UK Music is very excited to show you all the amazing careers in music. Whether you are a music creator or performer or love the idea of using your skills to work in music then the music industry is a great place to be. UK Music represents artists, musicians, songwriters & composers, record labels, music managers, music publishers, studio producers, music licensing organisations and the live music sector. Our members are: AIM, Ivors Academy, BPI, FAC, MMF, MPA, MPG, MU, PPL, PRS for Music and the Live Music Group.
All of the UK Music members are here to support you in your music career and more information on all these brilliant organisations can be found on their websites – you can find links to them all on www.ukmusic.org
About the music industry
Music has always been a really important part of life – something we all love and enjoy – and something which can help us celebrate the good times and comfort us in difficult times such as now. During Coronavirus music is doing what it does best and helping people cope. The virus has changed the way many things are done in music for the moment and some of that change is positive, some less so – but it is all a challenge that we are facing together as the music industry.
Now, more than ever, we need innovative, young minds to get involved and make your mark. It’s a fantastic place to work with lots of different roles and many different areas to choose from. After Coronavirus we’re sure there’ll be even more ways to get involved in the music industry as we for example start to return to live gigs but keep a lot of the innovative online content we’ve seen grow over the last few weeks. Remember, a lot of the jobs you’ll be doing in the future don’t exist yet – use your passion and skills to make them happen!!
Types of music industry jobs
So, you want to work in music! Great choice but where to begin? Everyone has different skills and interests but even so we’re pretty sure you’ll find something that suits you and your career aspirations in music.
There are literally hundreds of very different types of jobs in music and lots of different ways to get into a career in music. Let’s take you through some of the different options…
First up when we say ‘loads of different types of jobs’ in music we really do mean ‘LOADS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF JOBS’ in music!!!
Music needs performers and composers, producers and technical crew, agents and business support, teachers and caterers, security and accountants, digital marketers and lawyers, data analysts and venues, merchandise, managers, journalism and so much more… You might have played a gig or written a review of one in a blog, maybe you helped set-up music equipment at your youth club or helped sell tickets to a concert – you’ve got your first bit of music industry experience! Here are a few examples of the many roles in music:
A&R (Artist & Repertoire) – Works at a record label or music publisher to discover and help develop artists and songwriters
Copyright Assistant – Processes royalties, registers new works and analyses the money received to make sure everyone is paid correctly
Digital Marketing Manager – Works with teams on marketing campaigns. Uses social media and analyses data
Junior Product Manager – Plans the launch of album or single or other music product
Live Event Technician – Prepares and sets up lights, sound or video equipment for events such as festivals and gigs
Music Producer – Supports musicians and recording artists in a variety of ways in recording and realising their music
Sync Assistant – Licenses music for use in film, TV, advertising, live events and computer games
Think about an artist you listen to or a gig you went to. How many people do you think are involved in helping the artist to do their thing? What kinds of jobs needed doing to make sure their songs / artwork / style / social media / interviews / gigs (etc.) happen? Would you like to get involved one day working with an artist you love? Keep going – you really could!!
Focus on Apprenticeships with PPL
PPL is the UK’s music licensing company, making sure over 110,000 performers and recording rights holders get paid. It’s our job to protect our members’ rights and ensure that their talent is fairly rewarded.
Apprenticeships can be a great way into the music industry and in many cases they can be an alternative to going to university. Companies across the music industry have apprenticeships in a range of roles. If you want to get earning while you learn PPL is a great place to start…
PPL has always been dedicated to creating a diverse workforce, hiring employees with varied backgrounds and providing opportunities for development in the workplace. An apprenticeship with PPL is a fantastic way to get into the business side of the music industry; you will learn the fundamentals of how royalties are paid whilst gaining some great new transferable skills along the way. You also get to work with a bunch of awesome people who are passionate about music.
Here are some of the apprenticeships we have delivered at PPL and the key skills gained by each apprentice:
Music Reporting Delivery Assistant – This apprenticeship offered the opportunity to acquire data handling skills as well as the opportunity to learn about how musicians are paid for the performance and broadcast of their recorded music around the world. This apprenticeship also helped improve Microsoft Excel skills by working with large and complex data sets.
Business Analyst – This apprenticeship offered the opportunity to really understand how PPL distributes money to its members. It provided experience on how to use our distribution system and how to calculate distributions as well as how to use software such as SQL and Confluence.
IT Service Desk Assistant – This apprenticeship offered the opportunity to acquire essential IT skills in both hardware and software support. It also allowed the apprentice to gain experience in a large company, learning about multiple areas across the business for whom the IT Service Desk provided support.
Meet Holly Hopwood, Repertoire Data Analyst
Holly was PPL’s first ever apprentice back in 2013! She has had a fantastic career with PPL and still works here to this day. Holly started as a Music Reporting Delivery Assistant Apprentice and has progressed through the ranks, gaining experience in different departments. She is now working as a fully-fledged, experienced Data Analyst who is vital to the organisation. Holly is a brilliant example of how an apprenticeship can lead to a successful career. Here is what she has to say about her experience:
What attracted you to the apprenticeship programme?
The main thing that attracted me to the apprenticeship programme was having access to a job in the music industry that didn’t require me to have a degree and that allowed me to study alongside work, with my studies linked to my job.
How have you developed and grown from the programme?
Since completing the programme, I have developed a number of skills and have grown from working as a Music Reporting Assistant to a Repertoire Data Analyst.
Since completing your apprenticeship what role do you currently undertake?
I now undertake the role of Repertoire Data Analyst, analysing and quality checking airplay received from our licensees, whilst assisting with a number of other tasks integral to paying out revenue to musicians and music creators for the use of their recorded music in the UK.
How has the apprenticeship programme helped develop your career?
The apprenticeship programme has given me access to vital skills needed for my current job that I otherwise would not have been qualified for.
What was a highlight from your apprenticeship programme?
Whilst my job was focused around copyright and royalties, the apprenticeship programme gave me access to a range of experts from around the industry and gave me the opportunity to learn about the music industry as a whole.
Here is what Holly’s Head of Department has to say:
Holly and I have worked in the same department since the beginning of 2018, but even before we were working together, I was always aware of Holly’s talent and development within PPL through the very good feedback on her work that was shared around the company. Holly’s love of a diverse range of music shines through in the effort and approach she brings to all of her work, and her excellent knowledge on the way broadcast licensees report music use to PPL have been key to PPL’s continuing improvements in the way music usage is processed, which ultimately is one of the fundamental inputs to PPL’s distribution payments to performers and recording rightsholders. Alongside this, Holly has been the driving force within PPL in recent years in putting together all the data for the various “most-played” charts that PPL publish, which have led to lots of very positive press, radio and TV coverage for PPL, promoting the work that PPL does, its expertise in this field, and its importance to the recorded music industry.
Benefits of the programme
Apprenticeships have been a great way for PPL to further develop and foster young people wanting to start a career in the music industry. Not only has it given fantastic opportunities to our apprentices but it has also helped us identify future talent and foster their passion for music through coaching and mentoring. We have been able to nurture our apprentices in order for them to progress and secure permanent opportunities at PPL; in turn, this supports us with future proofing our talent.
Meet Aashi Gahlot, Junior Content Producer Apprentice at Asian Arts Agency
Apprenticeships can be found across the UK in many different roles. UK Music member the BPI runs a scheme supported by the BRIT Trust to help young people into the industry…
Aashi got a role with Bristol-based Asian Arts Agency through the BPI scheme and said:
“Immediately, from the very first day we have had the opportunity to meet inspirational figures from the music industry. To hear their experiences and knowledge is invaluable to any person wanting to give their best and the Scheme provides this support.
I am really excited to be a part of the Apprentice Scheme. I love South Asian music. Having the chance to work and learn with Asian Arts Agency means I will be getting first-hand experience on what it takes to be one of the leading South Asian music agencies in the UK, who are dedicated to developing, promoting and supporting South Asian Arts.
I aspire to gain skills in content production, artist management and insights into how the industry works. The BPI and DiVA have an inspired vision to help young people to live what they love to do – and this is clearly implemented through the Scheme. I found the process supportive and inspiring. Amazing things happen when people believe in people.”
DiVA is an award-winning recruitment and training organisation specialising in creative, business and leadership apprenticeships in the entertainment sector. They have supported 100’s of talent get in and get ahead in companies such as Sony Music, PPL, PRS, Universal Music, Warner Music, UK Music, Dawbell, the BBC, Warner Bros and a host of other well-known media brands. DiVA partnered with the BPI and BRIT Trust in the development and delivery of the BRITs Apprenticeship Programme, which has supported 20 individuals to start their career in music businesses across the UK.
Arit Eminue CEO of DiVA said: “talent is the biggest commodity to any business, especially in a challenging market, and apprenticeships are a win-win for both employee and employers. Employers have a skilled workforce to drive their business forward and employees, at any stage of their career, have the opportunity to update their skills, knowledge and experience, ultimately increasing their earning potential.”
DiVA has lots of advice on creative apprenticeships too.
UK Music are also working on some all-new music apprenticeships for music studios, record labels & music publishers and music instrument shops & rentals so keep your eyes peeled!!
See UK Music’s Careers Pack for specific advice on apprenticeships in each area of the UK.
Focus on University with UK Music’s Music Academic Partnership
Going to university is a great way to start your career in music and UK Music works closely with our Music Academic Partnership (MAP) members.
A lot of university lecturers will have come from a music background and many will still be involved with the music industry as a part of their job. If you wish to study music production, composition or performance, your university will offer you great practical help and resources from recording studios to showcase opportunities.
We like to help too with UK Music’s space at the BBC Introducing LIVE event showcasing a number of MAP artists including BASH! from Southampton Solent University.
BASH! is a five-piece band formed in Southampton in 2018 and they have recently signed their first record deal and recorded their first EP, which will be hopefully available this year.
They’ve had the pleasure of supporting Husky Loops, HalfNoise, Bloxx and GIRLI and opening the main stage of Larmer Tree festival in 2019. Another amazing opportunity was thanks to BBC Introducing Solent, who helped them record at the legendary Maida Vale studios last year. Their song “Lovely, Smart and Beautiful” was included in BBC Sounds. BASH! Said:
All of us studied BA (Hons) Popular music performance and production. This course provides a broad spectrum of knowledge; everything you need to know as an artist, musician or producer etc. is available from professional, competent and informative lecturers alongside amazing facilities for you to practice your skills. Everything depends on how much you want to take from it and how much you’re willing to work. Be active and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! The course gets attention from professionals in the music industry and has created amazing opportunities for us to showcase ourselves and get feedback from industry A&R, songwriters & publishers. If it wasn’t for Solent our band wouldn’t exist!
If you are interested in the business side of things they will also have contact with the local music industry and initiatives. It’s also a good idea to make the most of your time at university and start your own projects alongside your uni work – find what you love and do it! Who knows where it’ll take you….
Tanyel Gumushan - UK Music’s Outstanding MAP Graduate Awards WINNER 2019 and PPL PRS employee of year 2019
Tanyel is currently in her second year of working in the Live Music team at PPL PRS Ltd., licensing live music events and venues to ensure that PPL and PRS members receive their royalties. As the Theatre and Variety Specialist, she manages the accounts of high-profile venues and production companies. Outside the office, she is a freelance music journalist (Clash, DIY, NME) and runs a blog, Cheeky Little Matinee, that celebrates theatre. Tanyel also delivers freelance PR and clients include Universal Music and Stay Loose. Tanyel, who graduated from Birmingham City University said:
‘My university experience is one that I look back on fondly and with pride. The lessons I was taught both in practice and theory have been invaluable in teaching me confidence in how to work and engage in professional environments and armed me with the knowledge and inspiration that led me down a career path that prior I had no idea was even a possibility. Being taught how to merge creation, innovation and entrepreneurship was the best life lesson I could ever have asked for, and I had the best guidance in doing so.’
There are loads of great initiatives with universities doing great work like setting up student record labels and helping grow the local music scene. The brilliant thing is that cool projects like these have jobs too! You can also get involved in music through a variety of different degrees (ShaoDow moved into music following a Law degree and Emily below did a music project as a part of her Human Geography degree!)
Leeds Beckett University & Music:Leeds
Samuel Nicholls or whiskas as he is mainly known in the music industry, is a Senior Lecturer in Music at Leeds Beckett University, founding the BA Music Industries Management course and the founder & director of Music:Leeds.
He runs Music:Leeds which employs Emily Marlow who cut her teeth in the music industry at a young age, organising her first gig at 15. She has since managed an independent music venue and worked as the Festival Press Assistant at I Like Press, with clients including Live at Leeds, Slam Dunk and Leeds Indie Food.
Now a freelance events and project coordinator, Emily is part of a number of teams, including Music:Leeds. Here she produces events to support people in music locally, including the Launchpad Conference, workshops, gigs and one-to-one advice sessions.
Emily is a Diversity Project Co-ordinator at Come Play With Me, where she works to platform women, people of marginalised genders and LGBTQIA+ artists. Emily is also one of the founding members of Girl Gang Leeds, a non-profit, which creates fun, safe and empowering spaces for women and people of marginalised genders. Emily said:
At university I studied for a BA (Hons) in Human Geography. I’m grateful for my course as it helped me become a better critical thinker and set me up for the work I’m now doing, in fact I wrote my dissertation on Leeds’ thriving music community! Through my current roles I now get to support that same creative scene. I find it so fulfilling providing a platform and helping to develop some of the amazingly talented people we have in our area.
Learn more about UK Music’s MAP members here.
Learn about other career routes our other Outstanding MAP Graduates like Tanyel have taken here (spoiler – there’s a lot of different careers!)
Advice for Creators by Creators
The Musicians’ Union represents over thirty thousand musicians working in all sectors of the music business. As well as negotiating on behalf of its members with all the major employers in the industry, the MU offers a range of services for self-employed professional and student musicians of all ages. Visit the MU website to find out how the Union helps musicians in the live arena, the recording studio, in education and as writer/composers. Students can join for £20!!!
ShaoDow – Rapper
Shao Dow is a professional rapper, manga author and possible ninja who scooped the 2017 AIM Award for Hardest Working Artist – he has self-released three albums, which have sold more than 25,000 copies, created a headphones brand and published a manga book through his own company, DiY Gang Entertainment.
The London-born artist makes a full-time living from his music, manga and merchandise and has even appeared on ITV’s Ninja Warrior UK. He was recently invited into Parliament to speak on behalf of grassroots music venues across the country. Shao Dow has opened for the likes of KRS-One, Wiley, Ghetts, Stormzy, Tech N9ne, 6LACK, Skepta and more. ShaoDow said:
People ask me a lot (A LOT) how to get into music, how to make it, how to get started. To get started is easy, just make what you love and share it with the world. Learn what you did well, improve on what you could’ve done better, rinse and repeat. How to ‘make it’ is difficult, requires all the time, patience, hard work, dedication, skill and effort that you have, plus some more. And to how to get ‘into’ music … well, if you need to be told the answer to that one, perhaps you’re not quite ready yet. To cut a very long story short, a music career is an ongoing voyage of love and struggle, don’t expect all the answers or all the glory immediately, make great music and enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
Emma McGann – Singer-songwriter
Emma’s musical journey has seen her earn BBC Radio 1 airplay and features on air and at festivals, nominations for various awards in the U.S. including 3 Shorty Awards and an iHeartRadio Music Award in 2017, a successfully fan-funded album via Kickstarter, over 11 million views across her music livestreams to date… and all as an artist waving the independent flag. Intertwining tech with her music at every turn, recent years have seen McGann explore virtual reality, crypto-based livestreaming applications and even her very own Amazon Alexa Skill which fans can interact with. Emma said:
At the very early stages of pursuing a career in music, you should be networking as much as you are writing/producing/performing etc. It’s so valuable to connect with those around you and establish new contacts, not just online but IRL. It might sound boring to you compared to getting creative and making the music you love – but it’ll be essential for both when you’re first starting out and throughout the rest of your career. Be sure to go out of your way to meet other artists and industry professionals that exist outside of your current circles – it’ll open up a world of opportunities to further your career.
Alex Marshall – Cellist, Electric Cellist and Vocalist
Alex is a Cellist, Electric Cellist and Vocalist with Zambian and English heritage based in the UK. A performer, collaborator and session musician, she works for some of the busiest ensembles in London and across the UK, such as Urban Soul Orchestra, Wired Strings, London Electronic Orchestra and the Parallax Orchestra.
As a session Cellist, Alex has performed/recorded with artists such as Paolo Nutini, Little Mix, Annie Lennox, Liam Gallagher, Tom Odell, Mumford and Sons and Enya, as well as performing at some of the UK’s most prestigious venues and recording studios; the Royal Albert Hall, Abbey Road and The O2 Arena. Alex has made several TV and Radio appearances, including “Later… with Jools Holland”, The Graham Norton Show, The X Factor and the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge and has also performed at festivals such as Latitude, Secret Garden Party and Festival No.6.
Alex studied at Leeds College of Music and was presented with the Principal’s Award in 2014 for her dedication to the conservatoire and remains an ambassador for the college as well as being nominated for the UK Music Outstanding Music Graduate Award in 2017. Alex said:
Always be ready! You never know what gig will come in next, and you don’t know what expertise you’ll need to secure it so make sure you have maximised your knowledge and understanding of what you can bring to any situation. 2. Be approachable, friendly and nice! Make genuine connections with other people in the industry – anything forced is never going to work in the long run and you’ll enjoy your work much better if you have real relationships with your colleagues, agents and partners!
Katie Tavini - Mastering Engineer
Katie began working as a producer and engineer in 2009 before a piece of advice changed everything for her. “I was looking to improve my mixes,” she recalls. “Someone told me that if I wanted to do that I should learn to master. Whether it was good advice or not I took it. I loved what I discovered and never looked back.”
With a fine balance of curiosity and experience, Tavini is now a mastering engineer with a rich and diverse client-list far bigger than any sound or scene.
“I like things with a lot of influences,” she adds. “I like not being able to place a piece of music immediately and I love working with bands and artists who push their boundaries. I’ve found that a willingness to try and explore something new has often led to amazing results for my clients.”
Katie is a mastering engineer who encourages, refines, expands and finishes. She loves to amplify the emotion and energy of an artist while bringing clarity and consistency to their art. People do not hear her best work, they feel it.
“Most people don’t think about how music moves them,” admits Tavini. “They are just moved. My job is to bring all the hard work of artists, producers and engineers together and create a platform for songs to shine. It’s the perfect job for me.”
Adam Gammage - Session Drummer
Adam has been recently touring with Tom Grennan, Baxter Dury, Zuzu and Vant. Along with playing live and recording he has also done music for film and TV for example drums and percussion on series 4 of Peaky Blinders. Although in lockdown at the moment last year was a busy festival run around the UK and Europe.
One of my highlights of last summer was playing Live at Leeds Festival and Hit the North. It’s always difficult when playing for multiple artists to get the diary to fit together to maximise the level of work on offer. However this particular weekend I was in luck when both days I got to play 6 shows with three amazing artists Vant, Zuzu and Tom Grennan. After a lot of planning of what was a very tight schedule both days started with an opening slot with Vant. I had 3 kits with three sets of crew and tour managers managing my whereabouts.
My B rig was set for a sold-out show that was an incredible start. I then rushed off in a taxi leaving my kit with the crew to de rig. Then off to the next venue with Zuzu to again quickly sound check and straight onstage for my second show of the day on my C rig that I had to leave in Liverpool the week before. The show went on with no delays and again was an absolute belter.
I remember having so many passes and wristbands it looked like I could have been running the place. Massive plus was more than enough meal and drink tokens to see me through. After a quick pint and dinner I was then off to the main stage to join everyone else who had been loading up and setting up my A rig was a more complex set up for Tom Grennan. After the line check and a catch-up with the band it was show time and what a great way to end a successful day with the crowd going absolutely crazy for Tom and his debut album. Now the drinks tokens come in handy as it’s time to kick back and enjoy the evening and get some sleep on the bus ready to do it all again the next day.