Rachel Jones-Williams recently made the trek from Brisbane to Sydney to undertake the role of National Promotions Manager for Caroline Australia. Having previously studied engineering / producing / popular music at The Con and working for Bluesfest, Footstomp Music and The Triffid this girl has wisdom beyond her years when it comes to the music biz.
I am the National Promotions Manager for Caroline Australia, a label arm imprinted to Universal. I work across all media platforms creating awareness, maintaining coverage and public perception for our artists on radio, TV, online and print. Currently, we’re home to artists like Iggy Pop, Glass Animals, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Highasakite, Laura Marling, Nathaniel Rateliff, The Maccabees, Saint Vincent and labels such as Cooking Vinyl, Spunk, Fiction, Communion, Nuclear Blast, Concord, PMR, Loma Vista and many more! I’m six months into this new role after relocating from Brisbane to Sydney, and feel really lucky to be working with some of my favourite acts. It’s safe to say that I’ve had some pinch me ‘I’m dreaming… this can’t be a real job’ kind of moments so far!
I’m not a morning person. In fact, find me someone in this industry that is and I’ll show you a liar! In an attempt to get my shit together and conquer the Monday morning struggle, I grab a coffee on my way to work and sit down for a few moments reading over internal notes from our international teams, checking release schedules and writing a list of priorities for the week ahead. This helps me compile my media schedule of what needs to be serviced, pitched and prepped this week, as well as what needs chasing from the week before and planned out for the weeks in advance. Organization is key!
Now I’m in the office. Headphones are on, and I’m clearing out the inbox whilst listening to Triple J’s 2016 playback from the night before. I’m listening for a few reasons – first and foremost, I want to hear public and industry reaction to the new music we’ve serviced this week. Secondly, I think it’s really important to keep up to date with what’s new in music and developing trends, as well as making sure that you’re aware as to what you’re working with and against in terms of the musical landscape at radio – ie similar artists and competing releases.
Midday means that I’m on a conference line with the rest of the Caroline team. Usually we’re discussing release plans and giving updates on both wins and struggles. Whilst I’m working out of the Universal offices in Sydney, the rest of the team are based in Melbourne; so ensuring that we’re all communicating and keeping each other across developments is paramount…. and HOLY SHIT IT’S NEARLY 2PM. More coffee. Emails. Home. Wine.
I’m awake early. It’s not ideal, but it’s for a good reason. GLASS ANIMALS JUST DROPPED A NEW TRACK… AND IT’S A BANGER! This release has been weeks in the making – from taking it to radio weeks in advance, pitching the premiere, spending late nights refreshing emails checking for incoming tools from overseas and organizing interviews (early 5AM ones… yeahhh did I mention I wasn’t a morning person?) Currently, lead singer Dave Bayley is on Triple J talking to Matt and Alex as they finally unleash their eagerly anticipated new track Life Itself.
Waiting for the response is one of the most anticipated parts of my job, … the text line explodes! The stress of the late nights, early mornings and countless of back and forth emails dissolve. Moments like this make me realize why I work as hard as I do – in that moment of fans reacting with passion and excitement, everything is worthwhile.
It’s now 9AM. I’m rushing into the ABC Building, plugging exciting new releases for the week to Triple J, Double J, Rage and then heading down the road to FBI and 2SER.
1PM rolls around, and I’m only just getting back to the office… Wait, did I even eat breakfast this morning? I send around follow-ups with digital links to all projects I spoke to radio about.
I spend the rest of the afternoon clearing out the inbox reacting to media requests, pitching interviews and setting up a press releases for the next day and all of a sudden it’s 7PM. Home. Ben & Jerry’s. Binge watch Vinyl. Bed.
The Triple J adds (what they’re adding to rotation for the week ahead) land, and from the music we serviced we’ve scored two adds this week – the Big Moon and Loyle Carner, two fresh and exciting new artists. Triple J are huge influencers across the board, so these additions mean that the game has changed dramatically for their campaigns. Having the station’s support means that not only are they exposed to a huge audience, but more doors have opened up in terms of media opportunity and the sorts of features I can now leverage with the new awareness.
Sometimes, when you’ve got so much happening, it’s hard to unwind. It really is so important to make time to just do you, so tonight I’m having some friends over. Initially it was meant to be three of us, but of course it’s ballooned out of control and the headcount is now nine for dinner and drinks. The exercise for tonight was to do something unrelated to work, but everyone that came over works in music… So we just end up talking about work anyway. Big fail… It’s a good thing I love what I do
Thursdays always freak me out because, I mean, where did the week even go? Tomorrow Catfish & The Bottlemen are doing their last round of interviews before their new album drops, and I’ve been pitching interviews all week. I spend the morning prioritizing the outlets as my time with the band is very limited, and I need to make best use of it with the biggest looks and reach. I chase final confirmations/ triple check that everything is locked in and ready to go, and ensure that the journalists and radio broadcasters have all of the necessary information they need. Phewww, done and locked away (even though I’ll continue stressing until interviews happen that night).
Now I’m off to more radio meetings. Up until this point I’ve been working predominantly with alternative media, but now I’m giving commercial radio a crack for the first time. I’m outside of my indie bubble, and it’s fairly daunting for me. I’m taking in a handful of tracks from a few of our bands that are now onto their second album releases show real promise for a commercial radio audience. The meeting goes well, and the conversation of opening these bands up to a new audience is now rolling… Plus, I’ve started an exciting new media relationship! Now it’s back to the office to update the team. More coffee. More emails. Schedule press releases for the next day. Tim, Caroline’s general manager and George the label director / A&R are in town today. While we’re all in one place, we jump on a planning call with the UK team and talk through upcoming projects and priority releases. After the call ends we head out for a dinner and drinks – we rarely get to see each other, so it’s a nice excuse for some good old fashioned team bonding. It’s been an exciting week and we have a lot to celebrate so it ends up being quite a long night with a lot of laughs.
HAPPY HIGHASAKITE ALBUM RELEASE DAY! ‘Camp Echo’ has been officially released to the masses today. The reviews are in. The people have spoken… And they love it as much as we do! Today is mostly spent collating all the media pickups from this campaign, and a few others to put together promo reports and update our various label partners- time consuming but essential. It’s always exciting to see months of work come together, and have the opportunity to look over it all in one place.
The afternoon is taken up by a few more meetings while the team is still in town. Once that’s done, I jump on the phone to Caroline’s Label Coordinator Tom in Melbourne (aka the glue that makes everything stick together). We put together plans for servicing next week, and discuss tools I need created to take new tracks to radio. As is always the case with Tom, good banters ensures. More coffee. More emails.
Tonight is Spotify’s 4th birthday party, so we head over to help them celebrate and drink all their free booze. What a good way to finish the week!
Lowlights of the Week: One of the toughest things about working in PR is that you can spend hours investing energy into building awareness pitching features and reviews for a record that you really believe is the best thing since sliced bread, and feel like no one gets it. It can often be the case with international releases that have huge hype behind them in their territories, but for some unbeknownst reason it’s taking a while longer to catch on in Australia. I’m a firm believer that if something doesn’t work at first, it’s not the end. There is a place for every band and every release, but it might just take a little bit longer to find their champions. Finally, something eventually clicks – it could have been a blog posting a review, a track added to a Spotify playlist, maybe some more hype from overseas… But the story eventually starts to grow. It might take a few weeks – hell, it might even take all year! – but you keep pushing. When it eventually clicks and you’re driving in the car and that one song you’ve spent all year pushing starts playing on the radio, you’ll know your energy wasn’t wasted.
Highlights of my week: This week was full of highlights! As lame as it might sound, I find highlights in just about everything I do. I’m all about celebrating and appreciating even the smallest of wins. I get to speak to people about music all day long, and if you ask me, that is pretty damn special! Life is definitely not shit.
- Be fearless. Having opinions is important. Be proud of them, and speak up when you’ve something to say – it means you give a shit. It’s a funny old business – it can be incredibly exciting and rewarding, but it’s also quite an ego driven industry. When you mix that with a high-pressure environment, more often than not you’ll be met overbearing personalities from time to time. Know your worth in a professional setting and don’t get pushed to the side – take risks, be ballsy, stand up for yourself and be heard.
- Manage expectations. Be realistic with achievable project goals
- You know things about stuff… If you’re asked about those things, be generous with your time and give advice freely. Five minutes out of your day could mean the total world and give some clarity to an emerging act or young person wanting to work in a similar role as you that might be feeling overwhelmed with a “where to now” kind of situation.
- You can’t pour from an empty cup. Mental illness is especially prevalent in the music industry so look after yourself first, be smart about managing things like stress and don’t push yourself to the limit and risk burning out because you’re no good to anyone then.