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today s job market the big picture

Today’s Job Market: The Big Picture

People looking to get into the music industry share a common buzzword: passion. They talk about their love of music and how much it means to them. However, no matter how great your passion for music, an accurate understanding of the job realities is necessary before you plunge into developing a career in this field.

job supply and demand
Job Supply and Demand
  • All industries, including music, adhere to the law of job supply and demand - a basic rule of all economic systems. When it comes to jobs and opportunities, the supply of industry jobs falls well below the demand of those wishing to enter the industry. This makes every job precious-even those internships that don’t pay one cent. It also means that in order to better your chances for success, you have to take advantage of every single ethical opportunity to better your skills and status in the industry.

When author managed recording studio:

  • Received four to five résumés per week
  • Half would follow up with a phone call
  • Some would say, “I’d love to stop by, see the studio, meet the staff, etc.”
  • Others would say, “I’ll do anything to get started, from scrubbing the bathroom to running for lunches.”

When there are more people willing to work for no pay, it makes it harder to get paid. That’s the first reality you’ll discover about entry-level positions in the industry.

second reality
Second Reality
  • Vast majority of recordings fail to break even
  • Well-known label president quoted in Billboard

“Of the 32,000 records released each year, 189 sell at least 250,000 copies which is considered the break-even point for major labels.”

  • Making a hit record is like winning the lottery – only ½ of 1% break even
  • Basically, it’s a long shot to hit it big as a recording artist!
cornucopia of jobs in industry
Cornucopia of Jobs in Industry
  • Don’t lock yourself into one career path too early in the game
  • The same skills and passion you’ve developed for your music can be a tremendous asset in the business side of the industry
playing for a team
Playing For A Team
  • Talent, perseverance, and people skills are givens to making it in the business.
  • Quote from author’s colleague who worked as a tech at George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound:

“Fity-one percent of my job is getting along with my coworkers, and 49 percent of my job is knowing how to keep all of our technology running.”

Quote from author: “Her statement has stayed with me over the years as one of the most important pieces of information I could share with you.”


To make it in the music industry, you’ve got to be able to work in a group environment. If you feel compelled to work alone, be your own boss, compose on your own, perform on your own, then perhaps you shouldn’t be working in a studio, or for a record label, or at a management company. Why? Because you’ve got to be able to get along with people around you. Don’t panic now if “people skills” don’t appear to be among your strongest talents; you can develop them. Basically, it’s just a matter of wanting to play on a winning team.

climbing to the top
Climbing to the Top

Perseverance is obviously a big asset. Depending on the opportunity, there may be from 25 to 2,500 or more people knocking on the door for an industry job opening. You’ve got to be willing to persevere. Otherwise, you’re going to run out of gas in your quest.

Almost everyone starts at the bottom, including many of today’s industry leaders!


Author suggests books penned by top record label executives: (see selected resources)

  • Follow the Music by Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records
  • Wild Thing by Ian Copeland

Seeing that just about every top executive started out as a mail clerk , gofer, or assistant will help you strengthen your resolve to climb the mountain ahead with respect to your music industry career

benefit of starting at bottom
Benefit of Starting at Bottom
  • Meet lots of people on the way up
  • See how the company works
  • Learn about every function in the organization
  • Learn what works well and what doesn’t and more importantly, the reason why
competition is central to music biz
Competition is Central to Music Biz

Always new blood coming in:

  • New bands
  • New songwriters
  • New musicians
  • New Artist & Repertoire (A&R) staffers

It’s the nature of the game. You’ve got to have a bit of a competitive streak in you to make it in this business.


Radio and television both use a formal rating system. That’s the way the entertainment business works. The statement that recording artists are “only as good as the sales of their last record” is true in an economic sense. Competition is always going to be there, so you have to have the drive-the “fire in the belly”- to stick with your dream and push yourself to make it. Few, if any, things will come easy to you as you journey along your career path in the industry. You’ll be earning your stripes every step of the way.

hobby or career
Hobby or Career?

Are you pursuing a hobby or a career? Why is it important to know the difference? This is an issue that sometimes trips people up, as they look to make a career in the music industry. Many come to the industry because of their love of music. But the reality is, you’ve got to have bankable skills to deliver, or you’re not going to be gainfully employed or grow your career. Many people have sacrificed years of their life because the wanted to be “near the music.”


A hobby is the pursuit of a field for personal enjoyment. I’m a hobby guitar player today, and I play my guitar once or twice a month. I used to be a professional guitarist, and I was paid well for my skills.

A career is your vocation-the daily occupation in which you must excel. Either a hobby or a career can be rewarding; however, you have to decide which one of these roads you’re on.


If you plan to make a career in the industry, you’ve got to be serious about:

  • Developing your job-search strategies
  • Building your skill set
  • Researching what competition you’ll face in specific entry-level job areas
  • Discovering what your earning prospects are

It’s okay to switch from hobby to career. But make sure you have the required commitment, as the road will be challenging and you will need to stay focused on achieving your goals.


Another important step for your career is to visualize yourself in your target career. For instance, if your career goal is to become a professional songwriter, you have to cross that bridge and say, “I am a songwriter. Okay, now that I’m a songwriter, how do I get to be a better songwriter?” That is a critical career step.


Once you see yourself developing in this new career, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to work by day as a paralegal, a waitress, a grocery clerk, or a data-entry “droid.” In your heart, you know that you are working on developing your career and that you’re a songwriter.

making connections to grow your career
Making Connections to Grow Your Career

The music industry is forever evolving, and currently it is morphing itself via the the Internet. In the six years since this book’s first edition was published, the means that artists use to promote themselves, to sell records (CDs or downloads), and appear live has been irrevocably changed by the explosion of the information revolution. To keep up with the changes, you’ve got to commit yourself to continuous learning.

connections continued
Connections (continued)

It is vitally important that you become well-read on the industry and that you talk to people who are working in the business. If you find ways to meet people that are doing what you want to do and ask them intelligent questions, you will most likely discover your path to get into the business. That is the surest way to be aware of the changing trends that affect our business.

making connections examples
Making Connections: Examples

In the Northern California region, there’s a songwriting organization-West Coast Songwriters, with 1,200 active members-which hosts fifteen events each month. They host an outstanding annual fall symposium. You should attend the symposium if you live in the region and want to make it as a songwriter. You should be networking with other songwriters. You’ve got to be talking to those publishers who are in attendance at their fall symposium. That’s your Super Bowl. You have to be there. You have to commit yourself to lifelong learning and getting involved with others doing what you aspire to do!

another example producer
Another Example: Producer

For aspiring record producers: At the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in the fall, and the International Music Products (NAMM) conventions in winter and summer, there are producer’s forums that are open to the public (for a small admission fee) co-hosted by the Recording Academy (see last 3 slides). You can listen to some of the most successful producers in the business talk about what it takes to make it as a producer. Top producers talk for two hours about what they do, how they got their breaks, and what they recommend for up-and-coming producers of the future. (continued next page)


How can you miss that if you want to be the next Kanye West or Tony Brown? You’ve got to find opportunities to learn and network such as these.

If you can’t get to an event, find out if there is a tape or transcript, or whether it was broadcast on the Internet. This information is out there. The people who have presented and appeared at the event are usually happy to talk to you in the right setting, and share the information and ideas and experience they have. You’ve got to always be looking for opportunities to soak up more information. Become an information sponge. Fill your Career Binder with clippings, notes, and information on careers and companies that pique your interest and spark your imagination.


Obviously, you’ve got to learn and practice your craft too. You’ve got to keep engineering or writing songs, you’ve got to keep booking bands-whatever avocation you aspire to. But focus part of your energy on getting near people that are doing what you want to do at the highest level possible. That’s the fastest way to learn about the dos and don’ts and ins and outs of our business.

There is no substitute for exposure to working professionals


A google search of “Recording Academy”

Yielded 9,340,000 URLs

I selected URL #10 “Grammy in the

Schools” which yielded a home page

With a link to “Grammy Camp” which is primarily for High School students interested in a music business career. A link at the bottom of the page caught my interest.

The Grammy Camp page on the right

Can be viewed at:

The next page shows the result of clicking in the bottom link




Link next to

“For an overview”

Leads to a

Page with