In a new series amid the coronavirus pandemic, Billboard is asking individuals from all sectors of the music business to share stories of how they work now, with much of the world quarantined at home and unable to take in-person meetings, attend conferences or even go into the office. Submissions for the series can be sent to HowWeWorkNow@Billboard.com. Read the full series here.
This installment is with Gina Tucci, senior vp/GM of Big Beat Records.
Gina Tucci: I have a home office, but my husband also works full time so he uses our official office — and the kids’ homeschooling is in there — and then he built me a cloffice. It’s my closet. I affectionately call it my cloffice studio because my clothing makes great sound-proofing and technically decreases any reverberation and echo of the sound generated in the room. So I have a desk, a laptop, a pair of Yamaha HS8 studio monitors and then a handful of instruments that I play to keep me sharp. My favorite is my tuba, I play that to wake up my kids.
A&Rs in general are very used to working remotely, because you’re traveling a lot and in the studio, so you’re kind of managing day-to-day off your laptop and cell phone anyway. Everything important is on my laptop; there are just so many precious songs on there. My laptop is like my third child. I have my two daughters and my laptop.
I’m finding it really productive when it comes to A&R to just be focusing directly with the artists on the phone or virtual meetings, going through mixes and songs and having the quiet privacy of my house uninterrupted. I have done virtual meetings with all our roster artists. Usually while A&Ring these projects, there’s a natural flow of who’s on the road and who aggressively is working in the studio. Now, with everyone home, all our artists are working aggressively in the studio. They’re all very eager to work, so a lot more records are being made. It’s been nonstop. Literally, I was late to this interview because I was talking to Christian [Karlsson] of Galantis about a song that we’re finishing up.
Everyone’s wheels are turning right now. We’re in a massive test tube of digital marketing and digital A&Ring, and it’s leveled the playing field — there’s just no rule book right now and all ideas are on the table. I’m finding that my staff’s communication with me has increased and ideas are flowing and everyone is super creative and communicative and using all the tools that we have between Microsoft Teams or Slack or Webex. We’ve definitely, I think, picked up momentum and I’m really appreciative for everyone on the Big Beat team’s motivation and passion for just continuing to work hard for our artists.
Myself and the organization overall has stressed work-life balance to everybody working from home. We’ve stressed creating a routine and calling it at the end of the day, shutting down and making sure that you move on in the evening to something you love, then start fresh in the morning. When you’re working from home you can obviously just go into a black hole. [We’re] also really stressing that if you need a day off, take a day off — it’s okay. I can’t express that enough: if you need that time out, take it.
I think the biggest change is that we can’t do in-person writing sessions. I’m finding that because we’re not doing in-person sessions, a lot of writers are digging up songs that they had on their hard drive for a long time and they’re not sure how to finish it and are reaching out to other people to help them along, and vice-versa. It’s the world of collaboration right now, and I think you’re just going to see that more and more.
Before the quarantine, if I found a new artist, I would email them and schedule a call. But because we’re on all these virtual meetings, when I see a new artist now I just naturally get on a virtual meeting. I’ve never done virtual meetings from the get-go with a new artist before, and I love it. It’s one thing I will definitely continue doing. Sometimes you get to see things that you never would, like a piece of artwork hanging on the wall, and get to know each other in ways that a phone call just does not provide.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the relationships that I have built virtually with new artists, writers and producers, but there’s nothing like meeting a new artist you’re interested in and seeing them perform live in-person. Nothing can really replace that.