When you enter the music industry you might think that the only options available to you are as a performer or a producer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many different career paths open to graduates. And it’s a growing industry, with employment in the music sector rising by 19% in 2016, so there’s never been a better time to join BIMM and start your career.
Defining the right music industry role for you can take time and BIMM is the best place to learn about all your options. Throughout your time with us our expert careers advisors and tutors will outline all of these routes for you, and whether you want to be a performer, promoter, journalist, producer or manager, they will encourage and facilitate your interaction with fellow students to help expand your network and develop your expertise. This process is demonstrated perfectly via our “Amplify Sessions”.
So, what jobs are there in the music industry? We’ve put together this handy glossary to give you an understanding of some of the directions your career could take you.
The artist and repertoire coordinator works closely with the A&R director to find fresh talent for a label and oversee the completion of new albums. Individuals must be in touch with current musical trends and have a good knowledge across a wide range of musical genres. They’ll also be responsible for undertaking general administration for the A&R department, communicating with artists and their management, and running recording and creative asset budgets.Student Success +
Artist and repertoire directors find new artists, sign them to labels, match them with musical collaborators, and oversee the musical direction of the album or singles they’re creating. They also select producers, engineers, studios and musicians to help with the recording, matching the right people up with the artist or band to fulfil their musical potential. A large part of this job role is listening to demo records by unsigned artists and attending live gigs, either thanks to industry buzz or on the recommendation of a talent scout.
Music business accountants advise and work closely with musicians, business managers and music companies on financial matters. They review royalty statements, help with tax returns, apply for financing, review business plans, create tour budgets and analyse contracts. They also coach musicians in how to make, save and invest money from their music career.
For the most part, whether they’re writing, recording, touring or promoting, an artist is the driving force of their own creative vision. In effect, a successful artist becomes a brand, and as the leader of a commercial product, a successful artist will have a good understanding of the music business to complement their creative skills as well as an ability to collaborate with others. There’s no rulebook to dictate how an artist should work or behave, but a blend of professionalism and creativity is generally a must.Student Success +
The artist liaison is responsible for looking after the artist on a day to day level and the role generally requires a high level of both empathy and attention to detail. They’re the intermediary between the artist and the hiring organisation, such as a record label, festival or gig venue. The artist liaison’s goal is to make sure that all parties have a clear understanding of the logistics involved in the event or business arrangement, and that the artist is happy
Artists relations manager
Artist relations managers work with musicians to develop their careers, both creatively and financially, and often try to secure endorsements for the artist. Often found within the A&R department of record labels, they liaise with their client to develop their personal branding, increase their fanbase and record collaborations which might take their career in a new direction.Student Success +
A backline technician travels with the band or artist and sets up and maintains all the instruments on a tour, including guitars, drums, keyboards and more. They’re responsible for keeping everything working properly and in tune. At the end of the gig, they pack the gear up and load it onto a truck, ready for the next performance.
A booking agent negotiate deals and plans tours for the artists on their roster. They book live performances including concerts, festivals, TV shows and radio sessions, and are responsible for developing their client’s live performance career. Booking agents can either work in-house for a record label, or independently in a freelance capacity, working closely with the artist’s management, promoter and record company.Student Success +
This role could centre on a number of different aspects of bringing a musical product to market. It could encompass everything from managing finances and budgets, brand growth, product design, social media curation and a whole host of other potential duties.Student Success +
The business manager handles all the personal and business-related financial needs of their music business clients, including filing tax returns, working out tour budgets, organising insurance, making deals with suppliers and negotiating contracts. They also help to recover unpaid fees and royalties, advise artists on how to invest their money wisely, and calculate financial projections of tour and record sales for record companies.
A commercial band, or functions band, is made up of professional musicians who perform at corporate events, charity galas, holiday parties, weddings and other private celebrations. They mainly play cover versions of popular, easily recognisable songs which have made it into the top 40 chart, although they may also play specific genres of songs if the function has a particular theme.Student Success +
Cruise ship musician
Cruise ship musicians are soloists, bands or instrumentalists who perform music to entertain guests on board a cruise ship. It’s a fun way to see the world while earning money, and a fantastic opportunity to improve performance skills and technical ability, as gigs often take place on board the ship every night of the week and the same material is repeated at each performance.Student Success +
A distribution manager organises the physical distribution of musician’s products, which can include albums, singles, videos, equipment and instruments, to retailers. They monitor the shipping from the distribution centres and ensure the items are delivered on time. They work with the marketing team to make sure products reach the market on time and in a costly manner, while seeing that health and safety rules and regulations are met.
Festival managers run the behind-the-scenes logistics of the event by working with vendors, city officials, land owners and on-site staff. They need to be dedicated, energetic, self-motivated, creative and well-organised. Their main goal is to make sure the festival is well-attended and successful, and they’re responsible for arranging items such as festival insurance and protective coverings for the sound and lighting equipment, and for developing contingency plans in case of bad weather or unforeseen events.
A video game composer writes evocative music scores for video games, including individual themes for each main character. They must watch and play the game to get a feel for the action onscreen and then create music which evokes the appropriate emotions to match the specific section of the game. They are often paid per minute for the music they create, and can also earn royalties when game soundtracks are released.Student Success +
Musical instrument manufacturers design and build instruments, usually within a specific family, such as guitars, drums, woodwind instruments, or more. They can either be employed by a large instrument manufacturer or work for themselves, running their own workshop. They also often do instrument repairs and restoration.
The label manager is the key decision maker at a record label, and oversees all aspects of the production of records for that particular label. They’ll be involved in all aspects of an album’s creation, such as album design, marketing, budgeting, contracts, distribution, recording sessions and photoshoots. The job is deadline-driven and the label manager must have the ability to run multiple projects simultaneously.Student Success +
Music lawyers manage all legal matters for musicians and music companies. This includes negotiating agreements in management, publishing, recording, merchandising and sponsorship; settling copyright disputes; and litigating against copyright infringement. They also advise artists and firms on business structures, and counsel them on business deals in the context of their future career.
Licensing reps are employed by record labels and music publishing companies to pitch music in their catalogue to directors, producers and music supervisors for use in film, TV, advertisements, video games and movie trailers. They work closely with artists, managers, label reps, producers, A&R reps, and music and film editors, and will sometimes facilitate the creation of an original composition or original ‘soundalike’. If the pitch is successful, the rep will then negotiate a fee for the license so the music can be used.
A lyricist writes the song words for performances on records, in musicals, on film and TV, and in commercials; either for themselves or for other artists. Many performers don’t write their own material but are assisted by talented songwriters who are able to write to brief and create a song which fits the artist’s niche in the market. Often lyricists work closely with composers who give them feedback on how well their lyrics work when combined with the melody and chords that have been written to accompany them.
A marketing manager executes creative and commercially successful marketing campaigns for a roster of high-profile recording artists, and oversees all aspects of marketing albums, including publicity and radio promotions. They must have an impressive knowledge of artists, the music charts and current trends, and also work with digital and physical distributors to ensure songs and albums are available for purchase. They’ll be in charge of managing budgets, briefing advertising agencies and graphic design firms, and dealing with contracts for photoshoots.Student Success +
Mastering audio is the final step in the creative process of music creation. The role of the mastering engineer is to polish the individual tracks to form a cohesive album that sounds great however it’s played. Mastering has changed massively over the years due to recent advancements in technology, and it’s the mastering engineer’s job to get the album ready for CD or vinyl pressing or online distribution.
A media analyst examines the digital performance of artists, labels and products across all platforms. They’ll research and analyse digital sales and streaming reports in order to capitalise on marketing opportunities, and will be responsible for developing campaigns and digital store plans, optimising playlists, interpreting trends and making recommendations for campaign success. Heavily involved in data, a media analyst will use data analytics and key performance indicators to conceive data reports, set objectives and inform media and marketing strategy.
Pluggers are the link between bands and their labels, and radio or TV station managers, DJs, producers, journalists and presenters. Their job is to pitch songs, albums and artists to the media and record labels for performance and recording opportunities. A plugger will try to get the acts they’re representing exposure on radio, TV or in the press, which could mean inclusion on stations’ playlists, spot plays, live sessions, TV performances or interviews.
Music merchandisers sell and distribute merchandise to fans, retailers and wholesale departments. They’re employed by record companies, talent agencies or public relations firms to promote artists by distributing music-related products, such as t-shirts, jackets, bags, badges, hats, posters, key rings and concert programmes. They’re often sold at the venues when the artist is performing, but may also be available to purchase via websites, mail order or at retail outlets. The merchandiser will have a hand in developing the merchandise ideas, as well as designing, manufacturing and distributing the pieces.
A mixing engineer is based in the recording studio and is responsible for combining the different audio elements in a piece of recorded music, such as the vocals, instruments and sound effects, into a final version of a song (know as the ‘final mix’ or ‘mixdown’). They make sure the volume is balanced, the frequency is acceptable, the timbre is good and that they’re happy with the finished piece overall.
Music bloggers write music news stories, interviews or album reviews which they post on their online music blog or other digital or social media channels, such as YouTube. They often concentrate on new music and acts which are starting to get an industry ‘buzz’ about them. Bloggers are often invited to gigs, festivals and shows for free, with the hope that they’ll write about their experience and use their authentic voice to convince their followers to check out the specific band, artist or event. They also get sent free albums and singles, usually well before their official release date, merchandise and music-related products.
The musical director is the musician responsible for the vocal and instrumental performance of the band, artist or theatre group. They must be proficient in many different instruments and able to work on complex arrangements with many varied parts. MDs have incredible musicianship skills and are confident in leading orchestras, bands and artists in both live performances and recording sessions.Student Success +
Music journalists report on music news, write articles, review albums and gigs, and interview musicians for newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, websites, podcasts and social media. They’re generally employed by print, online and broadcast media outlets, although they can also be independent, working as self-employed freelancers. Music journalists attend lots of gigs, festivals and album release parties, and work regularly with editors, publicists, music photographers and artists to present their view of the music they’re listening to, to the world.Student Success +
A producer gets involved in many aspects of the music production process, which may include writing, arranging, producing and recording songs for either their own projects or other artists. They have the overall vision for the music and it’s up to them to create the desired ‘sound’ in the recording studio. Overall, it’s the music producer’s job to make sure the finished recording is as good as it can be.Student Success +
Publishers help to develop music, protect it and negotiate a value for it. They nurture and hire songwriters to write demos, then pitch those demos to artists and labels as possible tracks for their albums. They look for new ways to utilise existing songs, such as for use in films, TV programmes, advertisements and video games, and are responsible for ensuring songwriters receive sufficient royalties for their work.
Music sync editor
The music sync editor mixes, edits and syncs music to film. They serve as a technical and creative liaison between the film’s composer, the director and the producers, helping to structure the soundtrack, making sure that all elements work well together and that the film music is carefully placed so it complements the action rather than detracting from it. Sync editors design a ‘click track’ for the film, which is used during the recording of the score to help the musicians stay at the correct tempo to ensure perfect picture-to-music synchronisation.Student Success +
Music web designer
A website designer will use their creative skills to design the look and feel of websites for record labels and artists. They’ll liaise with art directors, graphic designers, copywriters and the marketing manager to develop a site which looks good, loads quickly, is easy to navigate and keeps site visitors interested. The web designer will often need to incorporate a checklist of web features, including high-quality photos, branding, music, embedded videos, ticket purchasing, tour calendars and social media links.
Music photographs shoot live gigs, band promo shots and portraits of artists to go with media interviews. The majority are freelancers who’ve been hired by the record label, band, media organisation or venue. As well as taking the shots, photographers also edit and manipulate them to produce a creative image that they and their employer are happy with.
A press agent or publicist works to make sure artists and record labels are represented positively to the general public. The idea is that good publicity for an artist or band will help to generate increased album sales, so press agents will arrange press conferences, set up media interviews and assemble press kits to send to TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, music websites, blogs and podcasts.Student Success +
Private music tutor
Private music teachers help students to develop their theoretical music skills, while instructing them in playing musical instruments or singing. They can teach one-on-one or in a group setting. Some teachers specialise in one instrument only, while others instruct pupils in a range of different disciplines. They must be able to tutor across a range of different ability levels, as they will have a mixture of beginner, intermediary and advanced students on their books.Student Success +
A production manager of a band or tour is in charge of the technical crew. When the tour or live show is being planned, they contract services for sound, lighting, rigging, staging, catering, trucking and bussing, and must have in-depth conversations with suppliers regarding the type and quality of the equipment required. The technical crew travel separately to the performers because they must arrive at the venue early to set up the equipment.
Production floor manager
Television floor managers act as the link between the director and the many people involved in a production on the studio floor, especially on TV shows which feature live musical acts. It’s their responsibility to provider the presenters, guests and live bands with cues to make sure that timings are adhered to and the broadcast runs smoothly.
A production writer is a songwriter and/or producer who creates music that’s usually licensed or sold to a production music library. This music is then used in films, TV shows and advertisements. The production writer splits their earnings with the production music library, who owns the rights to the music.
Concert or tour promoters organise live concert tours or special event performances. Initially they book the talent by making an offer of employment to a particular artist through their agent or manager. The promoter and agent then negotiate the live performance contract and, once that’s finalised, the promoter goes on to secure the venue and market the event.Student Success +
The promo rep’s job is to work closely with the tour manager and production manager to make sure the concert tour or event runs smoothly. They travel with the tour, looking after the promoter’s interests. They must oversee event logistics, both in advance and on the day, to ensure the event is delivered to a high standard, with all parties satisfied.
A music publicist is a communications specialist who represents a musician or band and works to promote their music and ‘brand’. They use public relations skills and media knowledge to help the artist maintain their desired public image and market them by creating press kits, sending press releases, arranging interviews, and contacting media outlets to secure coverage for the artist’s singles and albums.Student Success +
A radio broadcaster, or DJ, hosts a radio show and is responsible for introducing selections of recorded music, interviewing guests, running studio live music sessions, hosting competitions, taking calls from listeners and reading the news. Radio personalities are also expected to expand upon their on-air work by posting on social media, or on the radio station’s website or blog, in an attempt to connect even further with listeners.
The recording engineer operates and sets up the recording equipment used to capture and shape the sound of an album. They make sure the gear is working correctly and also edit and mix the material in such a way to make the audio sound the best it possibly can. They listen to the audio from both a musical and technical perspective, adjusting the recording levels, equipment and even the performance of the artist in order to enhance the quality of the production.
Rehearsal room owner
A rehearsal room owner makes acoustically treated rehearsal studios and suites available to musicians for practise and recording purposes, and ensures they’re stocked with the very best equipment. The owner will run the facilities as a profit-making business and may also hire out equipment for bands and musicians to take with them on tour.Student Success +
Runners and PAs act as assistants to many roles within the music industry, including TV floor managers, recording studio managers, record label execs, A&R reps, and artists themselves. Their jobs are diverse and they must be prepared to get their hands dirty, undertaking a variety of tasks every day, from grabbing coffees and organising lunches to cleaning studios and answering phones.
School music teacher
Music teachers instruct students at school or college in music performance, technique and theory, and need to be very competent musicians across a range of different instruments. They also lead various performance ensembles at the school, including the concert band, choir, vocal groups, orchestra and rock bands. The school musical is also their remit, in conjunction with the school’s drama department.Student Success +
A session musician is someone who supports the artist by working with other instrumentalists in a recording studio or for a live performance. They’re hired by the music contractor, producer, band, record label, or film and video production company to play the music that’s going to be recorded at that session or during the live performance.Success Stories +
Social media manager
Social media managers are responsible for producing content for the record label and artist’s social channels as part of the marketing campaign. This can include scheduling social media updates, writing blog posts, recording videos, adding photos, updating site events and running competitions. The success of social media managers is measured in numbers – such as an increase in the number and quality of social media followers, a boosting of website traffic, growing the artist’s e-newsletter email list and increased social interactivity by fans.Student Success +
A songwriter crafts songs for either themselves or other artists in the hope of creating a successful record. They can be responsible for writing the lyrics or music or both. Often, a music publisher will pair a songwriter who is great at writing lyrics with one who excels at composing melodies, or else they’ll hire a ‘topline’ writer to provide a melody and lyrics over a provided backing track. Songwriters also compose jingles for TV or radio ads. A songwriter makes money through royalties earned when people buy the record, download the music online or play the song live.Success Stories +
A sound designer provides audio support and sounds for the interactive entertainment industry. This often involves recording sound effects and other audio elements, and crafting them in an audio workstation to match animations or environments within a game. The sound designer can influence key areas of the game with their use of audio, including the story, characters, creatures, locations, environments, weapons, vehicles and more.
Sound engineers pay attention to the technical aspects of sound and music production by mixing, reproducing and controlling the equalisation and electronic effects of the sound. They set up and use the soundboard, and other sound equipment, during live performances to ensure that the levels are appropriate and the sound mix is correct. They can work in any venue which needs to project sound to an audience, controlling microphones, sound levels and outputs to produce the highest quality sound they can.
The stage manager is key to the effective running of a gig, festival performance or theatre production and is responsible for all aspects of stage running, backline and onstage engineers. They oversee stage activities for rehearsals, performances and recordings at both indoor and outdoor venues, coordinating the stage crew and helping to set up the stage. They’re responsible for supplying both the band or artist’s hospitality and technical riders.
A systems tech specs out, sets up and maintains all in-house or festival PA systems for a live performance, supporting the sound engineer. They’re mainly responsible for dealing with the rigging and cabling, but will assist other departments with the construction of the overall system. Systems techs work closely with engineers and often learn a lot about tuning and mixing by shadowing these job roles.
Tour bus and backline hire company
A hire company owns and rents out equipment to bands for the purpose of touring. They regularly deal with tour managers, stage technicians and musicians to hire out instruments, including drums, guitars, amps, bass, percussion, keyboards and stage accessories, as well as backline equipment. Larger companies may also offer tour buses for hire.
A tour manager runs the show when an artist or band is on tour and it’s their responsibility to make sure everything operates smoothly. They organise transportation, scheduling and the financial aspects of being on the road, and make sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be at all times. They often deal with the personal issues of individuals on the tour, making sure all parties are happy and healthy.Student Success +
University music tutors educate students in music theory, history, composition, performance, production, music journalism or music business studies at a Higher Education institution. They will be accomplished musicians and will typically hold a graduate or postgraduate degree. They may also be responsible for the development of a particular course, unit or programme.Student Success +
A video director controls the action and leads the film crew on a music video shoot to realise the creative vision for the song. The director will have often conceived the idea for the music video and will direct those on set – including the band or artist, actors, models, dancers, extras and the technical crew – in telling the story of the song in a way that all parties are happy with.