Musicians earn money from performing music of any style from rock, pop, indie, to jazz or folk

What does a musician do?

You could perform as part of a band or choir, a solo artist, or a session or backing musician. 

You would spend your time:

  • practising and rehearsing
  • playing in front of an audience
  • composing songs and music to perform (or learning covers of other artists' music)
  • taking part in recording sessions (as an individual performer, with your own band or by providing backing or vocals at recording sessions)
  • promoting your act in various ways, such as contacting agents and record companies, setting up a website and making demos
  • arranging gigs and tours (or dealing with a manager or agent who does this for you)

You would often combine music with other types of work, particularly at the start of your career.

What do I need to do to become a musician?

You need a good level of musical ability as a singer or on your chosen instrument. It can be an advantage if you know how to read music, but it’s not always essential.

Many musicians start learning an instrument from an early age, and you can take part-time classes at many colleges, adult education centres, with private music teachers and at performing arts schools. Some of these, such as Rockschool or the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), may offer qualifications and music graded exams in subjects like:

  • guitar
  • bass
  • drums
  • popular piano
  • vocals

You could take a college or university course in popular music or music technology. Studying could provide you with training and the opportunity to perform. Check with colleges for exact entry requirements – you may need to pass an audition.

Related skills

  • Business management
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Teamwork

Academic route

  • Foundation degree, degree and postgraduate award in a related subject
  • HNC/HND in Performing Arts

Vocational route

  • Level 2 Certificate in Performing Arts
  • Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts

Related subjects

  • Drama, music, and performing arts

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You might play one-off gigs, regular weekly or monthly slots, or a whole season if touring as a session musician or appearing at a holiday park or on a cruise ship.

You could play in a wide range of places, such as:

  • pubs
  • clubs
  • larger music venues
  • recording studios
  • theatres
  • hotels and restaurants
  • music festivals

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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