by Renisha Mayes

When the Talent Development Complex signed on to host MMI Works interns for the first time this summer, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew these would be students right out of high school, and the work that we do with artists here isn’t something that can be trial and error. On a given day we may be actually helping an artist to copyright their music so they can release it commercially. These are real artists with real products. I wasn’t sure how these students would adjust or respond to this environment.

It turns out, not only were these two were a breath of fresh air, I am keeping in touch with both of them.

We hosted two interns – Angel, who worked on social media and marketing during her internship, and Kylen, who worked more closely with me. Angel is now majoring in music business at MTSU – this summer gave her the opportunity to see if this is something she really wants to do. Working with our social media and marketing meant she was hands-on, capturing content and engaging with all the elements of the Consortium MMT’s programming. Initially she wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to pursue in the music industry, but as I got to know her more over the summer, we discovered we both have a love for Disney. She asked me if I thought she could get a job that would use her music business degree in that area – I was like, ‘Yes!’ There is a plethora of music-related jobs at Pixar or Disney. She was excited to have some direction, and now she’s looking into internships that will start her on that path.

I worked more closely with Kylen, who wants to be a producer. Working alongside me and getting to see the types of consultation we do with artists, he learned a lot about how to grow his own career as an independent artist or producer. He’s also in school now at UAPB majoring in music business, and we still keep in touch. He’s building relationships with other up-and-coming artists on campus, and is already doing songwriter split sheets and things like that in those collaborations. His experience this summer really gave him such a head start for his first semester studying music business. He went in with a real foundation of knowledge.

I was surprised by how engaged Angel and Kylen both were. I thought they would be bored out of their minds. This is administrative work, and I thought they’d want to be somewhere more hands-on, with more activities to do. But I think being here they both really realized that, ‘Wow, I could really do this one day.’ It’s like, clearly no one had told them or given them permission to think outside the box, and there are so many jobs that would allow them to do what they love to do. Kylen was like, ‘So, I could intern at BMI if I wanted to.’ And I said, ‘Yeah!’”

When I was their age, I didn’t have a direction. I was so passionate about music, but there were no organizations like MMI to guide me. I didn’t think I could really get a job in the music industry. It was a mystery to me. So for these young people to know that, yes, these jobs really do exist, and they’re accessible to you, is phenomenal. I hope I can be a mentor to Kylen and Angel in some capacity. If they need any help when it comes to music business, or even life, work balance things, I hope I can answer questions for them. I would love to be at their graduations, and see that they’re pursuing careers in the music industry. I’m already looking forward to meeting our new interns next summer!

Renisha Mayes is the Talent Engagement Coordinator for the Consortium MMT’s Talent Development Complex.