Applying for your first job in the music industry – 7 tips

This is a guest post by my friend Dave Haynes, UK Manager of Soundcloud. They’re on the lookout for great people to work with them, and it’s inspired him to write this really useful and quite inspiring post. If this whole lecturing, research and consulting thing doesn’t pan out for me, I might just apply.

We’re currently looking for interns at SoundCloud (for both our Berlin and London offices). Being an exciting new startup at the sweet spot between the music and web industry we’ve had plenty of interest. As an employer, sifting through a lot of applications and CV’s can be quite an arduous process. What really struck me was the wild variance in the standard of applications. Some stick out instantly whilst others don’t even make it past a 30 second skim read.

So I wanted to share some thoughts on what companies like SoundCloud are ‘really’ looking for nowadays and hopefully provide some useful tips on how you can improve your chances if you’re one of the thousands of people looking to make their first steps into the digital music industry.



I have a new page here on New Music Strategies, which outlines some of the ways I can help musicians, and independent music businesses. Naturally, I’ve called it my Help page.

I was trying to think of a suitable picture to put at the top of that page, and I had a song stuck in my head. So I went to YouTube, found the video clip and embedded that straight in there.

But then I started to worry. Here I was using a song that was still under copyright on a page that is, for all intents and purposes, entirely commercial. In a way, I’m using the song a bit like a jingle. That can’t be right, can it?


Best conference ever. Really. (Part 2)

Olaf & Tak at Lappi Restaurant. Cool people.

Of course, one of the conflicting things about conferences like Is This It is the fact that while cognitively you may be at odds with a lot of the information and opinions being spread around by some of the more conservative and old-school thinkers that seem to dominate the proceedings during the day – you do get to meet some amazing and very cool people.

One of the reasons that Is This It was so great for me was exactly that intersection between people, around half of whom were not too familiar with Helsinki – and so the whole thing had an air of discovery and adventure about it as well.

Forced to sit in groups of 10 and discuss things at length, you make some great connections with people you may not have considered approaching and talking to. And yet, precisely as a result of being a bit chatty and conspicuous, I’ve been asked to guest lecture at one or two Finnish universities, including the Sibelius Academy – and present at a couple of conferences. Just as a result of just a few conversations at Is This It.

Given that travelling and giving talks is my equivalent of going on tour and doing concerts, this is a brilliant result. And if there’s any lesson to be learned here – it’s about serendipity.


The Roy Ploy

If you’ve never seen it, that’s Roy and Moss from The IT Crowd with what should actually be your first step in any computing problem: the unexpected reboot, AKA ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’. The Roy Ploy.

I’ve been struggling with a computer issue all week. I use an Airport Express to stream music wirelessly to my home stereo from my computer. iTunes does it natively, but since I started using Spotify, I’ve also got myself a copy of Airfoil which can send the audio from any application to the Airport Express.

Except when it doesn’t.

I scoured the internet looking for possible solutions. I upgraded the firmware on the Airport Express. I hypothesised a networking conflict between iTunes and Airfoil. I returned to factory settings – and I even tried assigning a static IP address.



Here’s a repost of something I put up on my private posterous account and also twittered about. I had such a fantastic reaction to it (both online and off) that I thought it was worth posting up here ‘for real’ on New Music Strategies.

As well as my seminars, teaching and writing, I do a fair bit of consultancy for independent musicians and music businesses. That involves general music marketing advice, social media strategy, website advice, brainstorming, online PR and so on.

I have a day rate, a half day rate and an hourly rate. Travel and accommodation’s on top of that. But the number of independent musicians, bands, record labels, music retailers, promoters, distributors and producers that can afford proper ‘consultancy’ is small to start with – and dwindling in the current economic climate.


In defense of Twitter

Steve Lawson from Andrew Dubber on Vimeo.

You’re probably aware that I use Twitter. In fact, I’m a bit of an evangelist for it. I think it’s up there with Email and RSS as one of the few absolutely killer online appliances – and pretty much a must for musicians and independent music businesses these days.

And yet, it’s been getting some bad press. There are people who say it’s all narcissists and psychopaths. Others who claim it’s just a hiding ground for celebrity junkies.

Steve Lawson, one of my top must-read music business thinkers, wrote a blog post today that explains Twitter in the face of some terrible journalism. I caught up with him for lunch in London and we had a chat about it.

Quite predictably, I made a video. That’s it up there.