Mardi Caught

By Jess Gleeson

By Jess Gleeson

When you were approached to speak at Bigsound, where were you?

I was on holiday with my family in Kangaroo Island, so it was nice to take the call and discuss it with the people whose opinion I value most.

How is vulnerability an integral part of the creative community you are building?

I think any artist that is putting themselves out into the world musically and lyrically often offer up their vulnerability to their audience, so for me I want to create a world where they feel they can do that without judgement, just support.

With over two decades of experience in the music industry, what changes have you seen for women since you first started?

Fortunately, there’s a lot more of us now which is great, and we are managing to keep women in the business for longer as well in terms of returning to work as mums. It’s great to see more in the higher echelons now too - publishing, radio and retail all have prominent women heading up the teams there now which is a real achievement.

“Part of being a leader is absorbing that pressure - you empower others by bearing the burden.”

What does ‘innovation’ mean to you?

Innovation for me is the most crucial part of how we can all move forward together - not only in terms of business but just in terms of musicality. If we don’t innovate in how we go to audiences and with what we’re taking to them we fail to move towards their innovation as customers.

Who do you think is leading innovation in today’s Music Industry?
Labels such as Future Classic and Republic highlight have been incredibly innovative in understanding the audience needs and behaviours which I find very exciting. They continually reinvent themselves in their musical position but understand how the modern retail platforms can assist that.

You specialise in Marketing / Strategy, how important is it to think on a global level? What does this involve?

For me to do my job having a global view is vital. But it’s less about trying to force artists on the global stage prematurely and more about understanding how bigger markets can teach us best practice both musically and in marketing.

There are changed work expectations for the modern professional, what does this look like in your ecosystem? … Is it sustainable?

I think the flexibility it provides is incredible in allowing people to manage their workload and their family life a little more, but I fear the thinking you have to respond to an email within a  second means people are never switching off. All parties have to be involved in the understanding that an email or a call doesn’t have to be answered within 5 seconds. As much as technology removes the boundaries in terms of being changed to an office desk, there needs to be boundaries now in workhours.

In times of high pressure, how do you empower yourself and others?

Primarily by letting people know that they are not the only ones feeling the pressure or that they are expected to perform superhuman tasks in that moment. I’ve never enjoyed working in an environment where pressure is forced onto other people - so I would never build a workplace that does that. Part of being a leader is absorbing that pressure - you empower others by bearing the burden.

You stated once that “… whatever happens in life, you can get upset about it (or) work out what the future is and take charge.” Is this something that you practice every day or is it an innate aspect of yourself?

I’ve never been one for sitting back and waiting for things to come to me, I’m a bit too impatient for that. But I also don’t see the point in crying over spilt milk. I would like to think practice it everyday, but in truth there are always moments that you have to work through your thoughts and process. Part of taking charge is having a strategy to do it, and that requires a bit of thinking about why you have arrived in a certain place and what you can learn from it.

What would you say to those who dwell on things rather than taking charge and moving forward?

Everyone has a different process for working problems and I think it’s important that you discover the best fit for you. So for some having a bit of dwelltime may not be a bad thing if it allows the opportunity to fully analyze a situation. But living in the past dreaming for what might have been could lead you to never having what could actually be.

Lastly, what advice would you give someone who’s starting their own business?

Surround yourself with people that are good in all areas. Find those who are walking a similar path - people that you can learn from and be encouraged by. And find those who don’t do what you are for perspective. When you are in start-up mode and don’t have a team around you, it’s important to build a virtual team to guide you through.

Larissa Ryan