This is an excerpt from my new book, How to Make It in the New Music Business THIRD EDITION. To see the full list of over 100 jobs, check out the book.
So much of this blog and my book revolves around the world of recording and performing artists.
Of course, being an artist myself, this is my perspective. And in this crazy New Music Business we’re living in, artists initially have to figure out how to navigate the confusing industry on their own.
However, lots of nonartists have read this book as well, to better understand the nuances of the industry and what it takes.
As I have interviewed hundreds of music industry personnel—on both the New Music Business podcast and privately in preparation for this book and for Ari’s Take articles—I have been constantly amazed by just how many professions there are in the New Music Business other than merely recording artist and performing musician.
So, let’s discuss some of them, shall we?
1. Audio Software
There are quite a few companies employing quite a few people responsible for all of the various sounds used in productions these days. Some of the bigger employers include Native Instruments, Splice, Ableton, and Avid.
2. Backline and Instrument Rental
Artists who fly to shows and don’t travel with their gear need to rent gear locally. There are companies that serve these needs. Especially in L.A. and NYC, where this happens frequently.
3. Box Office and Ticketing Manager
These people are employed by music venues and handle all of the ticketing and box office operations. They work hand in hand with the venue manager, promoter, talent buyer, agent, manager, and artist handling guest list and VIP along with all ticketing operations.
4. Catalog Manager
Often employed at publishing companies or record labels, they manage the metadata of every song in the catalog. Who are all the writers on the song? Who are their publishers? What is everyone’s contact information?
5. Caterer/Private Chef
Some artists are lucky enough to have a private chef on tour with them. If you’re an incredible chef, love a band and wouldn’t mind hitting the road with them, why not offer your services? Dave Matthews Band’s former private chef, Mitch Rutman, was also a fantastic guitarist whom the band invited on stage to jam with them occasionally. Not a bad gig!
6. Community Manager
We now see this most commonly with livestreamers. Musicians who livestream multiple hours a day can’t always moderate the comments in real time or manage the community so that fans feel engaged and connected (and inspired to empty their pocketbooks in a friendly way). A livestreaming producer might also dip into the role of community manager, or they may focus primarily on the technical aspects of the stream. As Discord has grown, many livestreamers (and artists in general) are hosting their fan communities there. It’s helpful to have a familiar face in addition to the artist who can keep the community engaged and connected.
7. Digital Service Provider
Otherwise known as DSP. This is the catchall term to include all streaming services, like Spotify, Apple Music and the rest. As you can imagine, there are a ton of jobs at these companies–sexy ones like playlist curator, and less sexy ones like metadata manager.
8. Festival Grounds Personnel
There are so many jobs that go into putting on a festival. And job titles often intersect and interchange. What’s in a title anyway? Here are just a few that fall under this umbrella: art department (visual design), artist relations and hospitality, food and beverage, campground activities and management, catering, media, merch, stage production, site operations, sponsorship liaisons, administrations (HR, management, etc.), marketing, vendor management, VIP management, medical staff, public safety and security, cleanup crew, guest services, box office and credentials, traffic and parking, ADA access, dispatch, site lighting, and drivers.
9. Grant Writer
Many countries support the arts in tremendous ways—namely financial.
The US, not so much. But other countries, like Canada, have many government-funded grants that musicians of all levels can apply for to support their careers. Typically, this is an arduous process that requires an experienced grant writer to know how to secure these funds.
10. Influencer Agent
Influencer agents work with influencers to secure deals with brands and record labels (or artists) who pay the influencer to promote their product or song. Like booking agents, influencer agents typically work on commission. There are many influencer agencies out there, and I profiled a couple of these people on the New Music Business podcast. Listen to the interviews with Austin Georgas of Flighthouse and Griffin Haddrill of VRTCL.
11. Label Services
This is the catchall term now that many hands-on distributors use for all of the services they offer. Under this umbrella you typically see playlist pitching, influencer marketing, music video creation, and social media management. Some label services companies include Create Music Group, Vyida, AWAL, Stem, INgrooves, Believe, and the Orchard.
12. Live Streaming Producer/Engineer
Now that livestreaming is big business and many artists are regularly putting on live streaming shows, there are livestreaming producers and engineers to assist. There are full-fledged live streaming production companies with studios, full gear, and full staffs of camera operators, audio engineers, OBS operators and directors. From giant music festivals down to bedroom artists, live streaming producers and engineers are in high demand.
13. Marketing Manager
This person traditionally worked at record labels in the, you guessed it, marketing department. Now that so many artists are independent, there are marketing managers who work on the artist’s or manager’s team or even at marketing agencies. This person specializes in all marketing components for an artist, but is most active these days running social media ads and negotiating influencer campaigns. Marketers typically get paid per campaign or per month, unless they are employed by a marketing agency.
14. Mental Health Professional
I don’t need to tell you that people working in music struggle with mental health more than many other professions. More and more organizations are incorporating ongoing mental health services within the organization, and all music professionals should prioritize good mental health practices. If you are a mental health professional, consider focusing your efforts on music professionals—we could use your services! And check out Backline for more mental health services geared specifically for music professionals.
15. Merch Manager
Merch managers handle all merch operations for artists or venues. For most midsize to large tours, the artist will bring their own merch manager who will set up the merch every night, train the local sellers, keep track of the inventory, run the point of sale (POS) systems, keep cash on hand for change, make deposits, keep all of the payment-processing systems in order, count the money in and out each night and make sure there is enough inventory on hand (and preemptively order more so it’s never sold out). Merch managers usually wear multiple hats for smaller tours—most frequently doubling as the tour manager or driver.
16. Mindset Coach
I know, I know, you’re thinking Ari’s gone all Hollywood on us now. But I promise you this is a real thing and it’s really important. Mindset coaches deal with creativity, business strategies, mental health, you name it. Not a licensed therapist (however, that job is also super important), but your accountability and mindset advocate and partner. The best ones out there keep you on track, focused and inspired.
17. Musical Instrument Research and Development
When instrument companies are developing new products, they enlist professional musicians to test them out and give feedback. If you want to be contracted for this work, contact the R&D teams at your favorite company.
18. Music Director (MD)
The music director is the person (typically in the band) who hires the musicians, runs rehearsals and, for bigger artists, is generally in charge of the band. MDs may get hired to put a band together for a one-off TV appearance or a full tour. MDs typically start off as side(wo)men and work their way up into the trusted circle.
19. NFT / Web3 Consultant
As NFTs start to take off, artists, managers, labels and everyone else are hiring NFT consultants to help them set up their NFT drops and manage the campaigns. If you’re a master in the crypto space, you could offer your services for a hefty fee.
20. Playback Engineer
Many hip-hop and pop acts bring a playback engineer on the road with them to trigger the tracks during the show if they don’t have a musician to handle this. Laura Escudé was Kanye’s and Ariana Grande’s, and she discussed this job on the New Music Business podcast.
21. Promoter/Talent Buyer/Booker
Even though promoters and talent buyers theoretically should be (and sometimes are) two completely separate roles, more times than not they are the same person or work at the same company. This is the person that books the talent for venues. They work directly with agents, managers and artists to work out all of the details about the show: compensation, lineup, ticket price, showtime, etc. Some also work to promote the show or tour (however this is increasingly rare). Some bigger promotion companies, like Live Nation, AEG, Bowery Presents, Nederlander Concerts, Jam Productions, First Avenue Productions, and Goldenvoice, run festivals, set up big tours and own or run venues. Every promotion company has in-house talent buyers, typically focusing on the venue they are assigned to.
22. Rights Clearance Professional
The unsung heroes working with music supervisors or at film and TV production companies are the rights and clearance professionals who spend their days tracking down all the parties involved who need to give clearance for a song to be used in a show.
23. Royalty Manager/Administrator
This role is typically at a publishing company or record label, however, some artists hire outside help to make sure they’re collecting all of their royalty streams. As more artists stay independent and have to manage the many royalty streams out there for them, they enlist the help of royalty managers.
The runner at a venue or a recording studio is the person on hand who will run out if anything is needed. Because things are always needed. Batteries, duct tape, coffee, lunch, blunt papers. Whatever’s needed, it’s the runner’s job to go get it. Fast.
Many people get their foot in the door at venues by working security or checking IDs at the door. You meet everyone as the security guard at a music venue. This could be a great way to make connections.
Transcribers typically create sheet music from recordings. Sometimes the transcriber works alongside an arranger to create sheet music for jazz ensembles, school bands, orchestras and cover bands.
These are the people who do the shooting, editing, directing, animating, aftereffects, set design, and all that it takes to create a video. Whether it’s a TikTok video or a full-fledged music video. This role is one of the most important jobs in the industry today. If you can master as many of these roles as possible, you’ll get hired early on by every musician on a tight budget needing videos done well, fast, cheap (well, we know you pick two, but you get the idea). Yes, the majors and superstars get a budget to line-item every little role when creating a gigantic music video, but I ain’t got a budget for a grip.
+How & Why To Put Music Videos on Vevo
To see the full list of over 100 jobs, check out the book.