Here’s a pretty rough profile of the Class of 2010 at Middle Tennessee State University’s Recording Industry Management department. The RIM leverages its Nashville connections well, and it’s got one of the best reputations in the world for developing music management professionals.
And yet, Michael Stone’s article suggests, a solid degree in music management isn’t enough to guarantee a hot job in the recording industry. It isn’t even enough to guarantee a job delivering pizzas. A degree is just one of many tools that you can use to do a better job than the other guy.
When I attended the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, one of the first things my peers taught me was that I’d better do the work if I expected to land any gigs. Sitting in a classroom and waiting for someone’s permission just gives everyone else a four year head start.
The music industry has already shed tens of thousands of official jobs, according to Stone’s research. That’s not counting all of the folks who work part-time, freelance, or run their own companies that don’t even show up on the BLS’ radar. It’s absolutely the job of the admissions counselor to help you believe that you’ll be the one that breaks the statistics and becomes the hot new hire from your graduating class. Just realize that you need to do 90% of that heavy lifting on your own, and probably away from the classroom.
If you’re in a music management degree program now, you should be thinking about managing an act or two in your spare time. At the very least, you should be working on landing a great summer internship where you’ll end up sealing envelopes and making cold calls–but you’ll get face time with folks who can positively impact your career.
Music management is about how hard you can hustle for your clients and for yourself. If you’re just looking for a job at the end of your degree program, the first thing a prospective employer will want to know is what your side hustle was during college. And if you don’t have a side hustle now, it’ll just look like you’re naive–or worse: lazy.