How to Get a Job in the Music Industry

Man working a job in the music industry

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Despite what some people may try to tell you, there's no magic bullet when it comes to getting a job in the music industry. In this day and age, the business is so large and complex, you may have trouble getting noticed. Your best shot at getting work in the music business is to move to an area where the music industry is a major employer, like Los Angeles, New York City, or Nashville.

But if you're determined to make your mark in your hometown, in addition to hard work and hustle, there are a few ways you can increase your chances of being hired in the music business. Here are a few suggestions.

Create a Job

Many people get their start in the music industry just by doing their own thing. Let's say you want to be a promoter. Don't wait around for a promotion company to hire you. Find some local musicians, arrange a few shows for them, do a good job of promoting them, and make connections with other local musicians who want the same treatment.

From there, it's your choice if you want to keep doing the indie thing or if you want to parlay your experience into a slot at a promotion company or with a more established individual promoter. And yes, this course of action can be repeated for just about any musical profession.

Be Flexible

So let's say in the above example, our promoter can't find any promotion work, and no one in town is playing any music he can convince people to buy a ticket to see. Maybe he should shift his focus somewhat. Perhaps there's a record store that needs a product buyer for the genre of music he knows the best. That might be his "in." While working at the record store, he will get to know label reps and people from the local music scene.

If there's no record store in your town, try finding venues: clubs or concert halls where you could work the door, or tend bar. Music clubs are where the action really happens anyway, so any foot-in-the-door opportunity will introduce you to people you want to make connections with.

Get an Internship

Some large music companies make internships available only to college students, but others are open to all applicants; don't assume your chances are over if you've graduated or are no longer in school. Another method that works especially well with indie music companies is to just approach them and offer your services. Some companies may have never thought about hiring an intern; they may let you come by, make some coffee and stuff some envelopes just to observe what the biz is like. Work hard, pay attention, and this could be your big break.

Job Listings

Many music industry jobs are filled through word of mouth, but you can find out about openings and how to apply on company websites. If you can score a human resource person's name, see if she would grant you an exploratory interview at least.

Since hard work and creativity are required to be successful in the music industry, it's not surprising that those very traits are required to get a foot in the door. Make contacts when- and wherever you can and never be too proud to get any kind of music industry experience or pass up any chance to study how the business works. While no guarantee you'll land a job, taking these steps will only increase your chances of getting noticed by those who make hiring decisions.