So, you wanna intern in the music industry? Thinking about moving to the big city and making connections or are you looking for experience and guidance to figure out what direction you want to take? Maybe both?

Well, that’s the kind of information that many of us young professionals are looking to absorb and utilize right away. It can be difficult to balance these two desires and apply them in the age we live in. Whether you are an up and coming sensation, an aspiring entrepreneur or just an all around dreamer, we are all looking for a “niche” to help us succeed. Make no mistake, some are born to do well and achieve great things while young, but other people are simply built to learn and grow over time. Regardless of which category you fall under, we can all reach our goals just the same. I’d like to offer some insight into the experiences I’ve had so far. With any luck, maybe you can pick up a tip or two while preparing for your big transition to the city of angels and beyond!

First off, let me just say that what you are expecting and what you will experience are two completely contrasting ideas. However, they can be complementary if put together appropriately. One of the first things I learned upon moving to the gargantuan metropolis that is Los Angeles is that opportunities are ripe and plentiful. It will only take but a day before you’re being invited to events, parties, and shows. (Especially true if you already know a lot of people upon arrival). The best thing to do if you’re nervous or unsure is to just put yourself out there. You can’t expect to grow into a comfort zone if you avoid invitations, so take them whenever they are available. People here tend to blow you off entirely if you’re not game for a hangout. Even if you say no one time, they will simply move on to another acquaintance.

I’m interning with redCola, a publishing library and RipTide Music, a publishing company. redCola is very small, run by two composers who license their music to film trailers, T.V. and video games. Being it’s a small company and I’m the only intern, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute creatively. Currently, I’m messing around with sounds in Logic in addition to the typical web updating and administrative tasks. Working with entrepreneurs allows me to develop personal relationships, which I probably wouldn’t be able to do as easily in a larger company. It has given me the opportunity to learn software that I’ve wanted to learn but have had no outlet to do so previously. I’m the kind of person who needs a little boost to get going, and if you are similar, looking for an internship with a smaller company may be right for you. Again, it all depends on your preferences and objectives. You may find that interning at a record or management company with a lot of people will better suit your style of learning.

Remember you have chosen to intern for a reason. You are not going to be writing hit songs, performing at the Hollywood Bowl or landing big licensing contracts at your internships. Don’t expect to move out here and achieve immediate success. Your focus is to gain first hand experience in how the music industry works and how the people who run it operate. This is the perfect time to write things down, ask questions and start emulating business tactics. As you already know, things change drastically day to day in this profession. Same goes for your tasks at work. One day you will have nothing to do, while the next day every supervisor in the office will need you for something. When you have nothing to work on you can plug away on your own personal projects (with your company’s permission). If the situation allows for it, bring a guitar or laptop and keep yourself busy. You are in a great place to foster creativity. You will be surprised at how casual yet professional people are out here. They’ve found a balance. It will most likely take you some time to achieve this yourself, so don’t get down on yourself!

(To be continued in Part 2…)


Paul Hartley Margolin is a singer / songwriter and musician interning at redCola and Riptide Music via the Berklee LA Internship Program in his last semester at Berklee. You can contact Paul at pmargolin at berklee dot net or at 303.929.5283.