Pop musician

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Pop musicians perform and record different styles of music.

Salary range: Variable

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How to become a pop musician

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • teaching yourself or private training
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University

You’ll need a high level of musical skill and talent. To develop these skills, you could get a degree or postgraduate award in:

  • popular music
  • music performance
  • popular and commercial music

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information

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College

You could take a college course to get professional training and the opportunity to perform. Subjects available include:

  • Level 2 Award for Music Practitioners
  • Level 2 Diploma in Music for Practical Performance
  • Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology
  • Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music Performance & Production

You may need to pass an audition to get on to some courses.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information

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Volunteering and experience

It’s important to get plenty of practical experience by performing and doing gigs. You could also get yourself noticed by entering talent competitions and attending festivals.

This can help you meet people in the music industry and make useful contacts.

Other routes

Many musicians teach themselves and start learning an instrument from an early age. This might be with a private music teacher or training provider.

You can take graded music exams in instruments like:

  • guitar
  • drums
  • popular piano
  • vocals

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Rockschool offer qualifications and graded music exams.

More information

Career tips

The BBC Introducing programme could be a way to get your music heard on the radio, if you are an unsigned musician.

You can also showcase your music on networking websites, social media, music blogs or send a demo to recording companies. The Musicians’ Union has more details on how to promote yourself.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Musicians’ Union or the Incorporated Society of Musicians for access to training, events and networking opportunities.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in music from Creative Choices.

You can get more information on working in this and other creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your daily tasks may include:

  • practising and rehearsing
  • playing live in front of an audience
  • composing music
  • taking part in recording sessions
  • promoting your music by contacting agents and record companies, using social media, sending people demonstration (‘demo’) recordings, setting up a website
  • arranging gigs and tours (or dealing with a manager or agent who does this for you)

Working environment

You could work in a theatre, at a recording studio or at a music venue.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

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Career path and progression

With experience you could go into the business side of music as a manager, producer, writer or working for a record company.