You Don’t Have to be a Musician to Have a Music Career

Close your eyes and picture this. You are standing quietly in a large amphitheater when suddenly the house lights go dark and a large crowd erupts in cheers of excitement. A music track plays alongside a pre-recorded video as your band members make their way to the stage. Your drummer smacks their sticks together to count off the band, “1,2, 3”- and with the fourth smack of the sticks the stage lights come on, the crowd explodes, and you energetically make your way onto the stage to belt out your top hits for the next 90+ minutes.

We’ve all lived that dream before where we have the vocal chops of Adele, the dance skills of J. Lo, and the guitar talent of Jimi Hendrix, but for most of us, that is all it is…a dream. While we may never have the opportunity to win a Grammy for Best New Artist, have a residency in Vegas, or be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that doesn’t mean our dreams of working in the music industry need to come to an end. Here are some ways you can still have the music career you’ve always dreamed about without being a musician.

Show Promoter– Focused a little more on the business side of the industry, a show promoter is responsible for organizing logistics and maintaining the financials of a live event or performance. Typically, a promoter will coordinate details and negotiate contracts with many different people including the venue, the artist’s manager or booking agent, and ticket sales. Show promoters can be independent business persons or large scale companies (like Live Nation) and usually have strong management, persuasion, and analytical skills. Typically, show promoters have a strong source of income, whether it’s independent capital or investors, as they assume the upfront costs of the performance. They make their money based on the show’s overall success and how well they stayed within budget so this career is not without its risk.

Sound Engineer- A sound engineer is a person behind the scenes working hard to make sure that the music a band records (whether it’s live or in-studio) is well balanced and mixed appropriately. They are responsible for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering sound to help bring the artist’s creative vision to life. These recordings can then be used for various purposes including radio broadcast, TV and film, video game tracking, and more. Sound engineering requires a high level of imagination and critical thinking ability in order to manipulate sound, instruments, and microphones to get the best quality recording for the artist. In addition, sound engineers are also very versatile when it comes to different types of recording media. From analog tape to multi-track digital recording, sound engineers need to have a strong understanding of hardware and software integration to be successful in their daily work.

Publicist– Where show promoters work on marketing specific events or performances, a publicist works on marketing specific artists or bands. A publicist may work closely with a show promoter to provide feedback on how the promoter is marketing their client’s upcoming performance, but they will also work with local media outlets to generate an overall buzz around their client in general. Publicists are responsible for telling the ongoing story of their clients and building their brand/image in the larger market place. Sometimes, this may also mean resurrecting an image or brand if something has occurred that paints it in a negative light. Publicists must have strong networking skills and not be afraid to chase new leads; they will need to rely on their relationships and existing contacts to arrange radio and television appearances for their clients, coordinate charity events and engagements, and set up interviews with magazines and newspapers.

Technology Specialist– From the design and development of wireless speakers and earbuds to the programming and coding of music recording software, technology plays a very large part in the music industry. A technology specialist is responsible for acting as a subject matter expert on a particular product or set of products and training the product’s customers on its features and capabilities. Technology specialists offer their services in a number of ways from on-line troubleshooting assistance to on-site training sessions, and even product demonstrations and overviews at trade-shows and industry conferences. Technology specialists are often individuals with focused academic backgrounds in computer science and engineering but can also be individuals with high proficiency and demonstrated success in the business like independent musicians.

Music Journalist– Do you have opinions for days and a way with words? If so, you may have a budding career as a Music Journalist! Most commonly possessing a background in music theory and/or composition, as well as excellent communication skills, music journalists usually provide written or recorded reviews of songs, records, bands, and live events. Also referred to as music critics, a music journalist is familiar with many different genres of music and is always impartial in their opinions. They are responsible for providing feedback on many different events and sounds and not just those of which they are a fan. They can write for newspapers and magazines or even host radio shows and internet vlogs. This is not your typical nine-to-five job; music journalists go where the music is which means they may work more night and weekend hours than most other careers. However, the perks that come with the job (like access to new music, the ability to travel the country/world, and see an endless amount of shows) may be exactly what you are looking for!

By Kristen Soprano
Kristen Soprano Career Consultant Kristen Soprano