Sunday, December 29, 2013

The College Experience with Lucy B

>> Remember the good ol' days of AOL chat rooms? Depending on your age, you might also remember your parents/guardian forbidding you to go on there because with the Internet, you never really know who you're talking to.  Classic, cheesy, yet true.  But today, it seems like a great way to get to know someone is through the computer.  I stumbled upon a cool music internet radio show called New Music Inferno a few years ago when a friend's band was featured.  The show's host, JR, has a chat room running throughout his broadcast so that fans can submit questions for the artists being interviewed with a chance of them being seen instantly and actually asked.  It's a great way to get fans involved with an interview, something that can easily feel very distant.  Through submitting questions and of course shamelessly self-promoting this site, I ended up starting conversations with a girl named Lucy, username Loserfacelucy.  Turns out we had a ton in common with regards to music - we both loved writing and the music scene, and even shared a bunch of favorite bands to see live.  Lucy went on to start her own site, titled Lucy Out Loud.  In the past 3 years, Lucy has started doing interviews, features, reviews, hosting contests, and more, all with a personal touch that parallels my own.  She's really looking to expand and I have no doubt that she will.  Here's her take on doing everything while still in school.

** Lucy Out Loud is currently hosting a contest featuring cool prizes from Labyrinth Clothing.  Visit for more information! Contest ends January 3rd.

Please state your name, age, and what school you attend.
Hello! My name is Lucy, I'm 20 and I'm a Junior at Montclair State University.

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene? 
   I had always grown up around music, though up until 6th grade it was all teeny bopper or classic rock. My dad and older brother loved classic rock so it was something I always listened to, but when I had transferred to a new school for 6th grade because my previous middle school closed, I think that's when I first started listening to more of the "indie" side of the music scene. The first album I remember really being obsessed with was Fall Out Boy's "Infinity on High" which I got as a birthday gift in 8th grade, so that was around the time when My Chemical Romance and Paramore had just entered my life as well. I went to my first show at the School of Rock in a nearby town when I was 16 and saw Ace Enders, Person L, The Dangerous Summer, The Gay Blades, and School Boy Humor. My brother, who was in college at the time, had introduced me to The Early November and I was immediately hooked. Somewhere between Sophomore and Junior year of high school I began doing street teaming for record labels like Fearless Records, Photo Finish Records, and Decaydance. I thought the idea of promoting artists who deserved to be heard was almost exhilirating so I began creating official or state street teams for local bands that I had found through Myspace, Twitter, or PureVolume.
   I think it was during my senior year of high school that I really began focusing on Photo Finish Records after they signed one of my favorite bands, The Downtown Fiction. The label was looking for street teamers to help out at Bamboozle which is only a 15 minute drive from me. I had always wanted to go, but because I didn't have any money I could never persuade my parents to buy me a ticket. So getting in for free in exchange of helping out a record label and bands that I love was definitely what convinced me to contact the people at Photo Finish. I ended up working the first day of Bamboozle with them and it was so much fun to interact with other street teamers and meet these people from the record label that I had really only known about from online. I took a friend with me and we had to arrive 4 hours prior to doors opening to hang posters and hand out fliers once people were allowed in. Honestly, it was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had and I think that is what first made me want to get involved in the music scene. Somewhere around that time, Ace Enders also announced that he would be starting an internship program to help promote his newest album for I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business, so I applied and was accepted. That internship sparked a huge interest in me because it gave me a little more creative control with the projects we were assigned. It also actually introduced me to one of my best friends/current photographer and writer for my site, so I'm extremely thankful for those opportunities that really gave me the push to create my own music blog.

If you got involved at a relatively early age, was it hard having to deal with age restricted shows? 
Actually, no. I spent most of my free time in high school at the School of Rock going to shows with my friends every other weekend. It was harder to get money to pay for tickets than it was to deal with age restrictions at shows. I made a deal with my brother that I would do his laundry in exchange for tickets, but there was never enough laundry to pay for every single show. What was so great about the School of Rock, prior to it closing, was that there was never really any age restrictions. I think some shows were 16 and over, but I was 16 when I started attending shows and never really had to deal with that. Even now, as a 20 year old, I've never dealt with 21+ restricted shows because the venues around here (Mexicali Live and Starland Ballroom) that allow drinking still allow you in if you're under 21, just with no access to the alcohol. 

Now that you're in college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now? 
As I mentioned, it was never difficult for me. Things are a little more accessible now, but not in regards to agre restrictions. It was always difficult to persuade our parents to drive us to shows, so being in college gives us a little more freedom especially because most of us can drive now. The same with paying for shows. I started working when I was a freshman in college, so if I really want to go to a show I don't need to do my brother's laundry or beg my parents for money anymore because I'm earning it myself. 

Do you find that you have more or less free time generally as a college student? 
It really depends on the semester and the classes that I've taken. Last semester was a very easy one for me because it contained no term papers and not much homework either, so I had a bunch of free time on my hands when I wasn't at school or working. However, this semester has been more difficult because most classes include group projects that take up a lot of your time. As a working college student, it's even more difficult to find free time, at least for me, because I'm working to save up for a car and chip in for my school tuition at the same time. A good majority of my friends that attend school don't have a part time job which allows them to have a lot more free time on their hands. So it really depends on your situation.

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
As I mentioned before, I got into the music industry when I was in high school. During my senior year I created a blog on tumblr to post all of my street teaming stuff on one site. I figured I should expand it and actually turn it into something I would enjoy, which turned into a full music blog. I changed the title to Lucy Out Loud and began posting tour dates, music video releases, and I even started doing interviews with local bands. It wasn't until the Ace Enders internship that I decided that I wanted to expand and make Lucy Out Loud a bigger website. A fellow intern, named Eric Riley, decided to help me out by writing show and album reviews. He then started to shoot those shows and we would post live photos on our site as well. I think it's worked out pretty well because he has officially been a part of Lucy Out Loud for about a year and a half now. We've also started working with a bunch of PR Groups which has helped us to build relationships, so my experiences in the industry is continuing to grow. It's all on a day-to-day basis because you don't know what or who you'll be introduced to next.

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often have you been tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend / play a show? How do you make the choice? 
To me, school is my first priority, but I have been tempted to skip class or put off assignments. I've definitely left class early a few times to make it to a show or waited until last minute to do an assignment, but again, school comes first so it's more of a last resort if the show is that important. 

Have you ever arranged your schedule based on music related obligations? Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule? 
Not that I can recall....though I've definitely called out of work or had to get a shift changed in order to attend something music related. Although I love my job, sometimes you just want to go to a show and have a good time with your friends instead of being stuck at work. 

Are you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student who's also involved in the music industry
Again, it's more on the work side of things. I've had to reschedule my work shifts PLENTY of times in order to attend shows. And they've all been worth it.

As a blogger, do you find it hard to find a place to do interviews or acoustic sessions, or to edit videos? 
 It's definitely been difficult to find a place to do interviews. I've been crammed in small rooms with really shitty lighting, I've had to do interviews outside where there's traffic and more shitty lighting, but the worst was probably Warped tour this year. There was an incident with getting a press pass, so I arranged 2 interviews that I could do that wouldn't require passes. The first was with the lead singer of the Swellers, who is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. The date I attended was one of the hottest - probably around 100 or so degrees - and we had no where to do our interview that was shaded. We ended up doing the interview behind one of the stages in the scorching heat while a band was about to perform, but we made it work. The other interview was with Jonas Sees In Color, yet another band with some of the nicest guys, but the only place we could do our interview was at their merch tent (which thankfully was covered and in the shade). The problem, however, was that the band on the stage nearby had just started so the entire interview basically consisted of shouting at one another. It was an interesting - and fun - experience...

What is one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Have you faced many tough obstacles like that, or has being in school helped you take those next steps? 
I think school has definitely helped me. I'm majoring in Public Relations and I try taking as many free elective music classes as possible, which are extremely fun and interesting to me. Most PR classes coincide with some things that I need to do as the owner and editor-in-chief of Lucy Out Loud, so there has definitely been some helpful courses. The biggest obstacle is finding the time to manage school, work, and maintaining the blog. Especially now that our staff is growing, it's even more difficult, but sometimes I just need to sit back and take a breather. Luckily, I work with extremely understanding and motivating people that know where I'm coming from, so it's not something that takes a major toll on me.

Since you have additional writers and interns for your site, is it hard having to manage assignments, press passes, and the like for not only yourself but for your contributors as well?
I won't lie, it's a tad difficult and overwhelming at times to manage assignments and passes for our staff while still keeping busy with work and school. One thing I've learned is that lists are my best friends, ha. For me, it's easier to make lists of albums that need to be reviewed, shows that need to be covered and interviews that need to be done so that I'm constantly on top of things. I give deadlines to my writer and interns which definitely helps us stay on track. Something else that is extremely important, and is why I think Lucy Out Loud has progressed so well, is having constant communication with my staff. If they need to ask me something, or vice versa, we're only a text or e-mail away. If one of my interns tells me that they need more time on a review, as long as they stay connected with me and keep me updated, I'm typically understanding. I don't want my staff to feel as if they are just contributing and not receiving any feedback. When one of my photographers takes an amazing shot, I'm going to be sure to tell them that because they deserve it. When one of my writers puts together a solid review, but something seems out of place or as if it is missing something I'm going to tell them so that they can change and improve it. Again, my staff is extremely understanding and it's something I'm so thankful for. Even if things are overwhelming at times, they know where I'm coming from and we really just have each others best interest in mind. 

How has being in college helped you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both outweigh the cons? 
I always knew I wanted to go to college because I love to learn. It was more about choosing classes that I felt would benefit me and the career path that I've chosen. For the most part, I think it has helped me because I've been able to learn more about myself while also learning new techniques that will help my website go in the direction that I want it to. For me, I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons because every day is a new experience for me and as I said, I work with some of the best and most understanding people who see where I'm coming from and know that school is a top priority. I don't think I'd feel the way I do about this if I didn't have people on my team who believe in me and what I'm doing.

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career / path in the music industry while you're still in school? 
Absolutely! Most people who I've talked to about interning and making this a real career have comended me for starting all of this when I was in high school. The earlier you can get your foot in the door and start building connections, the more you start to learn about what it is that you want to do with this career and the more you start to learn about yourself. The one thing you need to remember is that you have to pick a career that YOU want to do. When I first started applying to colleges, my parents did not want me going for PR. They threatened to not pay for college if I stuck with my major, but I knew that this was what I wanted to do, so I needed to prove it to them. And I did. Now they see and understand that this is something I'm passionate about and that there is nothing they can say or do that will change my mind otherwise.

What are your plans for after graduation?
 I have no idea honestly, ha. Everything is a day-to-day learning experience, but I know I will be doing something in the music industry. We recently hired 3 interns, promoted one of them as an official member of our staff, and are planning on hiring more interns by the new year. By next semester, I'm hoping to start interning myself and work on building more connections and really trying to figure out my next plan.
*Update: After answering these questions, Lucy has received word that she'll be interning with Big Picture Media for the 2014 spring semester.

Get Connected
 - Kate Russell

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