Career paths in the music industry: From A & R to Music Publishing

Music business careers

Today’s music business is an ever-evolving entity with new roles for industry professionals constantly appearing as exciting technologies and businesses launch. Studying our Music Business degree can be an effective way of staying on top of the different routes available for anyone looking to pursue a career in music. Get in touch to find out more. 

From recording artists to music licensing and publishing, the music business provides music industry professionals with multiple career opportunities for them to pursue.

Behind the music, the performances and creative processes, the industry ecosystem is a complex one with different practices in place to take music from the studio to the listener.

In our blog, we explore the various roles and opportunities and the best ways to develop the skills to launch a successful career in the music industry…

Unlocking Success in the Music Industry: Building a Rewarding Career

What are the best ways of advancing your industry journey? Do you want to work for a music company? Or perhaps you want to freelance and develop a portfolio career?

There are different ways to start and these are questions you need to ask yourself about the direction you want to take. But here are some sturdy foundations to begin with that many a music company will look for when seeking new talent.

Study a course – undertaking a music degree can be a great way of acquiring the requisite skills and knowledge to begin your music industry journey. If you have a strong understanding of how the sector operates, the various challenges and opportunities, then this can take you a long way.

Develop a strong network – the industry is based around connections with other professionals. So learning the best ways to network, maintain relationships and grow your list of industry contacts can really help further your ambitions.

Stay up to date – since its inception, the music industry has never stood still. It is a creative industry and means there are always new things to learn from the business side. Read the latest industry news from music journalists, attend music-related events and take courses where appropriate to refresh your knowledge.

Skills and Qualities to develop

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The business side of the industry requires industry professionals to possess an array of different transferable skills, qualities and technical knowledge. Some include:

Passion for the job

While there are many different music industry jobs, those working in the sector are united by a deep passion for music and those who create it. If you are obsessed by music and how it is made, then the music industry is a great place for you.

Digital skills

As with so many sectors, much of the music industry operates online or through digital processes. Understanding social media sites such as Facebook or TikTok or the SEO behind websites is an essential attribute.


Rejection is something that many aspiring music industry professionals need to know how to navigate. It’s a competitive industry and it’s unlikely that you will always win the job or opportunity that you want. Instead, try and see any setback as something to learn from that will help you take on the next challenge.


An ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and get on with people can go a long way in the music industry. As the well worn phrase goes, “it’s nice to be important but even more important to be nice”.

Organisational skills

Today’s music industry workers need to be well organised as the pace of the sector is so rapid. There are often multiple tasks competing for attention so being able to prioritise and juggle different deadlines can really help advance a career.

Types of Music Industry Careers

music, undertake, job

The music industry offers plentiful opportunities for aspiring professionals, no matter what stage of your journey you are at.

Here are some of the most common roles out there.

Music Publisher

Music Publishers are responsible for promoting and monetising the music of artists and songwriters. They work as part of the music publishing industry to liaise with record labels, streaming services, and other music industry players to ensure that artists and songwriters are compensated for the use of their work.

Music Producers

Many Music Producers work out of a recording studio with an artist, songwriter or creative to capture a performance of a piece of work. A Music Producer will then ensures that the recorded music production is of a high enough standard for it to be released into the wider world. They need to be capable of leading a recording session and production process, and work closely with different collaborators, from recording artists to a Recording Engineer.

Music Manager

Artist management is a key area of the music industry in helping develop the careers of emerging and more established talent. Their role will involve many different skill sets depending on what stage their client is at. As an Artist Manager, taking on responsibility for their business affairs and guiding an artist’s career is key.

Recording Engineers

A Recording Engineer will work in recording studios to record Session Musicians, each instrument or part separately and often repeatedly, creating a number of tracks and takes to work with. This can range from guitar bands to musical scores for TV and film projects. Once all or most of the components of the song have been captured, sound engineers then bring them together with the Music Producer.

Artist Relations

Professionals working in artist relations are responsible for developing the careers of their clients and managing connections on their behalf – whether this be with a brand, record label or other team members. Conflict resolution is an important part of this role alongside being able to maintain effective channels of communication between all parties.

Music Journalist

Music Journalists are responsible for writing about the latest developments within the world of music, previously for magazines, now often for websites/blogs and newsletters. This form of content creation could also include broadcast media, podcast and video coverage alongside social media content management. Content Creators will include using industry contacts to inform reviews of new releases, events, interviews with new artists and news stories focusing on music-related news.

Record Label Manager

A solid understanding of different parts of the music industry will help a Record Label Manager excel in their role – from developing marketing strategies to creating promotional materials for fresh talent such as press kits. To head up record companies, they will need a thorough understanding of how copyright works, release strategies and how to ensure any music releases are picked up by digital service providers.

Booking Agent

Music Agents work on behalf of artists to plot live tours and schedule gigs. Their role includes working on contracts for these bookings, negotiating fees and sometimes putting together a tour of several live performances. They will also try and secure slots at festivals and as support acts to other artists where appropriate.

Tour Manager

The live music industry is driven by the Tour Manager who will be responsible for managing a tour for a group or artist. It will be down to these professionals to ensure that an act gets to each gig/soundcheck on time and honours any other commitments when out on the road, whether this be meeting fans at in-stores, selling merchandise and more.

Music Festivals Team

Music festivals offer multiple opportunities and music jobs. From artist liaison and Event Stewards to Music Journalists looking to write concert reviews, live events of all kind can only happen due to hard-working teams.

Studio Manager

Studio Managers will need to be able to work across a variety of different roles depending on the size of their operation. Their duties run from studio and gear maintenance to business operations and customer relations.

Music Tutor

Music Tutors usually work for colleges or universities on specific courses. Many have vast music industry experience alongside completing a degree in music or teaching. They can teach a range of different subjects or modules, including music business, performance, history and music theory.

Sound Engineer

Sound Engineers work on live music performances to ensure they sound as great as possible. Their role includes setting up the sound equipment and controlling audio levels from a sound desk in the front of house. They adjust elements such as the EQ and balance sound levels between instruments on stage to create the best possible sonic experience for the audience.

Venue Manager

The job of a Music Venue Manager involves overseeing the daily operations of a music venue. This might be at a single venue – from a small local theatre to a vast city arena, or may relate to a venue centre – a location made up of several venues. Responsibilities could include everything from day to day admin to programming, and liaising with artist management over performances and events.

Marketing Manager

A music marketing professional will need to develop strategies and manage campaigns to sell an artist’s product, whether that be a new release or tickets for an event. They will need to be well organised, great at communicating and capable of working to deadlines to meet sales targets.

Study Music Business at SAE

At SAE, our Music Business Degree can help students learn the best ways to develop a network in the music industry.

As we’ve seen above, it’s an essential skill that will take you a long way on your journey within the sector.

Honing this ability alongside discovering more about various areas of the business such as publishing, copyright and more will give you the edge when it comes to forging your own path or looking for music industry opportunities.

Get in touch with our team to find out more.

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