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Behind one of the most intriguing label catalogs in current circulation is Brode’s acute A&R intuition. It’s steered the likes of Lust for Youth, The Men, Trust and VÅR to signing with Sacred Bones, ultimately cementing the staunchly independent label as a trusted source for “what’s next.” In addition to arranging album release schedules, liaising with distributors, marketing retail, maintaining social networking outlets, organizing press campaigns, and hiring booking agents and publicists as part of its two-person team, Brode handles managerial roles for Zola Jesus and Cult of Youth through her self-ran band management firm.
What percentage of the people you work with on a daily are male, would you say?
A ballpark would be 60-70 percent, I guess. I have not met a female lawyer, but I do know several female bookers and publicists, and I’ve met a couple other female managers, which is always cool.
Do you make a concerted effort to include female artists on Sacred Bones’ roster, or is gender not a factor at all when signing a new band?
It’s not a factor. If we love a band, we love a band—female, male, transsexual, alien, whatever.
Have you ever felt like you had to prove your knowledge of music to a guy, like he was skeptical that you knew what you were talking about?
When I worked at record stores for about 10 years this happened a lot more. The one thing I’ve learned is that there’s always more to learn, regardless of your age or gender.
Has there ever been a situation where you think being a woman made your job more difficult?
I guess there is kind of this permanent “boys’ club” thing that I always feel on the outside of, but the way I approach management and A&R in general is already pretty different from how other people in this industry operate. I once was talking to a male manager who told me never to ride in the van with a band I’m managing because it would be blurring the line between client and friend. The thought of not being friends with the bands I work with is insane to me. Why anyone would want to manage artists they don’t like as people is confounding to say the least.
I prioritize my relationships with artists when they need my help, and this certainly extends into our emotional and personal lives. I suppose part of my instinct to nurture has to do with me a being a woman. This doesn’t make my job tougher; it makes it more fulfilling and purposeful.
Growing up as a devoted music fan, did you have other female peers who shared your passion, or did you find yourself talking about music mostly with guys?
I had a ton of female friends, weird punks, goth kids, ravers, you name it. I try to talk about music and art with everybody all the time—gender, species, incarnate are irrelevant.
Because the numbers are so few, do you think the camaraderie among women in the industry is stronger than it is among men? Do you think the same can be said for rivalry among women in this line of work?
I definitely really enjoy meeting other female managers and tend to feel an instinct to bond with them. I’ve been fortunate enough to need to hire an assistant, accountant, and artist’s travel agent in the last two years. I am proud to say all three are women. And, yes, that was intentional. (Sorry if that’s reverse sexism). Learning from and mentoring women in this industry has been a goal of mine since I first began working in it in 1999. Many female colleagues and friends of mine are gorgeous women who are 10 years younger than me. We’re not rivals; they’re my sisters. Rivalry—I don’t think that has anything to do with the music industry or gender. That’s just a function of insecurity or lack of self-love.
At Work with Sacred Bones' Taylor Brode