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Exploring Musical Career Paths

The music industry offers many career opportunities beyond the typical idea of performing or recording music. Whether you are a performer, songwriter, educator, or someone who would rather be behind the scenes, there are various career paths to explore. 

Today we will highlight multiple careers within the music industry and how being within this industry is more diverse than you would think! We’ll start with our more well-known career opportunities and then branch out into less commonly known careers! 


1.I Performer

Role: Performers are the most visible professionals in the music industry. Those who choose to perform can be seen on tours, heard on the radio, seen at local gigs, etc. Performers can be solo artists (ie. Billie Eilish, Sabrina Carpenter), in a band, backup singers, and more.


Opportunities: Solo musician, band member, ensemble musician. Outside of contemporary pop/rock music, performers can also be seen in opera & musical theater (ie. Joyce DiDonato, Jeremy Jordan).


2. Songwriter/Composer

Role: These are artists who create original music, including music for the stage and screen. Original music includes harmonies, melodies, arrangements, and lyrics. Composers range from Beethoven to John Williams. Well-known songwriters include Bob Dylan, Carole King, and John Lennon.


Opportunities: Songwriters can write original music for themselves or for others, like Meghan Trainor who wrote songs for artists such as Sabrina Carpenter, Hunter Hayes, and Rascal Flatts, but then went on to write music for herself. Composers, on the other hand, will write music for different media, such as video games, commercials, theatrical productions, and more. They can either be freelance artists or be employed by music publishing companies.


3. Music Educator

Role: Music educators teach students about music theory, performance, and history in schools, colleges, private studios, or community programs. They play a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of musicians. Music educators often have a formal education in music and a passion for teaching, as well as strong communication and interpersonal skills.


Opportunities: You can find music educators in multiple areas of education, including K-12, colleges, and universities. These educators may be involved in band, choir, orchestra, theater, and so on. 


The careers mentioned above are paths that are more well-known in the music industry. The next few careers will be lesser-known roles in the industry that are just as important and fulfilling. 


4. Music Therapist

Role: Music therapists are trained professionals who use music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. They work closely with healthcare professionals to design and implement therapeutic programs that are tailored to the needs of the clients.


Opportunities: Music therapists have been seen in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation centers, and even in private practices.


5. Music Librarian/Archivist

Role: Music librarians and archivists manage various music-related materials, such as scores, historical documents, manuscripts, and recordings. They can also assist in research, curate exhibitions, and preserve musical heritage.


Opportunities: We mostly see these individuals working within libraries, museums, and educational institutions. A great example of this would be Cleveland’s own Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! 


6. Music Publisher

Role: Publishers work to promote and monetize musical compositions through licensing deals, protecting copyrights, and collecting royalties. This position involves a deep understanding of the music industry, both past and present. 


Opportunities: Music Publishers are typically seen working with songwriters to help get their music in various media or helping negotiate licensing agreements.



Music is seen and heard throughout the world, in various media, and it encompasses more than we think! These are only a few of the countless jobs in the music industry. Whether it be composing new works for orchestras, producing the next big pop hit, or even teaching the next generation of musicians, there are numerous ways to turn your passion for music into a blossoming career. 


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