May 26, 2011

Seven Survival Tools for the Live Sound Intern

Let's say you've nailed the interview, gotten the internship, and your mother is already stitching up your superhero costume with “Live Sound Intern Man/Woman” emblazoned across the front. (All the cool superhero names were taken, apparently.) You're ready to do battle against the forces of evil – and probably make runs to Guitar Center.

Just like every superhero from Batman to . . . Robin . . . you'll need an arsenal of useful gadgets to compensate for your utter lack of real superpowers. You probably have most of this stuff lying around already, but it does you no good unless it's within 50 feet of you at each and every gig. If Indiana Jones can have the foresight to carry an idol-sized sack of dirt in his adventure bag, you really don't have any excuse not to have at least the following basics:

1. Ear plugs. It amazes me – amazes me – that so many live sound folks don't own or use ear plugs. These otherwise conscientious people, who will quite literally rip your head off for setting a drink within thirty feet of their precious consoles, see no problem whatsoever with deliberately trashing the one tool that no amount of money can replace: Hearing.

2. Flashlight. Don't be That Guy trying to find something on a dark stage by the light of a cell phone. Buy a bright, sturdy LED flashlight and keep it with you at all times. Superhero bonus: Nothing will get you through a dense crowd faster than 137 lumens of “Excuse me” power. (Having a heavy metal tube in your hand doesn't hurt, either.)

3. Headphones. Maybe I'm still stuck in kindergarten, but I'm pretty big on sharing. You can borrow my kick drum microphone, my car, my girlfriend, whatever . . . but there is nothing in this world that makes me cringe like hearing the words: “Can I borrow your headphones?” No matter how nice you may be, my brain is immediately filled with a high-definition, 3D montage of you foregoing today's shower time to instead paw through your pile of greasy, dirty clothes and sweaty footwear, and maybe shove a few Twinkies in your mouth for good measure. (Remind me, I'm out of Twinkies.) Buy a quality pair of can-style headphones with a 1/4” adapter (I use Extreme Isolation EX-29s) and keep them out of sight – and off the mooch radar – as much as possible.

May 25, 2011

Legal News: Cloud Music

What's Happening:
Storing music in "the cloud" is a big issue in the music industry right now, especially since Amazon and Google have recently - in a bold move - launched music locker services without obtaining licenses from any music labels.  Apple, on the other hand, has inked deals with three of the four majors for its much anticipated cloud music service.  The one hold out, UMG, is rumored to be close to signing on as well.

First, what is this "cloud" that everyone keeps talking about?  If your music is stored in the cloud, all that means is that instead of storing your music on your computer or on an external hard drive connected to your computer, you are storing it on a hard drive elsewhere and accessing it through the Internet.  Amazon says that it doesn't need licenses from the labels because storing music on its Cloud Drive is exactly the same as storing it on any other cloud storage service, like Dropbox, or on an external hard drive, neither of which have licenses.  The majors have been resisting cloud storage services because they are concerned that users will upload illegally obtained music to their lockers and that the lockers will aid the sharing of music between friends.

May 24, 2011

Internships Abroad - Breaking Language Barriers

Looking to do your internship in a foreign country? That's awesome! Going to a foreign country can be an invaluable experience, broadening your cultural horizons and providing a new perspective on your industry. Depending on where you decide to go, however, you may face the challenge of picking up a foreign language. Considering the importance of communication in all job positions, the better you know the native language, the better off you'll be. Even if the company where you're interning speaks your language, if the country does not, there's still a lot of benefit you can gain by speaking like the locals.

So how do you overcome this language barrier?
1. Read - When I was a writing tutor, there was a young Hispanic girl who would come to me every week to help her with her papers. From week to week, I noticed a drastic improvement with the natural flow of her sentences and the extent of her vocabulary. After complimenting the development of her language skills, I asked her what her secret was to improving her language. She said "reading". So read a lot and read often! A great way to increase your understanding of the native language (and culture!) is to pick up a local newspaper or find one online.
2. Find out the meaning of unknown words - Learn the phrase "What does ____ mean?" and ask it whenever someone mentions a word you don't know. It may be tedious at first but it's the best way to start picking up the language. Keep a translation dictionary handy and look up words that you hear or see around you. My personal FAVORITE language reference tool is Word You can use that site to find conjugations of verbs, formal and colloquial meanings of many words as well as some expressions that use them, and they have a forum where you can post questions that may be answered by native speakers.
3. Practice practice, practice! - When your tongue is tripping over words and you're tired of people not understanding your accent, it can be frustrating but you have to keep trying. Speak in the foreign language every chance you get. It's the only way to get better and to help the words start flowing smoothly and more naturally.

You can also look for podcasts, games and apps, and other tools to increase your language comprehension.

Bon courage! (good luck!).

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer | @katie_hazard

May 23, 2011

The Importance of Ethics in the Music Industry

You've heard the phrase countless times before and it may (though hopefully not) even be the reason you want to work in the music industry in the first place. Many movies and TV shows have played on the idea while shows like Entertainment Tonight and TMZ constantly demonstrate it. What am I talking about? "Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll."

Sadly, the music industry isn't exactly known for its strong sense of right and wrong or its great treatment of musicians and other people in general. There are plenty of amazing people in the industry who are there because they are passionate about it, but you will certainly run into more than your fair share of people with different motivations. So, what does that mean for you?

May 18, 2011

New Blogger and #MusicIntern Chat Update

I have two things to share with you today. First is introducing a new blogger that is joining us and will be making his first post tomorrow to provide some more insights on the tech side of the music industry.

Nathan Schied is an audio engineer working in upstate New York. He holds a degree in music industry from the College of Saint Rose, is currently the full-time FOH engineer at two music venues, and has been listed in the pages of Pro Sound News. He is also actively engaged in studio recording and mixing – as his neighbors will verify. (For the non-techies out there, like me, FOH is Front of House.) I'm excited to welcome Nathan and his contributions to Intern Like a Rockstar, he's a great writer and I think he, with Alden, our other tech writer, will be able to provide a lot of great information on topics I don't really understand, which is awesome! You can email Nathan at

Second, if you haven't heard yet, I'm launching a new Twitter chat tomorrow with the help of our prior guest blogger Jason Scott. It will take place tomorrow night at 9pmET/6pm PT. All you have to do is follow the hastag #musicintern and be ready to share your experiences, ask questions, and meet new people. Let me know if you have anything specific you want to discuss. For now, here are some resources:

Tweb Event Listing
Facebook Event
How to Join Twitter Chats
Hashtag Definition

May 16, 2011

#Musicintern Chat- Starting This Week

You probably know by now that Twitter can be a great career resource (if you don't check out this guest post by Jason Scott). One of the coolest ways Twitter can be used is for chats to hold discussions, network, and learn new things. So I'm excited to announce the start of our very own chat with the help of the same Jason I mentioned above (he actually inspired me). So join us to hang out and chat on Twitter about what it's like to be a music intern, how to get started, how to get the coffee order right, the music you're listening to right now, where to find housing, or anything else at all! All you have to do is follow and use the hashtag #MusicIntern (Tweet Deck can help you out there). Here's all the info, hope to see you and your friends there!

Who: Officially I will be hosting (hopefully with Jason's help), but chats would be pointless without a great group to discuss and share, so join us! 
What: A specific time on Twitter for all the students and recent grads interested in music industry to get together and share advice and experiences
When: Thursdays, 9pm ET/6PM PT  Starting this week
Where: Look for the hastag #musicintern on Twitter or follow me 
Why: Well, because it's about time we all get together, meet, and share info

Let me know if you have any questions about this or anything specific you'd like to discuss during the chat! 

Embrace the Chaos

Sometimes when I try to write a new post I get a unique kind of writer's block. This isn't an "I'm out of ideas" problems. It's a fear problem. See I have a problem right now that most of you reading this can probably relate to: I have no idea what my life will be like a few months from now. I had classmates all around me securing post-MBA jobs while my search had barely started (not because I'm slacker but because the nature of the music industry tends to mean most people hire on an as needed basis, so searching too early seemed strange).

Sometimes, job hunting makes me nervous about the future. How do I actually find a job I like in such a tough environment and how do I deal with the fact that the decisions I make in the next several months will probably establish the direction for my entire career? That's tough and I'm sure most of you understand that. It's hard to come to terms with the unknown and the uncertainty of where your search will lead you. Even worse is the fear that it will only lead you back to your parent's couch!

Many of you are probably graduating in the next few weeks (or recently have). Some of you may have jobs lined up (congrats!), but some of those jobs may be far different from what you want to do. Many of you are probably still unsure and are feeling frustrated and stuck. This brings me though to a recent development in my life (and why I haven't posted as much recently).

May 15, 2011

Getting Back on the Horse

Today's post isn't really a hard information post, but more of a morale booster or wake up call. Due to recent events, I began to question my choice of career in the music industry, and without turning this post into a livejournal, I was somewhat depressed. After giving it a ton of thought, I'm now doing what I should be: licking my wounds and getting right back to work. Take the following rant to heart in hopes that one day it may help you.
The thing about the music industry in general is that it's hyper-competitive in nature. No one is going to hold your hand, nor are they going to help you in favor of helping themselves. In some cases, the industry is downright "dog eat dog". This is pretty daunting at first, and I can guarantee, as an intern or recent graduate, you probably won't be prepared for it. You will be working hard at something, whether it be an album, or work-for-hire, or whatever, and something will undoubtedly go wrong. Someone will dime out on the project, or the track might get a universal booing, and it might not even be your fault, but the reason that this particular event will hit you so hard is that you'll be personally invested in the project. You will at this point have put countless hours into the work, and it's going to be hard to watch it fall flat.
To put it bluntly, the following feeling sucks. It can even be a trigger for post-graduation depression (it's a real thing, check it out). It's not something that's easily overcome, but it's definitely not the end of the world. Actually, it's pretty much the opposite. See, this event is one of those "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" kind of things. Now, granted, at this point you're probably not feeling on top of your game, and you're probably not feeling up to doing what you do best, and that's ok. Here are some steps you can take to climb out of this funk:

May 05, 2011

How to Handle Job Fairs:After You Get Home

This is part two of my job fair post dealing with what to do after you get home. At most job fairs, thousands of people are competing for far fewer jobs and you get a few seconds to make an impression. Fortunately, you can still make a dent after you've returned home just as long as you get a business card. For part one and tips on how to prepare in advance of a job fair check out this link.

Send a Thank You