CAREERS IN MUSIC AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
The music industry offers a wide range of careers. Listed below are the main areas and the basic requirements. As in all the Arts, a love and understanding of music are essential pre-requisites, as naturally the industry would not be attractive to someone who is tone deaf.
Broadly professional music falls into two categories, performing – the role of the musician, and supporting – the essential business of ensuring music reaches as wide an audience as possible.
THE “CLASSICAL” MUSICIAN
For 95% of the UK musicians, performing is a hobby, for many even after music school and a degree. For the rest 50% are full time music teachers or lecturers for which a first degree is essential, together with a post graduate teaching qualification.
Entry into a Russell Group university or college such as the Royal College of Music or Royal Northern College is highly competitive but great “feeders” for the major orchestras as is an Oxbridge award – for example Trinity which is renowned for its throughput of well trained organists many of whom find their way into the lofts of the great cathedrals of senior academic posts such as Prof. Wilson-Dickson at the Welsh College.
Many of the orchestral musicians will remain “rank and file” all their working lives and will supplement their earnings from orchestral playing through free-lance teaching and recording sessions.
It is only the truly exceptional player who can effortlessly add the extra emotional dimension to the technical skills who will aspire to a solo career, and even then the right level of self-confidence and chutzpah is essential to sustain a career – and be prepared for criticism without flinching ….....the rewards for such a musician are however exceptional.
THE “POPULAR” MUSICIAN
In popular music much of the above applies except that the rewards are greater for the few i.e. those enjoying chart success at any one time.
To become a successful popular musician of whichever genre – rock, blues, folk, funk, rap, jazz etc it is still essential to have a strong technical background in popular music theory and fundamentals. In the USA and mainland Europe several colleges have developed such post 16 and post 18 courses combined with performance technique, composition and production but in the UK the standard syllabus does little to introduce students to the reality of life in the commercial music industry. Only One university offers a substantive first degree course – Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts [LIPA], part of John Moores University.
In Hereford the new courses being developed at Hereford Music School in collaboration with the University of Turin will answer the pressing need for more courses covering the full range of careers, in addition to musician, detailed in the following paragraphs:
OTHER MUSIC INDUSTRY CAREERS
Music publishing is the backbone of the music industry, relying on the composition of new music in order to maximise revenue from copyright licensing – whenever a song or piece of music is sold. Illegal downloading has cost the industry billions over the last few years. Trained copyright administrators, contract specialists and lawyers are at a premium throughout the industry. At present there is no degree course covering this area in the required detail – again HMS is developing a module and longer courses to prepare people for careers in this field.
PRODUCTION & RECORDING
Most producers and engineers come into this area through a long apprenticeship as musicians with an interest in the technologies used in professional studios. These differ from the technologies used in school courses are those available through Btec, which do NOT prepare people fully.
Successful producers and engineers are generally free-lance and associated with a successful act, record label or studio – for example George Martin with the Beatles. As with musicians the rewards for success are very high, but only achieved by those with a real “feel” for using the technologies to create a product which millions will relate to.
At present only Surrey and LIPA offer appropriate first degree courses in music technology , but engineers and producers need practical hands-on experience especially when dealing with music personalities in the studio! HMS will be offering courses in this area also.
SONGWRITING AND COMPOSING
These aspects are in the main pure “art for arts sake”. To many musicians songwriting and composing are very difficult, whilst to others the demand on the imagination is met with consummate ease!! A song or melody can often be heard “in the head” but without sufficient technique to hand, cannot easily be committed to paper or computer. Often musicians with a strong logical and / or mathematical skill make excellent composers – many of the skills are similar.
Contemporary writing is very closely linked to production, since much music ( including virtually all film music) is created this way.
It is not generally realised that songwriting, production and publishing taken together are the three principal elements in the formation of many successful Acts – which may ultimately be “branded” as a group or a band for the purposes of public consumption.
At present only LIPA offers songwriting effectively but HMS will incorporate a module in its degree courses
SALES & MARKETING
Music marketing is a specialist branch of marketing; it even has its own nomenclature “promotion”. This takes place amongst a closed group of press reviewers, broadcast producers and other media facilitators, in which each recorded product is given maximum exposure including receptions and showcases, videos and promotional tours. The logistics of this exercise require great marketing skills honed to the extremely competitive and fast moving world of continual new product placement.
Traditionally this skill was honed by staff members of the large record companies. Now with the advent of many small independent production companies, the musician / producer / independent label owner needs to learn all the skills involved in launching a successful Artiste and their product, whatever genre of music. At present only LIPA offers this subject, but here again HMS will be offering promotion as part of the new suite of courses at first degree level.
Artistes management is a unique skill, compared to “herding cats”. Like all areas of management it is essentially a developed skill, especially since you are representing the interests of creative artistes or in some way through the “supply chain” of music handling the output of an artiste. Forget “command and control” - this is permanent peacekeeping of suspicious people! However a thorough knowledge of all business practices is essential, gained usually through a degree in business and media studies. “Cutting your teeth” by managing a school or college band is an excellent way to learn.
As in all areas of music, management is highly rewarding when the initial strategy reaps what you sow. The science and logic can and is taught, but the art is the relationship with the product – in this case the musician and/or composer.
Agency is one step away from management. This role is that of the intermediary between artiste's management and venue promoter. The agent will have a bundle of venues he/she deals with, arranging tours – often to promote new product. As an agent you will be dealing with other agents worldwide, promoters of product, download and record labels, and a sound knowledge of international contract law is essential.
FINANCE AND PROCUREMENT
Book-keeping skills are essential to manage day to day finance, whilst the setting up of small companies, raising finance and management accounting is similarly essential to ensure all other functions perform successfully. Knowledge of foreign currency trading is very useful since all payments from I-Tunes are in US$.
Audit of suppliers accounts is integral to the role; the essence of all contracts is their transparency - calling for effective drafting of the finance clauses – and the right of the artiste's representative to audit sales of downloads, CD sales, publishing royalties worldwide. As in all the above careers, HMS will be offering integrated degree courses once validated by an existing university, probably from academic year 2011 – 12.
Careers in the music industry as
described above are not confined to that of the musician. Many
musicians combine one or more of the “other” roles to ensure a
living outwith performance recording and teaching.
We offer not only basic tuition but also the tutoring necessary to aspire to becoming a qualified professional musician, member of a group able to make professional quality recordings, professional entertaining performances and all other creative technical and management aspects of the music industry, globally.
Courses are individually tailored from a range of subject topics, including:
- Instrumental learning, including London College of Music rock and classical grades 1-8 and teaching diploma.Group tuition using the LCM “Popworks” programme.
- Music theory, both classical and popular formats
- Songwriting including arranging original material for recording and vocal development.
- Selling to the music industry, including all aspects of management and promotion.
- Artist management and development.
- Studio engineering
- Recorded music production techniques.
- Course tuition is supplemented by specialist visiting lecturers and musicians.
- All students are individually assessed on enrolment, and entered for appropriate external examinations where applicable.
If you have any further queries - or if you would like a guided tour of the Studios and a chat with the Principal - please feel free to contact us.
Professor P Goodall (Principal) - email@example.com