Music Arranger

Arrange basic melodies into fully realized songs.
picture of Music Arranger

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$22,000 – $85,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Music Arrangers do?

A Music Arranger takes the bones of a song and develops it into an original, marketable product. This could involve things like adding different instruments, or re-harmonizing certain segments. If you’ve ever heard an old pop song that someone used as a background for their rap, or a jazz song that was turned into a pop song, that was the work of an Music Arranger.

When doing this, you are essentially re-writing a piece of music while retaining its character as a Music Arranger. You work one-on-one with a performer to see how the piece needs to be changed, and determine every aspect of a piece of music from the vocals to the instruments right down to its beat.

Such work requires an excellent understanding of music theory, the ability to read and write music, and a strong background in orchestration, harmony and composition. Most Arrangers know how to play several instruments.

You’ll be able to recognize and play with all sorts of music, from traditional to top 40. You may work on a former Billboard hit, and if arranged well, your “cover record” could outsell the original version. Your market is a new generation of listeners, and it is a talented Arranger that initiates a new era of sound.

More often than not the Recording Artist, Music Producer or Music Director details how they would like their song to be treated. You listen to their vision while adding effective adjustments. Then you begin your creative process, staying involved with the project from the early rehearsals to its finishing touches, and last-minute changes are not uncommon.

Should I be a Music Arranger?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Outside the Box Thinker: Your creative brainpower gets a workout as you come up with innovative ideas.

  • Also known as: Music Manager

    How to become a Music Arranger

    We recommend at least an Associate's degree. Check out these schools offering Music Arranger-related education!
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