Adventures of an EPICS Intern: The Other Side of Entertainment

After my first couple of weeks here at Virgin Records, things started to calm down a bit.  Instead of partaking in all the extracurricular entertaining sides of the music industry, I got to sit back and begin learning more about how a record label truly functions from the inside out.

Virgin Records
Virgin Records

I began attending more A&R (Artists and Repertoire) and marketing meetings, which really allowed me to understand how all the parts of a record label coincide.  In the A&R meetings we went through the artists we were looking at to potentially sign and discussed their sound amongst the Virgin group as well as Capitol Music Group as a whole.  We also discussed the acts we currently have and what the next steps were for each of them.  Each week we go through the Top 40 songs to keep up to date with what sounds, artists, and producers are making the charts. This allows us to constantly know what people are listening to and who’s rising to the top.  In the marketing meetings I got to see how they coordinate show schedules, the artists’ pictures, looks, name, logos, meet and greets as well as any necessary promotional activity.  I never truly understood all that the marketing department did until I attended these meetings.

Top of Capitol Tower
Top of Capitol Tower

As with my first couple of weeks, I continued tracking our artists’ social media numbers as well as searching for talented new independent artists.  This entailed creating show lists of artists playing in the many venues in Los Angeles, scanning through various Pollstar, NME and Billboard magazines as well as attending some concerts in LA.  It is amazing how great an artist or band can sound online, but the minute you hear their songs live it can be a completely different story.  One band had one amazing song, yet the other six were all over the place, which showed us they weren’t ready to sign to a label at that point in their career.  Through my short time here at Virgin, my “ear” for music has already become much pickier.

Last week, the Virgin team and I got to attend an ASCAP writers workshop meeting where Ron was the guest speaker.  ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; a membership association of composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music.  They protect the rights of their members by licensing and distributing royalties for the performances of the artist’s copyrighted works. It was amazing to hear Ron’s stories of his journey in the music business and all the ups and downs he has encountered.  The 14 “up and coming” writers were absorbing everything he had to say in awe.  They then played their original songs for Ron and in return got some very constructive feedback that will dramatically improve their musical careers.

Corinne Bailey Rae and I
Corinne Bailey Rae and I

Although these past couple of weeks have been more of a learning experience within the office, there is always some excitement that takes place here at work.  I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of Virgin’s artists, Corinne Bailey Rae while she was recording in the studio on our floor.  It was also a big surprise when the whole day was spent prepping the room next to my desk for an interview, which I later realized was for Katy Perry (after she nonchalantly asked if I knew where the bathroom was located.  And yes, I gladly showed her!)

Katy Perry Interview room
Katy Perry Interview room

Although my boss, Ron Fair, has extremely limited time, I was persistent in creating a time in his calendar to show him a new artist I had worked with in the past.  I feel this artist has what it takes to make it big and become a true player on the Virgin Records roster and therefore I was determined to pitch it to him.  After the success of the first artist I had signed with Ron, he decided to make room in his schedule and take a listen.  As I had hoped, he saw the true talent and “star” that I had seen and I am very excited that this artist is coming in next week to meet with Ron and I.  This positive feedback just makes it even clearer that I was meant to do this.

My time here at Virgin has been an amazing experience and I know that this is still just the beginning. I have become very close with all my coworkers and love the environment we work in. I look forward to continuing my work here at Virgin and listening to some great music while I’m at it.

Natalie Edell is a senior RTVF major at Northwestern interning with Virgin Records this quarter.

SoConnect Weekly Round-up: 10/21-10/25

New Internships:

  • Ars Nova- Artistic/Management & Development/Marketing/Production Interns
  • 826 CHI- Communications, Development, Marketing/PR, Programming, Publications, Special Events, & Volunteer/Outreach Internships
  • Zero Gravity Management- Development Intern
  • Theatre Communications Group- American Theatre magazine, Communications/Conferences, Development, Executive Office, Graphic Design, and International/Artistic Programs Interns
  • Chicago Humanities Festival- Winter/Spring Internships

Current Highlights:

  • LA:Heroes & Villains Entertainment- Entertainment Intern
  • NYC: Ars Nova- Artistic/Management & Development/Marketing/Production Interns
  • Chicago: Optimus- Winter Internship apply by 10/31
  • Other Markets: Clear Channel Media & Entertainment- KDWB/Cities97 Promotions Intern (Minneapolis, MN)

Log into SoConnect to apply for these internships & more!

SoConnect Weekly Round-up: 10/14-10/18

New Internships:

  • Shedd Aquarium- Communications/PR & Online Marketing & Communications Internships
  • The Onion News Network- Production & Graphics Internships
  • Northern Lights- Production/Post-Production Internship
  • The Dershowitz Group- Public Affairs and Strategic Communication Internship

Current Highlights:

  • LA: Toy Box Entertainment- Entertainment Marketing Agency Internship
  • NYC: MCC Theater- Development, Marketing, & Education/Outreach Internships
  • Chicago: Optimus- Winter Internship
  • Other Markets: Fleishman-Hillard Inc.- Public Relations Internship Program (St. Louis, MO)

Log into SoConnect to apply for these internships & more!

CAA Information Session

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) will be on-campus Wednesday, October 23rd!  To RSVP to CAA’s info session (open to ALL Northwestern students and recent alums), please click on the image below.

SoC students only: In addition to holding a company info session at 6pm, a representative from their HR team will be conducting informational interviews with SoC juniors/seniors/MFAs in the Writing for Screen & Stage program during the day. Any interested students who meet this criteria can apply via SoConnect…instructions are listed under “announcements.” Informational interviews will take place from Noon-4pm.

CAA Info Session

Employer Spotlight: Onion News Network – Inside The World’s Most Powerful News Organization

The Onion News Network is the arm of The Onion that is dedicated exclusively to producing video, specializing in short-form web cable news satire. We make it our mission to hold up the mirror to society, to our culture, and to ourselves as humans, and – obviously – to make people laugh along the way.

As a Producer, my job is a facilitator: it is my responsibility to give the talented people that I work with the resources, structure, and support that they need to create the wonderful videos that we put out. Because I am involved in one small way or another in all parts of the process – from writing, to Production, Post-Production, and marketing – it is often my job to balance the reality of the resources we have at our disposal with the creative vision of a given project, and help to come up with solutions that balance out all of the different needs and constraints of that project. We laugh a lot, and we also bang our head against extremely frustrating problems (and then hopefully laugh at that too).

Video production, as is often pointed out, is a hugely collaborative process that relies on hard work from many a great number of people with widely different skill sets and interests. Our work at the Onion News Network is no different, and our process is one that relies heavily on our robust internship program (we offer internships in Writing, Production, and Post-Production).

Our internship program is dear to my heart, because I started as an intern in our Post-Production department almost four years ago.  During my internship, I learned an incredible amount, and was able to work successfully as a freelance editor for about a year because of it, until I was lucky enough to be hired at ONN when a position opened up. My experience is far from unique; many of the current staff members at The Onion were interns at one point, and we work very hard to make sure that our internships are rewarding experiences, whether they lead to a job or not.

We’ve hosted a number of Northwestern students since our creative departments made the move from New York to Chicago last year, and have had a great experience, so we would certainly encourage NU students to continue to apply for our internships. Check out our available internship on SoConnect.

Hey, we all have to start somewhere! Even the President: Obama Undertakes Presidential Internship To Ease Concerns About His Lack Of Experience

Brett Blake is the Producer for the Onion News Network, the video department of The Onion. Prior to working at the Onion, Brett worked as a freelance producer, director, and editor, and co-founded an independent production company with three friends, Bluebeard Productions, which specialized in documentary-style web ads and music videos. Although he was forced to leave behind a prolific career in the service industry to pursue his interest in film and video, most days the trade-off feels worth it.

SoConnect Weekly Round-up: 10/7-10/11

New Internships:

  • Clear Channel Media & Entertainment- KDWB/Cities97 Promotions Intern
  • 27 Live- Paid Social Media Intern
  • Optimus- Winter Internship (Apply by 10/31)
  • CelebTV- Production Intern

Current Highlights:

  • LA: E! Entertainment- E! Program Planning & Acquisitions, Intern
  • NYC: Warner Bros. Pictures- Promotions & Publicity Interns
  • Chicago: Optimus- Winter Internship
  • Other Markets: Fleishman-Hillard Inc.- Public Relations Internship Program (St. Louis, MO)

Log into SoConnect to apply for these internships & more!

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: How to Plan a Marathon with Chicago Event Management

Planning and executing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Chicago Event Management:

Step 1: Learn about the marathon and what my role will be.

photo 1My race day role for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is to manage the Start Volunteer Compound. The Start Volunteer Compound is a designated check-in area for all start line volunteers working on the marathon morning. It is my job to assist in the planning of this particular check-in area. In this compound, I will manage a general check-in, a hospitality space, and a gear check. My job is to delegate specific jobs within the Compound to the volunteers. These dedicated volunteers will actually be running the compound and I will oversee the entire check-in area.

My second responsibility is to assist in planning the Race Management Program. The Race Management Program is a series of events during the week leading up to the race and continuing until the end of the race. These events are for invited race management employees to attend. These employees come from a variety of marathons and various running events across the country. The World Marathon Majors employees are invited to these events as well. These WMM employees come from New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, Madrid Marathon, and London Marathon. Chicago Event Management is responsible for all of these guests’ hospitality needs during their stay in Chicago. My third role in planning the Chicago Marathon involves Medical Team Coordination. I am responsible for planning, recruiting, and informing medical volunteers of their roles for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. While these are my roles, there are numerous tasks that lead up to the Chicago Marathon.

Step 2: Execute the tasks for my roles in order to prepare for the Marathon.

Task #1: I have prepared a detailed schedule for the Start Volunteer Compound. In order for this compound to run smoothly, I have to know every detail about it.

Task #2: I have created assignments for the start line volunteers to report to after they check-in. These assignments are very specific and important for the start line of the race.

Task #3: I have created an RSVP list for the Production meeting. The Production meeting is basically an informative meeting for all volunteers. This RSVP list included a total of 530 attendees.

Task #4: I have updated and verified medical licenses to help complete the medical volunteer team.

Step 3: Be everywhere at once.

photo 2As the Marathon approaches, it is inevitable that everyone in the office needs some type of help. Recently, I was rotating between finishing putting together over 300 assignment cards, stuffing 3,000 hospitality tent tickets into envelopes, and constructing hundreds of security credentials. While there are a million things that need to be finished in the office, there are also a million things to be finished up at the warehouse. Furthermore, the team at Chicago Event Management is extremely hardworking and efficient. With team effort and determination, these upcoming projects will come together smoothly.

Step 4: Experience a successfully planned and executed 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Find out how the Marathon turns out next month by clicking here or stay tuned for my next blog!


Paige Tonz is a senior Communication Studies major at Northwestern. As an intern with Chicago Event Management this fall, She’s helping to plan the Chicago Marathon.


EPICS/SoC Drop-in Career Coaching: Fall 2013

Drop-in career coaching is available to SoC undergrads without appointment. Each session is 15 minutes in length.

The EPICS Coordinator can advise students on general career questions; critique resumes and cover letters; explain what resources are available within the SoC/on campus; and get students started on their internship search.

Drop-in appointments take place in Frances Searle (2240 Campus Drive), Room 1-102 while classes are in session:

  • Mondays: 2-4 pm
  • Wednesdays 11 am-1 pm
  • Thursdays: 2-4 pm

SoConnect Weekly Round-up: 9/30-10/4

New Internships:

  • E! Entertainment- E! Program Planning & Acquisitions, Intern
  • Toy Box Entertainment- Entertainment Marketing Agency Internship
  • Preferred Content- Administrative and Creative Affairs Intern
  • Yellow Tractor- Communications Associate
  • American Bar Assoc. Death Penalty Representation Project- Spring Internship
  • Internship & Career Counsulting- Public Relations, Marketing, & Social Media Internships
  • Fleishman-Hillard Inc.- Public Relations Internship Program

Current Highlights:

  • LA: Partizan Entertainment- GM, Production, & Development Internships
  • NYC: The Araca Group- Theater Intern
  • Chicago: WGN-TV- Promotions/Marketing Internship
  • Other Markets: The White House- Council on Environmental Quality Spring 2014 Internship (Washington, DC)

Log into SoConnect to apply for these internships & more!

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: A Dream Come True

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 11.14.11 PM
Natalie at Virgin Records

For four years now I have known exactly what I wanted to do with my life, to make my mark in the ever-evolving music industry. I wasn’t quite sure how to do this or what that truly entailed, but I knew I was going to make it happen.  After many years of working on my own music endeavors, I finally landed my dream internship at Virgin Records with the one and only A&R music mogul and Virgin Records CCO & Executive Vice President- Ron Fair.

Ron Fair, the musical genius who is a record producer, recordingengineer and songwriter, is best known for guiding careers of unknown artists and turning them into superstars. Exactly what I would love to do! Ron has mentored and signed artists such as Christina Aguilera, Vanessa Carlton, The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Mary J Blige and the Pussycat Dolls among many more.  I had met Ron three years earlier when I was trying to get an artist I was working with signed to his then company, Geffen/Interscope Records.

Capital Records
Capitol Records Tower

Ron and I were able to make this artists dream come true by signing him, and we kept in touch ever since with the hopes that I’d be able to work with him in the near future. Networking is truly everything in the entertainment industry; don’t underestimate it!

Flash-forward to my first day at Virgin Records and excitement was oozing out of my body.  After entering through two sets of gates with guards at the Capitol Tower, I was in, until I ran into another guard at the door… Now I was in! I really felt important now. I was brought to the 12th floor where I was shown around the office, met my coworkers and brought to my desk.  The environment was like nothing I had ever seen.  Music was blasting throughout the office, everyone was smiling and laughing and I was definitely overdressed.  Better than underdressed right?  I met Ron’s assistant Brittany and finally got to say hi to Ron and thank him for this opportunity.  I had no idea what my week would entail.

Bruno Major Recording
Bruno Major Recording

The next day I got to meet one of our newly signed recording artists from England, Bruno Major.  While he was in the building, I got to join him in the Capitol Records studio on the main floor to see him record live on Frank Sinatra’s original mic.  The studio was unreal and better than I could have ever imagined. Seeing his true artistry was so much fun for me. I wonder why everyone doesn’t want to work in the music industry after experiencing this.  Not a bad start to my week I’d say.

Jimmy Kimmel Live was next on my list.  Our act, Bastille, was performing live. Watching Bastille perform was truly spectacular and getting to experience the Jimmy Kimmel show on top of that couldn’t have been better.  I realized Virgin Records had a talented artist roster.  Afterwards, we all joined Bastille back in the Capitol Records studio as they recorded with a live string quartet.  Seeing how all of the music came to life was a valuable experience. On top of that, seeing Ron work in the studio as heguided the orchestra and band showed his genius.   Later that week we attended another Bastille show and it amazed me how supportive each coworker was of their artists.  The whole 12th floor showed up! I was having too much fun for this to be work.

Capital Records Studio
Capitol Records Studio

Along with all the excitement that happens at Virgin Records I have already learned so much in just two weeks.  I’ve learned a lot about how labels track the social networking numbers of all their artists, as well as how they are constantly searching for talent throughout LA and the world.  I’ve learned a lot about how they function from the many A&R meetings as well.  In just this short time, my views on record labels, and the music industry as a whole, has drastically been altered for the better and has already confirmed that I would love to do A&R (Artists and Repertoire).  Although the music industry is transforming, I believe labels arehere to stay and extremely valuable to its artists, they just have to learn to adapt to my generation and the ever-evolving technology that comes with it.  Can’t wait for the many more adventures to come here at Virgin Records!


Natalie Edell is a senior RTVF major at Northwestern interning with Virgin Records this quarter.