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10 Careers in the Music Business to Make a Comfortable Living


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Is music your passion? Do your talents lean towards the listening arts? If so, making a career in the industry might be within your reach.

We can’t all be celebrity singers or in a rock band, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a comfortable living in the music business. Check out these 10 music careers for people like you, whether you’re waiting to make it to the big time or just looking for a way to earn money doing what you love.

1. Mixing and Mastering Demos

Songs need a professional touch before they’re ready to be released to potential recording studios. You can market to these customers if you know how to handle the mixing and mastering services.

Audio mixing is when each song element is singled out, then purposely blended to form a cohesive whole. Learning how to mix includes understanding how EQ, reverb, delay, compression, and other processing to create a finished product. Mastering, on the other hand, is the expert advice you give to provide polish to a song before it’s finalized.

2. Music Production

Interested in both the creative and commercial aspects of music? The job of a music producer could be up your alley.

A music producer works with musicians and the record company to connect artists to someone who can help them design and create their work. You’d need foundational audio skills, music concepts, and software knowledge. Engineering and mixing are essential, so you can provide good advice to the musicians who trust you.

3. Recording Engineers

Similar to mixing and mastering, the job of a recording engineer involves handling all the sound components from a song and manipulating them. To complete this role, you must have expertise in things like analog and digital audio, how to use compressors to change the sound quality, the right and wrong microphones for different sounds, and how to incorporate signal flow into the music.

This job requires computer finesse, mixing, editing, and organization of file management. You must be quick on your feet to handle problems, and ready to put your people skills to work to soothe strong feelings and help others come to agreements.

4. Teachers

Teaching music to future generations of learners is a rewarding career. Students who take music lessons are usually interested in truly mastering their instrument, whether it’s their voice, a guitar, or something in between. If you have the talent to play an instrument well, and the patience and knowledge to teach it, you could work as an instructor at a school or conduct private lessons.

Music theory is another essential course if you don’t want to teach an instrument. You’ll need certain certifications to teach at a school, but if you’re freelancing your private lessons, it only takes mastering the instrument or theory enough to teach it to others.

5. Booking Agents

Maybe you want to work in the music industry but don’t think your talents are enough to put you front and center. You could be a booking agent instead.

Booking agents handle the logistics for musicians, scheduling and facilitating live performances, negotiating venues and money, ensuring the equipment is ready for the show to go on, and managing the hospitality vendors.

This job requires a degree in something like marketing, accounting, music management, or a similar skill set. You must know how to negotiate contracts, conduct sales and marketing, plan events, and abide by copyright laws.

6. Publicists

As a music publicist for a band or singer, you’d connect with media outlets and marketers to let them know when a concert, new release, or announcement appears. It’s your job to ensure that everything that hits the news about your star is shown in a positive light. However, this can be tough because you can’t control everything that the other person does.

To master this role, you should be an expert in communications and marketing. Public relations strategy, networking, outreach, and people skills are essential.

7. Lyricists and Composers

Is your talent more of an “on paper” kind of thing? If you love putting words together in a beautiful flow or writing and arranging instrumental music, you could be a lyricist or composer. The job puts you in touch with musicians who turn your black and white words and notes into auditory music.

This role requires mastery of music theory, and if you’re a composer, you must be able to play at least one instrument, but preferably multiple. Formal education in music theory and arrangement is helpful. You’ll need to learn composition software, sound engineering, notation software, and the newest and best recording programs.

8. Arrangers

As a music arranger, you combine other people’s work into something new. Written music is adjusted and rearranged by you until it reaches the goal you had or sounds different so that it is unrecognizable from its original form.

Music arrangement is an area of expertise by itself. However, you can also specialize in it as a composer and writer. It requires an understanding of different musical instruments, music theory, and the interaction of sounds.

9. Session Musicians

Many famous singers got their start working as session musicians. These artists play back-up instruments or sing back-up vocals behind the primary celebrity. Until you contract with a particular artist, you’ll get to enjoy working with multiple musicians, singing or playing in various types of music situations.

If you’re noticed by someone with clout, you could end up in a recording session or on tour with the band.

You’ll need to be an expert at what you do to be chosen as a session musician. Flexibility in different musical arrangements is a must, and you should also have people skills. Music isn’t known for being a soft industry. Artists can be touchy and irritable, and you must communicate with them at their best and worst.

10. Managers

Your primary goal as a manager is to ensure your band or artist gets exposed to the best opportunities and connections possible. The further they excel in the music business, the more successful you all are. For this to happen, you must have planning and organizational skills and excellent leadership ability. They won’t listen to you if they don’t respect and trust you to make the best decisions for them.

Management, leadership, networking, and communication skills are vital to this job. You must know music law, negotiation tactics, and what goes on in the music industry.

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