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Five Music Business Job Interview Tips


At last - you've been invited to interview for a job in the music industry. If you've been pounding the pavement, trying to get a foot through the music business door, then you know just how stiff competition for these positions can be. How can you make sure you're the music job hopeful that shines the most during the interview process? Commit these five music business job interview tips to memory.

1. Be Punctual, Punctual, Punctual

Computer tablet on top of a piano with music app
Gary Burchell/Taxi/Getty Images

In other words, be on time. Heck, be early for your interview. Better you waiting than them. This sounds like a no-brainer for ANY job interview, sure, but somehow it really needs saying for music biz jobs.

Why? Well, two reasons. One is that some people - many people - labor under the grand misconception that the music business is so laid back that things like being on time are oh-so-passe. After all, what could be less rock and roll than being in an office at 9 AM on the dot waiting for a meeting? The second reason is that the people interviewing you for a music job are going to go to great pains to make sure that you DON'T see the music industry as a business so laid back that things like being on time doesn't matter. They want someone to WORK, not someone who thinks getting a job in the music biz is like getting paid to PATT (party all the time!). Do everything you can to convince your potential employer that you're interested in rolling up your sleeves and putting in the hours - and one of the easiest ways to do that is to be professional enough to be ready and waiting when your scheduled interview time rolls around.

2. Be Clear On Your Goals

Don't go into a music business job interview and say, "I don't care what job I do, as long as it is in music." That may well be the case, especially when you're just starting out and learning to the ropes, but it's not a winning answer when you're interviewing for a specific opinion within the industry.

Instead, prepare yourself to discuss WHY you would like to land THIS particular position. Say you're interviewing with a booking agency - think a bit about that sort of work and what would be of most interest to you about it. "I think live music is the number one way for musicians to make connections with their fans, and it's even more important in this current music climate. I'd love to help artists manage this side of their careers. Plus, I'm very organized, and I would excel at the maintaining complex touring schedules." Even if you're thinking on the inside who you hope this job is a stepping stone to some other music industry career, be sure you can clearly articulate what interests you about this particular job and what relevant skills you can bring to the table.

3. Dress The Part

This is one of the toughest parts of a music industry job interview - how should you dress? After all, you know if you're interviewing at a bank or a law office that you should suit and tie (or lady's equivalent) it up, but most music industry offices are far less formal than that. Many people in the music biz are doing the jeans and t-shirt thing at work, and even those whose offices require something a little less casual are still not dressing like they're headed for Wall Street. But what does that all mean to you?

The bad news is that there are no hard and fast rules. It really depends on the culture of the music company that is interviewing you. A small indie label probably doesn't care that you turn up in jeans and Converse, while the legal team at a major label probably will. Use your best judgement. As a general rule of thumb, opt for dressing up versus dressing down. If the "is this a jeans and t-shirt workplace" question is plaguing you, go business casual. If the "do I need a skirt/tie/suit" question is the one on your mind, go yes. Better to be overdressed and look super enthusiastic than to look underdressed and look like you're not taking the interview seriously.

4. Be Prepared To Talk About Music

Well, duh. But don't go into an interview with that lame, old "I love all kinds of music" stuff. Yes, I too love lots of different kinds of music, but who DOESN'T say that when someone says, "what kind of music do you like?" You're trying to get a job that involves talking knowledgeable about music, so for starters, show you can get specific about your favorite stuff. Of course, in many music jobs, the music you love the most isn't necessarily what you'll be working with, but showing your enthusiasm for you music is a job skill, period. Showing that you love it enough to educate yourself about it is an even bigger skill.

One important point to remember: if the job is genre specific, know something about that genre, even if it isn't your favorite. Show that you understand the major artists and trends of the genre. You can still talk about the other music you love, but don't go into the country PR company talking about how you love all kinds of music but country. If that's true, you're not going to be the best candidate for that job anyway and should probably be looking elsewhere for opportunities.

5. Know The Company

Landed an interview at Label X? Don't go into said interview and say, "now, who does Label X release?" Find out who the company has worked with in the past, what their biggest successes were, the kind of work they do and so on and so forth. Your interviewer will want to know you've done your homework - and yes, you CAN find this information out before you go to the company. Spend some time getting to know your internet search engine, and you will be more than prepared.

One way to show off your knowledge to your interviewer is to come up with a few questions about the company and ask them during the Q&A.

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