Music industry internships offer valuable hands-on music industry experience and the chance to make connections with people who might help you find work down the road--it's a "who you know" business perhaps more than any other. An internship in the music business also lets you get a feel for the industry from the inside and give you a leg up entry level positions as they're often filled by previous interns. Internships abound, but you have to know where to look.
Where to Look for a Music Industry Internship
- Check Company Websites
- Large music industry companies such as major record labels, larger indie labels, and concert promotion companies list info about their internship programs on their websites. Also check sites like Internships.com, Looksharp, Entertainmentcareers.net, and Grammy.org. The Recording Academy represents all facets of the recording industry and offers college internships in programming, nonprofit management, office administration and membership development in addition to access to music industry events.
- Check Your School's Job Placement Office
- If you're in a music degree program, companies may list their internship opportunities with your school directly. Many large record companies, however, can only employ students getting class credit for the experience.
- Suggest Your Own Internship
- Create your own internship by approaching an indie label, local promoter or a small music business and offer your time in exchange for experience.
Tips for Securing an Internship in the Music Business
Determine Your Area of Interest
Do you want to work with a large record label like Universal, Sony or Warner? Are you more interested in a small or indie record label or a management company? Or perhaps you're open to working with a PR firm, a booking agency, music venue, concert promoter or production studio. You may not know just yet until you get your feet wet, but unless you specify an area of interest, the people in charge of hiring won't know how to place you.
Also, create a list of departments of interest. For instance, with a large label, you might work with
A&R, licensing or promotions. At a radio station, you could work on air, in production or sales. With a marketing company, divisions include online, street and tour marketing.
Don't rule out experience with a local promoter even if your dream was to work for Sony. Competition is stiff--one music PR executive estimates receiving 100 to 250 resumes for every internship opening. You may not land your dream internship right out of the gate, but any experience in the business is a valuable one.
Work Hard for No Pay
People often fail in the music industry because they anticipate that it's one big party. Convey your understanding that this is work and you're willing to do whatever it takes to get noticed. Being a music industry intern has little to do with after parties and is more about stuffing envelopes, making coffee and doing so happily without financial compensation. Do the grunt work willingly.
The summer of 2013 saw a "revolt of the unpaid interns" with class-action lawsuits against Warner Music, Atlantic Records, Sony, and Columbia. In her lawsuit, Britt'ni Fields claimed that her days at Columbia were spent answering phones, making copies and sending mail, and thus didn't provide academic or vocational training. Is Britt'ni in the music business today? According to LinkedIn, she was most recently a marketing specialist with a bank.