The final breakout session at IEBA 2018 included a young professionals panel that extolled the value of up and comers in the industry exploring the various areas of music and finding where they belong. Moderated by 191 Touring’s Ross Marshall, the Career-Defining Moves: A Special Session for Young Professionals filled a room on the second level of the J.W. Marriott in Nashville with fresh faces in the music industry.
Marshall inquired with panelists Michael Bryan from CAA, Lenore Kinder from Paradigm Talent Agency and Adam Weiser from AEG Presents about their beginnings in the competitive industry.
“I did anything to be in the industry,” said Weiser who added that he babysat, mopped floors and picked up discarded bottles to show how serious he was about being involved in music.
“I pretty much lived at a radio station from age 14. It involved a lot of moves over a lot of years. My entire twenties was spent moving about every 18 months,” said Bryan. “It was all about what was going to be next on the ladder. If I was given an offer for $5,000 and a better title, I was getting a U-Haul. I’m not saying that’s the way you should do it, I’m saying that’s the way I did it.”
Kinder, who, exactly a year prior to the panel date, moved from a promoter with AEG Presents to an agent at Paradigm, said those beginning in their careers should intern as much as possible. The panelists agreed that trying various jobs in the music industry can give people a better idea of what they enjoy and will give them more knowledge in the long run.
“If you want to work in music, great. There are a lot of different positions you might want to work in. Everyone said try it all and I tried my fair share of it,” said Weiser. “It took a lot of moving around to realize where I wanted to fall in the artist relationship.”
Kinder added that she tried out various positions in the industry stating, “Am I an expert in all those things? Absolutely not, but I have context. I puts me in a different perspective in terms of understanding how the sausage is made.”
The Paradigm agent added, that while testing out the waters early on is recommended, it isn’t necessarily a good long term strategy.
“If you are moving around every year to two years, as someone in a more senior role now, I’m going to have a really hard time investing in your future because I know that you’re not doing the same for me. It has to be reciprocal,” said Kinder. “Don’t bend over the pick up the dollar. Keep your eyes focused on the horizon.”
Bryan, who recently moved from radio to agent, admitted that he made decisions in his career based on the wrong reasons. Even though Bryan’s father would drive him to Nashville just so his son could listen to the radio stations, the CAA agent eventually learned working in radio had very little to do with music and focused more on advertising.
“One of the critical errors that I made was in focusing on a goal. This position, this title, this level versus understanding what I actually liked,” Bryan said.
A significant gap between exiting and entering generations is the value young professionals put on culture over money, according to the panel. Kinder explained that being part of AEG Presents was so important to her that she took a low level job where she had more experience than her boss just to get her foot in the door.
“It is all about calculated risks. You can’t be an idiot and go guns a blazing in every situation,” Kinder said. “I was focused on what opportunities I wanted to create for myself instead of waiting for someone to create them for me.”
Another highly-discussed element of the panel was how the younger generation currently feels undervalued by their employers, while employers believe millennials are unwilling to take criticism and work on their faults, not just what they excel at.
Gaining respect from employers to ask for the next big step in your career “starts with understanding what you actually want to do and identifying what skills are yours and then being able to communicate that to the people who can actually make a change in your life,” Bryan said. “For years, I just knocked on doors and asked questions.”
“I accept and welcome the criticism by my teammates,” said Weiser. “We’re not in a bubble. Contributing your strengths to that team and also acknowledging and accepting your weaknesses is also your contribution.”
“The biggest growth periods in my career came when I recognized the weaknesses I had and not leaning into those was all about fear. That is the thing that causes you to focus on the things that you’re good at,” said Bryan.
He added, “There are a lot of things that I have forced myself into doing over the past couple of years that I would not normally say I am good at. It turns out, right on the other side of fear is the most opportunity.”