I caught up with Megan Page, PR and Marketing Manager for Record Store Day (RSD) and Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA). She is also National Album Day Coordinator.
Could you describe your role and what you do for Record Store Day?
I’m the PR and Marketing Manager for Record Store Day so that means I represent over 200 independent retailers on behalf of Entertainment Retailers Association. For Record Store Day specifically I coordinate the overarching PR, media, marketing and social media campaigns. I work with record labels and their artists to curate exclusive releases, in store PAs, and coordinate the partnership with BBC Sounds.
How did you first get into working in the music industry?
This was my first job after I graduated. I came into the ERA as a graduate having studied linguistics at Kings which is a world away from music. The job was initially advertised as an internship role and I just thought, “that sounds like the most incredible role in the entire world”, so I applied for it. I thought, “there’s no way in hell that I’ll get it and even if I get an interview, it will be brilliant.” I got the role and five and a half years later I’ve worked my way up to running Record Store Day – it’s great!
You’ve obviously really been enjoying it if you’ve stayed that long…
Yeah definitely, we’re a really small team of about six. We’re all women and it’s a very supportive, fun team to be around.
What’s been your steepest learning curve so far?
Confidence. It’s realising that you are capable of doing what you’re doing, getting rid of that imposter syndrome and thinking “I can do this job, I can do it well and I’m qualified enough to be here.” I think it’s really important to get over that hurdle because it can be quite damaging to your job and your outlook. I think getting over that is the biggest thing I’ve learnt to deal with.
How did you overcome that?
I think it all comes with experience and one of the main things I’ve done is to surround myself with lots of other women in similar roles in the industry. I’ve joined quite a lot of networking groups and I’ve got a really good social network of other women that I spend a lot of time with. We share advice and common issues and we give each other opportunities if we hear about them. I think that’s been a real game changer in thinking, “OK, there are a lot of other people out there like me and we can work together to support each other.”
What’s been your favourite moment in your career?
It’s quite a recent one from this year’s Record Store Day. We brought back the reunion of the Mighty Boosh as Record Store Day ambassadors. I think on a personal note that’s got to be one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on – sitting in a room with Noel Fielding and Julian Barret was the most surreal experience. I don’t think I would have ever imagined that that’s something I would have been doing as part of my job. I’m really proud to have made that happen.
It’s really great working with people that really care about the same things that you care about. You’re doing this for a reason. You’re doing this to support an industry that needs your help, so when you get to meet people that you’ve been a fan of for a really long time, but they are also there because they care just as much as you do, I think that’s a really heart-warming moment. With lots of the artists we work with it’s a pinch yourself moment – they actually care about this as much as I do and that’s great.
What else did you enjoy at Record Store Day this year?
One of the great things we do is work with BBC Sounds (previously BBC Music). We used to work really closely with Lauren Laverne and we switched over to Mary Ann Hobbs this year. She did her whole show at one of our record shops – we went up to Jumbo Records in Leeds. She presented her show from behind the counter in the shop and it was a wonderful experience to bring that message home and to hear that on the radio with the till ringing in the background and people turning up and flicking through records. That was a real highlight, not only for the shop, but for all record shops because it represented them and what they do on a daily basis.
What are the main aims of Record Store Day?
Record Store Day was set up about 12 years ago when the future of independent retailers, vinyl and physical music was in decline. The vinyl market share was about 0.1% in 2007, so lots of independent retailers came together and said we need to do something to get people back through our doors. It was a time when independent retailers were closing left, right and centre.
Record Store Day came about as a PR opportunity to celebrate the independent record shop, to talk about the importance of them as cultural hubs in their community, the element of discovery and the joy of buying physical music. Since then it’s evolved into a nationwide event, we’ve gone from five shops to 250 shops taking part.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the amount of stores that are closing slowing down and we’re now seeing new independent record shops opening up again. The number of independent record shops is actually increasing for the first time in about 15 to 20 years. The aim of it now is to keep reminding people who might have never experienced a record shop, or young people who have never walked through and bought a piece of vinyl or a CD, how great it can be. If you visit on Record Store Day and buy one of the limited edition releases, hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience so much that you’ll come back again in a few weeks time when there’s another release that you want. It helps to remind people that there are lots of different ways to consume music and there are lots of wonderful record shops out there on your doorstep that you might not know about yet.
One of the interesting things is that the role of the record shop has changed quite a lot. When you look back on what the record shops would have been like in the 80s and 90s, it was very male dominated and I think a lot of women felt that they could be quite intimidating spaces. One of the things that we’ve really pushed for, and one of the things that’s happening anyway, is young people opening record shops. There’s way more women behind the counter now than there used to be and I think that’s really changing the balance of what the traditional record shop was sometimes seen as. Now it’s becoming a much more inclusive and diverse space that everyone can feel a part of.
Have you ever felt that you’ve faced any challenges as a women in the music industry?
I feel that I’ve been really supported in my role. I’ve got a very supportive female boss and a very supportive female line manager. The whole ERA team is made up of strong, intelligent, switched on women, so within my day to day role I’ve been really lucky. Having a very supportive team has pushed me to do be best that I can be and it’s given me that confidence.
On a personal level, I haven’t faced those challenges and I know I’m really lucky for that. I think there is another real issue in the music industry regarding social mobility and some of the challenges that people from underprivileged backgrounds face. There are too many free or low paid internships which means it only allows a certain type of graduate or young person to break through. The majority of music companies are based in London and it’s not a case of giving your time up for free, but it’s your living and travel costs. More could be done to support people from different backgrounds to get into the music industry. It doesn’t feel like we’ve got equal opportunities yet, but I think things are definitely improving and are going in the right direction.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given throughout your career?
I think it goes back to what I was saying earlier, surround yourself with supportive people, join networking groups, make friends, don’t be a stranger in the industry, don’t be alone and make sure you listen to the advice of people around you. The best thing I ever did was making a group of friends that were all female and all doing similar jobs to me. It’s provided me with invaluable advice and second hand experiences that I wouldn’t have got if I was on my own.
An issue that keeps popping up is young women not seeing enough female role models in the music industry. Are there any people that stand out for you?
I’d have to say my boss, Kim Bailey, who’s headed up ERA for more than 15 years and has seen it through some incredible industry changes from when she took it over. Even now, the music industry is still a very male dominated environment. She’s taught me so much since I’ve been here and she’s been a really supportive female role model.