While on a long MLK weekend in Alaska with my son Milo, 16, three months ago, I received a call from my daughter Jillian. “One of my recording artists is opening their tour in your market,” Jillian said. “The recording artist has never played Spokane.”
When I asked who she was talking about, there was a pause. “I can’t tell you,” Jillian said. “The information is embargoed.”
My curiosity was piqued. “I’ll figure it out since I know your artist roster.”
Well, I figured out that it was Paul McCartney who was indeed playing Spokane Arena before the folks at the venue knew that it was a done deal. The information was huge since I was the only journalist to have a full 20-inch feature set to go once the official tour announcement was made in February early in the morning.
That was great, but this isn’t another piece about McCartney. After Jillian wrote a travel feature that was published in West Virginia Magazine when she was 9 years old, we started chatting about career possibilities. Jillian thankfully said she didn’t want to follow in my journalistic footsteps.
“What you do is crazy and chaotic,” Jillian said. “And that’s on a good day.”
After thinking about a career in travel public relations, Jillian decided as a sophomore to become a music publicist. I told her that she had to attend a college in New York, Nashville or Los Angeles since I would help her score key internships.
Jillian attended Pace University in New York. I was prescient enough to push her to start interning as a sophomore. Her first internship at Shore Fire Media in Brooklyn was fantastic. Her supervisors put her to work. Jillian wrote news releases and worked the database and was hired for that summer.
Her boss implored her to make contact the moment she graduated from Pace. Jillian’s next internship at Nasty Little Man was impactful but brief thanks to the pandemic.
Music publicity is a small sorority, and the industry, much like the world of journalism, is a far cry from what it was a generation ago. There are fewer jobs and less security.
There was concern from folks in the family. “Aren’t you worried that Jillian will end up working at Starbucks after going to that expensive school in New York?” someone asked.
Not at all. I’ve been working with music publicists for more than three decades, and I’ve known Jillian for 23 years. I was 100% certain that Jillian would fare well since she can write, communicate well, has drive, is intelligent, savvy and is so passionate about music.
It was just a matter of Jillian meeting the right people via internships. Was there a chance it wouldn’t work out? Sure. However, I’m not taking a safer route for my children just because there is perceived security on the horizon.
During a recent chat with the mother of one of Milo’s friends, the mom said she is encouraging her son to work in health care. That’s fine if that’s what he wants to do, but it’s not if he has little interest in that vocation. The mom explained that he’ll always have a job. But what good is it if it’s a gig he doesn’t want?
Five days out of the week for the next 40 years sounds like a prison sentence if you work in a world that you don’t enjoy. Sure, you want your children to pay the bills, buy a house and have some sense of order and security.
However, I have a friend who is a physician who always wanted to be a musician and is bitter about his parents’ choice for him. I have a number of friends who chased money by becoming lawyers. Some of the barristers escaped, and a couple still have plans to parachute from the world of tax law and litigation.
Time, not money, is the precious commodity. If you spend all your time devoted to winning your personal monopoly game, is it worth it in the end? For some people, the answer is yes. However, I’ve detailed the ups and downs of such a life with my children.
My son Eddie, 20, wants to be an actor, Milo is looking at a career in communications and Jane, 12, would like to become a TV news correspondent.
Each of those careers requires considerable time paying dues and often not the biggest paycheck. But you only live once, and if you can’t dream as a teenager or young adult, when can you go out on a limb?
Jillian never applied for a job. After graduating from Pace in May, I mentioned my daughter’s situation to a veteran publicist who was Pearl Jam’s original major label mouthpiece, and she hired Jillian part-time. A month after she received her sheepskin, Jillian’s supervisor from her first internship reached out to me for Jillian’s contact information.
After a 10-minute chat, she hired Jillian to a full-time gig. Jillian was back in her beloved New York City. After six months working as a publicity assistant handling clients such as Phoebe Bridgers, Arctic Monkeys and the Killers, Jillian received another opportunity.
Her second internship contacted her and interviewed her for a gig as a tour press coordinator. Jillian was ecstatic after landing the job. Aside from working with the legendary Sir Paul, Jillian is dealing with the Metallica tour, and she broke the unfortunate news about the death of Taylor Hawkins to me a few weeks ago since the Foo Fighters are a client.
While in Austin at South By Southwest, I called Jillian to tell her that her brothers and I were at the Beck keynote since he is one of her clients. I asked her what she was up to, and her voice jumped an octave. “I’m going to Arcade Fire’s show tonight at the Bowery Ballroom,” Jillian said. “I’m about to announce it in a minute.”
It’s great that Jillian works with an array of popular integrity acts such as LCD Soundsystem, Queens of the Stone Age, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave and handles the Nirvana, Beastie Boys and David Bowie catalogs.
But there’s more to a job than the cool quotient. One of my most important messages to my children is no matter what you’re offered, don’t work for or with jerks. The misery index will be devastating.
The small crew at Nasty Little Man are among the nicest and finest in the industry. I’ve worked with Steve, Laura, Michele and Mary for many years, and I know Jillian is in great hands.
Steve, a legendary figure in the business who founded NLM more than 30 years ago, and I sat around for drinks in Austin last month and spun anecdotes for 3½ hours. It’s obvious that he thinks the world of Jillian, but I’m not surprised.
A parent’s responsibility is to help guide their children as much as possible. I’ve shown the kids as much of the world as I can and discussed possibilities and options ad nauseum. As a result, each of my children is a great problem-solver.
It’s worked out for Jillian and perhaps gone full circle. I was recently watching videos from her birth. The first songs she heard while I held her in my arms were Beatles tunes. Tears trickled from my eyes while viewing clips of little Jillian as I swayed back and forth while the Fab Four’s “In My Life” played in the background.
It also reminds me of when McCartney played the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in August 2010. I had my reviewer ticket but was compelled for Jillian to experience McCartney since McCartney was 68 then.
I found a pair of reasonably priced tickets on Craigslist and bought them for Jillian and my cousin. I couldn’t help but be skeptical. Base price tickets to a hot, SRO show? I met up with the person selling the tickets. I watched as the ducats were printed in the box office. I had a weird feeling something was wrong, but it made no sense. My gut had to be off, right? I handed their tickets to the scanner first, and the nonvalid beep sounded.
What could be wrong with the tickets? “They’re for tomorrow night’s show,” the event crew chief said. I couldn’t believe it. The guard said he would try to help. I ran back to the box office and asked for an exchange. “We can work it out as long as you have the credit card you purchased them with.” Wonderful!
Speaking of problem-solving, Jillian understood the situation, and when I returned, she was standing inside by the concession stand. She slipped by the sympathetic security guard, and my cousin was standing by a gap in an unpoliced area where the velvet rope was a foot shy of the wall. The guard turned his back, and I shoved my cousin inside. I handed my ticket to another guard and waved her around like a third base coach with my other arm.
“Are we going to be in trouble?” she asked.
“We have no other option,” I explained. “The show is sold out. We can’t buy tickets. And Jillian has to see McCartney. Who knows when he’ll tour again?”
“Are we going to be able to slip down to the trouble seats by the board on the floor like you said we would?” she asked.
“I think if you two successfully broke into the arena, that’s not going to be a problem.”
Jillian at age 11 was blown away by McCartney’s 38-song set. The good news for Jillian is that she doesn’t have to sneak into Sir Paul’s shows anymore since she has a ticket to ride.
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