As the summer gears up and the festivals are in fool swing, there is still a tremendous amount of knowledge that is needed in order to really build a long lasting career in the music business. So even though school/college is out for the summer, learning still continues. Taking advantage of the different opportunities that come about in the entertainment industry is something that is not given to you. You have to seek it out! How do you learn to find those opportunities? One very important thing is to get involved with the different organizations that I will be writing about in this column. This particular article will focus on NARIP (National Association for Recording Industry Professionals). I have been watching this organization during its start in the Atlanta community over a year ago. The educational and networking opportunities it offers have been nothing but top notched and has involved some industry professionals that would normally be very hard to get to. So far, Steve Lillywhite (U2 producer) and Andrea von Foerster were among some of the great opportunities offered by NARIP. To get a little more insight into the organization I interviewed Eileen Tilson (Executive Director of the Atlanta Chapter) and Samantha Parvin (Sits on the Board of Directors)


Eric/TBB: Tell us a little about yourselves and what you do.


Eileen: I am their wearer of many hats….Officially I am: VP of Tipping Point Entertainment Group, specializing in New Media Marketing & PR, Executive Director of the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Record Industry Professionals, Editor of Atlanta Music Guide, and Social Media Manager for the Georgia Music Partners.


Samantha: I’m a born and bred Georgia peach and spent a few years in the South Carolina Lowcountry studying the business side of the Arts. Now I work at Atlanta’s premier recording studio, Doppler Studios, handling public relations, marketing, new client relations, radio traffic, and a host of other things. I’m also on the Board of Directors for NARIP, and I work on freelance writing and consulting projects, among other things. I was President of 7:30 Club for a couple of years as well. So Eileen and I have both mastered the art of Many-Hats-Wearing.


Eric/TBB: Who were your guiding forces behind the decisions to work in the entertainment business, namely the music industry?


Eileen: For me, I didn’t have someone telling me I should go into music, but I watched my mentor, Leslie Fram, be a strong woman in power in the music industry, and she sort of inspired me to jump in.


Samantha:: No one person necessarily brought me into the music business. My family is very artistic, and I grew up dancing and singing. I knew by about 16 that I would work in the performing arts, but I’m more of an appreciator and businessperson than an artist, myself.


Eric/TBB: What is NARIP, and how did you get involved?


Eileen: About a year and a half ago I was in New York City, and my friend was speaking on a “How to Produce a Grand Slam Marketing Plan” panel that NARIP was hosting. I immediately realized this was exactly the sort of thing that Atlanta needed, and I called Tess Taylor, President and Founder of NARIP, the next day asking how I could get involved, and eventually things sort of snowballed into where they are now.


Samantha:: NARIP is about educating the recording industry’s workforce, as well as building goodwill and relationships among record industry professionals. As we know, WHO you know often drives ones professional success, so by providing both the knowledge AND the opportunity to meet other professionals in our business, we’re able to build the entertainment business from all sides. Oh, and Eileen brought me on her board around October of last year.


Eric/TBB: What does NARIP do for the local Atlanta music scene?


Eileen: NARIP is bi-fold. We give the music industry in Georgia direct access to industry heavy hitters, that they might not otherwise have the ability to access. We offer concrete educational experiences from some of the best in the biz. We aim to have the best possible speakers in the country. For example, when we hosted our “How to Produce a Hit Song” panel, we flew in world famous U2 producer, Steve Lillywhite, to speak. We also offer quarterly networking brunches, that afford each speaker 30 seconds to tell the rest of the group about their business, leading to direct and targeted conversations, without the hassle of speaking over loud music.


Samantha:: I think what ensures NARIP’s succes in the Atlanta music scene is its no-bull, straight delivery of incredibly valuable information. One may spend $15 (if not a member) to come to one of our events, and the information they gain from the event could be – and often is – the difference between your business thriving or eating PB&J’s the rest of the year.


Eric/TBB: Education seems to be a key component of NARIP. What is in store for Atlanta this year?


Eileen: Oh we can’t give away all of our secrets! However, I will tell you that we have panels surrounding radio, touring, publishing, etc…..And as always, we are bringing in the very best in the business.


Samantha:: What’s in store for Atlanta? A LOT of job, talent, and community growth.


Eric/TBB: The Atlanta scene is such a diverse community and a hot bed for talent. What trends do you see coming our way that we need to be ready for?


Eileen: I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and got into several conversations about how creatively, Atlanta was thriving, but how there was no music business scene. Clearly, I jumped on my soapbox, and informed these folks on how strong our scene really is. There is no other city in the country that is as musically diverse as Atlanta. With every single genre represented, we are literally living in a music mecca. With initiatives like Georgia Music Partners, I see not only our great talent staying and creating in Georgia, but nationwide acts coming to see what we have to offer.


Samantha:: As Eileen mentioned, there is no other city in the country that has such a diverse array of talent. NARIP brings together rock producers with hip hop managers, major music licensing agents, and everything in between. I find myself on my soapbox often as well. We need to get some good PR going for Atlanta in other areas of the country. Recently dozens of companies have opened shop here and/or experienced growth in gaming, film, and television. I think music is headed that way as well. We have the creative services here – great recording studios, engineers, producers, and artists. Now it’s time for the managers, A&R, publicists, et al to join in the fun.


Eric/TBB: Is there anything that NARIP can or is planning on doing to help cultivate these other genres for a more balanced local music scene?


Eileen: NARIP’s main goal is education and connecting the music industry in Georgia. Every single genre of music is usually represented in some form or fashion at every NARIP event, thus allowing the opportunity for networking not only with other musicians, but also with other music industry representatives in these genres.


Samantha:: Together, NARIP members’ professional relationships are far-reaching. While our focus is on recording industry business professionals, we also have events that are extremely useful for artists and others. Our events  are open to everyone who wants to learn more about his craft and/or build his business.


Eric/TBB: Are there any closing remarks or statements you would like to make to those aspiring musicians out there?


Eileen: Educate yourself! Too many times, I have seen musicians taken advantage of, because of the fact that they do not understand the business side of music. NARIP offers direct solutions to this. By arming yourself with the tools and correct language to negotiate deals, you only propel your career to the next level.


Samantha:: Ditto! And do your research. Know who is working on what projects, what resources are available to you, and what trends are happening in your city. It’s vital to be aware of what opportunities you have, because you can’t get the job if you don’t apply, and you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.


Thank you so much Eileen and Samantha for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions. The next time you are faced with challenges as you are trying to build your career in the entertainment industry, remember these organizations and the names associated with them that I will be writing about in this column. That is what they are here for, to empower you with knowledge so you can make informed and educated decisions on your career which will most likely be your livelihood if you’re serious about it.


This Wednesday, June 22, 2011 NARIP has yet another educational opportunity for you at SAE Institute, 215 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia. This is ‘Music in Games’. If you have ever wondered how those video games on the Xbox 360, Wii, or Playstation get their music, be at this class. You cannot say I didn’t tell you now!!

Until next time!


Eric Newcomer, The Artist Advocate