The Many Careers Available to Singers

Susan Wolf and work settings available to singers
Business leader and singer Susan Wolf will open your mind to the opportunities for paid work available to singers.

Susan Wolf has not only been an active gigging singer for decades, she was Co-founder of Line 6, Inc. She’s built an incredible international team and culture over 30+ years, overseeing international offices in Japan, China, UK, Victoria BC

Susan is also a member of multiple Board of Directors and Advisory Boards for non-profits. Having hired many musicians over the years for many different professional roles, she has much wisdom to impart to those thinking about future options. 

How would you describe your early singing career?  

I started playing piano at 12 and then realized I could sing and write songs.  I started gigging at 15 and then eventually formed a band to play clubs and casuals, while working multiple jobs and then eventually starting a business.

Susan Wolf when with the southern California group Skyline

What unfolded in your singing work that surprised you? 

I was very fortunate that singing and playing piano came naturally to me.  I don’t have any formal vocal or piano training but taught myself how to sing and play.  I was mesmerized and obsessive about learning all I could on my own.  Those were the days without YouTube, Music APPs, technology and tools.  Learning music is so much easier today and available to everyone who has the passion to learn.

A story of a singer whose career did not unfold in a traditional way?  

Me. ? I had the dream of being a successful recording artist and was lucky enough to get a recording contract. But I pivoted and feel so lucky to have built an incredible company, with amazing people and great products.

When did you first become aware of careers for singers other than live gigs or recording projects? 

From being an entrepreneur and starting a music design company back in the early 80s. As our company grew and the need for additional staff was necessary, we needed and wanted to hire musicians for the roles that we needed for the business.

What can singers learn from your having stepped into a leadership with a music technology company? 

There is a magic combination that happens with a singer/musician who understands the passion and deep connection of music, but also has a background in various areas of the business, including sales, marketing, engineering, etc.  

In your opinion how do singers limit their thinking about careers?  

A singer has a DNA/wiring for music deep in their soul. It’s an authentic passion.  This passion or DNA also shows up in different and unexpected ways. It is always surprising to me when I help singers/musicians discover that they have skills in business that they didn’t even know they had.

Susan Wolf mentoring an class with APCH – A Place Called Home

How many different jobs come to mind that apply to singers?

There are incredible and vast opportunities in our industry. Music manufacturers have a plethora of job opportunities for musicians/singers.  Sales, engineering, website designers, graphic designers, social media, engineers, sound designers, R & D, customer service and support and much more.

Let’s say a singer wants to begin looking for jobs in these areas – where might they start?

My recommendation is to get on LinkedIn and follow every company that they have an interest in.  Read their stories, familiarize themselves with their history, executives, products and culture.  Often these companies post positions that are available.  

What are some things you’ve appreciated about the preparation singing-applicants do for job interviews for music tech companies?

 I remember a few applicants that had the killer combination of articulating their passion for music, but more importantly how it directly related to the job they were applying for. 

What are some ways singers can bounce back from a rejection? 

Rejections are a gift.  I know it doesn’t feel that way when it happens, but my recommendation in these situations is to ask the interviewer or HR Manager why they didn’t get the job and what they could do better the next time. Also, what essential job skills were missing.  These learning moments are truly valuable not only for getting jobs, but learning in life how to go outside the comfort zone to get answers as a method for self-development and improvement.

What are the top habits you see in singers which allow them to discover a variety of employment options? 

Tenacity, commitment, passion and drive.

Any advice on prep for a successful interview at a music tech company?  

Do the deep dive on researching the company they are applying for. Use the many tools available.  Go to the company’s website, search YouTube for company videos.  Follow them on social media; LinkedIn, FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter.  Also, prepare your own list of questions to ask during the interview.  Ask about their company culture, details about the job, ask about their 3-5 year plan for the company, etc. 

What are you currently working on in terms of your career?  

I started a consultancy called WRiiG, with my husband (also a co-founder of Line 6).  We are advisors to other music manufacturers specializing in M & A, strategic planning, product strategy, technology, sales and marketing.  Our goal is to help companies in our industry grow and be successful.  We learned a lot in our 40 years in the business and are happy to share some of those lessons learned.

A favorite quote that inspires you.  

Susan Wolf in her “jam room”

I have so many, but the one I use the most with the young women and men I mentor is this:  Never feel stuck with any decision you have made.  Life’s adventure is about continuously identifying when to pivot. 

An object that inspires you in your work:  

Piano is my first love and daily therapy.  I sit at the piano and just play anything that comes into my head.  Sometimes a song idea will happen and then I start to work thru that, but just freestyling is a true joy.  I also take my IPAD to the piano and sing for at least an hour a day.  

See more about Susan: at WRiiG | with APCH | Entrepreneurship Interview | Surprise 50th Performance 

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