One of the best ways to break into the music industry and develop your career, especially if you if have a vested interest in getting musically connected, is to approach a company working in the industry, maybe a record company / label, publisher or recording studio and get yourself in the door, offering yourself for a period of work experience.
It’s the same principle as buying a house and getting on the property ladder, it’s hard, but once you’re in, it’s easier to move up the ladder or chain. The same applies to media and the music industry, both highly competitive and popular career paths.
You will have probably heard of an established TV producer, who started out as a runner and making endless cups of tea & coffee on the floor of a small production company, just to get his foot in the door, whilst his real ambition was to be a producer. So I’ve been told, the statistics for employment at high level positions are 80% sourced from within the company or organization and rarely advertised or outsourced, so if you’re the company to start with, you have a distinct advantage.
An employer’s perspective
Before I start this sector, I need to be clear that I will mention about age and compare young and older people, please don’t read into this too much, this is not about discrimination or generalization, but simply a look a common situations I have found in my years as an employer, others may disagree. It should go without saying that regardless of age, young, old or middle aged, their attitude is all important. You should hopefully discover this during the interview process.
I have been employing people for more than 20 years and in my opinion experience yields 10 times more value than someone without experience, however this isn’t a given rule, there are also lots of benefits in having someone with no experience in your company, as it’s an opportunity to mold their skills to your companies needs, rather than having to work round others who may feel the role is below them. Having someone conduct work experience in your business has great benefits, here are just some of the plus points & things to note, that an employer will potentially consider.
+ The more experienced the person is, the less training and resource required to bed them into your company / organization
+ Experience in general comes with age and the person will most likely be mature and confident, which helps them to hit the ground running in your business
+ Naturally, as people get older, their priorities change and what was important to them at 20, isn’t normally the same at 40 for example, family, other commitments may not suit the type of role you are looking to for, let’s say you expect them to network at after work event’s, they may not want to shindig anymore.
+ Work experience in the UK is allowed for a maximum of an 8 week period and can be full time hours, but this normally depends on the person’s circumstances, for example they may be at college three days of the week and work for you the other two. I’m not sure about the rules in Europe and the States; I assume there is something similar allowed, but do check.
+ Work experience allows the employer to trial the individual for a future role, investing in their training and skills and therefore bringing more value to your business in the future
+ With the right individual, they should be grasping the opportunity by both horns and looking to prove themselves, if they don’t, then maybe they aren’t right for your company after all.
Benefits of Work Experience
They say in life, if you really want something that much, nothing will get in your way to get you where you want to go, there is always a tradeoff between business and pleasure. I am a great believer in opportunity, seizing the day and having a can-do positive attitude, these sound like plain good punch lines, but it’s all about self determination, belief and removing the barriers exist in your head and stop you from turning off “X Factor” and planning what you are going to actually do first thing MONDAY morning, which will result in your getting yourself into work.
Here are some of the points to consider
+ A fantastic way to get yourself in the music industry
+ Whilst you aren’t earning, you are learning, the value of this is huge, don’t under estimate the fact that training, takes time and resource, this is all money which the company is investing in you, don’t waste it
+ As you are in the environment, you can network and make new contacts & connections. Trust me, it is much easier to get a job, when you are already in a job, recruitment agencies are lazy, they want to place one person doing a role, into another company in the same role.
+ Take every opportunity – If your work experience role is to do a specific job, but you have other skills to offer, make sure you let people know, sell yourself, you have nothing to lose, employers want pro-active self motivated people, so if that’s you, go for it!
+ Update your CV & get a reference – Make sure you get the most out of your work experience by getting it on your CV, don’t just place a reference contact at the bottom of the page, actually get a written letter reference from your employer or boss and use it in conduction with your CV, when applying for other positions
+ Learn as much as possible – don’t be scared to ask questions, most people like to support others and pass on their knowledge, it’s rewarding, so make sure you ask, if you don’t ask you don’t get
+ Can you stay and work that bit longer, commonly known as going the extra mile? The more you prove yourself in the business, the more likely your boss will seek to find you a paid position and keep you at the company, you have to show them your true value, prove you have what it takes to make it in the industry
I recently interviewed Richard Snow from Skint records, which will be published soon on our blog, who explained the value to him of work experience. He got himself into the label in day a week whilst at Music College, literally doing digital Meta data entry for the labels releases.
The label required artwork for certain projects and Richard, who had some experience in this area, leaped at the opportunity to prove his worth. This progressed into a full time paid position and following the exit of their long standing A&R person, Richard again took the opportunity to progress further his career within the label.
How do you go about finding work experience?
Of course, your first port of call should be looking online for advertised positions; however these can be very limited, personally I would ensure you have an up to date CV and look to target certain companies which you feel are a great match for your skills or musical taste.
Go out of your way and I would recommend you make yourself look presentable and hand deliver a CV to the company and if you can, ask if you can speak to someone about yourself and what you can offer the company, in exchange for the opportunity to gain experience.
In summary I would highly recommend work experience for both an employer and any individual who is looking for an opening into the music industry, without question the chance of you developing your career will be vastly improved by taking this route.
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