"So This is the New Year..." | 2015 in the rearview.

Here we are. 2016. 

The end of 2015 has flown by, and here we are, two days into a new year. New Years is a fresh start, as well as one of time's markers reminding us that life and the world are continuing around us whether we are ready for it or not.

This time last year, I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going, or what lay ahead in store for me; I was not ready for the New Year, and that showed a bit during the first few months of 2015. I was floundering. After three different tour offers appeared and disappeared before I could even process them, the end of 2014 quickly appeared, and I had no job, no plans, and no money. In January 2015 I took a job that ended up being the worst job of my life, and quit by February after realizing that no matter how desperate I was, there was no amount of money that could make up for me feeling unhappy and devalued. This job felt like it'd set the tone for my year. I was one month in and already felt derailed, depressed, and so uncertain of my future. If the first month had gone that badly, what else was coming my way? I thought the world had put on a path to keep working in live music, and by the time I quit in February, I felt like I had no idea what the universe expected of me. Could I have a job I enjoyed and still pay my bills? Or was I doomed to give up on my music dreams just six months out of college? 

the day I quit the terrible job, I was rewarded with a hike, and the most beautiful sunset. 

the day I quit the terrible job, I was rewarded with a hike, and the most beautiful sunset. 

My broke escapades continued, but not for long. I followed my heart by quitting a job I needed financially because I knew it was destroying me personally. I took a big leap, figured out just how long I could survive on my savings, and promised myself that from that point on, I'd focus on what I needed for myself first, and let the rest fall in place. The universe repaid me for that decision with amazing meetings and new friendships from February onwards. I began consulting for a few different bands, met the amazing team at Wide Foc.us and began freelancing for them, and started going to shows again after missing them for a month courtesy of the awful job. By March i'd finagled airline tickets thanks to my points and made it to SXSW, continuing my healing with tacos, sunshine, friends, and sneaking into MSMR photo pits at 2am. 

It's funny when you realize that all the right things happen when you're doing the right things for yourself. If push came to shove, I would have worked at McDonalds before I let my roommates get screwed by me not paying my part of the rent, but by choosing to focus on me, I ended up finding people who's friendships were beneficial, and who's connections could help me find jobs that were a better fit for myself instead of having to take the desperate route.

SXSW helping me get off my ass and get it together

SXSW helping me get off my ass and get it together

In April I lucked into some great Brand Ambassador gigs, Red Rocks season kicked off, and the sun returned, making it easier to get out and be happy and healthy more consistently. In May I celebrated family, friends, graduations, and summer, and in June I was shocked when a friend offered me the opportunity to begin working for them full-time as a community manager for a digital marketing agency based in New York. I somehow managed to start a new full-time job that would teach me new skills, and keep my job at Red Rocks part-time, letting me feel like I hadn't totally abandoned my team, and could still be working in music a bit. 

2015 wasn't all just about job struggles either. My car was totaled due to hail damage, my roommates and I all moved out of our beloved home, and I moved into my own place alone for the first time ever. I had friends in serious accidents, friends move away, I even had some friends pass away. This year has felt the most "life-filled" of any I've ever experienced, and while there were moments of pain and struggle, I celebrate the fact that I sit here in 2016 in a completely different place than I was one year ago.

birthdays with the best people 

birthdays with the best people 

I haven't loved every experience I've had in the past 365 days, but I've loved the learning. I've learned what it really means to "adult". I've learned how to take the good with the bad, to sacrifice when it really matters. I've learned how to buck up and do what I need to do to pay the bills, and I've learned how to say "enough is enough" and value myself when others won't. I've learned the power of friendships, seen the kindness of random strangers, and felt the joy of coming out on the other side better than I was before. I wouldn't wish my 2015 on anyone, but I hope anyone going through these same struggles can push forward to find the silver lining the same way I have. 

Despite the craziness, 2015 led to some incredible moments for me: experiencing new bands I've come to love, celebrating old ones I've loved forever. My best friend asked me to be her Maid Of Honor, my cousin got married, my Grandma turned 94 in August despite breaking her femur in April, and my family welcomed a total of four new babies into the world. I worked another year of Riot Fest, I saw my two favorite bands play in two different states during one weekend, started dating again after a two year hiatus, threw Nerd Proms and hippie band reunions and *finally* got a new record player. My family took our first vacation since...forever(?), and after nearly a decade, I finally have a relationship - a good one - with my middle brother. I've made new friends, caught up with old friends, learned how to live alone, and more than anything, I learned how to live again after spending the first half of this year so afraid of failing that I became afraid of living. 

I know this won't be my last bought of struggles and change, but i'm pretty okay with that. Life lessons are inevitable, but it's up to us to grab those moments by the horns and choose to learn from them rather than run from them. In 2016 I'm going to Australia for nearly a month, and at some point, I'll be moving to Los Angeles so I can finally stop wondering "what if?" and give my dreams of working in music the full chance they deserve. None of this will come without it's share of issues, but I'm ready and excited to see where they lead me. So bring it on, 2016, I'm as ready for you as I'll ever be. 

Twenty One Pilots & Laurel: holding me up both literally and metaphorically the entirety of 2015.

Twenty One Pilots & Laurel: holding me up both literally and metaphorically the entirety of 2015.

Job Hunting In The Modern Age

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. 

beautiful, glorious Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter. The best.

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. 

i miss my tubs full of cotton, and even the idiots who tell me that they want to buy "that shirt"