This presentation, similar to #2, was given in September, 2017 to multiple Music Business classes. It features many direct quotes about what Berklee is doing well to prepare folks for careers outside of music, as well as advice which these folks have for current students. The presentation also summarizes data about careers and career paths, as well as noting differences between MB alumni (including double-majors) and non-MB alumni.
Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 30 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2014 with a major in Music Production & Engineering. Principal instrument: guitar.
Position: Broadcast Engineer at BAMTech Media, originally a subsidiary of Major League Baseball, BAMTech provides internet-based broadcast/streaming services to many clients, including at least one other sports league. Working the 4pm – midnight shift, when most games happen, Bills job involves making sure signals are flowing correctly both in and out and quickly troubleshooting/fixing anything that goes wrong.
Overview: During Bill’s last year at Berklee he as heavily involved with the BIRN, working as an engineer and having his own show. Bill was aware of how hard the studio world was, and wasn’t sure he was a good fit for it. After graduation he moved home to Westchester, PA and looked for an “alternate” music-ish job, either near home or in New York, where is girlfriend (now wife) was. The QVC shoppng channel was based near his home. He saw an ad online for a part-time broadcast engineer, applied and got the job.
The hours were unsteady; Bill tried to make a name for himself by improving their sound quality, but gradually came to the realization that it wasn’t a priority for QVC. He asked his boss when a full-time position would open up, and when his boss couldn’t give a positive reply, Bill started looking for new jobs and soon after moved to New York to be with his girlfriend while continuing his job search. BAMTech replied to an application he had send months before for a position working the night shift, they hired Bill despite his limited experience. Bill spent many free hours studying the equipment. Soon other folks on the night shift moved to other positions and he proved himself, resulting in a promotion to full-time engineer and being moved to the primary shift.
Choice Quotes: “What I like most about my job is the problem solving element and creative-but-linear thinking. That’s the same as when I was in MP&E. You have to think in that way when diagnosing and fixing a problem…or finding a creative work-around. There’s an excitement to doing that–especially in a live environment. I also really enjoy the people and corporate atmosphere: we’re very laid back when nothing’s going wrong, then all come together determined to fix something the moment it does.”
“Learning music helped me in that when your’e learning the rules, you learn to work within a complex system. Within the rules that it has, but also to expand on that and expand the rules without breaking the product. I have met engineers who will never reach their potential because they don’t have that process.”
“If you decide to pursue something, through yourself 100% into it. Then while doing it, every 6 months or so, think critically about your situation and be open with whoever is in charge. Meet with your manager as to what your career path is looking like and be willing to change your path. IF you do this, it’ll look like steps rather than meandering. You’ll make progress. You run into difficulties if you put on blinders and get stuck at a dead-end thing, or if you are constantly leaving things on the table because your’e feeling unsure
Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 10 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2008 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: guitar.
Position: Software Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer at Ellevation Education. Ellevation Education sells software which helps teachers analyze and support the progress of students who are non-native English speakers, their typical customers being public school districts. Brandon makes sure the product works correctly before it goes to the customers, focusing on “front end” interface–in other words, he tests it as though he were an actual user.
Overview: Brandon went straight from Berklee to a 2-year Masters in Music in Sound Recording Technology at UMASS-Lowell. He taught lots of music lessons, and by the second year has applied for and got a job at a local Apple Store, working his way up from sales floor to doing tech support at their “Genius Bar.” He continued to work there the year after college, but a year after graduation he felt his career at Apple had hit a plateau and he didn’t like the erratic and evening hours, so he looked for a 9 – 5 job–ideally one involving music technology.
A friend worked for Nuance Communications, a voice recognition company, and that helped him get a job as a “Device Certification Specialist,” testing how well different microphones worked with the software. As he worked off the backlog, his boss let him learn more about software testing, and after a year and a half his title changed to QA Engineer, which came with a pay bump. Brandon worked there for another 4.5 years, until in October 2016 he got laid off. However, very soon a recruiter from Ellevation Education reached out to him, and he decided to take his current job because he liked doing new things and liked their corporate culture.
Choice Quotes: “I enjoy two things about QA. One is the problem-solving, puzzle aspect of it. The job doesn’t stop at finding a bug–there’s a lot of troubleshooting and figuring out how it works. The bigger thing is that at the end of the day I’m a customer advocate. I think about the users–teachers and people who taught me and will eventually teach my daughter and are doing work I respect. I help make sure the product is something they can use easily and get real benefit from.”
“Teaching guitar didn’t change much year to year; I like that the tech field is always changing. Of course, it take a certain mindset, to have the personality to always be learning.”
“Part of the reason I became a QA engineer is because I never said no when new opportunities arose.”
Being in the right atmosphere and with people you like makes all the difference. I don’t care how much you love what you do. If you don’t like the people you’re working with you won’t be happy.”
Listen to the interview (approx. 57 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2011 with a major in Music Business. Principal instrument: voice.
Position: Case Manager at The Treehouse, a rehabilitation facility that helps people suffering from substance abuse and/or mental illness. As a case manager Rodney processes paperwork, guides clients through their orientation and lines up resources during and after their stay, but he also is an open door where people come with any issues.
Overview: Rodney finished Berklee and went straight into a 1-year Masters program in International Business from Hult University San Francisco campus. Graduating in the spring of 2012, he decided to move home to Houston, Texas where rents were lower and he could save money. Rodney also decided that he really wanted a career more related to helping people, so rather than work for a business consulting firm or an oil company, he used a family connection to get a job as an academic counselor at Houston Community College. The pay was modest, but the work was very satisfying. “People at HCC. Many people at HCC were the first person in their family to go to college, and often never thought they’d be in college. We got to push people to do things they never thought they could do.”
Rodney worked at HCC for 3 years, gigging on the side. Then in mid-2016 an good friend became director of operations at The Treehouse and encouraged Rodney to become a case manager, as Rodney’s job as an academic counselor was very relevant experience. Rodney visited the facility to make sure it was a good fit, but concluded that it was and took the job, where he has been since September, 2016. On the side, he has music gear all set up in his home and is working on an EP.
You can see Rodney’s (somewhat out-of-date) LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “We talk to families, to therapists. It’s whatever they need. I’ts fun, because there’s a lot of clients telling us we saved their lives. Alumni come back and are staying sober and holding it together.”
“I’m the friendly face. I’m the door that never seems to shut. The therapist can only do so much; for everything else they knock on my door and I see to their needs. We officially have four meetings (one/week) with clients, but they come by nearly every day.”
“When I got to The Treehouse clients thought it was cool that I went to Berklee. I got to start an informal music therapy program there that meets twice/week, where we’ll talk about songs.. The group has gone from 6 clients to 40, and has changed people’s lives.”
“I have zero regrets about going to Berklee. I met the best people, had the best teachers, and had the best experiences of my life there. You take that with you and keep on rolling. That’s it.”
Listen to the interview (approx. 51 mn) or download it.
Graduated in 2010 with a major in Music Business. Principal instrument: guitar.
Position: Business Development (sales) at WorkforceQA. WorksforceQA provides drug and alcohol testing, as well as trainings on drug and alcohol-related issues, to businesses. Chris is one of only two sales people in a company of over 100. Chris splits his time roughly evenly between managing current accounts and seeking new business.
Overview: Chris did his final-semester internship with a music publisher in Nashville, and stayed in Nashville after graduation, hoping to become a professional songwriter. For four years he wrote music and performed it locally, but the income (and fame) from music was negligible and tending bar, while paying decently, felt like a dead-end job. So he moved back home to Salt Lake City, Utah in late 2013 while hoping to figure out the next step in his career. To make some money, his did some light construction work at his uncle’s drug-testing company for a few weeks, then was offered a sales role at a base salary of $10/hour. Hesitant to take the job, Chris accepted once it was made clear that his pay would increase once he had proved himself.
Through rugged determination Chris stuck it out in this low-paying job to the point where 6 months later, the other salespeople and their manager all had quit or been fired. With greater knowledge of the product, the whole country to seek business, and the newfound freedom to sell as he saw fit, Chris sales, and his income, improved dramatically.
Choice Quotes: “I enjoy the freedom in my job–where I can do what I think it best in order to earn the business and the excitement and satisfaction that comes along when I bring in a new client.”
I get paid, simply put, per drug test–a certain % the first year, a certain % the second year, then it stops. Clients can leave anytime, so I have an incentive to keep them happy.
Berklee was a great experience, but the fact that I’m in sales now is perfectly fine. It’s OK for something not to feel right anymore and what you lived at 18 or 20 changes
I’m happy about providing the promised service. I don’t embellish, so when it comes into fruition everyone is happy. I also get to meet with really cool companies and cool, sophisticated people.”
Chris as a Berklee student. “Creativity isn’t just limited to art or music. An education where creativity was supported and the environment was so creative has made me an employee who takes initiative and doesn’t just look for a manual.
Chris with colleagues. “My industry is totally a relationship sell. The reason I’m good at it is that I’m good at connecting with someone and earning their trust. That’s how you climb the ladder in sales.”