Cultivating a successful career in the music business is more difficult than many other industries, and while experience and talent are certainly helpful assets when it comes to getting an employers attention, there's one quality they're looking for in potential hires that trumps all others.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
All jobs have unique requirements, but there is one thing every employer in music is looking for in applicants.
Getting a job in music is tough. It’s not as difficult as fighting a tiger or holding your breath for seven minutes, but finding work in music today is certainly not easy. There are thousands, perhaps even millions of hopeful job-seekers, most with some level of education and experience, and only a limited number of roles. That is the way it has always been, and that is most likely the way it will remain.
Over the last several weeks I’ve spoken to hiring managers from record labels, publicity firms, music venues, and numerous other industry businesses. They all claim to be consistently looking for new hires that bring something special to the table that will help push their companies to higher levels of success. In fact, many say that they are willing to create jobs if the right person or persons come along.
In every conversation I had, one word came up repeatedly: Passion. More than experience and education, passion is something every employer in music is looking to find in applicants. They seek people who not only love music, but who feel their purpose on this planet is to live, breathe, eat, and sleep all things music. Being a fan of concerts or particular areas of music is one thing, and that kind of passion can fuel a conversation, but those in a position to hire want a deeper commitment to music that goes beyond fandom.
If you want to work in music, you need to approach every opportunity as if it could be your lifelong career. You need to convey a sense of professionalism and dedication to your craft in everything you do. Being a fan of certain bands is not enough. You need to be a fan of the business of music. The work involved in turning the gears behind the scenes of the industry should excite you just as much as going to a concert. You should find joy in helping create life-changing experiences for fans, be it through live or recorded music, and you need to respect the role music plays in shaping the world we live in.
Countless people believe working in music will be endless fun or something like a party that never stops, but any good hiring managers see right through that mentality. The music business is a business above all else, and anyone hoping to enter it needs to be ready to put in the work required. Passion is what makes the long hours, late-night emails, and unpredictable setbacks bearable. The industry has a history of breaking people, especially those who get into it without being passionate about doing the work, and hiring managers try to avoid causing anyone that kind of grief.
If you want to work in this industry, you have to come prepared to do just that — work. Music will demand you work harder and smarter than ever before. As soon as think you have something figured out, the culture will shift or some new technology will come along that changes everything. That is the best and worst part of this business. You have to be able to ride the waves of change, and the only way to do that is with a determination born from unending passion. If you possess anything less, don’t even try. It will not end well.
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.