How to stay professional in a “cool” industry

By Megan Shelton

October 26, 2017

Former Bandier program students return to give advice in Soyars Leadership Lecture Series panel

For young people starting out in the music industry, which defies the traditional nine-to-five mentality in favor of parties and networking, getting ahead can be an exhausting prospect. On Oct. 12, several alumni of the Bandier Program returned to campus as participants in a music industry panel, part of the Soyars Leadership Lecture Series. The panelists were young professionals who have recently navigated a corporate culture that expects both professionalism and partying.

“You’re probably going to be spending more time with your co-workers than with your family,” said Margaret Tomlin ’14, artists and repertoire manager for Sony Music Nashville.

In the music industry, much of the networking happens at social events. Making connections is usually done after hours, over drinks, at a show or even at after-parties, especially for the younger members of the office.

“It’s a 24/7 industry in that way,” said Tomlin. “As a result, it can be difficult to decide when to participate and when to “call it day.’”

“I think [the music industry] is definitely a culture of going out and being social all the time,” said Andrew Beyda ’11, director of business and legal affairs at Universal Music Publishing Group and president of the Bandier Alumni Association. “You don’t want to miss out. You might be thinking that the person you’ve really wanted to meet will be at the next event of the night or even the after-after party. But, if you feel you really need to go home, just get up and go.”

Similarly, Gabz Landman ’12, the artists and repertoire director at Artist Publishing Group, recommended that if you are not in the mood to be networking, it is okay to “sit out” sometimes. “I think back on all the times I’d think to myself, ‘I kind of just want to leave, but let’s just see if the night improves,’” Landman said. “The night has never improved.”

Tomlin also stressed the importance of utilizing Syracuse University mentors. “At my first job out of college, if I had an issue, some of my first calls were to Lisa [Steele, assistant director of the Bandier Program]. You can continue to lean on your professors and mentors, who also know you in an academic way.”

When asked about tips for interactions when starting a first job in the industry, the panelists agreed that young professionals could benefit from being quiet.

“You will learn way more by being quieter for the first six months of your job,” said Tomlin. “Don’t be the loudest person in the room.”

In terms of how to dress, Beyda, Landman and Tomlin all agreed it is best to dress more professional than casual “until told to relax.”

Landman added, “Don’t be too comfortable and casual, but don’t completely tone down who you are, because at the end of the day,  you are your selling point.”

Megan Shelton is a junior public relations major at the Newhouse School.

Photos by Saniya More