January 25, 2013

Interview with a Former Intern: Deneia Freeman of RCA Records / Jr Music Executive

Deneia Freeman currently work in the Urban Promotions department for RCA Records, the major label home to artists like Alicia Keys, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, Hot Chelle Rae, Gavin Degraw, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull, Whitney Houston, and Usher. That sounds like a dream job to most aspiring music executives, and there was a time when it seemed that way to her as well. Deneia was nice enough to take the time to talk to me about what it's like to get started in the music industry and how Philadelphia's Jr. Music Executive program helped her find her way.
Although the JME Internship Program application deadline has passed, JME is currently accepting applications for interns to serve as Project Coordinators. Please visit the application and select JME Project Coordinator from the program drop down menu to apply or email programs@jrmusicexec.com for more information.

What is your current role in the music industry?
I work in the Urban Promotions department for RCA Records.

How did the Jr Music Executive Program help you get there?
JME is where I discovered my true passion for the music business. Prior to joining the program, working in the music industry was a pipe dream, I was unaware of the many hands that make the industry tick. JME and Ms. Aisha showed me, a teenaged girl from North Philly, that my dream of becoming a music industry professional could become a reality. 

What advice would you give someone interested in getting a similar job at a similar company?

Internships are key but getting the internship is not enough. If you are lucky enough to land an internship it is crucial that you 1) don't leave without everyone knowing your name and 2) don't leave without everyone knowing that you are capable of handling whatever task is in front of you. Working hard can only take you so far but a respected co-sign can take you much further- and that goes for any industry.

How would you explain the Jr. Music Executive Program to someone who wasn't familiar with it? 
I always describe JME as a music/internship program for high school and college students who are interested in working in the music industry.

What were your favorite parts of the program and what are some examples of activities a Jr. Music Exec intern might participate in? 
My favorite part of the program was meeting young people with whom I shared a passion. Also, I enjoyed helping plan and execute special projects such as conferences and workshops. 

What was the most important or helpful thing you learned by participating in the program?
The most important thing I learned from JME is that we can impact the music industry in any way we desire. The music industry, especially the major labels can appear like a box with straight lines and perfectly defined roles for everyone involved. It can be stifling to one's creativity but JME introduced me to so many creative, ambitious and successful industry professionals who thrived outside the box, starting with the program's founder Aisha Winfield. 

Did you complete other music internships and did you feel your experience with in the Jr Music Executive program helped with those?
I did complete other internships outside of JME, but I considered and carried myself as a JME student throughout. There was something about being a part of JME that made me feel like I had the upper hand on my peers and was always one step ahead. While the other interns focused on working hard I knew it most important to work smart.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the music industry? 
If I had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting in the music industry, I would tell them to know who they are before pursuing a career in this industry and be sure to maintain a life outside of the industry. Do not allow yourself to become defined by a title on a business card. 

Thanks Deneia! To learn more about the Jr. Music Executive Program visit their websiteJME is currently accepting applications for interns to serve as Project Coordinators. Please visit the application and select JME Project Coordinator from the program drop down menu to apply or email programs@jrmusicexec.com for more information.