Student Profile: Mark Schafer
Music business/management major Mark Schafer was among eight students who participated in Berklee's first London Internship Program. Schafer spent the summer working at indie label Blow Up Records and is now back at Berklee editing the Music Business Journal. Here is a condensed and edited sampling of what he had to say about the experience.
How long have you been at Berklee?
This is only my third year at Berklee, but I transferred, so it's really my fourth year of college. I went to Raritan Valley Community College. I did all my liberal arts classes there, so I don't have to focus on liberal arts while I'm here. My history teacher there actually wrote the history book they use here.
How did you get the internship?
Through the Office of Experiential Learning. We were the guinea pigs for the London Internship Program. They went through a few different companies that match up companies that are looking for interns and interns that are looking for internships. I had to put together a curriculum vitae (what they use instead of a résumé in Europe). I put together a cover letter and sent it off, and it came back with exactly what I was looking for.
What was your job?
I was at Blow Up Records. They run an independent record label. They actually do the publishing for the bands in-house, and they run a music club called the Metro in London. All the upcoming bands [play there]. They have multiple businesses all run out of this one office, so everybody got to do everything.
I would update and keep accurate all of the ticket sales through TicketWeb and See Tickets, mostly—the big online ticket agents there. I would also find out what bands had been booked, compile the listings, find short bios, put it all together, make sure the prices are right, accurately list the promoters, and send it out to everybody that needed to know. I helped promote the new albums that were coming out, finding editorial people at the right places. I would hand-deliver to the BBC offices packets of promotional materials. I helped out with the venue a bunch of nights.
What was it like to live in London?
We were in six townhouses, three on each side facing the courtyard. There were 17 of us from Berklee, and there were kids from other colleges, too. It was out in this neighborhood called Kilburn, a very mixed neighborhood. It was the most diverse place I’ve ever been in. There were people from everywhere.
I worked four days a week and had three-day weekends, so we got to travel. I traveled every single weekend: Scotland, Ireland, all over England, France, Italy. . . . The professional experience was amazing and the cultural experience was at least as amazing. It was all in one package, just a great experience.
What was the highlight of your experience?
I got to work with two bands. One was called Mockingbird Wish Me Luck and one was called Silvery. This guy Steve Lamacq—he's a really famous DJ for [the] BBC over there—was really getting behind them a lot. So I got to go to BBC Studios with them when they did a session for BBC1.
I helped work a show for Mockingbird Wish Me Luck. I booked their flights and buses to and from the city; we went to a show with them, and I helped them with their gear; and then I was working the merchandise. They were playing with this band Camera Obscura, a pretty famous band from Scotland, and for some reason I ended up working Camera Obscura's merchandise for an hour, too.
How do you think your internship prepared you for your future career?
In a bizarre way, it helped me figure what I want to do, in that I don't think I want to pursue this. It really helped shape my ideas. [While I was there] I was in contact with all kinds of editors at music magazines, and I thought, I could be that guy.
I actually work on the Music Business Journal here—I'm the editor-in-chief this year—so I've been considering going into some kind of music journalism, working for a magazine and writing. But I'm trying to keep my options open, trying to acquire all these different skills so I can go into anything to do with music, hopefully.
I think this will stand out on my résumé. I got a great reference from them. I already got an interview for another internship at Newbury Comics. My schedule's too full right now, but I might do something there in the future.