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EVENTS, ORGANIZATIONS, SOCIETIES, AND UNIONS - National Association Of Recording Arts & Sciences (naras)

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessEVENTS, ORGANIZATIONS, SOCIETIES, AND UNIONS - South By Southwest Annual Music Festival, National Association Of Recording Arts Sciences (naras), Country Music Association (cma)

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RECORDING ARTS & SCIENCES (NARAS)

PUBLICATIONS MANAGER AND MANAGING EDITOR OF GRAMMY MAGAZINE

JOB OVERVIEW

The publication manager and managing editor oversees a variety of print projects and publications at NARAS including Grammy Magazine, Grammy Program Book, and a myriad of in-house publications, as well as the content of the web site.

SPECIAL SKILLS

To succeed, you must have the ability to write; strong verbal and written communication skills; a broad range of knowledge about the music industry, both current and historical; computer skills; drive, and an inquisitive mind.

CAREER TIPS

“Being really driven gets you places. You have to really, really want it.” Remember, there is a line of people waiting to take your position.

“I have a good education and I'm very well-rounded, and that makes me a good editor. Every day I read all the trades, I read the newspaper, I watch the news and I read magazines, because it's all relevant to what I do as a copy editor. If there is a problem in an Ice Cube or Blind Boys of Alabama story, or a piece on Internet technology, I need to recognize it.”

“Even the best writers need practice. The Internet is a great outlet. Newspapers, magazines—they're always looking for interns. Check that out and see if it's what you want to do.”

A DAY IN THE LIFE

The work day differs from day to day, month to month, and season to season for NARAS's Melissa Blazer. In December, January, and February, prior to the annual Grammy Awards show, the thrust is producing the program book. Blazer is involved in the pretelecast program. She oversees print collateral for continuing and special projects, and the live webcast of the awards and web site updates. She is also involved in the advance preparation of the Grammy Magazine issue that comes out immediately following the awards. In the summer, the Latin Grammy Awards are the thrust. Other times of the year are spent with continuing projects and events planning, maintaining the web site, and continuing to publish Grammy Magazine and other collateral material for NARAS.

POINTERS FOR THE JOB SEARCH

“Get a really good education. Get a really good education. Get a really good education. Intern and volunteer as much as you can. There are some great opportunities that lead to good jobs, but it also gives a young person an opportunity to see if they like something.”

MELISSA BLAZER, PUBLICATIONS MANAGER FOR NARAS AND MANAGING EDITOR OF GRAMMY MAGAZINE

When Melissa Blazer says “I don't really have any mercy” on interns and those working under her command, it is because she has been there in the trenches doing the “scud work,” and that is what brought about her current success. With an undergraduate degree in English from Rutgers University, Blazer went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri at Columbia. She worked as a news and sports writer at the college radio station, where she first became interested in music. “There was an upperclassman working there and she was really, really cool. She had wild punk hair and she was always smashing records. I was just a geeky newsgirl. I wanted to be like her.” While she continued to write and deliver the news, Blazer picked up more and more music shifts as well. Still in college, she landed her first editorial job at an alternative newsweekly in Kansas City. Over the next seven years, she bounced between the city's two weeklies.

“I was an Arts and Entertainment (A&E) editor, doing a lot of managing editor duties, but mostly A&E, and primarily music. I spent a really, really long time honing my skills and being exposed to a tremendous amount of music on all different levels. I started from the bottom. I spent years and years working with the local club promoters and concert promoters, and the local blues and jazz festivals, and the Blues Foundation. It was all volunteer mind you. That's the key word: volunteer! When you're young and ambitious and stupid—all at the same time—you're willing to do it. I just wanted to learn. I wanted to be exposed to it. I'm joking about being stupid, by the way. All that experience sort of piled up after a time, and it's made me incredibly well-versed in a lot of different music.” After over a decade at the Kansas City weeklies, Blazer was ready for new challenges and decided to look for them in Los Angeles.

THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE JOB:

“The politics! Also, when you're on the inside of the entertainment business, you understand how it works, and it's hard not to let that spoil things. Sometimes I have a hard time enjoying a movie because I'm into the sound track and I know who did it, or there wasn't something in the credits that I think should have come out.”

THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“I'm good at what I do and I'm comfortable doing it. I think very few people find the one thing in life they're really good at, but I found that thing. I like going to work every day. Even if I didn't do all the reading and research for my job, I would do it anyway.”

“I moved out here [Los Angeles] with no job. I thought I could get a job with my experience. I was a waitress for nine months—it wasn't pretty. I'd always wanted to work and live in Los Angeles, but had I known how scary it was, I would never have done it. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and just go.” With no family or friends to help, Blazer turned to the publicity contacts she'd made while working in Kansas City, and eventually landed freelance work. “I did research on a Priscilla Presley biography and I worked with an author and television producer for awhile. I worked at Inside Edition in the editing bay. I tried to pick up writing gigs, but I was working four jobs at once just to pay the rent. I eventually landed an editorial job at the Album Network, which is one of the radio trades.” After a couple of years at Album Network, Blazer made the move to NARAS in the fall of 1999. “It is a fairly small editorial staff. There is an editor above me and there are other editorial staff—I am just one of the many cogs.” www.grammy.com

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