Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

Music Industry Internship Administration: Overcoming Common Administrative Obstacles That Hinder Student Learning

Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

Music Industry Internship Administration: Overcoming Common Administrative Obstacles That Hinder Student Learning

Article excerpt


Internships are a critical component of music industry education. This form of experiential learning provides students important opportunities to put into practice theory learned in the classroom. In many programs, internships also serve as the capstone experience to the degree program. These capstone internships often serve as a stepping-stone for students transitioning from the classroom to the workplace.1

Internships also represent an important opportunity for employers to train and assess potential employees. The digital revolution has torn down many historic barriers of entry into the music industry and reinvigorated the "do-it-yourself' entrepreneurial spirit.2 The lowering of these barriers has precipitated an explosion of small, entrepreneurial startups, "and a lot of startups with unstable cash inflows usually need interns."3 With the increasing number of entrepreneurial startups flooding the marketplace, the demand for college-educated music industry interns is growing, and a cursory internet search will reveal a multitude of postings, listings, and advertisements for music industry internships.

While much has been written on the value and effectiveness of students interning in the music industry, there has been little formal discussion on the administration of these experiences and how common administrative obstacles hinder student learning. Overcoming common obstacles in music industry internship administration is critical in achieving the student's learning objectives. Successful internship administration requires both the academic and worksite supervisors to work together to co-educate the student during the transition from academia to the working world. With enough cooperation, communication, and regular touch points between the academic and worksite supervisor, common administrative obstacles can be overcome thereby making the internship a positive and rewarding experience for all concerned. Not overcoming these obstacles can result in a poor internship experience that fails to achieve the student's learning objectives, and potentially damages the relationship between academic and worksite internship supervisors, which in turn could limit the internship opportunities for future students.


Obstacles in music industry internship administration were identified using qualitative methods that included the observational study of over 250 undergraduate internships in which the authors participated as either the worksite or academic supervisor. Observational research was supplemented through the review of interns' reflective writing assignments, worksite supervisor evaluations, student exit surveys, and interviews with academic and worksite internship supervisors. Internships surveyed were conducted primarily in the Los Angeles market from 2001 through 2015 and spanned five different music industry sectors: music publishing, recorded music, live music, music in media, and music products.

Motivated by the need to overcome these administrative obstacles and help students achieve their learning objectives, the authors first describe the differing perspectives on interns and internships held by the academic and worksite supervisor. Next, they identify the theoretical mod- el used to frame their observations and recommendations. Finally, they identify, describe, and offer recommendations to overcome ten common obstacles to music industry internship administration.

Supervisor Perspectives on Interns and Internships

Academic supervisors are frequently full-time faculty members who have at least one area of expertise in the music industry. They often work to strike equilibrium between achieving the student's learning objectives, meeting the needs of the company offering the internship opportunity, and minimizing the liability and risk management concerns of the university. Worksite supervisors are frequently junior-level industry employees with little to moderate experience working with interns. …

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