You’ve probably heard the success stories of people like Thomas Edison, who failed 1,000 times at making a lightbulb but persevered and succeeded! Stories like this are certainly inspiring, but they give the impression that all you have to do to succeed is to keep trying – and this can be misleading. Sometimes we need to change our approach in order to find success (Edison had to change his lightbulb’s construction with each attempt, or his next experiment was sure to fail!).

As a music business student in Nashville, you are surrounded by opportunities, but you may be struggling to get that second interview or acceptance notice. Here are some reasons to help you see why you haven’t gotten the music internships you applied for and tips to help you thrive in your next interview.

Reason 1: Too Delayed of a Response

To show an interviewer you are serious, you must communicate with them! If you waited too long (more than a day or two) to respond to their emails or calls, then they might have doubted your interest in the position or your reliability. Replying to all messages in a timely fashion will establish you as an invested and desirable intern!

Reason 2: Not enough Relevant Experience  

You want the company or studio to see why you are a good fit for the opportunity. If you did not research and discover exactly what your desired position entails, then now is the time to start! Look through the responsibilities and qualifications listed out in the internship descriptions and see where they overlap with your skill sets and interests. Use your research to plan ahead what personal traits and gifts you want to emphasize in your interview to show what qualifies you as a candidate for the specific position. Look for the need you can fill. 

You also want your resume and cover letter to be as up-to-date as possible, featuring all your relevant experiences! Don’t just copy and paste the same resume you made for your last side-hustle: showcase your music industry education and experience! Personalize the resume and cover letter for each internship opportunity, addressing the letter directly to the recruiter, if you know their name. This will give the studio a true picture of how you can serve them!

Reason 3: Fierce Competition

Nashville is full of musicians, and setting yourself apart from the crowd is no easy task! Maybe you felt during your interview that you didn’t have any outstanding skill or quality. You must find them! You can set yourself apart in different ways. 

Start by researching beyond the job description. Look through the studio’s website and research the people who work there, the artist roster, the studio’s vision, and anything else that might excite you about working with them! If you come into the interview enthusiastic to work there and knowledgeable about their history, interviewers will take notice of your commitment.

Second, be kind! You want to make a personal connection. Don’t look at other people in the studio as stepping stones on your journey, look at them as potential friends, colleagues, and wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Respect everyone you meet, because you never know how one interaction might change the direction of your career! Thanking your interviewer and sending a thank you email afterward are thoughtful actions you can take once the interview is done.

Third, be yourself. You want to bring more than your skills to the internship. The studio wants something that you can uniquely offer. The music industry needs you! Don’t try to pretend to be someone else. Share your personality, passions, interests, and beliefs as appropriate, and your indispensability will become apparent. If you don’t know what those are yet, then get clear on them now so you can sell yourself!

Reason 4: The Studio Doesn’t Need an Intern at the Moment

This may seem a bit obvious, but sometimes you just need to wait for the right timing! If you tried to apply for a position when there were none available, don’t give up! You can always ask if they would keep your resume on file in case a position does open up, and you can periodically check their website to see if they have added any job listings. 

If all else fails, then it may be time to move on to a different studio, but make sure you leave a good impression behind you: thank the recruiter, be gracious, and be grateful, even if you get turned down.

Reason 5: Needing to Present Yourself More Professionally

Maybe you woke up late on the morning of your interview, or maybe you forgot there was a chocolate stain on the shirt you planned to wear – whatever troubles you face, you need to show up to the interview looking prepared and put-together. This means showing up early (not on time!), in appropriate clothes (you can set these out the night before so you don’t have to stress about your outfit in the morning), calm, and confident. 

Since you are passionate and willing enough to invest your time into this internship, you have a reason to walk into the room with confidence! Confidence tells the interviewer that you want to be there and are ready to do the work, and it will put them at ease, too. 

Stay professional when giving your email to, or communicating with, the studio, too. You want to use a business email that contains your name; be careful not to use an email that sounds goofy or unprofessional. 

Additionally, check your documents and do a little editing work on your emails! You don’t want bad grammar to make you look sloppy, and you definitely don’t want typos or inconsistencies to  make you look dishonest. Work until you feel good about what you turn into the recruiter!

Reason 6: Not Enough Practice for the Questions

Taking time to think about your answers to interview questions is good, but if you find yourself freezing for a long time on multiple questions, then you want to practice your interview skills more. Look up lists of common interview questions and have a trustworthy friend ask you several. Remember, preparing responses in advance is not cheating; it’s recommended! You don’t have to memorize a script, but if you bring some clear points that highlight why you’re a good fit into the interview, then you can creatively work those points into your answers no matter what question they ask.

Don’t forget to prepare for tough questions, like “What’s your biggest weakness?” Prepare honest responses that reveal you are self-aware, but also share how you are seeking to grow and shed a positive light on yourself.

Check out our 10 Music Internship Interview Prep Questions here.

Reason 7: Need More Skill or Experience

Sometimes the position we apply for is not the one we are prepared to take! You can always learn more, and there are countless resources online, in podcasts, in books (we recommend Donald Passman’s “All You Need to Know About the Music Business”), and possibly even within your social network! Ask around. If you know someone who is in the music industry already, get their advice on what kind of expertise you should try to gain and how you can start learning. Maybe you can manage a few projects of your own to get some low-pressure, hands-on experience. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity!

Listen to our top 20 Music Industry Podcasts.

Now go and own it! Hopefully, you have been able to identify a few ways you can walk into your next interview with a greater chance of success! Don’t be discouraged by failure, and remember that each interview is a chance to practice and improve your interviewing skills, so no opportunity is wasted. When you do land an internship opportunity, you can check out some of our tips for music interns here!

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