Women In Music: Megan Reeder Hope
From sneaking into overage shows in the 90’s to being the current General Manager of Secret Service Public Relations, Megan Reeder Hope shares with FasterLouder what it’s like to work behind the scene in the music world.
Megan, could you explain exactly what your role as General Manager of Secret Service Public Relations entails?
I oversee and manage all press and promotions campaigns for our clients. I deal with print, radio and television media on a daily basis to ‘pitch’ bands, tours and festivals for media space. I then liaise with managers, agents, labels and artists to schedule interviews, performances and photoshoots with various media. I handle guestlists, launches, distribution of music and the way a band is perceived in the media through album and live reviews. I strategise creative media campaigns tailored to each act I work with a team of fantastic publicists, and within a strong team at one of Australia’s best independent labels, Dew Process.
Our clients include all Dew Process acts such as Sarah Blasko, Mumford & Sons, The Grates, The Living End, The Panics, Our external clients have included tour campaigns for Bloc Party, Gossip, Laura Marling, Two Door Cinema Club, Foals, Valley Fiesta, The Go Between Bridge Launch, Powderfinger Q150 Concert and The Australian Music Prize and many, many more.
What are your favorite and your least favorite aspects of your job?
My favourite aspect of my job is working with young bands from their inception to seeing them sell out massive shows, and grace the cover of magazines. I like to discover new music and tell all my friends about it, so my job is perfect for that. I love getting to see lots of live new music and work with some amazing, creative people. I also have a strange love of schedules, spreadsheets and organisation. My least favourite aspect would probably also be seen as a positive as I get to see so much live music, sometimes I never quite stop working, even outside of work hours! Also, I don’t like it when people don’t use Arial ten point in schedules. I’m very fussy.
What got you started in the music industry?
My passion for music. I grew up as a teenager in the ‘90s and I used to love nothing more than going to underage shows, seeing local acts for all the guys in bands that we knew, blagging my way into over age shows, going to festivals, checking the street press, discovering a new band and telling all my friends about it.
I actually started out as a cadet photojournalist at The Canberra Times, even doing the political round for their community paper. I used to photograph bands on my weekends and then I quickly moved into becoming entertainment editor. After working at a national and international dot.com during the boom in the early 00s, I moved to London to work in Music PR. I got lucky and landed on my feet, scoring a job with Hall Or Nothing PR. They did the press for Oasis, Radiohead, Manic St Preachers, Danger Mouse, Hot Hot Heat, Reading and Leeds Festival and many more. I was lucky to learn from one of the best in the world.
I moved back in 2004 to work for Dew Process and Paul Piticco. Paul and I created Secret Service Public Relations in 2007.
Did you always want to end up in the music industry?
I wanted to be a political reporter when I was younger. Then I actually did it and while I enjoyed it, my ever changing hair styles and passion for listening to Dead Kennedys and Nirvana were far better suited to the music industry than politics.
Are there any illusions or misconceptions about working in the industry you wish you could dispel?
That being a woman makes it harder to work in the music industry.
Do you find it difficult being female in what is generally perceived to be a male dominated industry? Have there been any particular challenges you have faced over the years?
Not at all, in fact I have experienced the opposite. I am lucky in that many of the people I work with both as clients, peers and staff are all strong, intelligent and talented women – Patience Hodgson (The Grates), Sarah Blasko, Jessica Ducrou (SITG promoter), Nicole Huber (Secret Sounds Promoter), Cath Hariday (Jebediah’s manager), Laura Taylor (Mumford & Sons’ Manager), Carney Nir (Secret Service Digital), Rina Ferris (Ferris Davies PR) Patti Revson (Rev It Up), Viv Fantin (Fantin Comes Alive), Sahara (Big Day Out), Meagan Loader (Program Director of triple j), Jo Walker (Frankie editor) etc, etc. There are a plethora of amazing role models. I find that being a woman often works better in dealing with both men and women. You are also adept at multi-tasking! Women are not the minority in the music industry anymore. They are getting on stage, pulling the strings behind the scenes, speaking up and getting out there far more than ever before.
You’ve worked with an impressive list of local and international clients including The Living End through to Bloc Party and Mumford and Sons, do you find you still have moments when it all seems a bit surreal?
Not really. I don’t tend to get star struck and most bands I know before they are famous as it’s my job to help get them that recognition! The bands we work with are very down to earth, lovely people who you get to know on both a professional and personal level. They really are just ordinary people who do an extraordinary job. Sometimes when you’re side of stage watching 30,000 people sing along to every word of an act you have worked hard on, you have to pinch yourself.
Has working in the industry changed your attitude towards going to live shows or music in general?
I guess it does become work after a while, so sometimes I do just want to switch it off and watch the news, or go out to dinner with friends rather than go to a gig. It’s llike anything really. Too much of a good thing… The key is to have moderation and a work/life balance and you can still be as passionate about it as ever.
And finally, what advice would you give to young readers looking to enter the music industry?
Get out there and get experience. Write for street press, go to shows, listen to music, search out local acts. Do work experience. Many music industry businesses (including us) offer internships which can lead to full time work.
Catch Megan and a host of other influential females of the music industry at the Women in Music forum, Tuesday March 8 at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Visit www.womeninmusic.com.au for more information.