Should You Pursue a Career in Music? (and how to start)

Feeling the rhythm in your veins but unsure if you should make music your livelihood? You’re not alone. Deciding to pursue a career in music is like choosing between headlining Coachella and becoming the world’s most talented shower singer – both have their perks, but only one might pay the bills.

In this blog post, we’ll give you the lowdown on navigating the high notes and potential pitfalls of a career in music. Let’s find out if your playlist could be your paycheck.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Assess your passion and resilience; a music career thrives on relentless creativity and the ability to rebound from setbacks.
  • Diversify your skills and income sources; versatility fosters stability in a fluctuating industry landscape.
  • Network and utilize social media; connections and visibility are pivotal to launching and sustaining your career in music.

Is a Career in Music Right for You?

Pursuing a career in music is like setting sail on open waters. It’s an adventure that demands not just a love for the art but a lion’s heart for the challenges and the unknowns ahead. The first step? Taking a hard look at what fuels your fire. Is it passion or practicality that’s calling you to the music industry? If you wake up and fall asleep to the thought of melodies and harmonies, you’re on the right track. But remember, passion alone doesn’t pay the bills.

Then, there’s resilience. This industry isn’t for the faint-hearted. Rejection and uncertainty come with the territory, so a thick skin and a heart full of determination are your best allies. The question to ask yourself is, can you bounce back stronger after a setback?

One must also have a willingness to face industry challenges head-on. It’s not just about creating music; it’s about understanding the business side of it, too. Are you ready to learn constantly, network tirelessly, and innovate ceaselessly?

Understanding the Music Industry Landscape

The music industry is a vast and varied world, with numerous paths that one can take. From performing and composing to production and management, opportunities are as diverse as the genres of music itself. Knowing where you might fit in this diverse ecosystem is crucial.

For instance, if you’ve got a knack for storytelling, composing could be your niche. Or, if you’re fascinated by how songs are brought to life in the studio, then a career in production might be calling your name. And let’s not forget about music management, where you could shine the spotlight on budding artists, helping them navigate their careers.

But how do you figure out where you belong? Start by attending industry events and workshops, and don’t shy away from reaching out to professionals for informational interviews. Websites like SoundOnSound and Music Business Worldwide are treasure troves of information that can provide insights into the latest industry trends and career paths.

Preparing for Uncertainty: Stability in Music Careers

Ah, the million-dollar question: How do you find stability in a career known for its unpredictability? The answer lies in versatility and adaptability. Developing a versatile skill set is like having a Swiss Army knife in the music industry. It makes you valuable in more than one role and opens up multiple income streams. For example, a singer-songwriter who can also produce and mix their music doubles their employability.

Seeking stable income sources within the industry is another key strategy. This could mean diversifying your income with teaching music, offering online workshops, or even venturing into music writing for blogs and magazines.

Then there’s the reality of the gig-to-gig life. Embracing it rather than resisting it can make a world of difference. It’s about making each opportunity count and continuously networking to ensure the next gig is on the horizon. Moreover, setting up a financial safety net for leaner times is non-negotiable.

Here’s something you might not find on every blog: Licensing your music can be a unique and lucrative path to stability. Platforms like Music Vine and Artlist allow musicians to earn royalties each time their music is used in films, commercials, or online content, providing a steady income stream beyond album sales and live performances.

Choosing to pursue a career in music is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It requires a delicate balance between passion and practicality, a steadfast resilience, and an entrepreneurial spirit to navigate the uncertainties of the industry. But for those who feel the unmistakable call of music, it can be an immensely rewarding journey.

How to Kickstart Your Music Career

So, you’re passionate about music and wondering if you should take the plunge, right? Making a career out of your passion is a dream for many, but it’s no secret that the music industry can be tough to crack. Fear not; we’ve got you covered with some practical steps to kickstart your music career.

Building a Portfolio: Your music portfolio is essentially your resume. It showcases your talent, versatility, and style. Start by recording demos of your work. Quality matters, so invest in decent recording equipment or find a local studio. If you’re a songwriter, include a variety of genres to show your range. For performers, videos of live performances can add a dynamic element to your portfolio.

Networking: It’s not just about what you know, but also who you know. Networking is key in the music industry. Attend gigs, music conferences, and workshops. These are great places to meet other musicians, producers, and industry insiders. Don’t be shy to introduce yourself and express your passion for music. Remember, genuine connections often lead to opportunities.

Leveraging Social Media: Social media is a powerful tool for musicians. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube can help you reach a worldwide audience. Consistency is key. Post regular content that engages your audience, whether it’s behind-the-scenes peeks, snippets of new music, or live Q&A sessions. Use hashtags to increase your visibility and consider collaborating with other artists to expand your reach.

Formal Education vs. Self-Teaching: There’s a debate on whether formal music education is necessary. Truth be told, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. For some, music schools provide valuable training and networking opportunities. For others, self-teaching and online tutorials offer the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Consider your learning style and career goals when making this decision.

One tip that’s often overlooked? Understand the business side of music. Whether you’re looking to sign with a label or go independent, having a grasp on music rights, royalties, and contracts can save you from potential pitfalls down the line.

Building a Brand and a Fanbase

Creating music is one thing, but turning it into a sustainable career necessitates building a recognizable brand and a loyal fanbase.

Establishing Your Personal Brand

Your brand is what sets you apart from other musicians. It’s a combination of your music style, image, and how you communicate with your audience. To establish your brand, start by defining your unique selling points. Are you blending genres in a way no one else is? Is your story or background particularly compelling? Highlight these aspects in everything you do.

Growing Your Fanbase

Engage on Social Media: Interaction is key. Don’t just post about your music; engage with your followers. Reply to comments, host live sessions, and share moments from your personal life to create a deeper connection.

Utilize Streaming Platforms: Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are essential for reaching new listeners. Optimize your profile with a bio, photos, and links to your social media. Use their playlist submission features to try and get your music featured on popular playlists.

Perform Live: There’s no substitute for live performance. It allows you to connect with your audience on an emotional level and create memorable experiences. Even if you’re just starting, look for opportunities to perform at local venues or open mic nights.

Create a Mailing List: In today’s digital age, email might seem old-school, but it’s still one of the most effective ways to communicate with your fans. Use your website or social media to encourage people to sign up. You can share exclusive content, early access to tickets, or updates about new releases.

A unique strategy? Create a fan-driven content strategy. Encourage your fans to create their own content related to your music – be it cover versions, dance routines, or art – and share it on their profiles. Not only does this engage your existing fanbase, but it also introduces your music to a wider audience. Remember, your fans are your biggest promoters.

By following these steps, you’re not just making music; you’re crafting a career. It’s a journey of passion, perseverance, and continuous learning. But with hard work and a strategic approach, your dream of a career in music can become a reality. Keep pushing boundaries, and never stop creating.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!