Make it in the music business (part 5): Fancy pants

The interview was to be held in a five-star hotel in San Francisco. I had never been to San Francisco by myself. I had never been to a hotel. The few times we did family vacations, it was always camping, or, on a few choice occasions, we stayed in motels. I remember getting so excited about the mini soaps that some places had. But a HOTEL in a MAJOR CITY? It was too much for me.  I asked my cousin Mike to go with me so I would have someone else there for moral support.

I was set to meet the two directors of the entire College Marketing division of Sony. They were both from New York. I had never been to New York; I had never even met anyone from New York. When their assistant called me to set up the interview, their accent sounded so cosmopolitan to my Californian ears.

Mike and I got to the hotel. It was a major country mouse moment, as I call them. This place had huge chandeliers, glass elevators, a doorman – it was just like I was in my own version of Pretty Woman or something. I had never seen such opalescence in real life. And I was there to potentially become part of it.

I had to go up to one of the director’s rooms – that is where they were holding the interviews. I had to leave Mike behind. With a wave, I walked over to the bank of imposing elevators, and ascended. I had never felt so nervous or sick in my life. I knew they would see right through me to the real beach rat kid from Santa Cruz I was, the chronically uncool and awkward nerd my Doc Martins and liquid eyeliner tried to conceal.

They explained the gig to me. The job was creating marketing and promotion plans for bands on the Sony labels, and executing them in the Bay Area, which included San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Berkeley. It would mean driving bands around and spending a lot of time with artists. How did I feel about that? The two directors rattled off a list of bands who were immediately going to need plans written for them. Some new and unheard of bands like Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I could not believe that this was an actual position that I would GET PAID FOR.

I wish I could say I remember what exactly happened in that room, during that interview. I remember that I had brought along extra copies of my RESUME, on RESUME paper. This was a thing then- I still am a throwback in this way – when I have to do an interview, I still bring a hard copy of my CV on ‘nice’ ‘resume’ paper.  I shook hands, I accepted the sparkling bottled water from the mini-bar(!!), I did my best to convey how music was my everything. It was all over in a flash, and before I knew it, I was back with Mike in the lobby. “How did it go?” he asked. I could not really say – I could not remember ever wanting anything as badly, as deep down in my belly. What I knew is that I had glimpsed into the possibility of what my life could be – and I wanted more.

A day later, I got the call. I was hired. And so it began.


Jen developed our BA (Hons) Commercial Music course and you can read more of her story in Make it in the music business (part six): The Funk Machine.

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Originally from California, Jen spent her early career working with a variety of big name record companies before becoming the West Coast Marketing Director for Interscope Geffen A&M Records at the age of 25.

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