Olivia DeMasters and Meghann Wright are Part 3 in our Women of Sun Records posts, and they are responsible for the marketing of the legendary Sun Records as the Marketing Manager and Marketing Director. Want to know more about Sun’s beginnings, see our last post here.
Olivia is the Marketing Manager for Sun Records, along with all other Gaither Music Group labels. Meghann as the Marketing Director takes a holistic approach to putting music out into the world. Start with the story and build from there. Meghann also runs a small indie label called GrindEthos Records for almost a decade, alongside her friend Dani Mari (Primitive Heart), and has spearheaded release strategies and marketing for artists and labels across all genres from hip hop to country.
Gaither Music Group is based in Nashville and includes Sun Records, Green Hill Music, Gaither Records, emeraldwave, Rural Rhythm Records, and a host of other distributed artists and labels under parent company Primary Wave.
In their free time Olivia genuinely spends it record shopping and record hunting. She also loves hiking, going to the gym, going on walks, and just being outdoors in general. Meghann says “I love the outdoors, especially the water. Taking my kid swimming is the best.”
Photos Below: Olivia (right), Meghann (left)
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Olivia: Growing up in a family that lived and breathed music caused me to develop a literal obsession with music. I started my record collection at 13 years old and never looked back. I quickly realized that this was the industry I wanted to be in from a very young age but I had no clue how I was going to do it. Once I was in high school and learning about the different colleges and career paths that existed, it became clear to me once I discovered the music business degree that this was the path for me. Getting to be a part of the music industry without being an artist was the main goal.
Meghann: I have always loved art in all forms and have played music since I was a little kid – piano, violin, guitar, bass, sax, and vocals. My parents love music – my dad introduced me to rock, metal, punk and my mom is a classically trained opera singer, pianist and flautist. As I got into west coast punk in high school in the 90s in Hawaii, then metal in college in the Northeast just as NWOAHM was starting, joining bands with friends happened naturally. In those days, we promoted with flyers and in zines. In the early oughts with the advent of Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, I became an early adopter of digital marketing, and the new DIY platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp made it easier for indie artists to release music. I eventually moved to NYC and played a lot, I learned from Tim Borror who helped manage and book me in my early artist days, then I learned from other DIYers like Ariel Hyatt about digital development. It always just sort of happened very naturally, I can’t imagine not being in the industry.
What is a day in the life like?
Olivia: The part about this job that I love so much is that each day is completely different. Some days are filled with meetings with artists and their teams strategizing new releases, while some days are filled with pitching our catalog for sync licensing. Most days I start with searching for DSP and social media updates for our artists, and communicating those updates to artists and their teams. A good portion of every day is filled with answering emails, some days more than others. I try to end each day with strategizing for sync licensing pitches which is my favorite way to end each day. Marketing plans, and strategy is what fills each day, this just looks different depending on the calendar.
Meghann: As marketing director for the label group, I touch a lot of projects at once across genres and labels – lots of balls in the air. I work with production and internal marketing and streaming managers to develop release strategy across digital and physical releases. It is really a team effort and communication is key to a successful team.
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Olivia: I’ve been at this company just under a year, and the coolest thing would have to be the release of the Olivia Newton-John x Dolly Parton “Jolene” duet. This was the last release Olivia (who I just so happen to be named after) recorded before she passed away. This was a very full circle moment in my life and it will be hard to top as my favorite release.
Meghann: The whole 70th anniversary of Sun Records campaign was truly a career highlight for me, working with the team to bring iconic legacy albums back to life on vinyl almost seems surreal looking back on it. Most recently I worked on an album for Ian Hunter at Sun which featured a lot of his friends from Ringo Starr to Slash. In the past I ran strategy for Catherine Russell‘s grammy-nominated jazz album Alone Together, Kari Faux’s ‘Leave Me Alone’, and Olivia Newton-John’s 2022 anniversary of Physical.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Olivia: For me, the most difficult part of my job has been leaning into a leadership roll for the first time in my career. Don’t get me wrong, it has turned into the most rewarding part of my job, but it is definitely an area that I have had to grow into.
Meghann: As a working mom, the most difficult aspect of the gig is balance – some weeks with heavy priorities can feel totally swamped and then you have nothing left for yourself or your kid at the end of the day. I find it helps to remember that while art is important for humanity, we’re not ending world hunger or curing cancer so sometimes taking a step back can help.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Olivia: Do not let road blocks deter where you want to end up. The way you get their can always change, but there is ALWAYS another way to achieve what you want. When I initially had to drop out of college because I couldn’t afford to finish at that school, I thought that was the end of my music business career. After some time off, and a few pivots to a new school, the end result was still what I wanted.
Meghann: It sounds cliche, but networking is so important. In NYC, I attended nearly every event I could, joined Women in Music NY (eventually co-chairing Global Communications), and started some of my own orgs and event series. You never know when you will meet your next great friend or colleague in the industry.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Olivia: Yes, I would definitely call myself a collector. I’ve purchased over 300 vinyl in the last 6 years. It’s becoming a tad bit of a bank account issue, but it’s well worth it for me. I listen to my records *almost* as much as I stream music when i’m in my apartment. My mom and other family members were huge record collectors when I was growing up so it was a natural next step for me.
Meghann: I am! I started collecting vinyl in Hawaii, accompanying my dad to used record stores like Jelly’s and Radio Free Hawaii to crate dig. Then in college in New England, I frequented stores like Turn it Up!, Newbury Comics, and Bull Moose. Even when physical was on the downturn, I’ve always made it a point to collect. Some of my favorites in my collection include rare metal and jazz records.
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.
Olivia: I am very excited to see the new generation of vinyl collectors. Everyday as I’m scrolling through TikTok I see young people showing their collection to the world. I also love how rock music is over indexing in the physical world, since that is the genre I am always looking for in my “hunts”. My Discogs wish list is full of rock, and I’m glad the industry is moving that was as well!
Meghann: I am so excited about the new packaging designs, innovative pressing options (like Sleep’s cannabis leaves in the vinyl), and just the fact that fans are still excited about that physical piece. I grew up spreading album booklets out on the floor while immersing myself in the artist’s vision of my favorite records, I’m glad fans are still hungry for that sensation. I talk a little bit about it in this ancient Vinyl District interview here.
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
Oliva: My boss, who is also featured in this interview, Meghann Wright! She is the prime example of a Marketing expert who teaches me more about the industry each and every day. I could not work under a better boss if I tried!
Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to:
Oliva: I’m a big Rock & Country fan, but Lana Del Rey is my favorite artist of all time.
Meghann: I’m really on a hardcore kick right now, it’s cool that bands like Turnstile have turned mainstream ears on to the sound. As a Glassjaw fan, I was blown away by the new Daryl Palumbo/ BMTH/ Lil Uzi Vert collab. Lately I’ve been throwing back to Madball, Backtrack, Face to Face, and Body Count.
Find Olivia & Meghann:
Sun Records: @sunrecordcompany
Green Hill: @greenhillmusiclabel
Emerald Wave: @emeraldwavemusic
Grind Ethos: @grindethos
Playlists of some of the releases Meghann worked on here.