After years spent running Lookout Records and Indivision Management, it was a relief to accept my first position at eMusic. It was liberating to have a regular salary, benefits and an infrastructure that didn’t need to be built from scratch. Even with that liberty, however, I couldn’t help but start something new on the side, so I launched Simple Social Graces Discos – a tiny record label focusing on bands from Spain (with a few notable U.S. exceptions).
My inspiration was that I had been spending as much time as possible in Spain, and had met some incredible people. I was hearing and seeing amazing bands that I wanted to share with the the world. 2006 was a tough time to launch a label though, physical sales continued their decline and digital music wasn’t at critical mass (and sadly it still isn’t).
I released seven records and realized relatively quickly that I wasn’t in a position to make a go of it as a standalone business, but I was happy to have documented artists that I loved.
When my full-time job at eMusic offered me the opportunity to live and work in London for six months, I saw it as a chance for both personal and professional development. My then boyfriend, now husband, and I had just bought an apartment — which was a huge achievement — and it was hard to think about being away from him and our home for such a long time, but we made a plan for him to come over three times during that period, and the hope was both of us would be better from the challenge.
Changes at the company when this plan was meant to take effect resulted in me flying back and forth from London to NY every few weeks, and, rather than feeling energized, I was wiped out. I stayed on in my position for another year, though. Alex and I got married and we started working on the kid thing and BAM! Everything came together at once.
I accepted a new job at Rhapsody (the original music streaming service) and we found out I was pregnant within weeks. It was pretty wild to be in the middle of my first trimester while starting a job that required me to learn a ton about new systems. I was grateful for the challenge, however, because I knew I could do it.
Working women are faced with tall orders of every dimension, and there aren’t many institutional frameworks in place to support us, but I had great friends and family whose love and encouragement was buoying.
As a “late-blooming mom” I’m trying to find my way in the classic work-life balance conundrum. We’ve found a wonderful child care solution, though, by sharing a nanny with another family in our neighborhood, and our daughter seems to be blossoming in part through that. I recently made another career move, and am now the vice president of A2IM, the trade association for independent record labels in the U.S., and feel more at home in my work than I have in many years.
Advocating for and helping to strengthen the independent label community is true to my roots as a former musician and record-label owner, and it is work that feels rewarding on a daily level. When I began in music I was a student and the world was completely analog. We forged our path through community connection and shared values.
Right now, the issues facing the independent music sector and industry at large are crucial to our long-term survival. Technology is omnipresent and has opened up a new world of access and influence on music and its business.
It’s a challenge and a thrill to be at the nexus of the changes in art and commerce at such an important point, and to be able to advocate for independent labels who believe and invest in the creativity of others. To simultaneously have the personal challenge of being a new mom is a tall order but I’m completely up for it.