Meet Jamie of Snarky Puppy and GroundUP where she wears many hats from marketing, manufacturing, production, tour planning and more. I met Jamie through her work there when she was overseeing all vinyl production.
When she’s not at work she’s pursuing a degree in business management or vegging out. “Staying in pajamas, watching Netflix, eating a ton of food…basically pretending like I’m not a real person and stop thinking”; I know a lot of us can relate. She’s also learning Spanish “…so I love practicing and speaking with people. I also love to travel and stir up conversations with as many people as possible.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Ever since I was little, I loved to sing, and I loved to be with people. When I was 14, I started working (illegally) at a Top 40 radio station in Philadelphia. I spent about four years there (basically my whole high school career) and along the way realized I wanted to work on the business side, rather than pursuing the entertainment side of the industry. At the moment, I currently work at GroundUP Music (Snarky Puppy’s record label) and have been for over four years. When I stopped working at the radio station my senior year of high school, I found an after school music business club. The advisor of the club had signed Snarky Puppy to their first record deal at Ropeadope. When Michael League, the bandleader of Snarky Puppy, wanted to start his own label, he reached out for my advisor to run it.
Long story short, my advisor asked me what my plans were for after high school, I told him I had no idea, and we ended up building the company from the ground up (pun intended). While the passion to be a singer faded, my love for music still keeps me motivated. It’s not an easy industry to work in from any perspective. The only way people can truly succeed is if they have the drive. Once I listened to and met all the musicians at GroundUP, there was never a low supply of creativity, joy, or community. Each artist I’ve had the chance to work with deserves all the backend work, and it’s been an honor to serve them.
What is a day in the life like?
It truly depends on the day! My inbox is never lacking on activity, though. A normal day in my life is virtually communicating with at least 50 different people, and sometimes not once in a face-to-face context. Although, on another given day, I might be on a 6 a.m. flight after a Snarky Puppy show in Denver to go to another show in Asheville. I can truly say there’s never a dull moment, even if I’m just working in my pajamas on my couch. My life feels a lot easier when I keep an agenda list, so I try to update and look at that many times throughout the day.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
My baby project was an exclusive vinyl-only Snarky Puppy record called “17.” It included 17 different live songs, from 17 different cities on their 2017 world tour. From the idea, to the artwork, to the production, to the distribution, I got to spearhead the whole process and really watch a record come to life in every way possible. While there are so many cool things I’ve had the chance to be a part of, including organizing an annual music festival, run meetings with DSP’s and labels, and basically live at a U-Haul in Brooklyn (this one is a joke), “17” is one of my most memorable projects. It felt like everything I had learned came together, and it created a record! A record people were excited about! And bought! And enjoyed! What a concept.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Communication. Almost everyone I work with lives in a different city, and at least 1/4 of them are on different time zones. In an office setting, you can lean over your desk, ask someone a quick question, and move on with your day. That same question may take a full day to go into effect via the virtual madness. There are times when I’ll have a business call with Michael at 12:30 a.m. my time, because otherwise we won’t have a chance to talk for another week, which then backs up all the work load. I’m grateful that I’m able to work from anywhere in the world, but it adds a lot of communication challenges.
Although, everyone I work with is not only a badass at what they do, but they are all genuinely good people. It truly takes a village to bring a creative vision to life, and the people you work with make all the difference. With the challenges that come from working remotely, I’m really grateful for the people I get to face the challenge with.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
The industry is changing so rapidly and is always looking for new, innovative ideas to make money and reach as many people as possible. Staying up to date with blogs like Music Business Worldwide, Bob Leftsetz, and keeping an ear out for what’s changing in the distribution world is helpful. Also, just listening to and being open to all different types of music. I’ve found that the more inspired you are, the more easily the work comes to you. I used to work in the mainstream pop world and now work with jazz/instrumental music; always be open to learning and exploring.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Since I’m not home all the time, I don’t usually buy a lot of vinyl. I love exploring record shops, though. When I am home, I enjoy buying used records and comparing the sounds of the 20’s, 40’s, 60’s etc. with the newer vinyl production. My favorite thing to listen for are the segues between songs and how each person who masters a record does it differently (this is 100% the radio nerd in me).
On the business side, when I first started working with vinyl production, I felt like I was on a different planet. It’s truly another language working with vinyl – from the details of the interior sleeves, the RPM, the color, the masters, a lacquer vs a mother vs a wav file, etc. But once you start to learn it, and then when you get the hang of it, it’s so much fun to coordinate because there are only so many people who understand the process and can speak the language. Like learning any new language, it allows you to communicate with more people and in a different way.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Vinyl is actually making a comeback in terms of sales! I think that’s pretty exciting. We’re still producing CDs, but I have some artists who’ve decided to just spend the money on vinyl. It’s become a collectable and a trend to have turntables again, especially for young music lovers. It’s awesome. CDs will most likely be gone in the next 5-10 years completely, but because everything is turning to digital, people are gravitating and clinging to having a vinyl as the physical product; a tangible thing that’s theirs, and another way to support their favorite bands.
Tell me what are you listening to right now?
I’m really into R&B, and I love the neo-soul sound. And when it’s funky, unffff. My friend just showed me this local Philly band called Great Time that I’ve been digging into.
Snarky Puppy: @snarkypuppy
Snarky Puppy: www.snarkypuppy.com
GroundUp Music: www.groundupmusic.net