Musician  What They Do

Just the Facts

Musicians and Singers Career Video

Insider Info

dotMusicians work in a variety of areas. They play musical instruments, sing, write songs, lead choirs, bands and orchestras -- and teach others to develop their musical talents. Whether they're playing in front of live audiences, recording songs for television productions or writing music for others to perform, musicians share one trait: a love of music.

dot"I played because I was obsessed with music," says professional musician and composer Jan Randall. "Most people that end up as pros have that -- they just can't do anything else."

dotMusicians specialize in one or more areas. Instrumental musicians play a musical instrument in an orchestra, band or group. Singers sing in front of a live audience or in a recording studio. Conductors and directors lead instrumental or singing groups. Composers write original music. And music instructors teach other people how to play an instrument or sing.

dotMusicians work in a variety of environments. Some perform live in concert halls or nightclubs and spend a great deal of time traveling. Others record their music in professional studios or work in the solitude of their own offices and studios.

dotFor many musicians, every day is different. They spend considerable time practicing and performing. Self-employed and part-time musicians may spend significant time marketing and selling themselves, keeping track of finances, coordinating gigs and writing songs.

Math, accounting, public relations, sales, writing and information gathering are crucial skills.

Few musicians hold 9-to-5 jobs. Those who perform must often do so at night and on weekends, and sometimes spend a lot of time traveling from one performance venue to the next. Composers and teachers tend to work more regular hours, but still devote extra time meeting project deadlines or preparing for upcoming performances.

Professional musicians who perform live in concert halls and nightclubs must be in good physical condition. They burn off energy while performing and need stamina to cope with frequent travel and night performances.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Immerse yourself in music

  • The more varied your skills, the better your chances of success
  • This is not a 9-to-5 job
  • Most musicians started singing or playing an instrument at a young age