Is becoming a musician right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do musicians do?
Career Satisfaction
Are musicians happy with their careers?
What are musicians like?

Still unsure if becoming a musician is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a musician or another similar career!

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How to become a Musician

Becoming a musician is an exciting journey that requires dedication, passion, and perseverance. Here are some steps you can take to start your path towards becoming a musician:

  • Choose an Instrument or Vocal Style: Decide which instrument you want to learn or if you want to focus on vocals. Consider your interests, strengths, and the type of music you want to play. If you're unsure, you can try different instruments or styles before committing to one.
  • Take Lessons or Learn Independently: Enroll in music lessons with a qualified instructor or utilize online resources and tutorials to learn your instrument or develop your vocal skills. Regular practice is crucial for improvement, so set aside dedicated time for practice sessions.
  • Learn Music Theory: Familiarize yourself with the basics of music theory, such as reading sheet music, understanding rhythm, scales, chords, and basic harmony. This knowledge will provide a strong foundation for your musical journey.
  • Formal Education: Although it is not required that a musician have formal education, a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in Music or Music Theory and Composition can help musicians to better understand the fundamentals of music, music history, musical composition and production, and musical theory and ear training. This training can be applied to all types of music, including classical, jazz, and rock. Formal training also gives students ample opportunities to work with other musicians and mentors during and after instrumental instruction.
  • Join a Band or Ensemble: Seek opportunities to collaborate with other musicians by joining a band, orchestra, choir, or ensemble. This will help you develop your ability to play with others, improve your sense of timing, and expand your musical horizons.
  • Attend Workshops and Music Programs: Participate in workshops, music camps, or educational programs to further enhance your skills, gain exposure to different musical genres, and connect with other aspiring musicians and industry professionals.
  • Perform Live: Start performing in front of an audience to gain experience and build confidence. Look for open mic nights, local gigs, or community events where you can showcase your talent. Performing live will also help you refine your stage presence and develop a connection with your audience.
  • Collaborate and Network: Collaborate with other musicians, songwriters, and producers to expand your musical network and learn from different perspectives. Networking is vital in the music industry, so attend events, join online communities, and connect with fellow musicians and industry professionals.
  • Create and Record Music: Start creating your own music by composing original songs or arranging covers. Consider recording your music in a studio or using home recording equipment to share your work with a wider audience through platforms like YouTube, SoundCloud, or social media.
  • Seek Feedback and Learn from Criticism: Embrace constructive criticism as it can help you grow as a musician. Seek feedback from mentors, fellow musicians, or music educators to improve your skills and refine your musical style.
  • Continuously Learn and Evolve: Keep learning and expanding your musical knowledge. Attend workshops, masterclasses, and continue exploring different styles and genres. Stay updated on industry trends and technologies that can enhance your musical abilities.

Helpful Resources
There are numerous resources available to musicians that can provide support, education, networking opportunities, and more.

  • Performing Rights Organizations (PROs): Organizations such as ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) help musicians collect royalties for the public performance of their music. They also offer resources for music creators, including workshops, industry events, and networking opportunities.
  • Local Musicians' Unions: The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) represents professional musicians and offers various benefits such as contract protection, healthcare options, and access to legal advice. Local musicians' unions affiliated with AFM can provide valuable resources, including networking events, educational programs, and performance opportunities.
  • Music Organizations and Associations: There are numerous music organizations and associations that cater to specific genres, instruments, or professional interests. Examples include the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the Recording Academy (known for the GRAMMY Awards), the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). These organizations offer resources, advocacy, professional development, and networking opportunities for musicians.
  • Artist Support Funds and Grants: There are various organizations and foundations that provide financial support to musicians through grants, scholarships, and fellowships. Some notable ones include the MusiCares Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the ASCAP Foundation, and the Recording Academy's MusiCares Foundation. These programs can offer assistance for career development, recording projects, tour support, and emergency aid.
  • Educational Institutions and Workshops: Many universities, colleges, and music schools across the United States offer music programs, workshops, and masterclasses that can help musicians refine their skills, expand their knowledge, and network with other musicians and industry professionals. Examples include Berklee College of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music.
  • Online Platforms and Communities: Online platforms like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and YouTube provide musicians with a space to showcase their work, build a fan base, and connect with other musicians. Additionally, there are online communities and forums such as the Musician's Lounge on Reddit or specific genre-focused forums where musicians can seek advice, collaborate, and share resources.
  • Local Music Associations and Meetups: Check for local music associations, industry meetups, or networking events in your area. These gatherings provide opportunities to connect with fellow musicians, industry professionals, and music enthusiasts who can offer advice, collaborations, and potential performance opportunities.
  • Music Conferences and Festivals: Attend music conferences and festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW), CMJ Music Marathon, or Folk Alliance International. These events feature panels, workshops, performances, and networking opportunities that can help musicians gain exposure, industry knowledge, and valuable connections.