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The Great Escape 2012: Getting started in the music business

By | Published on Monday 14 May 2012

The Great Escape

During Thursday’s Spotlight On DIY strand at last week’s Great Escape convention, Bristol-based organisation Teenage Rampage – which offers mentoring and hands-on training to those who aspire to perform or work behind the scenes in music – presented a session looking at how young people wanting to work in music should go about it; what is it that employers in the music sector look for?

While opinion was slightly divided over the merits of university qualifications in music business management, all agreed that hands-on experience, passion and the willingness to work hard were prerequisites for those looking for their first job in music. And while internships at existing music companies – especially the paid kind – can be as hard to come by as proper jobs sometimes, the panel of experts noted that setting up a music blog, running a gig night or helping manage a friend’s band were just as valuable, and could be achieved with initiative rather than contacts and resources.

Speaking just before the session, Morna Cook, Senior Director Of HR at Universal Music UK, told CMU: “Any music experience is good experience – put together a CV that shows you have carried out music related projects in your own time, whether that’s running or promoting your own night, managing a band, or writing a music related blog. Projects like this show you are passionate and have an active interest in the industry, and that you are proactive”.

From the independent side, Simon Goffe of Brownswood Recordings also talked up the blogging approach. “Set up your own music blog”, he said. “It will impress potential employers immensely and show them your genuine passion. And then, when contacting prospective employers, do your research and write a personalised letter. Never send round blanket letters or emails. They get deleted straight away!”

Cook likewise agreed that, when approaching music companies for jobs, whatever the size of the firm, aspiring music execs needed to do their research before getting in touch. “Ensure you’ve done your research on the company, and know what’s going on in the wider industry, from the latest technological developments to what’s happening in the charts”.

Meanwhile Matt Booth from Teenage Rampage, who has run numerous programmes helping young people interested in the music industry, had some other advice for people who do find internships, training opportunities or even a first job in music. “Be prepared to work very hard. Don’t just wait for the opportunities to come to you, and when you do get that first opportunity, do the job you’ve been asked to do as well as you can. Hard and passionate workers will be spotted by other people working on a project, and they might be future employers”.

Wrapping things up in the ‘advice for newcomers’ department, Jack Kingslake, who has also run ventures supporting young talent, told CMU: “Appreciate and innovate. Be professional: be nice, turn up on time and work hard. And don’t forget why you love music”.

There is more information about Teenage Rampage here.

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