Industry Insider: Mom + Pop’s Hallie Anderson and Jessica Page
Their comprehensive experience in the music industry makes them a force as co-managers of the indie label.
Over the last four years, Jessica Page and Hallie Anderson have been helping New York’s Mom + Pop grow into one of indie music’s most respected labels. Now they’re at the wheel as the label’s first female co-general managers, with Page running the digital team and Anderson heading up marketing. At Mom + Pop, the duo have helped build the careers of artists like Courtney Barnett, Flume, Ashe, and Tash Sultana. Together, they have a deep understanding of the music industry, thanks to their combined experience in every aspect of artist development, touring, streaming, press, retail, and beyond. We reached out to Page and Anderson to discuss how they’ve worked their way up to managing a successful record label, and what they think every artist needs to know.
Spotify for Artists: Describe what you do, and give us the short story of how you got there.
Jessica Page: I head up our digital team, which is a combination of digital and streaming strategy and web design. I started out in music tech about eight years ago. I worked for a music platform called exfm. From there, I worked for Complex Media doing live music coverage and ticket sales, and then for a site called Superglued. Then I ended up at Capitol [Records]/Caroline working on the distribution side, before landing at Mom + Pop about four years ago to start our digital department.
Hallie Anderson: For us, marketing and product management are very much a similar job. I work with managers in a very hands-on way to create an overall timeline and plan to make sure projects are moving forward within press, radio, digital, and retail. I jump in on marketing, logistics on the road, getting product to bands, and everything in between. I also run point on our physical retail. And then of course we're always working with brands and partners to grow a band's footprint. Before this I worked for a management company called Foundations Artist Management and I ran all of their tour marketing. Prior to that I worked for AEG Live in their Northwest office, so my background [was] in touring before Mom + Pop, where I’ve now been for almost five years.
Is there a specific artist that inspired you to pursue this as a career?
Page: I feel like there was more of a series of things that I fell into that led me here. It actually never occurred to me that I could work in music, but I'm so happy that I'm here. I wasn't the person that was doing internships or moved to New York and said, “I'm going to work in the music industry.” That's just the community that I put myself in. I did grow up surrounded by art. My mom was an artist, and growing up I was a huge David Bowie and Prince fan—they seemed larger than life to me. But I was more into music from a fan/art side. It didn’t make me want to work at a record label. I don't even think I knew that world really existed.
Anderson: I definitely grew up in a musical household, with Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and then the indie rock scene coming out of Seattle when I was in high school and college. For me, it was about being involved in live shows. I booked shows for my university and then a friend and I would book shows in our local community. It was about the energy that you feel at a live show, and that connection that a fan has with an artist in that way. But once I started considering being a talent buyer as a career, I realized it wasn't quite the right fit for me. I like working more with a handful of artists versus a new show every night. I like how you can work on an artist's career for many years and really become an integral part of their team.
What do you look for in an artist that you want to work with?
Page: It's amazing to have an artist that has a clear vision of who they are and where they want to go. The best projects are when you can sit down with someone and really talk through what they're trying to achieve and what their ambitions and creative ideas are—when you can really get to know them and play to their strengths. We'll always come with ideas, but really we're here to give them the platform to make sure that their message and art are heard.
Anderson: And to tell the story of who they are, more so than just the musical side. Even if an artist doesn't know what they want, it’s important for them to be open to collaborating and working with a team of people around them. I think that's when the most successful projects occur.
Page: Courtney Barnett is a great example. I would describe it as almost going back to family every time we work together. She’s such an incredible writer and artist, and she comes with a message and goal every time.
Anderson: Tash Sultana also. We were able to work with her from her very first tour in the U.S. to now multiple tours, and an album and an EP. We’ve worked very hands-on with her team to develop a global story for her.
Page: And that includes helping put together her content and social strategy—finding a way to engage an already incredibly large and organic fanbase. It’s about finding those things with your artist that really speak to who they are and what their community is. It’s different with every single artist and we’re lucky to have a really diverse roster that allows us to use our brains to determine what the best strategy is for each.
What's the biggest tool at an artist's disposal in 2019 from your perspective?
Anderson: Honestly, I think it’s just simply releasing music and having a constant stream of content coming out since a lot of people now are discovering new music and new artists through curated playlists.
Page: On the strategy side, I’d say being able to have a team around you that can help you harness your core fans. Get that segment of a thousand fans that are going to go and spread a message and your new music for you.
Anderson: We’re not thinking about traditional campaigns anymore. You can’t really go away from your platforms; you can’t stop engaging your followers. Instead of looking at it like “I’m on- or off-cycle,” it’s about more consistent messaging and finding ways between records to continuously engage an audience.
Page: The learning curve can be really hard. If you told me that Courtney Barnett was going to be using Instagram Stories three years ago, I would have laughed in your face. But people become more comfortable with things, and it’s our job to figure out what our artists are comfortable with, especially when it comes to social media.
What's the best advice you have for an artist just starting out?
Page: Embrace the community around you. Coming up in a community where you can support each other and create art together is so important. And I think also being savvy about how the digital space works and trying to educate yourself about it will help you a million times over. It will help you when choosing a manager; it will help you understand how your music gets on platforms and how these things work in general to help create your own path. Some tools I recommend to artists include ToneDen, Next Big Sound, Chartmetric, and Manager Meetups.
Anderson: My advice is to just do it. If you want to play a show, play a show. If you want to post on Instagram, post on Instagram. I think the first one is going to be awkward, or the show may not go so great. But the more shows a band plays, the more times that they’re posting, the more times that they’re engaging with an audience in any way, it’s just going to get better from there. Play shows in your local community. Then maybe you start going outside the state, then maybe all of a sudden you’re touring nationally. Just find ways to be in front of people. If your socials are strong and there are fans there, start engaging with them, start feeding them content. Make it a place that people want to come to. People love to see that behind-the-scenes sneak peek of an artist that they’re really interested in. Be creative and have fun with it.