You are a publicist for Bedlam Records and also run an event called ‘Brisbabes’ – can you tell us about Bedlam Records and also the Brisbabes event?
Bedlam Records is a small local label here in Brisbane, which features some fantastic psych rock bands as well as some stellar hip-hop acts. I’ve been a part of their team for over a year now, and it’s more of a family than a business. We all love music and love our local scene, so we want to do our part to help that flourish.
Brisbabes is a quarterly showcase of female fronted acts in Brisbane that serves as a sort of party of all the local lady talent we have in our city.
(Check the facebook event here).
Describe a day in the life of Emma Jones.
I still unfortunately have a day job that I work part time at so my days vary but every day I wake up and check my emails, then make a list of everything I need to do that day. I normally have a chat with my housemates in the morning whilst checking out the news before beginning the day.
Lots and lots of emails, as well as coordinating artists and coverage of whatever single we are promoting, thinking up new ideas for future campaigns for the Bedlam side of things. I also have an internship at The Foundry which is a live music venue, so I go there a couple of days a week which I put my knowledge of to good use for running Brisbabes.
I try to listen to new music every day, especially women in music to keep on the ball of what is happening. I work in the evenings so I try to get everything done before I go, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and I have to take a fair few toilet breaks to send off urgent emails/chase things up!
How did you get your start in the music industry – what is your story of how you got to where you are today?
I have wanted to be in the music industry for as long as I can remember, but was discouraged when I graduated school and began a degree in journalism. There was a lot of talk about how there was no money in the industry and a lot of “what is even the point” within my actual faculty (pretty concerning really), and I began to realise that tertiary education really just wasn’t for me.
I pushed my dreams aside for a couple of years and attempted two more degrees before realising that you can’t deny passion and found myself getting involved in local arts collectives. I really started to get involved when I became one of the first ever contributors for Pilerats.com when they branched out into online stuff, before taking it to the next level by joining Scenewave, and Purple Sneakers not long after that.
From here, I fell in love with the industry and the quick pace of it all, and started my own site with a friend called Howl & Echoes. In January, 2015 I started working for Bedlam, and later that year I created Brisbabes. Fast forward to the present day and whilst I may not be writing as much anymore nor a part of Howl & Echoes, but I still have my fierce passion for music and am super excited to get more involved in other avenues of the industry like events and PR.
What made you decide to become a publicist?
It was kind of just by chance that it happened. My good friend Duncan who runs Bedlam came to me with a job opportunity for it as I had been kind of working with some artists before that. I guess he saw something in me, and although I hadn’t really considered it in an actual job role until then, I jumped at the chance to take on a new challenge. It’s a difficult and challenging role but often has lots of wins whether they are big or small, and it’s always exciting as I learn more and more.
What made you decide to setup the Brisbabes event?
I was just sick of going to gigs and noticing there were absolutely no women on the line up. It’s one of those things that once you notice it one time, it’s all you can see. I had wanted to put on something like it for years, but had no clue where to even start. I was feeling really disillusioned with the music industry at the time, but it was Jessica Hopper’s speech at Bigsound last year that inspired me and motivated me so much I finally got the guts to do it. I asked questions and told people about my idea (something that is actually quite scary to do sometimes) and the ball started rolling from there!
What advice would you give someone wanting to become a publicist? Did you receive any advice when you first started?
The best advice I have ever received is to be fearless, and to ask questions. Everyone’s been in your place before, and people are generally nice enough to answer as best they can. Also don’t be afraid to fail, because sometimes it’s the chances and risks you take that give you the biggest wins of all!
If given the chance, what would you change about the current Australian music industry?
The “dude” attitude and the complacency with how things are. I think the Australian music industry has a long way to go in terms of equality and diversity, and whilst there is change happening, I do believe there is a lot of complacency that stops that change from having a greater affect. People need to be open minded to new faces and ideas, and more willing to take chances because it’s the right thing to do, not to stay the same because that’s how things have always been. The music industry needs to shift to be on the right side of the change – because it is coming whether it likes it or not and the female voice is getting louder and louder.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or adversity in your career, and if so how did you approach them?
Most of the challenges I have overcome have been internal. I’ve had to reconcile a lot with myself and my own strengths and weaknesses – something that someone as stubborn as me finds really difficult. There is an air of sexism sometimes but I am really lucky to have surrounded myself with kind people who are supportive and uplifting. There are always people bringing you down in one way or another, but as long as you’re being true to yourself and your passions, what they say doesn’t matter.
Are there any skills that you’ve needed to develop within your role?
Patience and resilience. Also organisation. These three things are imperative in all industries, but are super important in the music industry. The ability to be patient with an artist who is trying to find themselves creatively, or a blog that won’t reply, or an act that pulls out at the last minute is vital, as is the resilience to keep going even though you get knocked back. Organisation is something that doesn’t come naturally to me, so it’s something I work really hard at trying to maintain. Lists are my best friend.
What advice would you give to your 18yo self?
I wish I could tell my 18 yo self that it’s okay to change paths, and that you don’t have to have your entire life mapped out when you finish high school. I wish I could also tell myself that it’s okay to feel lost, and that I should have moved to Brisbane from Townsville sooner.
Do you feel that higher education is necessary to work in the music industry?
Not at all. It’s not common knowledge but as I mentioned above, I actually have started three different degrees at university and “deferred” all of them. I am a firm believer in the best learning experience is real life experience, and that “on the job” learning beats something written down in a book any day.
I think if you have enough ambition and passion, it can take you pretty far. I sometimes think about going back, but every time I legitimately consider doing so, another new opportunity lands in my lap and I think people that let opportunities pass them by are fools. Uni is always there, opportunities are not!
What tips would you give an artist trying to succeed in Australia? Is there a certain route they should take in order to get more press and publicity?
It’s cliché as hell but just be true to yourself and work hard. I don’t know if there is a certain route that even exists, but I think engaging in your local scene and getting out there and meeting people is the best way to get things started. People are more likely to help their friends out than strangers they’ve never seen before, and a lot of the time – at least in my experience – things have come about by coincidence or chance. You gotta be in it to win it!
Who are your role models in the industry whether they be international/Australian?
Jessica Hopper, Vivienne Mellish (head of PR at Mucho Bravado) and Patrick Balfe (booker at the Foundry). Jessica is fierce and inspiring, and her latest book motivates me every day, Viv is one of the hardest working people I know who is a passionate about everything she does and Patrick is the most approachable, honest and real people anyone would be lucky to call a mate.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
Check On Me by Beyonce!