Majoring in Music: What You Can Do With A Music Degree

Majoring in Music: What You Can Do With Your Music Degree

If you’re heading to college and thinking about getting a music degree, you may be asking yourself one important question: what can I do with a music degree once I graduate? Although performing and teaching are the two most common careers in music, those alone don’t even begin to cover what those with a music degree can pursue once they graduate. From working in A&R to managing a music website, here are some more “out of the box” ways to make money as a musician that go beyond performance and teaching.

A&R Representative

If you’ve always wanted to work for a record label or artist management company, working as an A&R representative may be right career path for you. The primary job function of an A&R rep is finding new talent for whichever record label you represent. Whether it’s listening to demo tapes or scouting talent at live shows, your job will be to evaluate talent and match it with specific audience tastes. Although this will make up the core of your day-to-day duties, other responsibilities include signing talent to the label with the approval of executives, coordinate label relationships for an artist, plan the recording budget in conjunction with the business affairs department, and find the right studios and record producers. And, with a salary that can exceed $70K, the pay isn’t shabby, either.

Arts Administrator

Also referred to as arts management or music management, the field of arts management is ideal for those interested in some behind-the-scenes action. Since arts management blends the business and artistic sides of music together, many arts administrators also hold a degree in business. Although it’s largely associated with non-profit organizations, students from arts management programs often go on to work with operas, symphonies, and digital streaming companies, just to name a few. In your day-to-day, you can expect to work on behalf of groups or artists to promote their careers and run their business affairs. At its core, arts administrators try to secure the best work for their clients, at the best fee. Some of the more “business” aspects of the job include negotiating contracts, booking events that match an artist’s career trajectory, and helping them make important career decisions.

Director of Publicity

Do you ever wonder who oversees the PR department at record labels? It’s the Director of Publicity. He or she works together with the artist, their manager, and the publicity staff to create and execute successful publicity campaigns. In addition to managing everything publicity, the Director of Publicity is also in charge of approving all major publicity expenditures. From photo shoots and and press parties to giveaways and meet and greets, any expense related to publicity must be signed off by the Director. Although the Director is typically in “charge” of a handful of artists, it’s in their best interest to attend parties of all artists and labels in an attempt to mingle and connect with the press. Salary ranges depending on the size of the label and competition can be fierce but, if you have skills in writing and communicating and would enjoy managing budgets and supervising others, a career in publicity may be worth considering.

Licensing Representative

If you’ve ever watched a movie and loved the soundtrack, you can thank a licensing representative. The core function of licensing representatives is to coordinate creative pitches and licensing agreements so their catalog of songs can be used in movie trailers, advertisements, and video games. Since it’s a creative position that involves a lot of sales work, people-pleasing, and time management, it’s important that you’re a well-rounded individual who loves music and people as much as they do numbers and paperwork. Having a good ear and a good memory are also key. Although licensing reps hold regular office hours, they’re sometimes required to work late nights and weekends in order to meet deadline, so don’t expect a strict 40-hour work week. Typically, income is earned depending on who you work for and how you’re paid, so it can vary from position to position.

Marketing Coordinator

As a marketing coordinator, there’s a lot of liaising between different parties. You’ll be involved with tour marketing, digital marketing, and indie retail marketing. From finding promotional opportunities for artists while on tour to creating assets for social media, duties typically vary depending on the size and type of label you work for. Most marketing coordinators have at least an undergraduate degree, which not only gives them exposure to relevant business-related knowledge, but access to internships and networking opportunities that can boost your chances of getting hired post-college. Regardless of which label you plan on applying to after college, the type of person who would make a successful marketing coordinator is someone who is able to learn on-the-go and learns from their mistakes.

Record Industry Advertising Account Executive

If you have advertising experience or have always seen yourself in an advertising role, an advertising account executive is the position for you. Responsible for developing advertising campaigns for the label’s products, the primary function of advertising executives is to build awareness among the general public about a particular album that has been released. The job requires a lot of hard work and planning, and those with knowledge of both the advertising and the recording industries will be in a much better position than their peers who are only knowledgeable in one area. Unlike some of the other positions on this list, creativity is key, as advertising executives must be able to create unique and effective campaigns.

Music Website Marketing Manager

If you’d prefer to combine digital marketing with music, a music website marketing manager does just that. In an effort to stand out among the many other music websites on the web, the marketing manager must find ways to successfully market their website, label, and artists to those who are most likely to purchase albums or attend a concert. Although marketing managers carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, as the success of the website depends on them, most website marketing managers find their job to be incredibly fulfilling. Nearly all websites, both large and small, require marketing managers, so keep your eyes peeled and your mind open. While you may start out as an intern, hang tight and learn everything you can in the process.


If you have a music degree you can also work for a foundation. Check out Music Foundations You Should Donate To for a list of some of the most popular.

Photo via Cary and Kacey Jordan, CC

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