As a management intern for Roc Nation this summer, Christopher Walker-Jacks ’16 worked directly with some of the biggest names in the music industry and their managers over the course of the two-month internship. From writing press releases to touring with the band Haim, the opening act on Taylor Swift’s “1989 Tour,” Walker-Jacks’ was given a wide scope of responsibilities that allowed him to gain new insight into the music industry from a management perspective.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the music industry,” says Walker-Jacks, an environmental studies major. “Last summer I had the opportunity to work for the largest independent music publishing company in the world, Imagem, which was great, but I’ve always wanted to see the industry from a management perspective. I had general conceptions of what managers did, but I had no idea how extensive their involvement was in basically every aspect of the business.”
Roc Nation, a full service entertainment company, was started by Jay-Z in partnership with Live Nation and provides both sports and music management services, as well as a record label and a music publishing division. The company currently works with some of today’s most popular artists, including Rihanna, Kanye West, J. Cole, and Meek Mill among many others. Headquartered in New York City, Walker-Jacks worked out of the company’s Los Angeles, Calif. offices.
Working with some of the biggest names in management business, Walker-Jacks reported directly to Jon Lieberberg, one of the top managers at Roc Nation who currently manages Haim and works with many other popular artists. On a day-to-day basis, Walker-Jacks upheld a diverse set of responsibilities related to Lieberberg’s clients, such as writing press releases for the artists and organizing the logistical aspects of a tour.
“While many people may think the manager is more of a buffer between the artist and the outside world, managers look over every single thing that has the client’s name on it,” he explains. “As well as overseeing all business related entities, I experienced firsthand how a manager deals with clients both on tour and on a day-to-day basis. These are invaluable skills that I firmly believe I would not have been able to replicate without working in the Roc Nation office.”
Outside of his business-related responsibilities, Walker-Jacks played a role in attracting new talent to the company, evaluating demo tapes of aspiring artists and giving his opinion on new artists looking to partner with Roc Nation. Walker-Jacks explains that when a new or established client came into the office, he was responsible for hosting and attending to the artists. Walker-Jacks says that interacting with the artists and managers, such as Jay Brown, who manages Rihanna, was one of his favorite parts of the internship.
“Every day in the office I had the opportunity to meet really talented people,” Walker-Jacks says. “In general, I admired all the people I met who work in the industry, and I was able to make some great connections and contacts along the way.”
The internship culminated with the opportunity to go on tour with Haim, as they opened for Taylor Swift’s “1989 Tour.” Walker-Jacks calls it a “dream come true” to contribute to putting on one of the largest concerts in the country.
He credits his time at HWS with giving him the skills to help make those connections, and with giving him the ability to balance a diverse set of responsibilities. Overall, he says his time at HWS has helped him garner the analytical and research skills as well as the communication, writing and interpersonal skills it takes to excel in the music management industry.
His adviser, Associate Professor of English Anna Creadick, and the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional, and Experiential Education, were instrumental in helping him receive credit for the internship as well as provide funding from the stipend and endowed internship fund.
On campus, Walker-Jacks is a member of the varsity soccer team and is joining the concert committee as well as the HWS radio station in the fall semester.