Drama, Dance & Music

Musicians work in classical or popular music. They perform live at concerts and festivals. Some musicians record music for sale to the public.

Work Activities

As well as performing, musicians spend a large amount of time practising, rehearsing, auditioning and planning performances. These activities are often combined with composing or teaching music.Classical musicOnce trained, classical musicians gain experience and develop contacts by taking part in competitions, festivals and concerts. If competition is severe, musicians use professional agents to promote them and their work. The majority of recently trained musicians perform a variety of solo, choral/orchestral and ensemble work. Orchestral performers can work their way up to the top of the profession, to become an instrumental soloist. They have to invest in a high quality instrument and travel around with the orchestra.

Popular musicNon-classical musicians usually start out by performing at live gigs to build up a following and send demos to record companies. Representatives from record companies' Artists and Repertoire (A and R) departments listen to bands' demos and go to live gigs, offering some performers a record deal.

Increasingly, new artists/bands are promoting and selling their music themselves through the internet. Performers who are in the early stages of success usually need to find a manager. The manager usually takes responsibility for organising financial backing, finding suitable venues and helping the band/artist to promote themselves effectively.

Some musicians make a living playing live gigs in pubs, clubs, hotels, holiday camps, etc. They usually specialise in a particular kind of music, eg, rock, pop, jazz, etc.

These musicians sometimes use local entertainment agents to help them find work. Or they might promote themselves, eg, by putting up posters, handing out leaflets, and getting featured in the local press. They may perform one-off gigs in different places, or play a whole summer season in one venue.

Musicians travel to venues locally, nationally and internationally.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Pay And Opportunities

Employment is available in fields such as performing (including session and freelance work), composing, conducting and teaching. Musicians perform at a variety of venues including clubs, pubs, parties, charity balls, theatres, festivals, cruise ships and recording studios. Opportunities occur for musicians to work in other countries, usually on tour or at festivals. Many musicians are self-employed.


Entry requirements vary depending on the course so it is important to check with individual universities.

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