Jan. 3, 2021
With music as a passion, it may be challenging to think of career opportunities outside of singing or playing an instrument. Those are the obvious choices, but they are certainly not the only ones. Although a passion for music is your starting point, you want to clarify how you plan to use it to establish a career. Depending on your personality, preferences and additional interests, not just any opportunity will do. Ask yourself what about music intrigues you. How do you see yourself contributing value as you follow your inspiration? Motivate yourself by exploring the six music-related careers listed below.
If you love listening to music, discovering different genres, songs and vocal artists -- and sharing your excitement and knowledge about the above -- you may want to consider hosting a show. In 2019, in addition to being a radio host, you also have options in hosting a show on the web, launching a podcast or joining satellite radio. Although your personality is key to success in that role, you also need focus. Which radio hosts do you admire? What are music podcasts you enjoy listening to? What different value would your own show add? With multiple available platforms, your biggest challenge will be figuring out your focus and experimenting with format. To explore this option and gain necessary insights, you might consider volunteering at a local station or interning for your favorite podcast. Although not necessary, a degree in radio or broadcasting can bring value in the form of connections and industry know-how.
If you have an ear for music genres and how they mix, you could share your passion by creating remixes and performing as a DJ. Depending on your interest, you may focus on niche events like weddings or work in nightclubs. Traditionally, DJs have used mixers, turntables, sound systems and headphones -- but most recently, they rely on computer software, making technical skills essential for the role. To ensure you prepare for any circumstances, practice using both traditional and modern tools. Most DJs are self-taught, and to become one, you want to be comfortable taking initiative, engaging with people and working with ambiguity. Although some DJs certainly earn as much as other performers, breaking into the industry is tough, and you may have to start by playing for free until you build a loyal fan base. To get started, volunteer your skills for local events and follow your favorite DJs on social media. Cultivating relationships with influencers in the field can help you grow and advance, and you especially want to become friends with promoters, bookers and club managers to get an inside connection to the industry.
Additional resource: Beatport.
If, as a music lover, you've attended your fair share of concerts and music festivals, you probably know that an amazing experience depends on more than having exceptional performers. Concert promoters address every mundane detail to ensure that shows go without a glitch and that both concertgoers and performers enjoy a seamless experience. As such, event planning, solid organizational skills and the ability to negotiate are vital. Promoters work with bands and artists to identify their needs, secure venues and hotel space, and market the events on social media, radio and TV. For that reason, you may want to add interpersonal skills, writing ability and mastery of relevant software to your skillset. To explore this career, read insights from influencers, join a small concert planning company, volunteer to put up shows at your college or a local venue, or shadow a promoter to learn the ropes. Going through the motions can give you an idea of what to expect, and you want to balance the practical experience with relevant education in event planning or music.
In any musical performance, the focus is on artists and musicians, but it's those working in the background who make the magic happen. If you prefer being behind the scenes and enjoy staying up-to-date on the latest developments in technology, the role of a sound engineering technician may be a perfect fit. It allows you to combine practical technical skills and creativity in the mixing and editing of music. Sound engineering technicians, also known as sound mixers, use computer software to record, mix and edit music and sound effects for concerts, theater productions or movies and videos. The role is hands-on as you are also the one who ensures proper placement of microphones and conducts sound checks. Depending on context, you may focus on one aspect of the work or end up doing it all. Excellent computer skills and relevant certifications can help with growth and advancement. If you are interested in researching and designing new technology for enhanced user experience, you may need an advanced degree.
Additional resource: Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA).
Are you an avid reader of Rolling Stone, Billboard, Pitchfork and Stereogum? Do you have a penchant for writing? Are you excited to follow the latest happenings in the music world? Then a career in music journalism may be your path. Music journalists can work for an established publication or freelance. As you gain experience and build a network of meaningful connections, you may establish a specific focus; when starting as a journalist, however, you need to be open to write about performances in any genre or format. Attending live events and sharpening your observational skills create good habits. Strong interviewing skills are also a must. To explore the field, consider writing music reviews for your college publication, launching your own blog where you can share your insights with like-minded people, or completing an internship with publishers, newspapers, magazines or radio stations. This can also help you develop a network, which can bring opportunities for growth and development. A degree in journalism helps establish your credibility and may be necessary for advancement.
For the more academically inclined music lovers who don't mind spending days in the library researching a specific topic, a career as a music historian or curator may be the best fit. Music historians spend significant time researching a topic of interest, reading papers and documents, and interviewing relevant people to create some kind of product -- a book, a lesson or an exhibit. Although research and writing are often solitary acts, as a music historian, you may collaborate with librarians and journalists to acquire needed information. Common places of employment include higher education institutions and museums, but you could also work independently. An advanced degree is necessary for this career.
Additional resource: Society for American Music (SAM).
Keep in mind that when it comes to designing a career in 2019 and beyond, you may find yourself doing some or even all of the above. In fact, that may be necessary as you explore a certain path, adapt along the way, and continue challenging yourself to grow.