Navigating the music business as a parent [Op-Ed]
Navigating the music business for yourself is hard enough, but like any high intensity job, doing so while being responsible for a child is harder still, particularly in and industry still gripped by an ongoing pandemic.
Guest post by Chadae Chang Bowler of The Orchard’s The Daily Rind
In the United States, we collectively recognize mothers in May and fathers in June, but did you know that parents get another day in July? In 1994, congress unanimously passed “The Parents’ Day Resolution” recognizing the fourth Sunday in July as an annual day to commemorate and raise awareness for parental issues.
Interestingly enough, I am a parent, I know lots of parents, and I’ve had parents all my life, but I didn’t know this day existed. Now that I do, I gladly accept the opportunity to encourage organizations and governmental agencies to acknowledge and take meaningful action to support ALL parents.
Speaking as a parent of two young children (ages 6 and 3) I can say there aren’t enough books, classes, or advice that will fully prepare you for parenthood. I have been very lucky to have the support of my partner, family, friends, and colleagues to juggle all the responsibilities of both parenting and my career, while also growing as an individual. A lot of my experience as a young parent has involved countless Google searches, a lot of trial-and-error, hours on the phone with my own parents, and sudden-death rounds of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ between my husband and me to determine who responds to a kid’s request. There have been some awesome days when you may take a moment to pat yourself on the back, then there are some really, really hard days.
And then… there is the Covid-19 factor. During the height of the pandemic, I found myself heavily leaning on and frequently reaching out to the parents in my orbit, whether it was for general advice and wellness checks or needing a moment to vent – guilt-free. My personal experience found me as a working mom navigating Zoom kindergarten and an accumulation of rules and mask mandates I had to enforce on tiny humans. Not to mention, I embarked on a new career journey where I still struggle a bit with self-doubt and an accusatory inner-voice questioning, “How dare you chase your dreams now when you have kids to raise?”.
The funny thing is, music has been one of the most effective tools in my parental playbook, and it’s been my role as a parent that has fueled my ambition – eventually leading me to my role here at The Orchard. Initially, I was worried about what a demanding job in the music biz would mean for my family – and to be honest, parenthood in the industry feels somewhat taboo. Now that I’m here, the questions still linger, but I’ve been impressed by the efforts of the organization (including parent-company Sony) to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all, including parents like me.
Full disclosure: At the time of writing this blog post, I had to push the proverbial “emergency brake button” to tend to an urgent matter involving my 6-year-old. A huge shout out to my incredible team for stepping in and being super supportive so that I could be where I was needed most.
In recognition of Parents’ Day, I am excited to share insights from a few colleagues here at The Orchard who are putting in double-time to raise future generations of music lovers. To all my fellow parents, I see you and I am here if you are ever in need.
Do your kids have any concept of what you do for a living? What do they think you do?
Jaclyn Bertsch, SVP, Client Experience: My kids are a bit too young to speculate, but for a month after walking in during our notorious virtual Global Summit afterparty, my 3-year-old thought I spent my days video chatting with Santa Claus and would ask to speak to Santa every time he broke into my home office.
Kiara Williams, Associate Director, HR: My four-year-old son couldn’t care less, but I instantly became a cool mom to my 12-year-old when she learned The Orchard distributes artists she’s a fan of! My daughter thinks I meet with artists and attend virtual concerts all day – I’m in HR…
Zac Mantell, Senior Director, Label Management: My daughter is only one, so she doesn’t have a clue.
What does support look like for you as a parent in the business?
Bridget Flynn March, Senior Director, Label Management: Sony/The Orchard benefits are increasingly more and more supportive. Support from other parents in the business is invaluable.
Allison Ullrich-Kaiser, Associate Director, College & Lifestyle Marketing: Support is being understanding and flexible when the inevitable day home from daycare/school comes up. Support is saying “Hi” to your kid as they pop into your meetings unannounced. Support is all the benefits that are offered to Sony Parents, including The Village – a group of parents who are able to connect with one another, letting you know that you’re not in this full-time working parent life alone.
Kiara: Flexibility and understanding. The ability to use the casual work environment to my advantage when I need to leave the office or stay home to take care of my little ones.
What changes would you like to see implemented for parents in the industry?
Allison: Late night babysitting so we can attend shows like we used to in “the good ol’ days.” ha
Zac: On-premise childcare/babysitting options would be a plus!
Bridget: I want to see what’s possible. Working parents juggle an enormous amount of responsibility. I would love to see flexible work schedules, remote work scenarios, onsite daycare for parents, longer parental leave; all the progressive and supportive options possible would be amazing.
Mommie working ten hours out-of-sight in an office is much easier for a 4-year-old to understand than Mommie working ten hours in the kitchen unable to play. it’s a different type of guilt that’s impossible to sustain.Kiara Williams
What’s something you wish more people knew about a full year of working remotely with children?
Allison: Working remote with a child certainly comes with its difficulties and struggles, but it’s also beautiful. To hear the giggles emanating from the other room that you’d normally miss out on because you’re in the office, or to be around to pick them up and comfort them after that loud BOOM you heard is both precious and priceless.
Kiara: Mommie working 10 hours out of sight in an office is much easier for a 4-year-old to understand than Mommie working 10 hours in the kitchen unable to play. It’s a different type of guilt that’s impossible to sustain.
Bridget: It’s still a struggle. Every day is a new set of issues! It is literally just like having three or four full-time jobs at the same time with no vacation or sick time.
Zac: It’s definitely been different for me than others because I had my daughter in the height of the pandemic! While I haven’t had to go to shows and be out late for various events, it’s been amazing to be able to see my daughter every day, when I might not have been able to while working from home.
What advice do you have about navigating the music industry for parents or people who are considering having children?
Bridget: It is really, really hard. My advice would be to get help with everything you can outsource – all the housekeeping, childcare, etc.
Kiara: As a young parent in a social industry we tend to shy away from letting peers know we have kids. I say lean into it. Your more senior colleagues with children have likely been navigating the industry for years with their little ones, and are more supportive than you might think.
Jaclyn: The best piece of advice I received as a working parent, in general, is to advocate for yourself at work and at home. Especially in the early years, you can not assume your colleagues or larger support network know what you need to be successful as you navigate finding your new normal and your work/life balance. No one is going to read your mind and the first step in finding the support you need is clearly communicating your needs. No one will do that for you better than yourself. And if you have the means, outsource as much as you can at home so your time with your family is quality, focused time.