Music Industry Internship: My Experience as an Amateur

 

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

Yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but from the time I was born my parents engulfed me in the valuable lessons, music had to offer. From classical to jazz, alternative, rock, pop, metal and so much more I have been able to curate my own values and perceptions of life through these genres. Music swiftly guided me through my painful teenage years and inspired me throughout my long duration in college. I can truly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the continued inspiration I receive from music and the industry.

To clear up some confusion, I was never considered talented when it came to playing instruments or writing poetry. I’ve had numerous attempts — all ending in frustration and disappointment. But after some careful consideration, my love for music doesn’t have to be put to a halt because I’m not “musically” talented.

I’ve always been the one who will get the job done no matter what it takes. I take genuine pride in my organizational skills, communication skills, and my perseverance. Through this moment of discovery, I soon realized working within the music industry was what I truly longed for.

 

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

Summer of 2016 I was finally given one of the biggest opportunities of my college career and was offered an Advertising and Marketing Assistant Internship at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Intersection was a venue I praised when I was younger, they are well known for booking the best shows in the West Michigan area. At first, I was very timid and reserved in the office — but once I was put on tasks I was set to go. Many of these tasks included: Spreadsheets, running errands, decorating, ticket pick-up and drop-off, making calls, organizing, making small improvements to green rooms, assisting artists at load-in etc.

After a few weeks in the office, my supervisor then gave me the opportunity to get in contact with a woman who was recruiting students to be involved in an internship at Electric Forest Music Festival.

After a few weeks in the office, my supervisor then gave me the opportunity to get in contact with a woman who was recruiting students to be involved in an internship at Electric Forest Music Festival. A few weeks later, I was planning the details of my ten-day internship as a Forest Production Intern.

 

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

Before Electric Forest I was very skeptical of the EDM festival industry, and what it would entail. Some of my tasks included: Making documents, checking in volunteer workers, cleaning the forest before the gates opened, assisting artists with their art installations, handing out flyers, walking the forest and checking on installations, assisting stage managers during the day, and much more.

For the duration of both internships, I learned more about myself and this industry than I would have ever learned in a college course. I learned valuable tips and information from my supervisors that I will carry with me. After both internships I can now say I appreciate every person, process, and capacity of the industry — and without them, none of this would be possible. I hope to keep striving for a career in this industry — and continue to hold myself to the highest standards possible because anything is possible.

 

Brand New: A Valueable Lesson in PR Tactics

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Photo by: Ali Shutler

Brand New is a highly praised alternative-rock band originally from Long Island, New York. Brand New is known for their release of four albums: The Devil and God are Raging Inside me, Your Favorite Weapon, Daisy, and Deja Entendu. Brand New was formed in 2000 and gained popularity after their first album release of Your Favorite Weapon in 2001. Brand New progressively began to snowball in publicity once they released many mysterious songs, messages, and questionable rumors that caused their fans to go mad:

  • Cryptic & Mysterious Sounds on the album Daisy
    • Daisy was released in 2008 and included many top hits such as Bed, Gasoline, and You Stole. Many of their songs off Daisy has made fans question their use of cryptic noises and what sounds to be interviews or monologs — and their overall meaning behind them. In an interview with Spin Magazine, lead singer Jesse Lacey reveals he found the samples from an estate sale and soon discovered they were of a Texas sermon — he later decided to add them to the album. He still doesn’t admit if there is a deeper meaning to the hidden clips, but it has continued to have fans questioning the context.
  • Updated Website
    • According to an article in Alternative Press Magazine, Brand New updated their website in a very mysterious way that left many people scratching their heads. A ‘mysterious’ button was added to their website that included the words “HYPE” — then was later changed to “NODE.” Both of these links led the user to an external website that was either a music video or an Illuminati website with useless information. “What does it mean? No clue. Honestly, it doesn’t sound too farfetched that the band are just f*cking with us” (Alternative Press Magazine, 2014).
  • Merch with 2000-2018
    • During their 2016 summer tour with Modest Mouse, Brand New was actively selling merchandise with the dates 2000-2018 printed on it leading many fans to believe they were officially announcing their break up. This was later confirmed in an article posted on Consequence of Sound. According to the article, Jesse announced to the crowd, “We’re done. Oh yeah, we’re done, and it makes nights like this all the more special so thanks for being here.”

After reviewing just a few PR tactics mentioned here, I think it’s safe to say Brand New has it all figured out — no wonder they are one of the most well-known alternative-rock bands in the genre. Though they won’t be around for much longer I urge everyone to keep an eye on their branding and media coverage, you never know what is going to mysteriously pop up.

 

 

 

 

Band into Brand: DIY Music Public Relations

To many people, the music industry PR world might seem a bit intimidating, fast-paced and overall, scary. Don’t get me wrong, it is all of the above– but in order to take a step out of the norm, you need to take creative risks to develop your band into a brand. There are many artists out there who don’t have the support of a label behind them, along with money to pay a professional publicist. This leaves the band to promote and create content themselves, and sometimes, that can be very daunting!

Four years ago I started my endeavor in the local music industry: hanging flyers, promoting shows, writing blogs, reviewing albums, interviewing bands, photographing shows etc. Ever since I’ve been mentally compiling a list of my personal (and other’s) advice on how to promote yourself/your band to the music industry world. Don’t be fooled, I’m not a music industry “know it all” but I do know a few things here and there, hopefully, these three tips help you develop your brand into something you are proud of.

Social Media Presence:

Make a social media account on all platforms possible, this includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat, Flickr, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. The main content should concentrate on your story and your overall brand. What makes you different than the other local bands in the a

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

rea? Your content should have a personality and a sense of humor, don’t be afraid to engage with your listeners through these platforms. According to a study by Salo, Lankinen and Mäntymäki (2013) content is key when driving artist awareness and user engagement: “Access to content is an extremely important consumer motive for using social media in the music business.” (p.37) You should include pictures that have been taken at shows (professional or from the crowd, personalized videos of your band while practicing or backstage at a show, positive messages about your music genre, or post a letter from a fan). Though, content is broad and exciting, sharing your brand story should be at the top of your list (Friedman, 2014). Utilizing these platforms is important to engaging all listeners and gaining new fans through a personable and positive social media presence.

 

Media Relations: 

Media contacts are very important when you are releasing new material, going on tour, making a music video or if you want to be featured for publicity. When sending emails and messages proof-read, proof-read, proof-read before you hit the ‘send’ button. This is very important, and it only takes one mistake for an occupied staff member or writer to delete your message. When contacting make sure to include some information about your brand and why you are reaching out to them (interview, review, feature story, new material etc.). Developing relationships and networking with media writers/staff members are very useful once you get to know each other.. one relationship leads to another.. and another and another.

Low-Budget Show Promotion:

Finally, you’ve landed a show opening for a touring band that is coming to your town. Months of practice and writing has led you to this point– and without cash. Promoting the event almost seems impossible, but have no fear! There are effective ways to promote the show while on an artist budget. First, postering, yes, I said it, postering. They are relatively cheap to print and very effective if the design is good-looking and has all the necessary information (Trumbull, 2016). This can be the difference between someone looking at the poster for a split-second, or actually stopping to take the event into consideration. Next, social media, create an event and promote, promote, promote, but don’t waste all your efforts on Facebook, jump on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr! The goal is to attract anyone and everyone to attend the show– choose your favorite content and create something unique to make people clear their schedules to join you.

Sure all of these methods won’t help you become a top-40 band overnight, but when combined and utilized together they have the potential to expand your audience and bring a couple more bodies to the venue door. Be creative with your messages, research what some bigger bands are doing and apply your own spin off their content. Don’t get caught up in the do’s and dont’s because at the end of the day this is your brand, and it’s important to take risks and build something you are excited about.

Friedman, S., (2014, December 29). How to perfect your band’s social media strategy: the 70-20-10 rule. Retrieved March 21, 2016, from http://blog.sonicbids.com/how-to-perfect-your-bands-social-media-strategy-the-70-20-10-social-media-rule

Salo, J., Lankinen, M., & Mäntymäki, M. (2013). The Use of Social Media for Artist Marketing: Music Industry Perspectives and Consumer Motivations. JMM: The International Journal On Media Management, 15(1), 23-41. doi:10.1080/14241277.2012.755682

Trumbull, T., (2016, March 11). 5 effective ways for cash-strapped musicians to promote their gigs. Retrieved March 21, 2016, from http://blog.sonicbids.com/5-effective-ways-for-cash-strapped-musicians-to-promote-their-gigs