Working in the music business is a dream shared by countless thousands of people around the world, but there are no clear paths to entry. Some get their start by booking shows or playing in bands, while others take the far more traditional route of earning a degree. A handful of lucky souls manage to get in through nepotism, and an even rarer select few find success through blind luck.
While it would be nice to believe that being passionate about music and the business of selling it would be enough to land any hard worker a decent paying, it’s not realistic. If everyone who gives a damn, and I mean really gives a damn, could find work there would be as many people employed in music as there are people in bands trying to build a career with their art.
If passion isn’t enough (it’s not), then those hoping to make a career out of music need to go above and beyond what those seeking employment in other fields must do to find work. Here are some tips on getting ahead, as selected by people currently employed in music:
Learn to Talk to Strangers (Networking)
There is an old adage about the entertainment business that claims getting ahead isn’t about what someone knows as much as it about who they know. For better and worse, that claim is valid. The people who excel the fastest in music typically do so through connections with people already making waves in the industry.
There are at least four ways to meet people who could help develop (or launch) a career:
- Start your own business and work with artists who attract the interest of bigger, more powerful businesses.
- Music conferences/Industry events.
- Digital outreach. This one has the lowest likelihood of generating a response, but considering the fact everyone in music is connected to their inboxes at all hours of the day it’s entirely possible to build connections through well-written and engaging messaging.
Learn About Everything, Master One Thing
Most aspiring industry professionals have an idea of what they’d like to do in the business. What happens more often than not, however, is that all up and comers are asked to complete a variety of tasks while cutting their teeth in the early stages of their career. With this in mind, it’s just as important for young professionals to master one skill set as it is for them to understand how the industry works as a whole. That way, those seeking employment are able to apply their knowledge and skills to as many opportunities as they can while working to the role they wish to acquire.
Use Only Relevant Information When Applying for Jobs
Any company hiring for entry-level positions is well aware that most newcomers to the music business will not have a wealth of experience. With that in mind, those wishing to apply for those roles should carefully curate their resumes to fit the job being offered. Potential employers seeking a recording studio assistant, for example, do not need to know about the two years in high school when someone flipped burgers for a fast food chain. Those same employees do not need to be told an applicant understands how to use Microsoft Word.
That said, applicants should include jobs held in high school if the skills gained or tasks completed reflect the work that needs to be done in the role being offered. Someone with management experience, for example, would be wise to detail that skill set on a resume. Those who understand complex programs, such as Photoshop, should include that knowledge (as long as it fits the demands of the role).