As the curtain closes on my 150th hour at Relapse Records; during the Spring of our 2,013th year, I cannot help but reflect on the experiences and lessons I will be taking along with me. Having stumbled upon this label just a few months after moving to Philadelphia in 2011, I was very pleased to learn that it not only did the music cater to my favorite genre; but that I was able to integrate it into my education at Temple. My eyes were opened to the inner workings of the music industry on a smaller, more independent scale, however it definitely gave me an idea of what to expect if I was ever to decide to continue further on in this field. As this is my last blog post, I’ve compiled a list of my top three lessons learned while interning at Relapse Records, as well as the positive aspects of the business that I found inspiring and I hope to integrate into my professional career in advertising.
First, I’d like to start this off by saying that I fear my next statement may come off as a bit cheeky, but I’m just going to go ahead and share anyways. But I would say the number one lesson I am taking away from working at Relapse Records is that working in the music industry is not all it’s cracked up to be. This is not by any means saying that I disliked the experience or I am too good for it; but I definitely entered into the experience as a fan kid who physically/emotionally cannot contain her inner squealing teenager when it comes to their favorite musicians. This is also not to say that there were famous artists and musicians coming in and out of the office at all hours, but as compensation for my work I was given several free concert tickets, the occasional All Access pass and a ton of free music. And considering that would be exactly what I would be spending my money on if I was actually getting paid, the situation worked out nicely!I learned that the majority of Relapse employees had started by either interning there or at another label before getting to where they are today, which was both comforting and motivating. Getting to know the guys that I worked for was a humbling experience because it showed me that we are all one in the same: vinyl collecting, punk rock fans, some just happen to be 5-15 years older than me.
The second most valuable lesson I learned at Relapse is a simple one that I am sure everyone already knows, but just incase you need a reminder: Communication is key. I mentioned in my first blog post that in the office, we communicate 95% of the time via email or AOL instant messenger. This took a little getting used to (and about 20 minutes to remember my AOL password) but in the end, since we are all online anyways, there is no real way to miscommunicate exactly what it is you want if it’s in black and white.
Last but not least, the most valuable lesson I learned from my time at Relapse is another simple one: be nice to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you have worked, who you know, in this business, if you don’t leave people with a positive feeling or impression, you will go absolutely nowhere. I think it takes years of fine tuning to appropriately integrate a “friendly” business mindset in the music industry, and often times they are hard to come by, but when they do, that person is often successful. My desk sits right next to my immediate supervisor, Bob, who is head of marketing and promotions. And when his line rings, he’ll start talking and I swear you’d think he was talking to one of his friends from grade school. After 5 minutes of story exchanges and name calling, he’ll say something to completely throw me off guard like “Anyways, I think you guys would benefit from releasing track 7 as a single and we can mail you a contract today…sound good? Alright, well I look forward to meeting you all in a few weeks.” It’s moments like that where one of my favorite quotes makes the most sense to me: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”. I try to live by this quote, and while I firmly believe it is just as equally important to have a backbone and stand up for yourself when needed, it’s great to realize how important it is in this business to be humble and nice to everyone from the interns to the big wigs.
This internship has made me very excited for my future and all of the possible adventures in store. The music industry has changed so much over the last ten years, and while it may have been scary and unsettling at first, it’s so great to see an entirely new world of ideas on how to keep good music alive and new innovative ways to produce great work.