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Conversations with Laurel Stearns

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laurel Stearns.

Hi Laurel, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Brought up in Southern California (Palm Springs /Los Angeles). My love of music since I was a kid has taken me all around the world, introduced me to so many incredible people, places and experiences. From punk to jazz, metal, alternative, indie, electronic genres, each area of music creates its own defining environment and culture. Feels like a lifetime filled with ice cream of every flavor. Very thankful to be able to follow my passion thoroughly in these communities.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
For the most part, it has been a very smooth ride but there will always be challenges, that’s life. I believe if one follows their passion, even the hard times are just eye-opening lessons and education that we look back on and are thankful for the experience and knowledge. Big lesson;  learn to listen…a lot!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I have been in the music industry since I was 18 years old, dropped out of Otis Parsons school of design to pursue my love of music and its many faces. I didn’t know what I was doing, had no exposure to the business side. Didn’t know anyone in LA when I moved here at 18 years old , let alone anyone in the music industry , just knew I loved being at shows and experiencing music culture. My first paying job was at a rock magazine in LA, I edited on deadlines and interviewed people like Joey Ramone, I stumbled into working in recording studios and learned how important it was to make a great record if you don’t have a great record ,  you don’t have anything. Working with everyone from Bowie to The Pixies to Rod Stewart and Earth, Wind and Fire.  Such a dynamic and intimate experience.

I then segued into artist management, really enjoying working with artists closely in the studio, this path lead me deeper into the whole picture of the business, grew my understanding of how the whole business as artist management is connected to every aspect of a career. I spent many years managing The Descendents, GWAR, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Hagfish, Watts Prophets and others with a partner.

Still very dedicated to my love of live shows, people at major labels started to notice me attending shows at venues everywhere, I was at every show for up-and-coming bands that I personally loved.  From my constant presence at the ‘right’ shows , was then offered a job scouting for Sony, then a full-time position at Capitol Records. I got to bring in artists I believed in, The Decemberists, FischerSpooner, Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, etc… I could apply my studio knowledge and my love of live music to this position seamlessly. After almost ten years at Capitol, I went back into management. My boss and I opened up the Westcoast offices at Redlight, brought The Decemeberists with us, and worked on Chris Cornell’s solo release. The Decemeberists were an important client at RLM for many reasons, one  reason being they were the first indy band to change the musical environment a bit at RLM, as the company was mainly known for jam bands. After a few years, I moved on to build my own roster at Prospect Park w/ Red Fang, Father John Misty, and Jenny O. White Denim that was a short-lived job, I found my current partners of 10 years now at Primary Wave, my current mgmt roster: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, The Album Leaf, U.S. Girls, Red Fang, Christian James Hand aka The Session. I have grown so much at Primary Wave, working on my roster and working on creative with some of our publishing clients like Devo, Leon Russell, Bing Crosby, America ,etc.

If I’m known for anything, I would say a highly curated/specific focus on what I choose to work on. I have never been able to be a cog in the wheel…my punk roots always lend to taking the path of , “I Did It My Way”.

The highlights are the entire journey honestly, getting to follow my passion my entire life.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success is a state of mind and a state of heart. Follow your heart, you will learn and have success, even the hard times will be inspiring once you are through them.

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