Typical conservatory education tells students that there are usually two paths to success with a music degree.
The first path is getting a job in an orchestra or professional ensemble (or cast, for musical theater majors). The second path is teaching, either in a high school or university, the latter of which actually requires an additional two degrees on top of a Bachelor’s in most instances.
The very best path, according to most conservatories’ ideals, is playing in an ensemble and teaching simultaneously. Having a chamber group on the side is a big plus.
While this career path can be exceptionally rewarding to those who are passionate about the vocations of teaching and performing in orchestras, the reality is that there are many, many more options that are available to those who have a music degree.
In fact, whether you can believe it or not, there are over 70+ exceptional and yes, lucrative careers you can pursue with a music degree.
That’s right – over 70(!) careers are available to those with a music degree. I bet you never knew that.
It’s true that some of these careers might require functional knowledge outside of the core requirements of your music degree and possibly even require a specialized degree. For example, if you want to get a job as a grant writer for a music organization, working as an intern at a non-profit arts organization could provide you with the necessary skills for learning how to write grants. Also, taking a grant-writing class at your university could assist tremendously.
So let’s get into it. Here are 70+ careers, listed alphabetically, that are available for musicians who have successfully graduated with a music degree.
The Careers & Salaries, Listed Alphabetically
Provides high-level personal and administrative support to an A&R (Artists & Repertoire) Representative.
- Job Scenarios: Working with an A&R representative for a record label or artist management company.
Scouts talent for record labels to sign to recording contracts.
- Job Scenarios: Working for a record label or artist management company.
- Salary: $25,000 – $85,000
Performing in collaboration with an ensemble. Not entirely different from being a collaborative pianist.
- Job Scenarios: Accompanying students in different music schools, ensemble auditionees, church choirs and congregations, dance classes, concerto rehearsals, and with other musicians in a collaborative setting.
- Salary: Typically by the hour, usually between $30-75/hr.
Individual who books gigs for an artist or band/ensemble using relationships with clients such as club owners.
- Job Scenario: Working directly with an artist or an artist management company.
- Salary: Usually a commission of what the artist makes at the show, around 15%. A full-time agent can make great money in this profession, with the top agents in the world making millions.
Alexander Technique Instructor (Music)
Instructor who works with musicians showing them how to normalize levels of physical and mental tension in their performing.
- Job Scenarios: Usually as an independent instructor.
- Salary: Not very much data is available for this career, but a successful and active clinician in this field can make $40,000 – $70,000+.
Music apps are exceptionally popular and always need consulting, testing, and / or development from actual musicians.
- Job Scenario: As an app developer or working on an app with another company, either a start-up or established business.
- Salary: Employed app developers typically make between $80,000 – $100,000 (Mashable)
Musical reconceptualization. In other words, it can range from orchestrating a composer’s piano score to developing and reharmonizing a composer’s melody or song.
- Job Scenarios: Many professional film composers have arrangers on their staff in order to complete a film score quickly. In jazz, we see people like Gordon Goodwin and Christian McBride making clever arrangements for big bands.
Negotiates business deals on behalf of the artist. Also has input on the creative and marketing ends of an artist.
- Job Scenarios: Either independently or with an artist management company such as Columbia Artists Management.
- Salary: Up to 50% of what the artist makes.
Performs tasks for an arts organization. Can be as simple as basic clerical duties or as advanced as grant-writing and events planning.
- Job Scenarios: Working in an arts organization. Some established arts organizations with large arts administration staffs include major orchestras and creative venues like the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
- Salary: Between $30,000 and $50,000, with opportunities for advancement into higher positions in the organization.
Audio production specialist concerned with how sound is manipulated, recorded, and mixed in an audio recording. For someone specializing in acoustic sound, please see sound / acoustic engineer below.
- Job Scenarios: As a freelance recording engineer, in a college/university recording studio, in a commercial recording studio, etc.
A journalist, writer, or commentator who writes about a specific subject and sells products, memberships, and advertising space on their websites.
- Job Scenarios: Honestly, you should start your own blog if you want to get paid well – writing articles for other people exclusively does not usually lend itself to a lucrative blogging career, unless you get a job at a place like Rolling Stone Magazine. Get a domain and hosting space from either BlueHost or GoDaddy, download a premium theme from Themeforest, and you are good to go.
- Salary: $0 – $100,000+ (It sounds crazy, but I know bloggers, albeit usually in other spaces, that make around a half million a year).
Oversees the “airchain,” or the complete path of an a/v signal from origin to destination, for a television or radio station. Requires a background in audio engineering and possibly knowledge in electrical engineering.
- Job Scenario: Employed by a television company or radio station, or as an independent contractor.
Starts and/or oversees the day-to-day operations of a music business, including a performing arts venue, nightclub, music store.
- Job Scenarios: Overseeing various music businesses, such as record labels, clubs, performing arts centers, etc.
- Salary: $45,000 – $150,000+ (higher if you are an executive director)
Performer in a classical chamber ensemble, either performing in an already established ensemble or starting up your own ensemble.
- Job Scenario: Traditionally, chamber musicians would play recitals with acoustic instrument groups in concert halls. Today, the scene is rapidly changing, with many groups performing amplified in “downtown venues.” Some traditional chamber ensembles include the Guarneri String Quartet, the Canadian Brass Ensemble, etc. Less traditional and more innovative groups include the Kronos Quartet and the young entrepreneurial ensemble Groupmuse.
- Salary: Varies tremendously based on a number of factors. Many chamber music groups make money in academic residencies, performing various gigs and weddings, merchandising their brand, selling cds, etc.
Want to know the true step-by-step method for attaining the music career of your dreams? Check out How to Start a Music Career – The Ultimate Guide.