How To Pursue a Music Career|Prepare for a Music Career

Prepare for a Music Career

Just about everyone has hit a few keys on a piano, sung a song, plucked guitar strings, or played with a musical instrument out of curiosity. But if you have natural talent and want to pursue a career in music, here's how to prepare.

Performer, Instructor or Composer? Musicians come in all flavors, shapes, and sizes. If you are an instrumentalist, you may find work in an orchestra or a band. If you are strong in music theory or teaching, you may want to be an instructor. Or perhaps you have a talent for writing songs or arranging musical scores and want to make a career out of composing. Wherever your specific interests lie, career training and music classes can help you become a more accomplished musician and possibly open the door to a music job.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Gaining public exposure is an important process for a successful musician. For singers and instrumentalists, this means sending in demos to college radio stations, posting your songs on the Web, taking jobs at nightclubs or weddings, joining music ensembles, and taking courses to improve technique and musicianship. If you are a songwriter or composer, understanding music theory and harmony can help to refine your abilities and get the attention of people who want to hire musicians.

Music Agent Man If you want to make writing or singing music a career, consider hiring a music agent. Legitimate agents have an inside track into the music industry and can help get the ear of an A&R (artists and repertoire) person at a music company. But be aware that the percentage of musicians who can actually land a contract or have their songs published is very small.

Don't Quit Your Day Job Yet A career in music can be one of the most fulfilling jobs around, but making music a fulltime profession takes a lot of tenacity, talent, and luck. Many people who start out with the intent of making music their career drop out because of sporadic work or the intense competition for jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that in 2006, approximately 35 percent of musicians worked part-time. The road to a music career is challenging, but being prepared with education and experience can help you along the way.

American Federation of Musicians
Bureau of Labor Statistics

About the Author
Frank Ling received his music degree at CCSF and has performed in the band MSG as a drummer and guitarist. He also plays keyboard, bass guitar, the harmonica, and baritone.

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