Friday, August 12, 2011

6 Career Paths With a Music Degree

Upon telling people you're graduating with a music degree, the most likely next question is, "What are you going to do with it?" What, indeed? Lots of things. Musicians tend to be creative types who have mastered the art of self-discipline (it's tough to force yourself to practice for hours on end without it) while still understanding the value of others' contributions (even the smallest rock band requires teamwork between at least three members). Here are six possibilities for your career:

1. Teach music at the elementary level. "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." A humorous little ditty for teachers with a sense of humor, it has a ring of truth when it comes to music majors: it takes talent, hard work, and a lot of luck to make it as a professional musician, say in an orchestra or something similar. For many, the attraction of a steady paycheck as a music teacher outweighs any benefits of risking everything to earn a six-figure salary.
2. Music therapy. More and more health care providers are utilizing the services of music therapists for treatment of everything psychiatric disorders to complex neurological impairments. Nor is it a new occupation; the Bible talks about how Saul would ask David to play on his harp and "he [Saul] would feel better".
3. Artist manager or agent. Depending on your point of view, talent or booking agents are a great help in finding work and getting your name associated with top Hollywood stars—or amoral bloodsuckers who are just out to make a buck. Either way, there can be no doubt that agents have become an indispensible part of doing business for anyone in the entertainment industry.
4. Music journalist. A cross between a journalist and a musician, this is the kind of the career that might lead to iconic rock mag Rolling Stone, or perhaps just as a reviewer for your local newspaper. It depends on how far you want to take it, and how hard you want to work at it.
5. Music publishing. One particular niche that is exploding in this market is the area of music software—the personal computer has become so ubiquitous in modern life that it's hard to remember what life was like without it. Today's musician may use one kind of software to record his music, another kind to notate it, and still a third to publish it online.
6. Producer. Though they're no longer called "record" producers, the music industry needs producers more than ever as the Photoshop generation expects note-perfect productions. Long before his conviction for murder in 2009, Phil Spector was the original mad genius producer, with his trademark "Wall of Sound" that produced hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and John Lennon's "Imagine".

David Turner enjoys researching various schools that offer online music degrees.

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