Before you sit down to write a great cover letter to get you that record label internship, you will need to do some research. Starting with the music industry, arm yourself with some statistics.
For example, you could look up the total music-related revenues annually by country and region, the total spent on streaming music, physical copies (CDs, vinyl), concert revenues, music syndication (licensing for TV, radio, advertising, films), musical instruments, education and training, and so forth. You could also look at historical trends.
You might have studied these areas in your college courses but since the industry is changing rapidly you should make sure you are armed with the most current numbers and statistics. Hiring Managers like to engage with smart, well-informed young potential hires.
Do what it takes to be that engaging, smart, well-informed candidate. There are many resources for these statistics online but you will notice discrepancies so be sure to keep track of where you get your numbers from, in case you are asked.
A very good resource for the recording and touring industry are the directories and publications from Pollstar, which lists all record companies and their rosters, Talent Buyers, A&R Representatives, and management companies for Touring and Recording Artists. You will find very detailed information here (including contact info for decision makers) and in other industry publications.
If you don’t want to buy the Pollstar guides (they tend to be expensive) you can ask your school career resources center or library to buy them for you. The main point is you should know as much as possible about the music industry, as befits your goals, interests, background, and the internship you are applying for.
You should certainly research the companies you intend to apply to. Following is a list of the specific details you might want to know about any organization you are considering for an internship. You should be prepared to talk about any of the following things in an interview, although not every one will apply to every opportunity or organization.
Consider arming yourself with the following information about a label or any organization you would apply to:
- Main product(s) and/or service(s) offered
- Original company founders
- Date company was founded/formed
- Company’s legal form, i.e., corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, non-profit, public or private company, etc.
- If it’s a public company that trades on the stock market, information about current stock price, and the future outlook for the company
- Key leadership/management team. If there are board members, know how many and who some of them are
- Number of employees
- Company culture
- Annual profit/loss (approximate for the past 1-5 years)
- Top and bottom salaries i.e., what does the CEO make versus an average entry-level employee
- Company’s philosophy and vision
- Company’s mission statement
- What comes to mind when you think of the company’s brand
- Main challenges the company is facing
- Why did you select this company for an internship
Armed with your research on the company (or companies) you are interested in for your internship, you will be much better prepared to apply and interview for the position. Keep in mind an internship is no different than a job, besides the opportunity to earn course credit. You will be competing with others who may be equally or better qualified so you will want to put your best foot forward at every step of the process.
(In a future article I will address the different types of music industry internships available, what they offer, what to expect, and what to watch out for or avoid. For this article I will focus mainly on writing your cover letter.)