Orondé Jenkins - AEMM - Music Business Graduate
Orondé Jenkins is a recent accomplished alumnus of the AEMM Music Business concentration. His passion for music and relentless drive has led him from the Columbia College classroom to the famed music label, Warner Music Group in Los Angeles where he acts as a Mechanical Licensing Administrator. His zeal for the music industry also extends to freelance work for local musicians in need of a creative eye. Orondé shares his extensive music history and current experiences, reflecting on how AEMM helped shape his path to success.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised on the far South Side of Chicago. My mother tried her best to groom me as an athlete (triathlons and competitive swimming), but I always clung to the arts. At one point in grammar school, I was in the Art Club, Theatre/Film Club, all three school bands (concert, jazz, and marching), as well as in the All-City Concert Band and All-City Jazz Ensemble. Somehow, I graduated number six in my class.
During my junior year of High School, I met a Sony rep at the Virgin Megastore. Along with a friend of mine, we asked her what a good school was for music and music business, and she told us about Columbia. I did some research, and I was sold; I could expand my horizons as an artist, and learn how to monetize it. Although I transferred in as a sophomore, I took full advantage of the opportunities Columbia offered.
After graduation, I enrolled in the Semester in LA program for Music Supervision. I got my position at Warner Music Group as a Mechanical Licensing Administrator three months after the program ended, and I've been there ever since. I still wear my other creative hats from time to time doing freelance work in music production, songwriting and photography, as well as sharing the knowledge I learned at Columbia and beyond doing consulting work.
How did your experience in Columbia’s AEMM department prepare you for your career?
My experience in the AEMM department was amazing. The classes were unique in the sense that it gave us business school knowledge coupled with entertainment industry insight and tactics. Most of my teachers were active industry professionals, and they all gave us the truth-- straight no chaser. We got the good, the bad, and the ugly up-front, which I appreciated.
In addition to the internships I had, I got a lot of hands-on experience during my time in CUMA (Columbia's Urban Music Association.) We were able to get our hands dirty and learn about every aspect of the music industry through hosting events, booking special guests, holding music critiques for students, and much more. A lot of my fellow CUMA alums are making major moves in the entertainment world, and that can definitely be attributed to the AEMM department who sponsored and believed in us.
Any advice for current students?
Cherish your time in school, both in-class and outside of class. The knowledge I gained from my classes is indispensable, and the experience I obtained definitely helped as well. Internships are key, but be careful which ones you take; a lot of companies are just looking for free labor, but the right free labor could turn into a paid position. It isn't always easy, but nothing worth having is.
Work on your craft as much as you can, so you will be prepared when the opportunities present themselves. Don't rest on your laurels, because there is always someone working twice as hard to pass you on the way to the top. At the same time, don't carry a competitive spirit, or succumb to the crabs-in-a-barrel syndrome. There is strength in numbers, so surround yourself with like-minded people and help each other rise to the top.
Definitely don't burn any bridges. You don't have to work with everybody, but you want to always at least be cordial; you never know when and if you'll ever need that person. Last but certainly not least, don't take anything personal. If you allow your emotions to dictate your career, you will end it before it begins.
What are some of Columbia’s strengths?
Columbia has the advantage of being a school full of faculty that actually works in the fields they teach. The classes allowed us to learn traditional academic subjects while applying them to our majors. The schedule layout allowed us time to cultivate our crafts and passions outside the classroom, and the on-campus programming gave us opportunities to grow as adults and professionals and learn more than just what is printed in a textbook.
Another major perk of Columbia is the fact that the campus is in the middle of one of the greatest metropolises in the world. My freshman year was on a traditional college campus (Morehouse College) with the quad, the clock tower and the campus cafeteria. Although it was a cool experience, I wouldn't trade my time at Columbia for the world. It is where I became a man, where I developed my business savvy, and is definitely the foundation for my career. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am this early in my career if it weren't for Columbia.