A Rockin’ Internship

By Hilary Bentman

Albright senior Emily Sears spent her summer sifting through four decades of rock n’ roll history.

There was leather – lots of leather – not to mention bandanas, crop tops and Betamax and VHS concert recordings.

“It was the ’80s after all,” says Sears.

There were more than 1,000 media items and more than 300 pieces of clothing and accessories in total, all belonging to, or once worn by, rock legend Joan Jett, who gave the world and music lovers their personal anthem with “I Love Rock n Roll.”

Sears, a business administration and music industry studies major, interned for Blackheart Records, the independent record label founded by Jett and her longtime collaborator Kenny Laguna. The label represents Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and a number of other musicians.

The label moved offices over the summer, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, so Sears, a Long Island native, helped inventory and catalog the memorabilia Jett has collected over her 40 years in the business.

“She’s had a long career and there’s been a lot of different technology,” says Sears.

Sears also worked with the merchandise sold through Blackheart’s online store, and helped put the finishing touches on Jett’s summer tour book, the roadmap the artist and her band use when they travel and perform. Sears had learned how to do this in a music business class at Albright, putting her classroom instruction to practical use.

Jett still tours and Sears finally had the chance to meet the woman herself at a concert at Jones Beach in New York. Jett posed for a photo with Sears and her family, and Sears acknowledges it felt a little awkward to finally meet the woman whose clothes she had been sorting through for weeks.

From the crow’s nest above the stage, Sears then watched Jett, who still sports her signature jet-black hair, rock out for the crowd.

“I learned a lot about the punk rock scene. It was not a genre I had been familiar with,” says Sears.

Sears also learned a lot about the music business just by spending time in the record label’s office, listening to conversations about everything from tour productions to venues to contracts and other legal matters. During her internship, Sears watched Jett’s business representatives negotiate with Volkswagen to use the rocker’s version of “Love is All Around” in a new car commercial.

“I got to be on the other side of things,” says Sears. “I learned from the people in the office, and got to see music industry things I had learned about in class.”

Sears has also gained music business experience through internships with Santander Arena in Reading, where she has helped with marketing, social media, contract editing, and assisted on the tour appearances of performers such as Marc Anthony, Rascal Flats and comedian Gabriel Iglesias.

So does Sears ever get star-struck? She dismisses the idea: “At the end of the day, everyone goes home and brushes their teeth and goes to bed.”

After interning at both a performance venue and a record label, Sears knows that following graduation from Albright, she wants to “contribute to live music as much as possible.” Despite all the advancements in technology and accessibility in the industry, “people will always want to be two feet away from their favorite artist,” she says.