Music Biz Day 1 Recap

Nashville is Music City. It is so exciting to see such a biz conference catering to every genre and division of the music industry, from hip hop to country, from A&R to educators.  The Music Biz conference has decided to call Nashville home for many years and has already signed on to continue to have the conference here in the city that is the heart of music for 2 more years at the J.W. Marriot.

As both a student and a Nash In Tune representative, this is the 3rdyear I have had the privilege to attend this amazing and diverse conference.  The topics are so varied and the speakers so knowledgeable. As a recent graduate, like this past Saturday recent, for Day 1 I decided to attend career search focused panels.


The first panel of my day was the “Why In-Person Relationships Are More Important Than Your Follower Count” panel featuring speakers Erin Anderson of Olivia Management, Matthew Miller of Rounder Records, and Sarah Spencer who is a singer-songwriter and blogger.  This panel was moderated by Katherine Forbes of Designing the Row and founder of Music Biz Besties.  The overall theme of the panel was all about how to gain these personal and professional relationships and how to actually utilize them.  Matthew Miller stressed the importance of networking than being able to keep in touch to keep the relationship.  He also emphasized asking for that favor when you need it, but do not go into the relationship with a what can they offer me mentality.  The key is what can you offer them.


Erin Anderson is an artist manager, so many of her relationships are directly with the artist.  Her advice that the relationship with an artist is like a marriage, you have to like them personally as you will be spending so much time with like traveling.  Beyond just developing the relationship, Anderson advises meeting with a therapist both for your mental health but also learning healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships.


Singer-songwriter Sarah Spencer has a differently molded view on the relationship as the ones she develops are on a different level.  She says you have to be able to reach out to others and become friends first. She gave the example of asking Katherine Forbes to meet and they became friends, fostering a relationship where Spencer was able to reach out to Forbes to get her song premiered on a website she had aspired to work with.


Katherine Forbes has utilized Music Biz Besties to help learn what many people may be struggling within the industry.  A major answer in the group is NETWORKING.  This is what the relationships in this industry is built on.  The music industry is small and knowing others and building valuable relationships is essential.


The big takeaways:

  1. Don’t be shy
  2. Ask questions
  3. Speak up
  4. Share your ideas


The second panel I chose was “Innovative Careers in the Music Industry.”  For this panel, the moderator, Rashida Cruz decided to give a chance to speak to a couple of her students who were selected to participate in an impressive music therapy startup.

The other speaker on the panel was the energetic Deja Perez, radio host and creator of “What’s Poppin’.”


Cruz gave insight into the museum curation that she was a part for the Grammy museum’s Taylor Swift exhibit.  From the communication between her team and the artist’s team to the special care and handling of artifacts and archives, she gives a compelling look into the fairly unknown career.


Perez was able to give perspective on the evolution of terrestrial radio with the rise of Sirius XM and streaming.  She was inspiring to watch speak but also very to the point of setting yourself apart as a woman in the industry.  She also pushes the point of owning and protecting your own brand.  In this industry, your brand is what people see and hear about you, whether it’s social media or any other endeavor you take part in.  Woman to woman, she gives the best advice of, “know your worth and be able to back it up with your skills.”


The next panel was one I was so excited for, “How to Job Search in the Entertainment Industry.” Much of this panel was how to make yourself stand out to employers.  The first point was that the job search does not only occur on LinkedIn or Indeed. Many companies in the industry first or only post job listings on their company’s website.  Listed below are some of the key points I found helpful in bettering my job searching abilities.


  • Make the ask (this goes back to networking and relationships)
  • Networking (the industry is oversaturated, need the in/relationship)
  • Career Anxiety (fear of picking the wrong job so you just get a random job or jump jobs)
  • Find a career coach
  • Do not be afraid to take the other job (use it as a stepping stone and a way to build relationships and build skills)
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to that job posting
  • Do not put a picture on your resume (unless you are trying to be an actor)
  • Be conscious of colors, use to pop but remember readability
  • Practice your interviewing skills
  • Become comfortable with the uncomfortable interview questions
  • Always ask the interviewer at least 1 question

The final panel of the day was Hayley Williams of Paramore and Good Dye Young interviewing Zane Lowe of Apple and Beats 1.  Much of this panel focused on how streaming has changed how artists interact with their listeners.  With streaming, the need for gatekeepers in radio and record labels has disappeared. Record labels now have to listen to fans more and listen to artists more on what the music means to them.   The connection of fan to artist and fan of music has to be solid.  Streaming has allowed even casual listeners to have all the music they could want from around the world to literally be at their fingertips.

Although some may say albums are obsolete and that singles are what is consumed, the need for that satisfaction and reward for an artist to make a cohesive album that puts their feelings, situations, etc. in front of listeners/fan is still necessary.  Lowe says, “As long as an artist want to make albums, albums will exist.”  The decision lies with the artist and creator, not the executives.

Streaming has allowed for the ease of discovery for new music allowing artists like Billie Eilish, Halsey, and many more to quickly rise to fame.  Many people discover new music because it’s next to a song they know and love on a playlist.  Lowe is instrumental in this discovery with his work at Apple, Beats 1.


Hayley Williams ends the interview in only a fashion she could get away with, “You’re so fucking cool.”

Many events are happening every evening during the Music Biz conference.  Tonight I chose to keep it as an earlier night by only attending the WEA mixer to network, but just wait for what is to come every other night.


Come back tomorrow for the Day 2 recap!  🙂

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