How To Become A Musician

There are a broad range of careers in music. Some musical careers involve classical performance or composition in a formal setting. Others may involve scoring soundtracks for television or film. Some composers work creating advertisement jingles and other commercial music. Still other musicians make a living selling their own albums to the public.

Musicians go into the profession because they truly love music and the act of making music. It is a very challenging field to get into, considering the intense competition around and the difficulty of pleasing the different tastes of producers and the general public.

Why Become A Musician

Music is an art form, which makes it automatically a very hard field to make it in. Going into music isn’t for the faint of heart, or for anyone who is trying to make a ton of money and have an easy go at it.

There is a lot of competition for relatively few openings. If you can actually make a living in music, however, you can enjoy a deeply rewarding and creative profession doing what you love.

Musician Work Environment

Musical workplaces are as diverse as musical occupations. If you are a formal orchestra musician, you might play in a concert hall. Military musicians may play indoors or outdoors at ceremonies. Orchestra musicians also may play in arenas, clubs, museums, churches, and other locations. Musicians in small bands may play clubs, concert halls, arenas, and outdoor settings. Commercial musicians may work in offices or radio station recording rooms. Musicians who compose for television or film may work in film offices. Many musicians are self-employed.

Musician Salary

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) only lists an hourly rate for musicians, $22.39 per hour, with the top 10% earning more than $60 an hour and the bottom 10% earning less than $8.50. Many musicians do not have an annual wage. They follow the work, when they can find it, and hope it is enough to get by. A lot of musicians work part time hours and have to maintain a “day job” to survive.

Many musicians survive by doing other jobs before they get their big break. But for those who succeed, fame and fortune are theirs for the taking.

Average Musician Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a musician is $35.86. Hourly wages are between $9.70 and $69.81 an hour.

Stats were based out of 40,170 employed musicians in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Musicians

Top Paying Cities For Musicians

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Musician Career Outlook

According to the BLS, 10% growth is expected in job openings for musicians, which is roughly the average of all occupations. This doesn’t really convey the difficulty in entering the field, however. The BLS does point out though that there is a ton of competition among musicians for attention and financial success, which is one of the reasons it is so hard to make it. It is difficult to achieve visibility in popular music for this reason, and there are also a lot more musicians interested in orchestra positions than there are openings to accommodate them.

Musician Degree

Depending on the occupation you are interested in, you may not need a degree in music or any other formal education in order to succeed. Those who perform popular music for example may not have a degree at all. But if you want to become an orchestral composer or musician, you will probably need a bachelor’s degree in music. You may also need a degree in order to do commercial composition or performance.

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