in the groove:with Fred Zindi
I am often asked by many parents whose children have ambitions in choosing a career in music that are there any jobs in the music industry.
Last week, a certain lady and her daughter visited my office wanting to enquire what sort of jobs people, who choose careers in music end up doing. The reason for this enquiry was due to the fact that her daughter was passionate about becoming a music star, but the mother saw no value in it. So she wanted a second opinion.
I sat them down and started to explain the careers one can make in music.
I told them that a job in the music industry can be an exciting and alluring idea for those who are passionate about music, and although it’s a competitive industry, there are a variety of skillsets that are compatible.
Apart from live performances, brand endorsements, touring, teaching, session earnings (where musicians most commonly work under a freelance model, they accept gigs and are paid by the hour or per session), composing, song writing, sound recordings, and merchandise sales there are situations where musicians also get their income through royalties and licensing of their work. There are other spin-offs that come via this industry. These include recording engineers, music producers, music tour managers, music executives, finance managers, publicist, music publishers, label design artists and transport services personnel. There are other jobs associated with music where one does not necessarily have to have a course or a degree in music. Jobs such as club DJ-ing, radio DJ-ing, concert promotion, music software development, mastering, public address system live sound engineering, stage managing, piano tuning, musical instrument sales, musical instrument manufacturing, compact disc manufacturing, digital versatile disc manufacturing, billposting, ticket printing and sales, dancing… the list goes on and on. I informed this lady that her daughter was, therefore, spoilt for choice as these are all jobs which the music industry spins.
Jobs in music have an alluring quality. But the music industry is known for being a competitive job market and it can be difficult to know what kinds of opportunities are available.
The good news is that no matter what your skills are, you can find a role that works for you in the music world.
Whether you want to be an artist, work on the business end, or be an educator there’s a growing number of music industry jobs that should be a good fit for your skills. In brief, there are five general areas where one could establish themselves in the field of music. These are, performing and creating, recording and producing, music business jobs, music media jobs, as well as music education and music therapy.
Of course, your skillset doesn’t have to limit you to any one category.
In fact, you probably have skills that apply to every category. Plus you can always learn!
In the past, I have tried my hand in each and every category listed above. Category 1: I started off at a tender age of 10 performing in a band called the 2D Sounds with guys like Jethro Shasha and Fungai Malianga. Then I moved a stage further and started creating my own music. Category 2: After a period of composing and songwriting I went on to record the music starting off with an album titled Train of Freedom, which featured the hit single We Are One Family (Hello Brothers Hello Sisters). I was the producer of that album and was assisted by Louis Mhlanga.
Category 3: I became an entrepreneur by employing 18 yougsters all aged below 20. They all worked for a band, which we called The Frontline Kids. Seven of them were instrument players, while three were vocalists. There was also a band manager, a stage manager, a driver, a doorman, a publicist and two other people, who were responsible for bill posting. They were all on monthly salaries. Even when eight members of the band did a six-week tour of the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, those who remained behind still received their salaries. Paul, the doorman, is now a cop due to my recommendation.
Category 4: Up to the year 2012, I was active on a part-time basis as a radio DJ first on Radio 3 and then on ZiFM Stereo. I was also involved in music journalism. (I still am) where I would feature news on local and international musicians in both local and international newpapers and magazines.
Category 5: Working as an educator or therapist is a great way to make a living with your musical skills.
Music education is very rewarding work, and many professional musicians teach students. I spent eight years teaching music on a part-time basis at the Zimbabwe College of Music and in some schools.
Working in the school music department as a band director is also a very viable career path for those with skills in both music and education.
Music therapy is also an excellent field that is very rewarding. The research is clear that music can be incredibly useful for helping those with mental health needs. So, employment in this field is both needed and necessary.
Of course, a career in either of these fields will require you to have some form of academic background in either pedagogy or therapy. I also have experience in this area as apart from having musical skills, I am also a qualified psychologist.
Apart from the teaching of music at the Zimbabwe College of Music, I also became the chairman of that institution’s board between 2000 and 2008. We would give music therapy sessions at hospitals to help those patients with mental health problems and at funerals to ease the stress endured by the bereaved whenever the situation arose and required our services. With assistance from Chris Timbe, Clayton Ndlovu, Rumbi Chipendo, Elisha Herema and Tsitsi Tizora, we were involved in several projects, one of which was the Umoja Flying Carpet project which recruited musicians and dancers from all over Zimbabwe. Some of my music students are today’s celebrated artistes in Zimbabwe. These include Prudence Katomeni Mbofana, Chiwoniso Maraire, Dumi Ngulube, Dudu Manhenga-Muparutsa, Vimbai Zimuto, Rachel Jera-Chigwanda, Novuyo Dube, Eve Kawadza, Munyaradzi Mataruse, Donald Kanyuchi, Osborne Matengenzara, Rutendo Machiridza, Philbert Marova, Charles Charamba, Hope Masike, Blessing Chimanga, Edward Nare and many more.
Behind the music you listen to every day lies a massive industry.
Even in this digital distribution era, artists still need a team of people to help them with releasing music, promoting it, and organising the many moving parts that come with launching an album.
There are many roles within the music business. Generally, these roles fall into two categories — artiste services and label services.
Label service jobs usually serve the interest of a record label and will include its executive, A&R, design, legal, and finance departments. This person is always employed by the record label.
Artiste service jobs serve the interest of the artist and are hired by the artist. Typically these roles include artist manager, tour manager, booking agent, publishing, PR, and music lawyers.
My advice to anyone who wants to venture into or try their luck in the music industry, is simple. Choose your own destiny.
The truth is there are so many ways to work in the music industry. You’re sure to find something no matter your skillset.
It’s worth mentioning that there are so many other music-related roles that aren’t discussed in this article.
The world of music is a fascinating industry to work within. You will meet a lot of interesting and inspiring people if you choose this path.
But remember, to be successful with any career in music you need to be passionate about it.
In Zimbabwe today, we have many role models in music. Celebrities such as the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso, Thomas Mapfumo, Winky D, Jah Prayzah, Mono Mukundu, Cindy Munyavi, Sulumani Chimbetu and several others have made music their livelihood. If you trace their beginnings, you will see that they are all committed and have passion for this business; and besides, they all work very hard.