Emmy Levine is a junior at Drexel who created her own major, music industry and psychology, in an effort to improve the lives of teenagers and now travels the nation working for music festivals.
The Triangle: What’s your story? What brought you to Drexel?
Emmy Levine: I came to Drexel as a communication major wanting to do [public relations] for other people’s bands. Then I decided I wanted to be the one signing bands and paying other people to do their PR, so I changed my major. It was a lot of work to start my own program and override classes that are traditionally closed, but it was worth it to get to do what I love.
TT: What is your major now?
EL: I made my own major through the Pennoni Honors College: music industry and psychology. I want to learn the music business but also how I can use concerts and bands to improve the lives of teenagers.
TT: What’s your involvement with the current music scene in Philadelphia and around the country?
EL: I’m currently not involved much with the Philly music scene. It’s fantastic and I wish I had more to do with it, but sometimes the local scene feels more exclusive and that can be intimidating to me. I like working on the national level more because I can meet new people on my own terms. My favorite thing is working for festivals. This year I’ve done [CMJ Music Marathon] in New York City, Skate and Surf [Festival] in New Jersey, Vans Warped Tour, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, The Virgin [Mobile Free] Fest in Maryland and SXSW in Austin, Texas. This summer I’ll be working Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.
TT: Do you work for a specific band? If so, what are your responsibilities?
EL: I don’t work for a specific band right now because finding the right one is hard and I’m really picky. I have managed bands in the past, been on tour, booked concerts and lots of other fun jobs though.
TT: How did you first begin working in the music industry?
EL: I got involved by networking. It’s a dirty word, but I really believe in being nice and working hard to help everyone you can. Eventually it comes back to you. I got started by volunteering for Warped Tour in 2012. After the tour, my friend needed someone to sell [merchandise] for his band in Boston. I made the trip and kept in touch, and then later became their manager. Things took off from there.
TT: What’s your favorite venue?
EL: My favorite venue is the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., where I grew up. It was my second home in high school and now I work there. It’s currently [one of] the top rated [venues] in Rolling Stone Magazine. Everything is fantastic there; things just work the way they’re supposed to. I’m so spoiled, but I guess that’s why my standards are so high now.
TT: Do you have any crazy road trip stories after traveling to all of these venues?
EL: I just got home from being stranded in Austin. I was working a VIP section for a record label showcase and got my carry-on from my flight stolen by a gypsy. I managed to get home with a police report as ID but I still have no cell phone, laptop, wallet, keys or ID. It sounds silly, but the thing I want back the most is my keychain of All Access badges from every show I’ve ever worked at. It was very sentimental to me.
TT: Are there any negative aspects to working so many venues?
EL: You have to give up your life and that’s rough sometimes. It means no sleep, spending weeks on the road in vans with smelly boys and no showers. You make incredible friendships in cities across the country, and anytime you’re not with those people, it’s heartbreaking. A lot of the people you meet are also incredibly nasty or difficult to work with. It also doesn’t make you any money. There’s a big misconception that bands and music business workers are rich. Unless you’re winning Grammys, you’re eating off the dollar menu. This world has introduced me to some of the worst people I’ve ever met but also the best. Ultimately, the sacrifices just have to be worth it to do what you love. No matter how much it hurts, it’s always worth it.
TT: What’s the next step for you?
EL: I’m about to go into spring-summer co-op at RCA Records (SONY) [arts and repertoire] division. This means signing and recruiting bands. It’s the fun and important job at a label.
TT: What are you involved with outside of your work?
EL: Not much, honestly. I like to run and cook healthy food, and I try to read when I can, but work is first. I’d like to be involved in more, but this is what I love. It’s why I wake up everyday.
TT: What is your favorite thing to do in Philly?
EL: My favorite thing to do in Philly is to go to shows, duh! That or run student events. I work for the homecoming show every year and I love how it bridges my life as a student with my career.
TT: If you could trade places with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be and why?
EL: Preferably any well-known performer in the hardcore-alternate rock scene that has a lot of kids come out to shows. I’m definitely a behind-the-scenes person, but being onstage with a band that attracts teenagers would really help me understand how to help them more and link that into a career.
Triangle Talks is a weekly column that highlights members of the Drexel community.