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Q. How do I find the music industry career for me?

I am a second‑year A‑level student doing Music and Electronics and have been a keen musician for 11 years. I have excelled at the B‑flat cornet and in the summer I will be taking my ABRSM grade 7. I also play the drums, guitar, bass guitar and keyboards.

My problem is that I don't know where to go from here. I wonder if you could give me any more information on different careers available within the music industry, particularly regarding session work. At the moment, a career in the music industry is my preferred option but I don't know how to get in and use my skills.

Gregory Wainhouse

Assistant Editor Sam Inglis replies: Your first step should be to decide exactly what sort of a career you want within the music industry — it's a very broad business, and encompasses a huge variety of jobs (many of which have very little to do with making or recording music!). If you are set upon becoming a session player, there are no real formal routes into the business; it's just a matter of playing with as many people as possible and making good contacts. You'll need to be based in a major city, preferably London.

It's worth stressing, though, that you do need to be very good at playing your chosen instrument to be a professional session musician, and you also need to have equipment that is good quality, flexible and capable of operating flawlessly! You don't say what your standard is at playing your other instruments, but to be brutally honest grade 7 cornet and A‑level music alone won't get you very far.

Another option to consider might be becoming a recording engineer. There are two basic routes into this business: join a studio as an assistant/tea‑boy or attend a sound engineering course at a college of further education. For more information, I suggest you look at some of the previous SOS articles on our web site — you can search the database of articles at Big George has written about becoming a session musician (SOS October '98), and David Mellor wrote a helpful series, beginning in April '99, about becoming a recording engineer. These may help you decide if these careers are for you.