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How to get a job in the music industry

Getting a job in the music industry at nineteen

Digital Marketing Apprentice

The music industry is one of the most competitive places to work. Whether you dream of marketing a hit album, running a band’s social media or working with some of the best names in the business, there isn’t always a clear road to get to where you want to go. I was determined and had a lot of hope that I would be working for a major label one day. It was definitely beyond my wildest dreams that it’d be as early as nineteen though. But how did I end up working at Warner Music before I was twenty? Funny you should ask…

I always knew that I wanted a career in the music industry but I was never quite sure how I was going to turn my dreams into reality. I would spend my nights after school googling all sorts of companies to see whether I could do work experience or get any advice. Occasionally I would get an email back saying: “Sorry we don’t offer work experience” or: “You can find our careers page here” but at 14 I was definitely not ready to begin job hunting. Finally, at the age of sixteen I found an opportunity for work experience at a record label. As excited as I was to see it, in the back of my mind I thought I had no chance. Ignoring my gut, I asked my then form tutor Mrs Shelley to provide me with a reference (she really outdid herself, it was so lovely). I submitted her references alongside my CV detailing my greatest achievements, including playing for the Manx Youth Orchestra and a few school awards. A few months went by and I quickly forced the chance of getting accepted to the back of my mind as my hope faded. It wasn’t until April 2016 when I got an email from Kelly (who ended up having a crucial impact on my career) letting me know that I had been selected to complete one week of work experience at Warner Music. I was on holiday for my Mum’s 50th and I distinctly remember running down the corridors of Premier Inn screaming with excitement and trying to find my parents to let them know that I did it. I did it.

I live in the Isle of Man, and as much as I love it there, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to get into music, and that’s why an experience like this was so crucial.

It’s quite funny how, now when I look back, one week meant so much to me. I finally had a chance to shine and make the connections that could ultimately allow me to have the career of my dreams. I live in the Isle of Man, and as much as I love it there, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to get into music, and that’s why an experience like this was so crucial. In August 2016, I flew to London with my dad, stayed at a hotel and spent a week working at Warner Music. With the ultimate aim of making the most of my week, instead of relaxing in the full hour of lunch, I would walk around the building and ask anyone I saw questions about their role and for any advice. You wouldn't believe the amount of album recommendations I racked up by the end of the week.

Fast forward two years of school and a lot of hard work and I was ready to leave for London College of Music which is part of the University of West London, I thought I was one step closer to starting my dream career in the music industry. University didn’t appeal to me, but I was willing to do what it took to get a job in the industry and I thought that was the only route. I went along to a BBC Music introducing event where I hoped to make some more contacts, however the talk I was aiming for had cancelled last minute. If I ever thought fate was real, that was the day. Instead, I went to another talk that was about to start around the corner, and who was right there ready to go in? Kelly, yep, the one who gave me my first opportunity in the music industry. I was quite aware that three years had passed and (hopefully) I looked a bit more grown up, so I was prepared for her to not remember me, however, she did. I was very humbled by the fact that she remembered me as a “standout student” something I will always be proud of.

I often look around at my desk in the heart of Warner Music and feel very proud of myself.

Since bumping into Kelly, I arranged to meet her for coffee one morning in the hope I would gain some advice from her as I was not as happy as I wanted to be at University and I was unsure about what I could do about it. Kelly was really good to me, she helped me weigh-up the pros and cons of each option but allowed me to make my own decisions and not be swayed by her personal opinion. This was where she first introduced me to WhiteHat - a company that was about to set up an apprenticeship at Warner. As competitive as it sounded to be accepted, I knew that it would be perfect for me, allowing me to be with a company that I already knew was a great place to work whilst getting a qualification at the same time. I left university and applied for the apprenticeship - for such a monumental decision, I didn’t have many doubts and I felt really positive about it. Therefore, I decided to leave university and start looking for an opportunity to start working, particularly in the music industry.

I’ve been in the role for a while now, and I haven’t regretted it for a single moment. Whilst working hard on my assignments every month and building my portfolio, I’ve been lucky enough to attend films shoots at Abbey Road with Rod Stewart and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as supporting the team interview Beverley Knight and create social media assets for some legendary artists. I’ve even bumped into Stormzy, Ella Henderson and Rita Ora in the lift. There have been so many times when I’ve thought I wasn’t good enough to be where I am now, especially at nineteen.

All I can say is that nothing is impossible but it takes a lot of hard work and determination. I wouldn’t be where I am without making crucial connections at sixteen and I often look around at my desk in the heart of Warner Music and feel very proud of myself. To my family, Kelly, Tom, Emily at Warner and WhiteHat - thank you. Next stop: CEO.

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