“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Catherine Charnov ’13 interned with Universal Records in New York City.
This summer, I interned in the A&R department of Universal Records in New York City. I had previous experience in music marketing, publicity and management but really wanted to understand how musical decisions are made and how artists are found. This internship was the perfect opportunity. Every day, I researched unfound and upcoming talent using online resources and sales charts to present, with a formal report, to my boss for review and the possibility of further research or analysis. I was also in charge of compiling airplay charts and lists of top artists world wide, monitoring sales spikes and online fan bases. I also got to help with miscellaneous tasks such as making CD labels and inserts, setting up instruments and stage equipment in their showcase lounge, and creating manifests for disc filing. We were also sometimes allowed to watch artists’ showcases and critique unreleased singles in listening sessions. Every Friday, representatives from different departments, such as digital marketing, the TV sync team, international dept., sales, etc., would come and speak to the interns for around an hour about what their department was and how things worked. This was extremely helpful in terms of solidifying my understanding of the company as a whole and how each piece of the larger whole fit together. Middlebury prepared me for this internship by teaching me to be timely, responsible, and eager to learn. Not much of what I did this summer could have been acquired in a classroom setting because everything was so hands-on and practical.
What did you learn?
An example of what made this internship meaningful to me was when I got to congratulate Florence + The Machine on her newest album going platinum. She came into the office and we got to present her with a gold plaque etc. It was great for me to realize not only the side of an artist’s manager, AIR representative, and sales team but also how much time and hard work the artist must put in to achieve such great successes. I was honored to be a part of Florence’s celebration. The thing I learned the most from this internship was how hard you have to work and how much you have to really want it to get anywhere in the music business. In A&R in particular— if you are behind the signing of one top-selling, amazing artist, you are golden and automatically promoted. However, if you do not get that lucky, it seems that only persistence and patience are the keys to success.
What are your plans for the future?
I think this internship will greatly impact my future career plans because before this summer, I was wondering if A&R would, after my experiences in other parts of the music business, be a better fit for my interests, and it turned out to be perfect. I would be very happy to get a job after graduation working at Universal Records of for the A&R department of another record label. I love working directly with the musicians and the music they create.
Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.