So you want a career in the music business? It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully this blog post by our Careers Advisor Su Maynard will make your next steps a little clearer.
The music business is massive and with so many job roles, you really should be aware of what you are getting yourself into! Jobs are rarely for life and working in this industry tends to be more of a lifestyle choice than a 9-5 working week. This makes that initial research into what is available in this industry and whether or not it suits your skills, experience and interests, absolutely vital. You might want to consider some of these starting points:
- What job roles are available in the industry? Most job roles in this industry are hidden; this means they are not immediately obvious.
- Remember that for every artist on stage there will be a manager, an agent, a publisher, a distributor, a stage technician, an engineer, a soundman, a record label with all its employees, a PR representative, a press contact…you get the picture!
- Have a look on Prospects for some initial inspiration and expand your research from there. Remember to look at what the job role entails and how your skills and interests are suited to it.
- Let’s face it, without work experience you’re getting nowhere in the music business when you graduate. Plus, how do you know this is the industry and career path you are passionate about if you’ve never experienced it?
- Consider getting a head start on a grass roots level, the Careers Centre Information Room has very practical resources that could be useful to you both locally and nationally.
- Ultimately most applications for work experience in this industry are speculative with very few formally advertised vacancies, so you will need to be proactive in seeking out organisations and individuals that interest you.
- Develop an online profile and become trackable; a lot of this industry, no matter what the job role, is about people knowing your name. You don’t need to start out in some multinational organisation managing A-List stars in order to do this; this is the beauty of the modern music industry.
- If you want a career in music release, why not start by managing an act locally and releasing some of their music? This is how a lot of graduates get their foot in the door now and as an added bonus it gives you the freedom to learn about all aspects of promotion, distribution, bookings and sales.
No job for life?
- Even the biggest music moguls of the industry tend not to stay rooted in one organisation or even one job role for life, even when they’ve set up the business themselves! Have a look at some examples.
- The nature of this industry means there is a lot of fluidity between jobs. This can be because artists who feel they have achieved as much as they can in one area need to move on to another, or it could be because jobs are reliant on outside funding and therefore you move where the funding is available.
- The idea of flexibility and adaptability is very important in this industry!
Further study: Do you need it?
- Initially, no you don’t, for most areas of the industry it’s experience that counts and most importantly experience gained whilst you are studying for your degree or just after you graduate. You are working with the music industry’s core audience/client at this stage and you have fresh ideas and insight that will prove invaluable to them and could be used to really make you stand out!
- This being said, a lot of music professionals seek further study and training throughout their careers.
Leeds Alumni: Where are they now and how can they help?
- Contacts and networking are absolutely vital. Find those alumni who already work in the industry and remember you already have something in common to talk about.
- The alumni mentoring network is a great way of potentially doing this but should you find that there is no one on there applicable to you then why not try social media sites such as Linkedin to identify people in the industry. The Careers Centre offers advice on how to use social media effectively to network and job hunt.
- Local searches can be really useful, your city usually has an Online Music Forum with resources and contact details. The Careers Centre has resource sheets available to back this up. Make use of your local scene!
Finally, a plan B:
Some roles in this industry are very difficult to get in to and you may need to plan to “get there eventually” as opposed to being an overnight success. If this happens to you, don’t panic. Marry what you are passionate about in your chosen area of the music industry with another job role giving the dual advantage of gaining experience and developing expertise in a paid role whilst still pursuing your dream job. Ultimately though any job in this industry is a lifestyle choice so remember you’ll need to love what you do, be passionate about it.
If you need more personal 1-2-1 advice then you can drop in to the Careers Centre any time Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm. We can help you with anything from CV checking to deciding which career path is for you!