Music – As a career by Jim Ankan Deka

A popular saying goes “Music is what feelings sound like”. Indeed, music is an aesthetic reflection of feelings and little is left to wonder why the aspirants of music careers are so high in number. Unfortunately very few have the aptitude and even fewer posses the patience and determination to make it big as a musician.

Music is indeed a road less traveled especially if one wishes to pursue it as a career or mode of livelihood. In past financial challenge and lack of opportunities were the main bottlenecks of a career in music. Thankfully, the flourishing of industries like Music, Media, Films, Television and Advertising, has opened the floodgates of opportunities for aspiring Musicians.

Some of the common areas where a good musician can build a career are – Music Composing, Arranging, Management, Song Writing and Music production. One with good vocals may opt to be a singer or a performer while a musician with good verbalization can become a music journalist or critic. Musicians with great presentation skills and wit can be jockeys for Radio and Televisions. An in-depth knowledge of Music also helps one become a Disk Jockey.

On the less glamorous yet fulfilling front, stand those who prefer to become a Music Teacher. Even lesser known areas are Music Therapy, Musicology and Music Librarian.

Singers / Performers: Singers and Performing artists work either alone or as bands. They can concentrate on vocals or instruments or both together depending on their genre. A high standard of musical and technical skill is required and expected from performers in all areas. Platforms for performances vary from concert halls to Lounge settings to recoding artists in studios. Playback signing is also a fulfilling career option.

Music Educator / Teacher: A music teacher takes the crucial responsibility of imparting articulate musical education. Elementarily they must instill an interest and enthusiasm for music among the students. They must have a thorough knowledge of music to impart training to their students. 

Music composers / Songwriters:  Those with thorough understanding of music as well as the ability to write music may choose to be music composer and song writers. Such work requires great musical versatility and creativity. Usually Composers and song writers involve in making music for various media like film, television, ad jingles, radio jingles, records and albums. They are also required to know about the business aspect of song writing such as copyrights, networking, publishing, contracts, performing rights etc. 

Producers: A music Producer is mainly involved in the business aspect of Music creation. Artist Management, Finances, copyrights, networking, publishing, contracts, performing rights etc. are her/his main areas of responsibility. Music ability, technical Know-how and entrepreneurship are essential qualities of a Music Producer. They can work for a particular artist or band as well as in Artist Management firms, Performing Arts Organization, Music Tours etc.

Music Journalist/Reviewer:  A Music Journalist is required to give unbiased and useful reports and critique on Music. They review performances and recordings, conduct interviews with performers for various publications and write music reviews. One may also opt to work as a freelancer for various Magazines and Newspapers. With the advent of World Wide Web as the next fizzing thing in Media industry, many portals offer work on a freelance basis. To be a good Music Journalist or reviewer one has to have good knowledge and taste in Music as well as proficiency in writing.

Radio Jockeys (RJs),Video Jockeys (VJs) & Disc Jockeys (DJs): The onslaught of media has enable people to earn money just by playing music for others. Such jobs include introducing a music video, conducting interviews with artists and music personalities.  Although no prerequisite stream of study is required for such jobs a background in Communication studies or performing arts comes in handy.

Main attributes required to work in this visual medium are excellent presentation skills, clear voice, presence of mind, in depth knowledge about various styles of music, musicians and albums, communication skills, confidence, ability to take split-second decisions, good body language and dress sense.

Musicologist: With good knowledge of music, an aptitude for research and excellent communication skills, one can work as musicologist in research institutes. 

Music Therapist: Music Therapists also known as Music Counselors who are involved in healing disorders with Music. They are trained to utilize rhythm and melody to improve psychological and emotional well being. They must have the ability to explore, interpret and develop the creative use of sound. 

Music therapists provide therapeutic programs to people of all age group with psychiatric and physical disorders as well as mental impairments. Music therapists are employed in psychiatric hospitals, community mental health agencies, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, residences for the mentally disabled etc. They can also do private practice. 

Music Librarian: Colleges and public libraries offer opportunities for trained music specialists with knowledge of library and research techniques. There are also opportunities for music librarians in radio, television, and motion pictures. In addition to any music qualification they have to necessarily have a Bachelor’s Degree in Library and Information Science. 

  • Jim Ankan Deka, Director, Eastern Fare Music Foundation (Bangalore)

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