Friday, September 26, 2014

The College Experience with Nicole Dabrowski

>>  Hello, all! Today we're getting back into the swing of things with the first College Experience feature of the fall semester. To catch you up on what this feature is for, here's a brief explanation of what I'm after:  The College Experience is my way of discussing the pros and cons of taking steps to have a career while still being a student, or how the desire to be involved with the music industry could interfere with the pursuit of a degree.  I'll be asking a selection of folks the same basic questions regarding their school, their role in the industry, their struggles, and their goals.  I'll also ask about each person's individual projects, whether they are photographers, musicians, aspiring publicists, writers, promoters, and the like. I think it'll be interesting to see how each of us deals with the difficulties of balancing  and prioritizing the various obstacles we face as students with big ambitions.

>> Today's feature puts a spotlight on Nicole Dabrowski. Nicole is a senior, and has been gradually working her way into the industry since street teaming in high school. From grass roots marketing to working with AEG Live, Nicole has had her fair share of experiences in the industry, all while getting through school.  You can read about her experience of juggling school work, promoting, and shows below.

Please state your name, age, what school you attend and what year you're in.
Nicole Dabrowski, 20. Marymount Manhattan College, Senior.

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene?
I always loved going to shows and listening to music when I was young. My family loves music and going to shows.I first started taking interest in the music industry side when I first joined my local music venue in high school to do an activity after school other than sports. I started doing grass root marketing on my social media profiles (Twitter, Myspace, Facebook) about shows that played at the School of Rock venue in South Hackensack. I also co-ran local bands New Jersey Street Teams (i.e Stay, For the Foxes, and The Bay State) with my friend and gained a lot of knowledge from the process of street teams and promotions.

If you got involved at a relatively early age, was it difficult having to deal with age restricted shows?
I was not too young when it came to age restricted shows because the local venue I used to go to had 15+ shows at the time when I was that age. When it came to shows in NYC, there are a lot of 21+ shows which I could never get into, but I always tell myself-they will always be back around.

Now that you're in college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now?
Shows are pretty much at my advantage right now because I go to school in NYC. There are so many options when going to shows. I can go to a big venue show at the Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden or I can go to an intimate show at Highline Ballroom, Best Buy Theater, or even a random dive bar.

Do you find that you have more or less free time generally as a college student?
The last two years of college I have very less time to do things, but I feel thats what makes it all exciting. A lot of people do not have the opportunity to do this, so I feel very grateful to be doing what I do. You really need to find a balance of your school work, internship, and social life. I have gone to less shows, but you need to find a middle ground for everything in your life to be happy.

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
I have done grassroots marketing all throughout high school for my local music venue before it closed. I used to help my friend run street teams for New Jersey and be more involved with the bands with interviews and promotion of their upcoming singles, albums, and tours in the East Coast area. I helped Photo Finish records at the Bamboozle music festival my senior year of high school where I started networking with people in the industry (My first step in the door). Sophomore year into my college career, I interned in the digital marketing department at Photo Finish Records. I learned a lot about research and demographics of the artist roster of the record label. I ran the social media outlets for the label and the artist on the roster like The Mowgli’s. Even though I was part of the digital marketing department, I learned a lot in the A & R department and the process of discovering new artists. I currently have been interning in the marketing department at AEG Live for the last two years, which is a concert promotion/production company. I have learned to build advertisement plans for shows, research demographics, and learn the ticketing side of shows.

What kind of marketing did you do for your local music venue? What did that involve?
I did a lot of grass root marketing, such as putting flyers up around the area to create awareness of the show and the venue itself. I mostly did digital marketing where I utilized my social media platforms to bring attention to the shows. I would post the date of the show, the band's social outlets, and their single of the moment for people to check out.

How was that similar to or different from the street team work you did?
It was similar to the street team work because it is all about creating awareness through every outlet possible in a non-annoying way. You want to make everything you post attractive and fun. You do not want to put too much in a post or too little. It can be difficult at times.

What was the experience of helping Photo Finish at an event as big as Bamboozle like? Did it require a lot of planning beforehand, or did you get your assignments day-of?
I got all my assignments day-of the show, I had no idea what to expect. The festival setting is a lot of fun. You meet and see a variety of people and you have so many conversations it's insane, all while great music is playing in the background. I worked with selling merchandise at the tent, as well as running the spinning wheel where fans won prizes. It was chaotic, but the adrenaline rush makes everything so much better.

It seems like you got a lot out of your time with Photo Finish, at Bamboozle and even more so as their digital marketing intern. What made you decide to move on from there to join AEG Live?
I really wanted to learn about every aspect of the music industry because all in all you can relate to the different categories of the industry. I learned the marketing of a record label so I felt I should learn about Touring side of things because they work with each other to create shows and tours.

Would you say that having different internships in different areas of the industry helped you figure out what you want to do after graduating?
For sure, I believe you should try to learn about as much as the industry as you can. I read multiple books about music marketing, touring, and other aspects of music. All in all, in the music industry you will associate with a variety of music outlets such as radio, blogs, and labels. It is good to learn the basics of each part of the industry so you have the knowledge of understanding where they are coming from. I had to try different departments of the industry to figure out what most interested me. You need to be happy with your career and expand your knowledge to go further. Its a win for you no matter what.

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often have you been tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend? How do you make the choice?
Sometimes, it is extremely tempting to skip class and put off an assignment, but if you know about the show and your work, get it done and do not miss any major classes so you can be absent like once or twice. If you are struggling in school, DO NOT miss classes. *NOTE: Totally don’t suggest to skip classes*

Have you ever arranged your schedule based on music related obligations? Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule?
Yes, I have because of an internship music related event. I felt it would be a good thing to miss something for my career and not because I just wanted to skip class or if I was just being lazy. I also had to schedule my classes around my music internship so I have enough time to learn in both environments and not go crazy.

Are you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student who's also involved in the music industry?
All the time, but it's part of working in the music industry. It's so fast paced you need to be organized and have great time management. I had to give up weekends with my friends to focus on school. If you have the passion to work all the time, then you have to keep up with it and be willing to expect to give up things.

Do you struggle with roommates? Do they ever complain about you taking up too much space or being too loud with your musical endeavors?
I never struggled with my roommates, they love when I play music while we get ready on the weekends. We also listen to throwback music on our Friday nights haha. They never complain about my musical endeavors, but I am also respectful of their space and listen to my music with my headphones.

What is one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Have you faced many tough obstacles like that, or has being in school helped you take those next steps?
Balancing of work, school, and a social life has definitely been my ultimate struggle. School is important and so is working on your career, but at some point I have lost touch or have not seen friends because I was more focused on school and work. It does not sound like a big deal, but sometimes you need a break to be with friends and to relax.

How has being in college helped you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both outweigh the cons?
College, for sure, has helped me advanced in my involvement in the music industry. It’s all about networking and doing as much as you can in the life you live. You have a lot more freedom when you are in college to go about the music industry in your own way. You can meet people at a show, the workplace, and in passing. Theres so many advantages all around you, especially in New York City- where music is a big part of everyone’s lives. In the end, when you really think about it, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Throughout all the stress and experiences you have gone to a place further than you were before, nothing is easy.

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career in the music industry while you're still in school?
I think its a extremely beneficial to start your career while you’re school. As much as the industry is big, it is very small. Once you get your name out there, its just the beginning of the start of your career. I feel the more time you get your name out there, the more helpful it is for you in the end.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I would love to stay in the music industry whether it is the tour production or record label side. I enjoy in working events and artist VIP relations bringing the fans and artists closer.

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