Church Choir Director

Also known as a minister of music, this person conducts the church choir, coordinates rehearsals, plans the choir budget, etc.

  • Job Scenarios: Employed in a church.
  • Salary: Between $20,000 – $70,000.

Church Organist/Pianist

Musician who accompanies a congregation or church choir.

  • Job Scenarios: Churches and other sacred religious institutions.
  • Salary: The American Guild of Organists’ recommended salaries in 2012 for full-time church musicians with a master’s degree was in the range of $55,000 – $72,000. It really depends on the budget of the church.


An expert who is invited to direct part or all of a conference about music. Common clinicians include composers, conductors, performers, educators, and music marketing specialists.

  • Job Scenarios: As an individual being hired to conduct seminars, lectures, clinics, etc.
  • Salary: Based on each individual engagement (usually can charge several thousand per clinic).

Concert Music Composer

Writes music for acoustic and electro-acoustic mediums, usually in classical or contemporary genres. Differs from commercial music compositions in that it is specifically written as a stand-alone work or as an incidental stage work (like in opera) and not as a backdrop for films, video games, or commercials.

  • Job Scenarios: Almost entirely freelance with payments based on royalties and commissions. Many concert music composers making livings simultaneously in commercial music or as a higher education teacher. Some composers make money being “in-residence” with a professional ensemble.
  • Salary: Varies widely, depending on the status of the composer.

Concert Promoter

Individual or company that is responsible for organizing a tour or performance. Typically reaches out to artists via an artist’s manager, but this is not always the case

  • Job Scenario: Working for a musical artist, or for a special event for an organization (like a large charity concert).
  • Salary: Usually depends on the success of the show they put together, including how many tickets are sold and what advertising deals were able to be put into place. Some concert promoters make $1,000,000+ (this is, however, the absolute top promoters).


A director who provides visible gestures as performance instructions to an orchestra.

  • Job Scenario: Although the most visible place for conductors is in an orchestra, the majority of orchestras do not pay well (although some, like the Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Diego Symphony, obviously do). The majority of conducting jobs are available through music colleges and institutions.
  • Salary: Varies widely, with some assistant conductors in major orchestras making $70,000/yr. and some widely known music directors making $600,000+.

Commercial Jingle Composer

Someone who writes the background music for a commercial typically lasting anywhere from 15 seconds (standard) to one minute (long).

  • Job Scenario: Usually commercial jingle composers are freelance, but sometimes are represented by major agencies such as Air & Edelman Associates in New York.
  • Salary: $100 – $8,000 per jingle.

Cruise Ship Performer

Performing for extended periods of time with a band on a cruise ship.

  • Job Scenario: On a cruise ship. Many musicians will personally audition for the cruise ship staff itself or will go through an agency connecting cruise ships to musicians, like


Taking a composer’s handwritten score and engraving it into a professional computer notation program such as Finale or Sibelius.

  • Job Scenarios: Mostly freelance, although there is a need for a expert engravers at top music publishing companies.
  • Salary: Around $35,000 – $45,000 annually for a full-time position (Simply Hired).

Ensemble / Music Direction

Starts and / or runs a musical ensemble, orchestra, etc. Could simultaneously act as the conductor of the ensemble.

  • Job Scenarios: Starting a musical ensemble, like Bang On a Can or the International Contemporary Ensemble. Could also be conducting and directing a music ensemble, like an orchestra.
  • Salary: If you are just starting out with your own ensemble, expect many years of not making too much money. If you are the music director of a major orchestra, you could be paid into the millions. So, there is quite a lot of disparity for this position.

Event Planner (Music)

Someone who plans out any large-scale event involving music. Could be a music festival, a music competition, a ceremony involving music, a concert charity event, and more.

  • Job Scenario: As an independent consultant or working with an event planning firm.
  • Salary: Median is $45,000 (US News)

Film Composer

Commercial music composer who specifically works to make music as the background for film and television.

  • Job Scenarios: Working as a contractor with independent and major film and television studios.
  • Salary Examples:

Television: 30-minute episode: $2,000 – $5,000+ (Average)

Television: 60-minute episode: $4,000 – $10,000+ (Average)

Made-for-Television Movie: $15-60k

Independent Film: $4,000 – $110,000 (based on budget)

Major Studio film: $50,000 – $1.5 million+