Here at The Aquarian Weekly, we are always bringing you interviews and reviews on our favorite artists and bands, but very rarely do we hear from the companies that are behind them. Today, that changes! I am here to introduce you to Allie Gruensfelder, the Vice President of Trendsetter Marketing — a music marketing company focused on music videos — based right here in New Jersey. Some of their most notable clients include labels, like Fueled By Ramen, Rise Records, Republic Records, and artists, like Justin Bieber, Miss May I, JoJo, and countless others. Read more below as Allie dives into the behind-the-scenes work of Trendsetter Marketing, and her experience in the music business.
Trendsetter Marketing is a music marketing company based in New Jersey. Tell me about the company.
Trendsetter initially launched as a music marketing company, with focus in music video marketing specifically. Over the past 10 years, our company has worked with nearly every record label and management company, hired as an extension of their teams, to secure maximum exposure for their music and video content. Some of the projects we’ve been privileged to be a part of include: Andy Grammer, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar, Major Lazer and so many others. We essentially branded ourselves as a “music video publicist.” It has since evolved, and with years spent establishing strong relationships with media outlets, it allowed Trendsetter to expand outside of music, and enable a team of young talent to build and launch our brands division.
What types of artists does Trendsetter generally work with?
One thing that our team and company really prides ourselves on, is that we don’t take on projects that we genuinely don’t believe in or don’t think we’d be able to achieve real results for. We’re fortunate to have great partners in all of the major and large independent record labels, with massive artists on their rosters, but not all of the clients we take on need to have label support. We always look at the whole picture before deciding to take on a project and we’ve had many really, really successful projects we’re proud to say we’ve aligned with. One of the most recent indie success stories we’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of is NYC based, brothers trio, AJR. Trendsetter began working with AJR prior to the launch of “I’m Ready,” and have continued to be a part of their journey, including the most recent gold single, “Weak.”
What is your current role and how did you decide this was the career for you?
I initially went to school to become a Special Education teacher. I always liked music and going to concerts, but never thought about making it a career. Playing a couple of Disney songs on the piano was about the extent of my musical talent, regardless of how many years and how much money my mom spent on lessons (sorry, Mom!). My junior year of college, I went to see Fall Out Boy and I remember thinking during the set change how incredible it must be to work in the industry. While I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in music, I called my mom the next day and let her know that I’d be leaving the education program to pursue “something” in music (sorry again, Mom!), and I did.
Over the next year, I interned at two indie record labels, a booking agency, and wrote for a blog reviewing albums. My final internship was at Mercury Records, and later started working for a local promoter booking shows in various New Jersey venues. I started working at Trendsetter in 2009, essentially as an assistant, but now nearly a decade later, I am the company’s Vice President. While it wasn’t necessarily a traditional path I took, it got me to exactly where I wanted to be.
What is a typical workday like for you?
One of the best things about working here is that every day is different. I spend a lot of my time talking to our label, management, and brand partners about their upcoming projects and putting together unique marketing campaigns. Each project is completely different, and while they have the same goal in mind, getting the music or product as much attention as possible, all of our campaigns are designed specifically for that client. I also spend time with our product managers and publicists to chat about the projects currently in motion. Aside from our marketing team, we also have a social media, web and app development team here, who I meet with daily.
Can you explain your transition into being a working mother?
When my daughter was born, I don’t think I realized how much my life would change. I had been working at Trendsetter for four years at that time, and being in the music industry and my work here was so much a part of my identity. A part of me was actually concerned that being a mom would take away from that. I don’t think figuring out the work/life balance is anything you can learn from a parenting book. The best advice I would give is to be present.
When I’m at work, I’m 100 percent there, and when I’m at home, I’m 100 percent in mom-mode. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t glance at my phone for incoming emails after work, but I try my best to spend quality time with my family when I’m home. I’ve learned that the time spent is quality over quantity. While my kids may have taken their first steps or said their first words at daycare, they are walking and talking like crazy now and I try to enjoy every second with them. Two kids later, with a pretty solid routine in place, I don’t really remember what life was like before they were here. Then I’m reminded that there are days where I begin a Sunday at a preschool birthday party, and end the night at the MTV VMAs.
Women have been taking the music industry by storm in recent years, but you have been in the game for about nine years. How has it been for you, personally, to see this growth in ladies working in music?
One of the best tweets I’ve seen in a while comes from Max Bemis of Say Anything, “All the ‘young girls’ who liked our band, thus pissing off punk jerks circa 2005 are now badass women in their twenties running the world,” and it’s so true. There are so many badass women that I’ve worked with over the years: record label execs, managers, publicists, booking agents and absolutely right here at Trendsetter. They are confident, smart, determined, and it’s inspiring to be a part of that community.
What advice would you give to a woman trying to pursue a career in the music business today?
If working in the music industry is genuinely your passion, pursue it. I truly believe that if you love what you do, your job will never feel like work. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given is to treat everyone with the same level of respect. Treat the person answering the phone as you would the President of the company. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in this industry and sometimes the person who answers the phone at one place takes on a new gig somewhere else, and they won’t forget how someone treated them. They remember who emails them back and returns their calls. It goes a long way.
Do you have any favorite memories that came from working in music and marketing?
One of my favorite memories was a press day in NYC with Chickenfoot. Comprised of Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (Van Halen), guitar aficionado, Joe Satriani, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, I rode around in their bus taking them to interviews throughout the city. The night ended at the venue where they were getting ready to perform, and we had to circle the block a couple of times because the fans at the door were too wild. We needed security to escort us off the bus as the fans had their hands, phones and cameras extended trying to get pictures and autographs. It was a very surreal moment and to experience that with genuine rock stars was pretty crazy.
What are your short-term and long-term goals going forward?
2017 was definitely Trendsetter’s best year yet. Both our team members and our clients are A+. Each year we do an end of the year video reel. When it’s completed, I always think to myself, how are we going to top this next year? Somehow, we always do. Looking to the future, I’d love to add to our rock-star team of employees and grow our brands division. 2018 will be here before we know it and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring.
Learn more about Trendsetter Marketing, Allie, and their clients at trendsettermarketing.net.