Student shares 4 career tips from industry insiders

January 30, 2020 | Arts & Culture

Nathalie Parent is still processing the whirlwind week she spent in Toronto last fall. One of MacEwan University’s first-ever recording majors in the Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music, the fourth-year student was nominated for – and won – the 2019 MusiCounts Scholarship, which includes a $4,000 financial award and an intensive mentoring and networking experience.

After a week of meetings with agents, radio network representatives, publicists, recording professionals and artists Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, here are four big things Nathalie learned. Not a music major? No worries. This stuff is gold, no matter what you’re studying.

1. Don’t limit yourself to the jobs you know.

“There are so many more music jobs out there than anyone outside of the industry would ever think of – you just have to look for them,” says Nathalie.

On tours of the Feldman Agency and Spotify Canada, Nathalie learned about some of the jobs she had never even considered. “Of course there is someone at Spotify who manually listens to the music and decides how to categorize it – they’re music curators and they’re monumentally important,” she says.

“It was heartening to learn about all of the people who do what they love and were able to find the perfect niche job in the industry.” 


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2. Listen. Really listen.

Nathalie says that learning how to listen to music and produce music has made her a much better musician.

“When you really listen, you see things from a different perspective and you’re more objective,” she says. “A producer’s job is to make sure that every moment is directed where it needs to go – sometimes that means sitting back and letting a band do their thing and other times it’s hands-on. But it all starts with listening.”

3. Being nice pays off.

“So much of each discussion we had during the week centred around simply being a good person,” says Nathalie. “I had thought that the speakers would emphasize the importance of talent or building skills, but instead they outlined how being genuine and kind is essential.”

“As musicians and upcoming music industry professionals, we all depend on others to do the millions of jobs that we can’t take care of alone. Respecting other people’s time, being kind and working hard are all necessary parts of attracting the right team of people.” 

Need help finding your niche?

Career Development and Experiential Learning (CDEL) offers advice, resources and events to help you navigate your own career path.

Visit CDEL.


4. Talking to people is hard. Do it anyway.

The biggest thing Nathalie says she learned was the need to reach out and talk to people to get ahead.

“We were told repeatedly that you’re never really bothering people when you reach out and ask questions,” she says. “They want to hire motivated people as much as you want to work with them, and even if you’re not right for the job at the moment they’re still excited to see people they’ve met succeeding.”

“It was amazing to have this experience and know that there are already people rooting for us and believing in our work.”


Nathalie is finishing up her degree this semester, and interning at Bent River Records. She’s using the scholarship money from MusiCounts to purchase recording equipment and is looking forward to seeing where her recording career might take her.

“I love the challenge of recording,” says Nathalie. “But what I love most is that it lets me do something good for people that will help them further their careers.” 

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