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  • Writer's pictureAmiah Pace

Music Careers

The music industry is one in which there is a vast array of careers for practically anyone. From creative and administrative careers to technology and math-based ones. That is something so incredible about music, you can find a place in it no matter your personality or skills.


Here is a brief list of roles in the industry.


I will start with some of the common music roles that have to do with creative development.


Songwriter, Music Composer, and Lyricist.


The reason I will start with these three is that although they are familiar, there are distinct differences between them that I was not consciously aware of until I was challenged with finding out what I wanted to do after school.


Songwriter- An individual who writes the lyrics and music for a song.

This can just be the main melody of the song, and not the entire musical arrangement.


Lyricist- An individual who only writes the lyrics for a song.


Another key difference between a Songwriter and a Lyricist is that a Songwriter can play an instrument.


Music Composer- A person who writes the musical composition for a song.


One source differentiates music composer and lyricist by stating that a Lyricist writes words for music and a Music Composer writes music for words.


Next is a Publisher and Song Plugger.


Publisher-Someone who licenses songs and finds others to record a song.

Basically, a Publisher is someone who gets a project used by different companies. They help people get their songs in movies, TV shows, radio, etcetera.


Song Plugger- A person who offers songs to producers or anyone who might record them.


A Song Plugger would be someone who works at a publishing company, but their specific role is advocating the use of a song to a recording artist. Whereas a Publisher will advocate through licensing deals. The Song Plugger’s role is to use their connections to make the song come to life, and a Music Publisher will use their connections to give the song an environment to live in.


I love Berklee College of Music’s definition of what a Song Plugger is. The college defines Song Pluggers as “musical matchmakers who pitch compositions to recording artists and record label teams.” This gives a clear image of how important a Song Plugger is in the process of releasing a song.


The last role I will talk about is on the educational side of the industry. The study of music is called Musicology. It can be considered a type of social science (similar to anthropology), and those who study it are called Musicologists.


Musicologist- A music scholar who looks at the relationship between music and various subjects. These subjects include geography, politics, history, and more.


There are different branches of musicology they study. The branches are music theory, ethnomusicology, music history, and systematic musicology.


Until I took a course called Music Business and Industry, I had never heard of a Musicologist. My professor was one, along with other music titles such as music composer, producer, and musician. The profession was mentioned when we were learning about copyright infringement, as they are the individuals who analyze the music in such a case and determine if there are similarities.


In short, this is a brief list of the many different careers in the music industry, but I hope it showed the diversity of music careers, nonetheless.


If there was a profession on this list you did not know about or did not know the specifics of their role, let me know. If there are music professions I should research tell me in the comments. Because there were plenty I had no clue about. For instance, roles like the Backline Personnel, Wardrobe Mistress, and Rack Jobber. Also, did you know the difference between a songwriter, lyricist, and music composer?


References


Brabec, Todd, and Jeff Brabec. “The ASCAP Corner: Music Publishers and What They Do.” ASCAP, 2007, https://www.ascap.com/help/career-development/corner1.


Cataldo, Zac, and Brent Godin. “What's the Difference between Song Plugging and Song Licensing?” Sonicbids Blog - Music Career Advice and Gigs, Sonicbids, 11 Mar. 2015, https://blog.sonicbids.com/what-is-the-difference-between-song-plugging-and-song-licensing#:~:text=Well%2C%20there%20are%20two%20basic,%2C%20or%20advertisement%20(licensing).


Hurst, Ronnie Lee. “Songwriter vs Composer.” Song Pioneer, Song Pioneer, 21 May 2020, https://songpioneer.com/songwriter-vs-composer/.

“Musicologist.” Berklee, https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/musicologist#:~:text=Musicologists%20are%20scholars%20of%20music,theory%2C%20neuropsychology%2C%20and%20more.


“Name and Briefly Describe the Four Branches of Musicology.” Study.com, Homework.Study.com, https://homework.study.com/explanation/name-and-briefly-describe-the-four-branches-of-musicology.html#:~:text=There%20are%20four%20branches%20of,music%20theory%2C%20and%20systematic%20musicology.


“Song Plugger.” Berklee, https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/song-plugger.


Stolpa, Alison. “Lyricist vs. Songwriter: Do You Write Lyrics or Songs?” Music Careers | Expert Advice - Careers In Music, 17 May 2022, https://www.careersinmusic.com/lyricist-songwriter.


“What Is Musicology? - American Musicological Society.” American Musicological Society, https://www.amsmusicology.org/page/whatismusicology.


“What Is the Difference between a Songwriter and Song Composer.” What Is The Difference Between A Songwriter And Song Composer | Carry A Tune Studio, https://www.carryatune.in/what-is-the-difference-between-a-songwriter-and-song-composer#:~:text=A%20person%20who%20creates%20the,lyrics%20is%20called%20a%20songwriter.&text=Whether%20it%20is%20just%20a,write%20the%20music%20for%20it.

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