…Hoarding wealth is something I’ve never understood. I don’t know that I’d call it a movement, but I’d like to see music play a larger role in the betterment of impoverished communities and giving back to those who need it most. Larger corporations and artists should play an equal role in all of this. I don’t think people realize what an influence musicians have on people’s decision to vote, who to vote for, how to manage their money, take care of the earth…you know…the basics. When Lil Dicky released his video for ‘Earth’, it made me so happy because he used his talents, budget, and relationships to forward a message that NEEDS to be heard. I just encourage the next wealthy musician to put down the new sneakers and use that money to help someone else. Sell one painting in your house and change a child’s life with that money. Or put that money into an emerging musician who you really believe in. Use your energy to help others get to the top. Don’t guard it so heavily, you know?
I had the pleasure to interview Marilyn Reles. Marilyn has been working in the hectic, passionate, and forever imaginative world that is the entertainment industry for almost 10 years. Marilyn is currently working as both an Artist Manager and Publicist in New York City.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Oh my. It’s been a very busy journey. I started out as an artist. After acquiring my Bachelors in Acting, I wrote and recorded three albums under the alias ‘Miss Chiff’. At that time, I was a very active member of Chicago’s Hip Hop scene for upwards of five years — performing, organizing events, and supporting the massive amounts of talent that city has to offer. Gradually, I found myself writing emails more then I was writing songs; recognizing my curiosity for the business end of the industry, I began applying for internships. In 2016, the Windish Agency hired me on as an intern, where I shadowed booking agents as the company began operating under the Paradigm Talent Agency umbrella. Shortly thereafter, I was hired by Audiotree TV to host their in-studio interviews. Needing a change of scenery, my fiancé and I moved to LA where I worked as an A&R for a music PR start-up. And now you can find me on the opposite coast, working as a full-time publicist with Chart Room Media. Over the years, I have also managed Julian Xtra’s career — Julian is hands down the most talented rapper I know. He’s also my fiancé! I feel blessed to have been given a well-rounded scope of the industry…and to think, this is just the beginning!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Well, there’s never a dull day. And so much happens so quickly that it’s impossible to mentally archive everything. We booked my fiancé to open for Post Malone, Migos, Lil Yachty, Young Thug, and Dizzy Wright at a NYE show in Denver one time…that was beyond interesting. I’ve also been turned away at doors because security didn’t believe that I was one of the rappers on the bill that night. Hmmm oh, and I was gifted fried crickets from one of my Audiotree interviewees once….these are really just the first things that pop into my head!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made was booking myself to perform on a children’s show before I had my brand completely solidified. I didn’t realize the impact that would have on my fan’s perspective of me — I wasn’t out to make children’s music and didn’t do my homework on the show’s reach/ demographic prior to the booking. I was just happy for an opportunity! But I quickly learned that every little thing you book, decision you make, shirt you wear, etc, has an impact on how people perceive you. People are always taking notes. It’s through these little ‘learn the hard way’ lessons that I have become the person I am today. Nothing quite like a mistake to wise you up!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, I am working on pushing the new Mr Hudson record that is set to release on June 21st. Working with his team has been an amazing experience — it has given me an opportunity to dive deeper into the pop / hip hop world. It is his first solo record in almost 10 years so, this has been such a great learning experience for me as a publicist in an already turbulent climate. I’m happy to say that we’ve seen some excellent results and the momentum is still building! Also, Julian Xtra will be releasing his next full-length album this summer and I can hands down say that every single song on that album is worthy of being a single. It’s been so tough to decide which tracks we should focus on because I love them all! Watching him evolve over the years has been the most exciting part of any involvement I’ve had in the industry.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I can safely say that I’ve dealt with equally as many amazing, positive people in this industry as I have struggled with difficult, negative personalities. Because of its unpredictable nature, it’s very easy for people to become disheartened in this industry. People deal with A LOT of disappointment. But how you handle that disappointment will really dictate your longevity in this field. I’ve definitely been at fault for allowing the dips to effect me more then they should. But the best lesson I’ve learned is to not allow the negative vibes into your life — it only limits your potential. Go into every situation with an open-mind. Also, lateral networking is equally as beneficial as vertical networking. Emerging bands CAN blow up quickly. And what seems like an impossible situation could easily be simplified with the correct attitude. Art is subjective; be your crazy creative self!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Balance! Work / Life balance is key. There is nothing cool about working yourself to death. I’ve found that balance was especially difficult during my entrepreneurial stretches. I’ve had times where I’ve worked from home freelancing, managing, etc, and it was too easy to fall into the habit of overworking myself because nobody was making my hours but me. Do not fall into the trap of ‘I’m more serious about what I’m doing because I only sleep 4 hours a night and I work 20 hours a day…” These people can’t be happy — sleep is as important for your health as eating, drinking water, exercising, etc. Take care of yourself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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 want to spread the wealth. Hoarding wealth is something I’ve never understood. I don’t know that I’d call it a movement, but I’d like to see music play a larger role in the betterment of impoverished communities and giving back to those who need it most. Larger corporations and artists should play an equal role in all of this. I don’t think people realize what an influence musicians have on people’s decision to vote, who to vote for, how to manage their money, take care of the earth…you know…the basics. When Lil Dicky released his video for ‘Earth’, it made me so happy because he used his talents, budget, and relationships to forward a message that NEEDS to be heard. I just encourage the next wealthy musician to put down the new sneakers and use that money to help someone else. Sell one painting in your house and change a child’s life with that money. Or put that money into an emerging musician who you really believe in. Use your energy to help others get to the top. Don’t guard it so heavily, you know?
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) You Need Money — One thing that people in the industry don’t like to educate young artists about is money management. And schools don’t really touch on this either. So when I first started investing in my own work, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to tell the difference between who was legit and who was ripping me off. I also didn’t understand that money really moves mountains in this industry. If you have it, things will be A LOT easier for you. But having it isn’t enough. Knowing what to do with it is literally everything. Making money as an artist is a difficult, unpredictable, uphill battle. So if you can learn as much as you can about how to spend your money and with you, you’ll be better off in the long run. And stray from bad record deals. Oh and lawyers are important. VERY important.
2) How Talented You Are Doesn’t Matter — I mean it does…it definitely does. But it’s certainly not THE deciding factor between you and stardom. Talent doesn’t do much without the right team. It really takes a village! You need to have a strong team of managers, publicists, creatives, and lawyers behind you. And it has to be a passionate village! It’s imperative that everyone shares your vision — there’s a lot of power in that.
3) You will be sexualized — I watched a video of Billie Eilish explaining her reasoning behind why she chooses to wear baggy clothes. She says this way, people are less likely to comment on her appearance. When I was an artist, I remember feeling conscious of my appearance all of the time. Because that’s the first thing people comment on — ESPECIALLY as a woman. Its almost as if my talent and brain-power came second. It actually played a huge factor in my decision to switch to the business side. I wanted people to finally begin to appreciate me for my brain! I wanted my intelligence and drive at the forefront because I don’t feel comfortable being sexualized like that. I am a women who feels empowered by modesty.
4) Its a Marathon, Not a Sprint — This industry is all about stamina. If things don’t seem to be happening quite as quickly as you’d like them to, that doesn’t mean you’re moving in the wrong direction or making the wrong choices. There’s no map to this long distance run you’re on. If you really want this, you have to keep running. Not too fast, because you’ll burn out. But not too slow, because there will always be somebody at the finish line before you. If you can teach yourself patience and enjoy the journey, then you’ve already won. I’m serious!
5) Take care of your body! — This life can be non-stop and obsessive. You’ll go through periods where it seems like you haven’t heard an ounce of good news in weeks. The lows are frequent and the highs are REALLY high. So it can mess with your mental health. My advice goes back to: work / life balance. Workout. Eat healthy foods. Get sleep (easier said then done, I know). And drink alcohol in moderation. Also, don’t do drugs. I’m serious — I never got into them and I believe that my decision to be drug-free has actually contributed to a lot of my success.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I actually just stumbled across a quote from Marianne Williamson that said: “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do”. I haven’t found a quote I relate to as well as this one in a long time. Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly making waves or that I’m thinking too far outside of the box and therefore, I receive some hesitancy and doubt from people; especially those who have been disillusioned by the frequent disappointment the industry has to offer. But nine times out of ten, my crazy ideas turn into career-changing moves! I’ve never been afraid to move in a forward direction. And I move fast. A lot of people can’t keep up and as a result, they’ll latch on and try to pull me back. I see no way but a wide-eyed and confident path forward.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Wow — so many people! Giving credit to one wouldn’t be right. I’ve received help from colleagues, family, friends, in-laws, partners, and more over the years. I am endlessly grateful! And I make it a very deliberate point to pay it forward. I really don’t believe in the whole idea of “hoarding your connections” in the music industry. I mean, be smart about it. For instance, don’t give another person a connection that you have worked years to acquire if you have any inclination that their outreach may tarnish your reputation or cheapen the hard work you’ve put in. That being said, if you know that a connection you have could really help someone or propel their career forward, by all means help them! Help people! That’s the only way we’re going to survive out here. I believe the people who have helped me along the way have adopted that same mindset, and I am grateful for them!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Yes. Scooter Braun. I want to pick the mind of a fellow Artist Manager whose career has just blown me away. I always wished that I had had the opportunity to shadow the people I look up to. Pat Corcoran too. The roles that these managers have played in the industry have impressed me to no end and I know that I’d have a lot to learn from them. Scooter and Pat, I will buy you lunch!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’m on Facebook the most (does this mean I’m getting old?) — Feel free to friend me at ‘Marilyn Reles’.
On IG I am @Marilyn.reles
I’m never on Twitter — which is something I’m trying to fix. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be on any socials. But 2019 won’t have that!!
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!