What it's really like to work in the music industry
'Music is moral law' contemplated Plato more than 2400 years ago. 'It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything'.
Contrary to the decade-old industry panic that claims the decline in CD sales (what we call recorded or mechanical music) marks the beginning of the end for the music industry, music is in abundance. We have millions of songs and compositions at our fingertips providing the soundtrack to our everyday.
Despite the shift in customer perception of both the physical format of music, as well as it's monetary (or more relevantly non-monetary value - owing to the days of Napster and Limewire), the music industry - historically speaking - has never been so universal, so diverse and so expansive.
I work for a company that champions, promotes and protects music copyright, to ensure that composers, songwriters and artists are paid every time their piece of music is played. In other words, I work in the secret, corporate underbelly of the industry, beneath the confetti-canons, billionaire divas and muddy British festivals.
Before I started working in the music industry, I had imagined what it would be like. Gold-encrusted treble clefs hanging from ceilings, spontaneous musical performances at anytime in the day and queuing up for lunch next to the likes of Adele, Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran. Although I wasn't that far off, here's what it's really like to work in the music industry:
1) A large majority of your colleagues are musicians or REALLY into music
One of my favourite things about working in the music industry is that a large number of people either consider themselves musicians or are really into music. Whilst there are no spontaneous outbursts in the office (apart from the occasional Happy Birthday), there are opportunities to perform all the time. From the gorgeous office grand piano, practice rooms and choirs, to performing at seasonal office parties.
2) The perks
Unfortunately, despite your lovely Facebook message, my lowly, relatively inconspicuous position within the industry means that I probably can't do anything for your band or that new song you've released. I can, however, apply to "work" in our tent at many festivals around the UK (including Glastonbury), listen to up and coming artists at staff parties and gig nights, as well as learn the (often dark and always juicy) secrets of the industry.
3) There is a tension between corporate thinking and 'being there for music'
One of the paradoxes of the music industry is the tension between corporate thinking (maximising revenue growth, increasing operational efficiency and generating as much profit for the company as possible) and 'supporting musicians' or 'being there for music'. The music industry is struggling with a hangover from the 70s. It claims to be proudly progressive and fiercely liberal, but buckles under the pressure of ever-evolving technology, competition from tech giants like Google and the need to operate like a finance-bureau rather than a hugs-and-world-peace-lets-dance-to-Abba-thing it was doing before.
4) It's not very glamorous
It's not all celebrities, gigs and glitter face paint. In fact, the truth is that working in the music industry really isn't very glamorous - it's all about data collection. I start work at 8am and spend most of my days answering emails, managing contracts, eating and coming up with ways to modernise business processes. This doesn't mean it's not cool though - my company uses music recognition technology (like Shazam) to capture music usage and my colleagues and I are in communication with huge music broadcasters every single day.
5) The lack of graduate culture means that it is amazing for graduate opportunities
Beside my love of music, I applied for a job in the music industry because it lacked a distinctive graduate culture. Like many of my friends, I looked into management consulting, marketing, publishing and advertising graduate schemes that offered fantastic learning experiences. I decided, however, that an industry without a graduate culture would mean that if I got my foot in the door and worked hard enough, I could reap the rewards much quicker than being contractually bound to a two or three year graduate scheme. So far, this choice has paid off and I've had some fantastic opportunities over the past five months. Watch this space!
Hopefully this post has given you a little insight about working in the wonderful, wacky and at times rather weird world of music.