Test Drive My Job: Music Publicist Jasmine Vega
Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. How did you wind up in this field?
JV: I didn’t actually go to college. I started working at 14 yrs old and haven’t stopped. I didn’t know what a publicist was when I asked for the job. I was working at a law firm in the data entry department during the day and at night I was promoting my boyfriend’s club in Los Angeles. This was in the late 80’s. We always had rappers and record promoters come to the club and get on the mic. I became friends with the A&R person from Delicious Vinyl (Young MC, Tone Loc). He asked me if I wanted to come to his label one day after work, so I did. I looked around and saw that the office was in a shambles, no file cabinets, no structure etc. This was hard for me to understand coming from a law firm where everything was in its place at all times. So I asked why that was and a month later I got a call asking if I wanted to come in for an interview to assist the GM. I went in and got the job. A few months later the publicist at the label was leaving her position and said that I should ask to take her place since I was already doing her job and everyone liked working with me. Doing her job at that time since we had established artists was answering the phone and sending out press kits to those who asked. Those calling were the likes of Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek etc. I was in a very fortunate situation and took the position. The rest is history.
Mopwater: Describe how you got from the in-house publicist job to what you’re doing now. When did o become an independent PR pro? How many years into working at Delicious Vinyl did you decide to go out on your own?
JV: While working at Delicious Vinyl, we also hired an indie pr firm to work other projects that I didn’t have time to. After a year in the position, the pr firm had asked if I would like to work in their LA office. I eventually left the label, moved to the indie firm until it closed its doors. At that time, I was able to leave with a handful of accounts to be independent for a few years until Priority Records offered me an in house position. I was there for a couple of years until I was courted by Virgin Records. I remained at Virgin for 8 years until they moved the company to New York. At that time I went indie again and have remained indie for the last few years.
Mopwater: What aspects of the industry are you most excited about?
JV: I’m excited about seeing a full cycle of the industry and I know what will emerge. It is a great time for independent companies; as the lane is wide open for people to create their own avenue in the industry. The electronic age is here and evolving so quickly, things are old in a few months. Sifting through what to keep up on is intense.
Mopwater: Describe a typical workday including your work hours. What do you do all day?
JV: As soon as I sit at my computer around 8am and push the send and receive it gets hectic. I answer about 50 emails or so by noon. I figure out what targets I need to hit to gain more interview opportunities for my artists. I set up press days, send out packages, write a press release if needed. I usually have about 3 or so clients, so juggling that many when you work alone is hectic. I also research any media updates as these days there are about 20 or so a day. I read what some of the hip hop, R&B, jazz and industry blogs and websites have to say as well. I speak with many of the team members and brain storm on maximizing any events, tour dates or marketing opportunities available for each client on a daily basis. This takes me to about 7pm or so when I close shop for the day.
Mopwater: What would you say are your top 10 industry blogs and Web sites that you try to keep up with each week?
JW: Radiofacts.com, EURweb.com, Billboard.com, Fusicology.com is fantastic for letting me know what “cool” shows and venues are happening in my area, Blackvibes.com is great for keeping me up to date on urban market topics, not just music, UDubNews.com, HipHopDX.com, and GlobalGrind.com. There are just so many – but these are my daily looks to stay updated on industry news.
Mopwater: Describe your office setting and workplace.
JV: I work out of my house. I have a laptop, files, stacked cd’s and a chair. The good thing about being an independent PR person is you don’t need a lot of space and you can remain portable. I have lots of natural light and windows all around me to keep the flow of energy moving as PR work can be extremely tense.
Mopwater: What are your favorite and least favorite PR tasks and why?
JV: Favorite: When I secure a review or feature in a major national magazine. It makes me feel accomplished in what I do and I get excited for the artist as well.
Least favorite: the amount of hours you have to put in every day. It’s an awful lot of work. I also don’t like chasing the check. That can get tedious and stressful.
Mopwater: Do you love to pitch?
JV: I do love when I can create a good pitch. It gets me excited to reach out to as many people as I can. I love the creativity of it all. However creativity in the pr field also includes being strategic. The two can lead to a fun pitch.
Mopwater: Dread writing releases?
JV: I completely dread writing press releases. It’s not an easy thing to do, to be concise in your words. These days you have to be as short as possible because the attention span of the reader has gotten very short. You need to hit them hard in the first sentence or forget it.
Mopwater: Who are some of your (or your organization’s) clients, and what kind of projects do you take on for these clients?
JV: I try to stay working with urban oriented clients like Teena Marie, Rock City, Buju Banton, I have a dance artist by the name of Erika Jayne and the list continues. I handle all their album releases and work closely with the marketing and radio teams associated with them.
Mopwater: How often do you meet with celebrities/artists to discuss what you’re doing for them? Do you travel a lot? JV: I speak with my clients almost everyday to plan interviews, photo shoots, appearances, etc. I see them almost once a week. But I don’t travel with all of my clients. In today’s time of the shrinking budget, it really depends on the client. I do travel with my dance client a lot as of late since we are gearing up for her album release. When I was at a label I traveled almost every other week if not more. However as mentioned before, working at a label is very restricting because there is hardly a budget for anything and hardly anyone travels anymore.
Mopwater: Describe a recent project where you produced results of which you’re really proud.
JV: I am working with Teena Marie and was able to secure (3) pieces in People Magazine, USA Today and Entertainment Weekly for her album’s release. She is now #2 on iTunes most downloaded R&B artist for the week. Great accomplishments for an R&B artist to achieve mainstream and national notoriety.
Mopwater: What is your favorite thing about this job?
JV: Achieving tasks like those above.
Mopwater: Do you think you’ll be in this position in 5 years?
JV: No. The industry has change a awful lot. The quality of music has diminished in the genre that I like working in. You have to work harder and longer to make something happen. The industry is so vast now that keeping your finger on the pulse is no longer enough.
Mopwater: If you could work on any PR or marketing project of your choosing, what would it be?
JV: I like how I have set up my business now. I don’t advertise and everything is on referral and I can pick and choose what I want to work. I’ve work many very established artists in the past and in most cases I prefer to develop artists and/or take artists to the next level. Working established artists most of the time you are just coordinating an itinerary and the creativity is taken out of the job. I like staying creative and seeing things develop.