It’s easy to hear “music industry” and think: ok, so, we’re talking about musicians. Sure, without the creative outpouring of work from musicians there wouldn’t be an industry to work in. But as they say, it takes a village—sometimes a very large, expensive, interwoven village—to raise a child. Erm, or to raise the profile of a musician’s song.
Here are a few cool offstage and behind-the-scenes positions in the music biz:
Video game sound designer
To say that the video game industry is massive is an understatement. In 2017, it generated more than $108 billion—yes, billion—in revenue. While this industry is competitive, it’s also wide-ranging and directly overlaps with the music industry. As a video game sound designer, you can create everything from short jingles to long, thematic scores. Many sound designers are freelancers who get paid by the project, but full-time folks can earn upward of $80k per year.
As in many creative industries, there’s a wide range in salary compensation in the music biz. This is especially true if you’re a booking agent. When you’re helping book upcoming live events for the artist you’re representing, it makes a huge difference who the artist is. If you work with a creative agency, you can make an annual salary that ranges from $75k to more than $1m for those big-name stars, according to Billboard.
Music industry attorney
Musical artists and their labels deal with lots of contracts, which means you can expect there to be well-paid lawyers in the room who know how to negotiate. If you like reading the fine print and want a job that still keeps you in contact with good music, consider becoming a music attorney. These specialized lawyers represent their clients (which can be musicians, record labels, or event promoters) in the negotiation process. Usually music industry attorneys deal with intellectual property rights and can finesse deals concerning the use of an artist’s likeness or their compensation for an event. Expect to make a typical lawyer’s salary, though your compensation will vary by city.
Film/TV music supervisor
You know how you’re flooded with emotion whenever that scene starts in your favorite movie? It’s the job of the film or TV show’s music supervisor to secure licensing deals for the music that makes you feel that way. The pay range for this is wide as well, since music supervisors are paid by project. That means you can earn between $5k -$500k, according to Forbes. Secure a job on a big Hollywood blockbuster and the pay starts around $150k.
Recording engineers are responsible for manipulating the sound for a studio album. They know how to cut, edit, and mix sound to get the right feel for a song. While a recording engineer oversees the technical aspects of a recording session, they can also double as the producer. Those working in arts and theater companies typically earn the least, according to The Chronicle, while those in film can earn substantially more. For those in the music industry? Expect to find yourself in the middle pay range, around $57k per year.
If you love to travel, being a road manager might be up your alley. You’ll be responsible for managing transportation, scheduling, and keeping tabs on the money coming in and out for your musicians’ tour. Though those on the bottom end of this pay scale can earn as little as $25k annually, while those at the top can make $125k. That’s because road managers are paid week-by-week and factors like the overall tour budget, the length of the tour, and the act’s prominence can affect your net pay. You can expect to make a base salary and have your meal expenses covered.
Everyone needs a social team these days. That’s especially true for musicians, who are expected to maintain public personas and engage with their followers. There’s a wide sub-category of communications jobs in the music industry, which mirror social media and public relations jobs in other fields. A junior publicist at a public relations agency focused solely on music can earn between $40-50k per year, according to a 2016 study by the Berklee College of Music.
Market research analyst
If you like crunching numbers, then consider a job as a market research analyst. You’ll be taking a close look at a company’s competitors across the music industry by analyzing trends across social media platforms, distribution channels, etc. Expect a base salary of $60k per year, according to research from Glassdoor.
Music publishing jobs have some of the higher salaries in the industry, as you’ll be dealing with licensing deals, royalties, and paperwork. Remember, a songwriter is the owner of the song, but that doesn’t mean they’re looking after who wants to use it all the time—for instance, if a company runs it in their commercial. That’s where music publishers come in to take care of the nitty gritty.
You’ll secure publishing contracts, scout out talent, and advocate for your clients to place their songs in, say, a particular TV scene. As part of securing rights, a publisher will often negotiate a contract establishing 50-50 ownership between the songwriter/act and the publishing company for compensation, according to Get In Media. Again, earnings here can vary widely depending on factors like radio airplay, the licenses in effect and how many songwriters were involved. A number-one record can bring in $800k, according to Careers In Music.
Maybe you’re looking for a more creative position within the music industry, but not necessary as a musician or songwriter. If you’re a visual person, working as a video producer might be your best fit. The average salary for a video producer is $55k per year, according to Indeed, though an executive producer earns an average salary of $86k per year.