What’s your job title and what does the gig entail?
General manager. Oversight of all day-to-day operations at a record company.
Ten years ago, is this something you imagined you might be doing?
Yes. I had the same job then and had no intention of leaving it.
Do you still harbor other aspirations?
Despite the intense stress that accompanies any job in the media industry, and especially now at a time of constant change and challenges, I periodically give thanks that I get to work with such great music and so many loveable and bizarre people.
How has working in an office environment changed you?
Bad back, internet overload, more prone to drinking every evening.
Do you think your job will still exist in ten years?
Is your office more The Office or Mad Men?
Mad Men. People are stylish and drink heavily.
What’s the best part of office life? And the worst?
The camaraderie. The backbiting.
What are three things someone coming into your field should know on their first day?
1. Nobody on earth has to pay for music; it’s your job to give them a reason to do so.
2. Don’t stop being a fan. If you haven’t been in a record store, bought on iTunes, shared files, read blogs, gone to shows or listened to streaming radio, then you have no idea how your customers think.
3. Pick up the phone. Email, text, IM and similar technologies only get you so far, and this business is built on relationships.
What was your title and what did the job entail?
I got hired straight out of college to be a college radio promoter. I was stoked to get a job and have a reason to move to New York. I found a room with two friends in East Williamsburg which had no windows, no ventilation and just barely enough room for my bed and 30 milk crates stacked to the ceiling, full of CDs and LPs on Lovepump United (a record label I had started in college). My job entailed calling 50+ college radio stations a day and talking to them about new records each week. Sometimes this meant talking up great bands like Animal Collective — other times it meant the Spiderman 3 soundtrack. I talked on the phone all day on a headset so I could write emails and chat at the same time. We usually stayed at the office late and would grab a bite before heading to a rock show at night... I suppose my days haven’t changed that much at all.
Has leaving an office setting given you a chance to pursue your dreams?
Yes. I quit my job to pursue my dreams. I currently run my own record label full-time and manage two awesome bands. It got tough for a while balancing my “day job” and my label. All my current folders for organizing things in my office/room are still called “Weekend” and “Mornings,” back from my office days when I was waking up at 6:30am to go to the bank and post office before work. Towards the end of my time in the office I was drinking lots of water and tea to create more excuses to go to bathroom where I’d manically write emails on my blackberry.
Do you keep in touch with your former co-workers?
My co-workers were the highlight of my job. For the most part, we all did basically the same things all day... but whereas I worked there for a year, my co-workers were into years four to eight! They’re all very supportive still and actually work ALL of my label’s records to college radio.
What do you miss most about office culture? And the least?
I miss my co-workers... well, [I miss] anyone. I wake-up most days around 9:30am and my barista friends at Champion Coffee in Greenpoint might be the only people I interact with face-to-face all day. Offices are also nice because you can leave them; my work always follows me around. Although I prefer that, there are times when I don’t... I hate Midtown! I hate the subways. I hate commuting. I hated how excited I was about $5 footlongs from Subway and soup specials from Hale and Hearty. On adventurous days, I would run to 17th Street for Rainbow Falafel but it usually took so long to get I’d end up eating it at my desk feeling guilty about something. In offices you always feel guilty about something. That’s the worst.
Was there a moment when you realized “office life isn’t for me”?
Probably after my first week. Before I took my job if I had simply asked “What do you do Monday? What do you do Tuesday? Etc...” I would have had a better sense for all the things I wouldn’t like about my job.
Was your office more The Office or Mad Men?
[After confessing to not knowing Mad Men] Our small promo offices were buried in the back room of a larger music industry super-office. Floor-to-ceiling gold and platinum records, LED screens showing music videos and stacks of music magazines you’ve never heard of like Verve and Amplification. Everyone had headsets and was yelling all the time. Lots of hyping and namedropping and every few months we’d get a big shipment of Grammys or Video Music Awards. That stuff was outrageous but had very little to do with what we were up to in the backroom.
Where do you steal office supplies from now?
I actually never stole anything. I felt so guilty for not liking my job that I did my best to stay very low-maintenance. Sometimes I’d “borrow” postage but I was pretty deadset on making it on my own and wanted to do that 100 percent on my terms. We did have a lot of promo CDs all the time... that’s the first perk to grow old.
Finally, what are three things you think someone should know on their first day (or week or so) out of the office?
1. You’ll probably have to give up that unlimited Metrocard. I walk, and take buses but I’m in Manhattan at most two or three days a week.
2. Give yourself reasons to leave the house. The post office, the bank, the coffee shop... if I didn’t make my rounds daily, I’d hardly be outside while the sun was up; there are weeks when I probably spend 20 hours a day in my apartment.
3. Don’t expect your friends to be impressed that you can go out every night. I think I frustrated my girlfriend so much that she quit her job too.
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