The Music Intern: Five Tips for Success
May 2, 2011
Aubrey Burton in Intern, The Road to Success, music business, music career

With the present state of the music industry, the chances of landing that entry-level, dream job in the music business is even more difficult than it may have been ten or even five years ago.

As an intern in the music business working for companies that may be in the realm of record labels, music publishing, marketing or other types of social media/digital companies, you may be asked to do anything and everything.  Some activities may be “dream come true,” opportunities such as research, promotional activities as well as even having access to or meeting music artists.  There are also the more mundane duties, such as the coffee-runner, meeting scheduler, twitter/social media typer, or the honorable activity of standing out in sub-cold freezing temperatures to pass out free merch or flyers.  Regarding the last point, yes, despite the fact that the music business has officially transitioned into the digital age as well as going towards a “greener” environment…believe or not, but grassroots efforts may still exist at the level of physically passing out paper flyers or other information.

The “Top Five Do’s and Don’t’s” that every intern must do in order to succeed and make a lasting impression on their potential, future employer include the following most basic, fundamental tips.

1. Do Everything That Is Asked of You

Many times, interns are asked by their managers to perform duties that may simply be a test to see what this future employee is willing to do  to fulfill request(s).  No matter how impossible the tasks seem or how unexciting they may be, the best stance to take is to complete the tasks assigned and please the person that you are interning for.

2. Do Anything That You Weren’t Asked To Do

Interns are usually used to fill a certain need.  However, it is important for an intern to take advantage of his or her opportunities.  Be creative within the scope of your duties.  Don’t be afraid after completing tasks to take the initiative to ask for additional responsibilities.  This shows a willingness to progress during the time duration of your internship as well as expand a burgeoning resume.

3. Take Advantage of Building Your Network of Contacts

While serving in an internship, make a concerted effort to get to know not only your supervisor or manager, but also other significant people in the company that you may come in contact with.  This may include everyone up and down the business hierarchal ladder.  And always keep in mind that the full-time assistants that you may be assisting, may turn into managers or future vice presidents.  At the end of an internship, try to at least have twenty contacts complete with name, title/position, and complete contact   information (phone, email, facebook or twitter page, etc.).  

4. Learn As Much As You Can

Regardless of whether an internship is paid or unpaid, the most important part of serving your time in a job in the music industry is to embrace everything and leave behind nothing.  This means learning about   the company that you’re interning for from an INTERNAL perspective.  Everyone can read an annual report or the “About Us” link on a company website.  However, it is how the company operates internally   and learning the operations or tasks that you are completing that matter more.  If your internship is in marketing and advertising, take advantage to ask about how your duties impact other departments (sales, digital/IT, and artist development) in the company.  If you discover that your intern duties do impact other departments on significant levels, as stated before, complete this circle by going above and beyond and ask how it may be possible to gain exposure to the areas that you may or not be assigned to in your internship.

5. Be Thankful For The Opportunity

Remember, for every internship opportunity that exists, there may have been probably over hundreds of applicants vying for this job.  Count your blessings and value the fact that out of the intern candidate pool, you were picked for some special reason.  What that reason is, was or will be may remain to be determined.  But with hard work, the right timing, and a little luck, remember that your internship will most likely lead to opening doors that had been locked before.


Bio: Aubrey has interned in the music business as well as has written reviews from the critic as well as market report perspectives.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
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