So you want to be a rock and roll star--but you'd rather skip the starving musician bit. Or maybe you've given up the sold-out-arena dream, but still want music to be at the center of your life. Whatever the case, there are plenty of ways to turn a passion for music into a rewarding career, even if you never score a hit on the Billboard charts.
What Do You Love?
A good first step towards a career in music is to let your own strengths and skills determine what jobs will be a good fit. Do you like to write your own songs? Consider a career as a music director or composer. Is your strength playing an instrument or singing? Become a session musician or singer. Or maybe you're the guy who's always tinkering with the mixing console? You could make a good living as a sound engineering technician.
Learn Music Online
If you want to maximize your chance of success, you first need to maximize the scope of your knowledge. You might be a rock and roll virtuoso, but you'll be much more employable if you can also play country, jazz, classical, and gospel. And don't necessarily take your cues about what's most marketable from radio; while rock and country dominate the airwaves, it is religious organizations that dominate the music job market, employing 35 percent of all salaried musicians and singers.
In addition to diversifying your knowledge of music, you should also consider diversifying your repertoire of instruments. The more instruments you play, the more jobs you'll be eligible for.
There are hundreds of degree programs in music
that can help hone what you do best, as well as broaden the scope of your musical knowledge. There are also a number of vocational schools more focused on the technical aspects of audio production. Volunteering for community theater groups is a good way to get experience running mixing consoles. You can even take some music classes online
, if you're an independent and motivated learner.
Top earners in the music industry make more money than most of us can fathom. But it's possible to do well even without a hit album. The middle 50 percent of music directors and composers earn between $23,660 and $60,350, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while musicians and singers earn a median hourly earning of $23.37 an hour.
The music industry is and will remain intensely competitive. Those who want to be performers face particularly long odds, and long periods of feast or famine. But if you're willing to put in the work, there are plenty of careers that will allow you to keep doing what you love, even if that record deal never comes.