Foolish & Crazy – Getting a Job in the Music Industry
If you want to get a job here, either you have connections or your work ethic is unparalleled.
And even then, you might fail.
I remember being 16 or 17 when I started to think about getting a job in the music industry. What a fool I was. I wanted to fly in jets. Discover artists. Work at a label. Mind you, this was 2005. I had no idea.
Naively, I pursued my dreams of working in the music industry as an adult, still largely unaware that the music industry in my dreams and the one that waited for me when I graduated would be an entirely different species. Along the way, what I learned is that the people that have jobs in the music industry are either foolish or crazy. Either a) a person is so in love with music and art that they refuse to work elsewhere, for better money, which means that they're foolish. Or b) the person is absolutely nuts and decided that working unpaid as an intern and living in poverty for two years before landing a job would be a good investment of their free time.
I think we're all a little of both, and I mean this in a good way.
There are people that fall between the cracks. They got an MBA at Harvard or have a family friend that works at Universal. Beyond that though, we're all smart enough to know that we could make more money elsewhere and a little crazy. I spent two years of my life hustling and writing for Hypebot before it turned into something that it paid. And here's the crazy thing: I never cared if it did. Why? Because I'm crazy. This is what I wanted and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Ther Long Haul
These days, every other industry is looking a lot like the music industry. When I hear people talking about how they can't find a job – mostly newly graduated students – I sort of laugh. In the music industry, people don't get jobs – the good jobs anyways – by sending a resume places. They don't get them by looking through the classifieds. None of that. People that want to get a job in this field work their faces off and create opportunities for themselves. They either start a business or get a nonpaid position at a place they love. They get in the system.
And they become indispensible.
Once that person has worked hard enough to where that company can't imagine a future without them, they get hired. It doesn't happen any other way. So when I think about the things that most students are unwilling to do in order to get jobs in their fields that have been common in the music industry years, I'm less than sympathetic. The landscape has changed. And if you're not willing to put in the work and create an opportunity for yourself, no one is going to create it for you.
Getting a job in any field within the knowledge economy is now the like music industry. You have the want it, love it, and be prepared for the long, long haul.
Before becoming a full-time writer for Hypebot, I worked at Target. I met many people that were getting prepared to graduate and were talking about getting an internship. Often times, people complained that working ten hours a week – for free – was unfair. Since I was trying to get a job in the music industry, I worked almost every single night after work and weekend, honing my craft and educating myself through books. Anyone who has ever tried to teach themselves how to write through writing will tell you that it's not fun. It's hell. It was not rewarding.
Foolish & Crazy
But I never complained once. I never told Bruce that I was entitled to money. I just kept my head down, worked, and learned. Sometimes, Bruce didn't hear from me for weeks on end. He'd get worried. "Why wasn't I publishing anything," he'd ask. "Why the silence?" What was I doing? Thinking my way through problems. Connecting the dots. Banging my head against the wall. Collecting epiphanies one by one. And then without notice, I would reemerge and publish a new essay.
In time, Bruce found a way to offer me a job. I took it. And here we are. That's how I got my job in the music industry. I was foolish and a little crazy. There was no resume. No job listing. Just a special opportunity that Bruce handed me two years and seven months ago. He found me. Told me to keep sending writing in.
And I did the rest.
Even I didn't know that it would turn into a job. No one did. I'm smart enough to know, however, that I'm not special. Many of you did crazy things, at one point, to get a job in the music industry too. Anyone who wants a job in their field today better be ready to do the same. Otherwise, they'll be working in retail, unaware of the enormous opportunities that are out there for people that want to work hard and are willing to do what it takes to get a job that they love and get paid for it.
Every industry is now the music industry. Get ready.
Please share your story of how you got a job in the music industry in the comments below. What foolish and crazy things did you do to get a job?