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A 'Monster' look at one student's global co-op in Iceland's music scene

Aug. 1, 2016 - BOSTON, MA. - Madi Murphy, AMD’18, poses for a portrait at Northeastern University on Aug. 1, 2016. Murphy co-oped in Iceland, where she worked with two Icelandic bands doing a range of work including social media. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

In January, Northeastern music industry major Madison Murphy bundled up to trek across some of southern Iceland’s most picturesque landscapes, from the Sólheimajökull glacier to the famous Blue Lagoon. But this wasn’t a scenic tour of the country; it was part of a dream-come-true co-op in the music industry.

Murphy, AMD’18, joined the Icelandic band Vök as they filmed the music video for their single, “Waiting.” Ignoring the frigid winds that she recalled at times turned her face bright red, Murphy collected a bulk of behind-the-scenes footage of the band and created a video she used to help promote the single via social media.

This co-op helped me realize that I made the right decision to go into the music industry.
— Madison Murphy, AMD’18

The video project only scratched the surface of her work on co-op. She spent the first three months of 2016 in Iceland, dividing her time between working for two bands—Vök and Of Monsters and Men—and for Iceland Music Export, which promotes the country’s music scene at home and abroad.

“Most of the time the work I was doing didn’t feel like work,” Murphy said. “It was something I wanted to do. I love these bands, and it was amazing to me that they were letting me work for them and be such a big part of what they were doing.”

Murphy managed Vök’s social media presence and launched the band’s newsletter. She even joined the band for a few days in Germany on their monthlong European tour, doing more social media, helping with logistics around the band’s radio interviews, and working merchandise tables.

At Iceland Music Export, she worked on a project that involved pitching key music supervisors in the U.S. entertainment industry on using Icelandic music in television shows. She kept track of all the communications with these music producers and their needs with regard to using the music. In fact, she helped secure the placement of Vök’s “Waiting” in an episode of MTV’s Scream.

From industry networking to observing the inner workings of a band’s tour, Murphy said, “I ended up learning so much more than I anticipated, and it was quite overwhelming.”

Madison Murphy (second from right) with the band Vök after a show in Germany. Photo courtesy of Madison Murphy

Madison Murphy (second from right) with the band Vök after a show in Germany. Photo courtesy of Madison Murphy

Yet, all of this might not have been possible without Murphy’s ambition years earlier. In July 2012, while in high school, she founded the unofficial fan club for Of Monsters and Men—called Of Monsters and Men Army. She helped grow the fan club to 20,000 followers, and through this experience made inroads with the band—which even thanked the fan club in the booklet of their sophomore album Beneath the Skin.

Murphy worked with the connections she made with the band from the fan club—which she founded and ran for nearly three and a half years—to land her co-op in Iceland. She plans to return there in September for another three-month co-op with Vök and Of Monsters and Men, and she’s hoping to arrange a study abroad in Iceland next year as well.

“This co-op helped me realize that I made the right decision to go into the music industry,” she said.

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