High school student Nick Arnold is a GRAMMY Camp music journalism alumni who was selected to attend many of this year's GRAMMY Week events, including the GRAMMY Awards, and serve as a correspondent for both AOL and the GRAMMY Foundation. To find out more about GRAMMY Camp go to GRAMMYintheSchools.com. The deadline to apply for the 2010 edition is March 31.
I had to rise and shine bright and early to check in at USC's Thornton School of Music for GRAMMY Career Day on Jan. 28. The GRAMMY Foundation had arranged panels of professionals from all divisions of the music industry to speak to hundreds of Los Angeles high school students. There were record producers, entertainment lawyers, music retailers, video game soundtrack composers, DJs, talent managers, you name it. I was excited and a little nervous because I had been told ahead of time that I would be getting an exclusive one-on-one interview with Justin Timberlake. I was the only journalist he agreed to speak to at the event. No pressure there!
Before the panels even began, I waited to be called in. Right before the JT interview was supposed to start, I was thrown a curveball. I was told that the interview was not just with Justin, but with a couple of his producer/songwriter partners, so I would have to quickly re-write my questions to apply to the whole group. No problem! A guy speaking about 90 miles an hour quickly gave me background information on the other two guys, but it wasn’t until I got into the room with all three that I learned who was with Justin: James Fauntleroy and Rob Knox, who together with Justin, call themselves the Y's.
I won't recap the interview here, as it's being published online, but I will say that it went very well. Justin, Rob and James put a lot of thought into their answers and made the conversation easy. By the end of the interview, I wasn't nervous. They were just really professional and open. It made me feel like this week wasn't going to be so hard or intimidating after all.
After the interview, I went to the Producers panel, which featured top record producers, but also artists who produce. Panelists included Recording Academy Chair Emeritus/GRAMMY-winning producer Jimmy Jam, Keri Hilson, Anthony Hamilton, Eddie Galan, and Nate "Danja" Hills who spoke to a full auditorium of kids interested in music careers. They stressed being prepared and not expecting immediate stardom. They emphasized that you have to work your way up and pay your dues. The students listened attentively and I'm sure they got the message that you have to be realistic, and even if you are talented, you have to work really hard to break into the business.