Many kids picking up an instrument for the first time share the same dream; to become famous and top the charts. However, that’s far from being the be-all and end-all of the music industry; the stars of the pop charts represent only a small percentage of the world’s many professional musicians.
So, if you’re looking at music as a career, what else might the future have in store for you?
Session musicians are the unsung heroes of the music industry; the talented backbone of many a pop and rock hit. Some stars rely on them – particularly vocal groups and soloists who would otherwise not have much of a backing track on their hits. Others use them sporadically – for example, when they decide that this particular track could really do with, say, a saxophone, but they don’t have a permanent saxophonist, or to fill the gap when a band member leaves.
Becoming a successful session musician requires flexibility and some dedication; if you’re particularly keen on sticking with one genre or style then it may not be for you, but if you’re the kind who can rise to any challenge then it can be very rewarding. There are agencies for session musicians, but according to experienced session musician John Garden many session gigs come through word of mouth, so the ability to network well can be vital.
Film & Theatre
When was the last time you watched a film or a TV show that had absolutely no music in it? There are very few, and the reasons why are obvious. Music has always had the ability to promote and manipulate emotions, and directors make great use of it to help convey their message. Even in examples where there is no music – for example, the film Cast Away starring Tom Hanks – the very fact that it’s missing conveys meaning.
Background music for films, television and theatrical production is often composed and recorded especially for the task. Companies like music studio and consultancy L & F Music work closely with directors and actors in rehearsal to make sure that the music they produce fits, so if you’re interested in working with other creative industries this could be a perfect route for you.
These are, of course, just a couple of the different opportunities you could find as a musician – you could also go for being a concert musician, playing in an orchestra, or even recording background music for shops! The important thing is to learn to play your instrument well, and enjoy doing what you love.