So part of what I do is work as head of marketing at a music studio that my buddy runs. It’s a good studio, we have a lot of fun, party a lot, and record some good music with some very cool producers. The studio owner was looking to pick up some interns and thought it would be a good idea to try and get some from a well known local university. I was a bit hesitant, but hey, I need interns too and I can’t just keep going for teenagers in the scene, ya know? So I went with him with the hope of perhaps finding a kid of two who could maybe help us out. Now a few things to remember for context, I run a fairly successful management and consulting company with employees and interns of my own, am a college dropout and am only 21 years old. These kids didn’t know that of course and were just trying to find work after a flawed system told them that going to college for the music business was a better choice than just being a part of your scene and diving in with the hopes that you will figure out how to make it work.
College students are interesting to me. They’ve been told that if they get this piece of paper that will cost them literally hundreds of thousands of dollars then they will be able to get a good job. Meanwhile, me and the owner of the studio, who never even went to college, were sitting there, smelling like weed and booze, saying fuck a lot and listening to kids giving us their elevator pitch about who they were and their personal brands. While some were definitely pretty good and would make great candidates for these internship positions I felt like a lot of them were missing fundamental realities of the industry in a way that was, frankly, kind of sad. I mean, I’m only a few years removed from living in a crust punk house, and now I’m the kind of person who stands behind the table at job fairs while potential candidates beg to work for me for free. If that’s not a trip then I don’t fucking know what is.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the appeal of college if you’re trying to go into more traditional business ventures or obtain specialized information. I think that for a lot of people college is a great choice. It gives you a chance to mature and become an actual goddamn adult. That’s something I wish I had, rather than having to figure out a whole bunch of shit by the seat of my pants back when I did more cocaine than was good for me. College can be a very helpful thing if you know what you want to do with your degree and how you are going to obtain your goals. It theoretically allows you to skip some key paying your dues type aspects of whatever industry you might want to hop in so that you can walk into a comfortable salary, launching you to strata and connections you might not deserve because of hard work but rather where you went. In other words, it’s also a great breeding ground for classicism and the American aristocracy.
This seemed to be the issue that a lot of our potential interns had. They seemed to have pretty much no context for what the music industry actually entailed. They didn’t seem to understand that a lot of the bands we work with frequently play basements and are glad of it. They didn’t understand that a lot of our bands are influenced by weirdo punk acts they have ever even heard of. There was a general lack of depth of knowledge of the music that they purported to love. Maybe I’m just being a condescending dick, but in my experience most of the most successful people in the industry are the ones who have a thorough knowledge of the music and a strong place in the scene. That being said they also drove me to a realization that I am truly uncomfortable with and one that I don’t think many of us working on the DIY level even think about too often – though they didn’t realize it most of these kids weren’t trying to intern for people like us and didn’t even want to have a relationship with our sorts of companies.
What is easy to forget about when you make your name on being DIY and a part of a scene is that there is a whole world of non-indie music out there. There is a world of major labels that hire literally thousands of people and act as major players in the industry. Sure you and I might never deal with them but all of these kids thought that those were the kinds of positions they should be searching for, and you know what? They were right. The reason I’m excited to wake up every morning and work in music is because I love working with my favorite bands, partying hard and getting down and dirty with my homies. These kids didn’t want that. They weren’t trying to be a part of any sort of scene, they just wanted to engage in bigger events, more corporate structures and conventional career paths that allow for a clear way forward. That’s totally fine too – but for a dude raised on punk rock and gristle it’s hard to even cogitate wanting that lifestyle.
So perhaps one of my big takeaways from the job fair is that conventional industry jobs still disgust me and I should just avoid them. Moreover it made me realize that if you want to look for people who want to support the underground, then they aren’t going to be the ones going to college. They are going to be the ones who are running shows while working at a convenience store, the ones who gave it all up to tour with their favorite band so they could learn about the road, the ones who are literally starving but still trying to manage bands. Those are the people who push for it, the ones who throw caution to the wind and enjoy the very beautiful nature of human suffering when it comes to working your dream job. Figure it the fuck out because this is a very real struggle and if you’re not ready to take a hit your life is gonna suck.
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