Music industry - sideways moves from performing to...?
January 17, 2013 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I graduated from music college in the UK about 10 years ago, and recently decided that while this time has been spent developing skills to augment my income as a freelance performer, I'd now like to consolidate those skills into a related career which would leave me more financially stable. For a long time now, I have been interested in becoming a music supervisor in the film/television industry, music researcher or working in a production music library. Whenever I have had any involvement with music rights or negotiating clearances, I've been fascinated by it but have never had the opportunity to have this as my main focus. How do I do this as someone who is not able to do long-term unpaid work experience/internships?

I've worked extensively in performing, teaching and editing (mainly print publishing but with some involvement in multi-media), both freelance, salaried and contracted. During this time, I gained a lot of experience in project management (qualification in this), copyright and licensing issues (attended accredited monthly seminars in this) and producing recording sessions, so I'm definitely a lot more experienced than most college graduates but have no relevant contacts in this specific area of the industry.
1. What's the best way to approach companies and show them that I have something to offer? 2. How do I know which companies I should approach?
3. I feel like at 33, I might be too old to be taken seriously - I'm aware that I'll probably have to be an assistant again, but am totally cool with that. Have I missed the boat entirely? I definitely can't afford to go back to study right now.
posted by joboe to Work & Money (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I spent a summer working in music licensing (music library at a television station). It really is a cool gig. Neither of the people I worked for had any particular background (other than music)--they weren't lawyers and didn't go to school for it. They just learned it on the job. As did I--I think there wasn't so much to learn that a 15 year old couldn't get most of the way there three days a week for two months. I didn't take to it as well since my knowledge of music was limited, but it sounds to me that you've got that covered.

Can you make connections with any independent/student filmmakers to help arrange music for their films? This strikes me as one of those things where you do it for free and it's stressful for the first five times, and then someone pays you and then the next thing you know, you've got 19 credits on your resume and most of the were paid.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live in the US and have a career in a different part of the media, but my suggestion would be to research the proper channels for the sorts of jobs you want, and then just call up and ask. It might be easier to call and ask "how do I get a job in this field" rather than "will you give me a job in this field".

For example, music supervisor. Find out whether this is typically done in-house at a network/studio/production company/what-have-you, or freelanced out to a post-production house, or done via the post-production department of the project, then call the relevant department of whichever company and ask about it.

I would not lead with "unable to do an internship", but maybe play up your experience in other aspects of the music industry and the contact you've had with this part that sparked your interest. Internships are usually for folks fresh out of college who don't have a foot in the door towards working in a creative field and don't really know what they want to do, not for people who already work in that field in a different capacity and want to transition. That said, be prepared to hear "you would have to do an internship" or "you would have to start in the mailroom" or whatever unglamorous truth.

A friend of mine is trying to get her foot in the door in the world of classical music management. She has no relevant experience (has never worked in music at all, aside from playing in the college orchestra years ago), and she has had to do internships. That said, these internships have all been part-time and during evenings and weekends. More like a kind of boring hobby than working for free in the long term.

You also might want to try to leverage LinkedIn within the field, if you use LinkedIn and it's used by people in the areas you're interested in. But don't be obnoxious about it.
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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