There’s more to the music industry than just being an artist. The music business is a big industry, generating more thanannually. And if you’re thinking of moving into the business side of music, I can’t blame you.
Sure, it can be an unstable industry, but it’s definitely not as unstable as being an artist. The hours may be irregular, but they are definitely not as bad as those of a touring musician!
If you’re thinking about sitting at the other side of the table, working for a record label, there is a way to make that happen. There are a lot of labels in the world, and believe it or not, there are jobs to be had.
The path to a job at a record label can be confusing, and much like being an artist, it’s much about who you know.
In this guide, we’re going to look at a few of the common ways to get a job at a label. But first, we’re going to start with what you can expect from jobs in the industry.
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What Is Working At A Record Label Like?
Being in the music industry, while more “normal” than being an artist, is still an unusual job. The nature of the job requires a lot of travel, a lot of work, a lot of late nights, and not a whole ton of money.
The other important thing to realize is that the social demands of work in the music industry are high. You can't be a wallflower in this industry.is a huge part of nearly everyone’s jobs – from the artists to the A&R reps, everybody is out at night working the scene.
Be prepared to go to gigs four to five nights every week. Be prepared for the hard living lifestyle that many people in the industry lead. You need a good head on your shoulders to hang and party with the pros, yet stay professional and ambitious.
On the other hand, the actual office work you’ll do can be very… office-y. Grant applications, bookkeeping, booking shows, keeping track of sales, tedious organization, etc. It’s a weird mix of fun and glum.
Record Label Internships & Temp Work
In nearly every industry, employers expect you to have experience before getting a job. The music industry is no different, and it suffers from this affliction more than most industries.
The question is always this: how do you get experience if all the jobs require experience? In the 21st century, the answer seems to be internships. While they are often unpaid, tedious, and difficult, they are one of the best ways to get your foot in the door of the industry.
The on-the-job experience one gains from an internship is invaluable. In fact, getting temporary work or working as an intern is important if only to realize whether or not the job is right for you.
Internships are often unpaid, so make sure that you’re comfortable living with very little money for a time. These jobs are typically given to students who are already living cheaply.
Temporary work is usually entry level work dealing with paperwork or filling in for a full-time employee on mat/pat-leave. This work is paid, and if you’re really good, it definitely has the potential to turn into a full-time job.
The thing about these jobs is that there are many different positions to hold. Record labels need lawyers, accountants, office assistants, and reception staff just like every other business. So your prior experience in a non-musical field may actually be valuable.
The most important thing you’ll gain from these jobs are connections, experience, and perspective about what different jobs in the industry are like.
There are many excellent colleges that offer specialized courses for people who want to get involved in the music industry. I wouldn’t normally advocate for music school, but in this case it’s actually a pretty good idea.
For one thing, these courses only require one to two years of your life. Then you can leave school behind and get out and make the connections you need to get a job.
Another benefit is the networking opportunities that these schools provide. If it’s a quality institution, the professors will have plenty of real industry experience, and will be available to give introductions and help you network.
Beyond that, these courses will give you real skills that make you more appealing to labels. Accounting, a working knowledge of music law, and a working knowledge of the industry itself can set you apart from the crowd.
Be A Musician
The other way to get into the music industry is by being a musician first. If you achieve some level of success as an artist, you’ll have made tons of connections along the way.
Being an artist is some of the most valuable relevant experience someone in the music industry can have. Artists have a unique perspective, as they understand what it’s like from both sides of the table.
The only drawback is that becoming a successful artist is just as difficult, if not more so.
Other Work In The Industry
Getting a job at a major label or even just a hip indie label is hard. Don’t get me wrong. If you’re having trouble landing an internship and lack the funds for college, don’t give up hope.
There is lots of work to be had outside of the normal scope of music industry jobs. Working at a venue, putting on shows,bands, even working in ticketing are all jobs that will allow you to meet people in the industry and gain some relevant experience.
The key is to be a go-getter in everything you do. The biggest asset you’ll have besides your experience is your reputation. There are connections to be made and maintained every single day.
Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you need to kick the rest of the door down. Every single high-level exec and manager started out where you are. You need to show them your ambition and motivation in order to move up the ladder.