Despite the music industry’s constant state of flux, it remains a hugely attractive place for young people to seek employment. A panel at the Primavera Pro conference in Barcelona explored the possibilities for people aged under 30, as well as the difficulties that they face.
The moderator was Toni Romero of Santa Cecilia Music, while the panelists included Nieves Marti (Sofar Sounds Mercia); Enol González (Sonorama Ribera); Almudena Palacios (Proyecto Prisma); and Miguel Zafra (NSUE Studio). All the panelists have been working in various music-industry roles over the last four to seven years.
Romero: “It’s a tough industry for those under 30. How can you make a living or is it only possible for a few people like yourselves to succeed?”
Palacios: “You can make a living, there are different professions and roles. You have to be able to show your skills and talents. There is a place for everyone. It is a warehouse for many things.”
González: “You can – but there are rules. The music industry is like an unorganised warehouse. It’s slowly being organised and it’s good to organise it. There are many ways to enter the music industry; in music you have to create your own position. A company doesn’t have a specific profile for you, you have to make your own.”
“There’s a gag in Netflix, it’s about that. She works for a record label, doesn’t know what she does but the character goes to concerts for free.”
“These days you have to know about image, power point, photoshop, how to do interviews, have presentation skills, know a bit about sound.”
“Are you a designer, sound tech, sales rep? – people don’t know what you do?”
Zafra: “7 years ago our industry wasn’t there. Videos weren’t there. You have to create your own position. Our generation wants everything instantly – uploading videos, liking on social media is instant – getting into the industry isn’t like that. It requires hard work hard, not an office job from 9-6, but you can get there, little by little.”
Palacios: “Even as a manager, you need to work across multiple things, press releases…”
Marti: “I studied as a lawyer, should have been working for publishing company, or in copywrite. I realised I’m good at other things, learned other skills.”
Romero: “How is it to be an entrepreneur under 30 in the music biz?”
Zafra: “Not everything you do will be successful, you need motivation, you struggle often and face many challenges. It is very gratifying when you create your own biz.”
Romero: “What do you think about internships?”
Palacios: “We shouldn’t replace workers with interns. It’s precarious being intern. Internships need to be reviewed.”
González: “Internships are a way to get involved in an industry, to show yourself to the world and to show your value.
“Some companies don’t value you – and can abuse you; interns are sometimes treated like slaves during internships.”
“My internship was good. If you’re passionate about something, you own the project you feel good when things go write and bad when they go wrong.”
Marti: “I interned at a festival. It was very important to me for my work now at Primavera Sound. Now on to Sofar Sounds. I really enjoyed it; I loved my internship. I know many people don’t enjoy their internships.”
Palacios: “With no experience, internships are useful when you don’t have options. If you have options, it’s better to have a salary.”
González: “I come from a small city, tried to find my way in the mud. Spent time knocking on the doors of big corporations. Realise some people who are successful are not always from that area. Perhaps you should consider moving somewhere else?”
“Big cities are sector specific. If you study in Madrid you feel like you have to work in Madrid. You should consider moving to a different city to get an internship.”
“In Mercia, it’s tricky to work in the music industry. With only 400k inhabitants, it’s very small, not so many opportunities to work in production or music. A lot of bands but no fabric.”
Zafra: “With Madrid and Barcelona – it’s about looking for opportunities. No boundaries, no frontiers. In Spain we tend to stay where our family lives. In the States it is different; families move with the jobs.
“There are many ops in Barcelona and Madrid, but you shouldn’t stay where you are if there are no opportunities. It’s a good thing to move if you don’t have opportunities where you are.”
Palacios: “There’s a lot of demand for jobs, more opportunities but competition is tougher. You have to work harder, you have to attract attention to yourself. People are attracted to the capital.”
“Don’t forget people have to retire sometime! People don’t work forever in Record Labels.
The labels are ruled by older people – hopefully those people will retire one day.”
González: “There’s a shift of generations in the music industry which don’t change their steps.
There’s Retirement age and then there’s the 30-35 year olds who have children, and don’t want to tour with bands anymore, or spend 10 hours working at the office every day.”
“Those who want to spend time with kids, can move to work in lower paid jobs. These people want to keep working without retiring.”
Palacios: “There’s a generational gap. People are consuming at a young age.”
González: “Companies count on young people, they help companies renew themselves. They need to take into account newer generations no longer listen to U2. At some point U2 will no longer be as important.”
Palacios: “Young people should be hired to represent their generations. When I think of the music industry/labels I’m always reminded Meme: Mr Barnes dressed as a younger boy.”
Romero: “Which is the right way to work for the industry? How can you approach getting into the industry?”
Zafra: “Know how to promote yourself. Develop your own brand, sell yourself and develop relationships with the people you need. Networking is important, the first 30 seconds of meeting someone are important. Perhaps you will struggle with this the first four or five times, but you will succeed on the sixth.”
González: “Agencies want to attend events, they are a great to do personal networking. Develop friendships. You need to be good at selling yourself and show them you are a good worker.”
Palacios: “Roles are not well defined. There are dinosaurs in the music industry. The music industry is very powerful, with a lot of money.”
“Multitasking – this comes from a need. Be reborn from the ashes. This comes from the need. Our employers expect that we know about Communication, Social Media, Marketing.
Sometimes when you do your internship they abuse you, but you learn.”
González: “People used to just do one thing/profession such as legal. Classical music industry wasn’t able to adapt to the new times. Universal and Warner are working out how to survive. I think it’s good to learn, we need to find the balance between knowing about everything and not knowing. I think the music business will be less unorganised in the future.”
Zafra: “Now new positions are created, people need to multitask. The dinosaurs who are ruling were not able to adapt – bad strategy – part of the digital evolution. Everything has changed. New structure which will change again in future. Perhaps these roles will solidify in the future?”
Palacios: “Don’t party in front of bosses. Relationships between colleagues and bosses are blurred concerts, parties.”
Zafra: “It’s a blurry line between work and art. Can’t be totally drunk in front of boss.
González: “You can drink a beer and do other things – and people don’t care. Drink and substance consumption in the industry during working hours. They mistake work for leisure. Doesn’t matter if you’re 26 or 36 – don’t mistake work for party.”
Marti: “I coordinate teams of 20-40 people. If you think of the festival. We have to be professionals.”