Musician - Popular

Musician - Popular Image

Popular musicians play in bands or as soloists or session musicians. The styles of music they may perform include: pop, all forms of rock, country and western, easy listening, jazz, folk, blues and world music.

The Work

You could be:


Income varies with skill, experience, and the amount of work you can get.

The Musicians' Union website shows recommended minimum pay rates (updated every year) for a range of musical performance types, including gigs and live engagements, recording and songwriting. For example, rates agreed with The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) for example a single performance in a pub or club up to 3 hours is a minimum of £139.50. Up to 4 hours at a function would be £186.00.

Rates can depend on a number of factors including location, type of venue, type of performance (live or recorded) and even the time of day you play.

With any income you earn there may be expenses and fees to pay, such as a manager’s fee, publicity and transport costs. You may share the income with other band members.

A few rock and pop musicians are seriously rich, but most have to take on a second job to make ends meet. You may be out of work much of the time. It is common for back-up acts or warm-up acts to perform unpaid or in return for expenses in the hope of establishing themselves.


Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

There are many different ways into this career. Talent, perseverance and skill in making contacts are more important than formal training, but some rock and pop musicians do have music qualifications.

Most jobs are in cities, but there are also opportunities in holiday resorts and on cruise ships.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland


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Job Outlook Scotland and UK

0.8 %
  United Kingdom
0.3 %

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What Does it Take?

You need:

You need to be:


Getting On

More Information

If you join a performing rights collection agency, such as Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), or Performing Rights Society (PRS), the collection group will keep track of public performances of your material, collect payment, and pass the royalties on to you.

Young Scot and Creative Scotland operate the 'Nurturing Talent - Time to Shine Fund', which aims to support young people aged 11-25 and interested in developing creative or artistic skills. Both individuals and groups can apply for funding up to £1,000. For more information see the Young Scot website.

The Creative and Cultural Skills website has a careers section called Creative Choices which has information on working in the music industry.


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The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)
Tel: 020 7221 3499
Twitter: @ISM_music

Rockschool Ltd
Tel: 0345 460 4747
Twitter: @RSLAwards

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