Making it in Music

Updated: Dec 24, 2021

Music shapes the lives of many and is ubiquitous in the lives of all, so why does a career in the music industry seem so elusive for so many people? Many of us fixate on the stars and their songs, we only see the final product of the industry but behind every successful artist, orchestra or band is a team of people helping to produce and market the music.


In 2020 the UK's music industry was valued at £5.8 billion, yet this is not all accumulated by music makers and performers. Roles such as Songwriter, Producer, Promoter, A&R, are all part of the teams that keep this huge industry standing strong as it supports almost 200,000 jobs.

So What can you do, what are the many ways you can build a career in music? In this article, I will outline a couple of opportunities available in the industry, including the dream of performing, access points to collective teams and the ability to shape the future through teaching.

The dream

Most people find their love of music through playing and through being inspired by other performers. Unfortunately, not many of us will be playing sold-out arena gigs - this doesn't mean you can't build a life playing music and loving what you do.

One job that would allow you to spend your life making music would be the role of a Session Musician. A session musician plays for different bands or artists whether this is for a live performance or a recording session, in the UK London has a large culture of session musicians. Making it as a Session Musician can be financially rewarding if you are in demand, but you have to create this demand for yourself - you can do this by effectively marketing your skills, mastering your instrument and building contacts with local labels or studios.

You could also work as a Staff-Musician. For some artists revenue for touring can be unsteady and unpredictable, however, some companies require permanent performers. Many holiday sites or cruise ships require year-round entertainment, thus providing an opportunity to have a career in performance with a steady and reliable income.

The Industry

Music is an industry just like any other, there are offices and CEOs and communications teams all working hard behind the scenes to bring you world-class musicians and to market your next favourite album. Three giants in the music industry are Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony, with UMG holding a 32% share of the music market. You'll find that most of your favourite artists are signed to labels owned by these three companies, who have a variety of roles in their talented teams. These include A&R, Communications, Marketing, Artist Relations, Legal Affairs and Accountancy. If you are just passionate about developing a career around music then many of these companies offer internships and provide roles that offer career progression. Perhaps you're turning to a career in music a little later in life and you have experience in other business admin roles, positions like these would be a great way to transition into the music field.

If you would like to be more hands-on and you want to help shape and create music, videos and advertisement then roles in production might be something you want to consider. Music Producers can be responsible for listening to and mixing artist tracks and demos, finding and booking suitable venues for performance or recording and operating the technical equipment that is used to record tracks.

The Future

With there being a sharp decrease in A-level music students over the past five years it is becoming increasingly more important that we nurture new and developing musical talent from all areas. The easiest way to ensure that new musicians are supported is to train and teach them. There are several teaching roles you could pursue, you could teach academically at GCSE or A-level standards or you could become a lecturer at a university. Many lecturers have area's of expertise or may simply teach performance, the opportunity for academic leave will also provide you time to refine your skills and research your performance programmes to an extensive level. You could also take on the more flexible role of a peripatetic tutor, this is someone who may teach in schools, from their own home, from a studio or elsewhere. A Peripatetic tutor tends to specialise in one instrument and will tutor students on a one to one basis. Such as performers a Peripatetic tutor may not have a stable or steady income, you must create the demand by advertising successfully, however, this job allows you to dictate working hours and may leave you time to pursue performance too.


The music industry is bigger than many of us realise so it is important that we start including this in the school curriculum, this way we can be sure that it continues to grow. Now you know there are more careers in music just waiting to be explored and they are all waiting for passionate and determined candidates to fill those roles or perhaps to build their business from the ground up for themselves!

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