Breaking into the music industry is not easy. Whether you are looking to become an artist, writer, or manager, it can take years to build a sustainable, paying job.
Talent and skill set alone do not guarantee success. To make it in the industry, you need to learn strategies that optimize relationships, timing, adaptability, and so much more.
If you are willing to put in the effort, we’re giving you essential ways you can jumpstart a career in the music industry.
Your location may be one of the most important factors in pinning down a music industry job, with the exception of some marketing roles, like blogging and social media.
Even though things like COVID have forced some sectors of the industry to work remotely or over distance, the heart of the music industry is personal, spontaneous, and energy-based. Proximity matters.
Imagine: an incredible opportunity pops up, but you can’t make it because of distance. Don’t let that be you. One right opportunity can establish your career.
Moving to “music cities” is beneficial because it places you where the industry is booming. There will be more opportunities in these areas, including more shows, more job listings, more festivals and more writers rounds. Music conferences tend to be held in music hubs as well.
Here is a list of the top music cities based today:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- New Orleans
As a last tip, it may be helpful to establish some connections and check out the city before jumping out to L.A. or Nashville. You can test the waters by attending conferences, participating in workshops, booking a tour with a label, or even just joining some of the local industry Facebook groups and making friends.
College/Comm Radio Stations
If you are in a city with universities or colleges, you may find some great opportunities to volunteer for community radio stations. This is especially beneficial for anyone who wants to learn about how radio stations work.
Volunteering with community and university radio stations can educate you on the local concert promoters in your town, upcoming community events, local bands to watch, top venues in the area, and more. You can also establish valuable connections with people pursuing, or already in, the industry.
Community radio stations are always looking for volunteers, and experience with them will definitely look good on your music industry resume.
Build a Network
Networking is a well-known part of making it in the music industry.
Whether you’re looking to be an artist, manager, or publisher, getting out there and socializing with people in music circles is essential.
But it is not as simple as gathering as much contact info as you can to climb up the industry ladder. Developing genuine relationships is a key part of creating a true network and can be the catapulting force behind your career.
The best way to build trust with people is to not appear as an opportunist, but as a person with the mindset to serve.
Some great places to network are at conferences, events, concerts, and open mics. Be sure to follow up with any relationships you make, and most importantly, just be a good person.
Celebrate other artists, and support fellow entrepreneurs in the field when you can.
Being kind, honest, and trustworthy goes a long way.
It has never been easier to DIY your career than now. Thanks to social media, you can grow a following and become an influencer in almost any niche you desire.
Instead of waiting for a company to hire you, start doing the services you want to do for people in your community.
For instance, if you’re interested in management, get to know local artists, and offer a test trial of your services for free to build relationships and expertise.
On platforms like FB Groups, you can find potential clients and offer services practically for free. You can post about your skill sets in music industry FB groups and offer advice to build trust and potential clients.
You don’t have to work for a company or label to jumpstart a career in the industry. Don’t be afraid to start on your own. And if you do well independently, you have an even higher chance of being hired for a company later on, as that kind of experience will make your resume glow.
Another great way to build a music career is to get a degree in the music industry. Although one can debate if college is necessary to get into the music biz, it can definitely help depending on what area you are interested in.
For instance, if you are interested in being a classical musician, manager, or music business lawyer, going to school can really benefit you. In college, you can learn the fundamentals of music theory or music law. These fundamentals can be hard to teach yourself.
However, if you are looking to be a pop artist, tour manager, or producer, it may be a better use of your time to gain real-world experience and build up your portfolio. There are a variety of resources, courses, workshops, and podcasts out there to assist you and save you from spending thousands of dollars on education. Plus, these focuses truly benefit more from real-world experience than textbooks.
Whichever route you choose, education is crucially important to not only making it in the industry, but staying in the industry. If you aren’t sure where to start with finding music industry resources, check out our top music industry podcasts post.
One of the best ways to get into the music industry with little to no experience is through a music internship.
You can intern at companies like record labels, production studios, and publishing companies. It is a great way to work in the field with little to no experience, gain real-world knowledge of the industry, network with people in the field, build relationships, and develop career skills. You can also get the opportunity to shadow and work behind some successful music industry professionals.
Internships typically last around one to four months, which line up with a college school semester.
Click here to learn more about landing a music industry internship.
As you can see, there are many ways to jumpstart a career in the music industry. The world of music is ever-evolving and constantly influenced by culture and technology. But even though the customs of the game are always changing, there are some lasting principles you can guarantee will never change, like relationships and timing.
Set yourself up for success by building quality relationships with music professionals in the field you desire. This means learning to serve and support other people as you wait for your career to unfold. Be humble and learn from the pros around you.
Lastly, make the most of every opportunity, and always be prepared to use your talents and skill sets. It only takes one chance to change the trajectory of your career; make sure you are prepared at all times for when that moment arrives.