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Musician: Job description

A musician is an instrumentalist, singer or composer who creates and/or performs music. This can be recorded in a studio or performed live, either as a soloist or in a group of musicians. It may involve working as a salaried member of a group or could be in the form of freelance work for several organisations.

Musicians usually specialise in a particular type of music although many now branch out into different genres and work in more than one area of the profession. This is called a portfolio career. The job requires high levels of skill, expertise and dedication, especially since competition to work in this field is high. Most musicians do their job as they have a passion for music and a strong desire to perform.

Typical work activities

Many of a musician's activities will be similar regardless of the specific field or genre they work in. However, there will be variations between someone who is a full-time member of an orchestra and someone who works freelance in another field such as jazz or rock.

General tasks for all musicians can include:

  • performing in concerts and participating in recording sessions;
  • practising regularly;
  • preparing for auditions;
  • preparing for and attending rehearsals;
  • maintaining the instrument;
  • setting up/tuning the instrument and other equipment as well as arranging for its transportation, if it is large;
  • learning new pieces of music to extend their repertoire;
  • handling the administration of business activities such as promotion, handling accounts, negotiating fees and organising distribution of their recordings both offline and online, e.g. making their music available for sale on iTunes;
  • seeking out and liaising with new venues in which to perform;
  • delivering educational work in schools, businesses and the wider community.

Many musicians also work in a related area such as the arts, or teach in order to support their career as a performer.

Written by AGCAS editors
March 2012

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