Advice on Finding Work in the Music Industry After Graduation

So you've finished your course, learned a lot about the industry and fine tuned your skills. But what next? What is the best way to link your degree to your future career in the music industry you have chosen to dedicate your life to?

Contemporary Music and Performance Alumni and winner of the Elizabeth Cass Award, Shelley Davies is here to help! Shelley has carved her musical career out with a lot of hard work, good decisions and strategic planning. Shelley has since played international gigs, is on the books of multiple agencies and books her own corporate and wedding gigs. Shelley has offered some advice on her key moments of getting work in the industry and how she managed to do it so successfully.

Shelley's key advice

When uni finishes you may be left scratching your head thinking "What now?" I know my uni friends and I were! But don't feel like you have to dive head first into every opportunity thrown your way.

- Take some time to figure out what you want to do, and use what you learned at JMC to make a plan. 

- Set long-term and short term goals and chip away at those goals until they're all gone and you're ready to set new ones.

- Remember to go at your own pace and don't compare your journey to the journeys of others.

- Stay in touch with your lecturers and classmates and make sure you continue to support each other. JMC will always be there to support you too, even after uni is over - I'm still feeling the love 2 years on!

What were some of the first key steps you took when starting in the industry that really helped you progress?

Network! Network! Network! I did some networking during my JMC days but afterwards I figured out that certain kinds of networking were more beneficial than others for what I specifically wanted to do in music. For me, going to as many gigs as I could, going to agency showcases and getting up at jam nights were the most beneficial. So my advice would be to figure out where your lane is in music and do what works for you, because we all have our own unique paths and it isn't a one size fits all situation.

You decided to work full-time once graduating from JMC. How did this effect your musical career and future aspirations in the industry?

After taking some well needed time off to regenerate post-recital and final assessments, I started working full-time in administration. I knew that this would give me the foundation I needed to support myself whilst I worked on music on the side and knew that the skills I use in my admin work could also be applied to managing myself as a musician. I work full-time because I want to avoid having to deal with financial stress. It can really affect your art and how you create and it's important to me to always love what I do in music. My admin job is a Monday to Friday role, so it gives me nights and weekends for music. 

What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt in your journey and which gigs have you taken the most out of?

For me it was very important to acknowledge that I'm never going to stop being a student! I learned so much at JMC but I learned a tonne more after graduation. I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by and surrounded by some highly skilled and experienced musicians in recent months and those are the gigs I take the most out of. I'm still growing and pushing myself and it's great to be surrounded by people who challenge you.

If you had your time again, would you do anything differently?

I stopped singing for about 8 years of my life. I had terrible stage fright, minimal experience, and little-to-no confidence in myself (though I tried to hide it) for a long time. I started my music degree at age 28 and I had to work very very hard to get where I am now. Although sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I used those extra 8 years in music, I actually wouldn't change anything. Everything is happening for me the way it is meant to and at a pace that is allowing me to reach all the goals I am setting myself: I'm very happy with where my career is going.

To listen to some of Shelley's music and find out more about her upcoming gigs, click here.

To learn more about studying Contemporary Music + Performance, click here.