May 31, 2012

Manners in Email

Have you ever received an email from someone asking you for a favor or help in some way? Sure, probably from a friend right? What about from someone you have never met before? When you work in entertainment it tends to happen a lot. Random musicians who find your email listed online send you their "amazing" music and tell you all about how they are going to be the next big thing. People want you to forward something along to their favorite musicians. And on top of that, everyone wants a job or internship. With so many emails it's easy to understand why you may not get a response when you contact a music exec out of the blue to network or ask for help.

So, how the heck do you compete with all of that? And, you might be wondering, is there anything you can do to keep your reader from hitting "delete." Well, while no one can guarantee you a response, there are a few things you can do that will improve your chances.


Don't Include Unsolicited Files
If you receive a file from someone you don't know the word "virus" usually crosses your mind and you probably avoid opening it. The same goes for unsolicited files in the entertainment industry. If you weren't specifically told that it is okay (for example in a job posting) to send someone your music, press release, biography, resume, head shot, portfolio, demo, or whatever else, then do not include one. There is no faster way to get your email deleted (or sent directly to a spam folder) than to look like a virus. In fact, some companies email systems will not allow an email with an attachment if the sender if not pre-approved.

There are, for the record, ways around this that still allow you to include additional information and work samples. For instance, you can include a link to your website, SoundCloud file, or LinkedIn.


Use a Descriptive Title

May 17, 2012

Feeling Stuck: It's OK Not To Be OK

There's a song by Jessie J that I recently heard and whose lyrics really stuck with me. "It's okay not to be okay," she sings "sometimes it's hard to follow your heart, but tears don't mean you're losing." It seems like something a lot of people in our generation might need to hear today. Following your dreams isn't easy. If it were, everyone would do it. But they don't. Yet as you probably know, it certainly seems more difficult now than it has since maybe the 1930's.

In today's job market, an astonishing half of young college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. That's the kind of statistic that can make you want to scream and question all those politicians who claim things are getting better. Better for who, right?

Alright, so that statistic may not make you feel any better. But the truth is, it will always require
courage and tenacity to ignore the doubters, take risks, and follow a path where you know the odds are not in your favor. Regardless of the economy, there will always be more rejection than acceptance, and it will hurt and make you doubt everything you have been working for. Sometimes you may even need to find the confidence to actually turn down a lackluster opportunity and to stand up and say "I deserve better." You will likely feel lost and maybe even hopeless, but you are not alone.

Throughout history, the revolutionaries and game changers, including Bill Gates, Elvis, J.K. Rowling, Oprah, Walt Disney, and The Beatles, have often been the ones who struggled first and kept going. You are not the only who has feels, or has felt, frustrated and stuck. Don't let that be a reason to give up on your goals. Keep fighting and have faith that someday it will work out. Use it as a reason to work even harder or find a way to carve your own path. Yes, I know it is far easier said than done, but the only way to really lose, is to stop trying.

May 16, 2012

First Day of Internship: What to Bring

It's that time of year when people are finishing up the term and starting new internships. You've worked hard to get to this point and now you're feeling nervous, excited, and a little overwhelmed. To help you prepare and feel a little less nervous, here's some tips on what to bring for your first day on a new internship.

Headphones
The first day is usually about becoming familiar with the company, their work, and their clients. It usually means reading a lot and filling out paperwork. But, in many cases, working at a music company (including places like an agency, management company, or record label) part of your first day is likely to be spent listening to the music of the company's clients, so bring a pair of headphones (earbud style, not big ones)  just in case.


Lunch
The first day can be weird because you have no clue what the routine is yet. Do you get a lunch break? Where can you actually get lunch nearby? Do you have to ask to take a break? How long are you allowed? These things may or may not be reviewed and you may feel too nervous to ask too many questions. You should, of course, try to clarify so you don't spend every day trying to sneak out to get lunch and wondering if it is okay. For now though, make things easy on yourself by packing both a lunch and an extra snack for when you get hungry and aren't quite sure what the rules are.

Contact Info
As I mentioned, the first day usually involves a lot of paper work. One thing most paper work will require is contact info for someone at your school is advising you during you internship. So come prepared with information for who this might be and how to reach them. Also, be sure to thoroughly read and understand everything you sign, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Pens
Yes, it is an office and they will have pens, but again, it can help you feel a little more at ease if you don't have to spend time figuring out where they said the supply closet was in that 10 minute tour of the office where you met 50 new people and had to try to learn to navigate things.

Notepad
You'll probably want to take notes and they might not give you something to do that with. So be prepared.

ID
Bring your license or some other form of ID. You'll likely need an ID to enter the building and you may need your license number for those aforementioned forms.

What would you add to this list?


May 15, 2012

What Not to Wear to Work

We've talked before about fashion for the workplace and provided some examples of what to wear to an interview. But sometimes, in the vague world of entertainment industry style where jeans and t-shirts are often the norm, it can be more helpful to know what to avoid. So, today we're going to talk take a look at what you definitely should not wear to work.

Ripped Clothing
Sure, it may be in fashion sometimes and it may look cool on your favorite rockstar, but you should look put together at even the most casual of work environments and this just doesn't create that image.        

Offensive Clothing
What that means will of course change with your audience, but generally that probably means anything related to sex, drugs, politics, race, or religion. A small cross necklace may not offend anyone, but work still isn't the place for those "Jesus is my homeboy" shirts, it can be controversial. Unless perhaps you work for a Christian music company.

Pajamas
I hope you don't do this in general, but I remember a phase where girls used to wear pajama pants as regular clothing. In fact, my school made a rule against it because it had become so popular. This, doesn't just mean though that obvious sleepwear is bad, it also means you generally shouldn't look like you just rolled out of bed.


Fishnets
This should be obvious because there really is nothing professional about fishnets, unless maybe your profession is being Ke$ha. You know what, for that matter, let's keep anything Ke$ha would wear out of the office.

Short Clothing
Leave the belly shirts, low cut shirts, and mini skirts at home.

Very High Heels
2 or 3 inches is okay, looking like a member of the Spice Girls is not.

Band Shirts
Yep, I know this sounds weird. If you are working at a music company why can't you wear a shirt from that cool concert you went to last week? Well, for one thing wearing a band t-shirt at a music company seems a bit too cliche and there's always a chance you could end up actually working with the person on your shirt. Music is also a very passionate topic for those who work in it and you shouldn't risk getting into a heated debate with your boss about whether or not that band you love is actually a joke. This brings us to the fact that people who love music have no problem judging you based on the music you like and it can be a bad idea to tote that Nickelback t-shirt only to find out your boss loathes them. So, just save the band shirts you cherish for after work. There are however a few exceptions to this rule. It can be okay, depending on your office environment,  to wear a shirt for a "classic band," like The Rolling Stones. It can also be alright, again based on company culture, to wear band shirts if you work at a venue or work in punk, metal, or other niche genre where it is generally a part of the culture and aesthetic.

What do you think? What do you avoid wearing to work?

May 14, 2012

Why You Need to Be on LinkedIn Part 1

You've probably been told more times than you could possibly count about how important networking is. Your professors tell you, your parents tell you, you career advisor tells you, and even we have told you. I know, it's annoying, not as easy as it sounds, and you're sick of hearing it! Fortunately, networking today isn't quite as difficult as it was in the past (though it may still be as painful, in which case you should check out this post for a few tips on breaking the ice). You know how your family is always telling you how much harder they had it when they were your age? Don't tell them I said this, but when it comes to networking, this may be one situation where they are correct. Unlike the generations before us, we are lucky enough to have technology like cell phone address books, digital business cards, portfolio websites, and social networks to make it easier to trade contact info and stay in touch. There's one tool, however, that has far more power and potential than any other: LinkedIn.

Here's a look at one of the biggest reasons you should take advantage of the site:

May 05, 2012

Internship Opportunity at Velvet Ears in Hollywood

Velvet Ears, a music supervision/ music library company is looking for a summer intern in California. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in both film and music or learning more about the publishing industry. 






Location: Hollywood, CA


Requirements: Familiarity with the music supervision prcoess (master and publishing clearances). Passion for film/ music. Ability to recieve college credit. Able to help gather new talent for newly launched music library. Available to work at least 3 days per week. 


Additional info: Listen to tracks at www.soundcloud.com/velvetears and visit the website at www.velvet-ears.com 


To apply: Send your resume and cover letter to info@velvet-ears.com

May 01, 2012

Networking Tips: Get To Know Upperclassmen

If you're an underclassman in collefe study music industry, or something related, canbe easy to stick with what and who you know by hanging out with the people you share a schedule with. After all, your classmates are facing the same struggles as you and they're the people you will need to choose from when it comes time for group projects. It's great to have a good relationship with your soon-to-be graduating class but don't miss out on other networking opportunities in favor of becoming BFFs with those around you,. Ultimately there are several reasons it can be beneficial to befriend some of those upperclassmen, even if that may at times seems a bit scary.
Help With Classes
In the short-term, the immediate help an upperclassmen can provide could mean the difference between a torturous term or a pleasant one. You know that part in Legally Blonde where Elle first meets Emmett (Luke Wilson) in the quad after a particualry tough class (sorry for the analogy here guys, but I'm sure some of you have watched too)? He tells her what to expect from each professor, how to prepare for tests, and even where to sit to avoid getting spit on (gross). Having a friend who is a few years ahead of you can help you get the best teachers, the best preperation for tests, and pick the most intersting courses. Plus, if you need a little extra help understanding the material, it can't hurt to have a friend who has already survived it.

Networking
Not only has an older student already taken a lot of your classes, he or she has likely already participated in industry events and maybe even a few internships. If you're lucky, that can mean an intvite to a networking event, a few introductions, or maybe a recommendation to a former boss.

Career Help
A few years from now when you're about the graduate and are looking for a job that upperclassmen will already have racked up a couple years of work experience. (Let's hope the economy/job market imrpove and make that true). As you've heard countless times before, in the music industry "it's not what you know, it's who you know." So, having a friend who graduated two years ahead of you and might know of someone that is hiring can be extremely helpful when you need to get your foot in the door.

Just Because
As I wrote this, I began to worry that this may come across as calculating and coniving when that wasn't my intention. I really hope none of you try to befriend upperclassmen (or anyone for that matter) solely because you believe it will help your career. I know though that it can be intimidating for someone just starting college to introduce themselves to a junior or senior. In fact, when I was a freshmen and met upperclassmen I usually refused to tell them what year I was out of fear they'd somehow think that made me lame (I realize now that this was stupid and most people don't think that way). Making a new friend is always a worthy experience in it's own right, but if you feel a bit too intimidated by that idea, then maybe these points can help provide that extra bit of motivation you need to get over those nerves and meet someone new.

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