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Music Business Graduate Erin Dickey Hits the Road to Success


After graduating in May 2020, Columbia College Chicago Music Business graduate Erin Dickey has, in less than two years, established herself by creating a successful career track that encompasses music, management, travel, and hiring staff for music festivals throughout the United States.


Originally from Olney, Maryland, and a graduate of Sherwood High School, Erin’s circuitous route into the music industry serves as a reminder that your career path can start to take shape through focusing on your true passion. According to Erin, “I was in my third year of studying international relations at the University of Denver when I realized I wanted to work in music. I was focused on international development and spent the first semester of my junior year in Madagascar. While I was there, I realized that international development is not what I want to be doing, and I just really wanted to do something that brought people joy.”


Before making that transition into the music industry, Erin did a good deal of soul searching to make sure that her segue was the future she envisioned. To come to her decision, she relied on her intuition. As she relates, “I had this impressive research job working for the State Department. I was good at it, and it was comfortable, but I came to the realization that most jobs in that field would be along similar lines of staring at a computer for forty hours a week, and it didn't really matter how impressive my job seemed if it didn't make me happy. Music really helped me during that time when I was so uncertain about myself, and when I thought about pursuing a career in music it really felt right. I just wanted to do something that brought people joy.”


Though it was becoming more apparent that the leap to the music industry would be her destination, some self-doubt about the change was beginning to seep in. Coming in as a transfer student meant starting over with a new school, curriculum, instructors, and friends. According to Erin, “I was very unsure of myself. I'm incredibly impulsive and only officially made the decision to change schools about six weeks before move-in day, so everything was still really new, and Columbia was so different from my previous college.”


Columbia turned out to be the quintessential choice due to the many benefits Chicago offered. “Chicago, to me, is one of the best parts of Columbia. I had always wanted to live in Chicago since I visited with my family when I was younger, and it's also just such an amazing music city.”


The ability to adapt and a passion for music gave her momentum as she quickly built relationships within the industry. She began an artist relationship internship at Lincoln Hall/Schubas, two sister music venues located in Chicago’s Lakeview and Lincoln neighborhoods. This would be her first of, count them, eight internships in the music industry. According to Erin, “I was intentional about my choices in internships in that I wanted variety. I wanted to try out as many different facets of the industry as I could. The music business is so broad, and it's really helped me going forward that I do have experience working in venues and labels and radio stations, because that wide variety of environments taught me a lot about the music business as a whole.”


Those internships helped her in connecting with the industry, gaining experience, and instilling in her the confidence to know that she found her niche in the industry. Her current position entails many moving parts. As she explains, “I'm technically self-employed in that I'm a full-time contractor, so in the last month I've done shows with C3 Presents, Insomniac, Goldenvoice, and AEG. My primary gig is with C3 ticketing and that has been an ever-evolving role. All of these jobs have been by referral or by meeting people at other shows, and it truly comes down to who you know.”


Another key element is that her positions in the industry allow for flexibility. With remote work being offered by more and more companies, this is an aspect that fits well in Erin’s life. “My job now is kind of a mix between remote and onsite, which is perfect for me. The pre-show production meeting are done remotely, so I actually have been living in a van and have been able to do a lot of National Park hopping between shows. The onsite portion is definitely my favorite, because the energy around these shows is something so special, but it's also nice that one week I'm onsite with 100,000 others, and the next I'm all remote.”


Erin’s advice for students interested in the field is, “You must be willing to put in the work. Working in entertainment can feel casual and fun, but you still have to take it seriously if you want to get anywhere. Of course, it's fun to get off early and see music, but managers also notice if you stay late and help when you don't have to, and that can make a big difference.”




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