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Pop musician

Pop musicians perform and record different styles of music.

Annual Salary


Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

34 to 36 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; as customers demand

Future employment

There will be 2% more Pop musician jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Your daily tasks may include:

  • practising and rehearsing
  • playing live in front of an audience
  • composing music
  • taking part in recording sessions
  • promoting your music by contacting agents and record companies, using social media, sending people demonstration ('demo') recordings, setting up a website
  • arranging gigs and tours (or dealing with a manager or agent who does this for you)

Working environment

You could work in a theatre, at a recording studio or at a music venue.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • teaching yourself or private training

You'll need a high level of musical skill and talent. To develop these skills, you could get a degree or postgraduate award in:

  • popular music
  • music performance
  • popular and commercial music

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information

You could take a college course to get professional training and the opportunity to perform. Subjects available include:

  • Level 2 Award for Music Practitioners
  • Level 2 Diploma in Music for Practical Performance
  • Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology
  • Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music Performance & Production

You may need to pass an audition to get on to some courses.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

It's important to get plenty of practical experience by performing and doing gigs. You could also get yourself noticed by entering talent competitions and attending festivals.

This can help you meet people in the music industry and make useful contacts.

Other routes

Many musicians teach themselves and start learning an instrument from an early age. This might be with a private music teacher or training provider.

You can take graded music exams in instruments like:

  • guitar
  • drums
  • popular piano
  • vocals

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Rockschool offer qualifications and graded music exams.

More information

Career tips

The BBC Introducing programme could be a way to get your music heard on the radio, if you are an unsigned musician.

You can also showcase your music on networking websites, social media, music blogs or send a demo to recording companies. The Musicians' Union has more details on how to promote yourself.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Musicians' Union or the Incorporated Society of Musicians for access to training, events and networking opportunities.

Further information

You can get more information on working in music and other creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

With experience you could go into the business side of music as a manager, producer, writer or working for a record company.

You can find out more about careers in music from Creative Choices.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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