“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
– Albert Einstein
I often think in music. It’s an inspiring set of words for anyone with an appreciation of how music can change attitudes and alter perception, set a tone or just change a mood.
Maybe Einstein chose a path of being a physicist because he couldn’t sing or play an instrument…quitter!
You don’t have to give up that easy. Here are five music careers that don’t require Christina Aguilera’s vocal chops, Yo Yo Ma’s instrumental prowess or even Adam Levine’s good looks:
Radio Host (Disc Jockey):
The most important parts of being a radio host are charisma, personality and an ability to engage and relate with the audience. The main thrust of your job description is to introduce songs, conduct interviews, voice commercials and be likable.How to start a career in music, even if you can't sing a note #musicjobs #gethired Click To Tweet
Having an understanding of the technical production aspects of radio – things like board operation, guest booking and commercial traffic – can make you a more valuable member of the staff.
Radio stations tend to involve themselves in more grassroots marketing, so expect to be on site at grocery store openings, sports events and local festivals in addition to your on air work.
Tips for a Career as a Radio Host:
- Having a college degree is helpful, but vocational or trade schooling can be just as beneficial, providing real hands-on experience.
- Intern at a radio station while in college and ask questions of successful hosts. Find out how they got started, what they’ve learned and how they’d do things differently in their careers.
- Plan on starting in a small market where there is greater turnover and thus more opportunities
- Don’t expect great pay in the beginning, but as your name grows there are greater opportunities for personal appearances which can really add to your bottom line.
A stage manager oversees everything that goes on stage at a concert hall, theater or outdoor venue. The stage manager will often be in control of very important things like lighting, audio, stage set-up…and some less important things like “does Usher have enough water?”
Truth is, a stage manager often acts as a liaison between the act and the venue, making sure both parties end up happy. If the audio isn’t what the act wants, they won’t be satisfied and probably won’t return on their next tour…which would make the venue unhappy.
So technically, the stage manager is the happy-maker.
Tips for a Career as a Stage Manager:
- The best stage managers have a background in music and performance, understanding the impact of audio, lighting, electronics and set design. Much of this can be accomplished in trade or vocational school.
- Communication skills are vital since you will often act as the main go-between for the act and the venue
- Volunteer at different venues while in school, build your network and then try to get hired full-time.
- Know the business. Visit clubs, theater halls and concert venues with resumes ready to hand over to hiring managers. Make yourself known.
Very high on the risk/reward scale, a career as a concert promoter can be extremely rewarding or treacherous financially.
A main component of being a promoter is seeking out financing for events from investors, or putting up a great deal of your own money. In order to convince investors to be involved in your project, you must have a well laid out event plan and budget, so a background in business and finance can be helpful.
After getting the finances in line, there are negotiations with acts, booking venues, hiring crews, setting the stage, selling tickets and most importantly, the actual promotion of the event.
A promoters pay is directly related to the success of the event, so the better job you do staying on budget and making your acts happy, the better chance you have at long-term financial success.
Tips for a Career as a Concert Promoter:
- Start small – this isn’t the type of career you jump into the big time right away, start out promoting smaller local shows at music halls, outdoor festivals and clubs and learn as much as you can about what works and what doesn’t.
- Take finance classes in school – One of the most important pieces of the promotion puzzle is building a budget and understanding costs. There is great financial risk in concert promoting; you can lessen that risk by understanding finances.
- Study advertising – Effectively getting the word out about a show will generate buzz and successful live events, when you have success other acts will want to work with you and you can grow your profile as a promoter.
- Understand demographic research – Where you place an act geographically will go a long way to determining success. Does the audience have an appetite for the show you are promoting? If not, the night of the event could be your last night on the job.
As the internet has advanced, so have the career opportunities of Music Journalists. Where there used to be only newspaper, magazine and a few TV opportunities, now there are blogs and online magazines always looking for fresh, new content.
The great thing about a career as a music journalist is that it’s flexible, you aren’t clocking in 9-to-5, instead, you are often working nights and weekends or at odd times that fit the subject. As your portfolio increases you can often work as a freelance writer, which allows you to work for multiple publications and build your audience even greater.
Tips for a Career as a Music Journalist:
- When you first start out, generally at smaller newspapers or blogs, expect to write about all types of music, not just your favorite genre. As you progress in your career, and work up to larger publications, you can become more specialized.
- Study Journalism – this isn’t one of those careers you can fake. Either you have a talent for writing and conveying thoughts, or you don’t.
- Study Music – It’s not enough to listen to music, if you are going to write about the music industry, album reviews or analyze performances, its best you know what you are talking about.
- While in school don’t just write for the college paper, also start submitting your writing to blogs and online magazines to help build your personal brand. So for example, let’s say Macklemore and Ryan Lewis do a show at your college campus, write a review, submit it to a few sites and see what happens.
A publicist creates buzz about an act by communicating with radio stations, newspapers, magazines and TV stations in an effort to get coverage and become better known amongst the public. The more an act is recognized, the more likely they are to sell-out venues and grow their profile.
Tips for a Music Career as a Publicist:
- A background in public relations is helpful, since building press kits, writing press releases and spinning negative stories about your client are major parts of a career as a music publicist.
- Intern at a record label – most record labels hire a staff of publicists to work with their acts. Interning is a great way to see how the business side of the music industry works.
- Work with a local band to help in their publicity, assist in booking venues, advertising, contact local radio stations. It’s a great way to learn by trial and error, plus you’ll have something on your resume!
If you couldn’t sing or play an instrument, but loved music, what career would you pursue?!