Musicians can be amateur or professional. The meaning of these terms is, however, somewhat diffuse. Musicians have varying levels of activity and ambition in music, which often makes music both a hobby and a profession. Many professional musicians define the core of their musicianship as a state of "being married" to music, which suggests an active and progressive relationship even and especially after finishing formal education.
A professional musician is, however, usually defined as one who is paid to perform, compose or act in any other productive manner related to music, and whose main source of income is this activity. Professional musicians may work freelance, enter into a contract with a studio or record label, be employed by a professional ensemble such as a symphony orchestra or big band, or by an institution such as a church or business (such as a jazz club or a bar). A musician who earns money by selling sound recordings is called a recording artist.
The concept and the status of the musician in society varies widely, depending on sociological, cultural, and economic factors.