Interview: Jenny Reader, President Creative Chief Officer of Fearless Records

Interview by Yising Kao

Jenny is featured in our Music Industry issue!:

Jenny was appointed co-president of Fearless Records with Andy Serrao by the label’s founder, Bob Becker, last year after working as Fearless’ Vice President of Marketing & Project Management. With over 15 years of experience working in the music industry, Jenny has worked in areas such as publicity and product management, overseeing all aspects of artists’ album campaigns, creating press releases, and more. Fearless Records’ roster includes artists such as As It Is, Set It Off, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, and Grayscale.

What inspired you to want to work in the music industry?

I had a crippling shyness as a kid, and it meant I spent most of my teen years lost in my headphones. I became addicted to the intimate connection I developed to so many different styles of music, lost in my own fortress of solitude. I wanted to inspire that connection and feeling in others, and as someone with a way with words it was natural to connect the two. My first step into the music industry was as a music writer and it all took off from there.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

There’s no such thing as typical day, it can vary wildly. Some days, I’m starting the fires. Some days, I’m putting them out. Most days, I’m making magic happen with our artists, and all days, I tear in as if going into battle. There is a reason I keep a baseball bat by my desk. ;)

What’s your process like planning artists’ album campaigns?

At conception, the first thing is to gain a full understanding the artist’s vision, the goals and challenges to achieving them-acknowledging the latter is all important in order to overcome them. Then it’s about focusing on the brand of the band-all aspects of the campaign has to keep this at its core, visual and creative consistency with a true understanding of their audience is crucial. What can we do to really take this thing over the top, to turn heads-that’s the fun part, but don’t underestimate it. In an increasingly cluttered climate, you need to be creative to set yourself apart. Set the plan, and make it happen. Ideas are important, but it’s the ability to then execute them that’s vital.

What are the two most important things an artist should do before pitching themselves to a record label?

Fully understand who you are and where you want to go and artist. An innate sense of self is the key to success, even if you don’t have all the answers, you have to spend time on what sets you apart, what fans will gravitate to. Building a team around you is also key-great music, buzz, streaming numbers, branding, all are things we look at, but to be ready to sign to a label, you also need the component parts to be able to take what you have and run with it alongside everything the label can enhance and provide.

What do you think makes Fearless artists unique? What message do you hope fans take from them?

We have probably the most diverse roster we’ve ever had, spanning from metal through to pop with every facet of rock in between, but every one of them whether developing, breaking or legacy are special. We spend time on truly cultivating what sets them apart and their own brand. And we take the connection they have with the fans seriously. Building that base one and then tens and then hundreds and then thousands at a time means you have a core that will stay with you for life. Knowing that they are a part of this, having a true impact on an artist’s career is an incredible thing for both the fans and the bands they support.

Through your years of experience in the music industry, what’s one challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

There will always be obstacles. But it’s the ability to switch gears fast and not take things personally that sets apart the ones that stall and the ones that do. If things aren’t going as planned-snap & pivot.

What advice do you have for people who want to work in marketing in the music industry?

Marketing is a nebulous beast. Without it, some of the greatest talents would go unnoticed and the best music go unheard. To get into this side of the business you need brains, balls, brilliance and the ability to adapt. The best first step is focus on marketing yourself - you are your best test case - what can you offer that others can’t? Showcase your ideas, talk to people, dive in and contribute. Be prepared to start small and work your ass off. Make yourself invaluable even on a macro level and opportunity will come to you.