Hitting All the Right Notes An internship at Warner Music Group in Nashville allowed Mary-Michael Teel '18 to marry her two loves: music and communications.
“Our school instills a strong work ethic and drive in students, and I applied that mindset throughout my internship. Whether it’s staying at the office late or going out of your way to help another employee, the little things can show how much you care.”
Major: Strategic Communication
Where did you intern this summer?
Warner Music Nashville
Tell us a little bit about that organization:
WMN is the country music division of Warner Music Group, and the label represents artists such as Blake Shelton, Brett Eldredge and Hunter Hayes.
Describe your job there:
I interned in the Publicity Department. The department’s job is to coordinate press for artists, whether it’s print, online or TV. My main roles were compiling press clips and pitching tour press. I also helped with any events that the department coordinated, such as press days or shows at the label.
To compile clips, I looked through online and print outlets and noted any time an artist on our roster was mentioned. I kept track of these clips on spreadsheets separated by artist. Gathering clips is an important way to track the success of Publicity’s efforts. These clip reports are sent to the artists and their teams to show the amount of coverage received.
Pitching tour press was my major project of the summer. I coordinated tour press for all dates of six different artists’ tours. I researched local press outlets and contacts, then pitched and followed up with them to secure interviews, TV appearances and show reviews.
What was the best story or project you worked on?
I enjoyed working at events such as press days because it allowed me to see how publicists interact with reporters and artists at the same time. On press days, reporters come to the label and interview the artist either one-on-one or round-table style. I learned how to coordinate interviews and appropriately treat reporters visiting the label. The most important part of publicity is maintaining relationships with reporters. Through watching the Publicity Department at work and helping at press events at the label, I gained networking skills and insight on proper reporter/publicist etiquette.
Who did you meet, such as a source, a story subject or a mentor, that made the most vivid impression on you – and why?
All the employees at Warner were incredibly kind, supportive and helpful. It was a great experience to be part of a staff of people who are not only passionate about their jobs, but also about the company culture and the people around them. My boss, Victoria, was particularly influential. She and I have similar interests and backgrounds – we both went to small liberal arts schools and led our campus concert committees. She was always willing to answer my questions, not just about publicity, but about the music industry, job searching and networking. She also went out of her way to ask my opinion on things, which I appreciated because I truly felt valued in the department. It was also great to watch and learn from someone who is so talented at her job. I couldn’t have asked for a better boss, and I hope I get the chance to work with her again someday!
When did you feel the most challenged and how did you meet that challenge?
Tour press was the most challenging aspect of my job. I had hundreds of dates and cities to keep track of for the pitching schedule. I also had to coordinate with the outlets and artists’ management teams to nail down the details for interviews and appearances. While I was overwhelmed at first, I eventually developed a system that worked for me. I created a color-coded calendar to keep track of which dates I needed to pitch and follow up with, along with separate spreadsheets for each tour date that included any updates from the outlets. Once I utilized my organizational skills and got into the swing of things, it was much easier to handle.
Did anything about the location of your internship really excite you, such as the food, architecture, outdoors, etc.?
WMN is on Music Row in Nashville, which holds so much history in the music industry. It was amazing to drive to work every day on the same road that so many music legends once walked up and down with their demos, trying to get their big break. Being around that much music and history excited me more than anything.
Will this internship impact the direction of your career in any way?
I’ve always wanted to work in music, and this internship made me even more confident in my career choice. Not only did I learn about music publicity, but I also learned about how the industry works as a whole. This included the roles of other departments at the label and how they collaborate, as well as how labels coordinate with managers and booking agencies. I believe the most valuable takeaway from my internship is a better understanding of the overall industry to help guide me on my career path. I also fell in love with Nashville and hope to move back after graduation!
How did W&L help to prepare you for this opportunity?
Through my classes at W&L, especially those in the journalism school, I have learned how to write and communicate effectively and succinctly. This was especially important in pitching over email or phone, because I only had a few moments to convince someone the artist was worth covering. However, the most important thing I gained from W&L is the motivation to succeed. Our school instills a strong work ethic and drive in students, and I applied that mindset throughout my internship. Whether it’s staying at the office late or going out of your way to help another employee, the little things can show how much you care.
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