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Meet Ashley Daily of Carve in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Daily.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
So right now, I’m starting a music company that aims to treat artists well, but I actually wanted to play professional tennis. I started playing tennis when I was three, it was my passion. I wanted to inspire young girls to accomplish their dreams just like I was intent on doing. I turned down my four-year college options to go to Moorpark College, the local community college, in order to develop my game and play semi-pro tournaments, in order to be recruited by a D1 school. After a lot of hard work in school and on the court, I got into USC’s Marshall School of Business, and I was invited to walk onto the women’s tennis team. At this point it was the winter of 2016, I was 19 when I committed to USC. I transferred at the start of spring semester 2017 to start on what I thought was the next step towards professional tennis. My excitement was uncontainable. I always knew I would be an entrepreneur in some way, business has always been intriguing to me, but it was usually tied to tennis.

About a month in, things got funny. I knew something was off and I had a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to be playing tennis at USC much longer. The coaches were slightly unresponsive to my attempts at ascertaining my practice schedule and my counselors didn’t know I was on the team. I was worried to say the least! Then I got called into the team office for a meeting with the head coach, assistant coach, and our practice partner. The other girls on the team were asked to leave. I sat there, and before any words exchanged, I knew it was over. “Ashley, we have something to tell you,” he said. I prepared myself for the inevitable. “You are no longer going to be part of the team, we are sorry. I can’t tell you exactly why. I don’t think we’ll be able to bring you on in the fall either. Or while you study at USC. I’m sorry.”

It is likely you’ve experienced loss and heartbreak. If you haven’t, you will. That’s not a discouraging fact, I might add. It is a sign of your humanity and your ability to be brave. It takes courage to love something or someone enough to feel pain. Let me say, though, this pain I had never felt before. It was incomparable to any other experience thus far in my 19 years. It felt like my world was shattering into little pieces right in front of my eyes. My heart broke. Not once, but over and over and over again for the next two years. Like waves crashing on the sand during a storm, it broke violently, showing no mercy… I stood up, thanked the coach for his time, and moved myself out of the team room. I unlocked my bike, swung my leg up, and stopped breathing. My mind went blank. Tears started to form in my eyes. Where do you go, what do you do, who do you turn to after your hopes, dreams, aspirations, purpose, plans vanish into thin air? I biked to the baseball fields, directly behind the tennis stadium, parked, and sat down in a chair overlooking home base. And then I cried. For a long time.

I’m a Jesus girl, I love Jesus more than I love anyone or anything. Sometimes Jesus and I get into fights, sometimes I do what he asks me not to do, sometimes I put other things before him, we have problems just like any other relationship does. But he loves me more than anyone ever will, and because he first loved me, I love him. It’s safe to say that, as I sat there above the baseball field, I felt like he had tricked me into believing he was good. How could a good God let me dreams fall apart after I entrusted them to his care? The combination of my dreams being torn from me a few minutes ago, and my brain wanting to immediately solve this situation and overcome, and the sheer volume of water coming from my eyes, left me feeling a deep, hollow, empty ache. But I did not feel alone. I knew God was with me at that moment, just like he had always been with me, and that made me angry. “Why did you just let this happen? Why did you bring me to USC? Is this all some sick joke? How could you, I trusted you.” Then, as I sniffled and choked and watched my little world fall apart, Jesus whispered, “I am not done, this is just your beginning.” Man, God is so faithful looking back. An older man walked up to me at this moment, undoubtedly seeing my state of disarray. He plopped down next to me and told me, before I said a word, that God loved me and whatever was happening was not too big for Him–I could trust Jesus to redeem my pain as purpose. I told him what happened, in between sobs, and he sat there listening to me. He prayed for me and encouraged me not to give up. He even came up with an impromptu physical fitness schedule so I could keep training. This man hadn’t been on campus for 30-some years, but just so happened to be there that day at the baseball fields.

I tried practicing through the semester on my own… I mean, it was either that or quit SC in favor of moving home again and training. I was at USC for a reason, so I opted to stay. I hung around the practice courts on campus and found a few hitting partners and a couple of coaches who agreed to coach me for free. I developed a practice schedule in between classes, I did all my own conditioning, and I refused to give up. After months of doing my best to keep my game up, and keep up with business school, and stay in touch with the women’s team’s coaches (just in case some miracle turned my situation around), I started to burn out. My belief in that childhood dream of professional tennis started dying, and I allowed it to. Something inside of me told me it would be okay. The week I was kicked off, I went home to Thousand Oaks and grabbed my little sister’s old guitar. My little sister and brother are both insanely gifted singers, and my cousins are all multi-instrumentalists. I am more of a Taylor Swift type. I had been re-learning to play guitar for fun in my spare time before attending USC. I love writing songs and singing, but simply for the enjoyment of doing so. The guitar and I made it back to USC, and I learned to play a bunch of worship songs. I couldn’t physically talk to Jesus about what was happening because it was too painful to recall, all the while knowing he was allowing it to happen, so I learned to talk to him through lyrics and melodies. Music often explains pain in a way words cannot. So I learned to praise God, but this time my praise came from a place of deep, fierce pain. I learned to praise God through my depression, through my less-than-kind roommates, through my loneliness in adjusting to life away from home, through my bike being stolen twice (I shortly thereafter switched to skateboarding), through family drama and broken relationships, through taking on financial burdens and liabilities, through my uncharacteristically low grades and then, through a random academic integrity violation which sent me spiraling into suicidal tendencies. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and while standing on a ledge on top of the cinema school building, contemplating what it would be like to free-fall, Jesus met me again. As I stood there, an elderly man walked out onto the balcony with a newspaper and took a seat. He didn’t say a word, simply read his paper. Then I felt the wind swirl up around me and Jesus whispered again, “This is not the end of your story. I am with you, I will redeem this.” I stepped off and cried. The elderly man got up and left. Again, I climbed up on the ledge, and again a second, differently elderly man came out with a magazine and plopped down. Again the wind swirled, Jesus spoke to me, and I climbed down. I resolved in that moment to trust his plan moving forward, even though I did not understand. Now, I am building a music company that will go on to change the music industry for the better, influencing culture for the betterment of the artist. It’s not about me anymore, it’s about loving other people well.

I went on to take an internship my best friend set me up with, coincidentally at a music video production studio, the summer I quit tennis. I loved the work but the people weren’t all that great (go figure). Then I took a job at a tech startup, and the people were incredible, but the work was not where my heart was. I started making friends with some kids in music, and shortly after hearing about some pretty treacherous experiences in the music industry, and finding a shortage of good people involved with labels (labels are not bad, not all people in music are bad, these were just my experiences), I decided to start using my entrepreneurial skills and business knowledge to build a music company that, simply put, treats artists well. During my tech internship, I shot off a cold email that resulted in a meeting with a sound engineer who gave me a start, a composer who showed me the ropes and helped develop my strong leadership abilities, and then my business partner who had a similar vision to mine. Now it’s September 2019 and I’m 22 years old, I’ve graduated SC, I live in Santa Monica with my best friend Stephy, and Carve is about to release it’s first track, with subsequent releases to follow. I don’t know how everything is going to work out, but I trust God. He is faithful, time and time again. We’ll see what happens 🙂

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Carve story. Tell us more about the business.
We don’t shy away from development. We simply want Carve to do the things artists need it to do. We choose who we work with, and we don’t feel the need to put Carve into a neat little box. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, and the results of our efforts will speak for themselves.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Oooooo I love this question. This question is what sparked my interest in the music industry, which seems to always change and never change at the same time. Music changes, and often times sets off culture shifts itself, but the actual business of record labels, old Hollywood, hustling to get music out, etc. hasn’t undergone much innovation. In the last 10 years, especially in the last 5, we’ve seen label services companies emerge in an effort to give creators more control. We’ve also seen digital distribution companies offer services traditionally only offered by labels,which is great for independent artists. I see traditional labels shifting gears, trying to emulate label services companies. This will take some time because rebranding/shifting company culture in favor of artists is no small feat. I also see more entrepreneurs jumping into the music industry from non-traditional entertainment backgrounds, causing others to do the same. This will be really cool because it brings diversity and innovation, both in a physical and mental sense. I’m excited to see what happens 🙂

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