person playing the piano

Careers as a Professional Musician

Some people are drawn to their passion in such a strong way that they make a career of it. For those that are good enough, there are lucrative careers in the music industry. You don’t necessarily have to be musically gifted, though of course, it does help. And the better you are, the more likely you’ll succeed. But first, you have to be good. Hopefully, you were paying attention to all those piano or guitar lessons you had, but even if you’re rusty, you can always brush up to start a new career.

Become an artist

Become a world-famous musician and artist. Why not? Anything is possible. However, if this doesn’t work out and you don’t turn out being the new Yo-Yo Ma, you can still write music or lyrics for others. Many musicians create music or songs that other people will perform, and if you’re successful, it can be a very lucrative profession. It’s quite common to have significant stars have their songs written by other writers.

Film and TV content and video games will always require music. If you’re lucky and good, you might have a chance at scoring a film. Your name might not be known as well as the actors, but score a hit or climb to the top of the profession, like John Williams, and everyone will know your music. You don’t necessarily need classical training to score a movie, but it’s something that will prove incredibly useful.

concert piano at the studio

Session musician

If you’re very good at playing your instrument of choice, you can be a session musician. This means you can help other artists in their recording projects, such as when they’re making albums, and you can even join them when they perform live. This doesn’t typically mean you’re part of the band, more a musician for hire when needed.

Some session musicians and singers become famous in their own right and become the leading artists. Willie Nelson and Phil Spector started as support musicians.

Music teacher

Many musicians find a career by becoming music teachers. This means they can either do it full time in a school or freelance as a tutor. This work requires more than just being a good musician. You must also become proficient in teaching. If you’ve worked with other professionals on something you’re all passionate about (the music), it can be a shock to work with kids who may not be into the instrument. It could be that some students may be being forced into learning an instrument by parents. You’ll have to learn how to deal with both the uninterested student and the eager and expectant parent.

Crafting a career in the music industry is not easy, nor is it stable unless you are a tenured teacher. However, the music industry is very fluid, and you can branch into many parts of the entertainment industry. You may start as a musician and then do some producing or end up as a manager for an artist. Even if you’re moderately successful, a career in music can be very lucrative and rewarding.

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