Break into music industry with college education

Home 2009 Archive Break into music industry with college education

Ernest Clemons Jr.

Published: November 8, 2006

Many people want to start their own record label or business in the music industry but do not know what it takes to have a successful business.  For some, attending college has helped.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University student Tuesday Donaldson, a junior majoring in Public Relations, has started her own company called “In Demand P.R.E.P. Group.”

“It actually helped me a lot because I got to learn both sides of the industry.  I did have hands on experience, and I was able to learn the direct part of the music industry. Being in school not only teaches you that part, but it also teaches you the corporate America side of it, so that way you can be diverse on both angles,” Donaldson said.  “It prepared me for everything that has come my way and is coming my way now.”

There are hundreds of record labels and music industry businesses in Pensacola, and new companies are created every month.  Some people have chosen to take the extra step in successfully starting their own record label by going to college and taking course ssuch as marketing, advertising, accounting, journalism and economics.

“The journalism program itself primarily consists of everyone that is trying to do something, whether it’s entertainment, graphic design, photography, public relations. Everyone is trying to do something either directly with entertainment or directly with music,” Donaldson said.

Some students are getting degrees and getting into the entertainment industry.  Several students say the college courses help, while others have mixed feelings.

“There are a lot of students that don’t really complain but express their opinion about going to school and then starting their own business.  It feels like you’re back tracking because if you had experience prior to that, it feels like you are learning in school what you already know.  So you are going back just to get a degree,” Donaldson said. “At the same time, it is beneficial to have the paper to back you up in case something does or doesn’t work out.”

Many college students attend events to hear people such as CEOs of major record labels, other major business executives and successful artists in the music industry speak from their own experiences on how to get a record deal and ways to properly market yourself.

“When I was working at TJS DJS, we did have a large mass of college students because everyone was trying to do their own thing.  Since we are a college town made up of FSU and FAMU, we just attracted that crowd; so the people who did come to the conference, both local and from out-of-town, were largely college students or younger people,”  Donaldson said.

Some colleges require that a student who is majoring in a broadcast field start a record label just so that he or she can get a taste of how the business really is.  Students are able to experience the ups and downs of starting a record label, so that they can better prepare themselves on what to expect when they get out into the music industry on their own.

There are even law school students assisting companies and managing record labels in the music industry as they learn the legal aspect of the business.

Whether they are going to college to enhance their knowledge in the music industry or seeking a college degree, some college students say taking college courses at any college can help them in their career.

Greg Gate$, former college student of University of Las Vegas and correspondent for Murder Dog and Down Magazine, said, “I was going to college for journalism.  I did a year there and then I got out.  Then I went to the military where I got most of my training from, and it’s college equivalent.  You can go to an actual journalism school while you are in the military.  They teach you how to write and do radio and television, so that way you will be well rounded. It kind of opened me up to the industry as far as promotions.”

On college courses enhancing student knowledge in the music industry, Donaldson said, “Oh [college courses] definitely [help]. I don’t know if [students] are taking them at FAMU, but I know a lot of people that go to the community college take economics and marketing classes just so they can gain the knowledge of what’s really going on and what it is by the book.”

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