How Kristin Juel is helping to shake up the Music Industry by incubating talent

Overnight success takes 10 years on average. Time and time again I hear about artists, or brands, that have popped and are heading to the “next level” and then you do the research and realize they have been there for years slogging away, day by day after their goals. And then it just… connects. That’s […]

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Overnight success takes 10 years on average. Time and time again I hear about artists, or brands, that have popped and are heading to the “next level” and then you do the research and realize they have been there for years slogging away, day by day after their goals. And then it just… connects. That’s inspiring to me.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Juel.

Kristin is the founder of Juel Concepts, an incubator and music marketing/management firm for emerging artists that encourages them to know their worth, hone their craft and prepares them for high stakes and data-driven industry. The three tenets of her business approach are: passionate, proactive and transparent allowing for superior levels of vision and engagement between her and her artists. Kristin represents artists of all genres, who put authenticity first, and knows just how important having a champion is to those new to the industry. She strives to be that champion.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Music has always been an undercurrent in my career. It was, and still is, a confidence builder that helps me express myself and keeps me grounded. After 25 years in the branding and advertising industry between NYC and LA, with some experience working with labels and album packaging companies and even curation and music event design for a national health care company, I decided I needed a change. So in 2013, I started my company Juel Concepts with the goal to help artists thrive in the independent market with a strong focus on the intersection of Music, Technology and Marketing. I have always loved being able to combine creativity and strategy, and it honestly felt like a great fit. Plus it really helped me start down the path to fulfilling my dharma.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

At Juel Concepts, we create a sacred space for the creative process. Certainly, we do some artist management, but for the most part, we work as an incubator to prepare budding artists for their careers; whether they decide to go with a big label or not. We are the unlabel, a label services company, helping to bridge the gaps in the new music landscape for artists who recognize what they are building is worth owning and controlling. We believe that knowledge is power. We educate artists about the industry, the keywords, and the jargon. We guide them in contract negotiations and how to stand up for themselves and own their own music. We operate under the idea that you don’t need to do things the traditional way, if there is such a thing anymore. If you build a great music catalog, develop and active and engaged fanbase, and have a killer live performance, you’ll be able to continually grow your business (and it is a business). You just need the tools and knowhow to keep it all going. Remain engaged, keep reharvesting your audience. It’s all about the build. You’re running a marathon, so stay hydrated — and nurture your creative skills!

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Great question. I believe there is something to learn from everyone — what to do and equally as important, what to avoid doing in the future.

The first person that comes to mind is my mother, Joyce, who never, ever let me forget my life was a gift and every day mattered. She taught me resilience, my street smarts and my absolute sheer love of music. She was an incredibly strong, vibrant and full of life woman and I knew from an early age I was lucky to have her as a role model. She passed away right before I graduated High School (she was 46) so I spent the last few decades making strides globally in her honor.

Another very strong force in my life was Jayne Simon at MCA Records who in 1999 really believed in my strategic vision for musicians and was truly instrumental in allowing me to marry my love for branding with artist marketing. Through her leadership, I was able to share insights with her artists which at that time crossed into innovations that had never been done before and I’m truly grateful to have had her support.

I have a wonderful mentor, Angela Doria, who is equal parts neuroscientist, life coach, spiritual advisor, and all around badass honest emotional sherpa. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her teachings — especially around reframing ideals that were set for me long before I even knew what they were. I’m eternally grateful for her teachings.

The artists (Ruby Velle, Hamish Anderson, Jessica Childress, Shelly Peiken) that I have had the privilege to work with provide me with so much inspiration. I have learned so much about culture, overcoming adversity and how to reach people with your words or thoughts from their powerful creations. I’m truly honored to stand in partnership with them.

Lastly, I learned from many people who have tried to tell me I can’t do things, just as much as I have those who guided me in how I should. I have those people and their myopic, arcane ideals to thank for my ongoing tenacity and my ability to just make things happen despite the odds. And there have been many.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or an example for each.

First and perhaps most important of all: Perfection is not an option it’s an obstacle. I learned that from Ms. Sally Guthrie at the Jonathan Club who was my Editor when I was VERY young. It was confusing to me then, but then I realized that was giving me permission not to be an overachiever and always seeking perfection. It was liberating. Every day I work to remember that. There’s power in knowing that you do your best daily and to form a sense of self respect from that.

Overnight success takes 10 years on average. Time and time again I hear about artists, or brands, that have popped and are heading to the “next level” and then you do the research and realize they have been there for years slogging away, day by day after their goals. And then it just… connects. That’s inspiring to me.

We all know the idea that if you practice something for 10k hours you’ll be an expert at it; so why not make it something you love. Then it won’t feel like WORK. I apply that directly in my work every day.

How are you going to shake things up next?

I believe there is an art and science to brand building and what our artists are doing is just that. We need to find ways to match the human spirit in music to new world of data that’s currently (and rapidly) directing the music industry. I see the realm of innovation in music is a sweet spot, as I’m settling into the idea of understanding the whole new ecosystem that artists have to deal with.

Without artists’ music/video content, the technology companies that are controlling the new music world would not have a business model. As a subscription based model specialist, it would seem that these service providers could be charging more for their monthly rates to consumers. A discounted brand is very difficult to get a premium price for later. Over the past decade, there has been residual damage that needs to be undone so that consumers are open to paying more for music. Some of it is education, some of it is the need for higher quality experiences. That way the licensing of music is actually on par with what it is worth.

Imagine a day without music. You open Spotify and there’s only talk formats. Go to the gym and find no music playing for your workout. It’s very important for artists to KNOW THEIR WORTH.

It’s equally important for artists and their teams to build a strong foundation so they can have careers that will maintain relevance in whichever genre they reside. They should be made aware of where to spend money, where power goes, where to exert energy, and how to strategically move ahead, and always following the motto of: “Keep going, keep diversifying, keep true to yourself.”

I am certain in the next few years, we’ll see a level setting as the streaming world matures. As an independent artist, you do your job well and maintain relevance, you will be able to earn a living on streaming and syncs alone. There’s a new paradigm around the light consumer, and it doesn’t take much to find those people, and have them find you. It may have been easier to make money on music 20 years ago, but it was a lot harder to break into the business. And really difficult to be a music fan back then without connections as they exist today. I think the new music world is full of incredible opportunities — for artists and fans alike.

It just takes some diligence to find each other.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope was the book I read when I was thinking about what to do after I left Brand Strategy at Kaiser Permanente. It’s a quick read, but I found it profound to learn how these icons were able to embark on their journey to changing the world. It started me on my path to reframing my life around music. It also helped me accept that I would have to carve out my own path in doing so. I wish I had read it in my twenties, but I’m glad I could still course correct in my own time. I recommend it to everyone who’s looking for a greater direction in life. I’m an example of it never being too late to (re)start.

Brene Brown’s TedTalk on the Power of Vulnerability is a game changer. She’s gone on to do much in the field of mental health, but that talk is breathtaking. It dovetails into my favorite saying: Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. It’s an Al Capone quote, but I find it relevant when you’re conscientiously being kind and you see someone start to take advantage of you.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I worked in Innovation off and on in my career — designing things for consumers that literally didn’t exist before we thought of it. During that time, I learned how to do empathy exchanges so we would make sure we were designing the best we could to meet the intended audience needs.

There is something about putting yourself in someone’s shoes and envisioning their journey, both the difficulties and the joy they experience, when you are designing for them that naturally creates humility in your spirit, too. Then you can turn the mirror on yourself and ask how you would respond and react. There’s genuine power in feeling for others when you are creating for them. I believe it gives great strength in many ways to consider the mindset of others.

In fact, I was once called “the nicest Pitbull in the junkyard of the Music Industry” for which I am proud.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Always keep evolving. That means you’re living.

I got a tattoo of the word ‘evolving’ on my wrist to remind me that my comfort zone is always… well… evolving. Moving. Changing. Adapting. I find strength in knowing that. As long as we’re pushing ourselves to our abilities — and beyond — we will always be present, relevant and capable of evolving even more.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can find me @JuelConcepts on Instagram and Facebook, and @KristinJuel on Twitter.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you!

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