Generally speaking, the music industry refers to businesses and people who create and sell music, musical performances, and music-related products to the public. The term “music industry” covers a wide variety of fields and positions. It can include everything from a concert pianist to a sound engineer to a pop star. For most people, their interest in the music industry begins with a simple love of music. The good news is that if music is your passion, there are myriad ways that you can channel that interest into a respectable, enjoyable career.
The music industry is made up of individuals in a number of roles, including:
- Musical creators, such as songwriters and composers
- Musical performers, such as singers, conductors, musicians, and bandleaders
- Musical presenters for live shows, including promoters, booking agents, sound engineers, and road crew
- Music sellers, who create and sell recorded music or sheet music, including music publishers, recording studios, engineers, record labels, and retail vendors
- Musician supporters, including managers and lawyers
- Music broadcasters, including music stations and DJs
Each of these positions plays an important role in the music industry, and the public would not have the same access to music without each of these roles being filled. That is why a healthy interest in the music industry among today’s youth is so essential. Yet with musical education being minimized and stripped down at schools across the country, many young people are being forced to investigate and pursue musical careers on their own, without the support which is often provided to those seeking a career in other fields.
Many professionals who go on to enter the music industry started their careers as music lovers who found a way to channel their passion into a job that they love. If this sounds like something you are interested in, there are a number of ways to seek entry into the industry. But one of the first things you will need to decide is if you are more interested in the business end of the industry, or in creating and/or performing the work itself. That means truly assessing whether you have creative and musical skills, and whether you are willing to do whatever it takes to better yourself and to improve your craft.
One of the first and most important steps towards getting into the music industry is by learning about the industry itself. And while researching and reading articles (such as this one) is a great first step, it is not enough. That is because the music industry is one of the fastest-changing fields out there. In just the last 20 years, for example, the digitization of music has completely changed the outlook of the profession. Music sales themselves have declined, while interest in live music has increased dramatically. And almost overnight, the biggest seller of music in the world became iTunes, completely revolutionizing the way that music is sold. If you want to break into a rapidly-advancing field such as music, you need to keep up with the changes.
Educating yourself via music industry websites and publications is a great way to learn about the industry and to find open positions as they become available. The trade magazine Music Week, for example, is a must-have, as are CMU Daily and Record of the Day. Also, a number of musical companies list their internships and available positions on Twitter, so you should follow the companies you admire in order to learn about positions as soon as they become available.
But one of the most important steps that you can take to advance your career, especially if you wish to pursue the music creation or performance components of the industry, is to work on your craft. For example, most of today’s music composers describe having a lifelong interest in writing music. If you have not felt a passion for writing music but have simply had a small interest in it, then a different position (such as a more supportive role) may be a better fit for you. If composing music is truly your goal, however, there are a number of ways that you can get there. First, compose your own music as often as possible. Study the sheet music of songwriters and composers that you enjoy and try to apply their approaches to your own work, until you become more comfortable following your own path.
From a practical perspective, a degree in music or an entertainment-related field can help you start in a career in songwriting. But that is not the only choice. If you wish to become a composer for film music, for example, you can start small, providing services for independent and student films, with the intention of having your work noticed by others. You should attempt to become familiar with a number of film directors, as they are most often the ones working directly with those who go on to score their films. And finally, you will likely need to move to where the jobs are. This will provide you with the opportunity to get as much work as possible, and to get your face out there to the people with whom you wish to work.
Becoming an orchestral musician or other professional performer
If your interests lie more on the performance side of the industry, some of the steps you will need to take in pursuing your career will be quite different. But the drive must remain the same: before you focus on anything else, you must work on perfecting your craft. This means practice, practice, and more practice. Use digital sheet music such as that which is available on Musicnotes.com to increase your skills and your familiarity with a wide variety of music.
If you wish to become an orchestral musician, auditions will soon become a big part of your life. Some orchestras hold auditions each year, while others only hold auditions when they have a space to fill. Follow the orchestras in which you have an interest and become familiar with their audition policies so that you can jump on opportunities as soon as they arise. Seek the advice of professionals when it comes to finding the best suggestions for nailing your auditions. Musicnotes.com has a blog dedicated to audition tips which can provide you with some good ideas and information. Check the blog frequently, as updates are added often. These suggestions include how to choose the right audition piece and how to improve your musical range.
Becoming a conductor
A conductor leads an orchestra or other musical ensemble, and often serves as the musical director for the group. The path to becoming a conductor varies widely, with some beginning as musicians themselves, and others starting in musical education. Conductors are usually required to have a formal education in music, with a bachelor’s degree being essential, and a master’s degree being optimal. You should begin by watching orchestral rehearsals and making connections with key people behind the scenes. Finding an experienced conductor who can serve as a mentor while you perfect your craft can also be quite useful.
But in addition to education and a strong interest in music, a conductor also needs certain personal skills in order to succeed. That includes knowing how to manage a wide range of personalities and a good feel for how to work in groups. A conductor’s instrument is the orchestra itself, and the more you understand and know about your instrument, the better off you will be. And when it is time to start seeking employment, be willing to start small. There are a number of types of conductors and music conducting opportunities, such as pops, university groups, youth orchestras, smaller symphonies, and assistant conductor positions. And, of course, you should listen to as much orchestral music as you can and simply “play” at conducting in order to expand your skills and improve your ear for music.
Becoming a singer
If you wish to pursue singing, then in addition to practicing on your own, you should invest in some professional singing lessons. Even the most talented singers in the world have vocal coaches. If you wish to be part of a band, then you should seek out like-minded musicians with whom you can establish a professional relationship. Once you feel comfortable with your singing talents, you need to gain experience performing in front of others. You should start small, such as in church or in small venues. This route serves two important functions–it helps you improve your skills, and it gets your name out, increasing your support among the community. Remember that you never know who could be listening the next time you perform! Making connections is also a great way to learn about the industry and to improve your chances of obtaining a strong singing career. In addition to your local musical community, you should reach out on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Once you are comfortable performing, you should start recording your own demos. Fortunately, with all of the technological advancements in the music field, there are a number of programs that you can use to record on your home computer. Once your demos have been recorded, you need to start promoting yourself. This will become one of the most important, and difficult, steps in pursuing your career. But do not give up! Use social media, friends, and family to get your name out there. You also need to send your demos to record labels, and try not to become frustrated when you do not hear back right away. No one goes into the music industry because it is easy!
Regardless of whether you are a student of music, a professional performer, or simply an admirer of good music, Musicnotes is here to provide you with the digital sheet music you are looking for. We carry music from a wide variety of genres, from classical to pop to movie scores, and everything in between. Buying sheet music online is a simple and cost-effective process. Simply search for the music you want, choose your arrangement or instrument, purchase, download, and print. It is that simple! You can choose from among hundreds of thousands of titles, all professionally arranged and officially licensed. We accept all major credit cards and PayPal, and we even store your music in your account so you can download it anytime. And with our FREE mobile apps, your music is always with you.