Your music education is an important investment and one that you expect to pay off by providing you many more opportunities than without one. In today’s work environment, it is imperative that you understand not only what you’ll learn in your selected music degree program, but also how this knowledge will ultimately enable you to land your dream job. This understanding is particularly important if you intend to study music, in this notoriously competitive industry, a competitive edge is crucial. Thankfully, the scope of the industry is far greater than you might expect. A few of the most promising job opportunities for music degrees are highlighted below:
Music Career #1: Performing Artist
For many music students, nothing beats the rush of performing before a live audience. This is a key component of life as a professional musician, but there’s far more to this dream career than screaming fans. Musicians also spend considerable time honing their skills, perfecting tracks in recording studios, and coordinating with agents. It’s not an easy path, but it’s one many find deeply gratifying. A music degree offers not only technical training but also helps aspiring singers or instrumentalists gain a better feel for the demands of the industry. Additionally, performing artists emerge with a strong professional network they can draw on for support.
Music Career #2: Composer or Songwriter
If you constantly find yourself toying with ideas for new songs or albums, you may be best suited to a career in composing or songwriting. This pursuit can involve a broad range of genres and artists. While composers are often skilled performers, many prefer to stay out of the spotlight. Others appreciate the inherent versatility of this path — they can draw on a variety of talented artists to bring their vision to life.
While thoughts of composers may evoke images of Beethoven or Mozart furiously scribbling away, the pursuit is increasingly digital. Many of today’s composers and songwriters rely on advanced notation and engraving software. Evolving technology delivers a myriad of opportunities; a musical education provides an edge for those looking to integrate technological tools into their work.
Music Career #3: Commercial Composer
Sometimes referred to as jingle writers, commercial composers develop music primarily for marketing purposes. Commercial composers must consider not only how to craft a catchy tune, but also whether it will appeal to a mass audience. Furthermore, they are responsible for conveying a company’s brand or mission in just a few notes.
Music Career #4: Audio Engineer
A lot more goes into music production than most people suspect. It takes more than a talented singer or instrumentalist to create a quality record; audio engineers work hard to ensure that artists’ talents are accurately reflected in the final product.
While audio engineers are typically associated with recording studios, they can serve a variety of functions. Many audio engineers work in theaters or concert venues. Others may deliver stellar sound quality at sporting events or corporate functions. Often, events employ large teams of sound engineers, with each employee addressing a specific concern. For example, a large concert’s audio team may include systems engineers, monitor sound engineers, and wireless microphone engineers.
Music Career #5: Record Producer
While record producers and audio engineers share several roles, the scope of the job can differ considerably. Typically, sound engineers focus on technical elements such as equalization. Producers may handle these technical concerns, but they also tend to take considerable artistic license. For example, some record producers actively contribute to writing songs, while others may make significant changes to existing material to ensure it produces a cohesive track or album.
In addition to directing and manipulating tracks, many producers handle management essentials such as personnel and budgetary matters. To succeed, producers must demonstrate not only considerable technical and artistic skill, but also an overarching understanding of the music industry — and what it takes for a musician to succeed in a notoriously competitive environment.
Music Career #6: Talent Agent
While social media has opened the door for a variety of musicians who might otherwise have not made it big, talent agents are still essential to success for most artists. Music agents are best known for booking appearances on their clients’ behalf, but their work extends well beyond initial contracts. In addition to working with venues, agents help artists score television appearances, interviews, and even tour sponsorships. Agents’ careful coordination can prevent artists from traveling excessively between appearances or otherwise overextending themselves.
Music Career #7: Music Teacher
When skeptics chat with music students, their first question may be: “What do you plan to do with your degree — teach?” While the classroom or private studio is by no means an inevitable destination for all music degrees, some aspire, above all else, to infuse new generations with a love of music.
The field of music education can be surprisingly broad. Teachers may work on a strictly one-on-one basis or with large groups of students. It takes a special skill set to succeed in education; in addition to musical talent, teachers must demonstrate empathy and command respect.
Music Career #8: Production Manager
It takes considerable planning and coordination to pull off a successful concert. Production managers play a key role in this process. This role can vary depending on venue type, but in general, production managers are responsible for booking talent, managing sound and lighting crews, maintaining vendor records, and overseeing budgetary concerns. Additionally, production managers may handle rental agreements, labor agreements, and insurance policies.
Music Career #9: Music Programmer
From Spotify to SiriusXM, today’s consumers rely on digital tools to discover and follow artists. Music programmers combine technical prowess with music industry experience to develop quality stations and playlists for listeners on a variety of platforms. Programmers may also be responsible for developing strong relationships with key industry players to ensure that the platforms they represent offer quality podcasts, videos, and other content.
The music industry may be competitive, but a solid education can deliver huge dividends as you pursue your dream career. Your education will expose you to a wide variety of opportunities, which will allow you to make your mark while doing what you love.