Since Spotify’s US launch and the F8 announcements a few weeks ago, a major sea change is underfoot. I have been following some of the most important and lively conversations about the meaning of all of this for independent musicians everywhere.
I don’t have much to say about it all (yet) but my knee jerk reaction is to revert back to the basics. As things get more and more complicated and as artists are being included on platforms that will yield them smaller fiduciary returns, it is more necessary than ever to remember and practice core marketing principals and basic networking.
On that note, I’m continuing the Music Marketing Experts FAQs where my favorite gods and goddesses of online marketing and Social Media promotion share with me the questions they get asked the most by musicians and in this case industry hopefuls.
Music Marketers FAQ – How do I get a job in the music industry?
I wrote an in-depth article about this awhile back. This was the perfect opportunity to update it for you. Here’s an excerpt:
“So… you want to be in the music business? There are a lot of you out there. I know this because every time we put out a call for interns or jobs at Cyber PR®, we get over 100 resumes. As you know I love breaking things down into steps (see: http://www.MusicSuccessInNineWeeks). So, I wrote this guide for you. Once upon a time, I was just like you: dying to follow my passion and aggressively trying to land a job in the industry of my dreams. It was a humbling and, at times, humiliating exercise. So, this dear young aspiring music business mogul is for you. Interns are much needed in every facet of the industry, and most of my music industry friends (myself included) started out as unpaid interns back in their day and we leveraged our unpaid internships into paying jobs.
YOUR FIRST LESSON: TWO WORDS THAT APPLY TO EVERY MUSIC BUSINESS INTERNSHIP: NO PAY“
You have a few choices, but either way it’s important to note the lesson from my first mentor: “there is no money in the music industry.” While the rumors of a changing industry are overtly true, revolution does not mean it is suddenly easy to get a lucrative job in a very complicated industry. There is much to learn, and loving music, while a prerequisite, is not enough; you need to know things. Be weary of easy titles, prepare to work hard. Find a role where you have access to learning about all aspects of the music business, and I mean all elements. Like all careers, this is a career path that is best with a solid mentor. After a year or two, propose your own role and just do it. This is the secret sauce that will make your career in any industry. Learn everything you can about how the machine works, and then focus on the area on which you are surely an expert, most passionate about, and will be willing to dedicate at least 10 years of your life to making it work. This is not a jokey glamorous business. The best analogy I can offer is marine biology. Very few marine biology graduates get to swim with dolphins. If you go into the music business for glamour, you are competing with the artists. If you want a job in the industry, prepare to work hard and go get it. Just do it. And like all other careers, strategize your next 5-10 years. Very few people stick it out; be the person who does, and that’s how you get a job in the music industry.
I always tell everyone to work for free – whether it be volunteering or interning. Finding a way to get your foot in the door, meeting new people, and getting experience from the ground up is the best way to do it.
Getting that first job is a combination of luck and being in the right place at the right time, but it’s extremely critical to any further success you might have. Regardless of the kind of job, you’re always better off working with the biggest, most successful name you can, because that will lead to better jobs and a faster career climb later. You’ll learn more from a successful person or company, and just having that name attached to your resume will open doors down the road.
Carla Lynne Hall
To get a job in the music industry, it helps if you do your homework. Start with reading music industry blogs to stay on top of what’s happening in the music industry, and think about what kind of company you’d like to work for.
Choose a handful of target companies, and learn everything you can about them. Set up a Google Reader and follow their company blog’s RSS Feed. At the same time, think about the strengths that you could bring to the table. If you’re a college student seeking an internship, your strengths could include enthusiasm and passion.
Pay attention to what’s going on at your target companies, and use social media to start connecting with people that work there. Don’t be annoying. Find something else to connect with your future co-workers with, and you’ll soon learn more about your target company, and if it’s where you want to work. After you’ve made a genuine connection, maneuver to get an interview. If you’ve done your preparation, your interview will demonstrate that you’re ready to be hired.
I always tell people that if they want to be in the music business they just have to find what I call “conversation currency” or an excuse to talk to people. There are dozens of great bands out there who could use help – go find one and manage them- this will give you the excuse you need to meet industry people without going hat in hand and asking for a job (you will probably be going hat in hand asking for favors for any new band but that’s a whole different story). Provided the artist or band knows you are working for them as a way of getting further in to the industry I think this is a great way.