When I think of women role models within the music industry, Jade Gaines is one of the first that comes to mind. Known as the “#1 fan turned artist manager,” she not only brings a positive impact to the lives of those around her, but is a voice of reason for many others. If there’s one thing about Jade you can count on, it’s that she will never water herself down. From work, to play, to advocating for the things she cares about most.
Brianna Irvin, Electric Hawk: For those who may not be familiar with you yet, what’s your job title?
Jade: I’m an artist manager and day to day manager for some awesome artists.
B: What artists do you manage/co-manage? How long have you been working in the music industry?
Jade: I manage 1788-L, Chee, and Of The Trees with a co-manager. I also am a day-to-day manager for CharlestheFirst, Eprom, Fise, G Jones, Goldfish, Shades, and Vintage Culture. I’ve been working in management for about 3 years now, but I’ve been working in the music industry for close to 8 years!
Anyone in the music community can recognize that this is an impressive roster. Plus, having a woman lead some of the most significant artists is a huge win. Jade didn’t end up where she’s at without working for it, though.
B: Was being an artist manager your long-term goal when first starting out?
Jade: I honestly never thought I would end up in artist management, as funny as that is. All my previous experience was in the live events world. I always thought I’d stay in that lane because I love the high-stress, high-reward that goes into putting them on. My best friend, Jessica Stadler, worked in management before I did. I remember always telling her “I don’t know how you do that, I can’t imagine myself in that position!” and now here I am.
But deciding to make that jump was the best decision I ever made. I felt like I instantly adapted and easily understood the management world once I got started. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. It just makes sense for me.
B: Did you have a dream job growing up?
Jade: I don’t really know that I ever had a dream job, to be honest. I was someone who didn’t really enjoy school and I’ve always found myself interested in so many different things. Music has always been my biggest passion growing up. When I was younger, though, I didn’t really know how I could turn that passion into a career. At least not without being a musician of some sort, which I definitely am not.
I was naive about the industry and didn’t realize how many different positions and areas contributed to the music industry as a whole until I started getting involved. I always excelled in marketing, however, so that was really where I saw my long-term career ending up.
B: How exactly did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Jade: So I started in the industry doing marketing internships at Beta Nightclub in Denver and at Q Nightclub in Seattle. Then I was hired full-time as the Marketing Manager and Artist Relations Manager at Q. I worked there for a few years and continued to build relationships with people while taking on freelance marketing + social media gigs on the side.
I ended up getting burnt out because I was working at the club 6 days and 4 nights a week. So I quit and worked at Microsoft for a year as a change of pace… but then got bored and started picking up freelance gigs again while still at Microsoft. All of that lead to a friend referring me for a day-to-day/digital marketing position at C3 Management. I ended up getting hired, left Microsoft, and moved to NYC all within a month of time!
B: What are the pros and cons to artist management as a career?
Pros: Literally the most rewarding job you could ever ask for. There simply isn’t anything better than working with so many friends and artists that I genuinely love and care about. I get to help genuinely talented and good people make a living off their art and get the recognition and success they deserve. I wake up every day grateful to be doing what I do.
Cons: It’s extremely hard to set boundaries in this position. It’s something I’ve been working on a lot, especially over the course of the pandemic. There is always work to be done, conversations to be had, people hitting you up needing things at all hours of the day.
It can be really hard to set boundaries for yourself, but also set boundaries for other people having 24/7 access to you all the time. I think happiness is all about the right balance of things in your life. It’s been really important to try and prioritize that for my own mental health.
B: How do you decide if an artist is a good fit for you to manage?
Jade: Obviously making sure that it’s a project you’re invested in and believe in is crucial. I would never work on something that I wasn’t extremely passionate about or didn’t see the long-term vision for. That expands past just loving the music. Really being able to get an idea of the long-term story and goals the artist has for the project. Things are ever-evolving and changing, but being able to see something as a cohesive project is really important.
Next is making sure an artist shares a similar ethos as myself and the rest of our team. Contributing to the greater growth of our community as a whole and making sure fans & the community are a priority will always be a foundation of who I am as a manager and how I work. It has to make sense not only for me, but also for the artist – so it’s important to make sure I fit what they’re looking for and their goals, and make sure that our working styles will mesh too.
B: Who are some of your favorite artists?
Jade: Oof, this is always a hard one! I am all over the place with my music. For electronic music a few of my favorites are Ivy Lab, Bonobo, James Blake, Catching Flies, Clams Casino, Yheti, and Tsuruda (and obviously my artists!!)
B: What’s your favorite festival you’ve attended?
Jade: Shambhala will always be my #1 <3 It’s truly such a magical experience and their bookings are always fire.
B: Being in a male-dominated industry, have you firsthand experienced sexism or gender bias? How do you believe we can overcome that?
Jade: I think it’s unavoidable to deal with that in the industry as a woman, whether you realize it’s happening at the time or not. I’ve definitely dealt with that plenty myself, especially in my younger years. I still deal with it now, but just in a different way. The best way we can combat that is by continuing to hire more women, and not just hiring women to meet inclusivity numbers or as a performative gesture.
That means investing in women across the board.
If a woman candidate for a position might not be as skilled or experienced as her male counterpart, hire her and give her the knowledge and experience to get there. It makes sense that men would have more experience or a following than some women because they’ve typically been given more opportunity or encouragement to get involved in the industry early on.
If we are going to fight disparities in hiring practices and roles, it means we need to do the work to really help make a change that isn’t just surface level.Jade Gaines
Having women in leadership roles where they are encouraged to make decisions and be the change will only benefit companies and people in the long-run. Especially making it a priority to hire and invest in BIPOC women. If anyone has seen the worst side of our industry, it’s women of color. They can give a voice and help create impactful change that is much needed, industry wide. Every year I continue to work in this industry, I see more and more women outwardly interested and working in music, and not conforming to the standard that’s been put on women in the past to hold these types of positions. Women are killing it and we truly love to see it!
B: Who are some of your women role models?
Jade: All of the women I work with or know are my role models! I am constantly inspired by the women around me for so many reasons, and inspired to be better. The strength, talent, and heart of women are incredible.
My best friend Jess is definitely one of my biggest role models. She is genuinely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and works extremely hard. She has a constant desire to keep learning and has been through a lot without letting it turn her cold or harsh, which I deeply admire about her.
B: In only three words, how would you describe yourself?
Jade: Caring, passionate, and anxious 🙂
B: If you could give any advice to other women trying to make it in the music industry, what advice would you give them?
Jade: Don’t give up. It sounds so simple, but it’s easy to get discouraged when it feels like the odds are against you or you’re having a hard time finding your place. It can take some time to get where you want, but you deserve to be here and will get there! There are so many different communities and areas of interest to get involved in and there is no timeline for success or figuring things out.
B: Is there anything you wish you could tell your past self?
Jade: Hmm… I think I would tell my past self to stop trying to change in order to feel like I’m being taken more seriously. Early on in my career, I thought I needed to dress a certain way or tone myself down for people to respect my position or take me seriously. I am a naturally bubbly person and spent a lot of time trying to come off as tough or direct thinking it would change things. I toned down my appearance because there is such a problem with people associating attractiveness or how you dress thinking it reflects whether you’re good at your job or not.
None of these things changed how people treated me in the long run. They didn’t give me an upper hand, and now I’m going to be myself no matter what while still kicking ass at my job. Men’s misogyny is not my problem and I’m not going to adjust myself to make them more comfortable.
B: What has been the biggest challenge and reward of your career so far?
Jade: I think the biggest challenge for me has been finding a work-life balance. I am a workaholic because I genuinely love to work and prove myself, so it’s hard for me to take a step back sometimes. I also genuinely love to help everyone, so sometimes it’s hard for me to make myself not accessible to everyone around the clock, including fans.
The most rewarding so far has been seeing G Jones co-headline Red Rocks. Growing up in Colorado, Red Rocks holds a special spot in my heart. So many of my first and most memorable concerts happened there, so having that moment to see things come full circle really put things into perspective for me. I feel like I was RADIATING that night being with so many friends from home and seeing so much hard work pay off and come to life.
B: How has this last year changed the dynamics of your job?
Jade: It’s mainly shifted my focus on what I’m working on and forced me to create a better work-life balance than I had before, especially living in NYC. Since I handle marketing for pretty much all of our artists, when touring and festivals are happening, I am juggling a ton of different shows at once along with all my other work. This time has allowed me to focus on making sure our foundation is strong and organized, and focus on building out other revenue streams stronger. I was also working under C3 at the beginning of the pandemic, and now our team is about to launch our own new management company that I’ll be a founder of, which is super exciting for me!
And there you have it.
While Jade may be the last feature of International Women’s Month here at Electric Hawk, she is most certainly not the least. In fact, there’s no comparison or ranking at all – these women, all women, stand side by side and shoulder to shoulder. They continue to uplift each other and change the narrative within and outside of the music industry.
As we move forward, it’s imperative that we continue to carry the sentiment of celebrating women beyond this month alone. Just like the wise words of Jade, this means encouraging women, sharing their creative content, giving them opportunities, hiring them, and so much more.
The answer lies within your typical day-to-day actions you normally wouldn’t think twice about. Especially as shows begin to be booked again and the music industry reawakens after a long, dark year, take a moment and ask yourself, “How can I make this crew more diverse?” 99.9% of the time, women and BIPOC will be severely unrepresented. This is something to keep in mind whether you’re booking talent for a lineup, a journalist covering new music, or looking for a photographer to get the best shots of your artist.
Jade Gaines is a shining example of someone who does all of the above and more.
On top of that, she is a flat-out kick ass superwoman artist manager. For someone who has done so much in their career already, we still can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes (and a new management company – HELLO!?) We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with her on such an important topic, and even more so for the permanent positive impact she’s made on our corner on the music industry.
Looking for new music? Keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Updated every Friday with all the latest releases. Whether it’s all your favorite artists, some old-school, or underground…we just want you to hear it.
In addition, March is Women’s History Month. This is an opportunity to celebrate successes and also acknowledge struggles women face across the world. Here are some organizations that promote women’s health, gender equity, workplace equality, community development, and more.