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What Kinds of Jobs are Available in the Music Business?

Many recording labels keep studio musicians under contract.
Violinists may play as part of a symphony.
Many jobs in the music business involve planning, booking and staging live concerts.
Some people work in the recording industry.
Music promoters publicize live concerts.
A talent scout may help bring new talent into the music industry.
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  • Written By: Josie Myers
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
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There are many types of jobs available in the music business. Careers can be found in retail, working with individual artists, publishing, recording, and more. Those with a well tuned ear and a business or legal background are most suited to a profession in the music business. Many music schools now offer degrees in Music Business that give students the necessary skills to begin a career in the industry.

There are several careers that involve working with individual artists or bands. An artist manager handles all financial dealings of the artist as well as advises on creative decisions. They usually have a basic knowledge of accounting, negotiating, management, and legal issues. Contrary to popular belief, an artist manager does not always handle the booking of the band in venues. The booking agent works with promoters and venues to determine the price that an act can demand.

Other positions that are essential to the popular success of a band are those involved in touring. Touring coordinators handle travel, budgeting and lodging for the band. Road managers are specifically responsible for what happens on the road. They supervise equipment, sound, and lighting personnel. Sound technicians set up and place audio equipment and monitor it during the performance, often working the soundboard.

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Those with a legal background have several opportunities available to them. An entertainment attorney handles issues like copyright, laws governing agreements and contracts between artists, managers, publishers, agents, and others. There are several capacities that they can work in within the music business as artist, record companies, and publishers alike all need legal advice.

There are numerous careers in the recording industry, aside from actually running a recording studio. Record company executives like presidents, vice-presidents and directors run the day to day business of the company. Artist and repertoire (A&R) coordinators find talent for the company. They are the people who visit clubs and look for new talent. They listen to demos and also scout songwriters to provide the music for the in-house talent. A&R administrators keep the coordinators within budget.

Promoters work with concerts or radio stations. Some specialize in performances, often paying for all expenses up front with the promise of a good repayment based on how well they can promote the event. A radio promoter brings new artists to radios in order to gain exposure for them. They are usually independent contractors who are paid by a record company.

Publicists communicate with the press to promote an artist. They promote to newspapers, magazines and television to get the artist in the news and arrange interviews in those forums. They also work closely with A&R departments to promote their artists to record companies.

There are many sales-related positions available as well. Salespeople work to sell albums to retail outlets and work as direct representatives of the record company to those stores. Field merchandisers distribute and merchandise the product once it is within the store. They deliver the albums and set up displays when needed.

The publishing industry is another industry than has various types of positions available. Publishers in general work to acquire copyrights to songs and publish and promote them. Much like the record industry, there are positions in management, promotion, copyrighting, sales, and scouting.

Retail sales and management is another area providing a wealth of careers for those interested in the music business. These stores usually sell retail band instruments and pianos, sheet music and accessories. Those in a music store usually are required to have a basic knowledge of many different types of instruments.

Like any other industry, there are starting positions in every facet of the business. Those with degrees often have to start at the bottom and work their way up in management just as with any other business. Entertainment in general is an extremely competitive industry and no one should expect to walk into a glamorous position right off the starting plate. For those with patience and diligence who are willing to work in basic positions to begin with, a career in the music business can be an excellent mix of business and art.

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istria
Post 3

@ FrameMaker- Your best option is to explore the programs that different universities and music schools offer. It all really depends on what segment of the music business you are looking to get into, and what genre of music interests you. Look in states and cities where the music industry has a prominent foothold. There are many schools in California, New York, across parts of the south and so on.

One of the best is the Steinhardt School at NYU. They focus on global music business management, specifically for those interested in pop/hip-hop and commercial music. I have also heard good things about the program offered at UGA. This program has a wide range of focus, but heavily emphasizes what is relevant to the Georgia music scene; stuff like Jazz, Hip-Hop Blues, Country, and R&B. Good luck!

FrameMaker
Post 2

What is the best music business program? I love music and I would love to make a career in the music industry. I just have no idea where to pursue my education and get the training that I need to be successful. Can anyone give me some ideas?

aplenty
Post 1

Some of the most important positions in the music industry are the studio engineers. Being able to run the boards, edit, and use the software takes a very skilled person who has good technical skills, a great ear, and creativity. This type of person needs to be able to use both sides of her or his brain to get the job done. In the music business, the management may work all the contractual and tour details, but it is the sound engineers, editors, and producers who refine the art.

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