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Check Out Samantha Heller’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Heller.

Hi Samantha, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
During the pandemic, I was really bored and really depressed – like literally everyone else on the planet.

I decided to take some time off from school since online music school was, in my experience, completely useless and overpriced. But I still wanted to learn. I didn’t want to waste my time in quarantine just sitting at home and watching Netflix while all my friends were still in school.

So, in December of 2020, I decided to start a little enrichment project. I decided that I was going to listen to a different album every day of 2022 and film a quick review to post on TikTok. This way, I could expand my musical knowledge, improve my writing skills, and learn how to navigate social media. I was expecting this to be a more personal project. I thought my only followers and viewers would be my friends and family.

But the very first video I uploaded for the series blew up. Over the next year, I kept listening and recording my reactions, and people kept watching, suggesting new albums, and some even listened along with me. Through Tik Tok and my album a day project, I developed a little community of fellow music lovers.

That project and the community that came along with it also helped open other doors to new opportunities. For starters, doing those video reviews every day made me realize how much I enjoy writing about music. So, in August of last year, I started writing for Unpublished, independent art and culture magazine.

Through Unpublished, I had the opportunity to take my reviews from my bedroom studio to the big stage. I started doing regular concert coverage, going to some of the most iconic venues in Los Angeles – The Roxy, The Fonda, The Troubadour, etc. To write about some of the brightest up-and-coming indie acts.

This project also inspired me to go back to school. Being a part of an online community, although incredibly rewarding, made me miss being in person. So, once the pandemic began to subside and in-person classes resumed, I transferred to UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

Through school, I’ve been able to expand my knowledge while meeting other people my age with the same passions. And, funny enough, the editor in chief of Unpublished, Rebecca Bloch just so happened to go to UCLA too.

We ended up becoming really close friends as well as coworkers. It was all of these experiences combined – my content creation on Tik Tok, my reviews and artist discovery work with the magazine, and my studies at UCLA – that opened the door to the biggest opportunity yet.

Just this past February, I started at Universal Music Group’s youth creative solutions division, °1824, as a Creator Partnerships Representative. For the past month now, I’ve had the chance to meet so many incredible young professionals, and music industry leaders, and be a part of the biggest music company in the world.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I would say the biggest struggle for me is discipline. All of the things I’ve done have been independent or at least remote. There is no one looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to.

I love the freedom of working independently, but it is a constant struggle to stay focused. I constantly have to check in with myself to ensure I’m working efficiently while still taking care of myself. It’s also a constant challenge trying to manage my time. I am juggling schoolwork, my TikTok reviews, my magazine job, and my label job all at once and it can get overwhelming.

It takes a great deal of work to ensure my schedule is organized so I have time to get all of my work done and still have time to be with my friends and family. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve been able to handle everything so far without completely losing it, so I suppose that’s a good sign.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As a Creative Partnerships rep at °1824, I reach out to different content creators and influencers to work on social media campaigns for UMG artists across all of our labels. Thanks to my own work on Tik Tok, I’ve been able to join my own music community with UMG’s existing roster.

I get to provide some of my best friends with amazing opportunities to work with their favorite artists while effectively promoting each artist’s music to their target fanbase. I also get to meet and work with some of my favorite content creators from other disciplines as well. I get to work with fashion commentators, visual artists, comedians, and more, working with them to promote their work with our music and vice versa.

I’m most proud of my ability to build real relationships with the creators I work with. I try to be more than just a liaison between them and the label. I always make an effort to meet them face to face, whether that’s over coffee or over Zoom. I try to get to know them beyond their online persona, beyond their work.

This way I get to build a strong sense of trust between myself and the creator, as well as between the creator and the label. Working with a label as big as UMG can be intimidating. I do everything I can to ensure that my creators feel heard and respected by the company while feeling like they’re a part of a community.

At Unpublished, I primarily attend concerts throughout the city and write about my experiences. So far, I’ve covered iconic acts such as Peach Pit, Soccer Mommy, Genesis Owusu, Valley, Joywave, and more. I was introduced to my favorite group Magdalena Bay at just the second show I covered. I’ve even had the opportunity to try my hand at concert photography. I photographed Flipturn at their performance at The Troubadour and Wet Leg at their sold-out show at The Fonda.

I’ve also had the opportunity to conduct several interviews with some of my favorite artists. I got to interview Ultra Q on the eve of their “Give Yourself A Friend” EP release, I interviewed Laufey after she recorded with the Philharmonia orchestra. I Interviewed indie-pop duo Boyish backstage at The Echo.

Growing up playing music, and still making music in my free time, helps me to connect with these artists in ways that traditional journalists can’t. I know how nerve-wracking gigs can be. I understand the struggle of writer’s block.

My ability to relate and empathize with some of these artists helps them better trust me, allowing them to feel more comfortable sharing their stories with me.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’m still just a 21-year-old music student. I’m still just a kid. But I’ve been able to build, what I hope is, a strong foundation for my future. I’m still at the beginning but I’m really excited to see where I’ll go from here.

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