What can I do with a music degree? Your transferable skills and the career paths

Posted on November 7, 2019

You have started your music degree and you want to achieve variety in your creative goals. If you have been paying attention to our YouTube channel, you know that there is a range of jobs within music. Whether that is an Artist, an Artist Manager, a Promoter, a Booking Agent or Record Label Mogul. However, you might be wondering about what other careers are available once you get your degree.

Firstly, remember to keep going and realising your passion. Through this, you will improve and reach professional vocations you may not have considered. Work hard and these dreams will lead to becoming a creative professional. You'll have a multitude of core skills, both musical and business orientated. Ensuring you are ready for a portfolio career within music and the wider creative industries.

It is important to know there has been year on year growth in UK creative industries. This is despite recessions and harsh economic environments. In the UK there are an estimated two million jobs within the creative sector. Between 2011 and 2018 there has been a 30.6% growth in creative industry employment, as opposed to the 10.1% achieved in the rest of the UK economy.

Throughout your degree, you will acquire a litany of transferable skills that will set you up for a portfolio career, both in music and further creative fields. You need a day job to pay rent - but there is no reason to settle for a job unrelated to your goals as a musician.

Transferable skills you are learning right now

Before diving into what career paths are available to you, it is worth considering the skills you are learning in striving for your musical goals;

“If you can manage a band, you can manage anything " - Bruce Dickinson 

Project Management

As an artist, you will be managing Single/EP/Album releases. You will also be conducting marketing campaigns, social media strategies and the most difficult of them all - managing other musicians. In my opinion, this is one of the hardest things, and you will hear many a musician say “it’s like herding cats”. These activities breed resilience and develop your potential in effective project management.


Music in a sense, is an abstract communication, by playing an instrument we are learning to communicate with an audience. By playing in a band we are communicating with the other members nonverbally. This is a refined skill and our natural aptitude for it can be turned to other communicative tasks - such as marketing and digital communications.

Executive function

In a TED talk about how playing an instrument effects your brain, researchers found that musicians strengthen their executive function by learning an instrument. This means that you may have increased ability in a series of interlinked tasks that include planning, strategising and attention to detail.

This is by no means a full list of the transferable skills you’ll achieve by being a musician and pursuing a career in the arts. However, I do hope it gets the ball rolling on all the amazing things you are learning, and how to market those skills to an employer.

The Transferable Careers

As mentioned, when writing this, I am assuming that you are already well versed in the more immediate career paths available to you as a musician.  It’s my hope that this blog can illustrate the transferable and less obvious paths your degree opens up.

Digital Marketing & Social Media Marketing

You are working on yourself as an artist and have the tracks to prove it. However, during the release campaign your attention turns to audience building. The first port of call is more than likely going to Facebook/Instagram. You will quickly realise that having a coherent social network strategy is essential. It’s not enough to release tracks and posts with no plan. You have planned your art and in the same way you need to plan your releases with attention to detail.

 If you look at the article linked in the title, you will find ten skills that are desirable in a digital marketer. Have a think, how many of these do you have? I’m sure from doing your artist campaigns you tick all of it. This mean you have developed an incredibly desirable skill in the creative industries.

A Writer/Blogger/Copywriter

This one is a bit meta, when I started as a musician my initial aim was to work as a session bassist. Through my twenties, I played in a multitude of bands that ranged in their successes. I’ll be honest, I never thought I would write blogs for businesses.

However, throughout my degree, I wrote many essays, emails, press releases, and social media posts. This culminated in an ability to write professionally. You are developing this skill every time you work on an assignment. Keep going with those essays, learn to enjoy them and you may develop another income stream for your career.

Project/Product Manager

We have already seen that as an artist you are developing transferable skills in project management and higher levels of executive function. Your ability to manage people through your work in bands and to also conduct multiple campaigns, puts you good stead for managing product/project releases. Not only that, you have a proven track record from your success in music and you are creating a portfolio of work to show an employer when you leave university.

Data Analyst

When you release a track or conduct a social media/marketing campaign you are creating data. This could be insights on where your audience is located, their listening habits, or gig attendance. Your ability to analyse and react to this data is essential in the music industry, you’ll find top A&R executives doing the same thing.

This means you are improving your data analytic skills, and this again is hugely desirable in most, if not every business. Again, you are creating a track record by working on your degree and artistic endeavors, if you can demonstrate this to an employer then you could pick up some well-paid work in analytics.

The Charity Sector

As a musician, you may find yourself more empathetic to ethically aligned issues and topics. You may also want to help others. Musicians tend to have a core drive of making music for other people to enjoy. The focus on the improvement of a listener’s experiences has crossover into the core visions of most charities.

Now, most charities need someone with strong administration, strategic and business skills. This is fairly fortuitous as we have developed these consistently with ourdegree, artistic pursuits and passions.


Thanks for reading and this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, if you are interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WaterBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus.

By laurance.bridge

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