Portfolio Careers in Music

A high percentage of recent music school graduates – as well as professional musicians – maintain portfolio careers in music (as well as in other non-music fields).

What does this mean?

They work more than one part-time job, including freelancing, self-employment, short-term and temporary jobs.

Is This “Normal?” Should I Worry?

Yes to the first question, no to the second.

College used to be about getting trained to be able to graduate, get a steady job, and hold on to it. In fact, older generations were taught to frown upon changing jobs – and did so as infrequently as possible.

These days, full-time jobs in music are relatively scarce. They’re often limited to teaching music and to jobs in arts leadership and arts management. But even people in these fields are apt to do some music freelancing to keep their passion for music alive and to bring in some extra income. Some also add other less time-consuming, income-producing gigs outside of music.

How to Prepare

More and more music schools are offering education and preparation for successful portfolio careers in music. Entrepreneurship and networking skills are essential to the process. So are time management and decision-making skills. But it’s typically up to students to take advantage of these kinds of classes, programs, tracks, seminars, and workshops. They’re often offered extracurricularly and students have to figure out how to fit them in. See “Entrepreneurship Training for Music Majors” to learn more.

At MajoringInMusic.com, we urge students to find out what each school they’re considering offers along the lines of career development and preparation. Check the schools’ websites first, and then try calling the career office or admission/enrollment office.

If the schools participate on MajoringInMusic.com, ask your questions on the forms on each school’s page and we’ll make sure they get right to the schools.

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