Charlie Sloth

On Air Now 16:00 – 17:45

Get Ahead In Music - An A-Z of Careers

Get Ahead In Music
1Xtra is helping you to get clued up on the music industry with a series of special interviews and seminars.

To kick things off, Twin B and Ras Kwame took a look at the A-Z of careers in the music business. 

Hear the A-Z part 1 | part 2

If you want more information, here's the A-Z in detail.

Don't forget to check the clips!

Also known as Artist and Repertoire. Good at sourcing talent? Good at linking people up? Good with a range of types of people? Think you know what the public will delve into their pockets for? This is potentially a big money maker for you.

A&R man

:: for more info.

Agents are responsible for sourcing and booking gigs for artists and DJs. You usually earn your cash through a commission rate – grabbing a certain percentage of your artist / DJ’s earnings. The more artists you have on your 'roster' the bigger the weight you carry with promoters. Oh and you don’t have to go to every gig.

:: for more info and contacts.

Not sure about making the music, but love supporting it? Can you put your passion into words and appeal to as many people as possible?


Listen here

Apply for work experience at 1Xtra here:

A very important part of the chain in the music industry. No food = unhappy workers = less creativity and action = less product = less money = more unhappy workers.


Check out your local catering college for more info or check out for information about the trade as a whole.

Movement, image and aesthetics are everything, especially in the mainstream music industry, and they come together in the role of choreographer. Communication is key, and you must be able to work with a range of artists as you never know who you might be asking to do a back-flip for the next video or stage show! Long hours are a given, as are sweaty leotards (ok maybe just in the 80's).


Listen here

Can’t keep you’re feet still? Visit these sites for inspiration:

There are many types of design needed in the music industry. Graphics for sleeve artwork can make a difference to casual buyers, and therefore to the pockets of musicians. You are responsible for representing the image of an artist, so a certain level of commercial empathy is needed - you know what people want to see.
It might be that you are more of a moving pictures designer – looking through the eye of a camera. Music videos sell units these days, so how an artist is visually portrayed is all part of the end result (see Video Director and Stylist for more on this). You could also end up working on designing tour merchandise, flyers, anything associated with the artist.

Check out your local college/ university for design courses..
In the mean time, here are some professional websites..

No distribution – no music! Possibly the most underrated yet important cog in the machine. Distributors actually get the product to the shops and/or outlets; they supply on demand and have an excellent knowledge of how people spend money and buy music.

Here are a couple of uk music distributors’ websites to check out

You love mixing desks and hate natural light. You can work with a range of people, and have a skill for separating yourself from your own personal music tastes. Tolerance and patience are a must, as well as a deep technical knowledge of audio. A sound-engineering course is almost essential.

Mixing desk

Listen here

Here are some places in the UK to learn the trade:

Hair Stylist
Understand image, fashion and people? Prepared to work long hours and be part of a very large team of stylists for one artist? This one’s for you. Oh and you should make sure you don’t have a bad breath problem as getting close to people is a must!

Your local college will definitely have a hair and beauty course.. why not check out the prospectus?

:: is a good site to keep up to date with the trade.
:: go here for help getting onto the ladder! Send them your CV once you have some experience!

Independent Operator
Step aside P Diddy, Clive Davis, and Jermaine Dupri. Tired of majors dictating your every move? Want to set up on your own? A good independent operator is business savy, disciplined, and focused. You have full control over your artists, marketing, budget in fact the whole thing is down to you.
Have you got what it takes?

:: Hear Jay-Z talk about making it in the game!

P Diddy

Here's a few independently operated labels:

No need to have formal training for this one. A fair mind and a flair for quick, catchy writing is essential however. It’s important to be on top of trends and public opinion and although you might be hired to give your personal slant on an artist or project, it’s essential that you know how your readers might feel in response. Like to stir things up? Like going to gigs (and that means a lot of events you wouldn’t go to personally)? Get scribbling!

Listen here

Fancy a course to tighten your grammar, spelling and general sentence making? Visit your local college or university. Study at your own pace more often than not...

More here;

Why not send your favourite magazines/ papers your articles?

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One of the backbones in an artist / label’s team, a lawyer is responsible for looking over and looking after an artist / label’s contracts and agreements right from the start. Who owns what, who gets what, who does what; publishing, management, record contracts - it’s an essential role. Formal training is key- you can’t blag your way into this one. The more you know the law and can manipulate it, the more you can do for your client, the more money you can potentially earn! Sometimes on commission, sometimes on a flat fee, the money is generally good when you reach a respectable level. You don’t need to like music, nor the industry for this one; you just need to know other peoples’ jobs better than they do!


It’s more than suits and wigs... check out some of your potential employers here:

Not one to steal the limelight, but one who loves being in the thick of the industry, a manager is a reliable, personable, presentable person who has true passion for the people they represent. Your responsibilities might range from grabbing the dry cleaning, to sitting in on deals made with lawyers, you have to be versatile and available on the phone 24/7! Communication skills are vital as you might be the spokesperson for your client so honesty and trust are musts!

Listen here

:: is a bit like a union for managers.

For the real scoop on what a manager does, try and ask the person standing next to your favourite artists next time you see them out! They’ll be more likely to speak to you than the artists, right???

Make-Up artist
See Stylist / Hair Stylist

Music Editor
The music editors are the ones who decide whether your video’s good enough to grace our TV screens. You are a quality controller and most importantly you know what your audience want. Part of your job is to find that diamond in the rough and so diplomacy, honesty and tolerance are a must. Confident in your decisions? This one is for you!

Here's a couple of stations where the music editors have made their selections on whats hot:

For similar role see Stylist. Image and aesthetics sell records these days – as well as the product itself. Perhaps you’re the arty type and want to have your name on CD cover credits.. perhaps you love to travel and be the fly-on-the-wall character in an artist’s life for that multi-million pound book of memoirs... Not just for the music industry obviously, but if you love your tunes and you can pick up a camera, the artists’ ego always needs to be captured and exploited!


Want to be inspired? Check out this story
This photographer’s been doing it since he was 11!

For the other side of the music bizz, check out this photographer’s work;
Check out your local college for course details... pick up that camera!

Fact to impress your friends with; back in the day before CDs, when sheet music was the big seller, pluggers had to be able to sight-read music. They would visit the music shops which sold musical scores and played the pieces of music live to showcase their product – don’t worry – you don’t need that skill any more, just a flair for selling and diary-keeping. Here at 1Xtra and Radio 1, we get visited by pluggers who keep us up to date with tracks and tell us in person about forthcoming projects and/ or release dates etc. It may seem unnecessary when email is everywhere these days, but there’s nothing like a persuasive face..
For similar role see press officer.

Listen here

Check out these two UK companies to get an idea of what the job's about:

Press Officer
With over 1000 labels and 100s of radio/ tv stations in the UK alone, getting noticed is difficult – without a decent press officer. Communication and a knowledge of the media and how radio/ tv work are key to this role. Often you’re assigned to particular types of music dependent on your knowledge, so a great job if you have a genuine passion for certain pockets of music. Sell.. sell.. sell.. but don’t sell yourselfout – nothing worse for a radio/ tv producer to receive the same press-release again and again... Is it REALLY the biggest rap album on the streets right now? Hmm... honesty not (wholly) essential, but realism is. Keeping your credibility, much like the journalists, is the road to press success...!

This UK agency recruits for press and PR (public relations) jobs:

A music publisher is responsible for exploiting the publishing rights of a song. Recording rights are owned by the labels and are a different matter. Publishers buy the copyrights of individuals rather than recordings– these individuals could be songwriters who never even appear on stage themselves. When we talk about exploiting, we don’t mean in a bad way; perhaps you would try and get your clients’ songs onto an advert, ringtones, or a computer game. A vision of music as a commodity as well as an art form is really important. Much like the manager, you need to be trustworthy because you’re speaking for other people all the time. This is not one for the shy and retiring either – you have to talk money!

These are a couple of large publishers.
:: .

To see how diverse the job can be, check out this company who deal mainly with guitar-based bands. /

Well, if you like the gym, or were just born big-boned this one’s for you. As with the engineer, a geeky passion for equipment is essential. Not only are you heavy-lifting speakers and rigging, but you also need to know why they’re there and what connects to what. Oh yeah, a passport and a love of temporary festival-style toilets are also essential. Phobia of body-odour and wires? Forget it.


Check the network out right here

Maybe you hate the limelight, but have a skill for writing tracks and empathising with music lovers? Not one to steal all the attention, you don’t mind swallowing your own ego for the sake of someone else taking all the credit. This is a real music-head’s job. You must be extremely accomplished as a musician and able to work quickly. Don’t get too attached to your work though - most of it probably won't ever see the light of day outside of the studio. It’s a slow-burning, but rewarding role.

Listen here

Go here for course information and job opportunities.

A very united profession, here’s the international website for songwriters

“More diamonds over here please!” Well, it’s not all glitz and glamour – at the top end, yes you get to go to all the fashion shows and schmooze with designers who are desperate for your artist to wear their threads, but more often than not it’s your responsibility to make sure your client looks the part for the TV show, video, photo shoot, meeting they have to do. You’re the mate everyone wanted to take shopping with them to buy their ball outfit. You know what’s best for them end-of.


Tour Manager
You love roadies and mobile phones and you know where to get chinese food at 3am in the middle of the Arizona desert. You’re an organisational wizard and can definitely coordinate a drink-a-thon in a brewery. You’re the liaison between promoters and record companies and you have to please everyone, including the public. You know venues and outdoor spaces like the back of your hand. Don’t own a clipboard? Best pop to the shops quick.

:: for more info on the role.

Sharon Osbourne

This lady, is one of the most well-known tour managers in the country – yes... it really is her...

Video Director
“I need more naked people at the back! MORE NAKED PEOPLE!” Love shouting and bossing people around? Do you have a vision as soon as you hear a tune? Videos are key to selling big-time units these days. You don't have to be on top of fashion or trends - perhaps you know how to make something stand out from the norm? Technical knowledge of camera operation and lighting is essential, as is an understanding of the artist/ act you're working with. You might not always get the creative freedom you want because record companies like to be involved in the image of their client. Working to a brief and sticking to it takes tolerance as well as creativity.

Clapper board

Listen here

Check out your local college/ university for more info on courses you could do..

In the meantime, check out this list of experienced directors for inspiration.

More info

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