David Greenberg shares tips from his experience as Director of Marketing for Ted Kurland Associates, a boutique booking and management agency where Berklee interns gain insight into a successful career in music and business.
Well, of course you do, but aim to have a boatload of material so you don’t just have your resume to show people. And then, during your first job, find time to do your own thing, by any means necessary, so that you don’t really need that resume after that. I landed my second job of my career with the film production house, Second Story Television without any resume at all. That was because I started that company with a few friends after gleaning enough experience and connections from working at a small film production company/ad agency based on the famed Madison Avenue in NYC. And jobs after SST were mostly pulled in from my network of friends. That’s the key and the underlying thought behind this bloggette: building your career, yourself.
Of course I know Spike Lee, and many others, have copped that term “by any means…” and that they nabbed it from Malcolm X, who was using it as in the freedom fighter, revolutionary modality. I mean it with all that fervor. Don’t expect anything from anyone. At my first job I learned a lot, especially since it was a small place and I was ladled a lot of responsibility within a very short period of time. I believe within the first three months we were—I WAS!—budgeting a multi-million dollar commercial campaign for Mobil Oil trying to get numbers for items I knew anything about; animated characters, live dancers, choreography, symphony orchestra, and that’s not all folks.
I learned all the SAG rules and became an Assistant Director (though not landing in the DGA) for the shoot. I sat in with the editor and helped prepare mix reels among all the other bits editors had to schluff off to their assistants because it was all done tediously, by hand, in those olden days of the 80’s. They knew my ambition, they knew I was motivated, but when the going got good, they hired someone else do the additional directing.
So we started SST with our own money — and unemployment checks for some of us, and money from an accident suit awarded to yours truly — in order to build up our own credits, show reels and career possibilities. It was my contact with Don Rose — a very cold call by the way, which led to our production of music videos for Rubber Rodeo, Grammy-nominated videos. Years later, Don started Rykodisc up in Salem, MA, and when push came to shove in NYC—the film industry was looking pretty lean and no steady work was looming—I leaped at Don’s offer of a job up here- no resume required as he knew the ins and outs of my abilities. Even my part-time book-keeping job (told you it was lean) came through one of the actors I worked with at Murder To Go; a participatory murder mystery/event company started by my friend, David Landau.
I landed my first job after giving out about 100 resumes all over NYC, in the pre-internet way by walking and riding elevators. After that first job, hardly any were needed. It was mostly networking and carving out a path with my own resources. Not that I haven’t hacked up a few wrong paths, but that’s another set of stories.
Recently, my alma mater, Ithaca College held a networking night for Boston alumni and students with the job-seeking topic: “Standing Out In A Crowd.” One of the alumni panelists, Mitchell Corton, the Director of Sales for Compuware/Gomez of Lexington, was actually there to interview prospects for his sales force. He noted three basic qualities he and his staff look for in an sales person — which I feel are exactly what any good hiring manager will be looking for at all points in your career:
Steve Lichtman, another IC alum, who owns a slew of Fitness Together studios across the state, as well as his own marketing firm, had to interject this one after Mitchell finished: Initiative. Steve told us all, while effort was key he needs his staff to have the initiative and never take anything for granted. Initiative is what kicked me out of the doldrums of assisting others and creating my own work; it was not easy getting the 30 plus professionals to work in the film crew FOR FREE, doing the extreme deals on the equipment to save shekels, making calls at night, shooting weekends, editing whenever. We were motivated to make something, so we did it, by any means necessary.
I kept coming back to that term, “Initiative,” all through the night when talking individually to the IC students and seeing where they were and where they wanted to go; giving them a push to do their own thing. When I sit with TKA interns and they tell me their thoughts about life after college or how they want to get additional professional experience, I tell them to be super self-motivated; they have to do it themselves. Interning with the pro’s and learning from them is invaluable, but there’s not that many professionals to go around for all of you who need them. I know from experience, it’s better to mess-up out of their view and experiment on friends and family to hone your techniques.
Many of my interns are not from Berklee and don’t have the resources that Berklee students enjoy, and so they really have to do it on their own. I would expect Performance Grads to leave of Berklee with a professional looking CD, but the other majors? If you want to get some extra live recording experience, do a podcast out of your dorm room of local Boston talent, or connect a club with a radio station to do a show based out of that venue. Not the easiest thing, yes, but nothing is easy. It’s not impossible either, as ConcertWindow.com —started by two Harvard (!) students—has worked out a deal to do live webcasts out of Club Passim with an eye toward that webcasting as just one piece of a larger online marketing service.
One of the secrets the proverbial THEY don’t tell you; there is no one box. Yes, in your interviews for your first job, or even your first internship, there are certain bits of pre-requisites SOME hiring managers look for; professional experience, use of Microsoft Word, phone skills, or exact equipment models and versions of software programs specific to, and endemic of, some specialized career paths. That’s one box. But you have to build the other one that will get you noticed above and beyond everyone else.
You want to do marketing? Find a band and do their marketing. From what I hear Berklee is full of musicians — yes that’s a facetious remark said in an attempt at some small attempt at humor, but also to show you how much opportunity is all around you on this campus.
There’s a lot of golden eggs in your path, guys. Just think if you were the dude, or dudette, who befriended John Mayer and helped him sell out his early gigs here in Boston before he moved down to Atlanta to find fame and fortune. Or even befriended John Lloyd Taylor, now music director of those Jonas Brothers and of his own band, Ocean Grove. Or Esperanza Spalding, or Natalie Maines, or…* Don’t wait to take a marketing class and do some assignments that everyone else is doing, do your own thing, do it now, and do it good, make it something you would be proud enough to show a professional.
Film scoring look interesting? Take a hike past Fenway Park and a right, and a left down Comm Ave, and a few blocks down, there’s the Communications building at B.U. where there are students whose projects are silently aching for some of your good music. Or over at Emerson. Or more than a hundred other Film & Television schools across this land. Motivate. Take the initiative. Then, take those new shiny wares of yours on that informational interview you are going on this semester. (And, ahem, why don’t you have one planned?)
What a perfect ice-breaker to get a professional to talk about their work by breaking down yours — a priceless experience you can get for the cost of a phone call, with maybe a really good coffee. And, those professionals get to see you as an individual, way over and above that limp, cold and purposely, deathless prose piece of, hopefully, non-fiction you have crafted; your resume.
Titled with apologies to John Huston’s The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. * Yeah I know Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, two Marsalis Brothers, and more of TKA’s present and past roster have gone through Berklee, but I thought that would be too self-serving to note without this kind of caveat. SST was created with David Brownstein who is now a career coach for entertainment folk in Hollywood, Jill Bock, who last I heard was a literary agent and has not updated her Facebook account in some time, and Eugene Sher, who has since left this mortal coil after a career in Los Angeles.
For more in this series, see:
You Don’t Know Anything and Your Ideas Are Worthless (No, Seriously, Get Used To It…)
Listen to Your Parents and Then…
Marketing OneOH!One: Break On Through To The Tangential Side
David Greenberg is Director of Marketing and hosts Berklee interns at Ted Kurland Associates, a boutique booking and management agency located in the Allston environs of Boston, MA. His background in this industry of entertainment has gone long and wide, (not yet in the end zone, yet, by any means ) best read on his Facebook or LinkedIn pages. A few tidbits: as noted above, he started his own video company, Second Story Television with a few friends and money earned from an accident settlement — not recommended as a good way to find starting capital — which led him out of NYC when he grabbed the brass-ring of a position at Rykodisc, he has written more than a fair share of TV sit-com spec scripts trying to land an agent and into that side of the entertainment business to no avail, and recently he has compiled all his past unsung lyricals into a book he calls The Mud Folio: suitable for shelving by anyone who wants a free download.
Biz Links Website: tedkurland.com / Twitter: tedkurland / Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ted-Kurland-Associates/88827500905 / Personal Twitter: @tapedave
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These are some great, practical tips which can really make you stand out from the crowd.
Great insights from a veteran that has been there, done that! These tips on networking your way to the job you really want will not only help newbies, but also us “older folk”… puts things in perspective.