The career options within the recording industry are as diverse as music itself. Below you’ll find a brief overview of a few of the larger functional areas within the industry and possible job titles within those areas. This is in no way inclusive of all career options within the recording industry. If you have a specific career interest that is not described here, speak with a Career Advisor.
Artist & Repertoire (A & R)
Those employed in Artist & Repertoire, known in the industry as A & R, find and sign new talent by reviewing demos, attending shows and clubs, and keeping up with trends in local and emerging music scenes. They also connect with existing talent, encouraging the talent to record future works with their record label. Once talent is signed, A & R professionals work with them on all aspects of their career, including finding songs, connecting them with business managers, accountants, lawyers, and coordinating efforts with other departments within the record label to assure their success.
Possible Job Titles: A & R Representative, Talent Acquisition Representative
Those on the production side of the industry work with artists and musicians to select songs, tailor songs to the artist’s strengths, find an appropriate studio to record the music and see the music through all stages of the mixing and mastering, arranging for and working with appropriate recording and production staff.
Possible Job Titles: Arranger, Producer, Sound Engineer, Recording Engineer, Studio Assistant, Studio Manager, Acoustician, Mastering Engineer, Music Editor
The goal of the promotion staff is to get as much airplay as possible for the label’s albums and singles. They work with radio stations, satellite and online radio providers, music video networks, and entertainment website and blogs to encourage them to include songs in their rotations or mention an artist or album. Promotions also works closely with marketing and/or advertising to assure artist merchandise is reaching consumers. Consumer researchers identify where, how, and to what populations the promotion and marketing efforts will be most effective. Public relations professionals assist by scheduling promotional appearances, radio and television interviews, and press conferences to generate a positive buzz about the artist(s) and assure consumers are aware of the album and singles. They also manage the overall image for the artist/group.
Possible Job Titles: Regional Promotions Manager, Staff Publicist, Marketing Representative, Consumer Researcher, Advertising Account Manager, Public Relations Representative
Professionals in music publishing acquire songs from songwriters or artists, file the appropriate copyright paperwork, and obtain the rights to the song. The publisher then works to sell the song by getting a singer to record it or having the song used in a movie, commercial or television show. The publisher also assures there is no copyright infringements or unauthorized use of songs and pursues royalties for use of the material.
Additional Career Options
There are many complementary career options beyond the ones highlighted above. These include, but are not limited to: Finance/Business Management; Entertainment Law (Intellectual property, copyright, recording contracts); Entertainment Journalism (Rolling Stone, Spin, Variety); Photography (for cover art, promotional materials, press kits, industry publications); Graphic Design/Layout (for cover art, promotional materials). When thinking about the range of possible careers and employers, it’s important to go beyond the record labels and also consider the entertainment media, music festivals and concert venues.
Things to Consider
The recording industry is very competitive; networking is a key component to getting your foot in the door. Start developing connections early on through informational interviewing and interning, and put in the effort to maintain those connections. When looking for job or internship opportunities, review your own music collection; what record companies are producing the music you listen to? Those companies would be a great place to begin your search, though keep in mind that most do not post their job and internship opportunities and you may need to contact them to inquire about opportunities.
Summer internship hiring will take place anywhere between January and May, depending on whether there is an established internship program or not. Larger record labels, entertainment media and venues tend to hire earlier with deadlines typically between January and March; smaller labels and production companies don’t always know their needs in advance, and may hold off on hiring until summer gets closer, though there are always exceptions. Music festival hiring will vary depending on when the festival is taking place. Full-time hiring is rarely predictable, and typically happens when someone leaves their position. Also keep in mind that in the music industry it can take time and hard work to land your first job and move up the industry ladder, and during the early stages of your career your salary and responsibilities may not be substantial.