July 23, 2010

Getting Your Foot in the Door Part 2: Experience

Once you've actually made contact with someone you'd like to work with you'll probably need a resume to prove why you deserve the position. This presents us with the age of old problem- you need experience to get a job (sometimes even to get an internship), but you can't get experience without a job. With a little creative thinking you can get that experience...

Volunteer
There are plenty of organizations out there looking for free help or volunteers. Public radio stations, music festival, school newspapers, and even venues can be a great way to get some experience without the need for an interview. Can't find something in music? See my next tip....

See the Bigger Picture
There are certain skills that apply to almost every job: organization, leadership, ability to work with a team, the list could go on. So you spent your summer working at McDonald's and don't have much else to say. Sure, a record exec may not care about the burgers you flipped,but maybe you got employee of the month, set up a new system to organize the work area managed other employees. This is NOT about lying on your resume, just learning to see how those seemingly unrelated jobs gave you skills related to your actual goals.

Nothing to Lose
Don't let your fears or preconceived ideas of what the company is looking for get you down. You have nothing to lose by applying anyway. Worst case scenario: you never hear from them. At least you know you tried and no one ever said you can't reapply later. They may even appreciate your persistance. Best case: you actually get a job or internship offer. You can't succeed if you don't try.

July 19, 2010

Talking Points Part 2: ISPs

As I said in the first edition of this feature, part of getting into the music industry involves staying up to date with recent issues and news. Politicians use a few key "talking points" to cover the issues when speaking to the public so I'm giving you the to-the-point, easy to follow version, handy for cocktail party and networking talk, an intro, or a basic understanding.

ISPs- or internet service providers- have been a hot topic in the music industry recently with various sectors seeking to propose and pass some new laws and others not so happy about it.

Here's the bullet point version of what you need to know.
-Some countries in Europe limit internet access for people who download music illegally, the most talked about being the "three strikes rule" as in three strikes and you're out.

-Nay-sayers point out that this may be unconstitutional

-Some members of the music industry have been lobbying and talking to ISPs to get similar policies put into practice here too

-Supporters cite countries like South Korea, France, and Sweden that allegedly saw significant increases in music sales after adopting these rules

-One big proponent of these new ISP restrictions is Jim Urie, CEO of UMG's distribution. He has spoken publicly about the issue and sent out an email about it.

Some related sites and articles:
LA Times
Blog Post
Music Rights Now

Trying to Win a Game Show

Ever been on an interview feeling like you were actually on Jeopardy? You're not being yourself, you're trying to win the prize and it's more like you're asking a question in response than giving a real answer just hoping you'll guess correctly.

Interviewer: What are your biggest strengths?
You: What is making coffee?...

Well here's a little secret for your next interview: it isn't a game show, or an audition, so stop trying to please and just be you. No need regress to the high school version of you, wanting to fit in with the cool kids (after all you're the one interviewing to work in the music business, who's the cool one now?).

I've been guilty of this myself a few times too, but the interview isn't just about hoping you'll get the spot, it is also your chance to be sure you'll be happy working with and learning from this company. Your interviewer is likely to become your boss, so let your personality shine and make sure you're comfortable with this person and be sure to ask some questions to find out what you'll be doing.

July 18, 2010

Entry Level

Alright, so you don't want to spend the rest of your life doing coffee runs and answering phones? I don't blame you. So where do you begin to make the fastest move up the career ladder? Admittedly, I don't have much experience in this arena, but between some research and what I've witnessed, it seems safe to say it isn't the where, but the what.

Everyone starts on the botton, especially in the music world. That is just the way it is and there isn't usually a way around it, whether its errands for a studio, trainee at a management office, assistant at a label or whatever else your first job will probably seem like you've only moved a few steps beyond interning. Don't worry though, you're not alone, according to this article, a college grad should expect to stay in an entry level position for two or three years.

Instead of trying to expedite the process, learn as much as you can where you are so you'll be ready to move up when the opportunity arises. Build a reputation for great work and reliability and work on building new skills so you'll be more qualified. More importantly, find an entry level job in a field you're passionate about. Assuming that's likely music if you're reading this, there are still many different areas to work in that industry and they all use different skills. Figure out what will make you most happy: live sound, touring, publishing, online, radio, recording, etc. Once you do, that entry level work may not be quite as painful.

My last piece of advice may seem a bit odd since the music business isn't quite the same as Hollywood. However, there are a lot of similarities. So, if you want some more info on how to handle an entry level job in entertainment and advance, check out The Hollywood Assistant's Handbook. It was recommended to me while I was interning in LA and it is pretty informative. It is actually part of what inspired this blog! Not everything in it will apply to the music business, but it is a quick read and has some great advice in general too.

The Hollywood Assistants Handbook: 86 Rules for Aspiring Power Players

July 11, 2010

Book Club: What to Read When You Want to Learn

There are countless books on there about the music business and plenty of other books about business in general that have had a great impact on or show a great understanding of the music business and picking one up is a great way to get a better of understanding of the music industry. So I've decided to add a new type of regular post featuring books, articles, or other great tools to read to learn more about the music business.

It only seems appropriate that I start this off by featuring Donald Passman's All You Need to Know About the Music Business. It is pretty much the music industry's Bible and is also extremely thick and thorough. I've never actually finished reading it, but I do keep it around as a great reference because it has a great explanation for anything you could possibly want to know. It can also serve as an incredible tool for getting acquainted with every single aspect of the music business.

Here's the info if you want to check it out:

July 07, 2010

Getting Your Foot In The Door

This is probably the hardest and most elusive part of the whole process of getting into the music industry. Unless you already know someone it is pretty difficult to get anywhere past the receptionist and it can be pretty frustrating. I didn't know anyone either and I'm from a small town where most people didn't understand the idea of working in the music business. It may be difficult, but it isn't impossible.

Get Experience Where You Can
There's always a problem getting into any industry: you need experience to get the job but need a job to get the experience. Surprisingly, that part is actually a bit easier in the music world. Ever moderately sized town has some sort of music or performing arts venue, regional concert, local radio station, local band, or something somehow related to music. Find one and volunteer to help in some way: hang posters, carry gear, sweep the stag, whatever. Almost everyone appreciates a helping hand and you've got nothing to lose. It will help you get some connections, something to put on your resume, and may lead to bigger and better things.

-Network
Yep, you've probably heard it a million times, but it really is that important. This business is about who you know. So you don't know anyone? Go to local venues and talk to the sound people, the person selling tickets, etc. or find a local music event or conference to attend.

Don't Write Off That Receptionist
So you call Sony and get nowhere. Well, keep in mind, that receptionist isn't just some person answering the phone. He or she is most likely your gatekeeper to the rest of the company, plus in a few years may be an executive.

Be Persistent But Not Pushy
The key is to continue to follow up. It is incredibly easy to ignore someone when they contact you once, but it isn't as easy when they've called a few times. However, do not be annoying or too demanding or call every few days...or even every week. Be reasonable. You want to stay relevant, not get your number blocked.

Thanks for Kenny for the inspiration on this one!

July 04, 2010

Talking Points: Touring and Ticket Sales

So you find yourself in a room of music industry executives and you're not quite sure what to talk about. This new feature is here to give you a quick, bullet-pointed rundown of some of the current hot topics in the music business so you're prepared for anything. Today's issue focuses on touring.

Live Nation and Ticket Sales

-Ticket sales have been tough for all level acts recently and Live Nation, the biggest concert promoter in the country who also owns Ticketmaster, has especially had trouble making money from shows

-This has impacted countless major acts including The Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, and many more

-Live Nation/ Ticketmaster has responded by getting rid of service fees for a bit and putting tickets on sale shortly before concerts

-These reduced price tickets have made fans angry that already bought tickets at full price, the first and possibly most controversial being the Lillith tour.

-There's been some tension in the industry with tour and show cancellations left and right and everyone trying to figure out how to fix it

Here's a great article about it: Summer Concerts: Canceled shows, tours have industry in a sweat

July 01, 2010

Not Too Cool for School

"I wish there had been a music business 101 course I could have taken."
--Kurt Cobain

Lucky for you, these days there actually is such a course, plenty in fact. There are tons of colleges out there that offer degrees in music buiness, entertainment, recording, music technology and many other variations. These programs let you get a degree while studying the ins and outs of the music business. Not sure how to find them, start with some Googling for terms like music industry degree, music business degree, recorded music degree, or music technology degree.

Here are some schools and programs to check out as a starting point which offering different degrees focusing in something relating to the music business:

Northeastern University
New York University
University of Miami
Drexel University
Ithaca College
Ball State University
Berklee College of Music
Full Sail University
McNally Smith College
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