Patrick Clark

The Fiddlist

The Professional Musician

 

 

Where to Start

 

I.              Approach your music career as a business. 

It’s no secret that the music industry is in a constant state of change.  The most notable paradigm shift was the introduction of iTunes.   Artists, musicians, producers, and writers alike have all seen their profits shrink exponentially in the last 10 years as the popularity of such sites like Pandora and other subscription sites gain in popularity.  As a result, we’ve seen the collapse of the major label model for promoting artists.

Now, we are seeing more artists making themselves famous!  Social media is a powerful place to market.  It’s not always free but it can be very useful.  There’s no better way to create more business than word of mouth.  Just ask someone…

So now, lets’ get down to the details of how to approach the next steps in your life.

 

Make a list of strengths and weaknesses.

Many young musicians approach their post college careers with either a “roll the dice” approach, OR a false sense of how things really are.   Chances are that you’ll probably graduate from college near the age of 22 with your undergraduate degree.   You might be surprised to know that your brain doesn’t finish developing until around the age of 25.

Analyze your strengths and weaknesses so you recognize what’s worth improving on and what’s not.  Understanding this will help you to match your career path to your personality.    

So, take a personality test.  There are many out there, but one that is used by many match making companies, therapists, and management firms around the globe is the Meyers- Briggs personality test.  It’s a 15 minute test with 80 yes or no questions that analyzes your answers.  Those answers are not supposed to be what you know you should do.  The answers are supposed to be what you usually do.  There are 16 different personalities that are categorized by this test and the results are given with a 4 letter acronym.  You can research the personality test results to learn about yourself.  You may find yourself laughing out loud as you read.

Research the possibilities

Do your homework on your career interests.  A list of possibilities is shown at the end of this presentation.  Once you know your strengths, research music careers that meet the needs of your personality yet will stretch you to help you grow.  Learn what the average income is for each career and see if it matches the lifestyle that you want to live.   Pick a few ideas that work for you and prioritize by the level of interest and profitability.  If you’re passionate about it, you’ll be amazing at it.  If you hate it, don’t waste your time, you’ll be terrible at it and you’ll hate your life.  Pick the first one and try it.  Work hard at it.  See how it goes.  That’s a better way to “roll the dice” because the odds of you being successful are higher. Once you have chosen a path, be realistic about your expectations for the money you will earn so you are not left disappointed and dissatisfied. 

 

II.            Let’s Get To Work

 

Make the most out of your ROI

What is ROI? It’s a buzz word.  But, it’s an important one.  Everything you do as a professional musician requires you to analyze the benefits and the risks of an opportunity.  EVERY GIG IS AN OPPORTUNITY, at first.  In the beginning, you’ll have more time than money, unless you’re independently wealthy.  You will need to get in the habit of weighing whether a certain opportunity is actually worth your time, and eventually, you’re money.  Ultimately, your moves need to be calculated based on ROI, Return On Investment.  This especially applies in networking.  If there are two events going on and you know there are some great players that you’d really like to get to know playing somewhere, but you have the option to go to a concert and listen to your favorite band, which do you think will give you the best Return On your Investment?

 

Always Improve Your Time Management

Time management is crucial for productivity and preparedness both in the practice room and out.  Multi-tasking IS NOT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE.  So DON’T DO IT. Research has conclusively shown that, not only is multi-tasking not physically possible, it is incredibly inefficient.  If you are working on a project, or a piece, or anything else that requires complete focus, and you get a call, unless the call is an emergency, finish the task and return the call later. Avoid answering or reading emails while on the phone.  People are your clients and they deserve your undivided attention.  You’ll find that you make fewer mistakes and you will get things done much faster.  If someone claims to be a good multi-tasker, they are most likely really good a flipping back and forth between tasks.  If a job requires multi-tasking abilities, you have to ask yourself, “what are they really wanting?”  Who they’re really looking for is someone who can manage switching between tasks easily.  Most artistic personalities can’t do this. 

 

Try to set aside time in the day for yourself; no phone, no email, no social media.  30 minutes by yourself is critical for your mental health.  It’s not always possible, but get as much sleep as possible.  Studies have shown that people who work over 40 hours per week in the corporate setting begin to decrease their productivity exponentially as the day/week wears on.  Your brain needs a rest.  The challenging part of being a musician is that this is not always possible, so you must schedule recovery time at the end of crazy times.

 

Always Improve Yourself

It should be a priority for you to continue to become a better musician, teacher, and professional.  Look at every day as an opportunity to learn something new and to grow yourself.  Teachers should be looking for ways to increase their understanding of music every day and to grow in their understanding of their students.  Teachers should also know that improving your playing skill is a MUST.  If you can’t demonstrate what you are asking your students to do, how can you expect them to take you seriously?  The excuse that an education major should be able to practice less is malarkey, in my opinion.  I believe, even if a person shows less natural ability on an instrument and they choose a teaching major versus a performance major, that person’s performance load should not change at the college level.  A teacher should always be searching for ways to make improvements in their own proficiency so they can better advise their students. 

 

Diversify As You Grow

Before you diversify, once again, do your research and make sure it’s profitable.  If it is, ask yourself how long will it take you to get good at it?  How much will it cost, both financially and in start up/learning time?  If you find it to be a worthwhile endeavor, then go for it.  Slowly.  This is similar to a company adding a product line or new service to their list of what they offer.  A company will take the profits from the sales of the new product and either re-invest until the product stands on its own, or shift some profit to keep the company going and re-invest the rest.  Your endeavor will be similar and you will have to make financial decisions based on your own circumstances.    

 

Avoid working for free.

A very close friend once told me “work for the money; you’ll get the experience.”  What he was saying is that you MUST get paid for what you do.  It’s your livelihood.  If you are getting called to work, you’re already considered good enough.  That also means you’re good enough to get paid, and paid well.  A caveat to this is that, if you’re fresh out of college, you really might need more experience.  So, if you do get a good paying gig, keep yourself in check and remember that, while you’re playing level may be better than somebody else, you’re the bottom of the totem pole.  Know you’re place.

Finally, understand that a free gig to help a friend out might really pay off.  You make the call. 

 

Build strong relationships

Networking with the “big dogs” is always a great way to begin working with them.  However, they’re not stupid.  Be sincere in your approach to build a strong “working” relationship with them.  If you’re not sincere, they’ll see right through it.  Do your homework on people though.  Try to get a sense of which big dog is a big jerk, and which one isn’t.  Make sure your motives to build the relationship are based on mutual, beneficial interests. 

Build strong personal relationships.  Networking within your industry is great but humans need companionship.  We are a social species. Some people are truly best as single people, but most really need a life partner.  Personal relationships matter. The healthy work you put into your personal relationships will spill over into your business relationships.  In your business relationships, you will find yourself with some close friends with common interests. 

NEVER ask someone what they make!  You will probably learn about it eventually.  It’s happened to me and it’s a terrible idea.  It makes the rest of the meeting very awkward and could ruin the opportunity for a good professional connection. 

 

Manage Your Money Well

I can’t say it enough.  SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!  Make sure that the expenses you take on will not stop you from saving money every month.  I don’t mean $20 per month either.  I’m talking at least $100 per month to start.   Start an IRA.  Consult a financial advisor about what kind of IRA you should get.  If you can, set up an automatic withdrawal.  Finally, create a budget and stick to it!

  

III.          Ethics

Ethics should be your BIGGEST concern.  Every decision you make should reflect your ability to think things through and make the right call.  Every word you say, every action you take, and every decision you make will be your reputation.  Ethics go beyond how you treat people.  It should go without saying but treating everyone with respect, integrity, and courtesy is a must. 

 

Sticking To Commitments

If you take the gig, you keep the gig!  Unless it’s understood ahead of time and you have a sub in place, there isn’t a contractor on the planet that wants to hear from you asking to sub a gig they’ve hired you for, for another gig that pays more money.  Chasing after every dollar in that way will lead you to chasing your tail.  The money you “lost” by turning a gig down in order to keep a commitment doesn’t compare to the money you won’t make in the future if you don’t honor your commitment. 

 

Always Come Prepared

Every gig you commit to should be approached exactly the same way and with the same enthusiasm.  If you take a gig for less than you wanted to, that’s your decision.  Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s better for you in the long run.  You never know who will be there to hear you play and say “wow, that guy/girl was so solid.  I need to hire them for my next gig.”  That next gig might pay ten times the money of the one you just did.  I’ve encountered many musicians that prepare based on pay.  It infuriates me because those are usually the same people that are always begging for more work.  If you can’t be bothered to prepare, don’t bother taking the gig!

 

Common Courtesy

Phone Manners:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a lunch meeting where people are surfing Facebook or returning texts.  Checking the phone to see who it is, okay.  Maybe it’s an emergency.  But if it’s not, put your phone away.  This comes back to building personal relationships.  What are you saying to your colleges or guests at the table if you’re too busy with your phone to converse with them?  Do yourself a favor and turn the phone off.  The emails, Facebook, and other demands can wait. 

 

Table Manners:

Learn proper dining manners.  If you were invited to perform for the President and were wined and dined afterwards, would you be able to sit at the table and engage in proper passing of the plates?  How about the silverware?  Do you know what a cocktail fork, salad fork, dinner fork, soup spoon, desert spoon, dinner knife, or butter knife are and the appropriate time/way to use them? 

 

Yes Sir and Yes Ma’am:

I know it’s old fashioned, but it’s very polite and shows that you’ve been exposed to proper manners.  Young people are seen as green, inexperienced, and full of potential.  Instead of answering with a “yeah,” try a “yes ma’am,” instead, especially with people older than yourself.  It shows a level of respect and they will take you more seriously. 

 

Promoting Yourself

Promoting yourself is crucial to being successful.  YOU are the product!  Remember though, shameless sales tactics don’t work when networking.

Facebook, Twitter, and all of the others:

Facebook, etc. are great ways to promote yourself, stay in contact, and be aware of what people are doing.  Remember, most people on Facebook are smart enough to try and make themselves look GOOD.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that anyone is doing better than you.  Be aware that they are bragging when they post who they’re playing with.  That’s okay because now you know who they were with and who else was on the gig.  Now, you can watch them and see what they are all doing and find an opportunity to make friends.   

Remember, be careful posting your negative opinion on Facebook, etc.  It’s permanent.  It’s just better to THINK your opinion and not voice it.  You might alienate yourself.  Don’t get too personal on Facebook.  Personal means just that.  PERSON TO PERSON.  Not public!

Another thing to be careful of is posting too much.  I have a lot of friends who use one or even multiple sites to post pictures, ideas, etc.  However, some of it is just overdone.  I find myself skipping over their posts because it’s the same thing ALL THE TIME.  One or two posts per day is ample.  Make your posts a mix of personal, not too personal though, and professional. 

Analyze post behavior.  Post what people are interested in.  Sometimes you’ll post a video and not get a ton of likes but the video will be viewed a lot.  That’s a good post. 

YouTube is also a great way to promote yourself and show off your abilities.  Make sure what you post is something that you think you’d be okay with standing the test of time.  Will you be okay with what is on line in 2, 5, or 10 years from now?  Think before you post folks!

 

IV.          Making The First Leap

Now that I’ve given you a diatribe of what to do as a professional, you need to determine, by using your list of strengths and weaknesses, what career is a good starting point for you.  Remember, you’re not committing the rest of your life to this, yet.  You’re taking the first step towards a career path that will PROBABLY work for you. 

What are my options?

Well, let’s start with a list published by Berkley College of Music.  Note that I combine my abilities to do several of the options listed below to create my income.  Once you find a collection of careers that sound good to you.  Find out who’s who in that industry.  Find out what they make. 

 

Composer

Composers create instrumental pieces, either stand-alone or combined with lyrics. They may compose for a specific situation, such as film/TV composers who score/compose music to enhance videos or films, or they may compose for live performance and/or recording situations.

 

Arranger (Adaptor)

An arranger provides musical arrangements of a musical composition or song for an artist, band, orchestra, or other ensemble. The arranger determines the voice, instrument, harmonic structure, rhythm, tempo, and other aspects of a song or composition based on the artist, producer, or conductor's specifications. Training in music theory, orchestration, composition, and harmony is required. An arranger should have experience as a copyist, writing music, and playing one or more instruments.

 

Orchestrator

An orchestrator is responsible for transposing music from one instrument or voice to another in order to accommodate a particular musician or group, and writing scores for an orchestra, band, choral group, individual instrumentalist(s), or vocalist(s).

 

Copyist

A copyist transfers musical parts from a score onto individual parts. This person must have strong notation and transposition skills, training in music theory, and neat and accurate copy work.

 

Educator/Teacher (Composition)

The composition teacher usually teaches in a higher-education setting, such as in a college, conservatory, or university. A composition teacher may also teach others privately, or teach other subjects in addition to composition, such as music theory, music arranging, music history, or vocal or instrumental conducting, or they may conduct chamber groups, choruses, or orchestras.

 

Transcriber

A transcriber notates musical performances onto a score from a recorded performance.

 

Editor (Print Music Publishing)

An editor manages and develops a print music publishing company's product line, which usually includes instructional music books for people of all ages and abilities. An editor in this field should have the ability to develop products, topics, and concepts; write; compose; edit; proofread; and manage the print/production process. Prior experience in creative design layout and consumer publications is extremely helpful.

 

Producer

Producers work mainly with recording acts and record labels to produce records. They also work with composers and produce sound recordings for film, TV, and other forms of multimedia, as well. The producer supervises all aspects of the recording process—including contracting session players and overseeing the recording budget—and may also help the artist select songs to be recorded. Preferably, a producer should be an excellent musician with a lot of performing experience, and have a great depth of musical, acoustical, and studio technical knowledge.

 

Acoustic and Electronic Orchestrator

An orchestrator is responsible for transposing music from one instrument, voice, or electronic sound to another in order to accommodate a particular musician, group, or style, and writing scores for an orchestra, band, choral group, electronic, and hybrid ensembles, individual instrumentalist(s), or vocalist(s).

Composer for Film, Television, Theater, and Multimedia

A composer for film, TV, theater and multimedia scores music to accompany a motion picture for film, TV shows, a theater production, and video games or multimedia presentations. This could include dramatic underscore as well as popular songwriting using a blend of acoustic and electronic techniques. The traditional role of such a composer is to provide the dramatic underscore, and only more recently has the popular soundtrack begun to stand on its own.

 

Jingle Writer

Jingle writers are songwriters/composers/lyricists who specialize in writing music for radio and television commercials. They are responsible for representing their client musically as directed. They must be skilled in all styles, be strong musical arrangers, and be able to compose well for a very short form.

 

Songwriter

A songwriter writes both lyrics and music and is either a staff writer with a publishing company or a freelance songwriter. A songwriter may also perform and/or produce his/her own songs. 

 

Sound Designer

The sound designer is employed to develop a sound library of synthesized original sounds and effects for artists/bands, production and multimedia companies, and music equipment manufacturers. The sound designer also uses various sophisticated electronic equipment to arrive at conclusions and find sonic solutions in their work.

 

Film/Video Sound Designer

The film/video sound designer designs creative sounds for images. As Berklee Electronic Production and Design faculty member Chris Noyes states, "When the earth shakes in a film or video, what does it sound like? This is the job of the film/video sound designer." The film video sound designer would determine if this sound can be recorded, or if it would have to be created?

 

Digital Audio Editor

Most of the audio, music, sound effects, and spoken word (dialogue) that we hear in TV and film productions is edited on digital audio systems. The digital audio editor works with sound designers, composers, and directors to put all these elements together in a highly controlled environment.

 

Performer

A Electronic Production and Design performer utilizes music technology and MIDI for live performance.

 

Studio Musician/Synthesist

This person plays and often programs synthesizers and other contemporary musical instruments within a studio context.

 

Synthesist/Producer

The synthesist/producer has the ability to creatively produce and incorporate (his/her own) sound design into the production process. The producer functions as the creative leader of any studio, film, television, or radio recording project. Producers work mainly with recording acts and record labels to produce records. They also work with composers and produce sound recordings for film, TV, and other forms of multimedia, as well. The producer supervises all aspects of the recording process, including contracting session players and overseeing the recording budget. A producer may also help the artist select songs to be recorded. A producer should be an excellent musician with a lot of experience and have a great depth of musical, acoustical, and studio technical understanding.

 

Composer (Electronic Production and Design)

The composer in the Electronic Production and Design field has a particular specialty in using computer and MIDI technology throughout the entire composing and arranging process. Composers create instrumental pieces, either to stand alone or to be combined with lyrics. They may compose for a specific situation, such as film/TV composers who score/compose music to enhance videos or films, or they may compose for live performance and/or recording situations.

 

Arranger

An arranger in the Electronic Production and Design field provides musical arrangements of a musical composition or song for an artist, band, orchestra, or other ensemble, using computer and MIDI technology. The arranger determines the voice, instrument, harmonic structure, rhythm, tempo, and other aspects of a song or composition, based on the artist, producer, or conductor's specifications.

 

MIDI Pre-Producer

Whenever a film/TV composer is trying to be hired for a film scoring project, they will attempt to convey their ideas or musical themes to the film/TV director. In order to communicate their musical ideas effectively, they will often hire a MIDI pre-producer to prepare their compositions in a MIDI studio where the orchestration can be economically realized. This is much more cost effective than hiring an entire orchestra to record your musical ideas and themes.

 

Jingle Writer

Jingle writers are songwriters/composers/lyricists who specialize in writing music for radio and television commercials. Synthesists in this field have the ability to creatively produce and incorporate (his/her own) sound designs into the production process. They are responsible for representing their client musically as directed. They must be skilled in all styles, be strong arrangers, and be able to compose well for a very short form.

 

Educator

An educator in the Electronic Production and Design field would almost always teach in a higher education, college, or university program.

 

Consultant (Other: Manufacturer Representative, Technical Support, or Sales Representative)

A consultant in the field of Electronic Production and Design usually is employed by companies that manufacture and design technology-based musical instruments and software. These music technology companies desire to have consultants with musical and technological backgrounds and perspectives.

 

Multimedia Developer (Interactive Multimedia Specialist)

Multimedia developers specialize in formatting and producing audio content for CDs and websites. They primarily combine two or more of the following formats—text, still images, video, animation, or sound—and prepare them as part of an interactive software package.

 

Product Representative

The product representative tours and demonstrates the latest audio/MIDI software and musical instrument technology available to musicians and producers.

 

Computer Music Researcher

The computer music researcher works at a graduate-level institute of higher education and researches computer languages associated with algorhythmic composition and sound synthesis.

 

Film Composer

A film composer scores music to accompany a motion picture for film or television. This could include dramatic underscore as well as popular songwriting. The traditional role of a film composer is to provide the orchestral dramatic underscore, and only more recently has the popular soundtrack begun to stand on its own.

 

Music Editor

A music editor is responsible for mixing and synchronizing the music with the film and mixing the music with the film soundtrack. The music editor must be versatile and possess a great musical sensitivity, a keen ear for balance, and an awareness of how music can make or break a dramatic scene; all combined with knowledge of the special technology used in synchronizing music tracks to film or tape.

 

Programmer (Sequencing)

The programmer utilizes music sequencing software and sometimes notation software to produce MIDI keyboard/synthesizer tracks for inclusion in the film score. Other times, a programmer will sequence a piece of music or a composition by this means, which will allow the composer and music editor an opportunity to hear the composition before it reaches the scoring stage. This is considerably cheaper than hiring a full orchestra and enables the composer to identify errors in the score before it gets to the scoring stage.

 

Orchestrator (Film)

The film music orchestrator is responsible for writing scores for an orchestra, band, choral group, individual instrumentalist(s), or vocalist(s). Also, an orchestrator transposes music from one instrument or voice to another in order to accommodate a particular music instrument, musician, or group. Often, the orchestrator will also be the conductor during the film scoring sessions.

 

Jazz Composer

Jazz composers create instrumental pieces, either to stand alone or to be combined with lyrics. They may compose for live performance and/or recording situations, or for a specific situation such as film/TV composers who score/compose music to enhance videos or films.

 

Jingle Writer

Jingle writers are songwriters/composers/lyricists who specializes in writing music for radio and television commercials. They are responsible for representing their client musically as directed. They must be skilled in all styles, be strong musical arrangers, and be able to compose well for a very short form.

 

Film Scorer/Composer

A film scorer/composer scores music to accompany a motion picture for film or television. This could include dramatic underscore as well as popular songwriting. The traditional role of a film composer is to provide the orchestral dramatic underscore, and only more recently has the popular soundtrack begun to stand on its own.

 

Arranger (Adaptor)

An arranger provides musical arrangements of a musical composition or song for an artist, band, orchestra, or other ensemble. The arranger determines the voice, instrument, harmonic structure, rhythm, tempo, and other aspects of a song or composition, based on the artist, producer, or conductor's specifications. Training in music theory, orchestration, composition, and harmony is required. An arranger should have experience as a copyist, writing music, and playing one or more instruments.

 

Songwriter

A songwriter writes both lyrics and music and is either a staff writer with a publishing company or a freelance songwriter. A songwriter may also perform and/or produce his/her own songs.

 

Educator/Teacher

The jazz composition teacher usually teaches in a higher education setting such as in a college, conservatory, or university. A jazz composition teacher may also teach other students privately, or teach other subjects in addition to jazz composition, such as music arranging; jazz history; or conducting big band jazz groups, jazz combos, or vocal jazz ensembles.

 

Personal Manager (or Artist Manager, Agent)

Personal managers represent one or more musical groups or artists and oversee all aspects of an act's career. They deal with and advise the act(s) on all business decisions, as well as many of the creative decisions an artist must make, and attempt to guide the artist's rise to the top.

 

Booking Agent (or Talent Agent)

Booking agents work to secure performance engagements for musical artists and groups. They work to find talent to book and may be involved with developing the talent toward a goal. They must possess good communication skills to sell talent and develop contacts in the music industry. They often work closely with an act's manager and may be involved in setting the fee and negotiating with promoters or clubs. A booking agent is paid a percentage of the negotiated fee for an act's performance.

 

Concert Promoter

The concert promoter presents, organizes, advertises, and in many cases, finances concerts at performance venues such as arenas, festivals, clubs, church buildings, auditoriums, etc. The promoter often secures money for the concert by finding others to share in the profits/expenses. However, it is often times the concert promoter who absorbs all the financial risk.

 

Independent Radio Promoter

The independent radio promoter (IRP) has a similar role as that of a promotional staffer at a record label, except the IRP is usually employed by an independent radio promotions company or works freelance. Often, a record label, artist/band, or manager will hire the services of an independent radio promotions company to generate airplay of a particular song or record.

The IRP contacts radio station program directors, music directors, and disc jockeys in a local, regional, national, or even an international market. They set up appointments with these station people and bring a number of new album releases as well as a supply of promotional or press material relating to the artist or band. An IRP may socialize frequently with program directors and music directors to help improve the chances that a radio station will add a song to its playlist. An IRP often will often take key radio station personnel out to lunch, dinner, or for drinks. They may also bring a program director to a club in order to listen to a group play songs live and gauge audience response.

 

Entrepreneur (Music Business)

A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a music business venture. Some common businesses started by music entrepreneurs are: recording studio facility, private teaching practice, performing band, booking agency, artist management, music retail, music publishing company, record label, etc.

 

Retail Sales Management

A retail sales manager works, runs, and operates a retail music store. Duties would include employee supervision, training, ordering, coordinating the timing and arrival of distribution shipments to the store, budgeting and financial planning, and coordinating sales promotions for specific CDs.

 

Entertainment Attorney

An entertainment attorney handles any contractual matters conceivable within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys can be freelance, hired on retainer, or an employee of a company or business within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys generally specialize in one of three separate fields within the entertainment industry: sports, film and television, and music. An attorney that specializes in the music industry usually has a solid depth of understanding with regard to copyright laws and artist/band agreements with managers, publishers, record labels, booking agents, etc. Successful completion of law school and a state bar exam are requisites for being an entertainment attorney, as well.

 

Elementary/Primary School Music Teacher

Elementary school music teachers work in public, private, or parochial schools. Their duties vary depending on the school and the ages and grades they teach, but for the most part they teach a general music class in kindergarten through sixth grade, introducing students to the different aspects of music and the varying degrees of skill study. They must often follow guidelines for what they teach that are set up by the school music department heads, district music supervisors, and state music education supervisors.

 

Secondary School Music Teacher

Secondary school music teachers generally teach in grades seven through twelve, and they work in public, private, or parochial schools. Their duties vary depending on the type of job they are hired for. They may teach specifically on one instrument or many. They may be responsible for leading a school band, orchestra, or choir, and for putting on school concerts and competitions. They may handle rehearsals and conduct the school groups as well.

 

College/Conservatory/University Music Educator

College/conservatory/university music educators may be hired for a variety of different positions. They may be brought into a school as a general music educator to teach areas of music theory, music arranging, music history, or vocal or instrumental performance. Educators are also hired to coach chamber music groups or to conduct choruses or orchestras.

 

Private Instructor

A private instructor usually does not work through a school, but gives individual instruction to students on a regular basis. They set their own fees, unless contracted by a music store or teaching group, and develop their own teaching plans and guidelines. Private instructors may work alone out of an office or home, with a group of teachers, or at a music store that offers lessons. They may teach individual lessons or offer group lessons. Lessons generally run 45 minutes to one hour and are usually scheduled once a week. They may teach at different levels of skill, from beginner to professional.

 

Choir Director

A choir director provides direction and guidance to a vocal group or choir in a school, church, or elsewhere in the community. The choir director is responsible for researching and selecting material, rehearsing and conducting the choir, and preparing and presenting public performances of the choir.

 

Music Education Supervisor (or School Music Supervisor)

A school music supervisor is responsible for directing and coordinating activities of teaching personnel who are engaged in instructing students in vocal and instrumental music in a specific school or school system. This person may teach a few days a week and administer programs in the remaining days. The music supervisor plans and develops the music education curriculum.

 

Independent Primary or Secondary School Music Teacher

These teachers work specifically at private, independent, parochial, or cooperative home school programs. Usually state certification is not required to work at these schools.

 

Music Therapist

Primarily, a music therapist uses music as an aid in healing, relieving pain, providing emotional comfort, and even entertaining patients with various mental and physical health related ailments. A music therapist develops a treatment plan and applies various strategic techniques to accomplish goals for the patient’s improvement. It is also a unique opportunity to help and contribute to improving the lives of patients who are at various stages of illness and recovery. Music therapists work either freelance or in clinical settings such as in hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric centers, and oncology and pain management treatment centers, as well as in drug treatment programs, correctional facilities, and hospice care programs.

 

Music Librarian

The music librarian is responsible for cataloging scores, recordings, and song folios, and they work primarily at an educational institution such a school, college, or university. Employers in this field generally prefer a master's degree in library science.

 

Producer

The producer functions as a creative leader of any studio, film, television, or radio recording project. Producers work mainly with recording acts and record labels to produce records. They also work with composers and produce sound recordings for film, TV and other forms of multimedia, as well. The producer supervises all aspects of the recording process, including contracting session players and overseeing the recording budget. A producer may also help the artist select songs to be recorded. Preferably, a producer should be an excellent musician with a lot of performing experience and a great depth of musical, acoustical, and studio technical understanding.

 

Engineer

The recording engineer operates the soundboard and other electrical equipment during the recording of music. Recording engineers run the recording session with oversight from the producer. They may also be responsible for setting up equipment in the studio prior to the session, and discussing with the producer or musical act what they want the end product to sound like. It is the engineer's subsequent responsibility to craft a recording that meets the producer's, artist's, or band's desires. The engineer may also be responsible for mixing down the recorded tracks into the finished product.

 

Assistant Engineer

The assistant engineer works in the recording studio and is responsible for assisting the recording engineer with setup, recording tracks, and mixing. He works as directed by the recording engineer.

 

Production Assistant

As the producer's right-hand person, the production assistant handles details for the producer such as contracting talent (musicians/vocalists) for sessions, scheduling studio time, placing telephone calls, sending emails ensuring everyone is aware of when and where the session will be held, assisting on the session, and setting up the equipment in the studio for a session and/or returning it to its proper place after the session.

 

Studio Manager/Owner

The studio manager/owner is the person responsible for running the business of the recording studio and may be a sole or partial owner of the business. Studio managers are responsible for booking acts to record at the studio, scheduling engineers, marketing the studio, and budgeting and providing for all the needs of a professional recording studio. He is also the in-house diplomat, acting as the liaison between engineers and clients, ensuring client satisfaction, and handling all financial transactions with clients.

 

Sound Technician

Sound technicians are responsible for high-quality sound during the live performance. They usually arrive at the concert sight before the performers and are involved in unloading and setting up the equipment and instruments along with the road crew. Sound technicians supervise the placement of equipment and work with the talent during the sound check to achieve the best sound. They may even work a soundboard during the actual performance.

 

Acoustic Consultant

Acoustic consultants provide complete audio, video, and acoustic design services for performance spaces such as concert halls, arenas, stadiums, studios, convention facilities, clubs, churches, and synagogues. Acoustical consultants can provide an acoustical analysis of a particular venue, identify acoustical problems, and make suggestions for equipment or interior design changes for fixing any problems.

 

Audio Engineer for Videos

This engineer's specialty is making certain that the audio tracks are synchronized and equalized with the video.

 

Digital Remastering Engineer

This engineer's responsibility is to take older analog masters, which are on vinyl, 8-track, or audiocassette formats, and remaster them for release on CD or other digital mediums.

 

Live Sound Engineer

This engineer's primary responsibility is to operate the soundboard during a live performance. The live sound engineer is also involved in sound check and the placement of equipment in preparation for a live performance.

 

Recording Equipment Manufacturer's Rep/Customer Service

A recording equipment manufacturer's rep will usually work at the company's headquarters in a customer service/tech support role. They will also represent the company at trade shows or conferences and potentially serve as a product demonstrator. Usually, someone with strong playing ability as a musician is selected for this role.

 

Mastering Engineer (Post-Production Engineer)

This engineer is responsible for taking the final mixes of recordings that have been sent by a studio, band, or artist for finishing touches such as EQ (equalization), overall effects, and possibly compression.

 

Multimedia Developer (Interactive Multimedia Specialist)

Multimedia developers specialize in formatting and producing audio content for CDs and websites. They primarily combine two or more of the following formats—text, still images, video, animation, or sound—and prepare them as part of an interactive software package.

 

Rerecording Mixer (Film and Video)

If a film or business wants to use a particular song for a commercial or movie, they will often rerecord the song or composition again in order to avoid having to negotiate and pay a hefty master-licensing fee to a record label for use of the actual (master) recording. By rerecording the song, they will only have to pay the mechanical licensing fee, which is a rate that is established by the U.S. government (currently, 8.0¢ per song, per unit that is five minutes and under in length, and 1.55¢ for each minute above five minutes) and is much cheaper than a master-licensing fee. Therefore, a rerecording mixer for film and video rerecords a song or composition that already has been commercially released.

 

Record Company Staff

Many times successful producers and engineers who have a track record of working with and identifying successful artists and bands will be tapped for an executive level position at a record label, to oversee artist development, production, or A&R. These producers and engineers usually have had an exclusive agreement and history or working with the record label for several years, and the success of the producer or engineer has resulted in the success of the label.

 

Recording Studio Setup Worker

This person is generally charged with the responsibilities of setting up for a recording session by arriving early before the session musicians, artist, or band and setting up any necessary musical equipment, such as amplifiers, drum set, microphones, running microphone cords, music stands, etc. This person is also generally the last person to leave, since he/she is left with the responsibility of ensuring that all equipment is returned to its proper place.

 

Studio Designer

Studio designers provide complete audio, video, and acoustic design services for recording facilities. Studio designers can serve as consultants for designing or renovating studios for select and distinct purposes.

 

Studio Technician/Maintenance

The studio technician is extremely knowledgeable in the field of electrical engineering, circuitry, and audio electronics. This person may work within the audio manufacturer's headquarters and/or conduct fieldwork, such as visiting a client's studio for customer service–related issues or product repair.

 

Performing Artist (Recording Artist/Group)

Performing artists specialize in the performance of music, either original or cover material. Their performing skill defines their marketability. The performing artist may work as a solo act with or without backing musicians, or be packaged as a group.

 

Vocal/Instrumental Soloist

A vocal/instrumental soloist is similar to a performing artist and may perform in much the same capacity. But this artist may also work as a contracted performer with a group or in a recording situation. For example, an orchestra, church group, or a recording ensemble may hire a soloist. When performing as a contracted soloist, the artist has a responsibility to rehearse and perform the selected music as directed by the group or project leade

 

Session Musician

The session musician may be known as a studio musician, a session player, a sideman or woman, a freelance musician, or a backup musician. The main responsibility of the job is to back up the leader of a group in the recording studio, or possibly during a live performance, and play in a style or manner that the leader of the group or the producer desires. In addition to being a good musician, the session musician must be responsible, reliable, and easy to get along with. It is also important to know how to sight-read, be familiar with a number of different styles, and preferably be proficient on more than one instrument. Session musicians are usually hired by a contractor and paid an hourly fee set by the union (AFM). A session musician may work on various types of projects, including television and film scores, records, demos, jingles, and other music industry gigs.

 

General Business Musician

A general business (GB) musician may work as a freelance artist or perform with a general business group. These groups maintain a widely varying repertoire to allow them to perform in almost any situation, including weddings, bar or bat mitzvahs, private parties, corporate functions, and dance clubs. GB musicians cover material by well-known recording artists in many different styles, and tailor their repertoire to clients' expressed desires. Many general business gigs may be formal dress occasions, so tuxedos and formal dresses are a necessity. The largest amount of work can be found in performances of this type, and pay is generally very good. A general business band may work through one or more booking agencies and/or book themselves.

 

Orchestra/Group Member

An orchestra/group member plays a supporting role in a musical group as an instrumentalist. A vast knowledge of repertoire, musical skill, reading, and doubling ability are important qualities to develop, especially in the orchestral environment. Also important is the ability to play with a group, and to prepare and know the material before rehearsal. The responsibility of the orchestra/group member is to follow the directions of the group leader or conductor and perform prepared music, in performance and recording situations

 

Background Vocalist 

Background vocalists back up other singers and musicians on recordings, jingles/television commercials, or in live performances. They may work full-time or on a freelance basis, or travel with a performing act, holding responsibility for learning repertoire and attending rehearsals. Background vocalists must be versatile and flexible; those performing on recordings, jingles, or television/radio will need the ability to read music quickly and record it quickly with a minimum of errors. Harmony and improvisation abilities are a plus as well.

 

Floor Show Band

Floor show bands work in nightclubs, hotels, resorts, cruise ships, cafes, bars, and concert halls putting on show for patrons. They not only perform, they entertain! Show groups may perform many different types of music in their act. Show groups must have pizzazz, and usually involve extensive planning and rehearsal to appear professional at all times. Floor show groups may work in one place for a few days or even weeks before moving on to the next gig, and they travel frequently.

 

Theatre Musician

A theatre musician is an instrumentalist that plays in the pit orchestra of a music theatre production.

 

Theatre Performer

A theatre performer is a singer/actor or actress who performs in a music theatre production on stage.

 

Accompanist/Rehearsal Pianist

The accompanist/rehearsal pianist primarily works with vocalists and/or music theatre groups for rehearsals, live performance, or audition settings.

 

Cantor

A cantor is a song leader in a Reformed, Conservative, or Orthodox Jewish Synagogue/Temple Service, or Catholic or Christian Orthodox service. The cantor sings liturgical prayers and leads the worshippers in attendance to sing in a precise and measured "call and answer"-type response to his/her own sung part or line.

 

Church Musician: Choir Director, Worship Leader, Praise & Worship Band Member, Organist, and Soloist

A musician or vocalist that plays, sings, or conducts during the musical portion of a worship service.

 

Product Demonstrator

A product demonstrator is a musician that is employed by a music equipment manufacturer to demonstrate the company's product line at trade shows and conferences. Usually, someone with strong playing ability as a musician is selected for this role.

 

Performing Songwriter

Performing songwriters create and perform their own music. They write both lyrics and music and seek to find success as the performer of their material. Performing songwriters may work as a solo act or as a leader of a group featuring their material.

 

Staff Writer

Staff songwriters are hired by music publishers, record companies, producers, and other production or recording groups. The staff writer's services are reserved exclusively for this employer. Most staff writers receive a weekly salary, which may be treated as a recoupable advance on the writer's future royalty earnings. Or they may be contracted to write "work-for-hire" pieces that are owned and copyrighted by the employer. Early in a career a writer may have no option other than a "work-for-hire" position, but should take advantage of any opportunity to move to a more attractive long-term strategy to earning a living as a writer. Competition for staff songwriter positions is tough.

 

Freelance Songwriter

Freelance writers may work on their own or under a part-time contract with various companies, securing single-song agreements either under a "work-for-hire" contract or a songwriter agreement.

 

Jingle Writer - Radio & TV

Jingle writers are songwriters/composers/lyricists who specialize in writing music for radio and television commercials. They are responsible for representing their client musically as directed. They must be skilled in all styles, be strong arrangers, and be able to compose well for a very short form.

 

Songwriter/Producer

Producer/songwriters develop their own material from start to finish. They write the material, develop a concept for how they would like it arranged and recorded, hire musicians and engineers, and oversee the recording and production of the material. They have the final say on the development of their material.

 

Lyricist

Individuals who are talented in expressing themselves with words can develop careers writing words to songs. A pure lyricist would create only the words, and may work as a team with a music composer or may create lyrics for a previously written piece of music.

 

Music Supervisor (Theme Specialist: Film/TV)

The film producer hires the music supervisor. He/she may act as an A&R scout to find and license popular songs for inclusion as theme or background music within the film (called source music) and/or selecting songs for the soundtrack. Sometimes the music supervisor may be in charge of only the songs for the soundtrack, and other times he/she may be in charge of all the music involved with a film, including hiring and supervising the film composer for dramatic scoring.

 

Stage Musicals/Librettist

Author of words (libretto) set to music usually within the context of music theatre or opera work.