Be Prepared To Intern or Die – 6 Hard-Earned Lessons From Music Business Job Hunting

image from www.avon.k12.ma.us Are you foolish and crazy enough to try to get a job in the music industry? Well, good.

Before you type up your resume and stow away a few boxes of Ramen, the Hypebot readers have shared six very hard-earned lessons in music business job hunting. The road ahead is going to be far more daunting that any career counselor will ever admit.

6 Hard-Earned Lessons Learned From Job Hunting:

1. No One Said Internships Are Convenient.

Clj209 said…

I remember working two unpaid internships in different states, 5 hour / day commutes, homeless besides some all-too-giving friends' couches, rice, and potatoes, sending out multiple resumes a day, not hearing back from anyone… Now it seems to be the same for everyone, and I'm thankful to be employed.

2. You Will Be Constantly Tempted To Settle.

Hisham Dahud said…

Recently I turned down a $60k/year salary as an Account Manager at the San Francisco Airport Marriott, opting instead to intern at IRIS Distribution for no pay.

3. No Career Opportunity Is A Sure Thing.

Joseph said…

I was lucky enough to get a job as a 'roadie' with a band that had some good things happening right around 2005. They were well connected in the industry and I thought they had a guaranteed path to success, so if I could get in at the "ground floor" then I could ride that success 'elevator' with them.

That ended up being wrong; at least, for THEM… although they did have some good opportunities and I'm happy to say that things worked out pretty well for me because of my initial job with them – which, while paid, was a very, VERY small stipend. Ultimately, the same thing you hear time and time again is true: it's about WHOM you know, and real-world experience is far, far more important than a degree.

4. It Always Takes Longer Than Expected.

Chalry Salvatore said…

When I knew I wanted to work in the music industry here is the journey I took.

-I moved to Nashville (2004)
-Worked as a 26 year old unpaid intern at a Publishing Company. 
-Got a job at a Radio station cluster as a sales assistant. (2005)
-Moved onto a PRO in the song registration department (2006)
-Took a part-time job working the door at local music venue (2007)
-Quit the PRO to be an Independent (2007)
-Started a Publishing Company. Company ended months later (2008)
-Took a job selling Merchandise on the road (2008)
-Started managing an Artist (2009-Present)
-Started Tour Managing an Artist on a Major (2010-Present)

I went 6 years scrapping by to now where I am making good money and more importantly doing something I absolutely LOVE. During my journey, I busted my ass and waited patiently for a chance to attack when an opportunity presented itself.

5. Never Stop Opening Career Doors.

Professional Intern said…

I have a music business degree and have been interning for 13 months. Currently on my third internship and realizing that, companies do not hire and exploit their interns because they don't want to pay. Makes sense since there is a surplus of people interested in interning. They use me but I use them for references and connections throughout the industry. That's what people need to get out of their internships. Connect with employees and show your interest and what you have to offer.

My internships have opened so many doors for me but still no paying job. These internships have allowed me to build my network of contacts. This is crucial in this industry. I have learned so much from my experiences and know that when a job opens up, I will be indispensable. It's is the only way to get into this industry if you don't have an established contact that can get you in. The motto I live by is 'intern or die'.

6. Keep Your Expectations Grounded.

Ayhan Sahin said…

When I applied for a job to three majors after graduate, Universal was collapsed, EMI didn't even respond…

I was lucky and crazy to be hired as a strategic marketing specialist in Sony Music.

The general manager asked me what I was thinking as a salary.

I replied, "I want to buy a TV, and a salary enough to pay it for a 10 months loan will be enough."

He offered me just enough to buy one… not more…

I accepted it, and before they know, after 5 years, I was marketing manager.

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  1. Thankfully my music business degree required 400 hours of interning before I could even get my degree. They were the most important part of our education. It really does take some a** busting to get ahead in this business.

  2. music internships have become more important than ever in the current job market, and students are figuring that out. we actually had two interns last semester who had already graduated, so they didn’t get any credit, but they wanted to do it anyway so they’d have some real experience on their resumes. in 15 years, that’s never happened before, so that should tell you something about how difficult it is to get a job in the music biz right now.

  3. Yup, interning now. Lots of hard work here, making lots of contacts, and lots of people take me on for tasks on the side. Just so long as they can get away without paying me. Think entrepreneurial, have lots of revenue streams, always be nice, seek out all opportunities. Always learning and reading blogs like this as well. I’m hoping with that strategy, eventually, hopefully, someone will pay me enough for something where I can pay rent, go to concerts, and eat sometimes. Couldn’t stand not loving what I do though.

  4. My 2 cents…
    Yes, you should stay at that company to build contacts. But I feel that you shouldn’t compromise yourself either. Be humble….but push for more responsibility so that you ACTUALLY learn something in the process.
    I’m getting my Masters at NYU, and have experienced some shitty internships where all I do is get coffee/lunch…and was rarely actually utilized for my knowledge and skills (I worked full-time for 3 years, prior to my Masters)
    There ARE places that are willing to give you actual hands-on experience, in addition to building your contacts. Choose carefully. Because more than likely you are paying a shitload of money for your experience (if you are getting academic credit….and at a school as expensive as NYU lol). Don’t settle.
    I’m interning at a GREAT company now….love absolutely every minute of it.

  5. I mentioned this in another post, but it is relevant here also – I was an intern for about six months at an indie dance music record label in London, and made sacrifices in order to bend around the no/low income factor. I knew it would be an opportunity to gain skills, knowledge and experience of the music industry.
    I now work for a company that offers paid jobs, low pay part time freelance work, full time careers and interships in the music industry. I’m sure there is some irony in there somewhere.
    I’m guessing no one will mind if I link to the websites, seeing as the general consensus here is that any way to get a foot in the door is a positive thing.
    (we’re also establishing a base in other territories http://www.music-jobs.com/ for the full list)
    Lee J.

  6. well, it looks like that you all have same experience. I used to live in New Zealand and Germany. And it’s always the same with being an intern 🙂 – Finally I got an awesome job thru an agent.

  7. I am currently 23 years old and worked entry level roles in the corporate HR realm. I soon realized I just am not cut out for the cookie cutter style of corporate America and needed to just follow my passion for the industry. I left my full time job and got an internship at an indie label in NJ. I’m so excited to get experience under my belt and begin my new career path. Although I need to get a “bs” job in order to subsidize my life, I’m still very excited. Any suggestions for a newbie in the industry?

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