Music Technology / Software Careers

Careers in music technology and software focus on the use and creation of music programs and applications.

The age of technology allowed for the creation of all kinds of programs that make all kinds of musical activities possible. These days, music software exists for pretty much anything - digital tuners, music notation software, apps that teach users to play an instrument, and professional level music mastering programs. Every one of these, from industry standard software instruments to music streaming platforms and distribution hubs to at-home digital recording studios, starts as an idea; someone decides that the world needs a new way to interact with music and designs a program to fill that need.

Making software can involve any number of people, depending on the team's capabilities. A typical development team involves at least one programmer, who is responsible for the underlying functions of a piece of software. Programming involves using coding languages to build virtual interfaces that do certain things. Code can produce nearly unlimited effects, but they may not be immediately usable; if the back-end code constitutes a piece of software's muscles, nerves, and internal organs, the front end gives it form and a face that can be interacted with. Making something work often requires a different skillset than making it look sleek and intuitive, though some "full stack" developers do it all, from the bones to the buttons.

Work in music software and technology may include...

  • Using coding languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, and more
  • Maintaining, hosting, and continually improving music software
  • Debugging and troubleshooting music programs
  • Solving problems in creative ways as they arise
  • Working collaboratively under tight deadlines

The most prominent employers in the music technology and software world are start-ups, established technology companies, and music companies branching out into the digital world. Software developers and tech centered roles aren't always tied to a traditional work schedule; in fact, many independent developers dream up new music technologies from home and grow them from there. Depending on the resources available to a software developer or the company they are affiliated with, a software building team may consist of a front and back end developer, one or more engineers, and several types of designer, as well as a number of executive, marketing, and operations personnel. At the beginning of a software's life, many (or all!) of these roles may be filled by a single person; however, large companies can employ hundreds of employees who do work that is directly or tangentially related to a product's creation and success.

The only consistent requirement for a career in music software is skill. Raw drive and coding talent can go far in the technology sector; it's entirely possible to find a self-taught programmer working alongside a college graduate with a degree in software engineering. Many hopeful tech workers attend certification courses or coding boot-camps, which can make it easier to find a role; however, most interviews for technical roles include a significant practical component where an applicant is expected to demonstrate their relevant skills. Software expertise is tough to fake, and hands-on skill often wins out over on-paper experience.

Individuals looking to unite their love for music with software skills can make it possible for others to experience music in new ways by pursuing a career in music technology.

The International Computer Music Association is an international affiliation of institutions and individuals involved in the technical, creative, and performance aspects of computer music.

The Association for Technology in Music Instruction aims to improve music teaching and learning through the integration of technologies into the music learning environment.

Music Technology conference list lists upcoming conferences and journals for the music technology community.

IMSTA is a nonprofit association that represents the interests of the music software industry.