Do you dream of someday working in the music industry, but consider yourself tone deaf? If you don’t have the musical chops necessary, it doesn’t mean you need to give up on that dream. Today, we’re taking a look at a few behind-the-scenes career paths that might be right up your alley. For example…
Booking Agent (or Talent Agent)
Booking agents work to secure performance engagements for musical artists and groups. They work to find talent to book and may be involved with developing the talent toward a goal. They must possess good communication skills to sell talent and develop contacts in the music industry. They often work closely with an act’s manager and may be involved in setting the fee and negotiating with promoters or clubs. A booking agent is paid a percentage of the negotiated fee for an act’s performance.
An entertainment attorney handles any contractual matters conceivable within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys can be freelance, hired on retainer, or an employee of a company or business within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys generally specialize in one of three separate fields within the entertainment industry: sports, film and television, and music. An attorney that specializes in the music industry usually has a solid depth of understanding with regard to copyright laws and artist/band agreements with managers, publishers, record labels, booking agents, etc. Successful completion of law school and a state bar exam are requisites for being an entertainment attorney, as well.
Publicist (or Staff Publicist, Press Agent)
A publicist handles the publicity and press needs of acts signed to a label. Publicity helps the label sell records and produce income. A publicist must be able to get an artist’s name in the news (magazines, music trades, TV, radio, etc.) as often as possible. This is accomplished by writing press releases, sending them to the correct media, talking to media about acts, and arranging interviews. The publicist often arranges a series of print interviews, radio interviews, and TV appearances in conjunction with the release of a new record. Staff publicists spend a lot of time on the telephone and are usually the first to send out promotional copies of new records and other important materials to the media. After a new record is released, a publicist may work with the A&R or promotional departments on a showcase booking of the group, and make arrangements for a press party.
Music publishers are responsible for acquiring the copyrights to songs and publishing them. They may work for a very large music publishing company and perform one or two specific duties as a music publisher. They may work for a relatively small firm and fulfill a variety of functions. Many individuals in music publishing or songwriting become independent music publishers, running their own music publishing firm. The goal of the music publisher is to find and acquire potential hit songs (copyrights) and songwriters, promote them for financial gain, and serve as copyright administrator whereby tracking, licensing, and payment collection can be done efficiently. A good music publisher has knowledge of all facets of the music business, an understanding of music industry dynamics, an ability to hear hit tunes, knowledge of copyrights laws, and contacts in the music business.
The tour coordinator is responsible for coordinating the many facets of an act’s tour, including travel, lodging, arranging for services, and budgeting for expenses.
Sound technicians are responsible for high-quality sound during the live performance. They usually arrive at the concert site before the performers and are involved in unloading and setting up the equipment and instruments along with the road crew. The sound technician supervises the placement of equipment and works with the talent during the sound check to achieve the best sound. They may even work a soundboard during the actual performance.
The list goes on and on: music supervisor for TV and movies, music journalist or critic, music therapist, and of course, radio DJ. The NAfME Career Center page and the Careers page for Berklee’s College of Music are great resources to check out if you need some guidance. So if you’re in college now – or ready for a career change – consider these options if you can’t carry a tune!
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