This October, Bachtrack is investigating how conservatoires prepare their students for a varied career both in and outside the music industry. We spoke to the Royal Academy of Music who kindly told us how they prepare their students for the big wide professional world.

1. What percentage of your graduates secure steady employment within the music industry as performers?  

Over 97% of our graduates from the past 20 years are working in the music industry. More than two-thirds of these are performers; the remainder work elsewhere in the business (for example in teaching, arts management and administration, PR, publishing, etc). Many freelance musicians also undertake additional work within the music industry separate from their performing activities, and it is difficult to generalise about the wide range of portfolio careers our graduates undertake, beyond noting that performance is normally the central part of their professional lives. It's also worth noting that a substantial minority of Academy graduates are composers, and therefore are not seeking a performing career as such. 

2. How do you prepare your students for a self employed career in music? 

Our Professional Development services endeavour to ensure that Academy graduates are able to make the most of professional work opportunities, wherever and whenever they present themselves. We offer “drop-in” guidance as well as a wide range of one-off events and seminars to help students in areas such as CV preparation, PR and marketing, running ensembles, general entrepreneurship, career strategies and much more. Professional Development is also embedded in all of our programmes of study via final year Professional Portfolio modules. 

3. What skills do you give your students that might help them if looking for a career outside the music industry?

Although the vast majority of our graduates find careers within the music industry, there are a small number who choose to look for employment in other sectors.  It is widely recognised that musicians have a remarkable range of skills that are eminently transferrable to other professions. These include working both independently and in close-knit teams, time management, problem solving, attention to detail while still having an eye on the bigger picture, and many other key professional skills.

4. To what extent do you advise your students about other roles within the arts sector, such as classical music PR, artist management, publishing, advertising or writing about the arts?

Our Professional Development service draws on excellence throughout the industry. It delivers current, relevant professional activity and is embedded at the heart of the Academy’s ethos. These events, seminars, lectures and training opportunities provide Academy students with rich and varied professional experience throughout their studies. The focus is on securing work as a practising musician, but these sessions are relevant for many other areas in the profession.

5. Teaching ability is almost inevitably an essential skill for self employed musicians – what emphasis is this given in their academic course?

The Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM) provides a comprehensive, practically-based introduction to the principles of teaching and is widely accepted as a valuable teaching qualification. Many Academy students enrol to take this optional diploma as part of their studies.


If you studied music at university or a conservatoire then we want to hear from you! Click here to answer our questionnaire about what music degrees do to prepare students for the professional world.

You can also see what the Juilliard School in New York, the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and the Sydney Conservatorium had to say.