law, management, touring, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Music attorney is another profession that requires a specialized degree. This specialist drafts and negotiates contracts and files lawsuits when the client’s intellectual property rights are violated. Typically, music attorneys need a university degree and law school certificate.

The bottom line here is that you should use any advantage possible over other candidates. If professional education is that advantage, better get it.

Do I need the experience to enter into a musical profession?

As for the experience, the same rule as education apply. The experience will be your advantage. Sometimes, even the small amount or something that is not related to the job you want to get can help because it extends your knowledge and skills, which can then be transferred to another field of activity.

Some jobs in the music field don’t require extensive experience. Still, at least a minimum amount is needed. Singers or musicians with the relevant skills can find a band, create their own, or perform solo to get it, but management professions or more narrowly focused ones may have higher requirements. For example, an artist’s manager will need 1-2 years of managerial experience. The situation is similar to lawyers, therapists, marketing consultants, etc.

Here is our advice for those who want to work in the music field but don’t see themselves as singers or musicians:

  • get at least minimum experience in the area you are engaged;
  • then move into the music business, linking your previous work experience with a new direction.
A cover letter is especially important for candidates who plan to change their field of activity. It’s a chance to present transferable skills and catch the recruiter’s attention. Don’t miss it.
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04

First Steps to Getting a Job in the Music Industry

The best way to gain experience, knowledge, and skills at the same time is through practice. It’s an excellent opportunity for a beginner to learn more about the music business, meet the right people, or join a professional team.

In the music field, this practice can be gained in several ways.

  • Internships

An internship allows you to see how professionals use their skills and decide whether you want to work in a particular sphere.

As one of the most hands-on ways for a beginner to get into the music industry, internships are quite competitive. Music-related companies receive thousands of applications every year but select only a few.

Usually, music companies post information about open internships on their websites. However, they may also cooperate with colleges and universities. So, when looking for an internship, make sure to check opportunities both ways.

  • Volunteering

Volunteering for a music-related business makes you part of a musical community and gives you a sense of achievement. As a volunteer, you can work in various directions: help with organizing and holding concerts and performances, assisting with musical equipment, participating in PR activities, etc.

When starting your search for a volunteer position, we recommend checking websites of music non-profits like Musicians on Call, Music for All, and Music and Youth. Moreover, you can check music labels’ websites for open volunteer positions or search for upcoming concerts and contact organizers to offer your services.

  • Job shadowing

Job shadowing means observing specialists as they work. It is a perfect strategy for those students who don’t fit internship requirements because of their young age.

Typically, such jobs aren’t published anywhere. If you want to job shadow someone, check local music organizations and contact them to find out about such an opportunity.

05

Best Ways to Find a Job in the Music Industry

In an interview with musician, author, and music industry consultant Bobby Borg, Dr. Chaz Austin, author of the book “100 Ways To Find Work And Keep Finding Work For The Rest Of Your Career” and an employment consultant, highlighted the importance of building relationships to get a job, regardless of the industry.

Employers often hire people they know or heard about. The music industry is no exception. In fact, in this area, such an approach is used much more often. Thus, building your network, joining music-related LinkedIn communities, and visiting music events can be your key to getting a job. However, there are other ways to find a position in the music industry we want to share.

Job boards

The Internet offers a significant number of boards where you can search for openings using filters. There are also some music-related services like Music Jobs, Entertainment Careers, and Musical America.

By choosing the desired category, location, type of employment, and salary level, you will get the whole list of open vacancies. Typically, a job description contains information about a potential employer, a list of job duties, and requirements regarding education, skills, and experience. Additionally, you may find information about the application process and deadlines.

Recruitment Agencies

The recruitment company’s task is to match candidates to job vacancies. They can work with companies, including music-related ones, directly to help fill their open positions. Their consultants can inform you about jobs relevant to your experience and skills, help edit your application according to job-specific requirements, and even provide insights for interview preparation.

Company’s websites and LinkedIn profiles

Some companies may post information about open positions on their websites and LinkedIn pages. It is an excellent opportunity to find a job directly. Some companies even create online application forms.

06

How to Apply for a Music Industry Position

Applying for jobs in the music field is a lot like applying for jobs in any other area. In most cases, you will need to prepare two primary documents: a resume and a cover letter.

Resume

To write a good resume, you should focus on the main facts of your professional background. It should be clear, concise, and well-structured so that the recruiter or potential employer can easily find the information they need.

Here’s our 7-step guide on how to write a perfect resume:

  1. Specify the position you are applying for;
  2. Add your contact information (address, phone number, email);
  3. Write a summary describing who you are, what skills you have, and your achievements;
  4. Indicate your work experience in reverse chronological order, highlighting your primary duties;
  5. Include a separate section about your education, certificates, and training. However, if you have no experience at all or your experience is not related to the position you are applying for, we recommend putting your education section right after the summary;
  6. Highlight your professional skills and personal qualities;
  7. Add contact details for your references, if available.

Proofreading is a necessary process when preparing your resume. It allows you to correct possible mistakes. You should pay special attention to this stage because errors and typos can make the recruiter think you are an inattentive and sloppy person.

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Cover Letter

A cover letter’s purpose is to demonstrate your motivation, skills, interest in the position and catch the recruiter’s attention. Some of these goals overlap with the resume’s objectives, but your cover letter is the first document the recruiter will read. Thus, it’s crucial to make it professional and convincing.

Like a resume, a cover letter has its structure. It should include:

  • your contact information;
  • recipient’s details;
  • an introductory paragraph where you describe what makes you a perfect candidate;
  • cover letter body showing your motivation and skills;
  • a closing paragraph summarizing all of the above with a powerful call to action.

Your letter should be short but precise. Don’t write long text, especially if it repeats what is already indicated on your resume.

Create a customized cover letter tailored for a specific position. These four rules may help you with this task:

  1. Try to find out the recruiter’s name to address your cover letter personally;
  2. Write about skills and personal qualities that are relevant for a particular job;
  3. Show that you’ve researched the company’s history and activities;
  4. Speak the recruiter’s language, using the vocabulary from the job description.

Format and design are no less important than content. Try to use fonts that are easy to read, like Times New Roman, Cambria, Georgia, and divide your text into paragraphs to improve readability. If the position allows it, you can use a creative template to highlight your personality.

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07

Nail Your Music Industry Interview

An interview is one of the most critical steps in finding a job. It’s your opportunity to make a second first impression on a potential employer in person. Thus, it’s crucial to do your homework.

In addition to researching a company, reading a job description, and analyzing your skills and background, you need to think about what questions you might be asked during an interview and how to answer them. It will help you reduce the level of anxiety and make you feel a little more confident.

We’ve researched this topic and prepared a list of the most common music industry interview questions:

  1. What got you into the music industry?
  2. Who inspired you to make music/sing/work in the particular field of the music industry?
  3. If you could organize a show for any artist, who would it be?
  4. What is the message you want to communicate through your work?
  5. What would you be doing now if it wasn’t for your career in the music industry?
  6. Who are famous musicians you admire?

4 mistakes that can ruin your interview

Interviews can be stressful, and stress leads to mistakes. Therefore, you should not only prepare well for the meeting but also know what typical mistakes applicants make to avoid them.

  • Being late

Arrive 10-15 minutes earlier. Check the route in advance and if you are stuck in traffic, call the recruiter and explain the situation.

  • Ringing phone

A ringing phone is a demonstration of your disrespect for the interviewer. So, turn it off before entering the office, not during the conversation.

  • Excessive shyness

You are nervous, and the recruiter knows it. But try to smile and keep eye contact. Show some enthusiasm. Moreover, your job interview is not a time for false modesty. Talk about your strengths and achievements.

  • Inability to talk about music

If you want to work in the music sphere, regardless of the position, you should be able to talk about music and its aspects.

08

Final Thoughts

Getting into the music industry can be challenging, but if it’s your dream, then everything is possible. The key is to be persistent in achieving your goals and not getting too discouraged if it does not work out from the first attempt.

Make friends with the right people, develop your skills, work on your resume and cover letter, and follow our guide on how to get involved in the music industry. We are confident that you will succeed, and the music industry will become the area where you will realize your potential and creativity to the greatest possible extent.

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