Meet Elizabeth Pilar Ayala, she works at VNYL a record subscription company, and has her hands in a little bit of everything there from acting as inventory manager to keep track of incoming records, to warehouse manager overseeing outgoing orders and making sure the warehouse staff has what they need, and in addition to these tasks, she is also a music curator. “This [music curator] is probably one of my favorites because I get to go through our users profiles and pick out what records would best fit their music taste!”
I was lucky enough to meet Elizabeth briefly after my talk at Making Vinyl. It was such a whirlwind trip but I’m glad we got a chance to connect since I’d been watching what VNYL was up to for awhile. Not only are they curating new music to land on your doorstep but they also have a program that helps independent artists press vinyl. Elizabeth spends some of her time also reaching out to artists and helping manage those projects.
Outside of work “I’m a proud Chicana, first generation college student. I graduated from California State University in 2017 with a BA in Communications, with an option in PR. I stay active in my local music scene and have been a part of artist collectives.” She is constantly working to plan events and shows to spotlight local bands (shouting out to all her local bands from Inglewood, Hawthorne, Long Beach, Southgate) and artists to give them a platform to share their art. She is also obsessed with cats and curly hair products.How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Hello Vinyl World! Like many of the other lovely ladies featured, music has helped shape my life. Growing up I attached myself to music as a form of self expression. Music is the reason I got into fashion (my second love). Although I never learned how to play an instrument I always knew I wanted to be apart of the music scene to find a way to support artists. So when it came time to job hunt after I graduated I was pleasantly surprised to find VNYL in my job search.
I started as a logistics assistant in the warehouse and have worked my way up since then. I enjoyed the idea of being around records and music and knew this would be a good start. Now I help support artist I enjoy by pressing their records. This job has also opened my eyes to the vinyl community and all the behind the scenes jobs there is in this industry. It is amazing! I feel like I learn something new everyday and I love that.
What is a day in the life like?
Well I always have to start with my morning coffee, haha. Then I start by checking emails. See if I received any responses on potential pressing projects. For a good chunk of the day I look through hundreds of subscribers profiles and spotifies to pick out the perfect records for them. Being a record subscription we receive records almost daily. If there’s a shipment I will go through, count and shelve them. From their I spend another half of my day researching new up-and-coming artists or labels to work with.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
For me any time we get a record from an artist I listen to I get excited. Especially to share that with our subscribers. People do email us or tweet at us that they loved their records and that never gets old for me.
Another cool part of my job is when we work with labels who have some of my favorite local bands, it is always exciting. Just to name a few: Innovative Leisure, Burger Records, and Greenway Records. There are also a couple projects I am currently working on that I am SUPER excited about but I can’t give out too many details just yet!
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I would say when working in this industry, you need to have a lot of patience. There are back and fourths on emails or you might not hear back from some people. But that’s ok, I don’t let it get me down. It’s actually taught me to take no’s better. I just move forward because there is always so much that needs to be done that I just move on to the next project. I would also say when we don’t get a record on time, because it disrupts the flow of our system to get orders in and out as quickly as possible.What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Network! Talk to people. Put yourself in places where you could possibly meet the people you want to work with or for.
I would also say do things afraid. Because if you let fear of failing, or rejection hold you back then you might never try to break into the field you want.
Also get used to the fact that you might be the only woman in the room at meetings or maybe even in your office. However I do think things are changing, especially with a community like women in vinyl. We have the power to change the scene going forward, so we should always support other women in our field. I know I always try my best to.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yes! I am really into old fashion and antiques so it was only a matter of time before I got into vinyl collecting. The first record I ever got was from my dad when I was in high school. It was before I even had a record player. It was a KISS “Destroyer” album. Oh man I felt so cool owning that record, I still have it!
It wouldn’t be until college that I got my first baby record player (I have upgraded since) that I started to collect more. Since I would frequent thrift stores I would always pick up an old dusty obscure record. It is rare if you find a big name album at a thrift store. I feel like a lot of people hang on to the good ones.
Then of course working for VNYL has helped me grow my collection even more. I love the static, little cracks and pop sounds some of the old vinyls make. It’s true what they say, music just sounds better on vinyl. Its like experience your favorite albums in a completely 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.
I heard that there is a company who has found a way to go green with vinyl and I think that is super interesting. I wonder if that might change how we make vinyl in the future. I don’t think there will ever not be a demand for vinyl to be pressed. I believe there will always be a band or an artist who wants to be pressed and that’s great.
Tell me more about what you’re listening to right now:
The thing I think I appreciate most about working at VNYL is that it has pushed me to listen to different genres of music. Being a music curator I try to listen to a little bit of everything so I can send subscribers the best records for them. I have come across some very interesting find because of it.
I listen to a good amount of indie rock, cumbias, psych rock, garage rock, punk, rock en espanol, indie pop, dream pop on a daily basis. Although I do enjoy a plethora of different music genres, those are just the ones I listen to daily. I’m also in an office with coworkers who love music just as much as I do. Plus we all have strong music opinions and listen to a wide range of different music. They have pushed me out of what I would normally listen to, whether I like it or not is another story. But I do appreciate it and try and give everything a chance.