First published 2012 in Great Britain by

Rhinegold Education

14–15 Berners Street

London W1T 3LJ

© Rhinegold Education 2012
a division of Music Sales Limited

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Rhinegold Education.

Rhinegold Education has used its best efforts in preparing this guide. It does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any party for loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in the guide whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or other cause.


Order No. RHG402

ISBN: 978-1-78038-245-6

Ebook Edition © DECEMBER 2017 ISBN: 9781787590311

Version: 2017-12-21

Exclusive Distributors:

Music Sales Ltd

Distribution Centre, Newmarket Road

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 3YB, UK

Printed in the EU





        Session musician

        Recording artist


        Choral singer

        Opera singer

        Classical instrumentalist




        Other opportunities to perform


        Classical composition

        Film and TV music

        Other kinds of composing


        School teaching

        Instrumental/singing teaching

        Music therapy


        Professional organisations

        Music charities

        Arts administration, management and promotion


        Opera companies


        Concert promoter


        Artist management




        Rights, licensing, accounts and royalties

        Production and editorial

        Digital publishing

        Other publishing jobs



        Production assistant







        Sales and distribution

        Other jobs




        Studio sound engineer

        Live sound engineer

        Other jobs



        How do I get started?

        Types of music shops

        Piano tuner


        Music qualifications

        Applying for jobs

        Index of job titles


This book wouldn’t have been possible without the kindness of so many people who shared their expertise and experiences – I would like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to everyone who answered my questions, and to those who agreed to be featured as a case study. Special thanks must go to Mel Thornton at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), who provided so much information and so many contacts; to the anonymous reviewer for his or her helpful input; to Gary Downing at Music Sales for sharing his enormously wide-ranging knowledge; and to Emma Cooper and Lizzie Moore at Rhinegold Education, for all their hard work nursing the book into existence. I would also like to thank my family – my partner Angharad, and sons Jasper and Oscar – for all their support and encouragement.

Sara Peacock


I clearly remember my first experience of working in the music industry. Fresh out of university, I carried out a work placement with London Records, carrying boxes of vinyl records and bags of demos, filing, answering phones and learning how record companies work. The work was much the same as in any office but there’s no denying that it was exciting seeing all the activity around their artists. At the end of my first day, I was offered VIP tickets to see my favourite band, Faith No More. I was sold on a career in music! I worked hard, developed a career as a music PR and only left five years later when headhunted by BMG to work on their pop roster of acts signed by an A&R person called Simon Cowell. I’ve heard he’s done very well for himself.

Now I use my experience in the music industry to help music students forge a career for themselves, either as performers, songwriters, budding entrepreneurs or industry executives. I’ve been working as the Head of Work-based Learning at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM) for seven years now. BIMM is the UK’s leading provider of music education and I work as part of a large team of staff who are dedicated to providing students with a springboard to employment.

I’ve learnt a great deal from working with some truly inspirational students, as well as some of the most successful employers in the industry, and enjoyed seeing so many of our alumni succeed in their chosen field. The opportunities are endless if we keep our eyes open. The music industry is not about some large flashy offices in West London, it is all around you: we listen to music on the radio, we have easy access to gigs and festivals, and social media has enabled us to easily build communities of supporters around an artist, club night or gig.

The music industry is one of the UK’s biggest and most culturally significant creative industries in the UK, employing 130,000 people. There is a range of careers for those who are committed and dedicated enough to work in this fast-paced, ever-evolving business. Behind every successful artist there is a large team of people working behind the scenes – A&R (artists and repertoire), promoters, agents, pluggers, press officers, lawyers, publishers, managers and producers, to name just a few – and this book will help you understand the key skills required for many of these roles and the best route to reaching your chosen career.

The key lessons to learn are quite simple: the music industry is a people business and soft skills are very highly valued. Those who can network, communicate and work well as part of a team will go far. Secondly, work experience is essential, whether it is a placement within a company or simply getting gigs under your belt if you’re a performer. Be a self-starter; put simply, ‘get involved!’

Lastly, and most importantly, remember never to lose sight of your passion for music, keep up to date with changing trends and rising stars and, most importantly of all, be yourself and enjoy your work. A job in the music industry is never just a job, it becomes part of your life. I wish all readers of this book good luck!

Mel Thornton,
Head of Work-based Learning
at BIMM Brighton.


Making and listening to music are things that most of us do for pleasure, both while growing up and as adults. But for some people it can become a career. If you are thinking that you would like to be one of those people, then this book could help you begin to choose the right path for you. Mention a career in music and many people think immediately of performing or teaching music. While these are very important avenues for musicians, there are all sorts of other creative, rewarding and challenging career paths in the music business, which is large and complex.

The UK is rightly proud of its music industry – our creative talent and the people that support them are world class. But this area – particularly recording and music retail – has undergone an enormous change since the beginning of the 21st century, with the boom in digital production, MP3 downloads and online file sharing. This book won’t be able to tell you what the industry will be like in ten years’ time, but aims to help you equip yourself with the skills you will need to be able to adapt to the changes that will come in the future.

The music industry can be a fun, exciting, stimulating and satisfying place to work. Because of that, it is a very popular choice for young people and the market for jobs is intensely competitive. To get your foot in the door, you will need to be determined, hard-working and very self-motivated. As well as obtaining the qualifications you need, it will be vitally important to have experience to prove to a potential employer that you are committed to the work – this could be part-time voluntary experience gained over a period of time, or a more structured work placement or internship. Depending on the career path you hope to follow, networking and self-promotion might also be important tools in your getting started in the industry (to say nothing of developing your career once you’ve had your first break). You will find more advice about this throughout the industry-specific chapters, as well as in the ‘Pathways and Applications’ chapter at the back of the book.

Increasingly, people working within the music industry are finding that they don’t just have one job – more and more people are now developing a ‘portfolio career’, where they do a number of different roles at the same time. This could be a performer who also teaches, and works as a music examiner as well. Or perhaps a sound engineer who also DJs and teaches production in a higher education college. Sometimes this will be because one of these jobs on its own won’t generate enough income to live off, but often people choose to work this way because they enjoy the variety. So, while you are thinking about which job you want to pursue, try to keep your options open and appreciate that you might be able to incorporate two, three or even more roles into your life.

In the pages that follow you will find descriptions of all sorts of jobs connected with music, hopefully including some you hadn’t thought of before. There is information about what the job involves, both good and bad, what sort of qualifications you would need, what type of personality it would suit and what you need to be doing to get you started on the right path. There are also case studies from people who are already doing some of these jobs, sharing their experiences and giving advice. The last chapter gives some more general advice about qualifications and tips about looking for work.

We hope you will find all this information useful, and that it helps you to get started on your own career path. The most important thing to remember, however, is that all of the qualifications, work experience and everything else we discuss are worth nothing without the thing that you started with – your passion and love for music. Make that your primary motivation and use the advice in this book to forge your way in the music industry.

Good luck!