The music business has always been a competitive one - now more than ever - but as the industry continues to rebound, there are a number of things you can do to raise your profile and help make yourself stand out, thus increasing your chances of landing a job in the field.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Competition for work in the music business is at an all-time high, but there are still easy things you can do to stand out.
The music industry is experiencing a resurgence. As streaming continues to convert consumers to premium subscriptions and live music draws massive crowds in every corner of the world, the business that was troubled less than two decades back is now growing again. Companies are constantly on the lookout for new talent, and there are entire fields of music-related work that only recently began to emerge.
To become all it can be, the music industry needs talented professionals and aspiring professionals alike to come together. There is a need for open minded people ready to commit to forging the next era of the music business that is greater now than at any point in recent history. You can be a part of the generation that rebuilds the business of music, but you need to know now that getting hired won’t be easy. The competition is fierce, and every day there are new hopefuls entering the marketplace. Some have college degrees, while other cut their teeth on the open road supporting the bands that made them believe in the power of music. Still others are ambitious dreamers with no experience or higher education degree willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
No matter what your current standing is in terms of experience or education, there is always hope that you will find a place in the music business. There are hundreds of sites boasting thousands of tips for seeking employment, but not everything you read online will help you pursue a career in entertainment. The following tips, however, have proved successful for readers of this blog and many staffer at our company. Keep this advice in mind next time you’re applying for the job of your dreams:
You need a personal website. Yes, even you.
Success in music today relies heavily on branding and brand consistency, so it should come as no surprise that those in a position to hire new recruits often look at how applicants present themselves online. Maintaining a presence on social media is a good place to start, but most would agree that the way they present themselves on Twitter or Instagram isn’t the most professional version of themselves that exists. Instead of pushing people to those platforms, you should build a site of your own that showcases your best qualities to employers and industry peers. A personal site offers you the chance to share your story, contact information, and any other relevant data without any outside noise. It’s the one space where you and you alone will shine online, so make the most of it and make sure employers know how to find it.
Everyone has a story to tell, but keep it short
Resumes should, for the most part, be one-page or less. Storytelling is a huge part of music marketing and promotion today, but those who succeed in it the most are the ones able to convey a lot of essential information in a limited amount of time. The reason for that being the shrinking attention spans of humans, and that includes those tasked with hiring new employees. Hiring managers receives dozens and sometimes even hundreds of applications for a single role, which can severely limit the amount of time they can dedicate to a single submission. Make sure your application isn’t passed over by delivering as much relevant information as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Any advice column for job seekers emphasizes the importance of cover letters in the application process. While it is true a great cover letter can get your foot in the door at a company, the likelihood everyone involved in hiring you reads that letter is incredibly low. When the number of applicants being considered is riddled down to 10 or less candidates, the only information being shared internally between hiring managers and higher ups is going to be resumes. That means you need to include any important information in your cover letter on your resume as well, such as your personal website link.
Networking matters. Always.
There is an old saying in the music business about how success is based on who you know rather than what you know. That idea may have been true at one point, but in today’s marketplace you need knowledge as much — if not more — than you need contacts. Still, it is important to engage with dialogues within the industry and to network with your peers whenever possible. If you think you may want to work for a company someday, take time to find someone with the role you want (or a similar one) and connect with them. You could ask to be their intern if such an opportunity exists, or you could ask how they got their job in the first place. Most people will reply, and many will be willing to help you on your journey.
Know when to hold your tongue.
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Twitter and similar platforms allow us to share thoughts and ideas with the world at large almost as soon as they enter our minds. On the other hand, the things we post online can have a real world impact on our likelihood of finding employment. Never be afraid to speak your truth, but do think twice before slamming specific companies, people, and artists. You never know when the group you bash today could become the next act your dream workplace wants to recruit. You also never know when the music critic you slam for bad opinions will be working in publicist or management with the artists you love.
Develop new skills.
Everyone who wants to work in music has a dream job they hope to attain over the course of their career. Anyone working in music currently will tell you that, while those dreams are good to have, it may take some time to land the role you seek. The best way to navigate the business is to consistently work on developing skills the cater to the changing trends in the industry. You need to know how to do everything your dream role requires today, as well as the things it will require a year from now. You would also be wise to learn how careers related to that career function. Publicists should understand what managers and journalists do, for example, just like how record labels should understand how booking agencies function. Everyone in music is relying on everyone else in music to do their job well in order to get ahead. No job or company in this business is an island, so you might as well learn how other roles and companies operate because you never know where your talent will be the most useful.
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.