Careers Service Occupations

Music & Performing Arts

Music and Performing Arts

About

The culture, music and performing arts industry is tough to get into, but can be very rewarding.

Careers advice

Music

Performing arts

Creative Choices and Get Into Theatre provide advice.

Industry news

Music Week and The Guardian: Music Industry provide news from the sector.

NME is a UK music magazine while Rhinegold Publishing produce music-related magazines.

Umusic blog provides industry news from Universal music. Recordproduction.com is a news and social network for record producers.

Futuremusic.co.uk and Soundonsound.com look at music recording technology.

UK Screen is film and music network while Media.info provides contacts, jobs, news and analysis. 

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. 

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Music

Performing arts

Production

Making contacts

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field come through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

  • Graduate Connections – graduates happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
  • social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, which is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities 
  • Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn - find out what they did after graduation and contact them for advice
  • Music Tank - development network for the UK music industry
  • Umusic Utalks - sessions giving people interested in working in music a chance to speak to professionals
  • Generator - popular music development agency based in the North East

Events 

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. 

Regular events for this sector include Newcastle University Creative Careers. This takes place each year, with speakers from a range of careers in the creative sector.

For more events for this sector see Careers Service events or External Events.

Reference publications available in the Careers Service

The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry

The Music Industry Handbook (Media Practice) by Paul Rutter

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Creative Arts, Design and Fashion, Teaching in SchoolsEvents ManagementLeisure, Sport and Tourism, and Media.

Or see our other occupational pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

The following include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Actor

Agent

Artist manager

Broadcast presenter

Community musician

Composer

Dancer

Musician

Music therapist

See Healthcare for more information.

Private music teacher

Promotions manager

Record producer

Singing teacher

See Teaching in Schools for more information.  

Sound engineer

Theatre director

Theatre stage manager

Skills employers look for

Depending on the role, employers look for skills including:

  • good communication and listening skills as well as team working ability
  • punctuality and reliability
  • resilience, determination and the capacity to take instruction and criticism
  • networking and promotion ability
  • self-discipline and stamina
  • depending on the role, specific performance talents such as singing, dancing, acting or playing an instrument may be essential

Gaining Experience

To gain success in this sector work experience is essential. Self-promotion and contact building is vital as personal recommendation is a common way of finding work.

You will also need to develop a CV and portfolio that demonstrates your talent.

Finding work experience

Music 

To be successful in a music-related career, valuable experience can be gained in:

Performing arts

Examples of places to gain relevant experience include:

The Careers Service advertises competitions and relevant events on our Careers Service Facebook page.

You may also be interested in The Alumni Association Student Initiative Fund. To help you develop skills and experience, funding of up to £500 is available for social, community or cultural projects.

Internships

Creative choices advertises work experience opportunities across the music and performing arts sector.

See Internships, placements & shadowing and Volunteering for more information and resources.

Finding opportunities

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlighting any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Finding Jobs

Networking and self-promotion is essential in this sector as many roles are not advertised and there is massive competition for those that are.

Graduate schemes do not normally exist in this field.  

Many people in this sector have a ‘portfolio career’. Rather than having a traditional full-time job, they have multiple part-time jobs. 

This can include part-time employment, temporary work, freelancing, and self-employment.

Vacancy sites

Music

For music therapy vacancies see our Healthcare page.

Performing arts

Dance

Broadcast presenting

See also the Finding Jobs section of Media.

See Finding a Graduate Job for more vacancy sources. 

Specialist recruitment agencies

Spotlight is a casting agency while Handle recruits for music, media, entertainment or lifestyle brand roles. 

Finding opportunities 

Most jobs in this sector aren’t advertised, so self-promotion and speculative approaches are vital. You could approach casting agencies or creative organisations or network in the industry.

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Self-employment

The majority working in this sector are self-employed. This is something that you may want to consider.

The National Careers Service for example states that most actors are self–employed. They are paid a fee for each contract or performance so there is no set income. 

Many in this field are freelance or self-employed alongside having regular paid employment. This is a ‘portfolio career’.

Rise Up provides information on activities and support available to eligible Newcastle students and graduates interested in developing enterprise skills or starting a business.

You may also find it useful to look at: