music industry

3 Tips to Excel in Your Music Industry Career

Head of Operations at Music Gateway, Sophie Small with the help of her team, gives us crucial career advice on working in the music industry.

Going into a new job — whether it’s a career move or something to get on your CV before that perfect music career opportunity pops up — is really nerve-wracking. It’s difficult to know how you’re doing, whether what you’re doing is right, whether you could be doing more, whether you’re pestering. It’s a rollercoaster of excitement and insecurity.

You may have seen my article from a couple of months ago; How to Lead a Team at Your First Record Label, Music Tech Startup or Other Music Company where I asked my team what they thought makes a good leader. Together we compiled a Top 3 which you can read all about in that article. During my time at Music Gateway, we’ve been through different stages of a company life cycle and we’ve had team members come and go. So today, we’re going to talk about my Top 3, the 3 skills that I love to see in a member of my team, regardless of what their role is. These skills let me know they’re going to go places.

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” — Thomas Jefferson

1. Honest Communication

There is nothing better than an employee who communicates honestly, both in times of good and bad. In all aspects of work life, I think this is so important. Someone who doesn’t communicate with you at all is quite often (in my experience) hiding from the fact they’re not doing very much and if someone is over communicating, it’s easier to ask them to do less than it is to motivate them to do more. So rule number one is keep talking to your line manager!

My biggest annoyance is when we have a meeting and the person actioning agrees to a plan or says they understand only for me to find out at a later date that this is not the case and nothing has moved forward since we last spoke. If I ask someone how they’re doing on a project and they tell me they haven’t been able to work on it for a while, so many questions run through my brain. Why has it taken me to ask this question to find this out? What were they going to do if I didn’t ask this question? And the biggest one, do they even care? In a team, if one person fails, we all fail so no one wins if you stay quiet and it makes it much harder to support you. You never know, there might even be a free coffee in it for you whilst we brainstorm a plan together!

This can be the same for the positives too. Something’s probably not right if your manager is missing every good thing that you’re doing but it is possible as a human being for things to slip past us on occasion, whilst we’re looking at the big picture. If you’re proud of something, share it! Don’t sit celebrating by yourself, that’s much less fun. In the same way that it’s important to work together on fixing the negatives, it’s important you celebrate the successes together as well.

So there you have it, from one extreme to another and whether it’s in a formal or informal way, make sure that you’re always communicating with colleagues and managers about things that you’re working on and how they’re going, good or bad. After all, collaboration is king, whether you’re a musician or working for a record label.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” — Albert Einstein

2. Bring a Solution With Your Problem

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful mentor when I was in one of my first jobs in the music industry. This lesson has been invaluable to my journey and I stand by it with any team I’m in as standard practice. Don’t go to your manager with a problem if you haven’t got at least one solution. Even if it’s not the best solution, at least you’ve thought about it.

The music industry is always changing, things never go to plan and it can all end up being quite last minute. This is going to be one of your biggest strengths as you climb up the ranks so start perfecting it now!

When I was doing this with my mentor, it became increasingly rare that I’d have a solution that wasn’t the best solution and like all skills, that came down to continuously going through the problem-solving process and learning from mistakes. It’s an invaluable skill and any CEO will want a team of people who are capable of adapting and executing even when things aren’t going the way you planned them. This is a great way of continually developing this.

Get started now, every problem has a solution so there’s nothing stopping you doing this with friends, family, and normal life situations. You’ll also find that the more you do this, the fewer problems you’ll meet during your journey, as you’ll have solved them before they even arise!

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

3. Be Open-minded & Supportive

There is always a time in someone’s career where they’re asked to do something that isn’t in the job description or something that you wouldn’t consider enjoyable or a strength. It would be impossible to write a perfect job description and in the ever-changing music industry, this is even truer! If you can be someone who is willing to give anything a go, to the best of your ability, you’re sure to stand out. This isn’t something that can be taught, this is all about attitude and understanding the bigger picture.

Attitude is such a huge part of what makes or breaks employees in such a competitive industry. I actually read somewhere that one company purposefully delays their interviewees by over ten minutes just to see how they interact with the Receptionist under stress. I’m not sure I’d do this myself but I completely agree with the sentiment, you want good people who are good to everyone.

Does that person who’s staying late need an extra pair of hands? Would life be easier if you did that job that everyone hates before you start your next project? I’m not suggesting this is something you do daily but to be attentive to the bigger picture and supportive outside of your job role can really help with your own goals of moving forward.

By being supportive of your colleagues and the company you’re working for not only are you helping out and being a good person to work with but you’re also showing that you can manage your own workload and that you’re ready for additional responsibilities.

Top Takeaway

For me, depending on the intensity of the role and the qualifications needed, a lot of role-specific requirements can always be taught and learned on the job but it’s what you bring to the table as a person that’s going to make the difference between going somewhere or staying stagnant.

It’s not always about what you’re doing or how much you’re doing but about the way you’re doing it.

If you’ve found this article useful and you’re looking for professional tools as well as opportunities to network with industry professionals, why not check out Music Gateway? We empower creatives with a unique digital platform; try it with a free 14-day trial today.

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