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What are the Different Types of Music Industry Careers?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The music industry offers a wide variety of career paths. Besides the obvious choices of musician, singer, and songwriter, there are many music industry careers that are behind the scenes. Many people choose careers in studio work, such as sound engineering and video production. In addition, market and sales is a huge part of the industry. Legal work related to music industry careers includes agent representation and contract negotiation.

For lower level entry into the music business, some people find jobs such as sound maintenance technicians. These jobs often require traveling with performers and setting up music equipment for concerts and shows. Jobs such as these usually require strength because much of the equipment is quite heavy. In addition, knowledge of music equipment and how to set up for live performances is usually necessary. People who perform these jobs are commonly referred to as a “roadies.”

Other music industry careers associated with live performances include light and effect engineers. These jobs usually involve creating the stage atmosphere for the performers. Lighting and effects engineers typically arrange and set up stage lighting and other effects such as fog machines and theatrical backdrops.

For people who do not want to travel, music industry careers within various recording labels might be an option. Record companies need workers in many different categories, ranging from office personnel and sales to distribution and marketing. To qualify for these jobs, it would be a good idea to have some education or background in business, particularly music business. Some colleges offer programs specifically geared toward jobs within the recording industry.

Those who wish to prepare themselves for music industry careers should probably start as early as possible to develop a music background. Education may not be necessary for those who aspire to be performers, but for many behind-the-scenes careers, education and training could be essential. In addition, because technology generally changes and improves over time, some continuing education is probably a good idea.

Performing or writing music is probably a sector of the industry that offers the greatest reward, but it is also generally considered one of the most difficult areas in which to achieve success. Many times, success is not necessarily measured by talent. People with little talent but who possess excellent stage presence often succeed where more talented performers fail. For this reason, striving for a career in these fields is often considered risky, and having another career choice as a fallback position is probably a good idea.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Belted — On Jan 08, 2013
I love to make beats and some of the ones I have made lately are as hot as anything on the radio.

How do I get hooked up with MCs and record labels so I can start getting paid for my beats? The world needs to hear them!

By whiteplane — On Jan 08, 2013

There are music industry internships that are available at record companies, recording studios, and sound engineering companies to name just a few. For people thinking of breaking into this industry this can be a great way to try your hand at the work and start making connections.

My first job in the business was an internship and I ended up getting hired to do PR for the company I worked for. That was 15 years ago and I am still in the industry.

By summing — On Jan 07, 2013

With so many of the major record labels closing, consolidating, or falling on hard times, is it more difficult to find music industry jobs now?

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