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So you want to work in music? The first thing to realise is that loving music isn’t the same as loving working in music.
The common view of the music business is a life of crazy parties, hanging out with celebrities and free tickets to any gig you want to. And honestly… well it can be a bit like that, but they aren’t just givens as soon as you get your first admin assistant job at a label. Free tickets are often limited, even if the artist is on your company’s roster, and the parties and bars are probably going to be work events, so you can’t just cut loose. A decent piece of advice to remember is: free bars are optional, not challenges!
But the music industry is still notoriously more relaxed than others. Nine o’clock starts are rare, there’s usually a stock of beer in every office and you get a load of behind the scenes information on your favourite artists. But working in music has to be your passion. The hours can be gruelling. If your artist calls on a Sunday to tell you their gardener trimmed their shrubs too short, it’s your job to listen them out. If it’s eleven at night and tour artwork still isn’t finished for a morning announcement, you’re probably in for a long night.
And because working in music has to be a passion, companies can get away with paying entry employees a bit less than other industries might. People will take less pay if it means getting a foot in the door. But no job is perfect – if you’re eyeing up a career in music, then banking probably wouldn’t be for you no matter the money – and the perks will more than offset the negatives.
Still interested, but not sure how to break into the industry? Let’s have a look at how music business degrees can help you.
What Is A Music Business Degree?
A lot of people don’t realise that working in music encompasses a great deal of things. Agency work can be a lot of admin, marketing is often a bit more creative and some managers hardly ever sit in an office. This is great, it means that there’s a side of the music industry for everyone, but it’s important to work out where exactly you want to work.
Do you know PPL from PRS? Would you prefer the live industry or recorded? And exactly how does copyright work if you want to sample a song?
These are the kinds of things that you’ll learn on a music business degree, the ins and outs of the day to day life working in music. ACM’s Music Business & Innovation route runs a three year course in London and an accelerated two year course at the Guildford and Birmingham campuses. Their main objective is to provide students with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to embark on sustainable careers on the business side of the real music industry.
But music business degrees aren’t just invaluable for what they offer you in lectures and tutorials. You’ll meet classes of like-minded people who are looking to get the same start you are. Don’t view your classmates as competition, there’ll be enough of that when you’re applying for jobs. Use your time studying to make contacts.
Due to the competitive nature of the music industry, you need to find any edge you can. One good way of doing this is to apply for internships. Lots of companies run these, but the downside is that they can be just as competitive to get into as some jobs, only you don’t need as much experience. Studying a music business degree can be a good way of putting you ahead of the competition. It shows that you’re committed to working in the music industry, as well as having a load of knowledge that other applicants might not.
Music business degree courses will often have contacts inside the industry to help give you hand. However, you need to realise that this doesn’t mean you will just be handed an internship. It’s also best to get started while you’re still studying so that you can hit the ground running when you have the time to apply for a full time job. If possible you should find multiple internships, as they often run for only a few weeks or months at a time. This will ensure you have as much experience as possible, as well as a better idea of exactly what kind of jobs you want to work for.
Starting Your Own Business
Working for someone else isn’t for everyone. It can be a more secure way of entering the music industry, but it also means that you will start right at the bottom and might be fetching coffee and the mail. Starting your own business means that you’ll still be getting the coffee and the mail, but it’ll just be for you.
Music business degrees, while more specialised than most business degrees, will also teach you the basics of what you’ll need to know to set your own company up. How to manage your finances, the law behind the industry and how to set up a business plan, all of these things are key. And if you need a bit of money to get going, there’s a lot of help and options available.
The music industry can be a dream come true, but only if you’re willing to work hard. Your first job might not be working for BRIT award winning artists, but that doesn’t mean you won’t discover the next Beyonce, one day. Remember, everyone in the industry started at the bottom, so ask for advice and guidance where you can, you’ll be surprised how much people want to help.