BABE #77: BRANDY CERNE,
Assistant Director @ Sofar Sounds - NYC
Brandy found us after one of our previous Babes mentioned loving Sofar Sounds (how cool is that?!) She originally reached out to us to nominate her entire team of fellow Sofar babes one-by-one to be featured... which is precisely when we knew we wanted to feature her! As Assistant Director for Sofar (Songs From a Room) NYC, she wears about a million hats in addition to overseeing booking and artist relations. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Brandy! Keep being a babe.
(Stay tuned for a special offer from Sofar Sounds at the end of this interview!)
Hometown: Canton, Ohio
Current city: New York City
Alma mater: University of Notre Dame
Degree: B.S in Marketing
What was your very first job? Snack bar at a fitness center pool.
Hustle: Assistant Director @ Sofar Sounds - NYC
Babe you admire and why?
There are so many to choose from, but to stay in the music realm: two all-female bands I love are Dixie Chicks and Hinds. Both are super talented, but I admire other aspects of them the most. Dixie Chicks speak their minds unapologetically and stand up for what they believe in. Hinds is a band much newer on the scene who I see having so much fun with their music and at their shows, which is super refreshing and reminds us not to take everything so seriously.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Pesto, beer and pickles.
Favorite beauty item?
Fresh air and sunshine!
Favorite social media account to follow?
I spent a few months working in hostels and I miss it, so live vicariously through @hostelworld.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
Our national parks out West. I've been craving some nature while living in the concrete jungle!
MØ, Arcade Fire, Belle & Sebastian, Fleetwood Mac, Otis Redding, LCD Soundsystem, to name a few...
Abba, although I feel minimal guilt.
Tell us about your hustle:
I oversee booking and artist relations for Sofar NYC. Sofar Sounds is a global music community that hosts intimate secret living room gigs in 350 cities, across dozens of countries and cultures. The NYC chapter is one of the biggest, and we’re putting on 60+ intimate gigs per month. Each show features three artists, so that means I’m in communication with and booking hundreds of artists, from local talent to touring bands. I also work on our social media and other local marketing.
What was the application and interview process like for your current role?
I started off as an ambassador on the side. Sofar NYC is made up of over 200 ambassadors now, but at the time I joined we were a small team, so I also pitched in for projects like developing social media strategy. Right when I was returning from my travels last spring, this full-time role magically opened up! It was perfect timing, and I couldn’t think of any other role I’d love more.
What's your work environment/office culture like?
Picture lots of snacks (pretzel addicts), gossip, loud music and occasional glasses of wine at noon. It’s a fun space where we work hard but also take necessary breaks to have fun, and we even do a daily plank (complete with a Beyonce soundtrack of course).
How would you describe the dynamic of working alongside seven other women?
Because of our ambassador program, many of us were friends before working together. It’s amazing to have a support system of 7 women, and we all want to lift each other up and support our separate interests. It’s always interesting when personal and work relationships are intertwined, but we all navigate it quite deftly, and I far prefer it to a more traditional workspace. Sofar truly is a community of people around the world. One of my favorite sayings, is “a rising tide lifts all boats”, and I see that in the way we support our ambassadors and our artists, and vice versa. It’s a good philosophy for women working together as well, when so often the competitiveness from a previous lack of opportunities is still ingrained in society.
How would you say being a woman has affected your professional experience?
I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve felt only support so far in my career. But I do see how a lot of the music industry is dominated by men, either behind the scenes or with the amount of supported male artists. One of our priorities while booking shows is to have as diverse of lineups as possible, whether its sex/gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We’ve done several all-female lineups for occasions like International Women’s Day, and we’re doing a show at The Center in June with all LGBTQ+ artists. As a woman on an all-female team, we understand the importance of supporting all people.
How has your career evolved over time? Did you ever think you would be where you are now?
Not at all! I’m a strong believer in trusting my gut, and not trying to plan too far ahead. You never know what opportunities are going to present themselves, so it’s best to remain open, and be constantly checking in with yourself to see how you feel and what you’re desiring more of at that point in your life. I couldn’t have predicted any of this when I was in college, but I’ve loved all my jobs.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
I’ve heard several times that working for Sofar is “glamorous,” which always makes us laugh. When you’re putting on 60 mobile shows each month, many of which are in your own office, there’s a lot of taking out the trash, lugging tapestries from place to place, moving furniture, and quickly eating dinner in a corner before the show starts. We definitely have a fun time, but glamorous, this is not!
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
A big one is dealing with cancellations, whether by artists or venues. Sometimes our shows can seem informal, but a lot of planning goes into each one, and if one thing is thrown off last minute, it can create a lot of extra work and stress. By now, I have a list of dedicated, hard-working last-minute artists who are my go-to's to text at 7pm asking if they can fill in within an hour - they make my life so much easier!
Dream artist you’d love to book for a show?
My two favorite artists are Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks. They played together at the CMAs, so I’m holding out for them playing together at Sofar. In the meantime, we did a Beyonce-themed show with some covers in support of the 1 year anniversary of Lemonade ;)
What’s your favorite show or artist you’ve worked with so far?
The entire Sofar NYC community is obsessed with local NYC sibling act BAILEN, who’ve played 15+ shows for us. Harmonies for days.
What motivates and inspires you?
At Sofar, I want to give a stage to musicians who deserve it. I see so many hard-working, talented musicians who haven’t had their big break yet for whatever reason, and Sofar is a community that can help them along the way. I also love introducing guests to artists we think are talented and might not get in front of them otherwise.
How do you find a work-life balance?
I had a former colleague who used to refer to the new work order as not a work-life balance, but a work-life flow, and I especially see that with this position. In working at a startup that puts on events, I have to be “on” 24/7. I’ve found that I need to carve out time where I’m not going to check my email or be plugged in, and to be at peace knowing that I may miss something, but someone else will pick it up. It’s necessary in order to not be overwhelmed by it all. Being able to work from anywhere means that I’ve been able to travel more, and readjust my days and work schedule to fit when I have the most energy and will be most productive, which has been amazing. I wish more companies would adapt to this and offer more flexible travel time and work-from-home hours to their employees; I really believe it’s a better, more efficient and productive situation than being stuck in an office from 9-6.
What are some notable (funny, embarrassing, intense) experiences you’ve had on the job?
I actually met my boyfriend through Sofar, and I’m not the first person that’s happened to! He’s one of our ambassadors and audio engineers, and we met working a show together last year. We did a series of Sofar love stories leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, featuring couples that met as ambassadors, artists, and as guests.
What’s next for you?
Who knows?!? And I like it that way.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Don’t think that your first career step will determine your entire career. Remember that life is long, and we have many chances to start over or take a different turn.
In partnership with: Sofar Sounds
Attend a Sofar show in your city! Sofar shows are apply-only, but Brandy and the Sofar team have hooked us up! Starting today, our BWH readers can exclusively 'skip the line' with this guaranteed entry code when purchasing tickets: BABESWHOHUSTLE-3781E. Sign up here!