How to start a music career in college

A career in music is one of those dreams a lot of young people do not like to talk about. For some, it might seem all too risky and hazy to even try. But college is a perfect time for experimentation and trying things out. So if you have always wanted to make a career out of your passion for music, this could be an ideal opportunity.

In this guide, you’ll find practical tips on how to start your music career while in college.

Step 1. Understand Your Goals

The first step is to decide what you actually want to do. As in any other field, music offers different job opportunities and paths. That’s why it is important to figure out what you enjoy and what you want your focus to be.
Identify your skills, strong and weak points, and aspirations. Now, let’s define the main types of careers out there:


It is one of the most popular choices. It offers a lot of fulfillment, growth opportunities, and the ability to connect with the audience. But it also requires a specific set of skills and resilience. One can be a songwriter and performer, a musician in a choral or orchestra, a band member, a church, or a studio musician. Performance is connected to a significant amount of stress and high competition.

Working in the industry

These are artist managers, music distributors, or journalists. These careers do not have to do with performance but require significant expertise in the field. One of the benefits here is that there are plenty of options for various skill sets – from creating audio editing software to managing the band’s social media presence. There are good growth opportunities out there, whether you want to work for a giant label or start an indie recording studio.


Becoming a music teacher is another valuable opportunity. One can work individually, join an educational institution, or private studio. It offers a flexible schedule and the opportunity to work with a lot of talented individuals.

Community music careers like art educational coordinator, music therapist, or community music facilitator are fulfilling but less focused on performing rather than helping others.


Producer, artist manager, label owner, or administrator. This area requires innovative thinking, risk-taking, and the desire to start your own business.

Step 2. Prioritize

Combining a career and college education is all about time management, prioritization, and making sacrifices. You need to set clear goals with specific deadlines and work towards them.

There will be times when you will have to choose between a college assignment and an important gig or record opportunity. For such cases, it is essential to have a plan b. For instance, students can get edit my paper services to keep up with essays and term papers when they have no time.

Professional academic writing platforms offer instant assistance with all types of college assignments for students in need. So if you need a bit of free time or expert guidance, it is an ideal option. Experienced authors deliver writing, editing, and proofreading help at the shortest notice. So you can keep up with the curriculum and not miss career opportunities at the same time.

Step 3. Use College Resources

College resources might be very helpful depending on the type of career you are aiming at.

  • A degree in music is necessary if you want to:
  • Become a performer at an orchestra;
  • Perform classical music competitively;
  • Teach others;
  • Help others with the means of art.

But if you are willing to become a songwriter, commercial performer, artist manager, or producer – it is not necessary. It might be helpful, but you can major in other spheres like business, marketing, or communication.

One can also consider an online program to acquire specific knowledge, for example, if you want to start your recording business. In any case, focus on the skill relevant to your specific goal.

  • Other college resources to benefit from may be:
  • Clubs and groups with the same interest to network and collaborate;
  • College performance opportunities at events or gatherings;
  • On-campus marketing – from gig fliers to posting an ad on a college forum;
  • Professional literature in libraries and online platforms;
  • Career advice from a college counselor;
  • Networking with alumni with the same interests/passions.
  • Assess everything available to you and decide how you can use it.
Step 4. Create a Plan

When you decide on the path, resources, and specific skills, it is time to draft a plan of action. There is no ultimate guide to every art-related career. But by researching the industry and prominent professionals, you can get a pretty good idea of where to start.

When drafting a plan, keep big goals in mind but separate them into small and actionable steps. Those could be:

  • Write your own song;
  • Master new advanced play on your instrument;
  • Record a bit or song;
  • Do a live gig;
  • Join a band;
  • Perform live as much as possible, including public spaces and parks;
  • Release your records online.

Do not try just one thing. It is a competitive and unpredictable industry. So if you want it all to work – put the effort in. Try different approaches and see what works best.

Step 5. Build a Strong Online Presence

Gone are the days when record labels and producers were the only way to get into the industry. Now everything is personalized and available to anyone with an internet connection and decent devices. Online presence is a powerful way to find your audience, network with other musicians or artists, and even gain major public attention.

What can you do? There are several things:

  • Create a personal website with a portfolio of who you are and what you do;
  • Add a blog to your website to attract like-minded people;
  • Create professional social media pages and manage them accordingly;
  • Record and publish your performances online;
  • Publish your music on online streaming platforms;
  • Start a YouTube channel;
  • Consider starting a Tik Tok account.

Going viral can happen overnight. But it can also not happen. Do not put all your hopes in one place. But having a strong online presence is great, especially when you have something to offer to people. With an educated approach, you can reach people that will love your art and support further growth.

Step 6. Network

Networking is essential for any industry but particularly for entertainment. Try to meet like-minded people and colleagues and maintain good relations with them.

Also, use all the opportunities to perform live. If you want to be a producer or manager, go to gigs, meet musicians, and understand the scene and trends. If you aspire to be a journalist in music, join a college newspaper or start a blog online.

Those who aspire to work in the record label industry and management should seek out internship and volunteering opportunities. For instance, helping out at the local festival or organizing events on campus.

In Summary

A music career can be a perfect opportunity for those with passion and dedication. Whether you aspire to perform, produce music, or manage artists, college is a good time to start. You need to draft a plan of action, assess the available resources, and get out there. Meet new people, network, and do not stop at first disappointment. It is a competitive field, but it is possible to achieve your goals.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: