In Conversation with Writer, Executive Producer & Vocal Producer Jenna Andrews
Describe your business in a few words?
My business drips into a few areas. I’m a writer, executive producer, and vocal producer to name a few. People like to say that I wear a lot of hats but I don’t like to look at it that way. For me, in this business, the more irons that you have in the fire, the better. Saying that you “wear a lot of hats” tends to carry a negative connotation but I see it as a positive because it gives you more shots to succeed. Overall, I came from being an artist and use all of the skills that I collected through that experience in all of the projects that I work on now. In recent news, I just started a podcast called The Green Room Talks. It’s a discussion based program that is focused on mental health awareness. We’re partnered with She Is The Music and The JED Foundation. Mental health is very important to me and I’m really enjoying the opportunity to build a platform that speaks on such important issues. We also incorporate songwriting and the therapeutic abilities that the art-form has. Mental health and songwriting tend to go hand in hand so most of our guests are musicians, songwriters, entertainers, etc.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Being a songwriter, vocal producer, executive producer and so on becomes your own business by nature. You need to create your own brand in order to tie all that you do under one roof. Similar to how I branched out into other sectors of music after starting off as an artist, I eventually found myself with an opportunity like The Green Room where I could take important topics that are close to my heart and turn them into a side business that are now a part of my brand. It all kind of happened naturally and ended up working together. Life happens sometimes, you don’t really plan for it but it ends up falling in place at the end.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My original background, prior to my business, was a recording artist. Like I mentioned before, I was able to take the skills that I learned during my solo career and apply them to my songwriting and producing that I do with other artists. The opportunities and projects that I work on now have become my business and it’s all thanks to the experiences that I had while starting off as a solo act.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
To be honest, no! However, I do feel like I always had the work rate of an entrepreneur from a young age. As a teenager, I would sell tickets for local shows as an opportunity for me to open for the band that was in town. When it came time for me to move out of my hometown of Calgary, I started an open mic series that became really popular. I was always hustling, looking for ways to get my start in the industry. I’ve since continued to hustle and now I’ve found myself in a position to run my own businesses and grow my brand.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I would say that it’s not exactly a typical business due to the unique field that I’m as a writer/producer. With that, my main vessel (in terms of marketing myself) would be social media and building my brand across all platforms. In addition, I also have a great PR team and find myself with great opportunities to spread my influence whether that be press, podcast interviews, etc. I don’t know why I didn’t mention this earlier (hahah!) but I also co-own a publishing company called 27 Music Publishing. I partnered with Barry Weiss who I also work with, at his label RECORDS. We were approached with the opportunity to start a joint venture with Sony / ATV and created our publishing company! Starting that venture gave us a chance to work with so many amazing writers and producers with the backing of a major company like Sony. In terms of marketing, Sony/ ATV has done an amazing job with press releases to get not only our artists out there but to also build recognition for our company within the industry. Ultimately, the music is the true marketing strategy, if you put together great music the rest speaks for itself. The proof is in the pudding so to say!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I’ve learned to really act on my gut and trust that the right thing will happen when I follow it. When you act out of desperation, anxiety, or emotion it normally ends up going very differently from what you originally planned. Without going into specifics, there have been moments where my gut was denied and mistakes were made, and you learn from that. Especially within the music business, whether you’re creating the music or working behind the scenes to support the music, it’s always important to act on guy feelings rather than any outside emotion or influence.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
That’s a hard one! I can’t exactly choose a favorite but if I had to pick it would be between my “Song of the Year” award from Variety and my first ever Grammy Nomination for my vocal production work on BTS’ “Dynamite”.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
For me, I ultimately want to know that my team is going to be driven and that they have the hunger to work their hardest. In terms of experience, it’s always important to hire good people with good intentions and common sense that will perform professionally and effectively. Coming back to the gut, I always try and gauge if someone will have a high standard of loyalty and trust within my business ventures. Both attributes are very important to me.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’m very lucky because I primarily work behind the scenes with all of the music recording (writing / producing) that I do. If I were still working on my solo career, my situation would be much different due to the state that the live music scene is in. Being able to bunker down and focus on my craft in a safe and isolated environment has opened a lot of doors in terms of my songwriting and I’m extremely blessed and thankful for that. Being stuck at home all day has had some negative impacts on my work. Zoom has put a barrier between a lot of the people that I work with and it has prevented me from getting the more organic results that would come from working with other creatives in person. That reality has taught me to be more resourceful and creative with my craft which I’ve enjoyed. However, as a person, it has been very tough to stay in one place for some long and refrain from seeing those that are close to me. My life is primarily on Zoom at the moment!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
On the musical front, I hope that I can continue to put out great songs and develop the amazing artists that I work with on a daily basis. I also hope to release my own project one day as well, that is a huge goal. Overall, I want to continue to inspire through my creations , the creations of the artists that I work with, and with platforms such as The Green Room that act as a vessel of support and education.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
I know it’s cliche to say but I’ve realized how short life really is and that we need to make every moment count. With all that’s going on with the pandemic it’s important to work on yourself and appreciate all that you have. Work wise, going into 2021, I’m learning to listen to my intuition in terms of what I direct my energy towards. I want to focus on what makes me happy and the priorities within my work. Rather than being a robot that says yes to everything, I’d like to isolate my priorities and invest my best and hardest work into opportunities that will continue to move my career along to new heights. Life is too short to waste time and I really want to work on being the best me both in and out of my work.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
At the start of my career I would always listen to those above me because they had the experience and the superiority within this industry that I was just breaking into. It turned out that some of those people didn’t necessarily have the right motives yet I would listen to them without question. I wasn’t listening to my gut and found myself making decisions that didn’t feel right to me. Those choices and my lack of speaking up and sharing my opinion led to a lot of results within my work that I wasn’t pleased with. Looking back I wish that I expressed my feelings and stood up to share my piece in order to get the results that I wanted. Regardless of how successful someone else is, I learned that staying authentic and true to what you think is right is most important when it comes to creating your own success and an end product that makes you happy.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’ve found that keeping myself busy has been key in staying grounded over the past year. It’s even better to keep myself busy with work that really inspires and drives me, it keeps you even busier in the end. I’m so lucky to be doing music and to be in an environment where I can continue to push my craft forward.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
That’s a hard question because all I do is work haha! But working makes me happy so that’s good! However, I do believe in a good balance between work and personal life. I try and push myself to do things that are good for me such as pilates in the morning – knowing that I’ll feel better after. Even The Green Room (as much as it may be extra work since it’s a new venture) has allowed me to give back to mental health and that makes me feel so good because it lets me know that I’m investing my time into stuff that I really care about while helping others at the same time. Overall I’d say that you should make time for what makes you happy, and if your work makes you happy that’s even better.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not sure if this is surprising or interesting but I’m somewhat of a grown child ha! I go crazy with every holiday and all of the decorations. Name a holiday, I’ll find a way to go all out every year. Even my studio looks like a child’s room. I’ll be working on Zoom and my colleagues will ask if I have a child. Pink beanbags, cotton candy candles, the whole nine. At the end of the day, it adds to my mood and helps me do better work so I’m going to keep going with it.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
For me, every weekend I like to make a to-do list of what I need to do with the upcoming week. I track that list and make sure that I stay on track, it’s a great way to stay focused. I also like to eat healthy and stay active. If you feel good you’ll work harder and more effectively. Lastly, in Covid times, I really like to dress up for the day. It makes me feel like I’m living life normally and really boosts my mood.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
To me it means “to continue to challenge yourself”. When you’re always growing, you can reach one item on your bucket list and then move on to the next. Keep challenging and never feel settled!