Around The Way Girl: Leah Haselhorst

I’ve always wanted to be my own boss,” is the reason Leah Haselhorst gives us for not going the agency route, post-graduation. The 24-year-old Naperville native moved to Chicago when she was 18-years-old and attended DePaul University where she studied Communication and Media Studies as well as Public Relations and Advertising. While in college she and two friends started Crowdnoize, a former music blog with a HUGE following all over the Midwest. She is now in the midst of launching another startup,  Music Supervision Co., a service that handles sonic identity development for brands and businesses looking to simplify the musical selection process. Her knowledge of the music industry and relentless passion for having her own company makes her someone to watch out for. We decided to learn more about her company as well get advice from her for those who are deciding to start their own business.

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What is Music Supervision Co. and how did it come about?

So, Music Supervision Co. came about when Crowdnoize, which was the old startup I was involved with, was in a weird state. We were in our third year and couldn’t come through on our funding. We decided to put a pause on that and restart. We were all at a critical part in our lives–about to hit the quarter life crisis [laughs]. We were just trying to decide what we were going to do because we all needed to move on in someway. I took the summer to decide where I wanted to go with it. I knew I still wanted to be involved with music but I was unsure about how it was going to fit into a career. That was really bumming me out.

Then I hit up Domingo. It was Domingo, Patrick and I working together previously and I said I wanted to go back to what started off with Crowdnoize, which was basically music blogging. He then let me know that Pat had a similar interest, so I contacted Pat and he let me know what a Music Supervisor was. I had no idea what it was and when I tell people now they look kind of confused.

Basically, it’s someone who does the soundtrack for films classically. We are trying to bring that but as a niche category and for businesses. The music you hear in a lobby when you walk into a hotel sets the mood for the whole atmosphere. There are people behind what makes that happen. There are people that select the playlist for Urban Outfitters and different retail outlets. That’s what we are trying do ultimately. We call those sonic identities. We can also do it for people doing visual media projects. It can apply to a lot of different things. We are trying to keep it broad to see where we fit best.

What is your role with Music Supervision Co.?

We are both founders. I share the responsibilities with Pat. We both contribute posts for the site and reach out to different clients. Right now we are working together as one brain to make it happen. We are trying to make sure it is going in the direction we want it to and keeping it professional.

Right now I’m getting content for our site and making a lot of playlists. On SoundCloud (Music Supervision Co, follow now, your ears will thank you later) that’s all me. I converted my private SoundCloud into the company’s. It has a bunch of playlists from over the years for friends, studying, working out, etc.

Right now it’s just getting the word out and doing a lot of promotions. I started doing the booking at Zella* for the live music nights on behalf of Music Supervision Co. So technically they are our first client, but we haven’t had an official first client and this is to help build it up.

*Zella is a bar in Lincoln Park that Leah also works at until she is able to supplement an income from Music Supervision Co.

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You didn’t go to school for music though…?

[Laughs] NO! But I’ve been cramming entertainment law books down my throat, trying to teach myself about the music licensing process. I’ve been talking to people in the industry. I’ve worked in the music industry but never entertainment law. We are actually consulting with some lawyers to make sure we are doing everything correctly. I went to school for communication and media studies as well as PR and advertising, which has helped a lot so I’m hoping that’s enough to make it through with this.

Are you parents ever worried? You graduated from DePaul, which is one of the best schools for PR and Advertising. I feel like that school shoves Ogilvy or Leo Burnett down your throat.

Oh my gosh you’re so right!!

Wouldn’t it have been easier to get a job at one of those agencies?

You’re so right and I’ve thought that so many times. I tried taking the corporate route. I took tours, researched internship programs and talked to my friends working in corporate. My friends were so excited but I never felt the same excitement they had. I understood why they wanted to work in an agency, but I always wanted to be my own boss. When you start in an agency you are everyone’s bitch. You are at the bottom of the totem pole and it takes so long to work your way up. I couldn’t even fathom the idea, especially feeling so great after graduation and all of my accomplishments. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss. Even starting at Zella when I was low on the totem pole, I hated being entry level status. My parents have always been so supportive of me. Even with Crowdnoize. They were interested, but never pried every step of the way. I would update them as necessary. As long as I was happy and making money other ways they were just super proud of me regardless. My mom is hella proud of me right now.

How do you keep your sanity and motivation? It can be quite difficult trying to launch your own business and still having to work your side hustle in order to support yourself.

Oh, I know you’re a hustler! [laughs] It’s definitely hard, especially when you’re nocturnal. Trying to get enough sleep and live a healthy lifestyle is hard. Honestly, music alone helps motivates me. If I’m feeling unmotivated in the morning I just go on a bunch of music blogs and see what I can find to get me out my funk. Also, yoga and cycling are huge for me. I can do like twenty minutes of quick and easy yoga at home for it to change my attitude. Of course my friends keep me sane, wine nights, just the support. I surround myself with really good people so its easy to be creative.

Chicago’s music scene is great and continually growing, but why not start off in a city like New York, L.A., or Austin that has a huge music scene? Any plans to branch out?

Music Supervision Co. is trying not to stay in one region. Although we are from Chicago, love Chicago and represent artists from here, we are still trying to branch this out on an international scale. A lot of work can be done from virtually anywhere. We are planning to reach different demographics.

That said, Austin is amazing. If I were to move anywhere outside of Chicago it would be Austin. I went for SXSW. I felt like it was a little slice of Chicago. The bands in Austin are amazing. I’m not ready to leave Chicago though. It will be at least another ten years, I’d say. It’s nice when you have your contacts here. I’m sure you know what I mean, you know the roads, you know who to look to and you never feel alone. There’s something to be said too, about testing your limits and moving somewhere else.

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Where do you see the future of Music Supervision Co. and how do you expect to get there?

Right now I see a lot of little jobs to get ourselves out there. We have a couple clients lined up, fitness studios…we are reaching out to cafés and such right now. We know right now we are going to have to offer some services for a lower price, but it’s just so we can work our way up to where we can work with bigger businesses, especially ones with franchises. I see huge things. What we are doing is something businesses are thinking about more.

What advice would give your 20-year-old self?

Hmm…that’s so crazy. I feel like I have changed so much in four years. I would say to stop caring so much about what people think. I used to care so much. I always thought all eyes were on me, but people aren’t looking at you as much as you think they are. Don’t censor yourself.  Surround yourself with people that you love–DON’T SETTLE for what the world wants for you or expects you to do. Especially with our generation. Even if it means you’re broke as hell. I’ve been broke before  and I’ve been super happy because I’m doing what I want. [laughs]

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As a woman on the other side of the music and media industry and not on the artist side, do you ever feel like you’ve been discriminated against as opposed to male music journalists?

Yes, I have. Especially when I started out. It was really hard to get some of the press and media credentials that my male counterparts were getting. It was pretty ridiculous because I was looking at some of the blogs they were writing for and I thought Crowdnoize was so much better. I felt objectified and that I wasn’t getting respect. I always had to hustle to get backstage to interview the artists when I should have been welcomed. I’ve also had to deal with artists or bands that fell through for interviews or gigs. It’s really disappointing. You learn from the mistakes and failures though and you know you can’t let that shit happen again.

Your partner for Music Supervision Co. is a male. Do you see differences on how you approach businesses or clients?

Definitely. But I love the way Pat approaches people because he is so chill. He is very put together and confident and has taught me a lot about networking and pitching ideas. I used to think networking was intimidating, but he taught me it’s just talking to people and and sparking a similar interest in the conversation. I do think we have different communication styles, but we balance each other out and he is so respectful of me. I love him like a brother. We’ve known each other five or six years now and he’s always been there for me. He’s helped me out with my problems and I’ve helped him. We’ve traveled together and that’s how you really get to know someone.

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Alright, lastly, tell us your favorite thing about Chicago!

Ohhhhhhh…my favorite thing about Chicago….Smart Bar. It’s just always there when you want it. Even on Sundays.

Be sure to check out Music Supervision Co.’s site here. It is updated daily with new music that should be added to your rotation. Follow them on Twitter @musicsuperco and follow Leah on Instagram @leahhasel

XO,

Ariel

{Know an Around The Way Girl we need to to get in touch with? Let us know in the comment section below!}

6 thoughts on “Around The Way Girl: Leah Haselhorst

    1. Easy? Maybe. I don’t think she’s knocking Leo Burnett, but if she’s always had a start-up mentality I can see why agency life isn’t for her. You should read our previous Around The Way girl who is actually in more of a corporate PR structure.

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    2. I don’t think any route is going to be the easy route, unless you have connections. It’s not easy to get a job at Leo Burnett, but it also is not easy to go against what society, parents and the college system expects of graduates.

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    1. I don’t think she’s knocking Zella–it’s hard for many companies to start-up and she’s trying to use the resources she currently has. The second part where she talks about hating Zella when she first started, I think has to do less about the people she works with and her job, but she was getting the shitty shifts. She’s been with company for over two years now and she’s very lucky to have a manager who is helping her get to the next phase of her life, instead of being like “hey, you want a start your own business, figure it out on your own.” I don’t think providing a photo of the average salaries of Leo Burnett employees is going to make her change her mind anytime soon!

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    2. I would like to state that I am in NO WAY throwing my work under the bus. I have never slammed my place of work on social media, and never will. I didn’t “hate” Zella…I hated my entry level status. But, as life teaches us, we must start somewhere. I love my jobs with my whole being, and I feel sorry for those who can’t say the same thing.

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