The Truth About My 2018
One year ago today was the five-year anniversary of when I first started working for SideOneDummy Records.
It felt like we were on the horizon of what could’ve been our best year yet. Just a couple weeks prior, about a week before Christmas, I was in Manhattan with my newest signing Kississippi, taking meetings with industry tastemakers, playing them songs from her soon-to-be released debut album, Sunset Blush. I remember how she and I just felt on top of the world; there we were, doing things our way and just glowing after sharing all of the plans we had.
So when I got a text from one of the label owners on the morning of January 3, our first scheduled day back to work after the holiday break, asking if we could meet up to talk “S1D 2018,” I certainly thought it was out of normal character for them but assumed it could only be a positive, right?
The entire meeting lasted no more than 10 minutes. I sat in my car confused, clutching the venti iced coffee he just bought me for probably twice as long before driving to the nearest park I could find. Deukmejian Wilderness Park sat high atop the mountains north of Glendale, so much so that I had barely any cell service once I got up there. It was the perfect place to begin processing the fact that I had just been laid off and had absolutely no clue what I was going to do next; just quiet enough that no one could hear me cry.
The days that followed were just a precursor to how difficult the majority of this year has felt since; super fucking long and with a lack of any closure. Thankfully, the support I received from bands*, fans, friends, and peers has continuously brought me back to where I was before all this stuff that dimmed my shine.
For months, I took every job interview and entertained all prospective opportunities. I spent a lot of time searching for somewhere to continue building and fostering this real, inclusive and valuable music community. But whenever I pictured myself in any of those positions**, something just didn’t feel right.
Truth be told, I knew what I needed to do, but I was just scared. Something changed in me and for the majority of this past year, I’ve been running from it. In place of confidence and enthusiasm, I let my self-doubt and insecurities take over, while putting on the bravest face I possibly could to keep up appearances. Shame became all too familiar a friend. I let other people’s poor decisions steal my every thunder; I even so much as stopped going to shows altogether for a few months because I felt so out of place. It was like my identity had been swept up from underneath me with no warning, and it’s taken this entire year to accept that none of this had anything to do with me. I’ve also watched a ton of Brené Brown videos on YouTube.
I remember when the vision for No Earbuds! first came to life. I was sitting across from my husband at an Olive Garden when I finally started to see the potential of what I could build myself***. I’ve always been afraid of standing on my own like this because I feared being perceived as too self-righteous or involved, but now I understand that’s simply what I told myself to avoid the real truth; that standing on my own requires vulnerability. It means facing the totally-possible reality that I might fail in front of everyone, and going for it anyway.
So there I was, breadstick in hand, when I finally made a decision on what I was gonna do next.
I decided to invest in myself.
Over these last few years, I’ve found a lot of different ways to help spread the word about the music I love. I started my career as a publicist and will remain one at my core, but by the time of the layoff, I was not only handling PR for the entire roster but had a role in international marketing campaigns, A&R/signings, and digital/social strategy, too. So I knew that whatever I was about to create had to incorporate all of that, and more.
And thus… No Earbuds! became a reality.
Part boutique PR/marketing and consulting agency, part whatever I want it to be, No Earbuds! will provide innovative PR campaigns, project management, digital marketing, and social media strategies to help artists, bands, labels, and more achieve immediate and long-term goals. It’s all about transparent, out-of-the-box creative strategy led with passion. It’s screaming about your favorite bands, living life as loudly and as weirdly as you want, and creating positive change however you can. It’s taking risks, trying new things, and teaming up on forward-thinking campaigns to get more deserving and diverse voices heard.
One year ago today, my life completely changed. I get it, “it’s just a job,” but if you know me then you know that just simply wasn’t the case. Through it all, though, I learned how to give myself closure in a situation that still refuses to provide any.
It’s taken me twelve months to get here but I do forgive my former bosses. I understand that they faced a practically-impossible decision, and while I wish they would have handled things differently, I refuse to let their choice and the memory of that day shake me up any longer.
I’m taking my January 3 back.
I have a lot of big dreams for what No Earbuds! can become, and hope you’ll stick by me while I try them all out.