May 16, 2015. That’s the day I graduate and enter the real world.
I chose a path of music, one that most would say is not the safest in terms of job security and money. But looking out on my future, pushing my way into an industry everyone says is dying, I can’t help but feel optimistic. There are opportunities for musical careers everywhere, they just aren’t necessarily obvious.
Considering My Options
Four years ago when I was choosing a path for myself, I avoided music, and I believed what everyone said about the field. I was unwilling to compromise a secure lifestyle, but I quickly found out that if there’s something you love, you can make it work. And for me, that’s music.
My journey towards the “real world” began at Emerson College, when I essentially gave up music. I was never interested in practicing when I was in high school, and when my first piano teacher passed away in 2009, I lost my drive to play. I went to school, leaving all music behind. But before long, I noticed something was missing from my life.
I changed majors three times, took classes at six school, and even transferred, all in search of a way to balance stability and passion. But I have no regrets about my path. All of my experiences — from writing classes, to working on film sets, to a semester at music school — are beginning to come together and contribute towards a new career path.
Finding a New Kind of Music Career
It had become clear to me that I needed music in my life, and a light turned on for me when I first found Berklee College of Music’s list of “Careers in Music”. Encountering so many diverse opportunities I could get excited about, I decided to go back to music.
Transferring to Fordham, I balanced my more career-focused classes with all of the music extracurriculars I could fit in. I started a songwriting club at my school, took four semesters of piano lessons at Juilliard, took two semesters of voice lessons, and did a semester of chamber orchestra.
What I’m looking forward to now is all of the ways to live a musical life and have a musical career, outside of simply performing. I found my internship at Soundfly while looking on sites like InternMatch, HypeBot, Idealist, and CareerSushi. The most important approach I’ve found is to check in with the career offices at your university, reach out to companies directly, dive deep on LinkedIn, and hustle in-person for any sort of jobs in the music industry.
By expanding my definition of “being a musician” I’ve started to see musical careers all around me.
The members of the Soundfly team have followed all kinds of tracks mixing careers and music — from sound design for TV commercials, to administrative jobs at recording studios, teaching music, to earning a masters in arts entrepreneurship. Although none of those are the typical music performance path you might think of when considering a career in music, they’re all still paths in music that lead them to working at Soundfly, creating a new type of music education for the world.
And I’m looking forward to bringing music into my life outside of work — devoting time to writing more music, teaching students, and performing any chance I can. It is important to have a solid job idea in mind, but remember that there’s always room for other opportunities.
Discovering the “Why”
If there’s something I’ve learned from all of my college experiences, it’s that there is something unique about you, something that you love, and the right job is out there for you. Passion is one of the best drives you can have, and it will take you to great places. If you are passionate about music and devote time to make yourself a better musician, there will be plenty of opportunities for you. It may not be headlining at Madison Square Garden, but life has a funny way of sending you on a long backwards journey to end up in the right place, unique to you. There’s always a need for music educators, music psychologists, music attorneys. Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, it’s out there and you’ll find it.
All in all, my take home points for entering the real world in a music career is to keep an open mind and feed your passion. There’s so much out there to be discovered and there are countless opportunities waiting for you. Remember what’s unique to you, and that will be the most important tool you can use when entering a hectic world in a tough career field.
Featured image of Berklee commencement via Brookings Institution.