September 09, 2020

My internship at PENTATONE

As a part of an ongoing series of articles about the state of the classical music recording industry, Lorenzo Bauco reflected on his internship at PENTATONE and how this experience enriched him as a professional and an individual.

Although classical music labels’ workflow might be quite similar to the one of the mainstream music Industry, working for an independent label is different from working for a major one. To be honest I’ve never worked for a major record company, but I would love to share with you my exciting experience first as an Intern and then as Marketing Assistant for the classical music label PENTATONE, based in the Netherlands. After a MSc in Publishing and Music Production, I spent a couple of years in Italy taking up unsatisfactory Internships and underpaid jobs, mainly due to the prevailing chaos in this sector. Entering PENTATONE’s rooms meant a lot to me because I reclaimed hope in the dream I’ve always had: working in the music business.

Not far from the train station of the pretty town of Baarn, at the end of a long tree-lined road, the record company headquarters looked like a majestic family house. From the entrance, you could immediately see a very wide room with a large table in the centre. That was the table around which all the staff got together for meetings, lunches, Christmas dinners and so on… it was the place where ideas, moods, emotions, and intuitions came together – contributing to the shape of the final product; the place where it was almost impossible to hide stress, sleepless nights or outbursts of joy. 

I started my collaboration with PENTATONE as Product Management Intern. I can’t deny that before this internship I used to consider the classical music industry as an old-dated world. But since the first day I realized how much vitality, energy and knowledge of current work dynamics were needed in this field. The other thing I immediately understood is that classical music, despite a delay of two, three years compared to mainstream music, it has fully set its mark in the Digital Era.

In the product management department, the working process was focused on “albums”, from the graphic design of the cover to the creation of the booklet, possibly including the libretto. Furthermore, at this stage, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively both with all the other team members and the artists themselves, was fundamental. I had seen many times the product manager spending several hours on the phone while trying to enforce the deadlines or dealing with the most varied requests and needs of the artists. From the very beginning, I was given trust. I could ask for help and, at the same time, I felt free to build up my own skills. I was also given the opportunity to translate some librettos.

I also realized that, what I had seen written on the PENTATONE website before starting the internship, was actually true. One of the purposes of this small record company is to comply with the creativity and artistic sensitivity of all musicians as much as possible, which is not always easy. Trying to meet the needs of the artists, especially during the current recording industry crisis, represents certainly an interesting challenge. A strategic choice that focuses on quality does not necessarily lead to unsatisfactory quantitative results. On the contrary, I can testify that courage and passion, which must be innate features of independent record labels, can lead to very positive results from a sales point of view.

After one year I was offered a nine-month contract in the Marketing department. A completely different world opened up through the door two meters away from my previous office. The Marketing branch represents the heart of the company. It is in charge of setting the tone, and it is the place where, for the first time in my whole life, I wished the day lasted 48 hours instead of 24. It was a difficult and educational experience, and I was lucky enough to find a team of highly trained women who fully supported me. Here I learned the importance of enhancing good communication skills and meeting deadlines. Marketing is the juncture of all companies, the one that finalizes and affects the hard work of the other departments.

Working in different departments within the same record label has greatly enriched me. I am fully aware of the fact that the world of music is varied. Surely on a larger scale it is. Working in such a small company forces you to deal with all those competences involved in a record company and this allows you to live an unforgettable experience, for better or for worse, in an intense and challenging way.

Lorenzo Bauco