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Become A Musician

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Working As A Musician

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Musician Do

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. They perform in a variety of styles, such as classical, jazz, opera, hip-hop, and rock.

Duties

Musicians and singers typically do the following:

  • Perform music for live audiences and recordings
  • Audition for positions in orchestras, choruses, bands, and other types of music groups
  • Practice playing instruments or singing to improve their technique
  • Rehearse to prepare for performances
  • Find locations for performances or concerts
  • Travel, sometimes great distances, to performance venues
  • Promote their careers by maintaining a website or social media presence or doing photo shoots and interviews

Musicians play one or more instruments. To make themselves more marketable, many musicians become proficient in multiple musical instruments or styles.

Musicians play in bands, orchestras, or small groups. Those in bands may play at weddings, private parties, clubs, or bars while they try to build enough fans to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Some musicians work as part of a large group of musicians who must work and practice together, such as an orchestra. A few musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals.

Others musicians are session musicians, who specialize in playing backup for a singer or band leader during recording sessions and live performances.

Singers perform vocal music in a variety of styles. Some specialize in a particular vocal style, such as opera or jazz; others perform in a variety of musical genres. Singers, particularly those who specialize in opera or classical music, may perform in different languages, such as French or Italian. Opera singers act out a story by singing instead of speaking the dialogue. Some singers become background singers, providing vocals to harmonize or support a lead singer.

In some cases, musicians and singers write their own music to record and perform. For more information about careers in songwriting, see the profile on music directors and composers.

Some musicians and singers give private music lessons to children and adults. Others with a background in music may teach music in public and private schools, but they typically need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. For more information, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

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How To Become A Musician

There are no postsecondary education requirements for musicians or singers interested in performing popular music. However, many performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Education

There are no postsecondary education requirements for those interested in performing popular music. Many musicians and singers of classical music and opera have a bachelor’s degree in music theory or performance. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants are typically required to submit recordings or audition in person, and sometimes, must do both.

Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles, and teach methods for improving their instrumental and vocal technique and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also teach courses in diction, which help students perform opera in foreign languages.

Some musicians and singers choose to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts or music.

Training

Musicians and singers need extensive and prolonged training and practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to interpret music at a professional level. They typically begin singing or learning to play an instrument by taking lessons and classes when they are at a young age. In addition, they must practice often to develop their talent and technique.

Musicians and singers interested in performing classical music may seek additional training through music camps and fellowships. These programs provide participants with classes, lessons, and performance opportunities.

Important Qualities

Dedication. Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers need determination and dedication to continue to audition after receiving many rejections.

Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must constantly practice and rehearse to improve their technique, style, and performances.

Interpersonal skills. Musicians and singers need to work well with a variety of people, such as agents, music producers, conductors, and other musicians. Good people skills are helpful in building good working relationships.

Musical talent. Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.

Physical stamina. Musicians and singers who play in concerts or in nightclubs and those who tour must be able to endure frequent travel and irregular performance schedules.

Promotional skills. Musicians and singers need to promote their performances through local communities, word of mouth, and social media. Good self-promotional skills are helpful in building a fan base.

Advancement

As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers.

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Musician Demographics

Gender

Male

70.0%

Female

18.6%

Unknown

11.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.6%
Show More
Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

49.5%

French

16.9%

German

8.1%

Portuguese

3.7%

Italian

3.2%

Russian

2.5%

Mandarin

2.1%

Japanese

2.1%

Chinese

1.9%

Arabic

1.6%

Polish

1.4%

Tagalog

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Korean

0.9%

Norwegian

0.9%

Ukrainian

0.7%

Greek

0.7%

Swedish

0.5%

Danish

0.5%

Dari

0.5%
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Musician Education

Schools

Berklee College of Music

18.8%

Full Sail University

10.1%

University of North Texas

6.8%

University of Phoenix

5.5%

Columbia College Chicago

4.4%

New York University

4.3%

Temple University

4.1%

Florida State University

4.1%

Musicians Institute

4.0%

The Academy

3.7%

Texas State University

3.7%

University of Southern California

3.7%

University of Texas at Austin

3.6%

University of Miami

3.5%

Northwestern University

3.4%

Michigan State University

3.4%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.4%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.2%

Liberty University

3.2%

University of Central Florida

3.0%
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Majors

Music

37.0%

Business

9.7%

General Education, Specific Areas

8.5%

Music Performance

4.8%

Communication

4.3%

Psychology

4.0%

Education

3.1%

Entertainment Business

3.1%

English

3.0%

Computer Science

2.4%

Fine Arts

2.4%

General Studies

2.3%

Graphic Design

2.1%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Photography

2.0%

Marketing

1.9%

Liberal Arts

1.9%

Engineering

1.9%

History

1.8%

Electrical Engineering

1.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.9%

Other

29.3%

Masters

13.4%

Associate

8.7%

Certificate

3.7%

Doctorate

1.4%

Diploma

1.3%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$80,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$37,000
Min 10%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$173,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Carnival
Highest Paying City
Brooklyn Center, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
5.2 years
How much does a Musician make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Musician in the United States is $80,930 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $37,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $173,000.

Real Musician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Musician Diva Jazz Orchestra Ltd. New York, NY Jan 18, 2010 $208,700
Musician Diva Ltd. New York, NY Jan 10, 2010 $208,700
Musician Diva Jazz Orchestra Ltd. New York, NY Sep 20, 2013 $208,700
Musician Diva Jazz Orchestra Ltd. New York, NY Jan 18, 2012 $208,700
Musician Diva Ltd. New York, NY Dec 11, 2009 $208,700
Musician Diva Jazz Orchestra Ltd. New York, NY Dec 11, 2009 $208,700
Musician Jayarvee, Inc. New York, NY Jun 01, 2013 $156,525
Singer/Musician Wildboar Productions LLC New York, NY Nov 10, 2014 $125,220
Musician International Musicians League New York, NY Feb 01, 2015 $104,350 -
$146,090
Musician International Musicians League New York, NY Mar 01, 2015 $104,350
Instrumental Musician/Violist San Diego Symphony San Diego, CA Dec 21, 2009 $102,409
Musician and Singer Cooper Gary Production LLC Oklahoma City, OK Jun 06, 2016 $96,983
Orchestral Musician-Section Violin Irving Symphony Association Irving, TX Oct 09, 2014 $75,132
Musicians & Singers Beverly Hills Event Center, Inc. DBA Camden House Beverly Hills, CA Jun 06, 2008 $65,281
Musicians & Singers Beverly Hills Event Center, Inc. DBA Camden House Beverly Hills, CA Jan 23, 2009 $65,281
Musicians, Instrumental Hoff-Barthelson Music School Scarsdale, NY Jun 10, 2008 $62,610
Musicians and Singers University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND Dec 14, 2012 $60,091
Musician Waxy O'Connors Irish Pub San Antonio, TX Feb 11, 2016 $56,638
Musician American Balalaika Symphony Arlington, VA Oct 01, 2010 $56,000
Musician American Balalaika Symphony Arlington, VA Oct 01, 2010 $55,058
Musicians and Singers Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ Aug 14, 2013 $44,700
Musician House of God Miracles Revival Fellowship Inc. Miami, FL May 01, 2014 $44,495
Musicians, Instrumental Dion Corporation D/B/A Rafina New York, NY Feb 10, 2011 $44,349 -
$45,392
Musician & Singers Caspian Catering Inc. Irvine, CA Mar 07, 2011 $43,389
Musicians and Singers Kinder Spanish Inc. Greensboro, NC Aug 15, 2014 $41,740 -
$62,610
Musician Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Inc. Tulsa, OK Oct 01, 2013 $39,403
Chamber Musician Alabama Symphonic Association Birmingham, AL Oct 01, 2012 $38,058

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Top Skills for A Musician

  1. Bass Guitar
  2. Live Performances
  3. Special Events
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Play musical instruments for various services (piano, drums, guitar, bass guitar, etc.)
  • Performed booking, marketing and promotional representation along with live performances.
  • Worked here as a piano player assisting with playing services, special events and help with arranging rehearsals for these events.
  • Provide keyboards, original or arranged material and vocal arrangements, subcontracting additional musicians as needed.
  • Provided accompaniment for church choirs and other musicians participating in Sunday worship services.

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Top 10 Best States for Musicians

  1. New York
  2. Minnesota
  3. Georgia
  4. California
  5. Texas
  6. New Jersey
  7. Washington
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Florida
  • (3 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)

Top Musician Employers

Jobs From Top Musician Employers

Musician Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Musician/ Drummer by Nathan Curran (Tuggy) (Highlights)

Career Advice on becoming a Musician/ Drummer by Nathan Curran (Tuggy) (Full Version)

Career Advice on becoming a Musician/ Viola Player by Clare F (Highlights)

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