Had a blast returning to Cal State Fullerton to join fellow Walnut High School alum (Class of 2012) Christianne Holly Santiago on her Wednesday morning radio show called, “Your Morning Poison.” Walking thru campus down under the library where Titan Internet Radio still operates several years later with old rugs STILL on the wall gave me a sense of familiarity and comfortability before the interview. It was a humbling experience to return back to the place where working in the music industry was a developing dream after years as a working professional and now business owner. Holly and I discussed topics that came directly from CSUF students about the value of internships, how to network properly and developing your personal brand. I hope that anyone listens to it HERE or reads the interview below is inspired in whatever field they are in to continue to stay focused on their own dreams knowing firsthand that they are achievable. Special thanks to Holly and the TIR team for the hospitality! Excited to see where her journey takes her with such a great start as talented radio host/DJ and promotions director with experience at Seattle’s infamous KUBE 93 station, she has a promising career ahead of her.
To listen to our interview visit her “Your Morning Poison” mixcrate here or read below for tracklisting as well as written out answers:
From David L: What did you initially want to be before you started your career? And when did you ultimately get on the path to where you’re at today?
I initially wanted to get into politics, my dream was to be a lawyer and the Mayor of the city where I’m from, Walnut, CA. It was a long “Alchemist” type of journey that I had that brought me to a career in music. I always loved music since a young age, I couldn’t sing or perform though, and it wasn’t until I was aware that you could work in other aspects of the music industry without being the actual entertainer or performer that I decided to pursue it full time. I was always the lunch time DJ in elementary school to high school, but it wasn’t until I started my own radio show and started taking radio broadcasting classes that I REALLY felt passionate in knowing what I wanted to do in life. It took working at several companies in different parts of the music industry to really understand where I want to be now which is increasing awareness, collaboration and monetization for artists in all areas which I work in today.
I know you started getting involved with radio and the music industry in college. Could you tell me about how you led to decide you wanted to work in the music industry?
Initially I wanted to just work in radio, but when I learned the truth behind commercial radio and you can’t choose the music you play during your programs, I began to think of other things that I wanted to do. I started meeting and getting to know the artists around me that I interviewed on my Third Floor Radio college radio show (where we had freedom to play the music and artists we wanted) and they became friends. I realized how much help they needed whether it was someone helping to throw their events, creating their online presence, promoting their music, etc. I realized there was an entire industry for music outside of just the restrictions of radio. I wanted to learn every piece of the puzzle so I could better help not only the artists but those that wanted to create their own careers in the industry.
Aside from school what else did you do to prepare yourself to begin your career?
Internships, volunteering, blogging and event producing was the #1 preparation for the real world when it came to establishing my career. After reading the book, “The Celestine Prophecy” I realized that there was no such thing as a coincidence. Everything and everyone we meet including our positive or negative attitude ultimately created or blocked the synchronicity in our lives. I started to produce concerts and help the artists that I loved that were featured on the radio show and starting learning the business. I would volunteer to help larger events to learn their process and how they made money alongside finding internships in radio, marketing, and networking. At every internship I took on, I considered it as serious job whether or not I was getting paid. I was the first person there and the last person to leave, putting my best foot forward so that anyone I worked with either wanted to hire me or recommend me to someone or a company that was hiring which they always did. Every job I received was via personal referral.
From David L: Any tips on how to get started and where to go for internships? What do companies look for in their interns/employees? How do we stand out?
Think about everything you love. What radio stations do you listen to, what clothes do you wear, what magazines or blogs do you read, what bands do you love. Because you are already passionate about these things you’re already an asset to them because you are a genuine fan of the brand or company. Find a contact and let them know you are interested in interning for them. You may have to do a few cold calls but chances are you might already know someone that worked there or knows someone there. Companies look for interns that they don’t have to constantly tell what to do. The interns are bringing ideas of how they could help their place of business increase awareness or sales. Research the companies that you are interviewing with and let them know of ideas that you have to help them increase awareness or sales. For example, they always love to reach college students and you are within that community, let them know that when they hire you that you will help grow that audience from your peers and that you’ll help gather ideas and opinions from people your age. You stand out not looking for a hand out but instead looking to gain valuable experience and relationships versus the thousands of there doing the opposite and when working there are just looking for a quick paycheck or name of a cool company that you work for to tell your friends about. Think of the word “internship” synonymous to the word “experience,” just as college students looking to develop careers in the medical field also complete a “residency,” it’s important to your career to get real-time experience before people hire you as a professional.
When you actually get the job, listen carefully daily of what your boss needs whether it be a daily task or advice of where to get the best chicken wings in the area. People remember people that help them. A great article on “10 Things That Should Be On Your Resume” could be found here that you might not have thought of.
Where and how did you get your first connections?
My very first connections started with the people around me. There were artists and creatives in the area that I’d often hang out with. Whether it was dancers I’d love to dance at the club with or local artists that I would go to a local show with. We started going to shows like hip hop performance clubs like UNITY or Lotus back in the day as well as things like the breakdancer B-Boy Summit and I started to meet more artists and their teams. I became genuine friends with these people and they became apart of my life. Over the years these emerging artists soon became the established artists of today, that I still could work with knowing our long history together including but not limited to The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, Dwele and Talib Kweli.
You’ve given me great advice on networking that will help me for the rest of my career. Could you share that with us now?
Networking is not just asking for what you want, 99% of the people you’ll meet until you have established a career will think they don’t need anything from you or a relationship with you. In the initial conversation, listen to what the person does, where they work or what they love and offer them something before you ask for anything.
IE: If you meet a record executive of your favorite band, mention you loved the band and you’d love to write a review of their concert and take photos at the event to share on your socials or blog or if you meet a potential boss and she says she loves steak, recommend the best steakhouse you know in town and offer to take her to lunch, just to pick her brain on advice in exchange. One good gesture will go a long way, some will get returned and others won’t but continue to pay it forward and it will eventually reciprocate. Read HERE for more tips on effective networking.
How did you get your start being the Director of Artist Relations at MySpace Inc.?
When I first met the founders of Myspace.com, I was the Director of Marketing for the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) and LA Music Network (LAMN), my boss Tess Taylor was the president and would create workshops, panels and showcases alongside produce her own speaking engagements for people in the music industry. Her strong point was also providing career advice to every age group alongside start up music companies marketing advice. At one of the events I worked at, I met her friend Chris DeWolfe, founder of Myspace.com. I loved social networking at the time, Friendster was my main account to promote my college radio show but felt it to be too restrictive. I was one of the first to hear about Myspace.com and created a profile quickly and loved the expressive freedom it gave you.
When we met with Chris, my boss told him that I promoted a radio show as well as my own events. After the initial meeting, she set one up with him and he asked me if I had any ideas of how to market Myspace.com to artists and creative’s. At the time, I was working on helping promote the Black Eyed Peas new music video that I helped introduce a director friend to produce after he sent me a great treatment for and mentioned we were throwing a party for it in a few weeks. I told him that we could promote Myspace on the flyer digitally and offline as well as integrated them into the party with giveaways. This became one of the first Myspace parties and I continued to do the same thing bringing artist opportunities via events or programs to the platform for the next 10 years of my life.
Who are some of your favorite/most memorable artists that you’ve worked with and why?
I wrote a blog about my top 9 memories and artists I worked with at Myspace that could be found here: http://thirdfloornetwork.com/2013/12/11/my-top-9-myspace-memories-over-the-past-9-years-3/ – there are so many ranging from A Tribe Called Quest to Drake to Pitbull, but the top 3 include when Justin Timberlake bought/became an investor in Myspace, it was fun working on JT song premieres or secret shows as I was a big N’Sync fan growing up. Another was our Jay Z show in NYC where kids slept outside to get tickets to the free show that otherwise couldn’t afford a ticket to a Jay Z concert but have been fans since they were kids. Some of the kids in line had tattoos of Jay-Z on their arms or named their kids Jay but have never been to a show. We produced the show in an intimate 700 person venue the day before he had 2 sold out shows playing for over 40,000 people in 2 days at Madison Square Garden. Lastly, when Justin Bieber came to my office with his mom and a year later I was interviewing him on the red carpet of the GRAMMYS was amazing, made me realize first hand how dreams really do come true and how those in the music industry can instantly change people’s lives.
You’ve worked in so many fields of the music industry. From radio, production, to marketing, and more, what was it like for you to be learning these new tasks and jobs?
Because I was passionate about the music industry and learning every aspect of it, whether or not I was getting paid, they never felt like “jobs.” A job to me was like my first job working at the West Covina Mall selling shoes at The Athlete’s Foot, although I loved it too and loved playing music there, I wanted to leave as soon as my shift was over, standing all day. When I worked in any part of the music industry, every time I learned something new it was beyond rewarding, I felt that it was kind of like a video game, learning each step as each task was given, doing something I loved. I heard early on to “find something you are passionate about to work in and you’ll never feel like you are working,” and this became my reality. I understand my life’s purpose in helping people.
From Leslie: What are the steps you took to maintain your name in the music industry? And how were you able to get some of the top names and artists to be a part of your career?
I always loved working with new artists that I believed in and loved their music. My “Third Floor Radio” show stands for 3 levels: past, present and future and my favorite part was highlighting those that people didn’t really know about but were on the cusp of breaking if the right people heard them. I helped a lot of new artists out whether it was through the radio show (giving them their first interview) or booking their show by having them perform at one of my events or creating their Myspace profiles for them and a lot of the artists remember that because Myspace really helped their careers take off. Some of the biggest DJs and artists today started on Myspace, and am grateful to be apart of those times. And until this day I help artists get booked to perform on TV for the first time or help them get their first big check from an advertiser sponsored program/event and they always remember who was the “first” to do these things. Thanks to the people around me I’ve been able to maintain those initial relationships and help a lot of these artists develop into the top names they are today either directly or indirectly introducing them to someone in my network.
How do you handle the pressure of dealing with everything at once? And how did working in the music industry change you emotionally?
I’m a very emotional person. One of my biggest challenges to this day is not to take everything personal. For example, I’ll meet someone who has a full time job at their job and I’ll offer to help them, say it’s booking an artist. Instead of returning the favor, they constantly call me and never tell their employers of how they are getting the artists. They get rewarded with a salary but don’t provide me any compensation or recognition for the artist that was booked via my relationship. It’s hard not to take a scenario like that personal and the initial reaction is to get emotional but I’ve learned to suppress the emotions and focus at the task at hand and know that everyone might not mean to do the things they do because they haven’t been taught how to network or work with someone properly. I handle dealing with everything at once by delegating what I know I can’t do or not great at to someone who could do it better for me and either pay them or reciprocate the favor.
From David L: Any stories of failure before you became so successful? If so, how did you bounce back?
I failed at trying to do everything at once. I had a radio show, produced events, had 2 internships, was going to college, DJing, started a clothing line, while helping artists develop their career. Doing multiple things wasn’t the issue, it was delegating tasks to a team or inviting help. I feared that if I didn’t do everything myself that it wouldn’t get it done. I thought I could do it all myself and eventually spread myself too thin. What was previously fun now became stressful and I disappointed a lot of people because I was excited about wanting to help but I just didn’t have the time when doing 100 things at once, I eventually burned myself out.
I also wrote a blog about my initial failure in trying to learn how to “network” here:
http://thirdfloornetwork.com/2014/08/14/5369/ – someone called me out on how I didn’t know how to properly network at a young age that I’m grateful for.
Luckily, one person that I met with was completely honest with me. At the time I mentioned how it would be great to promote my college radio show flyers at his professional training studio or announce the program in his class without offering anything in return for such a gesture such as a featured interview on the radio show or helping him market his training services. He said bluntly to me that day, “you don’t understand networking.” This puzzled me because I was involved with several networking organizations and my entire mission statement was centered around wanting to help people. After initial shock statement, I learned of what I was doing wrong and was glad that he took the time to explain his initial frustration that stemmed from others (mostly younger) also making the same mistake.
I was giving the impression that all I cared about from the relationship was what I could personal gain, without giving much thought to what they had to personally gain from either helping me or a long term business and personal relationship. From that point on, I vowed to trust synchronicity and karma and help those that I believed in, first without expecting anything in return, especially those who were able to “pay it forward” in helping another person within my network. Those that didn’t offer the reciprocation of also helping someone else or myself were less likely to get a response after the initial non circular experience.
I feel blessed now to have that experience so that I could tell others not to make the same mistakes I did. =)
How do you multitask?
I love what I do so I love to do everything I do and learning each task doesn’t become a burden, but here are some key points to keep in mind when having to do several things at the same time such as having multiple jobs or responsibilities:
1.Establish your goals. Think with the end in mind. If choosing between two things to do, go forward with the one that could bring you one step closer to your goal, even if it’s a small thing such as following up via email with a potential future mentor or making a list of bands you want to potentially interview. You could always get back to the other things later but want to make sure you get done first what is moving in the same direction.
2. Give time to complete hard tasks for your full attention. Let it be known
to family, friends (and yourself) that you need an hour or two that you are in deep concentration or focus on one thing that requires focus such as studying, producing a presentation, prepping for an interview, etc. Plan time to have time so you don’t feel pressured to rush to get it done or don’t even try because the task seems too daunting and you feel you are busy with prior commitments to everyone around you.
3. Make a list of every task that needs to be done in an excel or some type of easy to manage tracking form. Prioritize the asks into “Urgent and Important,” “Important but not urgent,” and “Would Like To Do But Not Urgent” – to simplify you could tag them as A, B or C. Go thru your day and try to get at least A done if you have everything you need, if not, go back to it and do as many A’s as possible. Move to B’s and C’s if those tasks get accomplished, that way each day you are getting the most important and urgent things done first. They could be small things such as getting the drain fixed or as big as finishing a term paper. It will help you to not procrastinate or waste time on things that aren’t important that seem urgent until you write them down in your list with other things you need to do. Will start to feel great to check things off your list daily.
4. Use wait time efficiently in between different projects. IE if you know you are taking the train to work, plan to create your grocery list on the train and not in the middle of the work day or when you get home and you are already tired.
5. Plan for something YOU want to do each day as something important. IE: exercise, watch reality TV with your boyfriend, buy ice cream or call an old friend to catch up that way you also feel rewarded for your hard work of doing multiple things at once by doing one or more things that give you pleasure each day. Stop doing the things or being around the people that drain your time or doing the things you dread, you could pay someone to do those things and/or reward yourself for completing them.
6. Get comfortable with saying, “No.” Your true colleagues, friends and family will understand not having the bandwidth to do what they need your help in. Even if they don’t, it’s okay. It’s YOUR time. You don’t owe anyone anything. If they helped you in the past, let them know you will return the favor but at this right second you can’t (maybe provide an alternative) and move on. Don’t get stuck on guilt and let them know the better you can take care of yourself and your goals/duties, the better you will be available to help others such as them in the future. This is a hard one that I struggle with everyday, but you’ll be surprised at how much time opens up in your schedule when you remove doing things for other people.