Alumni Interview with Jennifer Link
What are some of the major accomplishments of your career?
I have obtained a senior level position in a very short time frame. There is incredible satisfaction in this accomplishment. I had a goal in mind seven years ago when I left high school and while I only had a vague idea of where I wanted to be and how far I could get, I would not have expected to be where I am today in this amount of time.
How did you obtain your present job?
I was working with Jeff Dorenfeld for Heavy Rotation Records and he knew that I was looking for an internship. I was interested in moving to New York City but had no specific expectations in mind. Jeff realized that I needed something challenging and suggested the copyright department at BMG. Bill Stafford, my current supervisor, was a colleague of Jeff's and was interested in having someone from Berklee intern with the department. I interviewed with Bill and he explained that not only were they filling an intern position, but also a full-time position. He decided to hire me for the full-time position and I worked additional hours for my first few months to fulfill my internship requirements.
What made you decide to pursue the music business career field?
I have been involved in music my entire life. I started with the piano and added the bassoon when I was eleven (11). I played with many orchestras, concert bands, and wind ensembles and ultimately studied bassoon performance in college. I knew at the time that the classical music field was a difficult one though and I was concerned about the dedication required to be a performance major. I spent some time researching, what I thought at the time, was a non-existent major called music business. By the time I actually started studying at the University of Illinois, I decided not to focus on performance because I wanted to learn more about the business. I wanted something more specific than what University of Illinois could offer. So I looked into the programs at Middle Tennessee, Berklee, and University of Miami. At the time I was interested in orchestra management and none of them really seemed to fit. I decided on Berklee because of its reputation. It wasn't until I got there and absorbed the curriculum that I decided that I really was more interested in the entire music business, not just orchestra management.
What, if any, are the differences between your present position at a major record label and a similar position working at a major publishing company?
If I were employed by a music publisher I would be in charge of the rights to compositions. On the label side, I am responsible for gaining permission to use a song from a publisher, or multiple publishers. My counterparts at the major publishing companies are responsible for managing/administering the rights to a song on behalf of their writers, which includes negotiation of rates, ensuring that rate calculations are correct, issuing and tracking licenses, and the receipt of royalties.
What is a normal day like in your line of work (assuming there is such a thing as a normal day)?
I work for the Special Products division of our company. I am in charge of all our third party packages. If Starbucks or Pottery Barn or any other non-traditional company does a release with BMG as the manufacturer, I must secure mechanical licenses for this release. On any given day, I will research the split percentage of publishing ownership of songs; request a reduced rate; interpret an artist contract for controlled composition language, another form of a possible reduced rate; request licenses; or code information into our databases. Also, I am involved in certain special projects such as system and technology maintenance and research for special inquiries.
What is your favorite part of the job?
There are so many different facets of copyright even just when it pertains to music or records. It is incredibly interesting to be able to understand and utilize them. I enjoy interacting with lots of different people. I come in contact with so many different people in different roles within the industry on a daily basis. I also enjoy working with a variety of releases that contain all kinds of music.
What are some of the personal rewards that have come with your job or career?
The biggest personal reward of my career is working in the field of my choice, and the experience gained by working at a major record label. I appreciate the difficulty people experience trying to obtain a position in the music business.
What do you think are the requisites for someone entering this field?
Determination is key. Other things that are helpful are keeping up with current events in the industry, networking skills, and flexibility to adapt these skills to many different situations.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job and/or career?
I have to do my best to be on top of everything. It is challenging work. I have to interpret contracts, calculate rates to the writers, obtain licenses, and in between all that, make sure the system has all the correct information. The most challenging aspect of this has to be managing all of this with respect to deadlines.
How did your education at Berklee prepare you for what you are doing today?
The first few months at my job, I remember the incredible sensation of everything "clicking." It still happens these days. Remembering some little detail that I had been taught in a class that then or now, finally makes sense. I understand not only how a record company works but also all the components that interact with the label. How the management of an artist plays a part in my aspect of the business and others. Why it is that an artist might never recoup their advance. I know what rights the label owns and the basic manners of exploiting that material and the same for a publisher. And much more... These are all things that I learned at Berklee. I have refined this knowledge in my current job, but the foundation was started at Berklee. There are some things that I might not have known to even inquire about or research had the professors at Berklee not taught me it was a component of the industry.
What are the current trends in the field of music business/management that will most likely shape your future and the future of this industry?
Digital music distribution and internet music are going to play a large role in shaping the future of our industry. Quite possibly, we are seeing the distribution revolution of the industry! How it will truly effect the industry is still yet to be determined. But it could largely affect the retailers, the artists, the distributors, and the labels. Within each of those pieces are so many more intricacies. Our department has been involved in many negotiations to establish a protocol. Laws that relate to digital music are still in the beginning stages and could have a huge impact on the entire industry.
What advice would you give to women who are starting their own careers in the field of music business/management or entering other career fields in the music industry?
Keep trying – be persistent. However, I think I would say that to anyone. If you have the knowledge and the determination, it WILL work out. The other thing, it's all about getting to know people and keeping in touch with those people. You never know whom you might be doing business with in the future.