Careers in the Music Products Industry
Retail music stores supply the needs of a wide variety of musicians, from beginners to professionals. They generally sell a large range of musical instruments and accessories (including electronic instruments), amplifiers, PA systems and processing equipment, music software and printed music.
There is a wide range of wholesale music products businesses in Australia, ranging from Australian operations of global companies to (small, medium and large) Australian owned and managed distribution companies, including very small businesses with as few as one employee.
Given that 95% of Australia’s musical instruments and music technology are imported there is a large network of wholesalers and distributors getting the world’s major brands into music retail stores.
Opportunities in large scale instrument manufacturing are relatively limited relative to wholesale/distribution due to the small number of manufacturers of instruments. Many instrument makers in Australia work on a small scale in an individual workshop, not a factory.
There are many boutique musical instrument & music products makers in Australia, from electronics to guitars and drums, sheet music publishing, and more.
Several product types warrant a repair/maintenance profession of their own, which may include formal qualifications, while others are learned and developed informally or involve highly specialised skills.
Training, Skills and Professional Development
The various roles in our industry require a wide range of general skills and attributes, useful skills and attributes, and some highly specialised skills. The training and professional development opportunities available include vocational training in general areas (Retail) and very specific skills (Piano Technology), and short courses / professional development in a wide range of topics. Two major areas of general skills in our industry, business management and music (performance, etc), are not addressed here but have many providers and education/training pathways.
There are three very common pathways to working in the industry, many people will encounter two or three of these during their careers:
- Informal hiring processes – this applies particularly to small retail stores. If you want to work in music retail, go and talk to your local store.
- Formal hiring processes – we have a job vacancy listing for the industry. Note that this only shows advertised positions, and it is only for member companies.
- Start or buy a business – many people in our industry are operating small businesses, ranging from well established music retail stores to individual luthiers, technicians and other specialists working as sole traders
Excerpts (in italics) from ‘Australian Guide to Careers in Music’ by Michael Hannan (2003, UNSW Press, Out of print)