So you’ve decided to take that step into a music industry career. Congratulations! The music industry offers some of the most rewarding jobs and opportunities available to us creative types.
As you probably know, and as most people probably never tire of telling you, the industry can be tough to break into but it is not impossible – far from it! Here are a few top tips from industry insiders to help you on your way!
Network, Network, Network!!!
And network some more...
View everyone you come in contact to professionally as someone who can help you in your career. If you are a music industry student or are about to embark on a course, you probably don’t realise it but all your fellow academics are potential future contacts. This is your first opportunity to build your network so ensure that you work together on projects inside and outside of your educational comfort zone.
If you are involved in any gigs as a performer, promoter, tech, part time bar staff, whatever… make sure that you talk to everyone involved. Chat to the sound engineer, the promoters, the performers and continually build that network I keep banging on about, you’ll thank me later.
Attend industry conferences and seminars as much as you can, these are full of likeminded music types like you who want to meet new contacts and listen to ideas. These are full of opportunities to talk to the right people, always introduce yourself and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to announce yourself to the industry, it is full of people who are, or have been, in the same position as you.
Build a profile.
Sell yourself, do it unashamedly and do it proudly. Let everyone know your achievements and shout them as loudly as you can. Social media is an amazing promotional tool, embrace it like a dear old friend and never let it go (until something better comes along). Uniform your profiles on Linkedin, facebook and twitter and use them to further promote your best work on bandcamp, soundcloud and all the rest. Make sure to add all your new industry contacts to your, ahem, network.
Build a portfolio on top of your CV. One of the best aspects of breaking into the creative industries is the opportunity to sell yourself based on the work you love doing, no more boring 2 page CVs competing with 1000 more boring 2 page CVs comparing who has the best experience in food maintenance issues or who achieved the best score in first year woodwork.
Don’t get me wrong, your CV is always important but your portfolio of work is critical.
Document all your best work, your mixes, recordings, promotional materials for events, success stories, achievements, everything that will get you noticed by the right people and organisations.
Stay active in the industry.
Volunteer at a local gig, offer to tech, help promote, don’t be ashamed to perform for free – favours are always appreciated and more often than not returned. This will also give you more goods for your CV/portfolio and, I feel I should mention it one more time, offers a great opportunity to (insert drum roll….) Network!
photo credit: forest-floors-band via photopin (license)
A qualification in music business, coupled with the knowledge and experience gained while studying, can open up a wide variety of career opportunities.
Let's have a look through some of the different career choices that can be boosted through gaining a qualification in music business.
For the Indie Musician
Too many creative and talented musicians find it very difficult to earn a living from music. This is not because there is no money to be made, or no opportunities out there. Unfortunately, many musicians fail to understand the workings of the modern industry, struggle to gain exposure and fail to monetise their talents.
Issues such as copyright and licensing can be a confusing maze to negotiate. Often musicians need a helping hand in producing a strategic plan to grow their career.
Studying music business will help you to:
- Understand how organisations like the PRS, PPL and MCPS collect and distribute royalties to artists.
- Learn how copyright works and the distinction between performers and songwriters.
- Form a plan for your music career and define achievable goals.
- Understand how to monetise your music through TV, Film and advertisement placement.
For Live Music Promoters
The live music scene can be extremely competitive at the grass roots level, especially in the big cities, where your event can easily be lost among hundreds of others all competing for an audience.
When you look at the increasing diversity of options in the wider entertainment industry, it's important to make your event stand out from the crowd.
Promoters are often seen as the bad guys, demanding money from bands for 'pay to play' gigs and not caring about the actual music. While there are sharks in the industry, the vast majority of promoters became involved through their love of music and from a desire to put on great live shows.
The pressures of this job can come from both sides; music venues are obviously keen to make a profit and the bands/artists want to be paid fairly and play to a big crowd. However, these can be seen as common goals and a good promoter should have the communication skills to work effectively with all parties to ensure that the event is a success.
A unique blend of skills and knowledge is required if you are a promoter who is looking to move from local to national events and beyond.
The areas covered in the music business course include:
- Communicating effectively with agents and tour managers
- Marketing through traditional channels
- Digital and social media promotion
- Contracts, insurance and other legal requirements
- Managing the budget for events and tour support
Studying a course in music business will help you to gain a wide range of knowledge in your chosen profession. This is the ideal platform from which to launch a career as a music promoter.
For Artist Managers
While many artists choose to manage their own business affairs, the role of the artist manager is still an incredibly important one. Modern music history is littered with stories of friends who have ended up working as a band manager and growing into the role as things have taken off. Equally, many of these managers end up being discarded as the job becomes too big for them.
The modern music industry requires artist managers to have a wide range of knowledge. By learning these skills and gaining real-world experience working with bands, the aspiring manager will be well placed to succeed.
Some of the essential skills that you will learn include:
- How to develop relationships and source finance from record companies
- The areas of responsibility required from an artist manager
- Copyright management
- Contracts and negotiations
Networking is extremely important for a manager, you must build a strong and influential network and always be on the lookout to make new contacts and build relationships.
For the Independent Label
While mainstream physical music sales have fallen sharply in recent years, the barriers to entry for the independent label have also followed suite.
The sea change in the way music is listened to and distributed can not be over-stated, and while many have bemoaned 'the death of the music industry', many new channels have opened for independent labels to gain a foothold, free from the restrictions of the old major distribution systems.
A strong understanding of the complex nature of the music industry is essential if you want to build a successful independent label.
Some important areas include:
- Knowledge of contracts, copyright and publishing
- Accounting and general good business practice
- Advertising through both traditional channels and Digital Marketing
- An understanding and passion for the music you are promoting
- A strong business plan
By studying these areas and gaining vital experience from running the college's own independent label, you will be in a much stronger position to build yourself a successful career in the music industry.
View more about our music business course