A career in music

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Musicians make music by singing or playing instruments. They perform in orchestras, groups and ensembles, or pursue solo careers. Most specialise in either classical music or in branches of popular music, including folk, country and western, jazz or rock and pop. Other areas of work include composing and conducting.

What can I do to help me get a job in music?

Whether you are set on a career in popular or classical music, or another branch altogether, it is important to develop an all-round interest in different forms of music. Listen to as much varied music as you can, and take every opportunity to attend concerts and performances of all kinds. Making contacts within the industry will help you develop your career. Many people start their career in the music industry at the bottom and work their way up.

What opportunities are there?

There are only around 130,000 people employed in the music industry in the UK, which makes this a very competitive area of work. The good news is that, although most opportunities exist within London, there is now increasing scope for a career in music throughout the UK.

Can I still get a job in music even though I can't sing or play an instrument?

Yes. This only gives a snapshot of some of the opportunities available − the sector offers an exciting range of varied jobs. For example, the branches of the Armed Forces offer training to musicians. Record companies have a range of job possibilities, including artists and repertoire, production, promotions, press office, marketing, sales and legal work. They also have less specialised jobs in administration, human resources, IT and accounts. Similar roles also exist within music publishing companies.

What about TV and radio?

Television and radio broadcasting offer a range of occupations involving music. Television includes large companies such as the BBC and smaller cable and digital channels. Within the BBC most of the musical jobs are in radio, working for national and local music radio stations. Competition for these jobs is especially fierce with many people applying for the small number of jobs available. Hospital or community radio can provide very useful additional experience for this work.

Will I work regular hours?

Working in music can often mean working in the evenings and at weekends as many gigs happen outside of normal working hours. Whether you are performing or helping to stage a live event you may be working mainly in the evenings, rather than during the day. For office-based jobs you will normally be working conventional hours.

What about financial rewards?

These can be limited as only a few musicians and singers, for instance, earn really high salaries. Self-employment is a feature of many jobs in music. When beginning your career in music, you could find that you have to take on other work to help supplement your earnings, especially if working as a performer. Freelance work and short-term contracts are common.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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