Career in Music
Interested students can choose from a range of options such as teaching, performing professionally, sound editing and recording, composing, arranging, music software development, virtual reality sound environment creation (for internet, games and programmes), music production and radio jockeying, to mention a few.
While many schools employ music teachers, private music teachers are also in demand. Ashley Quiney, who has been taking guitar classes for the past 32 years reasons, “Music has always been popular. With the economy booming and reality shows like Indian Idol and Star Voice of India capturing the fancy of television viewers, an increasing number of youngsters are now keen to learn music.” In fact, many trained students are increasingly taking private lessons for beginners in order to make additional pocket money. The prime advantage of teaching music privately is that the working hours are flexible, only a few hours every week, in most cases.
Sound Recording and Editing Another popular option for music lovers is sound recording and editing. A sound editor often deals with complex electronic equipment. Hence, this career may require training in audio science. The popularity of the gaming culture among youngsters has created options in the sub-field of virtual reality sound creation as well.
Second only to singing (in terms of popularity), music production and direction is an extremely viable option. Professionals can find opportunities in the television as well as film industry. However, the competition is mind boggling and it may take time for one to make a mark in the industry.
Not entirely technical, radio jockeying as a career has gathered steam over the last few years owing to the phenomenal growth of the radio industry in the country. The success of every radio station largely depends on its radio jockeys (RJs). An RJ must have in-depth knowledge of the various genres of music to be able to keep the listeners hooked on to the station. Apart from hosting shows and playing music, an RJ is also required to interview celebrities, manage contests held by the station as well as provide information on current news, weather and traffic. Says Dakshin Adyanthaya, who worked with a popular radio station as a campus reporter a few months ago, “An RJ is required to be spontaneous and have good command over the language. The job is both creative and technical.”
Quite unlike conventional careers, music therapy is slowly gaining recognition as an important healing science. According to Harendra Khurana, a musician and music therapist, human beings respond to different types of sounds in different ways. These sounds can be used to provide therapy to people suffering from physical pain, high stress, depression, etc. This field is believed to gain a huge following in the coming years and may soon offer excellent career opportunities for those who believe in the concept.
Other worthy options include becoming a musicologist, music business attorney, music reporter, architectural acoustic consultant and arts administrator. Of these, music reporting is increasingly gaining prominence with most newspapers, magazines and music channels hiring music reporters to combine the knowledge and passion for music with that of writing, editing and even hosting shows.
While not all the careers mentioned above need any prerequisites or academic qualifications, employers generally prefer freshers with a diploma, degree or a certificate in the concerned field. This is especially true for those aspiring to pursue highly technical careers such as audio engineering where training in facets like capturing sound, recording, copying and editing, mixing and reproducing sound using electronic and mechanical devices is crucial. Even radio stations prefer to employ people with the requisite training for the post of an RJ. Informs Adyanthaya, “Aspirants can pursue a six-month course in voice modulation that will train them in all the facets of the job including management of the technical equipment.
However, an academic qualification is not mandatory as many radio stations employ a number of interns and expose them to the different aspects of the job. The talented interns are then offered full-time jobs at the station.” Similarly, a course in sound editing, though not essential, is certainly beneficial for those planning a career in the field.
Asserts Amol Kamble, a music composer and song arranger, “I learnt sound editing by joining a studio and gaining practical training. However, I have had to struggle that extra bit since I didn’t pursue a course in sound editing. Therefore, it is advisable to enroll for a professional course as these courses can help you learn the ropes faster. Having said that, I believe that any course must ultimately translate into the application of the knowledge. If, for some reason, you are unable to pursue a course you do have the option of learning on-the-job just like me.”
Music direction calls for the knowledge of electronic instruments, synthesiser and electronic theory, experience in playing instruments and singing as well as familiarity with computers, desktop copying and publication.
Once you get started, it is your experience and ability to network with professionals that will pave the way for bigger projects. Says Kamble, “Clients lay more emphasis on your achievements and experience than a degree.”
Personal motivation, the ability to work in a team, talent along with technical know-how, showmanship, confidence and the ability to work under deadlines are crucial skills required to succeed in the music business. A dynamic personality is a must for performers and RJs. Music performers may need additional specialised knowledge of music theory. Quips Sajal Ray, a sound editing professional, “Hard work, luck and the ability to meet the demands of your clients can lead you towards a rewarding career.”
Not only is the work profile of a technical professional in the music industry interesting, it is financially rewarding as well. While teachers in music schools earn anywhere from one to two lakh per-annum, private music teachers charge around Rs 30,00 per-month per-student (for four sessions a week). According to Ray, “Sound editors can earn anywhere from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 per-month subject to one’s talent and experience.”
Professional music composers generally quote anywhere between Rs 10,000 and 20,000 per-song, while charging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for arranging a song. Professional rock bands charge up to Rs 10,000 per-performance. While experienced RJs can earn around Rs 30,000 per-month, fresh graduates, aspiring to become RJs, can command anywhere between Rs10,000 and Rs 15,000 per-month.
Some of the colleges and universities in India offering degree and/or diploma programmes in music include:
- Bangalore University
- Bengal Music College
- University of Calcutta
- Bharatiya Sangit Mahavidyalaya (Gwalior) Government Music College (Indore)
- Ramjas College (University of Delhi)
- Annamalai University and Institute of Correspondence Education (University of Madras) offer a Bachelor’s degree in music in the correspondence mode.
- (Indicative listing)