Imagine yourself sitting in front of your school careers advisor. They ask you what your favourite subjects are and where you see yourself in ten years’ time. You reply that you’ve always liked music. And they laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh. There are no “music jobs” they tell you. Unless Simon Cowell appears like a grumpy fairy godmother and turns you into Ed Sheeran, you’ll need a real job. And they’re right, aren’t they? Wrong! Music jobs do exist. In fact, the music industry contributes £5.8 billion to the UK economy every year. And we’ve compiled a list of 6 great music jobs to prove it.
1. Video Game Composer
If you also love gaming, this really is the golden combo. With busy chiptunes for retro releases and spiralling EDM for high-octane adventures, game soundtracks seamlessly shift from wandering themes to battle marches as players move through the levels. And skilled composers are in high demand. Average salaries are around £25k, with the most successful composers earning much more. Composition lessons can help you land this legitimate dream job. Then build yourself a portfolio, join some “game jams” online and you’ll be well on your way.
2. Session Musician
Studios and songwriters the world over are always on the lookout for musicians who can be relied upon to bring their work to life. A steady hand or voice is a must. And good technique is essential. Not to mention sight-reading, key transposition, and familiarity with different genres. But with lots of lessons and practise, a new life of late-night studio sessions, festival gigs and film credits is just around the corner. To get started, create a portfolio appropriate to your chosen instrument and look for producers, composers and songwriters who might need help recording their own portfolios. The average salary in the UK is about £25k.
3. Music Therapist
Music therapy uses music and musical instruments to help people affected by injury, illness or disability. Live music interaction and play can alleviate stress, improve social and emotional skills, and soothe pain. Music therapy has been known to restore memories and even help patients regain the power of speech after suffering severe brain traumas. Ask your music tutor to help develop your improv skills to prepare you for this life-affirming profession. NHS salaries range from £30k for newly certified practitioners to £50k for senior therapists. Click here to find out more about how to get registered with the HCPC and begin your music therapy career.
Few music jobs are as sought-after. Few jobs allow an individual to wield such influence. Artist and Repertoire representatives are responsible for finding and developing talent for record companies. As gatekeepers and tastemakers, they attend small gigs, scour social media and track hype in the hope of unearthing the best new music acts. The fierce competition for A&R jobs means that candidates need to have experience in other music jobs before they can apply. And annual salaries are around £50k.
5. Foley Artist
One of the most unusual music jobs. Foley artists use synths, software and bric-a-brac to create sound effects for film and TV. Trotting hooves? Two rocks clopped together. Hovering dragonfly? Handheld fan. Breaking bones? Celery sticks. Music lessons will get you started with the fine motor skills, impeccable timing and lateral thinking required. Production lessons will give you the detailed technical knowledge. And salaries can top £45k. Search for apprenticeships at established production companies to find out more.
6. Music Producer
Producers take the raw ingredients of a song or composition, tweaking the settings and dials until everything fits together in a way that sounds right. They have finely tuned ears and a nuts-and-bolts knowledge of their chosen genres. Salary estimates vary for UK producers, but £20k is perfectly achievable, rising to £45k for seasoned pros. Music lessons will give you the necessary theory and skills, while production lessons will familiarise you with the right software and the fundamentals of musical arrangement. As with many other music jobs you’ll need an appropriate portfolio. Then either sign yourself up for an internship at an established studio or use your people skills to network with other musicians.
So, there you have it. Session musicians make more than newly qualified teachers. Producers can earn more than the person who runs your local supermarket. And foley artists get paid more than bank managers to play with bubble wrap all day. Real music jobs for real money. And there are so many more music jobs to explore. Who’s laughing now?