November 27, 2023 I by Joel Menchey

Be a YP Mentor or Mentee

Fall has arrived, and it’s the perfect time to take your music industry continuing ed classes. Need credits to maintain your Certified Public Musician status? Do you have to take a class or two to continue to maintain your role as a music resources professional?

Oh yes, that’s right. We don’t have continuing ed in the music industry, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stop learning. In fact, in this ever-changing industry, we should always be learning. While we may not have “official” continuing education in the music products industry, there are some incredible offerings for those of us who have decided to make a career in MI. NAMM, NASMD and some other industry organizations provide top-notch courses at their respective gatherings and, in some cases, online. These courses are particularly helpful for younger members in the industry who are trying to figure out which direction they want to go.

Speaking of the younger members in the industry, there’s an incredible resource for NAMM Young Professional (NAMM YP) members that can provide some of the most honest one-on-one learning available: The NAMM YP Mentorship Program. Started in 2018 by NAMM YP’s leadership — specifically NAMM YP board member Jeremy Payne — the program is now in its sixth year and has grown from just 12 mentors and mentees to 104 pairings. Here’s how it works:

The pairs meet at a dedicated time at least every month for the entire year, usually over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but also in-person if the opportunity presents itself. At the end of the yearly “term,” the “official” relationship ends, but in most cases, mentees and mentors continue meeting on an informal basis.

This program provides an opportunity for mentees to obtain honest, quality feedback and career direction from an experienced industry veteran who’s someone other than their supervisor. Mentees can lean on and learn from the experiences of the mentor on a variety of topics, including career decisions, business decisions and overall direction. The process builds confidence in both the mentee and the mentor, and the mentee gets a unique perspective from someone who has already “cut their teeth.”

Friends for Life
I’m proud to say that I was able to participate in this great program in its first year. And I’m even more proud that my mentee, Tim Spicer, owner of Spicer’s Music, has now become a mentor. And this is not the first time this has happened in the program! And while technically, I was the one in the pairing that was supposedly “teaching,” I can honestly say that in that year, I learned a number of things about myself through the process. Of course, the icing on the cake is that Tim and I became close friends during the process and that friendship has continued since our annual cycle ended.

At our company, Menchey Music Service, we have taken full advantage of this program. In addition to my experience, one of our VPs has served as a mentor, and five others on staff have been or are currently serving as mentees. In each of those cases, I can honestly say the folks involved have grown and gained perspective from the experience that they would not have otherwise been able to do. The experiences for both mentees and mentors have made them more confident in their decision-making, and our company has benefitted greatly from it.

The only challenge with the NAMM YP Mentorship Program is that because it has become so popular, NAMM YP often has trouble equally coupling the mentees and mentors. Let me be clear — this is a great problem to have and one worth solving, but it’s a challenge nonetheless. That said, if you’re an experienced business owner, brand manager, store manager or executive at a retailer or manufacturer and you want to impart some of your industry wisdom to a younger, up-and-coming music industry professional, I highly encourage you to get involved. If you’re a young industry professional and want to broaden your knowledge and enhance your industry perspective, in addition to joining NAMM YP, pursue an opportunity to become a mentee. And who knows, you might even make a new friend in the process … Tim and I just scheduled a catch-up chat for this Thursday. MI

Joel Menchey is the president of Menchey Music Service in Hanover, Pennsylvania, a former NAMM chairman.

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