Interested in working in the Music Industry?

This week Chief’s nephew Branden aka “Biebs” came into the office for a full week of work experience. His goals are to work in the music industry after graduating high school next year. Together we worked on a Q&A for someone like himself who is at an entry level wondering what it takes to work in the music business. I thought this may be valuable to other readers out there. So, enjoy!

Q: Are there any pre-requisites to looking for work in the music industry?

A: Some experience and or schooling is definitely encouraged. I took a two year Arts & Entertainment Management Diploma which taught me all of the basics of the industry. Included in this program was an 8 month internship where I was able to gain hands on experience at a local record label. If your city doesn’t have any A&E post secondary programs, and you are not willing to relocate to a music city that does; I would advise that you apply for an internship (working for free to gain experience) at a local company like a live venue, radio station, or summer festival that will gain you some industry knowledge. Getting at least 4-8 months experience is key before you would expect to be hired on. Also if you are looking at working in the industry long term, I would suggest considering moving to a city that has a lot of options for you, such as Vancouver, Toronto, Nashville, LA or NY.

Q: Many people say the music industry is dying, is it worth it for a new gen person to come in and try to implement themselves in the industry and try to make a career out of it?

A: Absolutely, there may be less record labels these days, but there are new companies that have came out of the “industry change” such as Twitter, Soundcloud, Tunecore etc. These are the companies which are now providing this new gen opportunity for employees. Things will also continue to change, but there will always be the next thing in the industry and jobs available in some aspect.

Q: The music business has many different branches, which one is the most financially stable? 

A: I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. Whether you work in financial management, booking agent, tour managing, labels, radio or management. Everyone has to start somewhere, you may only get hired at minimum wage to begin but there is a great opportunity for success in all aspects as long as you work hard, put in the time and are driven.

Q: How difficult is it finding work? 

A: Finding work can be a combination of a few things; being at the right place at the right time, having your education and work experience background, being hard working and having the right personality for the industry and knowing the right people to help you get a job. Regardless it may take some time but you will find the right thing if you put in a solid effort, if you have all of the above your chances of finding work will be much easier.

Q: Average hours?

A: Every day is different but the “9-5” is normal. However the job begins as soon as you wake up to the time you go to bed. That doesn’t mean I am working straight from 8am to midnight, but it’s not the kind of industry that stops when offices close. Most industry representatives are available for 10+ hours a day as a lot of our work is time sensitive and things need to be decided quickly and efficiently. So expect some solid hours as well as being available outside that time.

Q: Average age when you really begin your career in the music business?  

A: You can be 18 or 28 by the time you begin your career. I was lucky enough to get hired and have a career when I was 19, but everyone is different. All depends on what you do to get yourself into the business and at what age you have all of your experience and are ready to start your career.

Q:  Would work ever result in moving cities? 

A: Yes, again if you are not living in a big music hub, you would likely have to move to be in that environment. Or if you are working for a great company and making a name for yourself you could always get scouted by a big company elsewhere which would result to moving as well.

Q: Many people say its not what you do it’s who you know, is that true in most cases?

A: It’s definitely a bit of both, but you may know all the right people, but if you don’t do a good job it doesn’t matter who you know. If you can prove yourself as well as knowing the right people you will have a great chance of success. However, I didn’t start to “know anyone” until my internship. This is really where doors open for opportunities if you can show that you are a hard worker and being to make your own connections.

Q: Many people have this perception on how working in the music business is a glamorous life style, what is the life style really like? 

A: Certain aspects are glamourous. The free dinners, free shows, meet and greets, etc. However 90% of it is a lot of hard work, calling people, working on hundreds of emails every week, being very efficient and on top of your game. The industry has a big “to do” list at all times in an artists career and our job is making sure that nothing ever gets lost or behind.

Q: Could someone with not that strong of a musical background still find a way to get work?

EH: Yes, I know a lot of people who cannot hold a note, but make great industry employee. You don’t need to know music theory or play an instrument. However, having some musical background does help, but it’s not necessary.

If you are looking to become a tour manager for example, having experience doing lighting and sound would be a very beneficial tool for your career.

Q: What are some local school you know that offer any sort of music industry training?

A: Nimbus Recording Arts School, Capilano University, and BCIT.


If you have any additional questions about working in the music industry please comment on my Facebook or Twitter @MusicBoxAC or book a one hour consultation with me so I can give you more in depth help to any questions you may have.


Posted in: Music Consulting.