Getting started in the music industry is a daunting task, but luckily there are amazing people out there willing to help! Paige Backstage is a freelancer who has written articles for Billboard and AUX and worked at Universal Music Canada to help market Halsey’s EP and first album. With loads of knowledge and a blog and YouTube channel dedicated to supporting new music and upcoming industry professionals, Paige is eager to share her experiences and knowledge with others in hopes to make their journey easier. We reached out to all of YOU and asked what questions you had about getting your foot in the door in the music industry and Paige sat down and answered them all for us; check it out below!
Do you believe that going to shows can help to make valuable connections? If so, how? My dream is to become a talent manager.
Absolutely!! As frustrating as it can be, a lot of opportunities in the music industry come from the connections you’ve built with other people. Especially if you want to be a manager, it’s important to get in front of the bands and show that you care enough to be at their gigs supporting them, even before you work with them! Talk to the bands after the show and learn more about them, connect with other fans, just get to know people! It makes it a lot easier to network when you get used to sparking up conversations with people in a more natural way. Plus, if you want to work with one of the bands performing, it can be so helpful to get to know them, the bands around them, and the audience they bring in.
What’s the best way to put yourself out there as a freelance writer/editor? What’s the best way to get started and get jobs?
I got my start in freelance writing through Twitter, oddly enough! I write for my own blog and wrote this looooong deep dive into Halsey’s new album. One of my followers from Billboard read it and asked if I could write something similar for them. And then boom! It was something I never really attempted because I assumed I wouldn’t be qualified for it, but now I’m writing all the time. So while I can’t help on the more technical/educational side of things, I can’t speak highly enough to the effects of social media on music career options. You can get to know so many people you’d otherwise have no connection to, and it’s free! Sharing things you’re already writing for yourself or other outlets can help other publications to see that you’re out there and writing great content.
Also, I know we all abandoned Facebook years ago, but… did you know Facebook groups are like the BEST way to network?? I’m part of some for music journalism, women in music, blogging, entrepreneurship… there are groups for everything. Sometimes you can find opportunities in these groups, and you can always find like-minded people who are looking to bounce ideas around and see what they can create together. I fully recommend finding a few (like the GBTRS group!) and joining in! Even if you don’t participate at first, it’s good for getting to know who else is around you and what the community is like.
Hi! I’m currently in university studying audiovisual communication and I’m interested in the music field and record labels. Would I be able to get in the industry with that degree? Maybe I could start an internship somewhere, but what do they want from me? Thanks 🙂
I’m in Canada so I can’t speak for everywhere, but our record labels have one rule for internships: it MUST be part of your school program. We don’t allow unpaid internships here, so they have to be part of a required school curriculum. I think your degree would definitely fit in with a lot of places within the industry, so there’s no worry there! If your school doesn’t allow internships, it’s not the end of the world. Some places offer internships for a lower salary or volunteer positions (but that’s kind of what we’re trying to avoid here because unpaid labour sucks). You can also apply for entry level jobs! It might be worth looking into experiences or places you could shadow while you’re still in school so that you’ve got a leg up once graduation rolls around!
Where would you recommend starting if there aren’t a lot of opportunities where you live?
The internet is always a good place to start, depending on what you want to do. The web knows no borders and there are lots of remote job opportunities or ways to create your own projects in a space that everyone can access. However, maybe there’s an opportunity for you to create something cool in your community to fill that void! There are probably other people near you, whether they’re interested in creating music or working in it, that would love to work together to make something. Local band showcases, a music publication focused around your city, a network to find other bands to play with… there’s lots of things you can do to build up your own music community. And if you build together, it brings everyone up!
What would you recommend if you know you want to work in the music industry but you’re not exactly sure what you want to do?
This was me 6 years ago. It’s so hard because there’s not as much information online as there should be about what different music careers entail. I’ve been working to fill that gap as much as I can through my own blog, but I’ve found a couple other people who can offer great insight as well. Jamie New Johnson from Smartist University makes tons of videos about different parts of the industry, and even offers online courses (which I’ve taken and LOVE). I like going through Coursera once in a while to see if they have any cool music courses. The GBTRS blog is awesome for getting a glimpse into the lives of different women in music right now! And if it all becomes overwhelming, don’t be afraid to just ask other people. If you see someone on Twitter who’s doing something you find interesting, send them a message and ask about it!
Do you believe in this field it’s not what you know but rather who you know?
Ohhhhh boy, yes. I hate to say it, but it does have a ton to do with the connections you’ve made as opposed to your abilities. However, you can know as many people as you want and still not be successful if you don’t have the skills to back it up. Knowing people just makes the process a lot easier. For instance, if you apply for a job with 500 applicants, knowing someone at the company can help get your resume seen in a pile of identical resumes. Once you’ve started to establish yourself, it’s not uncommon for people to reach out to you with opportunities instead of you always applying, because they already know and trust you. And with the invention of social media, it’s so much easier to “know” people. Start making connections with people you look up to on Twitter and you never know what kinds of cool projects and partnerships you could open yourselves up to! (just make sure there’s always a give/take, no one likes being used)
Did your gender ever affect your experience/job opportunities in the music industry? Have you found it to be sexist since it is so male dominated?
Unfortunately, yes. And I find it happens in the absolute weirdest ways. For instance, I worked somewhere where none of the younger women on the staff were allowed to talk to bands because it was perceived that we were either huge fans that would freak out and cry… or we were going to try to sleep with them. I literally could have been fired for networking (???). But the men could text artists and go for drinks like old pals! Plus you get the usual culprits, like sexual harassment in the workplace, lower pay, etc.
I know that makes the industry sound like an absolute nightmare (and sometimes it is)… but I can’t explain how great it feels when you start to break down those barriers and become successful despite everything working against you. Finding other women who’ve been in the industry longer can help you navigate all of it, and there are some incredible women out there to have as mentors. It also helps to be able to share your experiences and hear that you aren’t imagining it, and it’s just something that everyone goes through… for now. I’m hoping our generation is the one to break the curse.
You can keep in touch with Paige via her socials!