Exploring Careers In Music


Want to discuss music careers. Something I and probably many of you are dreaming of, or currently have.

Is there any full time musicians in the house or anyone with a job that relates to music? Are you wanting to peruse a life as a fulltime artist? Are you currently grinding between producing and a dayjob? Do you think a happy career in music is achievable?

Please share your experiences, advice and thoughts.


I find sound/music is more fun when I’m oblivious to what I’m doing. I enjoy the exploration.

When I was younger, I wanted a career in music- now, I want to keep sound/art/music for me.


Would love to make some video game tracks. Did some that were used (and a short movie soundtrack a long time ago), but was non-profit, non-professional, on content-sharing websites like Newgrounds.


As I approach the age of mid life crisis, I do wonder what the hell I was thinking going into finance!

I’m not particularly gifted musically but I would’ve killed as being one of those guys who pick “trendy” soundtracks for movies/shows (Road Trip sort of soundtrack).

And I think I would’ve really enjoyed being a sound designer/engineer. I love the story of where the Jurassic Park’s T-Rex roar came from - the engineers dog (Jack Russell I think!).

Too cash dependant to change now but tinkering with music still brings enough joy.


I went to music school for both my Bachelor and Masters for Jazz studies (Upright bass). At the moment my main constant gig is teaching at a school and private lessons and then playing gigs as I find them.

I have a few friends that are able to make a living with just playing gigs, recording sessions, composing or producing but the majority of my friends usually have to have a day to day job like teaching.

From my experience an education in music is not required but it helps a lot. Being able to read music and understand theory is so important because often times one of the main requirements when you get hired as a studio session musician for a project is ‘sight reading’.

Most importantly, practice. If you want to get good at your instrument you need to invest daily hours in it practicing efficiently. And by practicing efficiently I mean finding out what you need to work on and work on that instead of just noodling on your instrument for a few hours. Once you are ready go out and play in front of people to get used to the experience of performing live and with other people.

Dont really have much experience as a working electronic musician or producer since I took it as a hobby but I hope my experience as a upright bassist might help you out.


Network network network…not only with those who are making a living the way you want to, but also with those in other creative disciplines, because they may well have interesting strategic business ideas which are not obvious in your line of work.


i hear that. Another reason to move where the networking is. Where I live, it’s pretty barren. LA is just 2 hours away…


To be at the right place at the right moment…
To be able to quit everything and move in another town/country…
To be Lucky …
To be Talented …
Work a lot (I mean really a lot)…
know how to surround yourself (from other people)…
Have a good vision of how music evolves (before the wind turn…)
Understand that music does not pay anymore but that live performances can pay…

Being smart enough to drop the thing (and let it become a hobbie) and do something else when it’s failing or better yet, drop his job when (finally) it’s possible to live from his music/performance


Pretty much sums it up, if your desired career in music is as an artist. It’s by far the hardest thing to accomplish in music (other than record label CEO maybe) and there is no formula other than be prepared to sacrifice all your time and energy to your chosen path (if you are lucky, or uber-talented you may not have to give it all away).

To the OP, there are many many other careers in the business though, that are less risky propositions. At the end of the day though, as it is in any business, only the top dogs make top dollar. And the average yearly earnings for someone in the music business is far lower than many other professions. Go ahead and dream of making 6 figures, but you’d be lucky to bring 75K a year in music after grinding for years. Study software engineering, and that’s basically your starting salary…not to mention bonuses etc.

of course…the beautiful thing about music…all it takes is one HIT $$$ :chart_with_upwards_trend:


HUGE help in this area is the book/audiobook “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.
His explanation of the INTERNAL decision to “go pro” is super insightful and strips away a lot of the romanticization of the art life–and that’s a good thing, not a sad thing. It gets you closer to where you want to be.


audio in games can be fun , varied , interesting , permanent or freelance , inhouse or out of house.
but also they’re at the end of production , so while the games are being wrapped up its usually long long hours and weekends as they wait for cinematics to be finalised and localisation dialogue to be recorded due to revisions in the script .

I dont do audio in games but ive seen them/worked with them… it can be doing music but can also be placing audio emitters in game environments , setting up foot step triggers … quite technical in addition to the actual ‘sound’ stuff… i’d recommend digging into Unreal4 in addition to pro tools etc.

theres also dialogue recording / mixing , foley recording , gun shots , water falls , rebound sounds , setting up reverb and occlusion volumes … quite varied.


making soundtracks for movies i would really like but never had the change to…same thing for games…sound installations (which i managed to do and it was nice :slight_smile: ) or even just produce an album once a year maybe? … any of those takes time and effort though and it’s hard to keep up if there’re bills to be paid at the end of the day, especially if those don’t get paid from what one makes with music. as @re5et mentions, it might not just be making music if you do that for games for instance and at the end of the day it’s a job…sure is though, i wouldn’t really mind knowing my main occupation has to do with making music, in any way that is :smile_cat: but for that i think @William_WiLD as some good points in there :slight_smile:


My advice to all the young peoples - get a college degree based on scholarships, master’s degree even if can swing for cheap enough, and enter a field with plentiful employment opportunities that pay decently with good benefits. Helps if you are in a country with good healthcare system. Also helps if it is a somewhat enjoyable and creative field. Enjoy what you do to earn money. There are jobs like this in gov and edu. Don’t go the stressful corporate route. Maintain a good work/life balance. Keep your head down and be a pro at work. Keep up with skills and continuing education. Don’t worry about climbing the ladder and kissing ass. Just be so good at what you do that you have control.

Save approximately 50-70% of your salary. When you get a raise, don’t give in to lifestyle inflation. Invest in simple pre-tax vehicles. Here in the US that means IRA’s, 403b’s, 457b’s, 401k’s, HSA’s, etc. Auto-invest in simple things like Vanguard total stock market (VTSAX) and little bit of Vanguard Total Bond fund. Keep it simple. Hands-off. Pile the money into these in good times and bad. Don’t sell. Become a minimalist. Live light. Live simply. Stay mobile. Enjoy the small things. Helps if you are content not having children. Dual-income no kids (DINK’s) high earners is a situation that is perfect for saving money. Stay.out.of.debt.

Make music in your spare time. If lucky you can also make music at work, or on lunch hours. Then, retire early. In your late 30’s or even early 40’s. Seems like it will never get here. But it definitely does. Then, make music full-time. Total creative freedom. No pressure. Afford any gear. Not all the gear, but pretty much any gear. More importantly you will have time and energy to devote to your art.

This is a very narrow lane, I know. There are a thousand excuses and also legitimate reasons why people can’t. Totally understandable. Not everyone can do this, for reasons beyond their control - health conditions for instance. But it can be done. Plenty have done it and are doing it. People usually shit all over this advice. But I don’t care. I’ll still say it anyways. Good luck young people. Don’t be the guy cleaning the studio bathrooms at 35 years old.


I make music for a living. I write music and sounds for pokies style apps on Facebook and used to work on the physical machines for a few years before that. If you want to make decent money from music I find it will often be from something like this or advertising as that’s where the people with money are.

I have played many gigs as a musician, composed for a bunch of short films and also composed for video games. The money you get from these projects is sparse and unreliable.


Sometimes the money you make is less than the money you spend. :cry:


I used to teach music technology in schools and also worked for a production and DJ academy running workshops and courses.

I’d like to eventually get into music therapy now I’m finished my psychology degree


I think people would be surprised at how little “successful” artists are actually making. Just because they are getting radio play and occasionally tour does not mean they don’t still work a 9-5.


Do what you love and the money … will need to be found somewhere else.

I agree with most of your points Bwax, but having children helps a lot with enjoying ‘the small things’ :wink:


I also DJ and perform out but it’s not a career. It’s a little money but that comes second to the enjoyment of playing.


I remember reading an article on Hot Chip not long after their last album came out. They’re a pretty well known act, certainly in the UK anyway (and put on one hell of a live show).

The guys weren’t complaining about things but stating facts - despite success and critical acclaim the most one of them could afford was a 1 bed flat somewhere in London (I’m not talking about one of those mega expensive flats here). Basically, without regular touring they’d be struggling.

Got me thinking. If they can’t manage to live off cd sales and success then it must be a crazy small portion of the charts that could.