What does a Musician do?

Median Pay $26.96 per hour
Growth Rate 6%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A musician is an entertainer. They perform for crowds or audiences by playing instruments or singing. They can by found playing in night clubs, weddings, events, or concerts. Many aspire to securing an agent to represent them or to land a recording contract. Many musicians master several instruments to become more marketable and flexible.

Watch a Video:

How to Become a Musician

band musicians playing

A musician would need a high school diploma and although no postsecondary requirements may be needed, most musicians’ hold at least a bachelor’s degree, especially if one plans to specialize in teaching music or working professionally as a musician. Long-term experience is gained through on-the-job training.

Job Description of a Musician

Musicians perform for live audiences or in recording studios. They may also concentrate in different styles (for instance rap, hip hop, rock, jazz, classical, country, folk etc). They gain experience through playing in bands, small groups or orchestras and through becoming proficient in several styles of music and musical instruments. They build-up a popular reputation by playing at clubs, weddings or other places and gain a following of fans in order to reach the goal of signing a recording contract or gain agent representation. Constant practice and attending auditions would be needed and working at securing their own performances while waiting for an agent to arrange appointments for them.

A musician markets themselves by giving interviews or attending a social media function and also, maintaining a web-site. Some musicians, called session musicians, play as back-up during concerts or in recording studios. A musician may write his or her own music in order to gain an original style and faithful fans. They are often required to travel, sometimes, long distances in order to perform or get work. A musician could also teach musical instruments in school if they obtain the required teaching education and/or certification. Some musicians give private lessons to clients too.

Musician Career Video Transcript

Music is a universal form of self-expression. Musicians and singers convey a culture’s musical traditions and create new forms as well. An ear, or talent, for music often shows up early in life. While vocal training for singers usually begins in later teen years when the voice matures, musicians can start learning an instrument even sooner. For those who specialize in classical or jazz music, it’s typical to take formal instruction, such as studying with a “master” or earning a bachelors or master’s degree in music.

Many musicians working in popular music genres, like hip hop, rock, and folk, are self-taught. Musicians and singers need a great deal of skill, tenacity, and sometimes luck to earn a living from music. While they may find work through competitive auditions, most need to promote themselves to find consistent work. Gigs, or performances, are often scheduled in the evenings, weekends, or holidays and can require travel away from home.

Musicians and singers often teach, or hold another “day job” to support a performing career. Offering lessons and performing for different venues is a form of self-employment. Financial and business experience or classes can be helpful for managing the business side of a self-employed music career. While a music career isn’t an easy one, for many, the joy of performing more than makes up for the sacrifices the art demands.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Musicians and Singers.

The career video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.