How to Start a Music Career in 2024

How to Start a Music Career in 2024 How to Start a Music Career in 2024

Breaking into today's music industry is no simple feat. While technology has enabled more people than ever to create their own music, the industry at large has become increasingly competitive, making it challenging to secure a true career in the business.

Between identifying your unique path, managing several social media accounts, and networking with other artists and industry professionals, paving your path can get downright confusing. Fortunately, many of us at Emastered have firsthand experience when it comes to starting a sustainable career in music.

Below, we'll outline all of the important steps to transport you from music lover to having a career in this complicated yet coveted field.

Are You Sure You Want to Be in the Music Business?

It wouldn't be fair for us to sugarcoat our advice: succeeding in the music industry is no simple feat, and so you should certainly determine whether you're ready to take on that level of sacrifice.

There are plenty of other musicians and even touring artists who play in prominent music venues and create awesome songs while still holding down a day job. According to the, most musicians make between 39K and 60K a year. Musicians often work as contractor which can come with considerable sacrifices in terms of job security, healthcare benefits, and overall predictability.

In short, it's not for the faint of heart. We don't mean to discourage any budding artists, though throughout your journey you'll inevitably face doubt. If you go into your music career knowing that you'll have to make concession where other careers might not and still want to pursue the profession, you might have the tenacity needed to create a sustainable livelihood.

On the other hand, in my eyes, you can still be a "pro artist" without having music as your full-time job. In fact, unless you're a rare "overnight success" you'll likely balance several jobs alongside music for a good chunk of your career.

Just know that a music career is by no means linear and that your legitimacy as a creator is not defined by your ability to monetize something you love.

How to Start a Music Career in 7 Steps

Now that that's out of the way, here are seven strategies you can walk through to craft out your unique space within the music industry:

1. Identify What Part of the Music Industry You want to Work In

Many beginner musicians forget that there are many positions that fall under the umbrella of the music industry outside of being a performer. It's important to remember that the more coveted any particular career path may be, the more challenging it can be to break into and earn money. With that in mind, here are just a few subsectors of the music industry you might want to consider.

  • Recording Artist: This is arguably the most coveted position, as many musicians dream of making a living off of creating quality music, and living off of live performances, merchandise, and other forms of income. However, this path is likely the most difficult since it's so demand and depends heavily on your ability to market yourself and connect with the right people, all while making your favorite sounds.
  • Performing Live: Few artists make the bulk of their income on performing live alone, but there are many with exceptional performance skills that are well suited to shine on stage, whether that's as the main artist or as part of a band.
  • Music Management: You can also work on the business side of the music industry, helping artists produce shows, negotiate contracts, secure playlist placements and more. Most music business professionals will be working within the context of a well-established label though there are some cases in which an established musician will pick his or her in-house team for a variety of roles.
  • Session Musician: These musicians come into studio sessions compose or perform a part of a song and get paid by the day, hourly, or occasionally, through writing royalties. Session musicians need to be exceptionally skilled at their instrument and improvising on the fly.
  • Music Reporter: While not nearly as common as past areas, you could work in music media whether that's as a concert photographer, music reporter, or audio writer (here I am)!
  • Audio Engineer: Audio engineers can help monitor and facilitate live audio, whether that's within the context of a music venue or studio. Not everyone will be willing to put in the technical training that's required to execute this path well.
  • Music Producer: Music producers help build the beats and instrumentals behind every great track. Producers are sometimes paid an hourly fee, percentage of royalties, or session fee depending on your experience and state in your career. Music production can be challenging to make a living in before you start scoring more high profile clients.

You might focus solely on one of these paths, or do a combination of several of these skillsets while you create music. In any case, it's essential to identify what your definition of "making it" is - How much do you want to earn? Do you want to be the face of your career or work behind the scenes with other amazing artists? What do you want your lifestyle to look like? These are all guiding questions you should be asking yourself to help identify where you want to go in the business.

2. Shadow Your Areas of Interest

There's a lot of variety across the different fields within the music industry. It's a good idea to shadow those areas you might be interested in if possible to not only gain exposure to the field itself, but to network with other artists and creative professionals. If you find yourself unsure on where to start, look for a local support group or meetup of musicians.

While there, be friendly and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. Ask other professional musicians about their journey to cultivating a career in music. Make yourself available to intern or assist in any way you can in a professional setting.

3. Cultivate Leverage

The modern state of music demands that you cultivate a following via social media or otherwise, which will in turn, give you leverage throughout your career. Showcasing your musical or industry expertise is just part of the job, and can also help you network with fans and other creative professionals. Being in front of the camera can take some getting used to, but if you want to have a musical career, you're likely going to have to manage some if not all of your branding or marketing, at least in the beginning.

4. Build Multiple Income Streams

Remember that visibility and popularity in music does not necessarily equate to income: if you can, create a business plan that incorporates multiple streams of revenue. This will vary from one career to the next, but one thing is common for all music careers: life in the music industry is constantly unpredictable. Expand your skillset as much as possible so that you can tend to multiple aspects of the music industry, increasing your sustainability in a volatile field.

5. Save Money and Create Constantly, Well Before You're Ready to Go Full Time

Most people who enter in the music industry have no trouble being creative - it's balancing the mundane that is the most challenging. Don't forget to save money and continue creating, even in slow periods. You'll never know when you'll need money for a rainy day, or while upfronting expenses for gear, a tour, or any of the many other miscellaneous expenses that come with this career path.

If you're not making on a regular basis, it will be challenging for other industry professionals to scope out your expertise. Creating in this tough industry isn't always easy, but ultimately, consistent output leads to momentum.

6. Constantly Expand to New Audiences

While balancing the creative aspects and logistics that come from shepherding an unpredictable career path, you have to keep networking in and outside your local community. Successful musicians engage with other musicians' art - the meat and potatoes when it comes to building a sustainable career in music is connecting with other people. Finding fans or supporters by happenstance becomes easier as you go along, but for the first several years, you'll have to put in a lot of leg work when it comes to scoring an audience.

7. Be Patient and Make the Jump When You're Ready

The truth is that cultivating a career in the music industry is a marathon, not a sprint. It will likely take several years working on music or music industry-related tasks in the background before you're ready to make the jump to full-time. If you can, try not to rush this transition: many musicians burn themselves out unintentionally by making the jump too early: trust the process and follow your heart, but remember that even the best and brightest have to compromise at some point to pay rent.

How to Start a Music Career in 2024 FAQs

Do you still find yourself lost while trying to pursue a career in music? Consider these commonly asked questions and answers:

How do I start a career in the music industry?

How you start your career in music will vary heavily based on your individual goals within the industry. Use this guide to help define your unique version of "success" in music, which will act as a blueprint for your journey.

How can I work in music with no experience?

You can work in music with no experience by seeking out a mentor who might be willing to take you under their wing. Alternatively, you can start posting music online to craft a community and potentially leverage it on your own terms.

How do I get started in music career?

You can get started in music by making music yourself, working with the most aspiring musicians around you, and following the other strategies outlined in this guide. Remember that there are plenty of ways to work in the music industry outside of limiting yourself to being strictly a performing artist.

Is 25 too late to start a music career?

It is never too late to start pursuing what you love. There are numerous examples of artists who have broke through in the music industry well past their 30s and even 50s. If you love music, you should certainly make it, regardless of age.

How hard is it to get into a music career?

We don't want to sugarcoat the truth - it is considerably difficult to get a career in music. However, it becomes easier when you broaden your scope of what that looks like and take the strategies outlined above to heart.

Building a successful music career was never easy, but today's complex landscape comes with some unique hurdles. Hopefully, this guide provides you with plenty of insight into what you can expect while finding your place within music. Enjoy your journey on route to a successful career in the arts!

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