It’s not often talked about among creative artists and producers, but there is an important business element to the music industry without which these artists, producers and engineers would have no platform to reach their audience. Many people who dream of a music industry career are at least aware of the business side, but they know little about it, let alone the career potential within it.
Well, that’s all about to change. RRFC is pleased to announce our new Music Business Program, complete with an all-new curriculum written by one of the music industry’s top players, Ashley Calhoun!
As manager for Grammy-winning producer Rahki—himself one of Recording Connection’s most coveted mentors—Ashley recently agreed to write a curriculum specifically geared to the current needs of up-and-coming music business professionals. In the interview below, Ashley talks about how the curriculum came about, what it covers, and the types of career options for which it can prepare you!
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RRFC: So tell us a little bit about the curriculum that you wrote and what it covers.
The music business curriculum gives a really good overview of different careers within the music business and their roles, be it different departments, be it record labels, marketing department, publishers’ marketing department, sync departments, the difference between a music publisher and a record label, artist management and what that entails, and how that differs from producer management and songwriter management, and PR promotion…an overview of the music business from the business side of the desk.
RRFC: How did this project come about?
I manage Rahki, who’s a multi-Grammy award winner. Rahki is one of the mentors for the Recording Connection, so each month we generally bring on an apprentice for him, and we work really closely with Brian Kraft, the Chief Operations Officer, and the school. And Brian and I just got to know each other, we had a couple of really great meetings, and he just picked my brain on the music business and what I do on a day-to-day, and expressed that he wanted to build out this program, and I asked if I’d be interested in contributing.
RRFC: It seems like people coming into the music business often don’t even know where to start and what the career possibilities are for them. Would you agree?
: Exactly. And that’s why I wanted to build out a curriculum that really touched on all the different facets of the business side because I know myself getting into it, I moved out to LA and went to a similar school that wasn’t quite as structured as this, and I had no idea that there were all these different professions to the business, I just thought you’re an artist or a producer and that’s kind of it. So I wanted to really make something that could open students’ eyes to professions that they probably didn’t know existed, but that really interest them, and I think this program accomplished that.
RRFC: What are some examples of two or three different career possibilities that the music business curriculum might cover?
: I would say the most popular career that people on the business side are interested in is A&R, particularly the A&R on the record label side, which entails finding artists, developing artists, working on the record, putting the artist in with different producers, songwriters, what have you, and really being a liaison between the artist and the artist management with the rest of the record label…A lot of people don’t know that there’s also music publishing, and you can be an A&R on the publishing side as well, which deals with developing songwriters and producers as opposed to just artists…The other most popular kind of career choice, or thing that people in the business side are most interested in, is management, whether it’s artist management, producer management, both, songwriter management. The curriculum touches on that as well…
I would say the most overlooked positions are anything on the publishing side because you can work in the Sync Department which is film and TV placement, or Internet placement. On the record label side, you can also do that on the publishing side for songwriters and artists and what have you. I think Sync in general for people that might not be familiar with the business is often overlooked but it’s something that people really get interested in. Because it is rewarding to see your songs, put a picture, and go to the movies, and see songs you’ve helped sync, and artists love that, and writers love that.
RRFC: How important is it to be proactive in this industry?
: It’s extremely important. It’s harder and harder to place songs with so many different outlets for music, it’s harder and harder to be noticed if you’re just throwing things out there haphazardly. So it’s extremely important to be a proactive. I think everyone on someone’s team should be proactive, from the publisher to the record label, manager, etcetera or it’s not going to work. It’s extremely important. There’s really no other way to elevate if someone on the teams is lagging and really just hands off.
RRFC: If someone feels they are more wired for the business side of music and helping to make things happen, what would you advise them to do? What direction should they be looking in regarding a career?
: They should look where they’re most passionate. I know a lot of people personally that have left massive corporations where they had six figure jobs to be an unpaid intern in the music business and figure it out, and some of them have gone on to be managers, some have gone on to be publishers, record label A&Rs. It’s really just what you’re passionate about at that point, because you kind of need that in any career or in any path in the music business especially with how fast things change.
Learn more about the Music Business Program here
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