August 18, 2011

How to Succeed in the Music Business without (Really) Even Trying

It's my guess that most of you, if you're interning in the music business, aren't doing it because you like working for free in what many consider to be a charmingly lost-cause field.

As for the rest of us, well . . . we've become accustomed to luxuries like electricity and food, and we're looking to turn our interest in the music industry into a pastime which can support our wants and occasional needs. It's not surprising, then, that one of the questions most MI professionals get asked – ad nauseum – is “how did you get your job?” I'll give you my story, thusfar, in hopes that it may take a little bit of the worry out of your looming employment search.

The truth is, I've been lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time on several occasions. To date, not one of the jobs I've actually gotten has required me to send in a resume or fill out an application. More than once, my “interview” has consisted of a frantic text message reading something like “can u run snd 8pm thrsdy?!?!” At one club, I showed up with a former band of mine, and ended up filling in for an absent sound guy. I've been at that club for almost four years now.

If this sounds like an unfair, undemocratic break-in story, that's because it is. But what you don't see here is the work that all successful professionals, in any field, put in “behind the scenes.” (Kind of like how Tom Cruise goes from total failure to world's best bartender, seemingly overnight, in Cocktails.) What you don't see is all the extra classwork, side projects, and lots of mistakes that got me to the point where I could be confident enough in my skills that when these unexpected job opportunities presented themselves, I could jump on them without a second thought.

I can't tell you when or where you'll find your golden ticket. Maybe it's at the company you're interning with right now, maybe not. But I can tell you that if you wait until that magic moment to really focus on your skill set, you might be waiting a long time for the next ship to come in.

Rock on,

Nathan Schied
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