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Meet Jen Hartry of CatBeach Music in South Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Hartry.

Jen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I ventured into adulthood, as many others do, leaving my college experience behind, without much clarity about what I wanted to actually do with my life. I graduated from Cal Poly – SLO with a degree in Social Science emphasizing in organizational behavior, but I really wasn’t sure how to translate my true passions into a career. I grew up with a love for music and storytelling and people – my idea of a perfect day was sitting outside getting lost in a book or listening to music with friends. It never occurred to me that these extracurricular activities could become the foundation for my life.

I spent a couple of years post-college jumping around from job to job until I found myself working for a non-profit independent record label in Orange County. The majority of the revenue from record sales went to helping underprivileged and disenfranchised people around the world through various programs. It was my dream job! During my three years there, I worked in project management and publishing. I realized then that I love to be a part of something from the beginning to the end, working with teams of creatives in every area. By the time our albums were released, I felt like they were my babies as much as the artists themselves! I also began what has become a lifelong education in publishing – a foundation was built on the importance of content development, copyright and distribution. It is a very complex and dynamic business arm – one that requires continuous learning as the markets develop and change. These primary years in the music industry were formative…in many ways, I had found the things that I was created for.

Unfortunately, a few years after I started, the president of the company lost his battle with cancer, and I ended up leaving shortly after he passed away. I found myself in another ‘perfectly-suited’ situation, working for a magazine publishing company, There for nine years, I was a production manager on a team for 32 nationally distributed monthly magazines, again drawing on my ability to oversee projects from beginning to end and working amidst a multi-functioning team, including editors, designers, photographers, advertisers, printers, and distributors.

Fast forward a few years after that, and I found myself married to the love of my life – Bobby Hartry, a guitar player/songwriter/producer and I was looking to make a change from my then current role as the Communications Director for a mega church. My husband and I were itching to make something of our own. To build something. We had a small collective of musicians, artists and songwriters that we were already working with…we just knew it was time to risk by going out on our own and it was time to invest in the people that we worked with. And so, CatBeach Music was born.

A boutique record label, CatBeach Music is a collective of our friends and colleagues. We make music together. And we share it. We work together to put good things out into the world. We love the songs and albums and videos and content that we’ve developed, but mostly, we are proud to work alongside our artists. They are incredible people that we know and care for. We want the best for them and work hard to help them navigate the music industry.

Today we find ourselves with a growing family as we adopted our baby girl Nova, who is now a very busy 17-month old toddler. Pre-COVID, she was right in the middle of our recording sessions, and she would make appearances at live-performance house parties. These days, we find ourselves hunkered down a bit more, focusing on Zoom-writing meetings, remote recording sessions, and updating infrastructure necessities like our catalog database and studio upgrades. We’re holding on to the fact that music still has a place in culture and society and that we will all be able to enjoy it together again soon!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ah. It has not been a smooth road. There have been twists and turns and many bumps – most of which I’ve felt as the proprietor of CatBeach.

Perhaps my biggest struggle has been learning to self-motivate and lead. I am used to working for strong managers and leaders and I work well under an organized structure and hierarchy. Developing the internal drive to keep moving forward in an ever-changing and challenging industry has taken work and determination and creativity. I feel like about once a month I have to remind myself that I’m running the show and people are looking to me for direction and focus!

It’s also been tough to navigate the sensitive nature of relationships with artists. As a company, we really want to provide the best services and most advantageous agreements to our artists that we can. We truly invest in them and develop real lasting and deep friendships with them. Over the years, there have been a couple of deals that fell apart and it was painful. We had poured into those relationships and when the business agreements crashed and burned, it felt like we were going through a nasty breakup. It took me some time to recover and to step out in trust and welcome new artists into our little music family after that.

And the last thing I’ll say is that being a Mama while also running a company is No Joke! This season requires organization and delegation and presence in every way. And grace. Lot’s of grace.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about CatBeach Music – what should we know?
The full picture of CatBeach Music shows a boutique and curated independent record label with a songwriting, publishing and licensing wing. We focus on indie artist development and licensing songs to TV and film. We have great relationships with video editors and music supervisors in Los Angeles and they know they will find indie rock, pop, Americana and singer-songwriter songs, recorded by the best musicians in the industry, and produced with creativity and thoughtfulness.

The driving motto for our company and our artists is to be highly skilled at what we do, to stay focused, to keep it easy, and Be Nice! We take pride in the relationships we have and the music we make together. That is the foundation and it really is what sets us apart.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I love to achieve. Getting things done gives me a certain kind of high. And I can create that high by simply checking things off of a list.

SO, the trick for me is to stay focused on where I want to go and to construct boundaries when other agendas move in and steer me off course. Saying ‘no’ is difficult for me, but critical!

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Image Credit:

Trever Hoehne

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