Careers in Music

Music is one of the most profound human achievements. It is a universal sound which can create emotions and express feelings. Music also soothes the mind. There is rarely anybody who is not touched by music in some way at some time in their lives.

Talent, genuine interest, sincerity and willingness to work hard can guarantee a big success in the field of music. Having an inborn talent to sing is a wonderful gift. But making a career out of this talent, demands regular devoted practice. Joining an institution and getting trained is one of the first steps towards making a career in Music but the main emphasis should be real dedication and commitment.

A person considering a career in music should have a genuine love for music, a musical sense, which means a sense of time and rhythm, besides versatility, creative ability and also stage confidence. At the same time one needs to have publicity- contacts with the right people, money for training and for making demo cassettes for commercialization.

Just as there is a wide variety of forms in music like classical, folk, jazz, pop, fusion etc there are also a variety of opportunities in this field. Besides becoming a performer (vocal or instrumental) or a teacher, one can be a composer/song writer, music publisher, music journalist, Disc Jockeys/ Video Jockeys, Music Therapist, Artist manager/PR and so on in the Music Industry. Today the advent of satellite television, the growing popularity of the music channels and corporate sponsorship of musical events, has all made music big business. Although fame and money in this field depends a lot on luck and getting a good break, but once you are established there is ample scope for making good money in this field.

Related Informations

Eligibility & Course areas

Educational: There is no specific qualification required to enter into this field. However, to take up a course in this subject the basic requirement is 10+2. Courses offered in this area are certificate courses, bachelor courses, diploma courses and post graduate level courses. Duration of various courses: Certificate course is of one year, Bachelor courses is of three years, Diploma and Post Graduate level courses is of two years.

Training in this field is imparted by many schools and institutions. Most prominent among them is Kalakshetra in Chennai and The Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi.

Course areas include music theory, music interpretation, history of music, composing, voice instruction etc.

Personal attributes: Among the attributes, one that top the list is a good voice. Other attributes include inherent talent, dedication, determination and hard work, creativity and adaptability, team work, accept criticism in the right spirit, self confidence, ambition etc.

Job Prospects & Career Options

Job Prospects

Talented and qualified persons can find numerous employment opportunities in this field with the advent of satellite television, music channels etc. Various employers in this area are:

  • Television channels like Doordarshan
  • AIR and private FM channel stations
  • Music channels
  • Government departments of culture and public relations
  • Production houses
  • Music troupes
  • Music research organisations as a musicologist
  • Music companies
  • Educational Institutions, Kala kendras etc.
  • Hospitals as music therapist
  • Newspapers and magazines as music critic or correspondents
  • There are also many opportunities for self-employment in the form of holding private classes at home or opening a music school or producing and directing independent programmes.

Career Options

Today with music getting into the league of big business, there are a list of careers one can choose from in the Music Industry. Besides becoming a performer (vocal or instrumental) or a teacher, one can be a composer/song writer, music publisher, music journalist, Disc Jockeys/ Video Jockeys, Music Therapist, Artist manager/PR and so on in the Music Industry.

Music composers / Songwriters: Those with a flair in writing and an inborn talent in music can take up the career as a music composer. A composer creates and writes music, may combine it with lyrics to give a new song. Musicians in this field create music or lyrics alone or create both together. Composers are required to write music creatively based on their knowledge of sound, understanding of various musical styles and taste of the audience to which it has to be presented. A song writer or lyricist must understand the theme, mood and audience, the music into which one is putting words. There are a separate category known as Jingle writers who specialize in writing music for radio and television commercials.

Composers/ song writers can create music for film, television / radio jingles, folk songs and for albums. Musicians who are interested in this area are often required to know about the business aspect of song writing such as copyrights, networking, publishing, contracts, performing rights etc.

Music composers often work with advertising firms, production houses, recording companies, music publishing firms, film, television, radio etc. Jingle writers can get in through contacts in ad firms and production houses, contacts with directors / producers help to get in film/ television companies.

Singers / Performers: Performing artists may work alone or in a group with or without musical instrument. One could be a classical or pop artiste or an instrumental musician. Performance careers differ widely and depend a great deal upon the instrument played and the performance medium. A high standard of musical and technical skill is required and expected from performers in all areas.

They can undertake challenging performance in concert halls, small or large ensembles, in studios as recording artists, and live shows in lounge settings, pubs, night clubs, etc. They can also work for film industry as playback singers.

Producers: Producers brings together the various elements of recording and works to present them as an artistic whole. They book the studio, hire musicians and engineers, oversee the the production of the recorded music and control the recording budget. They have the final say on the development of their material. To be a successful producer technical knowledge and tact is a potent combination. Sometimes ex artists/ sound engineers enter this field.

Artist / Music Management: This is considered as one of the emerging options. Artist management is the planning, organising and negotiating of an artists career. They work in the business area of music and deals with the tough, unpleasant stuff behind the scenes. The work involves meeting with radio and television producers and getting air time for their artist, negotiating with recording companies and programme sponsors etc. Perseverance and knowledge of music and media industries are vital. Experience and training in Music as well as a business background helps to be successful in the field.

They can work for a particular artist or band as well as in a artist management firm, performing organisation, Touring music group etc.

Music Journalist: They review performances and recordings, conduct interviews with performers for various publications and write music reviews. They give news and updates on new releases and performers. Some may work as music critic also. This is one of the option available in music field for freelancing. They can also work for newspapers, magazines and websites.

To take up this career one must have keen interest and knowledge in music, flair for writing and good command of language.

Music Educator / Teacher: Teachers can open music schools and also conduct private classes. Music teaching is often in demand at schools, colleges, universities and institutional set-ups. Their main job is to instil an interest and enthusiasm for music among the students.

Main attributes required for them is classical music qualification, initiative and patience. They must have a thorough knowledge of music to impart training to their students.

Music Therapist: Music therapist are a unique breed of musician-counsellors, with specialised training in the use of rhythm and melody to improve psychological and emotional well being. Emotional stability and insight are essential for competent therapists. They must have the ability to explore, interpret and develop the creative use of sound.

Music therapists provide therapeutic programs to people of all age group with psychiatric disorders, mental retardation and developmental disabilities, speech and hearing impairments, physical disabilities, and neurological impairments. A career in music therapy offers challenge, opportunity, and distinctive rewards to those interested in working with people of all ages with various disabilities. Music therapists are employed in psychiatric hospitals, community mental health agencies, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, residences for the mentally disabled etc. They can also do private practice.

Musicologist: With good knowledge of music, an aptitude for research and excellent communication skills, one can work as musicologist in research institutes.

Video Jockeys (VJs) & Disc Jockeys (DJs): With the advent of various music channel video jockeying is becoming an exciting career option for the music mad generation. Their job include introducing a music video, conducting interviews with artists and music personalities.

No specific educational background is required for VJs/DJs except some personal attributes. However, background in mass communication, visual communication or the performing arts comes in handy.

Main attributes required to work in this visual medium are excellent presentation skills, clear voice, presence of mind, in depth knowledge about various styles of music, musicians and albums, communication skills, confidence, ability to take split-second decisions, good body language and dress sense.

Music Librarian: Colleges and public libraries offer opportunities for trained music specialists with knowledge of library and research techniques. Some opportunities for music librarians also exist in radio, television, and motion pictures. In addition to any music qualification they need to have bachelors degree in library and information science.