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What is this job like?

Musicians compose, sing, or play music. They might perform solo or as part of a group. They perform in sound studios and on stage. They also perform on television and in movies.

Some musicians go on concert tours, traveling all over the United States and the world. However, not all their time is spent performing for audiences. Musicians and singers also spend a lot of time practicing and rehearsing.

Other music jobs include music directors who might lead choirs and other musical groups. Arrangers change the style of music by turning a country song into a rock and roll song, for example. Composers create new music.

Most musicians and singers work indoors, but some may perform in outdoor concerts. Performers often work at night and on weekends.

Many musicians, singers, and other music workers can only find part-time work. Some are unemployed between performances, so they often work other jobs while waiting for their next performance.

Although musicians work everywhere, New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville have the most jobs and the most recording studios.

How do you get ready?

You need musical talent to be a musician or singer. People who become musicians often learn how to play an instrument at an early age. Some of the most popular instruments are the guitar, piano, and drums. It helps any musician to learn to play more than one instrument.

Many songwriters now write music on computers, so technical skills are handy. Also, skills in choreography or dancing are sometimes useful for musicians.

To start getting ready for this job, you could join a school band or choir or perform in a school musical. Many community centers and art centers also have bands or choirs. You could also sing or play music with friends. It helps to take every chance to appear in front of people. You may be able to perform at parties or other events. Musicians and singers have to be comfortable performing on stage in front of lots of people.

How many jobs are there?

Musicians, singers, composers, music directors and other related workers held about 240,000 jobs in 2008. Many musicians and singers work for orchestras and other music groups, ballet companies, and religious organizations. Self-employed musicians may perform at a variety of events and venues.What about the future?

Competition for jobs as a musician or singer is very strong. Talent alone is no guarantee of success. These jobs are glamorous and some have very high pay, so many people want them. To have a music career, you need a lot of motivation, talent, and good luck. Very few people earn enough money to support themselves as musicians or singers.

The number of jobs for musicians should grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2018.

How much does this job pay?

Earnings depend on how popular a performer is. But musicians often have to hold down other jobs while they're building their careers.

About 50 percent of musicians, singers, and related workers work for themselves. They are usually paid for each performance or recording. Their earnings vary greatly and depend on how many jobs they can get.

Other musicians, singers, and related workers work for organizations for a set amount of pay. In May of 2008, these musicians had average hourly wages of $28.28.

Are there other jobs like this?


Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes



Disc Jockeys

Precision instrument and equipment repairers (musical instrument repairers and tuners)

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