updates: the barking dog, the fan accounts, and more

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My dog barks during work calls

Thank you so much for publishing my letter! Your advice and those in the comments have been very helpful.

Since I wrote in, my one-to-one meetings are now nonexistent apart from my manager so I am taking everyone’s advice to start muting myself straight away in group meetings. I’m new to the professional world so I’m learning a lot! The day after I wrote in, one of my one-to-one meetings was interrupted by my superior’s children which was actually very sweet.

I did want to address some concerns in the comments: My neighbors were a part of the decision to rescue my dog! I made sure they knew about him and as I said in my original letter, he doesn’t bark often or for very long, he just has a very deep bark and I was unsure as to how to address this during meetings because my coworkers wanted to talk about him when I wanted to get on with the meeting!

However it looks like my problems will be solved because my partner is opening their own barber shop and will be taking our dog with them.

2. People keep asking me for meetings that could just be an email

I thought I’d share the good news that I was offered a contract this year in my dream role (more what I trained in than the meetings-fest role), which came with a 300% pay rise on my old job — and benefits.

I’ve just passed my probation period with flying colours and they’re training me in procedures that are both exciting to me and suggest I’ll be sticking around. I get so much coaching and praise, my own desk (!), and lots of wonderful structure.

ALSO, at this organisation, anything over a half-hour meeting is considered wildly long so my days of mystery meetings are over. Phew!

It’s hard enough to leave a job, but even harder to leave tiny nonprofits where a small team does net good. But this year has been a good reminder to put on your own oxygen mask first — that job was, after all, just a job, and now my quality of life is much improved. (And I can afford to, you know, go to the dentist, etc.)

3. I run two fan accounts for musicians — can it go on my resume? (#5 at the link)

Thank you again for answering my question.

A few months back, a new artist cold-DM’d one of my fan accounts with a link to his first single. Long story short, yesterday I started an internship with his record label! It’s a tiny indie group, so while my official title is something like A&R, I’ll be helping with basically everything they need, including marketing (which is my real passion). I’ve been helping out for a couple of weeks now, but I had my first official meeting with all the artists via Zoom yesterday, and I already love them! I followed your advice and basically my entire cover letter was about my fan accounts, so THANK YOU.

Unfortunately, it’s an unpaid internship, so for now I’m working looong days between that, my regular full-time job, and helping out an indie game developer with his social media. I’m busy and often stressed, but I’m still SO HAPPY.

And… last thing… the day before the Zoom, I met one of the artists for whom I have a fan account. It was the more famous of the two and he was exactly as lovely as he seems from the internet. I didn’t realize until that night exactly *how much* he and his team appreciate my work on the account – his manager couldn’t stop thanking me, and I think the artist hugged me four times. He also gave me a really nice gift and they let/forced (haha) me to watch the show from the side of the stage.

So, basically, this was the greatest weekend of my life, and I owe it all to these Instagram accounts. Thank you for not telling me I’m crazy for considering calling them “experience.”

{ 59 comments… read them below }

  1. Beth*

    LW #3: I am grinning all over at your update. Go you!

    From my own perspective, people with strong social media skills who are enthusiastic about marketing are rare and precious beings. If your unpaid internship doesn’t lead to something better quickly, you have a LOT that you can offer someone who WILL pay you.

    1. Chidi-Janet & The Tarantula Squids*

      I have imagined a scenario where the cold-DM person also reads AAM and somehow knew exactly who OP was from the description of their accounts – possibly from being in the middle of research for the label’s insta needs.
      That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      1. LW3*

        Ha! I love this, but I did leave out a few details that make the scenario unlikely :(

        However, after this update, I’m definitely not anonymous to anyone who knows me online — good luck getting me to shut up about meeting the artist~

    2. LW3*

      Thank you so much!! I’m grinning all over too, and it’s been about a month since the concert/Zoom weekend, hahaha. I’m still so happy.

      The goal is for the little label to turn into a bigger label, one that actually makes us some money, but even if that doesn’t work out, I’m hoping you’re right :)

  2. Really?*

    Re #2 Another problem with the meetings is too many people have no concept of time. They are apparently incapable of estimating how long to do something (even if it’s what they are experts in).

    1. OP #2*

      Absolutely! Then there’s the idea that my org thought I could do my role (30–40 hours of work, because they just … never hired a new project lead) in 10 hours. I let that expectation creep happen for far too long!

      1. allathian*

        Congrats on the 300% raise! Unless that’s a typo, it has to be the biggest one I’ve seen so far. Even if they did good work, you were woefully underpaid at that meeting-crazy job.

        1. OP#2*

          Ha! Well, I was doing about 30–40 hours’ work a week (and higher duties) for ~10 hours’ week pay at the ol’ NFP – so when I actually started getting *paid* per hour, it literally did work out to about a 300% raise. And yet I was still hesitant to leave!! Now I get paid properly *and* have about a 300% reduction in stress in my life too…

  3. Ali G*

    #3 this is all great news…but I can’t help but wonder why you need an unpaid internship? He sought you out? And you sound like you can get your own work. Anyway, I just want to make sure you are spending time marketing YOURSELF too. You seem like you could make this a full time thing, so I just wanted to butt my old-lady opinion in on that and make sure you take care of you first :)

    1. Nicotena*

      Agree. I thought there were rules against “volunteering” for a for-profit entity (maybe the record label is a nonprofit?), and I’m not sure if calling it an unpaid internship gets around the rules. Don’t interns have to the ones mainly benefiting for this?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They’re not illegal but there are rules they need to adhere to (someone linked further down to a post that summarizes them), assuming the LW is in the U.S.

        That said, many, many industries regularly flout these rules (see music, fashion, publishing, and a whole bunch of others), and it is not on the OP to change an entire industry. She is clearly thrilled with what she’s doing right now, and I don’t want to hijack a happy letter from her to tell her she shouldn’t be. People are allowed to decide how they feel about their own situations.

        1. LW3*

          Thank you, Alison! I read the whole thread but am replying here — I really, genuinely appreciate everyone looking out for me (a random stranger on the internet!) but for now I’m happy where I am. Pixie nailed it below: pandemic world, new to the industry, and a tough industry to break into.

          Not sure if it makes a difference, but the label itself is not currently making any money. It’s just the boss and me, and she doesn’t pay herself either. We have some big plans that will hopefully change that very soon, but I’m fine with waiting it out for a bit either way!

      2. Texas*

        Unfortunately there are organizations that have decided to not pay interns and I guess either don’t inform themselves about the labor laws or anticipate that no one with the power to do anything will bother to stop them. But because these companies know there are people who will accept unpaid internships, they continue to not pay for labor and if you want internship experience you often have to take unpaid placements or else you won’t be a competitive applicant in the future. (Can you tell I’m a frustrated recent grad in publishing haha)

        1. 'Tis Me*

          My degree isn’t in publishing (or even something related – Psychology and Intelligent Systems), I had no directly relevant work experience – and way back in 2006 I found a small publisher willing to take a chance on me. I worked for them for about 18 months before being made redundant – the owners downsized to spend more time with their families – and then moved to a large academic publisher and have been working there ever since.

          My first company objectively paid peanuts (I’m in the UK and I was under the threshold I needed to reach to start repaying student loans) but I had a 5 minute walk to work and they bought our lunch every day – and invested in their staff. I started off by going on a 3 day external copy editing course, for instance (interviewed Wednesday, offered the job Friday, and there was a course in our city running starting on the Monday that had space), and they sent me on a few other ones too in the time I was there.

          I was incredibly lucky they were willing to take the chance on me (I got home from my first day to an email from a recruiting company I’d sent a few applications to telling me that there just wasn’t any way they could forward on my details to a company because of my complete lack of relevant ANYTHING, pointing out that I was competing against people who could tick those boxes), and I thankfully started my graduate life ~2 years before a big recession hit – but even though most people in publishing did internships, not everybody does.

        2. 'Tis Me*

          I got a job in publishing without a relevant degree or any internships/other formal experience (way back in 2006, so two years before a recession) so it is possible although I was also very lucky to find a company willing to invest in me.

          The pay was below the threshold to start repaying my student loan (UK – it’s deducted from your pay above a threshold automatically here… Or should be, I did actually end up needing to pay about 80% of my monthly net salary in one lump, after doing a tax return a year or so after moving on from there) but they also bought us lunch every day, and invested in us – I started by going on a 3 day external training course, and they sent me to a couple of others too in the 18 months I was there. When I moved on to a much larger company, I think my gross pay went up by close to a third on paper, but after commuting costs and lunch and with increased tax etc ended up something like £20 a month better off. (I’ve been with the same company since and they do also invest in us, and are generally a lovely company to work for :-) )

    2. calonkat*

      I will confess that my old-lady self also had this thought. Make sure that they aren’t just using you as unpaid labor! If they are a new organization, how much are you going to learn as an “intern” compared to how much professional type service you’re providing? I know Alison has stated “In the U.S., unpaid internships at for-profit businesses are illegal unless they’re primarily for the benefit of the intern, not the company, and include a heavy training component, similar to what you’d get in school.”

    3. sacados*

      I definitely agree that LW should watch out for herself/be aware of the potential for exploitation.
      But at the same time, music — like a lot of the other “glamorous” “fun” industries like entertainment, games, fashion, etc — is still very much one of those industries where you have to both get the “lucky break” and also often work for years in low or no-paying jobs in order to make a lasting career.

      I don’t mean to say that it’s right, or that I agree with how these fields operate, but it’s definitely not as simple as saying “just find someone who will pay you to do this.”

    4. Pixie*

      Based on the original letter it sounds like LW3 is trying to transition into the music marketing world from whatever their current full time job is. So they’re trying, but also it’s a pandemic world and jobs can be hard to come by, so they’re just adding experience to an already good resume until they can find the full time thing they’re looking for (this is just my opinion, I could be wrong of course ^^)

      1. Rayray*

        This is how I interpreted it as well. It sucks that even in 2021 unpaid internships are still a thing, but it will hopefully be a good experience for LW3 and I hope their hard work pays off.

    5. High Score!*

      I can still remember a time when I would’ve been thrilled with an unpaid internship to get some experience which is like gold to someone just entering the workforce. I finally figured out that very small companies needed help and couldn’t pay much so I took those jobs while my male counterparts busted their balls to get jobs at the largest companies possible. They rolled their eyes at my tiny paychecks. That’s ok, I’ve had a far more exciting career and out earn all of them today.
      So, OP3, continue to be thrilled, have fun, take on as much responsibility as they’ll give and put it all on your resume!

  4. OyHiOh*

    #3 – part of the reason I got the job I have now is because I had previously done newsletters for small organizations on a volunteer “for fun” basis. My boss wanted this organization to start putting out a monthly newsletter and the fact that I had a small body of work to point to as evidence that I know how to use the software and can put together an attractive product made a difference, even if it wasn’t a paid, professional reference. We complain a lot, in the entertainment industries, about getting exposure rather than payment (and people do rightly need to be paid appropriately for their work!!!) but that volunteer exposure does, in fact, make a difference when you’re trying to break in and get paid work.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, that’s the thing. Sometimes it actually helps you. I did some writing for free years ago and the reality is it helped me. That’s especially true when you’re trying to break into a highly competitive field like music. I don’t endorse the system we have where free labor is taken advantage of, but it’s the system the OP is in.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      So many people play (or promote) music for fun, that if you insist on getting paid, you may end up with no opportunities to participate.

      Music is like a baseball or any other sport–most people do it recreationally, a small number play in the minor-leagues, and a tiny number make a living at it. But everyone starts in the first group.

    3. LW3*

      I’m so glad to read this! I commented in a bit more detail above, but this is basically exactly the situation I’m hoping for. I love it enough that I’m happy to do it “for exposure”… at least for now while I have another job that pays the bills :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not across the board, depends on the details. There’s a link above to more info. But I don’t want to rain all over the OP’s happiness, so let’s consider it noted and move on.

  5. TypityTypeType*

    Good for you, OP #3 — just enjoy the ride and see where it goes. You sound like you have your head on straight — good luck and more power to you!

  6. Heffalump*

    OP3: If you don’t want to name the artists and the label, I’ll understand, but can you tell me what genre the music is?

      1. LW3*

        It’s latin music, a mix of genres under that umbrella!

        Since I’m already not-anonymous to anyone who knows me (because I still will. not. stop. talking. about the concert, lol): look up “Lento” by Grey García. He’s the first artist signed to the label, though we have a few more with distribution contracts.

        It’s pretty easy to find me once you’ve found him. If any artists are reading this, HMU ;)

  7. Rbeezy*

    What a delightful update, OP#3! It’s so exciting when our heroes turn out to be exactly who we think they are :)

    1. quill*

      OP’s partner has three employees, all of which also have dogs.

      This has created a Barbershop Bark Quartet.

    2. OP#1*

      Hello I’m the OP of that letter! So we have a little rescue shih tzu who is still learning that the world isn’t going to hurt him anymore. Our job situation wasn’t great for a while because of the pandemic and my partner had to step away from barbering but now they have the chance to return to it! Our dog used to be in the shop with my partner all the time and he loves being there, he’s very comfortable with the space and all the sounds so he honestly doesn’t bark there! He has his own bay window to lie in and let people gaze at him from outside. He’s so good with people, which was one of my problems put to Allison because my colleagues would want to meet him if they heard him!

      1. Former Employee*

        Awww, a shih tzu. And a rescue besides. You and your partner are the best and it sounds as if you have lovely neighbors.

        I’m glad your partner will be able to get back to barbering and your dog will be able to get back to to “work” at the shop as well.

        1. Charlief*

          Please say that the barbershop partner will cut the shih tzu’s hair in funky ways… like instead of those old 1980s pictures of guys with different hair cuts you could have pictures of the shih tzu with them…

      2. AskJeeves*

        This sounds amazing! I would absolutely choose barbershop just based on them having a resident dog.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      You’ve heard of bookstore cats*, now meet Barbershop Dog!

      * don’t know if it’s a common thing, but an indie bookstore in our area does (or did? I haven’t visited the store in a while) have a store cat, and once (pre-Covid) threw him a birthday party with wine, appetizers, a chocolate cake, and a raffle. I even got to hold the birthday man, as I walked into the store at exactly the same moment as he jumped on the table with the cake and was about to step into it! (He was not pleased.)

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        I love Barbershop Dog! My old hair salon had a Frenchie named Vidal who would hang out with customers and often wore cute little outfits. My mom’s salon has a Doberman who comes by rather frequently. Hair salons and barbershops should always have a dog.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        We had a series of Cinema Cats at our local 2nd run joint.

        They’ve sold (the pandemic sucks), but I’m holding out hope for a new Cinema Cat when the new owners open.

  8. Phil*

    LW3: My ex wife did the same thing-internship at a small label-and she ended up running promotion for a big record label. All you need is a foot in the door.

  9. Don't Comment Enough For a Name*

    Fantastic news OP3!! Here’s to this being the start of a long and successful career!

  10. not always right*

    OP#2, I love this line But this year has been a good reminder to put on your own oxygen mask first. So very well said! OP#3, I am so happy for you. I hope this all works out the way you want it to. I wish you the best
    OP#1, So glad there is a solution for your problem, although I know you will probably miss your doggo during the day. The upside is how glad y’all will be to reunite in the evenings!

  11. The Lexus Lawyer*

    Am I the only one who thinks LW3 is being exploited? Hugs, gifts, and free shows don’t really cost the artist anything and won’t pay the bills.

    1. Former Employee*

      The OP has kept her day job so I imagine she is still able to pay her bills.

      It sounds as if the artists are up and coming and probably have no extra money to pay the OP. I wouldn’t b surprised if she makes more at her day job than they do making music.

      The opportunity to get into the business end of the music business doesn’t come along very often so people generally have to say yes when they hear the knock on their door.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, Covid has been brutal for the music industry, and the entertainment industry in general. Not just the artists, but also the promoters, technicians, and road crews who’re unemployed because there are no gigs.

        1. LW3*

          Yep yep, Former Employee & allathian got it. Some days I feel like I’m being exploited, but those days are outweighed by how much I love doing this. As long as I have something to pay the bills — and I do, currently — I don’t mind doing this particular work for free!

          (Obviously I want to get paid for it someday, hopefully soon, but I also understand that it’s a tough job to get and a tough industry to break into. Baby steps!)

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