How Do I Get Started In The Music Business?

Bizfeature_01You’ve put in the work.  Four years of your life spent on endless papers, tests, projects, organizations, and all night studying binges to finally prepare you for the “big day” of graduation.  Your weeks were spent studying hard and your weekends have been devoted to your true passion–Music.  No one else could possibly understand your drive and determination to “make it” in the music business.  Your bachelor of arts in music or some kind of communications/marketing degree will definitely give you the competitive edge over everyone else…right?  Well, truth is, you’re just getting started.

Unlike other types of businesses who are wining and dining new recruits all across the country, the music industry falls deathly silent.  It operates in a completely different way.  Instead of ramping up it’s recruiting efforts during the spring and hiring an influx of fresh new graduates, the music industry hires when they need to fill a position.  This could be at any time of the year.

Frank Woodworth, of the online think tank Glacial Concepts, recommends that as you enter the music industry your goal should not be to find a job, but rather to develop a career.  In an address to a group of seniors at Syracuse University, Mr. Woodworth suggests to think about your career development in four levels:


  1. 1.    Building your Base (informational interviews and conference attendance)
  2. 2.    Skill and Knowledge Development (Outside Projects)
  3. 3.    Creating Conversation around your Work (keeping up-to-date with your contacts using social media and writing)
  4. 4.    Finding and Applying for Open Positions (it’s still necessary, but not primary)


Building Your Base

The most important thing you can do to start your career in the music business is to develop your base of contacts.  Start with your friends/classmates that are like-minded to your cause.  Try to make friends with people from all aspects of the business whether booking, promotions, A&R, management, publishing, copyright, etc.  Since all of these branches work together in the business, you should start learning how to build relationships with them now.

Two other ways to expand your network without being a gherm are through informational interviews and attending conferences.  Contact a few companies of which you have an interest and ask them for an informational interview.  Make it worth their while and have at least 10 prepared questions.  Remember, the purpose is not a job–the purpose is to build a relationship.  Attending conferences is great place to meet new people in the industry.  Unlike other types of work functions, most people are ready and prepared to network at conferences.


Skill and Knowledge Development

Outside projects is the best way you can develop your skill and knowledge.  Employers want someone with real-world experience.  If you are seeking an Artist Management position, the best thing you can do is manage a local band.  It won’t be on the same scale as a big label artist, but you still have to deal with the same issues–getting them bookings, marketing, PR, and dealing with the artist’s ego.

If you desire to work as an audio engineer, the best thing you can do is get some projects under your belt.  Really take ownership and make them the best quality you can.  Build yourself a website, and get your music out there.  People want to know how good your ears are, and what skills you have.  Get training and education from a studio/school that focuses solely on audio.  Compile your work in a fashion that makes it easy for people to access and share it!


Creating Conversation Around Your Work

The best promoter for your work is you.  This new digital age has opened a whole world of opportunity for networking and promotions through social media.  Make sure you add everyone you meet to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.  Keep up with your contacts and interact with them.  However, do not bombard them with so much information that you become overwhelming.  Also, genuinely inquire about other people’s projects and work as well.  Don’t be some consumed with yourself that you ignore opportunities to help others.  They will do the same for you someday.


Finding and Applying for Open Positions

Endlessly checking online jobs sites for anything music related can seem productive, but it is one of the worst ways to spend your time.  If you’re checking Indeed, Monster, Craigslist, and similar sites, so is everyone else.

A much more effective way if to discover companies that you have an interest in.  Maybe they work with your favorite artist, genre, or have some particular theme that draws you to them.  Make a list and consistently check the careers/jobs sections of their websites.  Find ways to meet people in these companies and build relationships with them.  When a position comes available for which you qualify, use your contact to get your resume in front of the hiring manager.  This will at least ensure that your resume is seen, which is all you can hope for.


Mr. Woodworth concludes by stating, “These steps should last you a lifetime in the music industry. The particulars will change. Informational interviews will turn into lunches and drinks. Conference attendance will turn into speaking on panels. For a lucky few, the outside projects may just turn into their own profitable companies. The basic ideas are all the same, though. You want to have supporters and friends. You want to develop skills and knowledge. You want to let people know what you are working on. You want people to think of you as a person with ideas regardless of your position. This is as true looking for your fourth job as it looking for your first, and it is how you develop a career.  Good Luck!”

Do you have any questions about the Music Business?  Let us answer them for you by commenting below!

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