There are two ways to get a cruise ship musicians job – first, through a talent agency and, second, directly through the cruise line itself. There are benefits to both.
The talent agency will find you a job faster and, assuming you do well, keep you working for as long as you would like – and for that service they will take a percentage of your paycheck. The standard agency fee is 12-15%.
Some talent agencies claim that they don’t take percentages from your paycheck – but, of course, that’s nonsense. The agencies perform a valuable service and they are paid accordingly. Whether it comes out of your paycheck before or after you see it is not important.
Always remember – talent agencies are not necessarily on your side. They make money because of their positive relationships with the cruise lines, and it’s in their best interests to keep those relationships positive. Expect your talent agency to give you a reasonable amount of support – but don’t expect them to take your side if things go sour on your gig.
Talent agencies get you a job, and when you’re done with that one they’ll get you another. That’s what they are best at and that’s what they do to earn their fee. They aren’t (necessarily) there to make sure you are comfortable and happy.
The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory
The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory (
$24.97 $14.97 via PayPal, immediate download, PDF) contains lists of all of the talent agencies in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand and directions how to apply. 107 companies are included.
The largest talent agency in North America is Proship Entertainment, headquartered in Montreal, Canada. Other major agencies include Landau Music, Oceanbound and Stilleto.
The easiest way to get a job would be to apply to one of these agencies, complete and audition and take a gig. But The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory allows you to really do some research and shop around if you feel like it.
Proship and the other large talent agencies spend a lot of their resources stocking ships with the showband and lounge musicians on ships. If you are a guest performer you should dig deeper into the list of talent agencies and find a smaller, boutique agency that can give your act more attention.
Applying directly to a cruise line for a musician job allows you to circumvent the agency fee, but that does not mean they will give that agency fee to you – you might make the same amount as you would through a talent agency.
Also, it may take much longer to get a job directly through the cruise lines. The major cruise lines are all large corporations, and things move slowly in large corporations.
There are perks, though – if you show yourself to be valuable to the company, it’s likely that they will continue to employ you after your first contract ends. And because you are part of the company you might be able to choose your itinerary, your ship, and maybe other perks.
The Cruise Line Entertainment Directory
If you want to try this voyage solo and skip the talent agencies, The Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory ($24.97 via PayPal, immediate download, PDF) contains a list of 50+ cruise lines and the information about how to apply directly to their entertainment departments.
This is a great option for guest entertainers or musicians looking for long-term career relationships with cruise lines.
Buy both lists for
$39.97$35.97 (immediate download, .zip files containing two PDFs with over 150 leads). Start your new gig right away!
Getting a job through the cruise lines will also require an audition – sometimes in person, but increasingly, over the phone. The audition will include a lot of sight-reading if you are auditioning for the showband position, and the sight-reading portion of the audition can be quite difficult.
You’ll likely have a lot of questions about what it’s like to work as a musician on a cruise ship.
Your talent agency or cruise line will give you some information when you are hired, but you can find the answers to the most popular questions in our eBook ($4.97, immediate download, PDF).
Can I get a gig on my summer vacation? Can my girlfriend get a job too? How old a most cruise ship musicians? It’s all contained in here.
And if you have questions that are not covered here, visit the Chronicles of a Cruise Ship Musician and read through the first hand accounts from cruise ship musicians, guest entertainers and talent agents.