November 08, 2012

Music Industry Careers for Shy People

This post was featured in the ASCAP Newsletter

You love music and would love to work with it, but the thought of stepping on a stage or even picking up a phone terrifies you. What do you do? After all, the music industry tends to be all about networking and that can be pretty uncomfortable if you're introverted. Are there really career options for the painfully shy in a world where "it's not what you know, it's who you know?" Well, you may not be ideally suited for a career in public relations for a major label, but that doesn't mean there aren't jobs that involve, in the famous words of Elvis, "a little less conversation."

So what jobs are suited to someone who isn't so keen on talking to a lot of people, and what jobs should try to avoid?

What to Avoid
There are few jobs in music that allow you to completely avoid talking to people, but there are some options that require an almost constant ability to be bubbly and outgoing, so let's start with those so you can cross them off your list. The worst music career for introverts is probably radio promotion. This job involves meeting with and calling music and program directors and radio stations all over the country to convince them to play the songs you are currently working with. In a way, it is essentially a music industry sales job, trying to convince radio stations that your product is the best and they should invest in it by taking the risk to play it. Similarly, booking agents, publishers, and managers both spend a lot of time on the phone or in meetings. A job in PR is also not a great idea for someone who is shy because the job entails being the public voice for a musician or company.

Jobs to Consider

  • Some areas of marketing
    • Marketers generally work in offices so there are still meetings to be held and phone calls to be made, but these days a lot of marketing is done online and that might make it easier for someone who isn't interested in interacting with a lot of new people on a daily basis. 
  • Finance or Accounting 
    • Both of these traditional business roles are essential in the music business as well and tend to be more numbers focused and a bit less social than your average music job
  • Law
    • Some areas of the law do require a lot of social interactions with clients, but you could also spend your time drafting and reviewing contracts or even focused on the intellectual side of copyright law
  • Sound
    • Jobs like mixing or mastering actually require very little face-to-face work with other people and you could really spend much of your time working alone in a studio. There is a range of options here that includes varying degrees of social interaction, but overall it is generally less social and involves more on-one-on interaction than most roles on the business side (which tend to involve working with many people). In fact, some people who work in studios say they could gladly and easily go days without talking to anyone outside of the studio itself. 
  • Creative Jobs
    • Jobs like a session musician, graphic or web designer, or songwriter do require you to work with clients, but they also provide the ability to work for yourself as a freelance artist from the comfort of your own home. 
Moving Forward
Regardless of what job you choose, you will still have to interact with people and learn how to build your network. But, that doesn't mean you need to force yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable. It may mean your path is a bit more difficult if you're not the kind of bubbly person everyone falls in love with immediately, but it doesn't mean they can't fall in love with your intelligence, hard work, creativity, or any number of other positive qualities. Don't force yourself to be outgoing, but do work on trying to be more confident by challenging yourself to learn and experience new things.