In our ongoing attempts to uncover and present unconventional jobs and careers, this time we focus on careers in the music industry. Jobs like music composer, arranger and producer can be creative and rewarding.
After completing his engineering degree in Computer Science, like a good, obedient IT professional, Vijay Krishna worked in software jobs for close to a decade. As a loyal soldier of his tech employer, he also served his time in USA.
But along the way, he realised that his real passion was in the music industry. He yearned to get his fingers tapping on a different type of keyboard. He carved his own career path and took up various music jobs as a composer, arranger and producer.
Vijay covers his musical journey and shares tips on how you can break into the music industry, the qualifications needed, the investment in software/hardware (if you decide to take up the freelancing route), the salary you can expect and more.
Jobs and Careers in the Music Industry
by Vijay Krishna (Music Composer / Arranger / Producer)
I am a B.E (IT Architect) and been in IT industry for than 9 years. I had worked in US for more than 5 years for Healthcare Industries helping them to build their Data warehouses from scratch and providing consulting.
It all started when I bought my first flute at the age of 10. I started learning to play the flute and got some basic Hindustani Classical training. Making music always inspired me back then, may be because I grew up listening to Euphoria, Parikarma, Indian Ocean. These are Indian bands and were very popular in the 90s. Some of them are still popular.
But coming from a non-musical background, I knew that it would be really a daunting task to enter into the music field. The first thing I did after getting my maiden job was to get myself associated with different kinds of bands. It didn’t work out as expected due to the mismatch in wavelengths.
I always felt there is so much parallel original music which can be created and decided to learn and persue this hobby on my own.
I started learning different processes that go behind recording & composing music and the technologies associated with them (different music software / VST plugins / A/D cards ( Audio-to-Digital).
I spent hours on Google. In fact in my initial days whatever I was able to find out I read, and read it all. It took some 2 years for the whole process to complete. Meanwhile I shifted to US for an IT assignment. I bought some basic musical gear there during the Thanksgiving sale and started implementing all my knowledge.
It all started sounding good now. I composed my fist song for which I wrote the lyrics, made the tunes & arrangements and recorded them. I posted them on a audio hosting site. It was appreciated well and I started getting connected to music circle.
All my music which I compose is done through internet collaboration and I have never seen the faces of my singers who might be sitting in India while the lyricist is in Singapore.
I send them the reference track (which is my singing and basic arrangement for the composition to give them the idea of what they need to sing) through email. I send them the karaoke/minus track as well.
They send back their vocals (multiple takes) after singing songs and I do the vocal comping (i.e. take out the best part of their singing from multiple takes) and then re-arrange, mix and master the track.
In a typical day, I used to work till 6.00 PM – 7.00 PM for office work and the same laptop would turn into my musical instrument by 8.00 PM for composing music. My weekend night-outs are generally for music, as long
sessions are usually required to get into the zone of composing. The quiet night time helps to focus.
Job Skills & Qualifications for Music careers
To become a composer you need to have a good ear for music. That is must.
Besides, any kind of formal classical training is a big plus. However, if you don’t have any, you can still enroll for some online classes and get things moving. Remember the end goal, whatever is required, learn it.
There are online course which help in getting a good understanding of the Western orchestration. There are tons of video tutorials available for mixing and mastering your song. All you need is a strong desire and a clear goal. The rest will fall place.
The good thing in this industry is there is not much focus on what kind of education or degree you have. The bad thing is if you are not good enough most likely you are not going to survive!
There are guys without any formal training who are doing great. However any formal training always helps and I would advice to have some kind of formal training if you are seriously thinking of pursuing a career option in the music industry.
Opportunities & growth potential in a music industry career
Everything you see in Movies / TV / Games needs some kind of music. The growth potential is tremendous depending upon one’s skill. It’s a perfect combination of science and art, as you have to be good at the technical aspects like understanding various sampling rates, bit depth or understanding your core software (Pro Tools 10.x, Logic Pro, FL Studio, Cubase) or playing instruments where only your creativity is the limit.
Also, in the beginning you can start working part-time if you have any day job and starting looking for some gaming companies to provide background music. These will be a contract to hire services.
There are lots of ad agency who look for music for their ads and you have to contact them with your show reel to get the work. You can also look beyond the typical markets and try to come up something new like creating some techno tracks, some fusion or anything which appeals and sound good to the ears. Upload and share them among your friends.
You can start assisting music composers for arrangement and that would give you the right contacts. This is very very essential for the music industry. And yes the end goal is to give music and score to Movies, to become a full time composer for any record label or having a full-fledged recording studio.
Initial investment: What (Software/Hardware) you need to get going
1. Any music recording software (Pro Tools, Cubase, FL Studio, Logic Pro).
2. A high speed computer having min of 2 GM RAM and 2 TB Hard disk with quad core processor (This will be needed as the software and plugins are powerful and you might get latency/performance issue if your computer is not a powerful one.
3. A/D converter: You need any M audio or other A/D converter which will convert the audio signal to digital one to process inside the above software.
4. Any good quality microphone (Dynamic/condenser)
Compensation & Salary for Music industry Jobs
Entry level work will be like arranging tracks for various composers and recording artists. Each track arrangement is typically being paid somewhere between Rs 5K-10K (INR) per 4-5 min track for entry level.
You can get many tracks if you have right contacts which again would depend how good your work are on the tracks/demo/show reels which you have made.
Any ad jingles work also will fetch you handsome money which varies from Rs 20K to 70K depending upon various ad agencies.
However, once you got the right contacts and exposure, you can get a full time job with any record label or can work as a freelancer which does pays some 10Lakhs – 18 Lakhs per annum which is a good pay for beginners.
In case you want to hear what kind and quality of music can be made at home without using any instruments. Yes, all instrument sounds are organic in nature and have been played/synthesized using software which we call as VST/RTAS (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins. Please listen to demos in my profiles to get the idea.
We heard the tracks that Vijay has created and were blown away with the professional quality of the songs. Check them out. Virtual Studio Technology rocks!
Got questions about music related careers and jobs? Post them below.