Whether you have a loan to pay for your musical studies or are just about to start your musical career with no debts, there are a million options you could choose from and always bills to pay. Sometimes the thought of having to repay such a big amount of money can feel unbearable and making the first steps in this ever changing industry can be quite difficult.
The most common thing musicians usually go for, it is to find a “not-so-interesting” career that could sustain their actual passion in the future. For example, starting to teach your instrument and re invest the money you earn into what you really want to do; such as writing your own album or go on tour with a famous artist. This is probably the most common denominator between all musicians. Very few enjoy the “luxury” of not teaching their instrument and most times this is due to the fact that they already have a steady income, by doing what they’re passionate about.
I have a created a list of renowned jobs in music plus what kind of salary to expect. This list should give you an idea of the opportunities out there within this business.
TEACHER (average of 36k per year)
Being able to find a great teacher, that works for you and can improve your playing skills is probably one of the hardest things to find. As previously mentioned, the majority of professional musicians also teach as a way to pay the bills. Unfortunately this means that the large majority of them are not actually passionate about teaching. Therefore, although teaching could be an easy revenue for someone starting in this business, it also holds a very big responsibility for future generations of musicians. Being able to inspire young musicians should be your number one goal if you choose this path.
After countless hours learning how to sound good on your instrument, it is finally time to give it all out. Live performance is not for everyone, but the large majority of musicians live and breathe performing in front of a large audience. If this is you, these are a few options:
-Musical Theatre (starting at £1200 per week)
Broadway or WestEnd are some of the very few stable occupations for musicians who like to perform live. If you don’t have the good fortune of playing for a famous musical your best bet is to go on tour with a theatre show and similar or lower fees should apply.
-Touring (salary varies depending on the artist you’re touring with)
One of the most rock’n’roll things to do is touring. Again, not for everyone. But since you will be spending so many hours in a van/bus/plane, rule number one is to be able to get along well with the rest of the crew. Being ready, playing well and not spending all your earnings on the road is also a BIG must. More details about touring in this article: https://recorddrumsonline.com/blog/tour/
-Cruise ship (starting at £1300 pm)
Circumnavigating the world while playing your instrument should probably be one of the most pleasurable things to do. Going on a cruise ship and playing every day can be both amazing and draining at the same time. You will have to be able to play 2/3times a day and your reading skills must be on point. The down side of being on a cruise ship: you will be away from home for a while and once back you need to restart connecting with your fellow musicians, letting them know you are back. The plus side: Free food and drinks, being able to visit beautiful countries and save up lots of money.
-Local Musician: functions, pub gigs, etc. (starting at £100 per show)
If you enjoy playing your instrument but can’t stand being away from home for too long, your most plausible option is to find local gigs in your hometown. Weddings/Corporate gigs are the bread and butter of many musicians during weekends. Otherwise, playing residency gigs in pubs, restaurants or hotels is also very common.
–Recording Session Musician (salary varies depending on the artist you’re recording for)
Definitely not the easiest of jobs, as very few musicians still live only of session recording. Big studios have their main guys that get called all the time, but on the other hand a big wave of remote session musicians are getting called for recordings (good news!). For this type of job you will need to know your instrument well and use the studio time in the most productive and efficient way possible. Both artists and labels hate having to waste time in hiring studios.
-Library Music (starting at £132 per 3hr recording)
In the past 10 years library music have become one of the most used tools in advertising, films, TV and radios. When you watch a movie or a commercial, chances are that the audio comes from a library music catalog.
-Video Games Audio Creator (up to £50k per project plus copyright)
In this day and age when the virtual world has almost overcome reality, being able to compose music for video games is the one if not the most remunerative jobs in music. If you think composing a song for Rihanna will make you rich, you have no idea what just a simple composition for the famous video game Fortnite could do to your wallet. If you share your passion both for composing music and video games, then you should join the 2 and see what comes up!
-Film Composer (average of £38k per year plus copyright)
Being able to create music that enhances emotions throughout a movie scene is a real art form. It can almost be compared to poetry. Every single note can add a different meaning to what you are watching. Therefore, unless you are an Hans Zimmer or a Danny Elfman, composing music for films needs the right amount of care and attention. It’s important to know music theory and arranging very well.
-Arranger (average £35k per year)
“Geniuses are MADE, not born.” In fact when you think of George Martin behind The Beatles or Quincy Jones behind the genius of Michael Jackson it all makes sense. Being able to transform a simple idea into something majestic is one of the hardest skills to learn. Choosing which instrument or which harmony work and which ones don’t take years to master. Other than a great knowledge of music theory, your skills using programs such as Sibelius or Finale are also vital in this kind of job.
-Songwriter (salary varies depending on the song)
It’s not always about hits, but if you can write one, you will be sorted for generations to come. Usually to be a good songwriter you need to compose a mix of lyrics plus a compelling melody and chords that amalgamates into a song that people will want to sing along to. Most times songwriters collaborate and share ideas together in groups of 3 or more musicians.
-Music Producer (salary varies depending on the artist you’re working with)
If you like to multitask, then being a producer could be something for you. Trying to coordinate various aspects of the final musical product, while at the same time being quick in understanding what the artist is trying to communicate, is not an easy task. If you choose this path an overall knowledge of all the music equipment in a recording studio is necessary.
-Sound Engineer Live/Studio (average £32k per year)
All the albums you listen to or the concerts you go to sound great, not only thanks to the musicians performing but also thanks to great sound engineers. I truly believe this is one of the most underrated jobs in music. Mixing an album or a live concert and make musicians of any level sound good is a great accomplishment. This video is funny but so true!!
MUSIC THERAPIST (26k up to 60k per year)
Over the years music therapy has proven to be one of the most effective treatments to help improve physical and mental health. It is one branch of music that is becoming increasingly popular. More and more musicians are applying to Music Therapy degrees and masters in countries all over the world. If you are in the UK, the NHS (National Health Service) recruits and remunerates your work pretty well.
Other positions in music can be found within the Music Business sector. Just a quick list of some occupations here below:
-Administrative Role in Music College
For the sake of keeping this article not too long, I haven’t included all the existing jobs. The beauty of this industry is that is fearless. In fact many new occupations are created daily (music podcasts, internet tutorials, etc.) by new adventurous entrepreneurs that begin new paths, grow and make a living by being unique in what they do.
I hope this gives an idea of the wide range of possibilities within the Music Industry and encourages you to find or create your own path whatever that might be.
If you live in the UK and want to know more about job opportunities in music, please contact The Musician Union or check their website at www.musiciansunion.org.uk
‘till next time!