10 Top Careers In The Music Industry 

We explore some of the most exciting careers in the music business…

Careers in the music industry encompass a huge range of skills, expertise and specialist knowledge. 

While the most ostensible jobs in the music business may belong to those who either perform or write music, there’s a whole world full of opportunities that goes on behind the scenes and helps bring music to fans.  

From studio engineers to music publicists via booking agents and music tutors, every role keeps the heart of the music industry ecosystem beating. To land one of these jobs, you’ll need to gain the requisite qualifications and experience, be prepared to work hard and be ready to seize any opportunity that arises with both hands.  

But while you need to hone your skills, the UK music industry is one in good health with plenty of career routes available. Covid-19 aside, the music economy contributed £5.2bn to the wider UK economy in 2018. In the same year, global recorded music revenues increased by almost 10 percent, making it the fourth consecutive year of growth. Let’s explore the top 10 music industry careers helping contribute to this success below. 

1. Music Producer 

Music recording sessions are the domain of the music producer. They will usually organise every aspect of a recording, working directly with artists and bands alongside a recording engineer. Their role can change depending on who they’re recording with. Sometimes, it can be a very hands-on approach to the creative process, contributing to songwriting or arranging. On other sessions, they may just be hired to record the performances without any creative input in the mechanics of the actual music. Other elements of their role can include ensuring recording deadlines are met and negotiating contracts with session players. Above all, their responsibility is for the music to sound as brilliant as possible.

Rookes | Music Producer Profile  

As an artist, producer and topliner, Rookes is an exciting new talent and one ICMP has been delighted to work with this year. Rookes joined our Cert HE Creative Music Production course after being named as recipient of our MPG scholarship following work on a debut album, a process charted in her YouTube video series 

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/interview-rookes

2. Artist Manager 

Music managers are often the backbone behind the success of any artist or band. Devising strategy and providing guidance on all aspects of the music business, the managers often help create a long-term plan for performers and songwriters with goals and deadlines put in place. Their work is aimed at helping these creatives build successful careers by developing fanbases and making money from their music.  

From organising live gigs and tours to liaising with labels and session players, advising on social media strategy to plotting release campaigns, the manager’s job is a busy one and very detail focused, incorporating every aspect of an artist’s career.  

Victoria Becks | Artist Manager Profile  

Artist manager Victoria Becks initially studied ICMP’s BMus vocals degree before delving into the business side of the industry. After stints working with David Steele (ex-managing director of V2 Records) and Jackie Davidson (manager of Wayne Hector), she’s now been based at Tileyard Music and has worked with the likes of Ella Eyre and Imani Williams (RCA).  

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/how-be-artist-manager-icmp-alumna-victoria-becks

3. Studio Engineer

Studio engineers work closely with music producers to help facilitate recording sessions, whether it be with artists, bands or composers.  

They ensure these sessions run smoothly, supporting the producer with their technological knowledge around the various pieces of studio gear and equipment. Engineers are often tasked with preparing for recording by setting up drums, microphones and amplifiers. They may have to monitor audio levels during recording and provide mixes of tracks for the producer to finesse. Ultimately, their role is to produce the best quality audio and ensure all parties involved in a session come out of it with a recording they’re happy with.  

Dani Bennett Spragg | Studio Engineer Profile 

From experiences at the legendary Assault & Battery Studios to working with Noel Gallagher on his latest album, emerging studio star Dani Bennett Spragg’s career is very much on an upwards trajectory.  

She mainly works out of Hoxa and Toast studios and has enjoyed contributing to a variety of hit records from artists such as Baxter Dury and The The.  

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/essential-studio-advice-engineer-dani-bennett-spragg

4. Music Publisher

Copyright is the lifeblood of the music industry, helping songwriters and composers earn money from their work. It is often the music publisher who will look after and manage this on the behalf of the creative. They ensure the writer of a work earns money whenever a song is used in a commercial setting whether it be sold, licensed or publically performed. 

Many music publishers have to proactively work hard on behalf of their artists to ensure a catalogue is used as much as possible to generate the most royalties. They have to be adept at understanding the intricacies of copyright and spotting opportunities while also negotiating deals on behalf of their artists. They also play an important role in nurturing new talent. 

Notting Hill Music | Music Publisher Profile  

Notting Hill Music is one of the key players in the publishing world with an extensive catalogue including more than 300 UK top 40 hit singles and 18 number ones. They’ve worked with everyone from Calvin Harris to Little Mix and many, many more. 

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/music-publishing-explained-notting-hill-music

5. Session Musician

Session performers and vocalists work as freelance musicians, usually contracted to contribute to a specific project for a set amount of time. This can range from a recording project to a tour but can sometimes develop into ongoing relationships where certain performers will be associated with an artist for a lengthy period, taking in different records and live jaunts.  

It means these players need to be proficient on their instruments, excelling in music theory, sight-reading, arrangement and harmony. While every note of a project could be dictated to them by a musical director, in some cases they will be expected to improvise, meaning a high degree of musicianship and versatility is required.  

Vic Jamieson | Session Musician Profile  

Vic won an audition for a BBC Three Show, which led to him performing on the stage of London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. He’s never looked back since, becoming a key member of bands for the likes of Sigala and MNEK as well as playing with award winning pop champs, The Vamps.  

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/interview-icmp-alumnus-vic-jamieson

6. Booking Agent  

The role of the booking agent is an essential one for any artists or bands looking to perform live. These agents will often plan every date of a nationwide tour, a summer of festival performances or any international gigs. 

Their duties include negotiating contracts, sharing promotional materials and collecting fees or deposits. Agents will often need to plot the logistics of a tour, ensuring certain dates match with locations and live performances will work alongside each other. They are often employed by an agency or work on a freelance basis with their own client roster.   

Will Church | ATC Live | Booking Agent Profile  

Will Church is a vastly experienced booker working with London-based agency, ATC Live. Their roster includes many of the UK’s most exciting musical talents, ranging from Shame to Squid, Metronomy and Black Midi.  

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/essential-tips-on-being-a-successful-booking-agent

7. Music Tutor

Working as a music teacher can be a demanding but hugely rewarding role. They can be employed by schools, universities or colleges, sometimes in permanent posts but often as freelancers. Their role is to guide and instruct musicians on certain instruments or techniques to help them develop both their musical abilities and theoretical knowledge. This can involve leading sessions in classrooms, giving lectures or instructing via Zoom online. 

Outside of the classroom, music tutors will often be busy with lesson planning, setting out objectives for a term or academic year, preparing materials for students and helping them get ready to take exams or work on assessments. There is also other administrative work including marking or providing homework.  

Rachel Cooper | Music Tutor Profile  

After studying music at the University of Chichester, ICMP’s Music in Education tutor went on to the Royal College of Music to pursue a Masters. Since graduating, Rachel has worked across a number of educational settings including Nicola Benedetti’s new education initiative, The Benedetti Sessions. 

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/interview-tutor-rachel-cooper-on-music-education

8. Tour Manager

From managing budgets to ensuring bands and crews get to venues on time, tour managers are responsible for ensuring a live tour runs smoothly.  

They will often be the point of contact between bands, venues and management to confirm gigs, soundchecks and fees for live shows are collected correctly. Not only do they need a thorough understanding of the live music industry but they need to be a great communicator and able to work under pressure. Anything can and often does happen to bands when on the road and an ability to deal with these situations in an unflappable manner can be a real bonus for anyone looking to make a career in this side of the industry.  

Andy Inglis | Tour Manager Profile  

Andy Inglis has run venues, led classes as a music tutor and worked as a tour manager for various bands. His career has seen him take indie icons Savages out on the road and manage with electronic auteur, Will Doyle. 

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/9-tips-on-how-survive-your-first-tour-andy-inglis

9. Social Media Manager

A relatively recent and evolving role, social media management can be a key tool in the contemporary artist’s tool kit to reach and engage with audiences.  

Anyone looking to build a career in this side of the industry will need to be proficient in social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. They will need to be skilled at content creation, whether this be in the form of short videos or written posts. Social media managers often have to create editorial calendars and plan how they are going to use this content to help publicise new music or a live event. They also need to be confident in analysing social media data so they can review what content works and what needs to be updated. This will inform any future social media campaigns. 

Fanbytes | Social Media Manager Profile  

Digital agency Fanbytes are a team of social media experts, proficient in utilising a wide range of online platforms, including TikTok.  

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/how-new-artists-can-use-tiktok-enhance-their-careers

10. Promoter

Promoters are responsible for organising and marketing live gigs and performances. This role involves collaborating closely with bands and artists, booking agents and venues to arrange shows. These can range from tours or one-off events such as festivals or headline sets.  

A key part of their role is administrative, so securing a venue, organising guest lists and riders and sourcing security or tech teams. They will also need to be adept at using social media, managing databases of email subscribers and communicating effectively with music press and websites to ensure events are marketed effectively. 

Promoter Profile  

Colin Keenan from live booking agency ATC Live gives us some top tips on how new acts can boost attendance at their gigs by promoting their events effectively. 

https://www.icmp.ac.uk/blog/how-get-more-people-at-your-live-gigs