Since I started Women in Vinyl I’ve been interested in talking to someone from Discogs where so many of us keep our collections cataloged, and this week I get to introduce you to Claire Pace who is the VP of People and Culture there.
Claire has been with the company for over 4 years and works on the Operations team. Currently responsible for people and culture at Discogs involves making sure all employees at the company have the conditions to deliver great work and grow the business. They opened an office in Amsterdam the year she joined and Claire has been responsible for building up the office and making it the EU hub that they have today.
In her free time you can find her attending gigs around Amsterdam, hanging out with friends and trying to see as many European cities that she can visit. She also says she started pottery classes this year “…and it has been a nice relaxing activity which I hope to continue”.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I came from a digital background, working in agencies and I was then lucky enough to get a job at Discogs which was a company that I had admired for a while. Whilst growing up in Australia and then starting my career in the online space, music had always been a huge part of my life. I have always collected music, attending concerts, festivals and tried to find out about as much new music as possible from a range of different genres. Being able to come to work every day and talk and discover new music and work on a product that is dedicated to cataloging music and collecting music is really special and makes me grateful for being able to do something I feel so passionate about.
What is a day in the life like?
My days are a good mix of different things and no week really seems the same. We are a small team (about 75 people) and we like to try to move quickly and change things if we feel they aren’t working. I usually have a lot of internal meetings that allow me to get to know people better and help them navigate their careers within Discogs. I am normally working on a few big projects each quarter, we increased our size by about 30% last year, so this year I have really been working on internal processes, communication, feedback, policies etc that are better suited to a team of our size and what we can do to set us up for further growth in the future.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Last year we partnered with ADE and Into the Woods to organize a record fair inside the ADE Hangover which is a free ADE event on the last day of the festival. It was really nice to work on the project and build it from nothing to see it work out on the day. We are in the process of organizing the event again for ADE on Oct 20th and are looking forward to another successful event.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I think the hardest part about my job is trying to cater to people that have different needs and expectations. People are all different and although we have a team that share our core values and operating principles, our team still have different ideas and preferences when it comes to their work life and I want to make sure people are having a great experience at Discogs and at the same time, the company is as successful as it can be.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
I think the best thing to do is to be honest with yourself and try to work on the things that bring you joy or make you the most happy. If you enjoy the work and can combine it with an industry you love, you will probably naturally excel and grow in your career.
I try to read as much as I can so I am constantly learning about new ways of doing things or different approaches. I also love listening to podcasts. Find people that can support you and help you professionally. It’s important to be able to chat to people about your career and get a good perspective from them on your strengths and how other perceive you.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yes I definitely am a vinyl collector. Growing up, as a teenager in the late 90’s and early 00’s I actually collected CDs and have a huge CD collection back home in Australia. Now that I am collecting vinyl, I really wish back in those days, I bought records instead, but CDs were all the rage back then and I wasn’t to know that I would soon start collecting records instead. I started collecting vinyl a little out of frustration or more the transition from CDs to the digital music world. Having access to downloading music made me a little overwhelmed and I just couldn’t keep up with all the new music and trying to make sure I was downloading it. My digital music list was growing and I was finding it hard to keep track of what I had. I didn’t really like that feeling.
Buying records really made me feel like I knew the music and owned it.
I like the size of records, how they look with the artwork and just love being able to put a record on at home. I now have a nice balance between listening to music online when I am traveling around etc and then buying records for the music that I really want to own and love. It’s become a kind of filter process if that makes sense – if I like an album enough, I add it to my wantlist on Discogs and aim to one day own it on vinyl. Makes me not forget about it in a digital list somewhere.
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.
We talk about the future of vinyl and the industry all the time. A few years ago we were experiencing huge growth at Discogs and all around we noticed the increased popularity of vinyl. It has definitely slowed down in the last year or so, but nothing that we are too concerned about. To me, vinyl has shown that it is here to stay – there is a community of people that love the format and want to continue to collect the format. I really think it ties in nicely with the digital space and that there is a place in every music lovers heart for digital use and also records.
Tell me more about what you’re listening to right now:
I jump around with genres and try to keep an open mind. I am really enjoying Jazz at the moment and specifically listening to Art Blakey and a few other popular jazz musicians. Saw Rob recently and that was a lot of fun. With ADE coming up I will probably soon move more towards electronic as I work out my schedule for the night events! But it’s normally a mix of genres, what I hear through friends, see live etc.