If you’ve recently graduated from college, you might be feeling uncertain about just what your future holds. Maybe you have your sights set on a career as a performer, or perhaps you want to be a music producer or teacher. Breaking into the music scene can be a challenge, but if you want it badly enough and take steps to prepare yourself, you can launch a sustainable career in the music industry.
College students who are going into other industries often have jobs already lined up before they graduate, but the music industry works differently. Things move quickly in this industry, and it’s rare that you’ll find a job immediately after graduation. This means that when the right opportunity comes along, you’ll need to be prepared and ready to apply.
To increase your chances of breaking into the music scene, don’t just focus on your performance skills — though those are important too. Everything you do from writing a great resume to networking with other music professionals can increase your chances of finding that right opportunity that will lead to your first job. Pursuing music as a full-time career is a tough task, but with some hard work and a little luck, you can successfully launch your career.
Types of Music Industry Careers to Pursue
The music industry is full of career options, but you’ll need to narrow down your focus as you decide on your exact career path. Some of the more common music careers include positions as a music teacher, performer, songwriter, or a producer. Lesser-known opportunities in the industry include careers as a music journalist, film scorer, music therapist, and instrument repair technician.
You may already know the type of career you want to hold, but if you don’t, think about your musical interests and identify a few jobs that interest you. Then, try to contact a professional currently working that job, either by networking through your college instructors or by reaching out to professionals directly through their websites or through LinkedIn. Most professionals will be happy to talk with you about what’s involved in their career and may be able to give you some tips on how to break into that particular field.
Once you’ve identified your dream job, think about the types of jobs that could help get you there. For instance, if you want to play in a Broadway orchestra, you might start your career by securing positions in local orchestras, move up to off-Broadway orchestras, and then ultimately land a job in a Broadway orchestra. You may not be able to step right into the job that you want immediately after graduating college, but there are many opportunities that can help you build the skills and experience you need to get these more prestigious positions.
How to Write a Strong Resume
Nearly any position in the music industry will require a resume, and your resume is often the first introduction a potential employer will have to you and your qualifications. While you’ll want your resume to make you stand out from the crowd, you also need to keep it clean and easily readable. Many employers scan resumes first, so design your resume to clearly showcase the experience and qualifications you have that make you right for the job.
Resume templates give you a good starting point so that you can then tailor it to each position. In addition to including previous work and education experience, musicians should also include information on private studies, ensemble experience, masterclasses, recital experience, and other relevant musical background highlights. You may also want to include extracurricular activities when you’re early on in your career.
If you’re applying for a position that has some basis in music performance, you’ll need to create a repertoire list. Your repertoire list should include the pieces that you have studied and performed on your main instrument (or voice), as well as any works you have studied on a secondary instrument. Plan to edit your repertoire list to highlight the pieces that are most relevant to each job you’re applying for.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
Your online reputation can affect your music career, so make managing your online reputation part of your job search. Before you start applying for jobs, review everything that you’ve posted on social media and remove any posts that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. It’s also a good idea to make your social media accounts private, except for any professional profiles that you’ve made for yourself as a performing musician.
You should also curate information that presents you well, and be sure to create and complete your LinkedIn profile. Depending on your desired career, you may want to make a website where you can house a biography, a list of upcoming performance dates, and videos of past performances. This website needs to look professional, so it’s worth the cost of hiring a designer to either create the site or add design elements to a basic site that you’ve created yourself.
Don’t be surprised if it takes some time to break into the music industry. With the right preparation and a bit of time, your opportunity will come along. Hard work and dedication go a long way in this field and are the basis of launching a profitable and sustainable music career.