What Do Record Labels Look For When Hiring Interns?

This is going to be a long read, so sit back, open up your schedule, and take lots of mental notes.

Based upon our interactions, interviews, and off-the-cuff discussions with the decision makers at the Warner Music Group, we have a pretty good idea of what they (and probably most labels) look for when hiring interns.

The bottom line:  They want passion and people who live and breathe the music business.

There’s more to it than that, but those two qualities above will set you apart from many other people trying to get in.  Read this Fall, 2017 job description, also found HERE, from the WMG website:


Job Description:

With its broad roster of new stars and legendary artists, Warner Music Group is home to a collection of the best-known record labels in the music industry including Asylum, Atlantic, Big Beat, Canvasback, East West, Elektra, Erato, FFRR, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Parlophone, Reprise, Rhino, Roadrunner, Sire, Warner Bros., Warner Classics, and Warner Music Nashville, as well as Warner/Chappell Music, one of the world’s leading music publishers, with a catalog of more than one million copyrights worldwide.

Job Title: Intern

A little bit about our team:

Warner Music Group’s Internship Program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to gain real world experience in the music industry. This multidimensional, educational program begins by matching interns to specific departments in WMG based on their interests, for a semester long internship. WMG offers internships all year long in the summer, fall and spring seasons.

Why this could be your next big break:

The ideal intern candidate will be passionate and knowledgeable about the music industry and its trends and embody Warner Music Group’s core values. Candidates must be professionally motivated and driven to succeed in this ever changing industry. We are looking for individuals who have a track record of success in a similar role and who has had experience with various parts of the music industry.

Here you’ll get to:

Upon joining our team, interns gain real world experience by participating in the day-to-day activities in their department, networking and learning from industry professionals, and are exposed to the broader music industry environment via key note speaker forums, and educational workshops. Throughout each semester, interns collaborate on innovative projects that increase an overall understanding of the music industry, how each department operates, and how best to help departments address real business issues.

Please note: WMG internships are unpaid and for academic credit only. If you cannot receive academic credit from a four-year accredited university, you will not be considered for an interview

Rockstar candidates will be able to:

  • Receive college credit for the semester you participate in the internship
  • Be enrolled in a 4 year accredited university or college
  • Junior, Senior and Graduate level only
  • Have at least one prior internship experience required

It would be music to our ears if you also had:

  • Professional goals that align with Warner Music Group’s core values and business objectives
  • Exceptional written/verbal communication skills
  • Strong passion and knowledge of the music industry/media
  • Prior work experience (part-time/summer) preferred
  • Leadership experience on or off campus preferred
  • Digital/technical savvy required

Interested in being our next intern? Here are our areas of opportunity:

  • A&R
  • Art – Graphic Design
  • Artist Development
  • Brand Partnerships
  • Business & Legal Affairs
  • Campaign Strategy
  • Digital
  • Digital Marketing
  • Executive
  • Global Brand Licensing
  • Human Resources & Talent Acquisition
  • International Marketing
  • Label Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Product Management
  • Promotions
  • Publicity
  • Revenue Assurance
  • Sales
  • User Experience
  • Video Content
  • Video Production
  • Video Promotion

Why join us?

Warner Music Group is proud of its intern program, the professional development we offer to our WMG students, and the intern alumni network we’ve built across the country. Warner Music Group is all about our people. We are one global company made up of the most knowledgeable, passionate, and creative people in our business.

Warner Music Group Music biz 101It is the mission of every member of the WMG team around the world to create a nurturing environment for artists, songwriters, and the people behind the music, every stage of their career. We strive to set WMG apart from the rest of the industry by embracing a philosophy of innovation that is part of our company’s DNA. 

Consider a career at WMG and be a part of one of the biggest forces in music today. 

Love this job and want to apply?

To be considered for Warner Music Group’s internship program, you must submit your resume and a compelling cover letter expressing your passion and desire to work in the music industry.  


Did you read that last part?  “… you must submit your resume and a compelling cover letter expressing your passion and desire to work in the music industry.”   This isn’t a gig for somebody who wants to get signed to Atlantic Records.  This isn’t for somebody who makes beats and wants to produce Bruno Mars.  The opportunity to intern at the Warner Music Group is for those people who want to learn about the industry, gain experience, and provide their talents to one of the three biggest “record companies” in the world.  

Now, here’s your chance to take the word of one of the people who’s completely involved, Katelyn Drozd.  She’s the Director of Talent Acquisition for the Warner Music Group (you’re the talent, not the artists on the WMG roster).  We interviewed her in Nashville in May, 2017.  Give a listen to her words of wisdom:

We have some tips for you HERE that can help you during the interview process.  Let’s reprint a portion of the link you may not have just clicked, because this stuff is really important.

How To Interview For An Internship

To ace any internship interview, try these things:

1.  Look up the person/people you’ll be interviewing with on LinkedIn.  If they’re there, memorize one or three facts about each person.

2.  Learn all you can about the company.  Spend time on its About Us page.

3.  Learn all you can about their specific industry.  Who is their competition?  

4.  Go in and be cool.  Don’t be too aggressive but don’t be too cool.  Be comfortable in your skin.  Make eye contact when they shake your hand and make sure your dry, not sweaty, hand gives a firm shake in return.  Look your interviewer(s) in the eye.    

5.  Listen to what they have to say.  

6.  Be prepared to ask them 2 or 3 or 6 questions about the company or the industry.  Show you’re willing to learn and genuinely interested in what they do.

Does that help?  Good.  But it’s not enough.  What?  Let me repeat:

That’s not enough!

The point?

You have to show them that you’re better than everyone else being interviewed.  You have to prove right then and there that YOU have passion and drive; you have smarts and a desire to learn that exceeds what anyone else will say.  You must let that passion pour out of your soul in an authentic way.  

The internship market is as competitive as the job market.  You have to go above and beyond what’s asked of you to prove your passion and abilities.

Do you get it?  

Suggested Reading: The Internship Interview: How To Prove You’re The Top Choice

But wait!  There’s more!  

Suggested Reading: Internships – How To Survive The Online Application

The article above is good because it includes quotes from someone at the Warner Music Group who gave us some specific pointers to pass along to readers like you.  So click on that.  

Listen to this podcast with Paul Sinclair of Atlantic Records:

Sinclair speaks at length about his experience offering students the opportunity to participate in the Warner Music Group internship program, what he looks for in a person (some of this also translates to the hiring of full-time employees), and the Interest factor.

“You want them to demonstrate an interest in the music and media industry, show off their individuality, and express their enthusiasm for making the most of the internship opportunity,” he said.  Do they have something to say?  Do they possess unique qualities?  Are they looking to learn?  

In Fall, 2017, William Paterson University has the opportunity to offer to the Warner Music Group a new kind of intern (new to WPU), a college rep.  Here’s the team who hires the college reps:

From L to R: Marcone, Philp, Karlie Keaveney, Matt, Wendy Richard.  The latter three run the college rep program at WMG.

What is the college rep program and what does this type of intern do?  Read EVERYTHING below (which can be found, and applied for, HERE):

Position Responsibilities:

  • Provides timely written feedback in bi-weekly reports, event wrap-ups and concert wrap-ups, detailing completed promotions and response from the market.
  • Impacts sales by exposing WEA/ADA artists locally via lifestyle, online, retail and on-campus marketing campaigns. Generates demand for releases through targeted marketing and provides feedback on project performance.
  • Cultivates and leverages relationships with key tastemakers (college radio, DJs, parties, campus groups, Greek life, media) in order to ignite and further word-of-mouth exposure for our artists.
  • Assists with physical and digital account management by providing WEA & ADA Sales leads, and participating in weekly street blitzes. Communicates with WEA & ADA Field and Management regularly.
  • Creates artist exposure opportunities at lifestyle and retail through visibility, in-store play, and consumer promotions/contests.  Utilizes and distributes label and WEA & ADA generated promotional materials.
  • Identifies and capitalizes on online opportunities and maintains a local WEA & ADA Twitter and Facebook page to promote WMG artists with provided digital tools.
  • Understands and communicates trends in the relationship between local consumers and physical/online retailers.  Provides specific consumer marketplace feedback.  Acts as a youth demographic “focus group” for new/growth digital and physical businesses (e.g. vinyl, digital album cards, video, and merch).
  • Sets up and facilitates area artist events (e.g. in-stores, college radio/press interviews, local appearances).  Is aware of on campus and local events and communicates ideas for artist tie-ins.
  • Educates peers on legal alternatives to piracy, including increasing awareness on ad-supported, social networking, subscription service and direct-to-consumer models.
  • Creates a market handbook that includes key campus organizations, administration contacts, local media contacts, DJ contacts, club and retailer contacts.

Required Competencies:

  • Must attend school within 45 minutes of the market for which you are applying.
  • Able to commit to a schedule of 18 hours/week for at least two academic semesters.
  • Prior but recent music marketing and/or marketing experience.
  • Deep understanding of where/how their peers consume music and an understanding of promoting a variety of genres and artists.
  • Passion for music, the music industry, and marketing.
  • A self-starter with the ability to work well independently without direct supervision.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills.
  • Creative thinker.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; not afraid to talk to strangers about music and regularly makes new connections.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office including Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Required Tools:

  • Must have access to a car, camera & computer.

The best advice to you is to start early.  If you’re in college, don’t wait until the summer before your senior year to think about internships.  Take the right classes, create your own business, get experience, and apply for different internships early in your college career.  You’ll find out not just what you’re interested in, but what you’re not interested in.

It’s time.  Go out there and make this happen for yourself!  It’s as hard as getting a job in the “real world,” so push yourself and make us (and you) proud!


For full details about the WPU Music Management Program, including courses, the minor, and our MBA, click HERE.

For full details about the WPU Pop Music Studies Program, including courses and audition requirements, click HERE.


Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & Morewhich airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too).  Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition.  Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.

2 Replies to “What Do Record Labels Look For When Hiring Interns?”

  1. Thank you for including such detailed information. I’m looking to apply for Warner’s summer program and this article is an awesome reference. Your advice is also great for a lot of other interviews.

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