Interview: Whitney Shoemaker, Artist Manager at 10 & 8 Management, Writer for Alternative Press

Interview by Yising Kao

Whitney is featured in our Music Industry issue!:

Photo by Emma Marie

Based in Columbus, OH, Whitney has worked at 10 and 8 Management for over 6 months, doing tasks for press, booking, managing, and merchandise for any bands she brings onto the roster. Additionally, she began writing reviews and curating Spotify playlists for NEO Music Scene and Spinning Thoughts, which led to her working as a writer for Alternative Press magazine over the past 2 years. For AP, she writes features for their website and magazine, and interviews artists and bands.

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

I got started in the industry WAY later than most. I wasn’t even aware you could have an actual job in the music world until I spontaneously volunteered to help with Bebe Rexha’s merch at the Cleveland stop of the Vans Warped Tour, back before she became the incredible icon she is today. I did it because I really enjoyed her music and the entire Warped Tour scene, but being surrounded by all these amazing people who actually did this kind of stuff for a living was when it really sunk in. I had one of those “Oh my god this could be me!” moments, and the very next day, I went to work learning everything I could and taking every opportunity I came across, no matter how big or small. I started by joining Fearless Records Street Team where I eventually worked my way up to being a Street Team Leader, getting the chance to work different shows and festivals for the label. I met so many awesome people and made connections that eventually lead me to getting my jobs at Alt Press and 10 and 8. I’ve always been passionate about music and how it has the ability to connect people, and being able to turn that into a job just blew my mind. I wanted to be able to share that passion and that joy that music brings me with other people, in hopes that they could find the same inspirations in it that I do.

How have you bridged the gap between being a fan of music to working in the industry?

Being a fan of music is what got me into working in the industry. I’ve been able to take something that I love and make a living out of it which, in my opinion, gives me the best job in the world. Being a fan makes it easier to push myself, to learn everything I can about the music industry, because it never really feels like work to me.

What are the three most important skills to have as an artist manager?

You need to be determined. The hardest part about being an artist manager is that you’re going to get told “No” A LOT. You can’t let that get to you. It’s easy to feel defeated after a while, but you have to keep pushing forward because all you need is that one “Yes.” Stay focused and continue to work hard. Consistency is also important. Majority of pitches are landed in that follow-up call or email. You may never get a reply to half of the emails you send, but following up can be a total game-changer. Communication is key. At 10 and 8, we talk to our bands EVERY day, even if it’s a simple “Hey, just checking in to make sure you’re OK” text. The industry can be overwhelming and really take a toll on you mentally. You never want to lose that communication with your bands simply because you’re “too busy.”

There’s an evident gender inequality issue in the behind-the-scenes part of the music industry. What’s your perspective on that and how has it affected your experiences?

The music industry is definitely a male-dominated scene. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a show or festival that I’m working, only for staff or a fan to ask me why I’m there and which band member I’m dating. Like, I couldn’t get this job otherwise? It’s definitely frustrating, but it also makes me work that much harder to show that I deserve to be here just as much as the next person. I think recently, and especially over the last year in particular, the issue is finally starting to be addressed. Things are slowly turning around, which I think is awesome! There’s an incredible company called Girls Behind The Rock Show that has created this network of amazing women from all areas of the music industry and given them a place to network, inspire, and support each other for this exact reason. It’s something I think all women currently working or wanting to work in the industry should check out.

What advice do you want to give to aspiring artist managers?

When Nicholas Mishko brought me in as an artist manager for 10 and 8, he told me one very crucial piece of advice: You don’t count the bands, you make the bands count. It isn’t about how many bands you’re managing, it’s about taking those bands and giving them your all. There’s no point in managing twenty bands if you can’t give them the work and attention they deserve. Be ready to put in 110% of your best effort, even on your worst days. This is a 24/7 job that requires endless amounts of hard work on your part, so you have to be willing and ready to answer that call or send that email, even when it’s inconvenient for you. Most importantly, enjoy your victories, take pride in all of your hard work, and never forget why you got into this industry in the first place.