Leeds School of Arts

How do I prepare my music portfolio?

Dr Tenley Martin is from Washington DC, US and moved to the UK 12 years ago to complete postgraduate studies in music. She received an MMus and PhD focusing on music performance and ethnomusicology (the study of music in culture). Tenley is a professional percussionist (across a number of styles and performance contexts), ethnomusicologist and educator. She teaches primarily on the BA (Hons) Music Performance and Production course at Leeds Beckett.

Backs of students working on sound mixing desks

What is a music portfolio?

A music portfolio is a fairly broad term that represents how those engaged with the music industry might display their expertise and activities to potential employers and collaborators. There are many different strands to working in the music industry and those that do it often work in a number of different musical capacities. For example, I am a performer, a researcher, a lecturer and a music outreach practitioner. A music portfolio should address each strand within which you work.

How many projects should I have in my portfolio? 

You should organise your music portfolio to represent all of the projects you are involved in. Have a heading on your website to display past projects as well. You may want to organise your portfolio in terms of the ‘type’ of work – for example, a website tab for ‘production work’, ‘performance work’, etc.

What makes a portfolio stand out?

Various forms of media. Photos of you executing your work. A place to listen to your music and see videos of past performances (if relevant). Organisation and not too much text on the page. Animations are eye-catching but be careful of those that take time to load as many people will be accessing this on their phones.

What should I avoid putting in my portfolio? 

Avoid including anything not directly related to your music career. But DO include links to social media pages (only those associated directly with your music career) and a dedicated email to contact you on.

How can having a music portfolio help with employment? 

Having a music portfolio can allow potential employers an opportunity to view examples of your past work and give them a way to contact you. It also gives you something you can send to potential employers – many will ask for your website and social media links anyway. If you treat it like a CV and keep it up to date it can be an incredibly useful and important tool.

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