Common Questions: Performance Majors and Internships

The Office of Experiential Learning answers some FAQs from students who visit their office

Q: I’m a performance major. Why would I want to do an internship?

At a school which fosters musical creativity like Berklee, students occasionally lose interest when we explain that most of our internships take place in a business setting- particularly if the student’s major or personal career goals are centered around performing. You can almost see them thinking, “Right. I want to stand up on a stage, not sit behind a desk. I think I’ll pass…”

It’s an understandable reaction when a student is (and should be) so engrossed in their music. That’s the most important thing, right? Of course. But ask any (successful) musician and they’ll tell you that being a professional, earning performer requires a surprising amount of business finesse.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? As a performer you’re running a small business, selling your music and yourself as products. You’ll handle contracts, build professional relationships, and perhaps produce, market and sell your own work. To see what I mean, check out this interview by one of our former interns, Gary Lazzara, when he interviews Berklee grad and Black Eyed Peas collaborator Keith Harris. Even if you outsource these necessary tasks, you leave yourself in the trust and mercy of promoters, marketers and agents.

With the way the industry is shifting these days, the tendency leans more and more towards a do-it-yourself model. So you better know at least a little bit about those aspects of your future career that aren’t exactly musical in nature. And what better place to learn the tricks and traps of the trade than from the inside? Why not work at a marketing company, a venue or a booking agent to learn skills for yourself and become a wise consumer of those services?

Ted Kurland Associates is a top Boston agency which books for the likes of  Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. See what their Director of Marketing, David Greenberg has to say about getting the inside info (1:23) during a recent interview:



So there you have it. As a Berklee student, you’re well on your way to gaining the musical expertise needed to be a top performer, but it’s important to remember that as a professional musician, you’ll be the sole proprietor of your own little business. And business takes a whole set of different skills and experiences. Luckily, The Office of Experiential Learning has you covered.

Don’t forget to attend our Internship Information Night on February 23 from 5-7 pm in The Loft (3rd floor of the Uchida building, 921 Boylston). You’ll have the opportunity to hear all about our programs, ask some questions and get some delicious free food from Boloco.

We’ve just started signing up students to begin the search for summer internships. Feel free to stop in and see your internship coordinator (walk-in hours below) to get in on the action!


 

Joe Burke is the Office Manager for the Office of Experiential Learning

 

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