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The Do’s and Don’ts of Music Business Internships

Mon, Jul 16, 2012

Internship Information

Although the music industry has fallen on tough times, with the internet completely transforming how albums are discovered and purchased, any career in this field is still hugely in demand. Whether you want to be an engineer, a producer or don’t know for sure but just want to be involved in the production and distribution of good music, you’re going to have to get some sort of hands-on experience that shows a potential employer that you’re the right candidate. School will only take you so far. An internship allows you to really dig in and get to work, and will help you build the contacts that are so important in this business. But while that real world experience will open a great deal of doors to you, how you comport yourself while at the internship will be strongly reviewed. You’ll generally be working for seasoned industry veterans, and they’ll be keeping a strict eye on you. So here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while at your music business internship.

You’re going to have to show that you want it. Your boss could probably turn around and find ten other people who would be happy to take your place, so definitely show up hungrier than anyone else. That means do your best to be the first one into the office in the morning, and the last one following the janitor out the door. Look for opportunities to take on additional responsibilities if someone needs help, and make things easier for your supervisor whenever possible. Also keep in mind that it’s not going to be glamorous. Embrace that, and take on manual tasks if they need doing. That means answering the phones, handling paperwork, and running any sort of mundane errand asked of you. If you can complete this stuff with a smile on your face, you’ll soon be given more responsibility.

You should also set yourself up for a future career as much as possible. That means getting friendly with your co-workers. Write down a list of everyone’s name and position at the company, if you need help keeping them all straight. Network, and maintain those relationships even after the internship is complete. If your boss gives you free tickets to a show, say thank you and attend it, even if it’s not music you’re that into. And when you complete the internship, send a thank you note to your supervisors, and make sure you get a recommendation. That letter will be invaluable when you head out looking for a paying job.

Now that you know what to do, here are a few of the things you should avoid at all costs. First off, don’t expect to be valued, or even noticed, when you first walk in the door. Asking for free tickets or music before you’ve earned your keep will really make you look bad. As will standing around looking like you have nothing to do. If you don’t have any direction, ask questions. Don’t ever waste time, surf the internet, or make personal calls while in the office. Don’t put off a bad attitude, even if you’re getting one in return. Remember, you’re the lowest rung on the ladder. Avoid getting into prolonged conversations with talent, and making it all about you. And certainly don’t ever tell your supervisor what changes you would make if you were running things. You may have a masters of music education, but to the professionals you’re a total beginner. Don’t make any of these beginner’s mistakes, and you’ll be fine.

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