Education & Events The Great Escape 2018

CMU Great Escape Special: Getting started in music

By | Published on Wednesday 16 May 2018

Book stack with headphones

The CMU Great Escape Special was a magazine distributed at The Great Escape 2018 featuring articles linked to the three conferences CMU Insights presented there and other CMU reporting and research. Here is one of the articles linked to The Education Conference.

A core focus of The Education Conference is what young people need to know in order to pursue a career in music – on or off the stage – and how that information can be best communicated. Among those discussing what music industry recruiters are looking for is Silvia Gargiulo of BIY People & Talent. To get the ball rolling, here she offers some of her top tips for those embarking on a music business career.

Create your own experience
I know you’ve heard this one before folks, but seriously, it’s your first step on the music industry career ladder! Chances are you wont get work experience or an internship with a company straight off, so create your own experience starting now. The music industry is full of entrepreneurs and proactivity is one of the key qualities music industry employers are looking for.

So create your own projects: write a blog about the music you love, curate your own playlists on Spotify, run a YouTube channel, put on an event with your mates. All of these things can be included on your CV when it’s time to apply for a paid role in the industry. Go on, if you haven’t already, get cracking!

Personal Brand
Think about how you present yourself. The music industry is packed with people who love music, that’s why we’re all here after all. One of the cool perks of working in music is the informal culture, but don’t mistake that for an unprofessional one.

Learn how to present yourself in a professional way. That doesn’t mean wearing a suit or starting an email “Dear Sir or Madam”, it means being polite, and friendly but not over familiar, being respectful and making sure you’re listening. No one will expect you to be the finished article when you start out, but they will expect you to be enthusiastic, polite, humble and willing and able to learn.

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room, so make sure it’s positive! Whether you realise it or not, you’ll leave an impression on everyone you meet, so make sure it’s a good one. And not just in job interviews, you never know when you might meet someone who could be a potential employer or colleague so always try to be polite and courteous. Besides, it’s a good life tip as much as anything else, be a decent human!

Update your admin and digital skills
A lot of entry level roles and internships in music are about supporting a team, you wont get to be President of a label or manage a superstar straight off. So make sure you’re organised, have great attention to detail, have a good telephone manner and put “being helpful” to the top of your list of things to do!

Digital skills will also help you massively, any basic Photoshop, HTML, WordPress, Facebook / Google Analytics etc will put you in a stronger position and can be included on your CV. Excel is another must, you wouldn’t believe how many spreadsheets you’ll be responsible for when you get your first job! Go on, get yourself an update.

Build Your Network
The music industry is a relationship business so build a network around you of like-minded individuals.

At a very basic level that’s friends who have the same passion for music as you do, as well as people who can help you learn. Go to networking events and panel discussions like The Great Escape, BBC Amplify, Women In Music, The Big Music Project, Urban Development, ERIC Festival, to name a few (and there are loads more out there!) Don’t think of it as a scary networking experience, it’s just socialising but with a focus on your career.

You don’t have to give a big old sales pitch on yourself, just ask some questions and see what you can learn. Engage with people you meet and always be polite and friendly, but don’t over step the line and take up too much of their time.

LinkedIn is another way to build your network AND do your research, plus you don’t need to know someone well to connect with them. It’s a really good tool to research companies, people, and get an understanding of potential career paths and opportunities. Go forth and network!

You will find more career tips from Silvia at