New-York based Hadley Spanier is Head of Global Brand Marketing and Artist Relations at Yousician – an online music learning programme that teaches basic playing techniques and musical notation. Think of it as a personal music tutor for the digital age.
Prior to joining Yousician, Hadley served as Head of Marketing at Verve Label Group (a division of Universal Music Group), overseeing campaigns for Andrea Bocelli, Max Richter, and more. As Head of Marketing at RPM Productions, she worked across all aspects of marketing and digital initiatives for Tony Bennett and also led the campaign for Tony and Lady Gaga’s No. 1 Grammy-award winning album, Cheek to Cheek. Other notable artists gracing Hadley’s CV include: Pearl Jam, Bette Midler, and Ozzy Osbourne.
We connected with Hadley to discuss her experiences within the music industry and learn more about her 9 to 5. (And, no, she hasn’t worked with Dolly Parton – yet!)
How do you start your days?
Yousician is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, and the Brand Marketing team is based in NYC. With the seven-hour time difference, I start meetings at 7AM or 8AM, sometimes with my son on my lap eating his breakfast.
What’s your go-to uniform?
At home, it’s all about comfort and simplicity. For in-person work, I gravitate to all-in-one options like dresses or jumpsuits, and I’m looking forward to getting dressed for the office again.
Describe your workspace/ workplace…
Simple, uncluttered, and quiet.
Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why)…
I really value the ever-present humanity that’s emerged in our remote workspaces during the pandemic. We were always navigating our kids, pets, relationships, self-care, and mental health, but operated under the assumption that exposing those parts of our lives would be judged as unprofessional. I believe that sharing our humanity has created stronger, more connective bonds with colleagues, and it’s reframed how we’ll think of each other as whole people in the workplace moving forward.
What are your workplace essentials?
Laptop for portability with a monitor for multi-tasking. Wireless keyboard and mouse. Notebook and pencil. And lots of water.
What time of day are you at your most creative?
At night, when my mind has more freedom from the demands of the day.
What’s your go to lunch order?
All kinds of salads, either made at home or from go-to’s like Sweetgreen and Breads Bakery.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
Last summer I passed a group of teenage friends jamming together on the street, testing the waters as a newly formed band. Curious about their motivations and experiences, I struck up a conversation between songs. It turns out that by interacting with the Yousician brand online, they were inspired to pick up instruments and learned to play using the platform. Putting something into the world is exciting, and the reward comes when you see it has reached a real person and made a tangible impact in their lives. Inspiration is a circular force, so that feedback loop is essential.
And the most challenging?
For myself and our New York-based team, it’s been interesting to learn about and navigate within Nordic work culture. It’s a challenge we welcome.
What did you study in school/ university?
I studied Marketing because it was, and continues to be, deeply interesting to me. A professor once described marketing as applied social psychology and from there, I was hooked.
Where are you from originally?
I’ve lived across the country, but mostly grew up in Pennsylvania.
What was your first job?
Growing up, my dream job was to become the CMO of Gap, so I figured the first step was to work in a store, and so I did. My aspirations shifted, but I remain an expert folder to this day, so consider it to have been a valuable experience.
What first sparked your interest in music?
I went to all kinds of shows throughout my childhood and always found myself most drawn to what was happening behind the scenes, thinking about what it took to stage a performance, or the personal side of working with artists.
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
My mom is wickedly smart, hard-working, and loves what she does. Since becoming a mother myself, I appreciate how she navigated her career and family life with a knack for shifting her full attention depending on the setting. It’s invaluable for children to have female role models who work hard in their professional endeavors and are also able to set it aside and focus on home. I got that with my mom and model it in my own life now.
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in the earlier stages of your marketing career?
At the very first stage as an assistant, the hurdle was understanding my current role in the greater context of my career trajectory. I didn’t go to school to answer phones or schedule meetings, but that’s not the point of entry level jobs in the music industry. It’s all about your attitude, drive, and what you can pick up from what’s swirling around you. I tell everyone wanting to enter the business the same thing: learn how to do what’s being asked of you extremely well and with genuine enthusiasm. I believe success is largely a function of personality, emotional intelligence, and drive, and has less to do with specific, learned skills.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Everyone, at every level, is continuously learning. Keeping this in mind allows grace and provides confidence when working with colleagues at all experience levels, including executives.
A career highlight…
Facilitating meaningful connections is powerful for everyone involved. Whether it’s connecting fans with the artists they love, or a consumer with a product that solves a need, it’s my role to create the bridge, and then step back so they can engage directly. Any time I can make that happen, it’s a highlight, because it feeds everyone involved in such profound ways.
The best advice you’ve ever received…
My high school soccer coach was a fantastic mentor with inspiring guidance. He prepared us for the next soccer match, sure, but instilled in us qualities that we’d take into adulthood. He was coaching for the long game. Here are some lessons that particularly resonated:
- Harness your individual talents and competitive spirit to achieve success as a team.
- Never cut corners and always sprint through the finish line.
- When you’ve committed to climbing a mountain, reach the top before taking in the view. In other words, learn to appreciate and love the journey. And on that journey, play each minute to your best ability.
What are you working on right now?
We’re about to launch our first major partnership campaigns and are simultaneously planning next year’s lineup. We’ve aligned with a diverse range of superstar artists to create engaging music learning courses on Yousician. I believe we’ve created a meaningful new outlet for artists and fans to connect.
What’s next for Yousician?
Growth! Product innovation, a focus on customer success and collaborations with world-class artists and brands. It’s an exciting time for the company and we have a great team of people creating the future of music learning tools and experiences.