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.