These days, getting started in music has never been easier. So if you’re in high school, and want a career in entertainment, you’re possibly in the best position ever to get the experience your going to need to work in the music business someday. I’m not kidding. And the reason is, that due to advances in technology and the insane rise of street teams and product ambassador programs, the marketing of music has almost taken on a life of its own since the late 80′s when I was in college.
At that time, hardly anyone knew what the heck a campus rep was, or how to get a job as one, and it took an article in Rolling Stone magazine along with Shelly Field’s Career Opportunities in the Music Business to bring the job to light for me as well.
But that was college, and I’ll reserve some of that talk for my next post. By the way, if you haven’t already read my post “When is the best time to start looking for your first music business internship?” You’ll want to read it first, because within it you learn the simplest way to get started. If that method fails you, or if you’re looking for even more ways to get started (particularly if you’re still in high school), this post will help add more juice to your search.
So, as I mentioned, high schoolers, you’re in a good spot. For one, if you’re out there looking for internships in radio and with street teams as a high school kid, you’re going to make one hell of an impression on the people you’re hitting up to work for free. They’ll know that you’re dead serious about working in the music industry, and as such, will take you seriously as well. So, polish up your phone voice, and your email skills, ’cause you’re gonna’ need ‘em.
I’m going to keep this post simple and just bullet out a few things for you. First I’ll give you a bit of advice as to what not to do (this is important), and then a few places you can look for gigs. Some of the “don’ts” might seem obvious to some, but not to others, so please forgive me ahead of time.
Okay, here we go!
Don’t do these things:
- Please don’t write emails to people using email addresses like:”[email protected]”,
“[email protected]”, or
“[email protected]”.At the very least set up a gMail account that looks like this: “[email protected]”, you’ll get much more respect and your email is not as likely to immediately end up in the spam folder.
- Please don’t call up or write an organization where you want to intern or rep and not have a reply to the insanely obvious question of: “So, why would you like to work with us?”. If it’s a label, know the bands; if it’s a band, know the songs; if its a radio station, know the format; and if it’s a street team or product ambassador company, know the products and/or bands the company represents. Then, be prepared to let them know why you want to work for them, and how you think you can help them get the word out.
- Please forget all those really cool shortcuts to typing words that you’ve learned from texting. At the moment, most music people, while as hip as the wanna’ be, are still older than you to be sure, and not as good at deciphering the code that you and your friends are so familiar with. Also, using real words tells them you can write, which will come in handy, because while with most of these programs you’re going to be out on the street promoting music, you will almost definitely have to do some sort of a write-up of what you accomplished so your boss can keep track of how you’re doing and report back to their boss. There’s always a “boss”, remember that. Whether you’re pushin’ carts at the local grocery store or pushin’ records.
Okay, that’s it on the “don’t” side, easy, eh? Now let’s take a look at where a high schooler hell-bent on getting a job in music can look for an internship of sorts.
If you have already tried getting in at a local radio station, and not had any luck, your next stop should be at one of the companies that runs a street team program. These guys are essentially hired by the labels to promote guerrilla marketing campaigns for the record labels and their bands in cities and towns all across America. Sometimes these firms care where you live, other times they could care less. If you’re unfortunate enough to keep running into people who think the only folks who listen to and buy music live in NYC, LA or Chicago, then you’ll need to convince them you’re town likes music too, and YOU”RE up to the challenge. I wrote a pretty good chapter in my book about how this worked out for me in my book.
Street teams are fun and easy for high schoolers because, A. you’re often out at cool “hang-out” places anyway, AND. . .B. (the biggie). . .you don’t need school credit for most if not all, street team gigs. This is a huge advantage for you. If you were in college and wanting to work for a record label, you’d need credit, and you’d have to write a paper about your work as an intern which can take a lot of time. That sucks. Not so with a street team program. Getting in is fairly easy, the workload small, and no big papers to write (save for the status reports I mentioned earlier). The best part? You get free stuff, free passes to concerts (sometimes) and the big ol’ capitalized important thing: EXPERIENCE.
Yup, experience, WITHOUT prior experience. Gotta’ love it. Here is a list of a few street team firms you might wish to check out:
Okay, so if you were unable to get any street teams to hire you, what’s next? How about these options:
- Contact your favorite band via their website and ask to join their street team. This used to be called “the fan club” Oh, they don’t have one? Offer to create one for them, and use any book on band promotion or publicity to figure out how you would do it. The lessons are all in there!
- Find a local band and ask to help promote them, or roadie for them. Actually, why not do both?
- Work on the production staff for your high school’s drama club, or work the audio visual board for lectures. . .that sorta’ thing. Anything that gets you involved with sound and audio.
- Call up the corporate headquarters of your favorite brand and ask them if they have an ambassador program. Ask around a lot. . .you might have to ask for marketing. . .tell the receptionist your a high school kid. . .as long as she knows you’re not a sales person, she’ll probably put you through without a name. Many products have such programs, and if they don’t they most likely have a creative agency or advertising agency that runs one for them. Ask for the name of that firm if this is the case.
If you’re still not having any luck, I would be surprised. These methods have worked time and time again for countless numbers of people. If you really want it, I’m sure you’ll be just as fortunate. And don’t forget to let us know where you end up!
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