Building Your Repertoire: Industry Advice from the Pros

The Power of LinkedIn

One day, I decided to exploit the uses and the availability of connections that LinkedIn had to offer. And so, I decided to directly contact all individuals who have had experience in the music industry who happened to me within my connections. From A&R and publishing to music teachers and live performers, the range was immense.

At first, it seemed like a wasted effort, but before I knew it, I had received momentous amounts of messages and links to Zoom calls. It was very reassuring to see how many individuals were happy to help out a future prospect. Really, there was nothing in it for them, other than to inspire the inspired, and that was great to see.

My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-c-3470869b/

Internships and Freelance Work

Those two famous words. Every creative sector has these words placed in their “looking for jobs” section.

It’s the usual dilemma – with the creative sectors being so tight in individuals competing for the same jobs, do you sell yourself short for free or for less than minimum to get your first major role, or do you give yourself respect, hold out and rely solely on your passion, creativity and composure?

Well, to tell you the truth, from the perspective of the music industry, upon talking to these professionals in the game – who have been well within the industry for over 20 to 30 years, mind – it seems that the majority started giving their skills out for free. It makes you wonder, are internships merely representative of the industry ten to fifteen years ago when they started, or are they just as predominant now in the industry?

For that, I’d say, it depends on the individual. There’s different views and opinions no matter where you luck. Some either got lucky and bagged a graduate job from working hard for it, or some ventured for the safer option by giving up their time for an internship.

You can read further about thoughts of volunteering here: https://manvmusic.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/slaves-of-entertainment-how-much-volunteering-is-too-much/

A Direct Path may Not be Always the Answer …

Aswell as this, upon learning more and more about their career journey, it is interesting – and reassuring to see – that the majority of them had different plans set out for themselves during the time at school throughout A-Levels and course equivalents. Like myself, it seemed a lot of them took a literal u-turn and started focusing on what they loved and wanted to ultimately turn their hobby into a career. Or in most cases, they took the best option what fell in front of them at the time.

Can you only go to London to Succeed?

This is another remark that needs to be made. On my music degree alone, my lecturers and professionals advised that to consistently land prolific roles in a music career, you must must must go to London. With its strong live music scene, iconic recording studios like Abbey Road, and many many record shops dotted across the stretch of London, like Rough Trade East, you can certainly see why it is the place-to-be. Whilst other cities in the UK, like that of Leeds and Nottingham, have strong music cultures and popular music scenes, London really is the hub of all things music. For instance, it is not common for artists when they’re preparing for a tour, to start in London’s iconic gig venues and branch out from there.

But for those music industry executives and advisors who I spoke with, if you want to really work with the majors in the industry, you may have to move to London. With indie worlds, you’ll have the Sheffields’ of course, they’ll never leave. It seems that with the innovation and technology, you’ll always have to move LA.

Below is from a short talk I had with a A&R and Music Industry Consultant, Matt Sherratt who began his Bachelor of Arts in Leeds, before moving to London.

Anyways, you can read the short Q&A below;

Music A&R: Questions and Answers

Matt Sherratt, A&R Consultant

First things first, what exactly does an A&R consultant do?

A&R consultants find artists for their respective company to consider signing.

With everything, it seems it’s all about connections. How do you venture into the world of A&R?

Have a good ear, be persistent in finding people to scout for, and be available to see shows (when they’re back on!)

It seems like a lot of work. How do you maintain your workload within the music industry?

It can be tricky – I left my last role because it was taking up too much of my free time and my head space. It’s important to maintain a balance of ambition and switching off from it all, which takes time and practice.

It seems to be a closed door in the music industry most of the time. Any secret quips into succeeding in the music industry?

Keep looking for new things to spend your time on to make yourself grow. Learn new skills, a language and take care of yourself.

What is the biggest challenge you face at this moment in your career?

Biggest challenge is currently finding a new job! In between full time roles at the moment. It’s very hard but I know I’ll find something.

Most importantly of all, how did YOU start out in the music industry?

I managed to get an internship at an artist management company, and then another internship at a booking agency through people I knew. One wasn’t paid, and the other I was handed £50 in cash on a Friday from accounts. They don’t do that anymore fortunately!

Matt Sherratt, 2020

Here, it is interesting to see this field in the music industry and really, the importance of making connections. Challenging, time-consuming and an ability to switch off from it all – it certainly doesn’t seem like a field for the faint hearted.

As ever, the crucial tip comes back around. Show initiative and learn new skills to your arsenal. This way, it looks like you’re always one step ahead of your competition. The last point he made from the question about how his career started is interesting. This goes back to the act of selling yourself for free to get a step on the ladder or to stand back and respect yourself more. For Matt, it certainly looked like the internship paid off. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to ask yourself if you are the type of person who’ll work for free and be alright with it. It also seems to be what comes across your path, too. The luck of the draw. You can ignore luck really if you opt for a free internship.

Q&A: The Importance of Data in the Music Industry

DAM systems // Blockchains // Audio Enrichment // Assets

I also had the nice privilege to have a talk with Richard Skidmore, a prolific individual in the data-driven side of the music industry, who’s career has spanned from EMI to Warner in London. From DAM systems to Blockchains, it was very interesting to take a look into the world of something I’ve not really come across. Data.

It seems that as soon as metadata came into the music industry, the industry suddenly became data-driven. Of course, once metadata was linked to money, that’s when it became a whole different scenario in the industry.

Along with shedding some information on his career, Richard also was able to give me some insights if you wish to go anywhere in the industry.

  1. It’s always important to show initiative where possible in any field you wish to go in – regardless how adept you are it.
  2. Look into the procedure. If you look closely at anything you’re working on, it always seems to be pretty poor. That’s when you can extract, replicate and improve on the procedure. That’s where you’ll stand out.
  3. Do not be afraid to challenge anything in any work area you find yourself in. This not only shows your own personal initiative and thought-process, but it also allows you to stand out. With an industry that is almost impeccably hard to stand out, it’s certainly not advice to ignore.
  4. The industry wants what Netflix has. That 1-1 relationship that it has with its users. The music industry does not have that.

Future of Blockchains in the Music Industry

With the music industry being so data-driven, Richard also emphasised the importance of blockchains whilst storing data in the industry.

Essentially, blockchain has the potential to save the music industry billions by revolutionising the rights and royalties process, ensuring artists, writers, publishers and everyone in the music industry value chain is paid appropriately. So, in a way avoids a lot of legal battles and time down the line.

Embracing blockchain across the music industry would simplify the management of rights and royalties with a single version of the truth, regardless of territory and rights ownership specifics – ensuring everyone is paid the right amount in a more timely fashion. 

pwc: Blockchain: Recording the music industry; 2015-2020
https://www.pwc.co.uk/entertainment-media/publications/blockchain-recording-music-industry.pdf

Here with Blockchain – all is pretty much linked with one another. With its use of a distributed ledger, data is shared across a network, and everyone in the network has their own identical copy of it. Even if someone within the network makes changes, they are all aware because they’re plugged in to that same network. Pretty neat, right?

Others think so too, and it looks like change is soon happening with rights management organisations ASCAP and PRS For Music currently exploring the use of Blockchain in their own systems.

I also made a more in-depth look into the importance of data in the music industry. You can read it below here; https://manvmusic.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/is-the-music-industry-addicted-to-data/

From what I’ve gathered, in whatever field you wish to go in – creative management, publishing, engineering, A&R, consultancy – it seems that learning more about how data works in the industry could be fairly crucial. As it’s looking likely that it’s going to be used more so than ever.

For further info on available jobs in any field check out the links below;

https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/

https://www.musicgateway.com/

https://www.hipgnosissongs.com/

https://www.synchtank.com/

https://www.techstars.com/

https://www.universalmusic.com/label/emi/

https://www.wmg.com/services#publishing

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