How to Get a Job in the Music Industry
You want to make it in the music industry – most TuneCore artists do.
Being a musician isn’t the only way to do that.
You can get a job in the music industry that keeps you up-to-date with industry trends, provides entry-level opportunities to understand music publishing from the inside out, and fosters industry connections that can take your music career to the next level.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I get a job in the music industry,” this guide has the answers.
Let’s get to work
How Does the Music Industry Work?
You've probably asked yourself how the music industry works; it is asking itself the same question.
Wikipedia defines the music industry as "an interconnected network of individuals and organizations whose work profits from creating musical recordings." Record executives make money from artists' songs. So do merchandise designers and concert promoters. (We'll discuss "music industry jobs" in a moment)
That said, the music industry isn't the authority on what sounds are in or what artists are famous for. TikTok is transforming the way songs become hits. Somehow, shoegaze has returned. Andre 3000 put out a flute album.
The evolution of popular music is more ephemeral than "the business" ever will be. That's why artists like you are great candidates for music industry jobs – your intuitive understanding of the craft is an invaluable resource for a community that aims to tap and commodify it.
Diverse Career Options: Types of Music Industry Jobs
More good news: you have so many jobs in the music industry to pursue. Here are some of them:
Sound design for video games, podcasts, etc.
Social Media Coordinator
Record Label Jobs
Liaison for artists
Streaming Service Jobs
Let’s break these categories down in more detail:
Music Creation – This is the most apparent industry career path for an artist who composes music. Look for freelance opportunities on Upwork or Fiver or investigate in-house composition for production companies creating commercial multimedia content.
Music Marketing – Marketing in the music industry is pursuable whether or not you have marketing experience. Find entry-level positions at labels or see if an upstart artist or band needs a social media facelift. You can build a portfolio of work with actionable results in no time.
Music Publishing – Music publishing is one of the more challenging music industry wings to get a foothold in, but a potentially lucrative one that revolves around getting artists paid. If you want to know more about the basics of music publishing, click here.
Music Journalism – Since it can be hard to break into freelance work, consider pursuing an SEO-driven career in music for a label, band, or site such as Worldstar or Genius.
Record Label Jobs – Working for a record label is one of the quickest ways to understand what makes the music industry tick. Multiple music industry jobs are available here, many of which have entry-level positions.
Streaming Service Jobs – If you’re passionate about digital media and its effect on the music landscape, consider trying to work for a streaming service. You’ll be directly involved in shaping the music industry while pursuing more conventional jobs.
Recommendations to Get a Job in the Music Industry
The best way to build a robust groundwork for career opportunities in the music industry is to keep learning.
Whether pursuing a degree, bolstering your skills with supplementary coursework, or perusing YouTube for excellent free tutorials, learning more is a surefire way to reinforce your music business opportunities. Three of our favorite sites to learn from are:
Berklee Online – This online arm of one of the United States' top music/ music business schools allows you to learn from the comfort of your home.
Soundfly – Soundfly offers many online courses designed to improve your skills as a musician and navigate the industry more adeptly.
LinkedIn Learning – LinkedIn is more than a professional networking hub – it’s an educational resource. Please use their free one-month trial to learn about music copyright law, marketing and promotion, and more.
The Google Channel on YouTube – The world’s biggest search engine offers excellent content on the world’s biggest video streaming platform, covering everything from small business development to search engine optimization.
Build a Portfolio
Build a Portfolio
Once you’ve mastered the tools of your trade, it’s time to build a portfolio.
Creating a professional portfolio is one of the most effective ways to stand out to potential employers. Resources like Canva offer templates to showcase your work and build resumes. If you’re applying for music journalism jobs, a free Medium account allows you to self-publish quickly.
Portfolios are the equivalent of production value in music – they’re reflective of your work and a hint of what you’re capable of. Put the effort in, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Marketing for Music Artists
Seeking out a career in marketing for music artists can benefit your songs and albums.
An entry-level music marketing position provides insights into personal branding, online presence, and promotional tactics for artists at multiple career stages. You'll quickly see these tools' impact on others' work and can apply them ten-fold to your own.
Take "supply and demand:" It's an economic law stipulating that when a product has low supply but high demand, it can be sold at a higher price point. Marketers build campaigns around this law; musicians can, too. In 2016, Lee Scott released entry-level and highly exclusive versions of his album Nice Swan. One hundred listeners got the chance to pay a premium and hear the album early. The result? It was one of Swan's most successful albums to date—supply and demand works.
We at TuneCore also help artists accelerate their careers to the next level across multiple social media and streaming platforms. To learn more about what we can do for you, click here.
Networking and Industry Connections
There’s another reason job roles in the music industry are invaluable for an aspiring artist— networking opportunities.
People frequently fill music industry jobs with individuals as passionate about music as you are. And if you have a wide range of friends and peers pursuing music professionally, chances are they do, too.
Music job roles act as an icebreaker to meet potential collaborators with shared interests. Those are the backbone of sustained artistic growth and vital for any artist trying to succeed in the music industry.
Internships and Entry-Level Opportunities
Speaking of trying to succeed, embrace internships and entry–level opportunities if you want long-term success in a music industry job.
Internships and entry-level opportunities provide a necessary stepping stone for careers in music businesses. Yes, some of these roles are unpaid. At best, they’re a long-term investment in your financial and artistic future.
Being willing to work in the right internship or entry-level position indicates your interest in that position in the long haul. You can weather humble beginnings. That encourages companies to invest in you – and, in the meantime, you can still network and learn new skills.
Securing a great job or role in the music industry is a win-win.
Stay Up-to-Date with Music Industry Trends
Skills that help you succeed in music industry jobs can also help you grow as an artist.
Case in point: staying up to date with music industry trends.
Maintaining a comprehensive understanding of what's making certain songs or albums take the Billboard charts or social media platforms by storm is more important than ever. Doing so helps you write more on-trend compositions. If you're working in music publishing or marketing, trends inform which songs are more likely to be synched or how to better market artists on your roster.
The proof is clear -- it's worth it to stay in the know.
Overcoming Challenges, Staying Resilient, and Enjoying What You Do
If this information feels overwhelming in any way, that's understandable and okay.
Finding a job is challenging. Finding a career in the music industry is more complex than your average pursuit. You didn't get into the music industry, much less choose to try and secure a regular paying job in the music industry because it'd be easy.
You're doing it because you must – because it makes you feel more fulfilled than anything else.
Staying resilient isn't just a solo pursuit. Rely on your network of fellow artists to stay inspired. Take self-care days, even after getting a job in the music industry. It's important to enjoy what you do because few people really and genuinely pursue the life of their dreams.
You're one of them. That's worth celebrating.
If you want jobs related to the music industry – this guide gives you actionable steps to get one of them.
Those actions are nothing without your passion and your drive. Anyone can find resources. Only some people can take advantage of them and maximize their potential in an industry as ever-evolving as music. It will be challenging. It will also be worth it – TuneCore dedicates itself to making musicians' lives easier as artists and professionals. We've seen the results.
If you want to work with us and Believe Media, click here to see what positions are open (and check back often!)
And if you need to distribute the music you want your job to support on social media or streaming platforms, we can help with that, too.