Mindset: Learning to have a growth mindset can change a person’s trajectory. There’s such power in realizing that achievement is not innate, but reached through hard work and valuable feedback. The options for growth and knowledge acquisition become limitless from this perspective. I also group in finding the positive silver lining or finding the opportunity in any outcome or situation. If you are not seeing the upside or the opportunity, I believe you’re not looking hard enough. There is power in positivity, as opposed to a “woe is me” attitude.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sarah Todd, artist, producer, entrepreneur, educator, also goes by “Iggy T” — that is, when she is serving up soulful vocals as the lead singer of the retro pop band Iggy T and The Crazymakers.
After a decade of wearing a myriad of hats in the education and nonprofit worlds, Sarah turned her desire to be of service toward supporting other artists. She managed the independent record label Underground Sun (“USUN”) focusing on artist relations, creative direction, production, and branding. While at USUN she co-created and hosted “The Mixdown,” — a web series designed to connect with the music community on the topics of songwriting, recording and production, and music business.
Sarah is currently focusing her attention on creating custom music for Film, TV, and Ads. Through her company “Snaxx Music” she partners with top tier synch agencies and production music libraries to build high end catalogs of one-stop music. As Creative Director and Executive Producer, she often serves as the translator between artists and gatekeepers, cultivating fruitful partnerships and building diverse teams that span the globe. She joins forces with collaborators to make art with a shared vision and a clear strategic function in the industry. Sarah takes seedlings, gathers resources, and creates ideal conditions to allow those seeds to grow.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up as a super quiet kid. I had a pretty tumultuous home life. My mom was an alcoholic and my parents divorced when I was just three years old. I bounced between both homes, plus my grandparents’ home which taught me to travel light and to cherish the moments when I felt love and safety. I always felt loved, but I just don’t know that the people who were around me knew how to show it all the time. My safety was sometimes questionable emotionally and physically, but I learned to find the silver lining, to be adaptable, and to observe everything and everyone in my surroundings.
From that place of quiet I was able to build my vision and my dream of how I wanted to express myself in the world. I was observing and using everyone around me as examples of how to build the vision for my own dream life. I was always taking notes. Many people are surprised because I’m not very quiet these days whatsoever, but as a kid, my teachers and my parents were worried about me because I rarely talked.
In a lot of ways, I still operate that way. I’m always observing and taking my ship in the direction that provides forward motion. My struggles as a kid are never something I feel victimized by. I think that’s a vicious cycle that is easy to get sucked into. By seeing the value of growing up the way I did and by sharing my story, I’m able to rise above it and empower others to do the same.
By radically accepting where I came from and what I endured growing up, I’m allowed to say, “Okay — now what?” This is one of my favorite things to say.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Because there was so much going on in a tumultuous way, I often found myself feeling settled when I was able to be creative as a kid. I was happiest doing arts and crafts or listening to music. I was super into the lyrics. I would unravel the packaging of the CDs or tapes and find the lyrics notes — I felt connected to a force that I couldn’t see but that I could otherwise sense. Before entering the music industry I was on a mission to save the world through non-profit work in environmental education. I went to grad school for education. I was fulfilled in connecting with youth, inspiring their connection to the planet, and their pursuit of protecting it. It was such a full plate, like any non-profit work. I had no time to be creative musically.
I find creative outlets in everything I do. I kind of approach it from an artist’s lens; creative problem solving, ways of approaching things, building something, connecting with people — it’s all creative to me. But specifically, I wanted to have more time to be musical. I came to terms with how important it was to me. I realized that when I don’t have time to be able to invest in music, I feel like I can’t breathe. I feel like a shell of myself. I realized how important music was to me: not just as a listener, but as an artist myself.
I had fallen in love with my vision of pursuing music after I fell off a cliff while rock climbing. I broke both of my feet and a leg. I couldn’t walk for 3.5 months and I was forced to sit still. What I could do, however, was play guitar and sing. It was like being reunited with an old friend.
From there I found myself in a group of fellow artists reading through Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way.” The rest was history after that. I realized I was allowed to pursue art and that I loved supporting other artists too. I realized that despite the stories we are often told as kids of art being a hobby, I could make a career out of doing what I love. Creating AND helping other creatives along the way to do what they love? It was a dream come true. I wanted to support other artists in whatever way I could to empower them to be even more creative and to build sustainable business models so that they can have revenue streams associated with their art — that’s the dream. I am doing that in every aspect of my life right now and I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I couldn’t ask for a better dream.
It has not been easy, but nothing worth doing is. Every grueling step of the career change has been absolutely worth it.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
About six years ago I was at a dark, outdoor jam circle at a mutual friend’s party. I didn’t really know anybody there at all. I was listening to some guy play electric guitar and thought, “who’s that?” I loved the rhythm and the tone. It ended up being David Franz. Moments later, I was singing and David Franz had the exact same reaction. “Who is that singing?!” It was an instant connection.
I love telling that story because we heard each other before we met each other or even saw each other. From that point forward, we realized we had very similar tastes in music and that we wanted to do something with that. That was how Iggy T and the Crazymakers was born.
Fast-forward and we just released our Iggy T and The Crazymakers’ 2020 Record “Just Can’t Get Enough.”
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?
One time before one of my first gigs, I asked one of my bandmates to clean up the side of my head that is shaved with his buzzer. The buzzer died after one swipe through my hair and it was a terrible scene. A lot of laughing and trying to fix it ensued, but I look back on the early photos of that gig and still shake my head.
I learned about the value of prepping early. I learned how to shave my own head. I learned I’m the only person I can count on to bail myself out of a lack of preparedness. And sometimes you have to put on a brave face and show up proudly with a jacked-up haircut. People connect with authenticity. In these moments where I’m either presenting my art or presenting a business idea where people feel really comfortable and safe in communicating with me, I attribute it to my self-awareness and my ability to present as my authentic self. Owning the experience with confidence and grace actually brings the audience in. It’s nothing to be afraid of, instead, it’s something to strive for.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working with David at Underground Sun to release a few singles for Iggy T and The Crazymakers after the release of our record earlier this year. We’ve been hanging onto these for a while so it will be nice to see them make their way into the world.
I’ve also been doing some extremely fulfilling work as an executive producer and creative director. I’ve been building teams across the world to create content for sync and production music libraries which is music for ads, tv, and film.
One of my favorite things to do is empower artists to stretch their creativity and see their output as worthy of being fairly compensated for. I’m a bit of a puppet master in this way. I often get to get in on the songwriting and recording side of these projects too. COVID has forced a lot of us to work remotely with our collaborators which has only opened the channels for more and more opportunities. I bring a mini studio with me wherever I go!
Over the last couple of years, I found myself frustrated with being the only woman in the room of my music collaborations. I met a couple of amazing ladies online and all of us have been totally crushing on each other and the music we make. We’ve dived into the new culture of women working together and not competing, which has evolved to be my favorite thing about life right now. I just love working with women.
I pitched them on doing a project together and somehow they believed me that it would work. We quite literally live all across the US (LA, Austin, and NYC). We’ve been putting in a lot of time becoming besties, laughing a ton, and just having fun writing and recording cheeky pop bangers nestled under my company Snaxx Music Co. We’ve got an awesome team of folks supporting our mission and we couldn’t be more stoked to start releasing some of the tracks into the wild. We are called Majority V. Yes, V for vagina.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I don’t think there needs to be three reasons because the one that rises to the top is the simple fact that the media we consume should reflect the reality of the makeup of our society. Every child should see folks on tv and film that represent a part of them. Diversity is what makes our country so uniquely beautiful. Learning to embrace and listen and learn from those who are different from us would make our world a much more loving place to live. I feel grateful to be a part of such a welcoming and diverse community through art, specifically music. You cannot hear race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. when listening to a song. You hear a unifying language that we can all connect to in some form. It’s the same when playing music with a group of people. What a beautiful model for how we could structure our society. I believe we can get there. I believe music can help, just like it always has.
Of the three industries, (music, tv, and film) music has the best model of diversity. We should replicate that model of appreciation in the other industries.
Even with politics, with Kamala as a public role model, I think we’re on our way. Everybody should feel represented and safe and welcomed just as they are.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I don’t resent learning any of the things below at the exact time that I did. They continue to shape me and my life path. Though of course, the more information any one person is equipped with before they start something, the more time and energy they can potentially save themselves!
- Positive Thinking: I wish someone had told me the power of positive thinking and the infinite potential of creating the reality we truly desire. It required me to dive deep into defining what brings me genuine joy and fulfillment, but the possibilities are endless to cultivate that experience. I spent a lot of time living in fear, in self-sabotaging thought patterns, and of course, we all go in and out of feeling the waves of imposter syndrome. But developing a healthy level of self-awareness saves so much time and energy. We are never completely helpless over our circumstances. I’d even say we are in many ways responsible for them. That responsibility-taking ensures that there’s always something we can do about where we find ourselves. And that’s a much more empowered place to begin moving onward and upward. When I started paying close attention to — I mean getting REALLY honest with myself — about my thoughts, beliefs, true desires, and the purpose-driven action steps to get there, I began to experience what manifesting my ideal life felt like. This is not a one-time activity. It’s a daily practice and a way of choosing to be in the world.
- Fear: I tell my nieces this when they say they’re afraid of performing: most people probably are. I think the experience of fear can often feel debilitating when it comes to pursuing our life’s purpose. I have always had performance anxiety. It took me years to realize what I was doing every time I chose to make a pitch or get on stage. I tell people there are two different types of fear: the kind that indicates that something is very important to us, unfamiliar, but incredibly exciting and scary in its newness, and the kind that indicates we’re in real danger. Fear of failure is often outweighed by the fear of success for our really big dreams. And that’s the fear that I encourage everyone to walk toward. The root of that fear is the same as excitement. It provides infinite potential in doing our best, most transformative work.
- Mindset: Learning to have a growth mindset can change a person’s trajectory. There’s such power in realizing that achievement is not innate, but reached through hard work and valuable feedback. The options for growth and knowledge acquisition become limitless from this perspective. I also group in finding the positive silver lining or finding the opportunity in any outcome or situation. If you are not seeing the upside or the opportunity, I believe you’re not looking hard enough. There is power in positivity, as opposed to a “woe is me” attitude.
- Knowledge vs. Qualification: “You don’t have to know EVERYTHING about what you’re doing to be considered ‘qualified’ or ‘ready’ to begin working.” I’ve accepted that the most valuable learning happens through doing, so it’s best to just get moving on an idea or a dream instead of waiting around to learn more or get more experience. No one that is trailblazing knows 100% what they’re doing. That’s what makes them such powerful forces of vision and innovation.
- Teambuilding: You don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t do it alone. I have learned that building relationships of depth and meaning are invaluable. Becoming an echo chamber is not good for anyone, nor is it helpful in completing your mission. I have to trust the people I work with implicitly. Trust your gut when you bring people onto your team. Shared values are imperative. A similar driving motivation, and some overlap in two people’s “why” can create a productive and lifelong relationship that can navigate the unpredictable roads of building things. A healthy sense of humor is also a requirement on any team that I build. Ya gotta bring some jokes! We just can’t get by without jokes. It’s a fine line to walk with maintaining professionalism and a sense of humor but when you find your people, you will know. You don’t have to be serious all the time to be taken seriously. Fun teams are successful teams in my opinion.
- Perfectionism: It’s been a hard-fought battle, but I’ve learned that “perfection is an illusion.” Celebrating progress is key: it’s quite valuable to have a really good grasp on a lot of different skills and not be a perfect performer in just one. The idea of perfection is boring. And perfectionism is a cop-out for actually getting shit done and being vulnerable in doing so. Vulnerable mostly in the act of figuring it out as you go along.
- Being Cool: I wish someone had told me “Being ‘cool’ takes a lot more energy than it’s worth.” I laugh as I type this but most of us grow up trying so hard to fit in and be something that the world has deemed ‘cool’. All the while what is actually attractive about people and their projects is their authenticity. Vulnerably sharing the truest expression of you and the brand of creativity that comes from that true self is a much less labor-intensive process and reaps far greater rewards.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
While I have not yet experienced burnout in music and have embodied a machine when it comes to doing what I love, and that’s just it: I haven’t felt burnout because I do what I love. That’s what I would recommend to anyone else.
I did experience burnout in my last career because I was no longer learning and my soul’s next purpose wasn’t being fulfilled.
But now, my work doesn’t feel like work. I’m doing exactly what I love. I feel fulfilled.
Healthy self-care practices are also imperative. Moving my body and practicing yoga, meditation, and morning pages — overall carving time for myself to pay attention to my body. Find ways to stay relevant and keep learning. To me, that provides constant inspiration and re-invigoration. I’d also tell people to come out of isolation as best as they can. I think with so many people sheltering in place these days, with artists unable to share their art publicly in person and entrepreneurs unable to go to in-person conferences and business meetings, it’s a great joy to push through the discomfort and begin connecting with people online in music and business communities.
Otherwise, watching a dog do zoomies at the park is a surefire way to avoid burnout. Medically tested, proven science.
You are a person of enormous 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 would like to inspire a movement for artists to come together, out of hiding, and toward a shared conversation of the struggles that come with the territory of being in this career path. In my experience, artists are all facing similar demons toward reaching their fullest potential. In everything I do, I’m thinking about how to make the lives of other artists better, more profitable, and more productive. One of the first things that always comes to mind is access to mental healthcare. We can do better as a country in supporting our artists and their mental and emotional wellbeing. I also strive to advocate for fair compensation for artists and their work. Subsequently, I am passionately aiming to help increase the likelihood that music finds its way from an artist’s brain and into the world of listeners where it can affect positive change and shared experiences. I’m actively working with a team of people to address these problems and am excited to see what the future of work for an artist looks and feels like.
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?
David Franz of Underground Sun — for getting me into a vocal booth! Also for sharing the vision of Iggy T and the Crazymakers record. He trusted me. He saw value in me and in pursuing this huge project (and others) together as the solid team we became. He made sure to remind me that my musical dreams were viable when I was uncertain and he always says that people listen when I have something to sing or something to say. He was my first biggest fan and a continued supporter of our shared music projects.
Abby North of North Music Group — for always taking a moment to share a bit of her wealth of knowledge about all things copyright, publishing administration, music tech, and business. She believed in me and took a chance on me long before I ever showed dollar signs or accolades. She’s talked me down from a cliff or two, advising me on how to handle the pointy end of the situation with my eye on what matters. Abby’s honest and direct feedback is invaluable. She’s a powerful and potent female founder that I admire immensely.
Karl Richter of DISCO and Level Two Music — for seeing a potential in me and my big visions and trusting me to carry them out. He has always known how to balance providing enough support to motivate and enough freedom to innovate. Karl is a massive golden door in my journey that has led to so many relationships and projects that I treasure in both music and business. He shows me what is possible to accomplish in a day, a year, a life. And how to strategize without overthinking (or in my case feeling) about it. He was the first person to see my brain and understand all the moving parts right away. Also, he is a real-life wizard with well-timed jokes.
Jen Taunton of Midnight Choir — for believing in me in business and music and for trusting me to collaborate on making our respective dreams come to life. Jen came into my path and it felt like I knew her right away. She reminded me of what it should feel like to bring a team together in pursuit of a shared goal (and how to make it fun and funny). She only inspires me to be the fullest expression of me, not to play small. She’s a truly impressive female founder whose unapologetic strength and grace serve as an invaluable model for who I aspire to be in music, business, and life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labor, and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always seems to be doing both.”
- L.P. Jacks
Everything about this quote from L.P. Jacks describes my relationship to my life and my pursuits. I have discovered my purpose in doing what I truly love, and I’m consistently grateful that what I do for work also feels like play. The responsibility and tasks I face often allow me to relax into them, and when they don’t, I find the adrenaline to be purely joyful as well. The flow state that avails itself provides an undeniable link between mind and body and the only expiration that presents itself is if I happen to get off-course. It’s a wonderful barometer for me to re-center and reestablish the action steps that are in alignment with my purpose. When I am mastering the art of living I am learning as my recreation, no doubt. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I believe a moral obligation for us all to continue learning throughout our lives. I am in constant pursuit of my vision and my purpose, no matter what shape that takes. It is at the nucleus of everything I do. I am an artist, and I am here to support other artists. I will take that mission as far and as wide as my lifetime will allow, and it’s that root from which I continue to build my empire.
Perhaps to some, that sounds like work, but to me, I’m most definitely still having a play. I don’t intend to stop playing either.
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 just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
First of all, I would hope for Brunch, as I think it’s the best meal of the day, hands down.
In no particular order:
- Stefani Germanotta/Lady Gaga
- Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx
- Stevie Wonder
- Michelle Obama
As I thought about this, I realized, there is a common thread amongst these people who inspire me beyond measure: there’s a depth of character and integrity, a hustle against all odds, a standing tall in the face of adversity, and an authenticity that shines brighter than the sun. These are people that I witness creating ripple effects in the universe for good. They have demonstrated clarity of vision, consistency, humility, and excellence in everything they do. They believe in the inherent good of people and the limitless potential of every single human experience. They are funny, each in their own ways. They take risks creatively, in business, and their own unique channels of activism/advocacy. They have learned to listen. Both to their inner voices and to what the world needs. These are people who have not forgotten their gratitude. I’m in awe of each of them. It would be my great privilege to sit quietly over a meal.
Will there be breakfast burritos? I hope so. Also, delicious espresso would be nice, but I’d settle for a sit on a grassy knoll somewhere 6 ft apart too.
How can our readers follow you online?
Website: Band: https://www.iggytandthecrazymakers.com/
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!