explore how you can work in Music

Start your Career in Music Performance

  • WHAT'S THE DEAL?
  • IS IT FOR YOU?
  • WHAT CAN I BE?
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
  • Despite advances in technology and dance music, there are no signs that the music performer is going away. Just look at Access’s patron, Ed Sheeran, who has achieved global success. People will always want to listen to music created by performers, whether that is through a digital stream, a vinyl record or a live gig.
  • There are many performance roles, from being a session musician or backing singer, through to being an original artist, either in a band or as a singer/songwriter. There are also an increasing number of opportunities for musicians working in lucrative tribute bands.
  • You will make more money if you are the songwriter. Songwriters earn royalties every time a track is played. So if you are the main, agreed songwriter in a band, you will earn more than your band mates if you become successful. However, beware of potential friction this might cause in the future.
  •  The UK music industry contributes £3.5 billion annually to the UK economy. This is made up of: £1.6bn from musicians, composers and songwriters; £634m from recorded music; £662m from live music; £402m from music publishing; £151m from music representatives, and £80m from music producers and recording studios.
  • These figures show that live performances now generate more income than recordings. In the past it used to be the other way around. This means that to make money you need to be prepared to get out there and play. Not only that, you need to be selling lots of merchandise to supplement your income.
  • Most people involved in music performance are self-employed. Incomes can vary significantly, from earning £50 a night for playing in a band at a local venue, up to successful international artists, who earn huge sums. Being self employed means you will need to manage your business affairs and deal with aspects of marketing and promotion.
  • Many people earn a living by having what is called a portfolio career. This is where you work and gain income from a number of areas. For example you might be a guitarist who plays in a couple of bands, who also creates soundtrack music for licensing, and who also teaches guitar.
IS IT FOR YOU?
  • You will need to love creating and performing music. Music will probably be your main passion and you will need to have invested time into learning to play an instrument or developing your voice.
  • If you are a music performer then you are likely to be self-employed. Being self employed means you will need to deal with business matters. Is this something which would suit you?
  • Being an original artist is a role where you can really express your creativity. However, many artists have to compromise in order to gain income from their music. Record labels will often put pressure on artists to be more commercial.
  • If you are a session musician, or working in a tribute act, the emphasis is on musicianship and on creating professional convincing performances.
  • If you are in a group, then teamwork skills are essential. It is also important that you are able to communicate effectively with support staff, such as sound engineers, producers and management.
  • The industry is very fast moving with constant technology developments, especially in relation to how people consume and experience music. You need to be a quick learner and enjoy learning new skills.
  • With the main income streams moving to performance, artists need to be prepared to gig and tour. This means working in the evenings, going on late into the night, often far away from home. It also means lots of travel and staying in cheap accommodation, or tour buses. Is this something which will suit you and your family/relationships?
WHAT CAN I BE?

Original Artist
You are an artist creating, recording and performing songs for public release. As well as creating great music, you will also need to build your artist image, brand and develop your fanbase. Unless you are a signed artist with management, you will need to undertake your own promotion, so a good head for business is really useful. This is a really exciting and creative role, but there is a massive amount of competition meaning it can be very difficult to get established and make money.

Session Musician
You are a jobbing musician working for original artists on performances and recordings and on specific projects for commercial clients. You will need to be highly accomplished on your trademark instrument, or be an excellent singer. You will need to be very quick on learning new material and an ability to read notation or tab will be a useful skill. You will also need to be totally professional and punctual. It’s the original artists who check the tellies out of hotel rooms, not the session players!

Tribute Artist
You are a musician working as tribute act or as part of a tribute group. Here you will need to be a skilled musician or singer who is able to recreate an authentic performance of the chosen original artist. The tribute circuit has grown in recent years and there is a big demand for acts at venues and festivals. However, the sector is dominated by established pro acts and it can be hard to get in.

Soundtrack Artist
You are an artist creating music for adverts, film and TV. Media has a constant thirst for new music to promote brands, or to provide incidental music in videos and films. You will create tracks and license these, probably via an agency, from whom you will get fees and royalties when your tracks are used. Here the emphasis is on creating music which will have commercial appeal to clients, so the criteria is very different to an original artist, who is creating the music they are passionate about.

Music Teacher
One way in which many musicians supplement their income is via freelance teaching and instrument tuition. There are always going to be those who want to play the guitar, keyboard or drums. You will need to have excellent communication skills, be well organised and have lots of patience.

Start your Career in Music Technology

  • WHAT'S THE DEAL?
  • IS IT FOR YOU?
  • WHAT CAN I BE?
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
  • Modern music is heavily reliant on technology, from creating tracks on computers, through to digital production, sound manipulation and live sound.
  • The growth in digital technology has resulted in an increase in job roles. Digital Audio Workstations have become increasingly compact and affordable,allowing producers to easily set up businesses, with many working from home. Likewise, live sound systems have become more lightweight and compact, meaning it is more practical to run a small live sound enterprise.
  • The DJ industry is buoyant and DJs can often earn more than musicians. Further, rapid developments in DJ technology now means it is possible to DJ with minimum hardware and without the need for bulky record collections.
  • The UK music industry contributes £3.5 billion annually to the UK economy. This is made up of: £1.6bn from musicians, composers and songwriters; £634m from recorded music; £662m from live music; £402m from music publishing; £151m from music representatives, and £80m from music producers and recording studios.
  • Most people involved in the technology side of the music business are self-employed, or work as part of small businesses (e.g. PA companies, studios). Being self employed means you will need to manage your business affairs and deal with aspects of marketing and promotion. Incomes can vary significantly, from earning £100 a night for live sound in a local venue up to successful international artists, such as Skrillex or Calvin Harris, who earn huge sums.
  • Many people earn a living by having what is called a portfolio career. This is where you work and gain income from a number of areas. For example you might be a music producer who also creates soundtrack music for licensing, who may also DJ out and perhaps do some teaching.
IS IT FOR YOU?
  • You will need to love how music can be created and manipulated by technology. You will be someone who is into the latest software and hardware releases. You will be someone who lives to create and process music using tech.
  • Many job roles relating to music tech suit self-employment, from producing and remixing tracks through to live sound. Being self employed means you will need to deal with business matters. Is this something which would suit you?
  • Artist roles, such as being a dance music producer or a DJ, are very creative. Other roles require more technical skills and knowledge, with an ability to problem solve.
  • If you are interested in a non-artist role, such as sound engineering, then people and teamwork skills are very important. It is essential that you are able to communicate effectively with promoters, musicians and DJs.
  • The industry is very fast moving with constant technology developments, so you need to be a quick learner and enjoy learning new skills.
  • Working hours can be long, especially when projects are reaching completion. Also working hours can often be unsociable, going on late into the night. DJs and PA crews may not finish work until the early hours.
WHAT CAN I BE?

Music Producer
You are an artist creating tracks for public release. As well as creating great music, you will also need to build your artist image, brand and develop your fanbase. Unless you are a signed artist with management, you will need to undertake your own promotion, so a good head for business is really useful. This is a really exciting and creative role, but there is a massive amount of competition meaning it can be very difficult to get established and make money.

Soundtrack Producer
You are an artist creating music for adverts, film and TV. Media has a constant thirst for new music to promote brands, or to provide incidental music in videos and films. You will create tracks and license these, probably via an agency, from whom you will get fees and royalties when your tracks are used. Here the emphasis is on creating music which will have commercial appeal to clients, so the criteria is very different to a music producer, who is creating the music they are passionate about.

Record Producer
You are the person responsible for realising an artist’s creative work into a recorded format, such as a single or album. You will have an excellent knowledge of the recording process from micing up instruments and acoustics, through to mixing, post production and mastering. You will also need to have great people skills to get the best work out of artists, who may be temperamental.

Live Sound Engineer
You are in charge of live sound at an event, making sure that the audience and artist get the best experience possible. At smaller events you may be working on your own, setting up the PA and micing up and mixing the acts. At larger events you will be working as part of a team. This may include front of house mixing, monitor mixing and stage work (micing and DJ requirements). You will need to have good people skills for working with artists and promoters, as well as excellent tech and problem solving skills.

DJ
You are in charge of playing out the music at club nights and events. Being a DJ can vary from DJing at local events, such as functions and clubs, up to being a superstar DJ, like David Guetta, playing out at top international clubs and festivals. As a DJ you will need to have a trademark sound and a set which is slick and will get people dancing. You will need an excellent knowledge of music in your genres, good DJ tech skills and know how to work a crowd.