Careers in Music Performance

Performing Artist (Recording Artist/Group)

Performing artists specialize in the performance of music, either original or cover material. Their performing skill defines their marketability. The performing artist may work as a solo act with or without backing musicians, or be packaged as a group.

Vocal/Instrumental Soloist

A vocal/instrumental soloist is similar to a performing artist and may perform in much the same capacity. But this artist may also work as a contracted performer with a group or in a recording situation. For example, an orchestra, church group, or a recording ensemble may hire a soloist. When performing as a contracted soloist, the artist has a responsibility to rehearse and perform the selected music as directed by the group or project leader.

Session Musician

The session musician may be known as a studio musician, a session player, a sideman or woman, a freelance musician, or a backup musician. The main responsibility of the job is to back up the leader of a group in the recording studio, or possibly during a live performance, and play in a style or manner that the leader of the group or the producer desires. In addition to being a good musician, the session musician must be responsible, reliable, and easy to get along with. It is also important to know how to sight-read, be familiar with a number of different styles, and preferably be proficient on more than one instrument. Session musicians are usually hired by a contractor and paid an hourly fee set by the union (AFM). A session musician may work on various types of projects, including television and film scores, records, demos, jingles, and other music industry gigs.

General Business Musician

A general business (GB) musician may work as a freelance artist or perform with a general business group. These groups maintain a widely varying repertoire to allow them to perform in almost any situation, including weddings, bar or bat mitzvahs, private parties, corporate functions, and dance clubs. GB musicians cover material by well-known recording artists in many different styles, and tailor their repertoire to clients' expressed desires. Many general business gigs may be formal dress occasions, so tuxedos and formal dresses are a necessity. The largest amount of work can be found in performances of this type, and pay is generally very good. A general business band may work through one or more booking agencies and/or book themselves.

Orchestra/Group Member

An orchestra/group member plays a supporting role in a musical group as an instrumentalist. A vast knowledge of repertoire, musical skill, reading, and doubling ability are important qualities to develop, especially in the orchestral environment. Also important is the ability to play with a group, and to prepare and know the material before rehearsal. The responsibility of the orchestra/group member is to follow the directions of the group leader or conductor and perform prepared music, in performance and recording situations.

It's Interesting

  • The Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM) was founded in London in 1943 with the intention of promoting the creation, performance and appreciation of new music. It was a membership organization which sought to find the best new composers and to help support their careers, especially in the UK.
    As of May 2009, the SPNM merged with the...

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