Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
This year marks my 10th year working in the music industry, starting out as a talent buyer, then opening up an artist management firm that blossomed into what is now Absolute Merch.
What drove you to choose your career path?
I’ve always had a passion for music, as well as an absolute hatred for working for other people. At 25 I quit my job as a talent buyer and became independent. Honestly, I didn’t see myself working in merch at the time, but the management company (Sight In Sound) kind of transitioned a few years back because we saw a huge void in the merchandise space within our scene and took advantage.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I graduated from UCSD which repeatedly is ranked in the top 5 public universities in the world, however, I can’t say the degree has helped me in any way. While there, however, I joined the college programming board and became involved with anything event and music related on campus. My experience with that led to getting my first job out of college in the music industry, and I know about 5 other people that I worked closely with on the programming board that has gone on to very high-level industry jobs. Experience will trump the “education” 100 times out of 100.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
It changes literally every day. It used to be literally everything as it took a few years before we even had a single employee, but we’ve grown to 15 employees which has freed me up to focus mainly on growing the business and figuring out how to continually keep pushing the boundaries with what we’re doing.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
I honestly don’t even know. We hear “oh wow, you can do that” all the time when pitching ideas, so probably that “merch” can only be plain old printed t shirts that people are used to seeing.
What are your average work hours?
It totally depends but during the week its usually from the minute I wake up to when I go to bed at 1 am or so. When you own your own business you can’t really “clock out.”
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Surround yourself with good people. Its all about your team.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I really don’t know here either. I don’t really focus much on what others are doing... I have a vision for where I want to take the company and just put my head down every day and go after it.
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?
Trust us. It's the same as going to record your music with a producer…you go to someone who specializes in taking your vision to the next level. So with merch, trust you’re in good hands and let us do our thing!
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
Never being able to turn off. This job is pretty much my life and while it has some amazing perks, but on the opposite hand I don’t really have much time to just turn my phone off and relax or de stress.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Not having to answer to anybody else. If I wake up one day and don't want to go to work, I don’t have to.
How do you move up in your field?
Work harder than anybody else and know where you want to go. Stay focused.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Get your hands dirty. Nobody ever made it by sitting around and waiting for something to happen. Just dive in and work hard, take every opportunity you possibly can, knock on every door you see, and don’t wait for things to come to you, go make it happen.