“How Do I Break Into A Competitive Industry?”

After years of listening to people tell her it couldn't be done, Sophie has decided to take the plunge and try to land work in a tough field: the music industry. But (as people have been telling her all her life) it's competitive, often badly paid, and usually requires some big-shot contacts. She's sure it can be done... but how?

What's your career history and current job?

I studied psychology at university, and, since graduating six years ago, have been working in marketing and fundraising for NGOs and charities.

How do you feel about your work?

I went into the charity sector for two reasons: because I thought it would be a fulfilling, rewarding occupation, and because everybody told me that my passion (music) would lead me to a lifetime of banging on closed doors and a bright red bank balance.

I do like my work, but working for charities is exhausting and frustrating at times. We're constantly financially stretched, and you never really get to see the results of your work. It's not as rewarding as you'd imagine it to be.

On top of that, I feel guilty for giving up on my dream of working in the music industry, which is going to be an uncomfortable feeling however much you like your job.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I want to work in A&R for a record company.

I love finding new music, meeting a variety of people and keeping an ear out for new trends and possibilities. All my spare time is spent at gigs and in record stores, and I'd love to work somewhere where people respect my judgement on a topic I care about. Plus I can actually see the results of my work when my new talents rocket to the top of the charts!

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

For every person who gets paid to work in the music industry, there are 50 who will do the dirty work for free, and for years.

I don't mind starting at the bottom, but I do have a mortgage and student debts to pay, and I couldn't afford to do it for long. I feel like I've wasted valuable time and it's going to be tough for me to make the change financially.

It's also really useful to be connected in the industry, which I'm not. I think it would be much easier to find work if I had someone I could talk to about getting started, but music professionals must get thousands of cold calls and emails a day from people who want a piece of their time.

Why would they pay any attention to me?

Can you help Sophie?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • What could Sophie do to get her foot in the door of the music industry?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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