Darling knows that finding a job you are passionate about can be quite a feat, especially with all the options available today. We will be bringing you a series of “real life” job profiles by experts in specific industries–so you know the paths clearly, and can pick just the right one. Our team member, Sarey Martin McIvor, is our first voice on this guided journey through the world of employment…enjoy! 

What do you want to be when you “grow up?” Maybe you want to be a rockstar, but have found that to be somewhat impractical. So how about something rockstar-adjacent? Now it’s an understatement to say that the music industry has suffered severely over the last decade. Artists and record labels have adapted slowly and awkwardly to rapid changes in technology. And when you add an economic recession to rampant internet piracy, you get a limping music business. But there’s hope! Humans will never stop loving music, so as long as you have demand for something, you have a business supplying it. So now that executives have started working WITH new technology, instead of fighting AGAINST it, there just might be some pretty fun jobs to be had…

Here are just a few of the types of careers out there…

1. Manager vs. Agent
An established music artist will usually have both an agent and a manager. The agent is exclusively in charge of booking live performances (concerts) for the artist. As an agent, you liaise with venues all over the country (sometimes the world) to book shows or full tours for the artist. You negotiate the terms of the performance – considerations like the performance fee, hospitality, production needs (sound, lights, pyrotechnics, etc) are all worked out by the agent. Working knowledge of business, touring, event marketing, and geography come in handy here.

The manager serves a very different function. The manager liaises with everyone on behalf of the artist. You oversee all aspects of the artist’s career, communicating with the agent, label, lawyer, publicist, etc, to make sure the goals and interests of the artist are being served. You also screen offers and think entrepreneurially to create new opportunities for the artist to advance their career. Excellent communication skills, multi tasking, and problem solving are a must here.

2. Social Media / Technology
For a long time music companies thought they just needed a “new media” department to update myspace (remember that?) and facebook for their clients. But this category of work is more and more essential to an artist’s career. To see a list of job titles in the field you can look here. A lot of these titles are different names for the same job. But it isn’t just about knowing how to update Facebook now, it’s about having a working knowledge of all things internet and being super ahead-of-the-curve about trends in social media. Asking questions like: Are you on Twitter? Are you on Pinterest? Are you on Instagram? What is Spotify? Are these platforms important? How can they be used to promote music? Is there an app for that? Does the app work? What sort of incentives can we offer the users of these platforms to share or buy or tweet about my client? Will the changes Facebook is making affect my artist’s page? If you’re passionate about music and all things digital are second nature to you, there’s probably a job waiting for you.

3. Publicity
There are all kinds of publicists. Publicists for musicians, filmmakers, actors, authors, athletes… As a music publicist, you are in charge of getting news media to publish content about your client, and manage that content in a way that makes your artist look good. You have to create and maintain relationships with the editors of various outlets, and stay on top of what are the new, important outlets. This includes print media, and online sites. Publicists also book interviews and appearances for their clients on radio (AM, FM, satellite, podcasts, etc), and television (talk shows, late night, reality shows, etc). These days, publicists get creative with who they pitch to; it’s not about just getting your artist in Rolling Stone magazine. For example, maybe the NHL has a highly trafficked blog page, and that would be a perfect place for a feature about the rock band you look after. You have to be very organized, on top of media trends, an outgoing personality, and persistent.

4. Music Licensing / Supervision
Since income for an artist via record sales has dwindled, licensing music to other media (TV, films, commercials, websites, etc) has become more of a focus for a musician. If people want to use your music publicly in any way, they have to pay to use it. Music supervisors are the people who make this transaction happen. It can be fun to be the person who finds the perfect song for that romantic moment in your favorite movie. For this job, you have to have knowledge of the world of music publishing and licensing, as well as thorough knowledge of music (knowing every band that ever existed helps).

So How Do You Get These Jobs?

1. Education
Many schools have music industry programs now. But there are lots of majors that would come in handy as you search for a job in the music industry: media communications, business, marketing, public relations. It’s important to have a working knowledge of the music industry in general, and there are other ways, besides college, to educate yourself. Donald Passman’s classic “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” is almost required reading. There are also trade publications like HITS and Billboard.

2. Networking/Internships
Education is a great start, but networking and internships are just as important, if not more so. Aggressively pursue internships at management companies, music publishing companies, agencies, record labels, concert venues, music marketing companies – anything to get you started. Be relatable, eager to learn and pleas, not arrogant, inquisitive, communicative, hardworking, reliable, and organized. And MAKE FRIENDS. Rarely will blindly sending resumes to strangers get you the job you want–forming relationships will.

3. Presenting Yourself
Something important, if you are a musician, keep that to yourself when you’re starting out. If you mention in an interview, or early in your career, that you’re a musician, people assume you are just trying to promote your own goals instead of the aims of their company. And you risk not being taken seriously.

When going in for an interview or attending a networking event, try and get a hint at the corporate environment you’re stepping into. Generally, entertainment companies are more casual, and wearing a suit to your interview might make you come off a bit too naive. Dress sharp, but not corporate (there might be a few exceptions to this, such as some of the big agencies). Be conversational, and show some personality.

I’ve just mentioned the tip of the iceberg of what there is to know and do in the music business. Try not to get discouraged in your search, and to keep trying to meet people and maintain relationships. If you know musicians, just start working with them, and see what you can do to help. There are a lot of complexities to the music business, but the power of music to inspire and encourage people is so radical, it can be a very exciting thing to be a part of.


Photo Credit: favim.com