How College Committees & Internships Open Doors For The Music Industry’s Future

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The Great Outdoors: Well Dunn provided intern Rachel Cramer with an opportunity to work at Outside Lands with creative designer Jacqueline Barsotti, who is the founder of Suite Treatments Inc. and a board member with Well Dunn. Photo courtesy of Well Dunn

Music remains one of the most sought after industries for young college-aged students. However, like many with big dreams and little experience, the biggest question for potential interns is how do they get their foot in the door?

College committees are one of the many options for students to find opportunities breaking into the business.  

“It was completely responsible for my start in the industry,” Nederlander VP of Marketing Jamie Loeb tells Pollstar about her time as a student at UC Santa Barbara.

“Someone came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go to a show for free. I said, ‘Sure, what do I have to do?’ They said, ‘Stand by this door and don’t let anyone in.’ And next thing I knew I was backstage security, but that was part of the associated students program board at UCSB. And from there I started marketing shows. I started working hospitality for shows, and then I moved my way to booking shows.” 

Internships are competitive, with Live Nation Concerts revealing they hired only 50 interns out of 15,000 applicants. (See page 43) With 0.3% of chosen for the paid internship (making the program more competitive than Harvard), the industry is becoming more competitive than ever. Aisha Collins, Senior HR Director for Live Nation’s Concerts and Touring division, makes sure to point out that even unpaid internships can create a barrier to entry.

“Live entertainment-specific programs are rarely offered in school, so we’re especially proud of this internship and the hands-on experience we provide,” Collins tells Pollstar. “Many in the industry come from a range of educational backgrounds that may not be music-related or include attending university, which speaks to how important real-world experience is when establishing your career. We’re always looking for driven, passionate individuals and we can’t wait to meet our fall class.” 

Loeb also points out that being a college student isn’t necessarily a requirement for the music industry. While a degree can always be beneficial, experience is what truly matters when it comes to breaking into the entertainment business. 

“I’m trying to expand beyond college because we were doing internships for college credit for quite a while, but that in itself is prohibitive. Not everybody can afford college. Not everybody can afford to pay credits for a class they need to sign up for that is a requirement in order for them to take the internship. It’s fiscally prohibitive to some people.” 

As companies aim to break down the barriers to entry, another organization works hard to open up doors for those hoping to find their footing in music. Non-
profit Well Dunn pairs students up with various festivals and companies to provide hands-on experience for college-aged students. 

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Dreams Come True: Well Dunn alum Geoffrey Vickers and intern Nicole Nwosu learn on the job at Bonnaroo. Photo by Nancy Tarr

“With college students, they are eager to learn,” tour production veteran David ‘5-1’ Norman, Well Dunn’s president, told Pollstar. “And when they come out, they just kind of need help. And there are enough of us old dogs that we know we’re eventually going to age out and we want to help the next generation move forward. For me, with college students, I just love learning from them and giving advice if they ask for it.” 

On college campuses, programs like the one at Nashville’s Belmont University allow students to get hands-on experience with putting on a live show. “They have a program that students are really involved with putting on shows and they do budgets and learn how to stage manage and everything,” Norman says. “Belmont also brings in touring people to talk to the students and help lead and guide them.”

In addition to benefiting those dreaming to get their foot in the door, internships help the companies that utilize them. Great interns can be kept on past graduation, making the next generation of great executives.