Your child wants to work in the music industry - now what? Many parents worry about their children hitching their wagons to the music industry because they're concerned they won't find secure jobs, make enough money to support themselves or get serious about life. The reason for many of these concerns is that the music industry is a great unknown to many parents. When your child tells you they want to work in the music business, your mental picture may go to Spinal Tap-esque stereotypes and not much else.
The good news is that the music industry can be a viable goal for your child if they are dedicated to working hard. With your support, they can thrive there as they would in any other industry. Check out these common questions parents ask when their kids want to work in music for the answers to some of your biggest concerns.
This topic is a tricky one. In terms of getting a job in the music industry, experience is what really matters, and it is true that many people working in the music industry don't have a college degree. That isn't a hard and fast rule - some industry jobs do require a degree, such as working for a major label. On one hand, the question of college comes down to what exactly your child's goals are. It may not be required.
That is, it may not be required to get certain industry jobs, but it might be required by you, and that is OK. A college degree offers a good back-up plan and gives your child something to fall back on while they are trying to break into the industry. In terms of the music industry, the major doesn't matter so much, but subject areas in the arts or business related courses can both be helpful.
What about music business degree programs? These can be good as well, but judge the programs carefully. Look for schools that have a strong track record of internship placements and have faculty with actual industry experience. These programs will be most valuable to your child.
While in school, encourage your child to get as much hands-on experience as possible. Encourage internships plus getting involved with the music community on their college campus. These are the things that will make their resumes strong. A degree alone will not cut it.
The music industry is highly competitive, and your child will likely face having to work for free or for very low pay to get a foot in the door. That is the reality - however, remember, that experience isn't exclusive to the music industry. Many people who are trying to break into the music industry work second jobs to support themselves while they are paying their dues and looking for a good music related opportunity, so have a conversation with your child about their ability to commit to that kind of schedule.
However, once they DO get into the business, sure, they can make money. There is a vast middle class in the music business - people who don't make millions but make enough money to support themselves and their families. Like any industry, the music business is subject to highs and lows based on any number of internal and external economic factors, and these highs and lows can affect employment and wages.
To work on the business side of the music industry, there's one thing that trumps all else - experience. As previously stated, employers may or may not require a college degree, but experience always carries the most weight.
If your child is intent on working in a specific role in the industry - for instance, they know they want to be a manager - then of course experience like interning with a manager is a great thing for them to have under their belt. However, any and all experience is a good thing - working at the college radio station, promoting shows for the local club, being a runner at a label - it all counts.
Why does experience count so much? The music industry is highly competitive, but many people trying to gain entrance have a skewed idea about what music industry work is like. They aren't prepared for the long hours and hard work that is really required to succeed - they buy into the "swimming pools and movie stars" Hollywood version of the story. That means that companies are always bringing people on board who aren't really there to work - and that costs them time and money. The more experience your child can put on your resume, the more that resume will say, "I get what it means to work in music, and I really want to do this."
If you live in a place where music industry experience isn't forthcoming, encourage your child to get active creating their own opportunities. They can contact to local paper to see if they can do some music reviews, organize a battle of the bands showcase, approach local musicians and volunteer to run their social networking sites - this kind of ingenuity and self-starter attitude is prized in the music industry and will look great on their resumes.
Here's the tough part - finding the job. In this competitive industry, your child will need to have several irons in the fire at once when it comes time for them to seek their first job. Here are a few things they should be doing:
- Monitor company websites for job openings
- Monitor music industry specific job portals, like Music Jobs, for openings
- If they go to college, using their university job placement center, internship center and/or professors. Even if they didn't do a music specific degree, they should approach professors in the music department for advice.
- Asking contacts made through work experience/internships for advice about any openings and for referrals to companies who may need help.
In many ways, applying for a music job isn't different from applying for any first job. However, word of mouth goes far in the music business - another reason experience matters so much. Those contacts can be invaluable.
If your child reaches the point where they need to apply for jobs and they don't have any contacts, now is the time to start making some. They can start by introducing themselves to anyone local who is involved in music, and they should also reach out to music industry professionals online via email or social networking sites. They won't always get a response, but it just takes one person to take interest to make a difference.
5. Is The Music Industry REALLY a Serious Career Choice for My Child?
I'm not offended you ask. My parents wonder(ed?) the same thing. But in a word - YES! The job description may include things that might seem like social occassions - going to shows, going to the studio, going on tour - but being involved in these things from a work perspective is much different from having a night out. The music industry is a business - period. Whether your child ends up working in the independent music world or the major label music world, they will be expected to work long hours in a highly competitive work environment and to achieve measurable successes under difficult circumstances. They may get to wear jeans and Converse to work, but they doesn't mean they are working any less their friends who have to wear a suit and tie.
The product may be music, but ultimately, your child will experience working life like anyone else. They'll have long hours, the potential for advancement if they perform well, the potential for dismissal if they don't, good bosses, bad bosses, troublesome clients - you know, standard stuff. They will definitely get some cool perks, but trust me, they'll earn them.
Music and/or working with music is a legitimate talent. If your child has it, then the music industry has a legitimate, serious career for them.