Hanna Yando is a full-time publicist at Behind the Curtains Media, but as with every career in the music industry, her path to get there wasn’t necessarily straight-forward. Hanna took the time to write a piece for GBTRS explaining her journey to allow for some insight on how to best brave the crazy world we know as the music industry. Check out what Hanna had to say below!
Reality: Making it in the music industry isn’t easy, and doesn’t happen overnight. I currently work as a publicist with Behind the Curtains Media, a music/entertainment publicity and multimedia firm based out of Brooklyn, NYC. Eight years ago, when I began college, working in the music industry was a fleeting spark of a thought; today it’s a reality, though not as sugar-coated as many might believe. Determination, hard work, and a bit of luck have allowed me to do what I love, but it wasn’t always (and still isn’t) a straight-set path. Especially in today’s competitive climate, I see students struggling to gain their foot in the door, so I hope that some of my advice and perspective can help guide and inspire!
At the start of college, I had established a few rough career directions. As a strong student, I had a passion for writing, and talent for research and organization. Although I had just a vague idea of what the field fully entailed at the time, I declared myself as a Communications: Public Relations major with the encouragement of an advisor. Public relations appealed to my skills and interests, while keeping my job opportunities wide. While never being overly musically talented, I had grown up enjoying music and feeding off energy and excitement; I knew in one form or another that I wanted to stay in a creative field.
The summer after my freshman year, I had a double-hit of luck. I had returned to my hometown outside of Providence, RI, and was searching for summer jobs. Despite being so young, I decided to try my chance applying for an internship with a local alternative radio station, 95.5 WBRU whom I had grown up loving. I was thrilled when I received an acceptance, as part of their “BRU Crew” promotional team! It entailed prepping for events, hyping the audience with giveaways, taking photos, and getting to see a glimpse of ‘behind the scenes’ life of radio station and concert life – the first summer got me hooked on knowing I wanted to work in the music industry. Two years later, I would return (before going into my senior year), already knowing the ropes, and able to take on more duties, while helping to put on shows with breaking bands and community events. Some notables that were just beginning to crest included The 1975, New Politics,The Neighbourhood, and more! I felt incredibly lucky to have such an opportunity available to me, but it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stuck my neck out early, pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
My second stroke of luck that summer was gaining a job as an office assistant in a small, family-owned screenprint and awards shop. Little did I know at the time, that this job would carry me through every summer in college, as well as the first year after graduation. I developed graphic design skills and numerous small business skills – from accounting to customer service and order management. Looking back, this role established a huge amount of confidence and planted the seeds of various skills towards my current career path. I can’t stress enough how important transitional skills are to any job role, and especially in music industry. Making yourself a multi-talented asset can help you become invaluable to small companies and artists alike, while building your connections and network on multiple levels.
In my sophomore year, I joined my college’s Student Programming Board, becoming involved with planning, curating, and running various campus activities. From running weekly movies, to assisting with our full-scale spring and fall concerts, it was a wonderful learning process putting many ‘real world’ skills to work. This experience greatly enhanced my college career, both socially in making friends, as well as educationally as I developed various skills, and built my confidence in leadership.
During the spring semester of my junior year, I decided to take on another internship to further bolster my resume and network. My college was based a few hours upstate of NYC, and while the city was tempting in numerous ways, I found many opportunities simply intangible – there was no way I could take on a full-time, unpaid internship in the city for a full semester while taking a full course-load of classes and meeting my degree on time. Frustrated by the restrictions, as I know many students are, I began searching for local and remote positions and found a small record label that I began doing social media, research/database management, and organizational tasks for. I think I even had just cold-emailed them, and got lucky with a ‘yes’! A few months into my internship, we started a small music blog, which let me contribute concert reviews, website design and photography skills, and exposed me to chaos of the music journalism world. The label’s owner, Mike Abiuso began publicizing his own band and offering similar services to other bands. In my senior year, this turned into what is now the company Behind the Curtains Media. Through my internship and nearly completed degree, I had the chance to begin working as junior publicity assistant on a freelance, remote basis. Building and keeping this bridge would lead to my current job in time.
With a number of internships, campus clubs, and well-rated GPA, I thought I’d have no issue getting a job upon graduation. I was wrong. I returned to my parents home and was very thankful to be welcomed into a full-time role at my previous summer job (at the local screen-printers) while continuing my job-hunt to put my degree to work. I landed my first ‘real’ job in marketing – it had good pay, but had no direct involvement to entertainment or the music world. While I gained a multitude of skills, it was a poor work environment – I definitely had a cry driving home one night after a particularly stressful day, convinced that adult life was terrible and I’d never have a job that I enjoyed. The lesson learned here, is that sometimes you need to tough it out, and every job in your career path may not be a direct step forward or fit your perfect career plan. I stayed with the role for a year, and quietly weighing my job options and keeping my eyes open for other positions. Upon finally taking the leap to move forward, I was stoked when a last minute marketing assistant at a seasonal music venue opened up – launching me directly back into the heart of the music industry world. A small venue, I worked with a small team to promote shows of all sorts, running the day to day social media, and regularly asked to lend a hand for everything from security to merchandising when staff ran short. It was a great opportunity to see the industry from a multitude of angles. Unfortunately, the venue was seasonal and closed for the winters – faced at the prospect of four months off, I took the opportunity to give NYC life a try, where it also happened to be that Behind the Curtains Media was based out of. Life events collide, and it worked perfectly after a temporary filler job that I was able to begin working full-time, in-person with BTCM’s team!
I’ve been here ‘full time’ for a year and a half, and everyday am presented with new challenges and small business grind, but find myself with the skill sets to figure it out, one way or another, all thanks to my previous experiences. Networking, a variety of skill sets and “can-do” attitude, as well as never burning bridges, have all come around to benefit me in one way or another. I encourage those who are trying to ‘break in’ to the industry to begin small – find a blog to write for, small label to intern with, or band to work with. Have an idea of what you may be interested in, but don’t be afraid to take on any opportunity that presents itself. Believe in yourself and your skills, but be humble enough to work your way through the ranks. The music industry can be surprisingly small; loyal, honest, and hardworking people will gain respect which goes a long way. Most importantly, go in with a good attitude – even if your work in the music industry works develops as hobby or side-gig, you’re involved; we’re all in it for the love of the music, along with the community and experiences it fosters.
Hanna Yando is the head publicist and social media manager at Behind The Curtains Media, a PR group based in New York, NY. Yando studied Public Relations at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY and began working with Behind The Curtains after having freelanced through them while working in other marketing positions and keeping up with social media trends. You can find Hanna on Linkedin and be sure to check out Behind The Curtains Media and their roster here!