So You Want to Get into the Music Industry

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Check out this blog post and other’s this summer on Now That’s College!

Every year freshmen infiltrate Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee with the dreams of making it big in the Music Industry.  Whether that means playing, writing, producing, managing, or marketing music-they descend into this town looking for their “break” which will usher them into the big leagues.

What they lack to understand is that they aren’t alone.  Not only are there upperclassmen vying for these jobs and opportunities, but there are post grads, those opting out of school, and newly unemployed industry professionals on the chase.  Not to mention the people in New York, Atlanta, Austin, and L.A. who are trying to make it as well.

And as the Industry becomes increasingly smaller and smaller by the month with mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcy-the available employment opportunities begin to dwindle.

For lack of a better word: the Future of the Music Industry is Bleak.  Blame Generation X, the Government, the Recession, the Internet, Piracy, and really anything else you can capitalize…but its still a reality.

So why do we still attempt the impossible? I mean, the odds are not “ever in your favor” when it comes to this type of profession.

Maybe its the last frontier to make the American Dream a reality.  It and professional sports, seem to be the only occupations left that can be won by the common man and lead them to a better life.

Maybe its all those Disney TV shows about kids turned pop stars that brainwashed our generation.  Maybe its the “You’re Special!” notation that our generation grew up on.

Then there’s the overarching theme: We are all helpless hopeless fools who have been romanticized by our love of song.  Some days I like this one: the struggling artist.  I mean we are the ones in all the movies who end up making it and get the girl…right?

But if there is one thing I have learned after living and working in Nashville for four years (and trust me I acknowledge that I have much left to learn): it is that this sense of entitlement and this foolishness cannot get you a job and it will not put food on your table.

So If after reading all this, if you still cannot squash the notion of falling into this abyss; I have five tips to help you get an edge on everyone else who is on the hunt for your dream job.

1. Buy A Suit

Regardless of how you imagine the music industry is fashion-wise, you need to buy a suit. Sure, you probably won’t be wearing it every day to work, but when you show up to an interview you want to look your best.  You want to look as serious as you are.  (And if you’re not serous, stop wasting yours and everyone else’s time).  Put your best foot forward and spend some money on this; odds are you will be donning this monkey suit quite a bit.

Ladies you need a nice dress/skirt/Hillary Clinton Pantsuit that does not show off your assets.  In this industry, mainly dominated by men, there will come a time when you are accused of using your womanhood as a way to get ahead.  If it hasn’t happened yet (and bless your heart) it will. You will also have to prove that the info in your head is actually useful for things other than fetching coffee.

To all my artists out there, this is still relevant to you.  Gigging every night will not get you the contacts you need to get a head in this industry, so just buy the suit (or at least something nice from Nordstrom) so you can have a day job.

2. Volunteer

Yes, for free.

source: Grammy365

source: Grammy365

In Nashville, it is very common for labels and different associations to ask for help around album releases and festivals such as CMA Fest. You may find yourself stuffing press packages, escorting artists, or manning an information booth passing out koozies….

Volunteering may seem unimportant or boring-and at some point it will be-but it puts you in the right place at the right time with the right people. You will meet contacts this way which can lead to future employment.  That is, if you do a job worth remembering.

Leading into my next tip, these are also Resume Builders.  Adding these opportunities to your resume make you look like you have experience (which you kinda do), a good work ethic, and an interest in working in the industry from the ground up.

3. Have Your Resume Reviewed

To all my Business people:

source: LinkedIn

source: LinkedIn

PLEASE USE SPELL CHECK.

PLEASE KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE.

PLEASE HAVE MULTIPLE COPIES-nothing is worse than showing up to an interview without having more than one copy.

PLEASE USE LINKEDIN, PLEASE.

As for Artists with their Youtube/Instagrams/Twitter Accounts/CD Baby/Reverbnation Websites/Facebook Pages:

BE SOCIAL-like actually interact with people who are interested in you.

MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS EXCELLENT QUALITY-nothing worse than shitty sound recordings or your mom’s shaky video.

POST OFTEN

HAVE A ONE SHEET

4. Get A Degree

10342431_10203741885249151_7696620081474085990_nRegardless of what you want to do in this industry, I highly recommend getting a degree.  Sure Iggy, Steve Jobs, and Taylor Swift didn’t need one, but the kicker is you are not them.  And with all the odds I laid out to you, its better to be safe than sorry and get something you can fall back on in the event that this whole crazy dreaming doesn’t pan out. Many Colleges and Universities offer Songwriting, Entertainment Industry Studies, Production, Vocal/Music, and Music Business Degrees.  So invest in yourself and get one.

5. Intern, Intern, Intern…Then Intern Again

Lastly, Please Intern, and then do it again and again.  You will learn so much about the climate of the industry and you will meet so many people who can help you with getting to where you want to be.  Some internships suck.  Those are the ones you take and still learn something from and move on.  Some internships are awesome.  Those are the ones you take and hopefully run with. Internships lead to contacts and jobs.  They are you’re big break silly. Regardless if you are bringing your boss coffee or transcribing Luke Byran’s newest interview, it is the relationships you make that will help you in the long run.  In this business its not only what you know, but who you know. So put the entitlement aside-and intern.

As for my Artists:

Play everywhere and anywhere.  Going on a family vacation? Play for the locals.  At a party? Plug in your iPhone for a song or two.  Play Everywhere and Anywhere.

Pass out your links to where people can find your music.  Get a following.  Make friends with people who are trying to get into the business/are in the business and help each other.

 

That my friends is only the tip of an iceberg and I could probably write a book of do’s and don’t’s, but hopefully these will help you reevaluate if this is for you or not.  And if it is, hopefully they lead you to where you need to be.

My Best-Jess

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Good Bye for Now CMT

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Its my last week at CMT and just a few days until I graduate from Belmont University with a degree in Music Business (BBA).  Its a really stressful, exciting, crazy time in the world of this graduate, but keeping a regular work schedule helps. 

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This week we had Cole Swindell and Jerrod Niemann in house working on a new feature for CMT’s Listen Up!  And while I could only attend the Cole Swindell taping it was truly worth the experience.  While waiting for the set to begin, I met two women who worked for Warner in their licensing department.  It was very interesting to learn that one of them had grown up around where I had, we casually reminisced about hometown favorites (Graeters, La Rosas, Skyline) and life working in Nashville.  It was great to learn about her journey to Nashville and how she had gotten involved in the industry. 

ImageI always used to think that it would be very difficult to get into the industry as a woman and it very will still be that way, but after my time at CMT and working with other companies; I’m beginning to see this trend shift.  My supervisors and bosses at CMT were mainly women who had worked hard to get to where they were.  Many of the team leaders and contacts I had in LA and New York were majorly women.  I think its an exciting time to be breaking the glass ceiling in the entertainment and music industry. 

But back to the taping.  Cole played a few go through’s of his songs “Chillin It”, “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight”, and “Let Me See Ya Girl” and recorded a few introductions to the program.  The crowd was very excited for this up and coming artist who is touring with Luke Bryan on his That’s My Kind Of Night Tour.

ImageAt the end of taping, representatives from Warner brought Cole back up on stage to present him with two framed records.  The first was awarded to him for his single “Chillin’ It” reaching Gold; but because he had been on the road so much they were unable to award him a Platinum recognition as well. 

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It was really interesting to be able to see this all happen at the beginning of someone’s career and to see all their hard work pay off.  Regardless of what you think about Cole, the artist life style is very difficult and requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice.  Just because they always look glamorous or happy doesn’t make it so.  In the music industry the product we sell is not just music, its an experience and an image.  Taint either or be off your game once and its a major road bump-especially for a new artist. 

{check the video here: http://instagram.com/p/nETxUfuKQZ/ }

That’s what our business has become, only now its harder to hide because of social media and people like me who comment and write about everything.  We work and live and breathe in a business of perception.  There are days when the reality can smack you in the face and make you want to give it all up.  Its harsh and dog eat dog. 

But then you meet people like my coworkers at CMT, songwriters who don’t care if they have a number one they just want to write, artists with kickstarters to fund their new album, and it all gets a lot easier.  In Nashville, we look after one another, we care about each other.  Its intense but not as bad as LA and New York.  Sure there are crooks but ultimately we all have each others backs. 

I left CMT having learned so much about Media, Licensing, Corporate Life, Viacom, and Music, but also with a new set of industry friends and contacts.  My supervisors and coworkers are amazing, hands down.  They are people I hope to stay in contact with regardless of where this crazy world takes us.  My fellow interns have become great friends whom I’m sure I’ll still see and work with.  Because Nashville is that small town in the Big city.

ImageMy last day at CMT was busy for sure with exit interviews, license request letters to draft, song data to update, a programming department showcase/info session, and plenty of people to say goodbye to. My department did make time to schedule a goodbye lunch at Pub5 which was delicious.  It was definitely a great way to end my semester with the people who had taught me so much.

ImageI have plans to work the Award Show with an outside company and I have several industry contacts I’m meeting with now…so don’t count my industry blog out just yet!  Until the next big thing, I’ll be showcasing all of the art and culture and fun this town can bring you and I’ll be working with my long term job Wannado to bring you the best events in town!

My Best To You -Jess