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Music Major Careers

Music Career Information

Area

Employer

Education

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Private Lessons
  • K-12 schools, public and private
  • Colleges and universities
  • Conservatories
  • Daycare centers
  • Recreation centers
  • Children’s music programs (franchises, local)
  • Studios
  • Self-employed
  • Acquire teaching certificate for public school teaching. Learn about requirements by state.
  • Earn a graduate degree to teach in higher education. Specialize in an area such as music theory, composition, music history, etc.
  • Performance skill on one instrument or voice is required.
  • Gain experience working with children through volunteer or part-time work experiences.
  • Join the National Association for Music Education as a collegiate member.
  • Develop business relationships with schools and/or music stores to increase client base.

Performance

  • Instrumental
  • Voca
  • Orchestras:
    • Philharmonic, symphony, and chamber
  • Armed Forces bands and orchestras
  • Small ensembles
  • Rock or jazz groups
  • Dance bands
  • Concert soloist
  • Clubs and restaurants
  • Church choirs
  • Community choral groups
  • Opera companies
  • Musical theaters
  • Ballet productions
  • Recording industry
  • Radio, television, and motion picture industries
  • Cruise lines
  • Amusement parks
  • Develop musical talent and skill.
  • Obtain formal training to acquire necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to interpret music.
  • Demonstrate ambition and showmanship.
  • Join campus bands and choruses, church choirs, and other performing acts.
  • Seek competitions, apprenticeship programs, and workshops to gain experience and recognition.
  • Auditions are generally required to join bands or get jobs.
  • Be willing to move to a large city with more opportunities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Las Vegas, or Chicago.
  • Network with people in the industry to learn about potential jobs.
  • Opportunities are very limited. Most performers have other careers.

Conducting

  • Directing
  • Planning
  • Leading
  • Musician Selection
  • Orchestras:
    • Philharmonic, symphony, and chamber
  • Armed Forces bands and orchestras
  • Various bands
  • Choirs
  • Choral groups
  • Opera companies
  • Musical theater companies
  • Develop superior musicianship and leadership.
  • Acquire extensive experience in performing groups.
  • Develop advanced site-reading skills.
  • Learn other languages such as French, German, Latin, and Italian.
  • Gain acceptance into a conductor-training program or related apprenticeship.
  • Opportunities are extremely limited.

Composing/Arranging

  • Composing
  • Arranging
  • Self-employed
  • Record companies
  • Publishers
  • Muzak
  • Motion picture and television industries
  • Production companies
  • Orchestras:
    • Philharmonic, symphony, and chamber
  • Opera companies
  • Musical theater groups
  • Ballet troupes
  • Broadway
  • Knowledge of composition, harmony, arranging, and theory are important.
  • Skill on one or more instruments and voice are necessary. Play an instrument in a professional arena.
  • Become familiar with all types of music productions.
  • Learn how to use electronic instruments and synthesizers.
  • Develop computer and desktop publishing expertise.
  • Attend music conferences and workshops.
  • Seek grants and awards through foundations, e.g. one from the National Endowment of the Arts.
  • Very few musicians earn living through composing.

Music Libraries

  • Colleges and universities
  • Conservatories
  • Public libraries
  • Radio and television stations
  • Motion picture studies
  • Develop computer and research skills.
  • Gain thorough knowledge of music and musicology.
  • Earn a master’s degree in library/information science.
  • Work in a campus or public library to gain relevant experience.
  • Develop good organizational and technology skills.
  • Learn to understand foreign languages, particularly Italian, Latin, German, and French.
  • Join the Music Library Association.

Communications (Broadcasting)

  • Music and Program Direction
  • On Air Performance
  • Promotion
  • Voice Overs
  • Copyright/Clearance Administration
  • Music License Administration
  • Music Editing, Production, and Composing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Post Production
  • Research
  • Radio and television stations
  • Virtual reality sound environments
    • e.g. Internet sites, software creators
  • Take classes in communications, broadcasting, or journalism.
  • Work at on-campus radio station.
  • Complete an internship at a television or radio station.
  • Develop computer-related skills such as software development and programming.
 Music Therapy
  • Hospitals: general and psychiatric
  • Special education facilities
  • Mental health centers
  • Nursing homes and senior centers
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Private practice
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Schools
  • Take courses in psychology, social work, or education.
  • Earn a master’s degree in music therapy and seek certification.
  • Volunteer in a rehabilitation setting.
  • Demonstrate a genuine interest in helping people.
  • Learn to work well with all types of people.
  • Develop a broad array of musical talents.

Behind The Scenes

  • Audio Technician
  • Boom Operator
  • General Director
  • Music Video Producer
  • Recording Engineer
  • Set Up
  • Recordist
  • Rerecording Mixer
  • Sound Engineer
  • Sound Technician
  • Sound/Production Mixer
  • Stage Manager
  • Local bands
  • Regional bands
  • Production companies
  • Theater groups
  • Orchestras
  • Armed Forces
  • Radio, television, and motion picture industries
  • Shadow an individual who is in the music industry in an area of interest.
  • Volunteer in community, school, or church productions.
  • Gain expertise in the areas of musical and technical knowledge, sound board, and sound equipment.
  • Take courses in areas such as broadcasting, engineering, or computer science to learn technical skills.
  • Complete an internship with a recording company or other relevant organization.
  • Research seminars, workshops, and professional associations that could provide useful information or contacts.
  • Check trade journals and association bulletins for possible employment.

Music Industry/Business

  • Publishing and Editing
  • Producing
  • Recording
  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Talent Acquisition
  • Artist/Talent Representation
  • Promotion/Media Relations
  • Publicity
  • Administration
  • Marketing
  • Booking
  • Product Management
  • Business Management
  • Retail Sales
  • Production recording studios (most located in New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville)
  • Music management groups
  • Agencies
  • Music and record stores
  • Instrument manufacturers
  • Complete an internship at a record company.
  • Take business courses to work in management or administration.
  • Journalism, public relations, and communication classes are helpful for work in areas of promotion.
  • Gain sales experience for marketing. Learn to interact well with people and develop persuasion tools.
  • Knowledge of electronics, audio engineering, and recording knowledge required for production.
  • Work or volunteer at a campus or local radio station.
  • Join organizations involved with bringing events and entertainment to campus.
  • Work at a retail record store to learn about the industry.
  • Volunteer to help promote a local or campus band with their promotions and bookings.
  • Gain a broad knowledge of music and the industry.
  • Build a strong network of contacts.
  • Develop skills such as negotiation, assertiveness, the ability to recognize talent, and working under pressure.

Miscellaneous

  • Music Journalism
  • Law
  • Music Analysis
  • Music-related publications
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Entertainment or music focused Internet sites
  • Entertainment law firms
  • Production companies
  • Take courses in journalism and English.
  • Write articles for campus newspaper.
  • Prepare for law school and earn a law degree (J.D.)
  • For music analysis:
    • Develop the ability to read and transcribe well.
    • Gain knowledge with use of high tech digital computers to analyze music.
  • Move to a larger city where more opportunities exist.

General Information and Strategies

  • Majoring in music provides students with a sense of aesthetics and an understanding of human expression valuable to many employers.
  • Develop competencies in business management, computers, marketing, or other areas to broaden range of employment possibilities.
  • Finding positions in the music industry requires a combination of talent, training, connections and some luck. Perseverance is required!
  • Develop a variety of skills. Become “multi-talented.”
  • As an undergraduate, gain as much experience as possible, paid or unpaid, through college and local organizations. Seek internships or volunteer positions with relevant organizations.
  • Confidence, personality, a positive attitude, and a love of music are important to success in many arenas of music. Learn basic tools of self-promotion.
  • Some jobs may require you to join unions or guilds. Research the industry to learn which ones are appropriate.
  • Performers often travel frequently and must be flexible regarding their work schedules.
  • Move to a larger city such as Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, or Chicago to find more job opportunities.

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