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Updated Nov 08, 2023

10 Great Jobs for Music Lovers

The music business requires understanding aspects of finance, macro- and microeconomics, and data analytics.

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Written By: Simone JohnsonBusiness Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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Musicians are just one of the many moving parts that help the music industry run. This creative field needs more than instruments and performers to operate, so there are multiple paths you can take to be part of it. If you’re looking for a career that allows you to surround yourself with music, some of the lesser-known music industry jobs can give you that and more. Keep reading to discover your options and what it’ll take to get started..

The best jobs for music lovers

You don’t have to be a performer to work in the music industry. Here are 10 behind-the-scenes jobs that are great for music lovers.

1. Video and sound engineer

Video and sound engineers have one of the highest-paying jobs in the music industry. In this role, you could be responsible for mapping the sound and voice effects for video games. Equally lucrative positions within this niche include recording and score composers. All these jobs have a hand in the overall sound and feel of the game. Video and sound engineers are also useful in television and film production. 

Salary range: $34,000 to over $94,000

2. Recording engineer

Recording engineers record, edit and mix sound for artists or music companies. They manage the artistic and technical aspects of the recording session. They typically work with or as music producers, movie sound editors, musical composers or song arrangers. They can also work for television or concert production companies.

Salary range: $38,000 to $97,000

3. Music directors/conductor

Music directors or conductors are responsible for leading orchestras and choirs. They select and arrange music for their performers, and lead rehearsals and performances. Music directors typically lead school bands, church choirs, youth orchestras and performance companies, and some even work for television or radio companies.

Salary range: $33,000 to $131,000

4. Music teacher

As a music teacher, you can share your skills with musically inclined students. This is an incredible way to give back to your community, help students develop their talents, and teach them the fundamentals of music. Schools or academies are ideal settings, but you can also hold your own classes and programs. Whether you specialize in teaching a specific instrument or want to teach music generally, you can find joy in sharing your expertise with others.

Salary range: $37,000 to $92,000

Interested in hosting your own music education classes? Starting a business can give you an official launchpad for doing exactly that.

5. DJ

DJs bring parties to life, using their mastery of music and beats to entertain crowds. You’ll be able to add your personal touch to the music at local gigs and excite audiences with tunes they can dance to all night long. Not only will you be able to enjoy the events you work at, but you’ll also have the chance to meet new people and connect with others who share your love of the art.

Salary range: $32,000 to $96,000

6. Music therapist

Music therapists use sound to help improve the mental state of their clients. Many people find that music calms the mind and helps them cope with difficult situations. Music therapists work with patients to manage their stress and pain, both emotional and physical, with the power of music.

You can earn a certification through various music therapy programs that teach you how to apply specific techniques to patients in different settings. Music therapists can work through a private practice or at hospitals, mental health agencies, rehab centers, day cares, nursing homes and schools.

Salary range: $51,000 to $123,000

7. Music journalist

If you prefer to remain behind the scenes, music journalism may be your answer. Writing for a music magazine like Rolling Stone or Billboard, you can cover concerts, profile artists and review new albums. Even if you’re only freelancing or working for a small, local outlet to produce content about your local music scene, your writing could influence many readers to get more involved in music. [Read related article: What Every Freelancer Should Know]

Salary range: $35,000 to $59,000

8. Music agent, manager or publicist

Music agents, managers and publicity representatives help musicians handle their contacts, events, social media and the many opportunities offered to them each day. They also promote their clients’ songs, albums, shows and more.

You can become a rep for a musician by working at a music marketing firm or by starting your own. As a manager or publicist, handling project management, press releases, interviews and the like are big parts of the job. You would be responsible for managing a musician or band and their public relations campaigns. Agents primarily focus on securing deals for albums, touring, licensing and other gigs.

Salary range: $34,000 to $117,000

Did You Know?Did you know
Project management software makes it easy to digitally organize, collaborate on and execute projects and tasks from start to finish. It’s a must-have if you work in musician management.

9. Songwriter

Lyricists or songwriters are a huge part of the music-making process. Each song tells a story, and the charm of words can make a No. 1 hit. It’s not an easy field to break into, but if you have a knack for poetry, you should consider becoming a lyricist for a musician, sharing your own stories and experiences.

Salary range: $43,000 to $131,000

10. Music franchise owner

Being a music franchise owner allows you to explore the entrepreneurial side of music. Plenty of music franchises are on the market, like School of Rock, a program designed to guide students through their musical journeys, and Music Go Round, an outlet that offers affordable equipment for musicians. You can channel your passion by promoting your love of the art and support for the industry. Owning and operating a music franchise that enhances the community may be your calling. [Grab your headphones and listen to 50 inspirational songs for entrepreneurs.]

Salary range: $51,000 to $104,000

What to expect from a music business degree

A degree in music business has three components — analytical, musical and managerial education, according to Larry Miller, director of the music business program at New York University.

  • The analytical component includes understanding the international music business marketplace, macro- and microeconomics, mathematics, marketing, financial accounting and management, and entertainment and organizational analysis.
  • The musical section teaches music theory like aural comprehension, music history, keyboard skills and music in contemporary world culture.
  • Managerial training encompasses music publishing, concert management, entrepreneurship, writing, media planning, finance and entertainment law.

“It’s a well-rounded program that engages the left and right brain,” Miller told Business News Daily. A good music business program, he added, also prepares students for jobs that don’t exist yet. “It trains students to invent the future of the music business,” he said.

How to choose the best music business program

When choosing a music business program, try to be as close to the industry as possible, just in case opportunity comes knocking while you’re pursuing your degree. Living in a place where you can secure internships and opportunities at nearby record labels or companies is an important advantage. Some of the top cities for music are New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and, for country music in particular, Nashville. 

Access to internships should be a deciding factor for where you study music, said Michael McCutcheon, co-founder of Wanderlust Careers. Besides teaching you microeconomics and concert management skills, a program with stable and long-standing relationships with music companies will benefit your future career. Seek schools with excellent internship programs and professional networking opportunities. These can be just as vital to your success as your understanding of your courses.

Difficulties of pursuing careers in music

The business side of music is not always as glamorous as the performances. That might be a problem if you’re not familiar with the day-to-day of your specific music field.

“You may realize partway into the job that you don’t want to do this anymore,” McCutcheon said.

The sometimes-tedious work might be more along the lines of making phone calls and filling out paperwork than following your passion to work directly with artists, and that could be discouraging. This is why internships and job shadowing are critical parts of the process. They give you the chance to experience the work and uncover the aspects of the sector you don’t like. 

Earning a music business degree itself is no walk in the park either.

“You need resilience,” Miller said. “When you’re looking at the business side or hope to run your own company or label, that requires focus, work ethic and working hard in some areas that don’t come so easy to the student.”

FYIDid you know
In many cases, it’s entirely legal for organizations, including music companies, to offer solely unpaid internships. You might need to find other sources of income to support you while you complete these internships. That will shift your work-life balance more toward the former, not the latter.

Companies to consider for music careers

Regardless of the specific area you choose, working for one of these music companies can help you get the paycheck you desire in a music-related career.

  • The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is a music and live sports company that works with venues like the Arena (formerly called the Staples Center) in Los Angeles and the T-Mobile Center (previously the Sprint Center) in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Apple is everywhere, and iTunes has been a big part of the company since the beginning. In addition to Apple Music, Apple develops music recording software GarageBand and Logic Pro.
  • The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is filled with lyricists, composers and a variety of music publishers. It promotes and licenses the music of its clients, receives a large cut of public performances of their work, and collects royalties.
  • Fender creates electric guitars, basses and amplifiers. Its guitars have been played by music legends like George Harrison and Jimi Hendrix.
  • Sony Music is one of the three biggest record companies in the world. Its labels include RCA, Epic, RED Music and Columbia Records.
  • Spotify has more than 515 million monthly users and has helped shape the music world since 2008.

Music makes the world go ’round — and so can you

Whether you work for a record label, instrument manufacturer or an artist’s personally hired team, you can earn money through your love for music. Along the way, you’ll leverage your hard skills in math, economics and marketing as well as your soft skills such as organization. And, of course, you’ll put your love of music to work for the benefit of musicians, not to mention listeners. You might end your workdays feeling satisfied with how you’re helping music keep the world turning, all through an income source you truly love.

Max Freedman and Sammi Caramela contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Written By: Simone JohnsonBusiness Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Simone Johnson advises small business owners on the services and resources needed for not only day-to-day operations but also long-term profitability and growth. She's long had an interest in finance and has studied economic trends affecting the financial landscape, including the stock market. With this expertise, Johnson provides useful instruction on everything from EBITDA to payroll forms. In recent years, Johnson has expanded her purview to include advertising technology and digital marketing strategies. She has spent significant time profiling entrepreneurs and helps companies with brand objectives and audience targeting. Johnson holds a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's in journalism.
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