M E A H P O L L O C K
Syracuse University '14
This Fiction Management
Interview by Henry Lyons
Photography by Natalie Sereda
In an industry that's changing so rapidly, there's only one thing we can count on: the leaders of tomorrow's music business are the people in entry-level jobs today. Being a young person in the industry, I am fascinated to see who is coming up with me. My assignment is to find out more from three other kids in the city, who are at the beginning of their careers in music. I am hoping to learn more on what surprised and interested them about their respective fields.
The Manifesto: How did you get your current job?
Meah Pollock: Sort of through Syracuse. When I was there studying the music industry, I ran the record label on campus. The band Ra Ra Riot got their start at Syracuse, and we decided to do a residency with them. It was really cool. They played a concert, and actually taught some music classes to some of the music students about playing in a rock band rather than classical music. The band and their manager, Josh, taught a class on the music industry one night as well.
We ended up selling out the concert. It was a big success. Josh is business partners with Seth, and a while later he told me that Seth was looking for an assistant. So I went up to him and said, “hey, remember me? I’m graduating now,” which ended up with an interview with Seth.
TM: What was the transition from college to work like?
MP: I got hired a year ago in April, and I graduated right after that, probably a week or two later. I graduated on a Sunday, and I remember Seth asking me, “so I’ll see you on Monday, right?” I had to be like, “well, I need a few days to move out of my apartment and move into New York, at least like a couple of days to take care of that.”
And he goes, “ok, so then I’ll see you Wednesday.”
All I could say was, “ok!”
TM: I think management is fascinating because of how intense it is. Needing to essentially be on call 24 hours a day, dealing with a wide range of personalities, and taking on every one of your band’s problems must be completely hectic. And you and Seth do that for six bands. How do you stay on top of everything?
MP: Actually it’s kind of weird, dealing with six bands I’ve just had to learn to multi-task really well. One thing Seth and I do is have this app called Wunderlist. It’s basically a to-do list for each band, but we’re able to see each other’s to-do’s, and we can check them off when they’re done. But what’s cool is that we can ask each other questions in-app.
Time management is definitely a challenge, especially with six bands, but we’ve found ways to control it.
One thing I love about Seth is that not only is he passionate about the music, but he gets along with each band on more of a friendship basis. It helps make sure that they’re all mentally sane, so we aren’t dealing with drama or anything like that. I don’t have to worry about them while they’re on the road because I know they’re really well behaved. That’s a big thing I learned from Seth: when you pick a band to work with, make sure that you’re passionate about them, but also make sure that they’re sane.
TM: Publicity is very much a social media game now. How do you tackle that?
MP: I actually just recently set up one of our bands on Snapchat, so they post stories for fans and things like that. But lately I’ve found that Instagram seems like the best platform for getting information out there, even better than Facebook, which has this stupid algorithm that oftentimes makes our posts not even show up in your newsfeed. With Instagram, if you’re following someone then you’re going to see everything they post.
TM: Each of your bands is obviously independent and has their own image. How do you approach branding each group without losing their soul and core?
MP: It’s funny, because for each band you use the same tools but have a completely different voice. When I’m posting on Facebook or whatever, I have to think about that a lot. Like, “this band doesn’t like exclamation points, so we can’t use that.” Or one of the bands is really goofy and likes hearts and smiley faces, while another really likes using fake words and weird capitalizations, and you just kind of have to learn to think in their voice.
TM: We’re both really early on in our careers, so we’ll both probably have to deal with whatever changes we see looming ahead. Are there any specific ways you see the industry changing?
MP: Well, I think the car industry is going to have a huge impact on music. When they remove radio from the design of your average car, we’re going to have to figure out what the heck that means for us. Because once it’s out of cars, radio is going to be completely gone.
TM: That’s really interesting. I think you’re right. Cars are so important, because it’s easy to forget that the people that talk about how they find music are people that are finding music in unconventional ways, whether that’s a blog or something else.
MP: Exactly, and those are people who are true music fans that will actively go out and search for it. But for the average consumer, it’s radio. So when that’s gone, what happens?