If there is someone who will make a name for themselves in the industry one day, it’ll be Lily Martinez. I had the pleasure of getting to know her in our For the Punks interview, and in less than an hour my head was filled with new insight on music today. She’s got some remarkable visions you’ll see by reading our interview below!
For starters Lily, give us a summary of what you do in the music industry and where your expertise resides?
I got into Artist Management two years ago through internships in college. Then last month, I started my own company with one of my friends. Our goal is to empower women of color, or people who really aren’t represented in the music industry since it’s a very male-dominated.
When did a passion for music take root in your life? Was there a turning point that led you here?
When I was young, I was a huge One Direction fan and even had a Twitter dedicated to them, I loved music back then. As I went to college [Kennesaw State University], I went for Communication; I was liking all that stuff, but I knew there had to be some way I could do music too. My school had a program for a Music/Entertainment Business pathway. So, I kind of went to the classroom and said I was interested. They really helped me get internships and I took all the classes. I realized there was a whole group of people behind the musicians and artists. That’s when I was 100% in and knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
What’s your background with artist management specifically? How did you get into that? What does it entail?
Originally, when I was looking at different opportunities in the entertainment industry, I was doing marketing for a movie company in Atlanta – still I knew there had to be something in music. A professor introduced me to their longtime friend who had a smaller artist management company. I started out as an intern in Tour Marketing. After graduating college, I was offered a day-to-day manager position for two Latin, Grammy-nominated artists. I’ve seen them release an album and saw them transition into the livestream world when COVID hit. As an artist manager you basically do anything and everything; how to work their social medias, how to book flights, even a little bit of [show] booking. I was learning parts of the U.S. I never even knew about when routing their shows!
Just because of COVID, I’ve had to learn stuff like livestreaming on Twitch. Right now, it really is social media; knowing trends of TikTok; knowing the memes blowing up; and how your artist can incorporate these things.
Can you talk about your experience as a BIPOC within the industry? Do you have any advice for other marginalized people working in music? How about any tips to make music communities more diverse?
When you walk into the room, own the room. Which is something I really struggled with; I would sit in the back and just be a “notetaker.” I never really voiced my opinion at first because of the “impostor” syndrome or, feeling like I don’t belong here when these men are so qualified. Then I realized they’re not any more qualified than I am.
Voice your opinion, say your ideas, and never say no to an opportunity! As stupid as it sounds, just follow your dreams; you never know when the next great opportunity will come knocking at your door.
To people who are in authoritative and hiring positions, go to cities or universities where people don’t know about these opportunities. I was blessed to grow up in a place where I did have these opportunities.
Let’s discuss your company: Black Coffee Artist Relations. What’s it’s all about? How did it start?
The company I started off with was all guys, only a few women. It was to the point where men were talking over me and disregarding my ideas. So, I finally had enough, had a mental breakdown, and made a Facebook post about it all. Stephanie [Landino] was in the same boat and reached out. We had a Zoom call to lay out our ideas about how we never wanted another person – girl, guy, POC, etc. – to feel like they don’t belong in the industry. We decided to take our experiences, combine them, and help people get to the level they want to get to. We could either change the industry or come crashing down, but whatever, at least we tried!
Who’s some of the artists you’ve represented so far?
We manage two artists right now. One is Ginger Rodriguez – an Austin, Texas based singer-songwriter and female producer with so much potential. Then we have SSUU entering the rap-world, who has gone viral on Tik Tok with 500,000 followers. So, we’re helping build their careers to where they want to be. [links below!!!]
We are taking on about 4 different marketing projects as well. In the past month, we’ve networked and reached out to as many people as we can. We’re kicking butt for being less than 2 months old!
Even though things are extremely new, can you describe your typical marketing plan?
One thing we pride ourselves in, is that no artist is the same nor are at the same success level as another artist. We really cater our marketing plan to each artist. For example, we always talk to an artist about their project beforehand, that’s when we really dive in and say, ‘these are your goals, here is how we can help.’ Therefore, no marketing plan is really the same either.
Are there any future plans you can talk about? Any big news?
We’re currently in the process of signing two other artists into our roster, who are completely different in genre. We don’t want to stick to only one genre, because personally we love any type of music. If we’re familiar with it, we want to take on the artist if we are the best fit for them.
Down the road, in about the next year or so, we’d love to have an internship program to help other struggling people get into the music industry; essentially, give them a little taste of what it is, what it can be, and help them get to the next step.
In honor of Women’s History Month, is there a woman in music who served as your role model?
I never really thought about this. There are women creating music who I hear and feel empowered by them. But there was never a female manager or executive who I wanted to be while growing up – like there was no female equivalent of Simon Cowell to look up to. Which I think is sad! I hope it changes within 5-10 years from now, so women have someone to look up to.
What artists are you jamming to right now? Who is on the come-up?
Even though she’s already famous, Billie Eilish. She’s so young and kicking butt right now – I’m amazed at how talented and hardworking she is for her age. On the come-up is our [Black Coffee Artist Relations] artist, Ginger Rodriguez. She took a break from the music industry for 3 years, but her unreleased music and what we’re working on right now is going to be amazing. It’s people like her who keep me motivated and make me excited for the future of the music industry. She has an album coming out April 2nd!
To end with, what’s your favorite memory working in the music industry?
In October when I was still at the other company, I was working with a band, Making Movies – a Latin-x rock band. They were tired of being referred to as representing only one country. They created an online festival called Americana TV which was about empowering black and brown voices in the music industry, which is something I’m very passionate about. It was the most stressful few months of my life. But at the end of the festival, seeing their numbers grow into the thousands and seeing the uplifting comments helped realize that I was a part of something bigger.