The music industry can be a tough one to break into, and having a well-crafted music resume can make all the difference in securing you a gig or the job of your dreams. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or someone who’s just starting out, an effective resume is crucial to showcase your skills and experience.
In this article, we’ll show you how to create an engaging document that emphasizes your key strengths and properly presents them to potential employers. From highlighting your musical education and training to showcasing your performance experience and repertoire of original work, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to write a music resume!
The most commonly used music resume format is the chronological one, with a clean and professional one-page layout.
Mandatory sections of your resume include contact information, a resume objective or summary, work experience, education, and skills.
When highlighting your professional experience, you should focus only on relevant projects or performances and list them in reverse-chronological order.
Besides listing your abilities in the skills section of your resume, you should mention them throughout the document, ideally in your resume objective, resume summary, and work experience section.
What is the Right Format to Use for a Music Resume?
Before you start haphazardly adding content to your musical resume, you should know that there are rules when it comes to it. There are proven ways to prioritize and order information in your document to ensure that it contains all the skills and accomplishments you’re proud of.
These arrangements of information are called resume formats, and these are the three most popular ones:
The chronological resume format highlights your latest work achievements and education while listing the rest in descending order. Recruiters are used to this format, and it’s ATS-proof, which makes it the most prevalent out of the three.
The functional resume format makes your skills section the main part, concealing the candidate’s lack of work history. This makes it perfect for entry-level candidates.
A combination resume format blends the previous two formats to emphasize skills and support them with professional accomplishments. It’s best suited for the music resumes of seasoned candidates.
A resume layout determines what your document looks like, and it’s one of the features that are supposed to grab the potential employer’s attention right off the bat.
For starters, most candidates should fit the contents of their musician resume onto one page. You can do that by cutting out the details that aren't relevant or important or by using bullet points instead of long blocks of text.
To make your resume clean and readable, you should have ample margins and white space between sections. Moreover, you want to pick a professional font (e.g., Arial or Garamond) and an appropriate font size hierarchy. Section headings should have a 14–16 pt font size, and regular text should be 10–12 pt.
What Sections Should a Music Resume Contain?
There’s certain information that recruiters expect to see on every music resume. That’s why there are mandatory sections, such as:
Resume objective or summary
After adding these, you can personalize your document with optional sections, like:
Courses and classes
By following these lists, you’ll make sure you don’t forget to include any crucial bit of information, as this could get your resume discarded right away. However, if you want to write your resume worry-free, you can always check out our resume builder!
It’s a feature-packed yet user-friendly piece of software that lets you start with a professional preset and simply add your information to pre-designated places. Not only that, but you can change the entire layout—from font to colors—in one click. Needless to say, this will save you hours of precious time.
Music Resume Contact Information
Your music resume starts with the simplest section—the one containing your contact information. This part goes at the top of your resume and should include the following details:
Job title (this should match what’s listed in the job ad)
Location (this part is optional and should only include your city and state)
LinkedIn profile (optional but highly recommended)
This is what this looks like in practice:
Contact Information Example
+ 954 731 3195
Fort Lauderdale, FL
You should pay special attention to this part to ensure no typing errors. Otherwise, recruiters might not be able to contact you.
On a final note, make sure that you’ve included a professional job title and email. If you’re still using that immature email address you created a decade ago, it’s time to make a new one.
Music Resume Objective or Summary
Resume objectives and summaries are the opening paragraphs and recruiters’ first contact with who you really are. Make these introductions catchy and brief to hook the readers, and they’ll want to read more about you.
If you lack work experience, you’ll want to focus on your education, skills, and ambition, which is the goal of a resume objective.
If you’re a seasoned professional, you should write a resume summary to concisely encapsulate your career by highlighting your most prominent achievements.
Musician Resume Objective
Check out the following music resume objective samples, starting with a good one:
“Driven and passionate cellist looking to join the NY Radio Symphony Orchestra. Studied at the distinguished Juilliard School under the tutelage of Yo-Yo Ma. Received Avery Fisher Career Grant in recognition of exceptional dedication to the art. Seeking to push the boundaries of artistic expression and deliver uplifting and inspiring performances.”
And now, let’s see a bland example:
“Skilled cellist with a passion for making music looking for her first real gig.”
The first objective is written by a candidate with a clear goal and strong qualifications. The second one is vague and uninspiring, giving recruiters no substantial information to work with.
Musician Resume Summary
If you have a lot of experience under your belt, make sure to entice recruiters with your most distinguished awards and outstanding accomplishments. Here’s a good resume summary example:
“A highly accomplished composer looking to join Vivian Beaumont Theater. Recipient of several awards and fellowships, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Music. Professional accomplishments include premieres at prestigious festivals and concert halls around the world, including Lincoln Center and the BBC Proms.”
However, if you omit any concrete results, you’ll end up with something like the following example:
“Competent and experienced composer looking to join a capable team to produce challenging, inspiring, and thought-provoking music.”
This resume summary might as well have been written by an entry-level candidate, making it vastly inferior compared to the previous example.
Music Resume Work Experience
The work experience section of your musician resume is often the most important one, and recruiters generally focus on it. So, what do you include in this section?
The answer might be much more simple than you think. If you’re creating a performance resume, you’ll want to highlight your performances. And if you’re a composer, your work experience section should feature your original work.
Here are a couple of guidelines to help you get the most out of this section:
You should list your experiences in reverse-chronological order, putting the most recent ones on top.
Be honest about your accomplishments. Any attempts at “embellishing the truth” will likely be seen through and damage your credibility in the process.
Tailor this section to the position that you’re applying for. Instead of making a general resume with a variety of experiences, highlight only those that recruiters would want to see.
If you want to showcase performances on your music resume, you should state the years when these happened, your roles, and the organizations where you performed.
If you’re in music performance, here’s a resume template example of a work experience section:
Orchestral Experience Example
2018–Present First Violin, New York Philharmonic
2021 Guest Concertmaster, Boston Symphony Orchestra
2016–2018 Principal Second Violin, Los Angeles Philharmonic
2014–2016 Associate Concertmaster, Seattle Symphony Orchestra
2009–2014 Section Violinist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
If you’re a composer, for example, you should include the following details for each original piece:
Name of the composition
What instruments it’s for
(Optional) Notable awards and achievements
Now let’s see an example:
August 2022 Sonata for violin and piano
Premiered October 13, 2022, at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.
January 2021 Into the Night for concert choir
Premiered March 11, 2021, at the Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL
May 2019 Symphony No. 1 for orchestra
Winner, Rochester Symphony Orchestra Composition Competition
Premiered November 23, 2019, at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
No Professional Music Experience
If you haven’t had any formal jobs as a musician, you can highlight your freelance work, gigs, compositions, and similar endeavors. Make the section clean and professional and showcase your experience as a musician, even though it’s not “official.”
Here’s an example:
Freelance Musician Example
Performed as a soloist at the Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, CA
Toured with the indie band “The Wallflower” as a keyboardist and backup vocalist and played at various venues, including The Bowery Ballroom in New York City
Composed and produced 5 songs that garnered more than 1000 downloads on Soundcloud.
Music Resume Education Section
Not every musician has an academic degree. Still, you should list yours if you have it since it adds trustworthiness to your skills. This section is all the more important if you’re new to the field and lack professional experience.
To adequately show your education to recruiters and potential employers, you should include the following details:
School’s name and location
Years in school
(Optional) Notable achievements relevant to the position that you’re applying for
Let’s put that into practice with this example of a music resume education section:
Education Section Example
Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance
USC Thornton School of Music, Los Angeles, CA
Awarded the Thornton Faculty Award for Excellence in Piano Performance
Winner of the USC Concerto Competition
Studied one semester abroad at the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK
Music Resume Skills
Music is a complex field where skills can vary a lot depending on the position that you’re going for. Broadly speaking, hard (job-specific) skills can be put into three categories:
On top of that, recruiters usually look for valuable soft (interpersonal) skills in candidates. To find out which ones they favor, you can research the position, the job ad, and the organization.
Once you have a list of preferred music skills, add it to the skills section of your resume and mention some of your vital abilities throughout the rest of the document. By including the most impactful skills next to relevant accomplishments in your resume summary, resume objective, and work experience section, you’ll make them more credible.
Performance skills that you can add to your resume include:
Specific instrument skills
You can also showcase your proficiency in teaching skills, such as:
Some of the technical skills you could add are:
Acid Pro 7
Last but not least, here are some desired soft skills that would add value to your music resume:
Music Resume Optional Sections
Optional sections are a great way to spruce up your music resume with valuable information that doesn’t belong in any of the mandatory sections.
Highlighting certifications on your music resume is one of the best ways to add trustworthiness to your abilities. Their nature can vary a lot depending on your area of specialization. Here are some examples:
Music teacher certification from an accredited institution
Certification in music production or audio engineering
Certification in specific music software or technology
Certification for particular instruments
Adding relevant coursework or classes taken can be a great way to supplement your formal degree or make up for a lack of it. These details become all the more important if you’ve been taught by some of the most prominent professionals in the industry. In that case, you should mention their names as well.
Awards emphasize your dedication to the craft and show that you’ve been recognized for your skills. You should add them to your resume if they are relevant to the specific position that you’re applying for.
Should You Submit a Cover Letter With Your Music Resume?
Unless the job ad specifies otherwise, you should always submit a cover letter with your music resume. This is because the mere act of sending a position-specific cover letter shows diligence and commitment.
You can use those 3–5 paragraphs of a letter to:
Go into detail about your skills and achievements
Establish a personal connection with the recruiter
Include a call to action at the end
Expert Tips for Creating a Music Resume
Let’s end this comprehensive guide on a high note. Here are a few final expert tips to help you polish your musician resume to perfection:
You should always submit your resume as a PDF unless specified otherwise. That way, you’ll ensure the layout of your document doesn’t change on different devices.
Try to skim through your resume in 10 seconds or less to see which details you’ll spot since recruiters sometimes spend that much time before making their initial decision.
Unless you have decades of experience, your resume should be one page long.
Proofread your resume before submitting it to ensure there are no mistakes or spelling errors. You can ask a friend or colleague to give it a look, too.
If you’re an entry-level candidate, you could include a compliment from a notable professional in the field (e.g., a director or a music teacher) instead of an award.
You’re well on your way to becoming a resume-writing virtuoso in addition to being a musical prodigy. All that’s left now is to grab a pen and paper or fire up your laptop and get to practice.
Of course, you can always go back to our resume-building tool to speed up the whole process. Whichever path you choose, expect to be called for an interview regarding your dream job sooner rather than later!