Career options in music and where to find careers advice and resources for career development.
If you are looking at what your options and are as a music graduate, or if you are looking for advice to help you in your career, you will find lots of useful information in this section.
Advice and Support
If you are looking for advice related to your work in music, then a good place to start is with the Musicians' Union (MU) and the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which are membership organisations for musicians in the UK. Their websites include advice and resources to help those working across all areas of the music profession, as well as details of professional development events. Go online to find out about the full range of support, advice, services and expertise available to those who join as members. Both organisations offer a discounted membership option for students.
Creative Choices is a useful resource for those who want to develop their career in the creative and cultural industries; it includes a section on music.
The Musicians' Union (MU) provides tips for successful auditioning. Morgensterns, in partnership with the MU, have developed a series of audition masterclasses designed to help musicians with professional orchestral experience to refine their audition skills. The masterclasses have been filmed and you can watch them online.
Help Musicians UK provides advice on range of issues relevant to those working in music, including a section on developing your music career.
The bookings agency for orchestral and session musicians, Morgensterns, have advice pages on their website that cover a number of topics including preparing CVs and covering letters for mailings to orchestral and session fixers.
The diary service for orchestral and session musicians, the Musician’s Answering Service (MAS), offers free one-to-one guidance sessions to freelance orchestral players at their office in Dorking.
Music-job.com has advice on applying for an orchestral vacancy in Germany, based on opinions gathered from members of 15 German professional orchestras on how musicians should approach the application and audition process.
Careers in Music
Careers opportunities for music graduates can include:
- Solo and ensemble performance
- Composition and arranging
- Creative project work (improvisation, collaborations with dance, music technology)
- Instrumental/vocal teaching/project leadership
- Community project work
- Collaborative projects with other media/art forms
Other career options related specifically to music include:
- Arts administration and management
- Copyright administration in composition and recordings
- Management, representation and promotion
- Music publishing
- Music therapy
- Production, retailing and distribution of music instruments
- Production, distribution and retailing of sound recordings
The graduate careers website, Prospects, provides detailed information about a range of graduate occupations, including:
Other websites with advice on specific areas of the music industry include:
- The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) - careers in orchestral management
- The Music Publishers Association (MPA) - careers in music publishing
- The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) - music therapy
Other Career Options
If you thinking more generally about opportunities with a degree in music, it is worth being aware that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject.
Through your music studies, you will have developed a broad range of skills that are valued by employers - these skills can be described as 'employability skills' or 'transferable skills'. For information to help you identify the skills you've gained through your studies that you can apply in future employment, please look on the webpage about employability skills.
Harry Slater, in a 2013 article about music students and employability, proposes that "with unique skills and a broad range of graduate jobs on offer, music students have better prospects than people imagine". You can read the full article on The Guardian's website.
The following publications are available within the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts:
The Australian Guide to Careers in Music
Author: Michael Hannan
Published: University of New South Wales Press (UNSW Press) 2003
Provides a comprehensive guide to careers in music. Helps the reader to understand the range of career choices and their implications, and to find a direction that fits his or her abilities and interests. Covers jobs in composition, performance, audio production, instrument making, broadcasting, management, law, publishing, record companies, retail, wholesale, teaching, arts administration, information services and music therapy. Within each job category the guide includes: A description of the work involved; An analysis of the skills, both professional and personal, required to do the job well; An indication of employment or business prospects; An outline of formal and informal training requirements.
Preparing for Success: A practical guide for young musicians
Authors: Susan Hallam and Helena Gaunt
Published: Institute of Education, University of London, 2012
This book is a useful resource for young musicians already studying and moving towards a professional career in music, or for young musicians considering the potential of going into music.
Beyond Talent - Creating a Successful Career in Music (second edition)
Author: Angela Myles Beeching
Published: Oxford University Press, 2010
This book is a comprehensive music career guide, giving step-by-step instructions on how to design promotional materials, how to find and create performance opportunities, network and much more.
Life in the Real World: How to Make Music Graduates Employable
Editor: Dawn Bennett, Curtin University (Australia)
Published: The Arts in Society
A music career guide that offers an international perspective. With the linking theme of exploring one's professional identity, the book explores crucial issues for global musicians.
Musicians' Handbook: The Essential Guide for Professional and Aspiring Musicians
Editors: Claudine Nightingale, Rachel Creaser, Sarah Reid
Published: Rhinegold Publishing Ltd, 2013
A guide for all musicians considering, or just embarking upon, a career in music performance. With advice from those already working in the industry, and tips for singers, instrumentalists, composers and conductors.
Becoming an Orchestral Musician: A Guide for Aspiring Professionals
Author: Richard Davis
Published: Giles de la Mare, 2004
A guide for professional musicians on how to succeed in joining an orchestra or ensemble, and how to survive as an orchestral musician. Covers topics such as auditioning, nerves, the secrets of ensemble playing and intonation, conductors, the mechanics of the orchestra, performing philosophies and strategies for survival.