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New to the Entertainment and Music Industry? Here’s How to Get Your Break

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment or music industry but don’t know where to start, follow me.

As a non-music industry major who pivoted careers from the fashion industry, it’s been hard for me to get my foot in the door and learn the ropes in the industry.

If you don’t quite know where to start (I didn’t either!), a great next step is to learn all you can about the industry.

Read Up

I definitely recommend purchasing a copy of Donald Passman’s book “All You Need to Know About the Music Industry.” It covers everything from sync licensing to A&R. For more hands-on learning, I recommend investing in the NYU Music Business Essentials course or the Berklee College of Music Touring 101 course. 

Meet Music-Minded People

Network, network, network! Join groups like the Music Business Association, Girls Behind the Rock Show, Tour Mgmt 101, Color of Music Collective, Women in Music, Amethyst Collab, the Digilogue (an incredible resource for internship and career opportunities as well), She is the Music, Girls Who Listen, Women in the Music Industry, and more.

These organizations also offer mentorship and internship opportunities and host panels frequently to connect students and aspiring industry professionals to one another, and they offer incredible insight into the industry and knowledge on how to get hired and market yourself.

Join a College Program

All three of the “Big Three” record labels—Sony, Warner, and Universal—offer college programs for students. These programs are a phenomenal way to work with your favorite artists and on real campaigns. They offer opportunities in a variety of areas and provide you with resources and a network.

Additionally, there are programs offered outside of these as well, such as Grammy U at The Recording Academy or Culture Fusion Agency. You can even join a street team and work on campaigns that provide you with tangible skills you can add to your resume. Fan to Band and Jonas Group Media are two that I have found to provide incredible opportunities and value. 

Link Up with Professionals

Like with any career, it’s important to make connections and learn all you can about your path.

Spend some time going through connections and people who work at companies you want to work with on LinkedIn and request an informational interview meeting/virtual coffee.

Many industry professionals are happy to be a mentor to students wanting to follow in their footsteps, and I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve spoken to, from entry level employees to execs in a variety of roles at different companies. They’ll be able to talk to you one-on-one and give you suggestions on how to get started and share what helped them when they were in your shoes. Just make sure to keep in touch with them and send a thank you note!

Be sure to also network horizontally, not just vertically. Meet other students who want to go into the industry and connect with them; you’re all the future and they could be great resources now and later on.

Tap Into a Motto

Need a few words of encouragement that resonate with you? Some industry specialists offer me some catchy snippets that I’ve found helpful:

  • Rejection is redirection.
  • Be so good you’re impossible to ignore.
  • Your network is your net worth,.
  • The internet is your playground.
  • You fake it till you make it.
  • With challenges you find opportunity.

Know the Lingo

Other takeaways and advice I’ve been given is to understand the data and statistics behind everything. (Tip: Check Chartmetric and Spotify for Artists regularly!) Or, at least have the foundational knowledge of what things mean.

Plus, know the basics of Adobe Suite and general industry terminology such as DSPs, ROIs, KPIs, NTCs, etc. Subscribe to resources and newsletters to keep up-to-date on industry insider info like Hits Daily Double, Billboard, and Variety, and follow experts on LinkedIn who frequently share articles they find relevant and interesting regarding upcoming trends and announcements for collaborations and activations currently occurring to stay up-to-date and in the know. 

Market Yourself

Some of the best advice I’ve been given is to market yourself properly.

Utilize your social media! This is especially key in any creative role.

Your Instagram profile will almost certainly be looked at during the interview process, so curate your feed and make it your own. Have it tell an instant story of who you are and what you do.

And like everyone did before the pervasiveness of digital media, make a physical copy of your resume and work that you can bring along with you to interviews. It shows initiative and people appreciate the extra step! Make a “brag book” of your accomplishments and past work to send along with your resume and cover letter to stand out.

Attend Clubhouse sessions where you can make yourself visible and heard. Ask questions and seek advice.

If you hear from someone you admire, connect with them on other platforms and reach out. Chances are, they’ll be able to be a great resource and help you however they can. Interact with your connections on social media, attend their events, and show them you’re serious about wanting to get more involved.

Put It All Together

Becoming successful in the music and entertainment industry (what you decide that is to you!) isn’t determined by one thing. It’s a culmination of many things all working in tandem. But it’s all about being persistent. Continually seek opportunities to learn about the industry, to put yourself into new and beneficial situations, and to have faith in yourself as an artist.

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Author: Sierra Warshawsky

Cece is a college student pursuing a degree in social media management, public relations, marketing, and branding. She hopes to one day work in the entertainment industry in the field and she enjoys spending time with friends, traveling, cooking, and listening to true crime podcasts.