A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. According to the United States Employment Service, "musician" is a general term used to designate one who follows music as a profession. Musicians include songwriters who write both music and lyrics for songs, conductors who direct a musical performance, or performers who perform for an audience. A music performer is generally either a singer who provides vocals or an instrumentalist who plays a musical instrument. Musicians may perform on their own or as part of a group, band or orchestra. Musicians specialize in a musical style, and some musicians play in a variety of different styles depending on cultures and background. A musician who records and releases music can be known as a recording artist.
A composer is a musician who creates musical compositions. The title is principally used for those who write classical music or film music. Those who write the music for popular songs may be called songwriters. Those who mainly write the words for songs may be referred to as lyricists.
A conductor directs a musical performance; conducting has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture". The conductor stands on a raised podium and communicates with the musicians through hand gestures or eye contact.
Examples of performers include, but are not limited to, instrumentalists and singers who perform for an audience. A musician can perform as a solo artist or as a part of an ensemble (e.g. an orchestra, a choir or a pop group).
For salaried musicians, extra payments can be made for overtime, concert fees, recordings, porterage of large instruments and travel expenses. In some instances, you may also be paid an additional fee for rehearsal. Royalties may be additionally paid if the music has been registered with the PPL or PRS for Music.
Most musicians start learning an instrument or singing from an early age. This is particularly true of classical musicians, who take graded music exams, including theory, before going on to further training at a conservatoire (music college) or university.
Whatever your genre of music, you'll need to get practical experience. Get involved with relevant orchestras, choirs, music societies, bands and solo musicians at university and in your local area. Introduce yourself to as many musicians as possible, use any professional contacts you make and keep up with social media to promote yourself and showcase your work. For more information on how to promote yourself, see the MU's advice on marketing yourself.
Many professional musicians, regardless of their genre, are self-employed, with the exception of some classical musicians, who are occasionally employed as a full or part-time member of a specific orchestra.
There is a great variety of orchestras and ensembles in the UK and they differ in terms of size, style, location and repertoire. Employers include ballet, symphony, opera and chamber orchestras, some of which will be large enough to employ musicians on full-time contracts. For a list of member orchestras and ensembles see the Association of British Orchestras (ABO).
Establishing a career as a musician can be difficult as it's a very competitive area of work. It's not always possible to work full time as a musician, particularly at the start of your career, and you'll need talent, determination and perseverance to succeed.
About 20,800 openings for musicians and singers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Musicians play solo or in orchestras, bands, or limited-size groups, such as trios. Those in bands or groups may play at small venues, such as private parties or bars, sometimes building enough of a fan base to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Musicians who work in orchestras perform in venues with a stage large enough to accommodate all the musicians and their instruments. A few orchestra musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals.
Musicians who specialize in playing backup for a singer or band leader during recording sessions and live performances are known as session musicians. Singers who provide background vocals to harmonize with or support a lead singer are known as backup singers or backing vocalists.
Many musicians and singers find only part-time or intermittent work and may have long periods of unemployment between jobs. The stress of constantly looking for work may require them to accept full-time jobs in other occupations while working part time as a musician or singer.
Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles. In addition, they teach methods for improving instrumental and vocal techniques and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also may include courses in diction. Courses in a foreign language may benefit students who intend to perform in that language. Some business courses, such as marketing, may be helpful for learning about the self-promotion often required for professional musicians and singers.
As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers. Some musicians and singers advance to leading musical groups or becoming section leaders in an orchestra. Others may advance to become music directors and composers.
Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must practice and rehearse consistently to improve their technique, style, and performance.
The median hourly wage for musicians and singers was $30.49 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.47, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88.77.
Digital downloads and streaming platforms are expected to continue to make it easy for music fans to listen to recordings and view performances, which could lead to increased demand for musicians and singers. Moreover, some musicians and singers license their music for use in advertisements or for other commercial purposes, creating more exposure and revenue opportunities.
There may be additional demand for musicians to serve as session musicians and backup artists for recordings and to go on tour. Singers may be needed to sing backup and to make recordings for commercials, films, and television.
A musician is a person who plays a musical instrument or sings, either as a profession or as a hobby. Musicians create, perform, and interpret music in various genres, such as classical, jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop, and others. They may perform solo or in ensemble settings, such as orchestras, bands, choirs, or chamber groups. Some musicians also compose original music, write songs, or arrange existing music. Some musicians may also teach music to others, either privately or in educational institutions.
The specific tasks and responsibilities of a musician will vary depending on their genre, experience, and personal style, but the underlying goal is always to create and perform music to the best of their ability.
Regardless of the specific setting, the workplace of a musician can be fast-paced, demanding, and often requires working evenings and weekends. However, for many musicians, the joy of making music and connecting with audiences makes the hard work and long hours worthwhile.