How to Become a Musician


A musician is somebody who creates and performs music. They could play music from any genre, for example, jazz, rock, or pop, and on any instrument, such as the flute, violin, or vocals.

A musician has a career in various areas of music. They may be a composer, instrumentalist or a singer. Their work will generally entail performing in a studio or to a live audience, although they are likely to do many other music-related jobs as well.

A musician could be a solo performer, or they could work with a band, choir, or orchestra. Alternatively, they could work in a theatre or opera. It is a high competition role, and most musicians do not begin full-time – they need to work in other positions as they build their reputation and skill. 

As there are so many different genres of music and types of performance, the duties of a musician vary. However, Some of the main aspects of being a musician are: 

  • Performing the instrument or singing at various venues, including concerts, festivals, and theatres. 
  • Recording their songs in a studio. 
  • Preparing for and attending auditions. 
  • Rehearsing their instrument or vocals. 
  • Composing or writing new music. 
  • Promoting their act using methods such as social media, blog posts, and traditional advertising. 
  • Business activities, including accounts and taxes. 
  • Communicating with venues to arrange gigs and tours.
  • Some musicians will also work as teachers, conductors, or other jobs in the music industry.

While many musicians do have a music degree or formal education, tertiary education isn’t at all mandatory. However, degrees are available in music, but some courses do focus more on the academic side. Many great musicians have earned their reputation by practising and performing as much as possible from a young age. 

Attending a Conservatoire, which is a music college, may be beneficial. There is a broader range of courses on offer at these specialised colleges and candidates wanting a career in music may find it an excellent place to make connections and get inspiration.

Practical experience is an essential part of becoming a musician and is something that candidates will constantly be obtaining. Prospective musicians will be expected to perform in choirs, orchestras, or solo on stage, and have recordings and videos of performances to show to prospective clients. 

Most musicians are self-employed, although an orchestra or choir hires some of them on a full or part-time basis. If the musician is self-employed, they must be prepared to organise all of the logistics of their business, including taxes, legalities, and promotion of their services. 

Candidates can, of course, outsource these tasks at their own expense. Musicians should also be aware of how much to charge for their work, and be comfortable with the entire responsibility for their business.

Due to the likelihood being self-employed, and the fact that most musicians do not find success overnight, anyone entering this career should have a high level of determination and motivation. They should be able to accept criticism and know that the road to success as a musician may not be linear. 

They should also be prepared to practice frequently, often on the same piece, until they get it right. This requires a lot of self-discipline. For musicians who perform as part of a group, strong teamwork abilities are necessary. 

Many musicians work part-time and also do another job to help supplement their income, particularly at the start of their career. Their job could be music-related or non-music related. Music-related careers include teaching, conducting an orchestra, composing music or doing workshops for the public. 

The work opportunities are diverse. Candidates could work for opera companies, recording studios, the military, on cruise ships, at holiday camps, or in the theatre. As they gain more connections and work history, they will find it easier to secure roles – and may eventually be in the position where they are offered work rather than having to search for it. 

Musicians who are performing in an orchestra may find that they need to be geographically mobile and move between orchestras to develop their position. Other musicians may become producers, managers, songwriters, or composers as they advance in their musical career.

What degree is most commonly held by a Musician?

  • Bachelor of Music Technology
  • Masters of Violin Performance
  • Bachelor's Degree of Contemporary Music
  • Master of Music Theory
  • Bachelor of General Music Performance
  • Bachelor of Applied Music

What is the Salary of a Musician?

Experience Average salary | year
Musician 1-3 yrs $20,000 £18,000 $22,142
Musician 3-5 yrs $40,000 £30,000 $51,000
Musician 5-10 yrs $100,000 £85,000 $100,000

What skills are needed to become a Musician?

  • Music
  • Music Production
  • Music Industry
  • Songwriting
  • Social Media
  • Music Education
  • Singing
  • Composition
  • Entertainment
  • Recording
  • Music Theory
  • Studio Recording
  • Customer Service
  • Microsoft Office
  • Teaching
  • Management
  • Music Composition
  • Band
  • Public Speaking
  • Leadership
  • Bands
  • Piano
  • Musical Theatre
  • Orchestral Music
  • Audio Recording

Selection of online courses

  • Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

    Learn about the psychology of music and movement and how researchers study music-related movements with this free online course

  • Video Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music

    Chart the evolution of the classic 8-bit sound and discover the role of musicians in game design and development

  • Becoming a Better Music Teacher

    Improve your teaching strategies and skills as a music teacher or vocal coach with this ABRSM online course

  • From Notation to Performance: Understanding Musical Scores

    Find out how musicians turn the notation of a musical score into a memorable performance Change how you listen to music

  • From Ink to Sound: Decoding Musical Manuscripts

    Travel through the history of musical notation and learn how to decode medieval music manuscripts

  • Music Psychology: Why Does "Bohemian Rhapsody" Feel so Good?

    Explore music psychology and find out why music can make us feel by analysing Queen's famous song Bohemian Rhapsody

  • Making Music with Others

    Get an introduction to group music-making and the social contexts in which musicians participate

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How to Become a Musician

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