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Beat Critiques: How I Managed to Gain Music Industry Experience During the Shutdown

We all know what happened. A pandemic rocked the foundation of our nation, changing everything we’ve ever known. Few parts of our lives have gone unchanged. Our wardrobes added an essential new piece. We were sent home from our colleges and expected to complete the semester on Zoom. Internships everywhere were cancelled and a lot of college students were left without anything to do this summer. My internship was one of the casualties. 

I want to go into the music industry, specifically concert promotion, and all of the concerts were cancelled. So even if I wanted a new internship, there were none left since the product I was supposed to promote was taken away. And let’s be real: those Instagram live concerts are nothing compared to being at a show. 

To keep an ear tuned into the industry during the summer (typically one of the busiest times), I decided to start a blog reviewing the latest music releases. This helped me to keep up with all of the new music flooding the industry, allowed me to discover new artists and break out of my pop music bubble and helped me to keep my writing skills fresh. Writing about music has always been a difficult thing for me to do - I mean how does one describe the melodious sounds travelling through your headphones? 

I did my best. I really tried to make it sound as professional as possible, knowing that all of the instrument identifying I did in elementary school music class had escaped my memory. But what I did to make it sound more professional was to read other reviews. I followed different blogs and music review accounts on Instagram. I devoured every one in hopes of picking up some tricks to use on my own writing. Specific words and phrases came up that I knew I would catalogue in my memory and use later. 

While learning how to develop a new style of writing was difficult, one of the hardest things I did was build a following. At the time of writing this, I only have 210 followers on my Instagram account, but coming up with new strategies to drive growth challenged the marketing major in me. I tried Twitter and struggled for a while. Pinterest kind of helped (once I figured out the right hashtags), and I even learned that Facebook was a great way to get my work out to a network of people that I already knew. Even now I’m convinced that my dad is the only one that reads the blog but that’s okay with me. 

For all of the ups and downs, swings in motivation, and words I’ve typed on my keyboard, there were a lot of cool moments too. Artists who saw my blog or social media pages would send me early release copies of their songs. I got a chance to interview some of them (like one of my favorites from when I was 13 years old!). And let’s not forget just some simple social media interactions with some of my favorite artists. One moment that stands out so clearly to me was interviewing Baz Francis, member of Mansion Harlots and Magic Eight Ball. The conversation went really well and he was very personable. At the end, I thanked him for his time and he just told me that I was going to go far no matter what I do. We only spoke for an hour, so I was really happy that some of my enthusiasm for the industry had shown through. It was also a real self-esteem boost (which we all need sometimes). 

Getting to speak with and make connections with an entirely new community of people was so nice to do, especially during the stay-at-home order, when I was too scared to leave my house. I got to connect with a bunch of other musically-minded people and get to share my passion with them. And sometimes, that’s the best kind of networking you can do. I can take pride in knowing that I used my little corner of the internet to help artists get their careers started, by giving them the publicity they needed. 

Even though I didn’t have an industry specific internship this summer (which I had for the past 2 years), I still found a way to utilize the skills I would have used during an internship anyways. I am proud of the work I accomplished over the past few months. I know that when I get asked in job interviews how I handled the summer of COVID-19 that I can say that I still got a chance to develop my knowledge of the industry and have created something to show for it. 

I intend to keep my blog running throughout the school year (just maybe posting a little less frequently), so if you want to check it out head over to thebeatcritiques.com and make sure to follow my social media accounts!

Instagram: @beat.critiques

Twitter: @beat_critiques

Facebook: @beatcritiques

Pinterest: @beatcritiques 


Darby VanDeVeen is a senior at The College of New Jersey. On campus, she is involved in the school's primary programming board, the varsity swim team, She's the First, the school newspaper, and works in the athletic department in addition to writing for Her Campus! She loves going to concerts and hopes to work in the music industry upon graduation. Her favorite artist is Taylor Swift, but she can be found listening to music from all genres. She also enjoys photography, bad reality television and iced tea.
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