Hello friends! Welcome to 2015! I'm so sorry I disappeared from here during the end of the year. In part, I was busy busy with family and holiday events, and in part, there just wasn't much exciting going on in the world of Maddie. October through December I was adventuring up to the mountains a lot, basking in the beauty that is Colorado in this changing of seasons, but I haven't been doing much in the world of music lately, or really working on any projects other than Ultra5280's crazy annual Halloween party (check that out here). I did just post a "Best Of" blog that features my favorite photos from 2014, as well as my Top 5 albums and Top 5 shows on the year, but I still feel like I owe you guys an apology and proper explanation as to where I've been since November.
Remember how when Red Rocks season ended I was optimistic about finding new work to carry me through the end of the year? As optimistic as I was, that didn't really happen, and I think i've been a bit unsure of how to approach the reality of that. I was so excited that things had kept lining up for me since Graduation; I really believed that the universe was putting me on some path, but I know better than to ignore the fact that that life is always changing. I was offered three different tours through October and November, and they all fell through for reasons entirely unrelated to me. It hurt to see such great opportunities disappear as quickly as they'd presented themselves, but I held out, hoping something last minute could pop up. Music-related work in the wintertime is hard to come by since so few people tour, I always knew that this time of year would be difficult once I was trying to tour full-time, but I hadn't prepared myself for the reality that I wouldn't be able to find anything at all. I can't just not work - I'm not good at having down time - so I did what anyone would do, and tried hard to find a way to stay afloat. I found a short-term answer in the strange, new world of Brand Ambassador work.
I was introduced to the idea of "Brand Ambassador" gigs by a job posting in a Warped Tour Alums group I belong to. I'd never heard of it before, but the idea was simple: you are hired by an agency who represents a brand to go out and promote for them at various events throughout the year, or through Guerilla Marketing campaigns. With all my work in retail meshed with my time in merchandise, I'm pretty good at meeting new people and quickly getting them excited about something they've never heard of before. The hours are weird and the jobs are not the easiest, but it was good work for someone who wasn't sure about committing to a 9-to-5 yet, and was willing to take what I could get. I thought these Brand Ambassador gigs could carry me through December, but the holidays offers were much more slim than I expected, and by the end of the month I was quickly realizing that having endless free time was not as great as I'd imagined. I was beginning to get stir crazy without a weekly schedule, and finally admitted something I'd been avoiding: it was time for me to get a real, big kid job.
I always knew that it would be an incredible feat if I could succeed in only working music-related jobs in my first year out of college. Breaking into the touring scene is hard, and making a living doing so is even harder. By December i'd realized that I couldn't just keep hoping that another gig would magically come around, I needed to what I do best: take this new situation by the horns, and make it work for me. I decided that if I couldn't tour, I wanted to find a job that still engaged me creatively, taught me important skills, made me think. I need to be excited about what I'm doing in order to succeed, so I looked at the things that I am passionate about outside of music, and settled on the world of Digital Marketing. I've always loved brand marketing and social media, and I've been curious to learn more about SEO and the tools people use to promote brands online.
Since the end of December I've been on the hunt for a new gig somewhere in that realm, and it's been a curious endeavor to say the least. I haven't really ever gone through this process of searching for a job, and thought I'd give you guys some quick bullet points on the things I've found most helpful, just in case there happen to be other struggling music business hopefuls like myself who stumble across this blog.
Step one is to focus on transferrable skills. The music industry doesn't offer job titles or positions that people many outside of this business will understand, or care about. Your job title means much less than your transferrable skills, so it's important to focus on that when looking at new jobs that appear entirely unrelated to your past work experience. "Being a tour manager has taught me so and so", "running my own blog has taught me this and that", "babysitting drunk rockstars has given me these tools...". People don't care that I've worked Warped, or Red Rocks, or that I've guest lectured on selling merch at my college. People care that I have management experience, that I have a solid social media foundation, and that I'm good at public speaking.
Step two is to be looking for jobs, always. I have a few friends that work in HR, or who've very recently gone through the job hunt, and the one thing they've all regurgitated to me throughout this process is that the people who get the jobs are usually one of the first ten people to apply. I check job listings at least three times a day, and have focused my hunt on the four websites that I feel post the most relevant positions. Monster.com might be the most well-known job site, but most of the postings I saw there were not as relevant as postings I found on smaller sites like SimplyHired or Indeed.com., so I spend my time there instead.
Step three is to be honest, and be personable. I've done a lot of things that make me really proud of my past work experience, but sometimes those are things that aren't pertinent to the job i'm applying for. Looking for work outside of the music industry is a perfect example of a time when i've had to put certain successes aside, and focus more on what I intend to learn than what I already know. I have a degree in music, which is (sadly) probably a huge turn-off to many future employers. I've taken to really personalizing my cover letters, acknowledging their concerns and then detailing why I'm interested in a position that's so different from my past work experience. My hope is that by admitting that I know what they're already unsure, but highlighting my passion and desire to grow will instill hope that I might know what the hell I'm talking about.
Now, don't you all dare think for a second that I've given up on the music business - I certainly haven't! It's been a hard thing to finally come to terms with the fact that Denver is not full of music jobs like I've tried to believe. Sure, there are some, but there aren't many, and the ones that do exist often aren't able to pay your bills. I will finally admit that LA and NYC are far superior to Denver in the job scene, but admitting that doesn't do me a ton of good right now. I live in Denver, I have a lease here, and I'm not in the position to be able to just up and move at this time. Plenty of the musicians and business folk who I admire and have worked with have other, un-music-related jobs on the side. Even though it's taken me awhile to accept, I finally understand that it's just part of the process. No one gets to be Madonna's TM overnight...and even if they do, i'm sure it comes with a lot of Ramen-filled evenings and odd-jobs along the way. I'm hoping that I can find a position that will still give me time to grow in my musical pursuit, all while building new skills that can further my career in the future. We'll see what happens, but this is just part of the process of entering the real world. I promise to keep you all posted, and I swear I'm excited about the promise of learning new skills, but just know that I'm also really missing this view right now.