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Connecting beyond the music: Relationships build industry ties

As May quickly approaches, seniors look towards the future.

Shedding their student lives, these young adults will enter the workforce or journey to grad school.

For many, especially music business majors, the hard part has just begun.

According to the Curb College, roughly 34 percent of music majors will begin new employment in their industry after graduation, while songwriting majors are as low as 20 percent.

 But all the networking, internships and classes can pay off like it did for Belmont alumnus Penny Everhard.

Everhard, a 2009 grad from Medford, WI, is currently an associate director of writer-publisher relations for Broadcast Music, Inc. and has been with the company more than two years.

Everhard’s primary role, behind making sure BMI writers and publishers get paid, is to nurture and develop BMI talent and associates.

With around 500 songwriters worldwide, Everhard works with all types of music and different songwriters from national acts to local artists. Like a snowflake, no two songwriters are the same.

“I work with matching songwriters to publishers, as well as song plugging for television and motion pictures. Both of these are methods to help a songwriter’s career grow,” Everhard said.  “I also might introduce them to co-writers to expand their co-writing circle or a producer who is working on a project.”

Everhard serves as the ultimate liaison, and every day brings something new.

Like most students, Everhard was grateful for any job, but wanted to be prepared for anything. She interned in radio promotions, PR and publishing. Her publishing internship at Love Monkey Music ended up being her first full time gig.

She enjoyed staying closer to the creative side of the industry and growing close to the writers, explaining that the creation of the song is the foundation of a career, and that without the song, you have nothing to build upon.

Everhard’s experiences and relationships with songwriters are what eventually led her to BMI.

She said the single most important thing prospective industry professionals can do is form relationships and go beyond typical networking. Working as an RA at Belmont for three years and interning all over Nashville, she was able to form close ties with friends and colleagues who work in all realms of the entertainment industry.

“I graduated with bands who are now played on the radio, one of my good friends is a writer while another is a song plugger and I cannot even go to a country concert without seeing a guitar player that I went to college with,” said Everhard. “We came up together since that first day of freshman year, and it is pretty special doing business with those people.”

Everhard has also substituted for classes at Belmont before. In conjunction with BMI she has taught a class titled catalog cast.

However, she stresses the importance of being knowledgeable about the industry outside the classroom walls by reading music business publications and staying up to speed with current events in the music industry.

“When you graduate, earning A’s in music business, and you have interned at one or two places, but have no concept of anything going on in the industry, it’s going to hinder you, but if you have knowledge of what is specifically going on with songwriters or companies and their success, it will give you an edge in getting a job,” Everhard said.

Everhard said maintaining relationships with your internships even after they are finished, reminding that these will be the people you could possibly work with in the future. Get involved as early as possible such as freshman or sophomore year in college. It is never too early to volunteer at shows or help work music events.

There is a need to nurture relationships beyond just a handshake or grabbing coffee, as well as interning as much as possible, said Everhard.

The driving force behind the music comes down to one thing: the music, plain and simple. Yet it is the relationships, experience, and passion that give it life. It requires dedicated individuals who will help it succeed and are willing to go the distance.

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