Music is a varied and exciting sector with an eclectic mixture of jobs from performance and promotion to technical and engineering roles. It can also cover teaching, healthcare and community work. Whichever area you wish to work in, it will be competitive with many people passionate about the area and what they want to do and achieve within it.
Although competitive, over 110,000 people are employed directly within the music industry full-time and this has grown in recent years. As with most creative industries, breaking in and earning a living will require more creativity than other job applications. Networking, freelancing, utilising social media, creating output and gaining practical experience will be critical for the majority of roles.
Where do I start?
Within the music sector you could be looking at a wide range of occupations. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):
- Arts administrator
- Community arts worker
- Music therapist
- Private music teacher
- Radio broadcast assistant
- Radio producer
- Secondary school teacher
- Sound technician, broadcasting/film/videor
As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
- Careers in Music - Provides advice and guidance on breaking into the music industry as well as industry contacts and a jobs board.
- UK Music Jobs - UK Music Jobs is an online community for UK music industry professionals seeking jobs in music.
- The Big Music Project - Lottery-funded organisation that provides advice, jobs, internships and opportunities for those trying to break into the music industry.
Breaking into the music industry can be tough and so previous experience is crucial. The more experience across different areas you can gain, the stronger your applications will be. As well as providing you with more knowledge, gaining experience will also help you to decide which specific direction you wish to take.
Finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website.
The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Places to gain experience could include recording studios, events management companies, schools, music retailers or venues that regularly host musical acts.
It is also worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience; Careers and Employability offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability centre.
If you wish to instigate voluntary work experience during the vacation periods please refer to the 'External sites' on the voluntary work experience section of our website.
Tips to build experience:
- Research roles that interest you and what companies you’d like to work for. Create a list of the companies and contact them asking for work experience. Most of the major record companies and industry bodies run formalised internships and work experience schemes and are open to speculative applications.
- Working at local festivals and events can be a great way to build up your experience. Victorious and Mutiny Festivals in Portsmouth offer both paid and voluntary work opportunities.
- Attend as many industry-related shows, events or networking opportunties as possible. This is a great way to meet professionals in your industry and build contacts, which may be able to help you find work experience.
- Gain practical experience during your degree by working for Pure FM (UoP's own radio station) or volunteer with Queen Alexandra Hospital Radio.
- Join a university music group to increase your skills and experience. Groups on offer include choir, orchestra, wind band, big band and the Dramatic and Musical Society.
- Ensure you have a strong online presence, particularly if you are interested in performance. Utilise Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud in order to promote your output whilst Twitter and LinkedIn can be used for networking and accessing the hidden jobs market.
Finding a job
The music industry offers an eclectic range of job areas. You could work within performance, production, the technical and engineering side, promotion and marketing or management. Then there are music-related jobs outside of the industry within health, community work or teaching. Music is a sector where freelance work is prevalent within certain areas and many people will work in more than one role at any one time, for example combining private teaching with performance work.
The range of employers who recruit in these areas includes:
- Schools, colleges, unversities (teaching).
- Television and radio companies will employ technicians, engineers and performers.
- Commercial and corporate production companies can offer ad hoc work for performers.
- Music producers and studios for performance, production and technical work.
- Theatres and art companies will employ musicians, music directors and music-related positions within the community.
- Music venues and clubs will employ performers, DJs and producers.
- The majority of musicians and performers will work on a freelance basis and pick-up work through networking, word of mouth and ultimately their reputation.
Below is a list of useful websites to help you start your job search
- Music Week - Music industry news, data, analysis and opinion as well as a jobs board.
- Creative Choices - Website provides the tools, knowledge and networks to support individuals looking to break into creative industries. Contains a jobs board.
- The Guardian Jobs - The Guardian's jobs site has a large list of music-related roles including teaching positions.
- Arts Culture Media Jobs - Vacancies within theatre, music and dance.
- ArtsHub - Essential jobs, news and information for professionals working in the UK arts and cultural industries.
Tips for finding a job
- If you are aiming to audition for performance roles with companies or productions you need to know that your level of skill and creative output is at a professional level. A music tutor or industry professional can assist you with this so try to make some contacts in order to gain opinion and feedback.
- Use industry specific sites as music-related jobs will rarely be advertised on general job sites. Larger organisations will only advertise positions or work on their own websites.
- Speculative approaches are critical within this industry in order to network, gain contacts and access the hidden jobs market. Make sure any speculative approach is highly tailored to the employer and ask for any kind of experience or advice, as well as potential paid work opportunities.
- Self-employment as a freelancer is a big option in this area of work and is something to consider. Many people in the industry will combine different types of jobs such as performance and private tutoring or working as a sound engineer and DJ.
- Utilise social media fully, whether accessing the hidden jobs market through following employers on Twitter and LinkedIn or networking and promoting your output.
Need more help and information?
How can the Careers and Employability Service help you?
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and Covering Letters
- Application forms
- Job search
- And more......
Please visit services for you for more details about our support and services.
Careers and Employability has an online Jobsboard advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy team that delivers a personalised matching job service.
Remember if you are not on campus you can still access our services via telephone or Google Hangouts booked appointments, please contact us to discuss your needs.
If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.
Working in music
- Warner Music Group - Varying types of internships offered by one of the biggest music companies in the UK.
- Careers in Music - Although an American site this provides in-depth advice and guidance on over 100 music-related careers with tips from industry professionals.
- Music Tank - Information hub for the UK music industry.
- Sound On Sound - Industry magazine for recording musicians, music producers and sound engineers.
- Recording - News and advice for recording artists and sound engineers.
- musicalchairs - Classical music related jobs board.
- Eye the Prize - Online platform providing access to funding, competitions, jobs and other opportunities across the creative industries.
- Arts Council England - Industry relevant jobs board.
Working as a freelancer
- nest - nest provides expert advice and support, training, hot-desking, networking opportunities and a whole host of useful resources for University of Portsmouth students and graduates who are interested in self-employment.
- Musicians' Union - Advice and guidance for those working in the music industry, particularly useful for freelancers. Offers heavily discounted membership for students.
- Freelance UK - Information for freelancers including news & events and starting out.
- Showcase - Online guide to the music production industry.
- The Unsigned Guide - Subscription based guide to the music industry including 8,800 UK music business contacts spanning 50 areas of the industry.
- DIY Musician - Discover everything you need to know about being a successful musician on your own terms. Covers topics such as music marketing, song writing, social networking, recording, copyright and building a YouTube presence.
- Arts & Media - Recruitment agency for the music and media industries with opportunities throughout the UK.
- Generator - A music development agency working to support and guide artists and bands through a career in the music industry.