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How She Got There: Olivia Lane, Singer/Songwriter

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Name: Olivia Lane

Website: http://www.olivialane.com 

Twitter Handle: @olivialanemusic

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Olivia Lane: The one thing that seems to stay constant about my job is that it’s dynamic, and every day, week and month is so different!

Just to back up a little bit, I graduated in 2013 from the [University of Southern California] and then moved to Nashville, and for the past two years, I’ve been writing with as many people as possible to get the buzz going in there. So I’ve been songwriting during the day and going out at night and meeting people and performing.

Once you feel like you have a significant product (in this case, my music), you get to go on a radio tour. Since I work for an independent label, I get to wear a lot of different hats. I get to work with the management and radio teams, run my social media, all of that. You have to have your music face and your business face.

So basically, right now I’m on my radio tour, and I’m getting my music in front of more people, and I’m spending a lot of time on the road!

What is the best part of your job?

OL: I’m a people person, and I’m in this career because I love people! I think the best part of this career is getting to talk to people I would not have met otherwise. I think the ability to relate to others is the coolest thing ever. And it’s amazing to know that people need this music.

People wouldn’t ordinarily make the connection that singers/songwriters are great networkers! Do you have any tips you’ve picked up in terms of best practices for connecting with others?

OL: Honestly, I hate the word networking! I think there’s no emotion behind that word, so I look at it as making new friends. Whether or not someone could help you or not, you should never enter a room and say, “Who can get me where I want to go?” You get to meet these people as human beings first.

When did you first become interested in being a singer-songwriter, and what’s your process like for creating a song?

OL: It actually really didn’t click for me that singing and songwriting and being a country singer was going to be a path for me until college! I’ve always been an artist; I was singing, dancing, playing [instruments] for a long time. I just didn’t really know what my options were.

I decided I needed to go somewhere where people were better than I was, so I decided to go to Nashville, New York, or Los Angeles for college. L.A. was perfect because USC had a bunch of different programs I could dabble in. I got to go through a soul-searching journey, and everything clicked starting right around sophomore year. After that point, I started interning in Nashville and figuring out if I wanted to live there. It all came together during my senior year of college.

In terms of my [songwriting process], it can be as random as laying in bed and coming up with a melody idea as I’m falling asleep (in which case I was, “Ugh, I need to get out of bed but I have to do this!”)! Other times I’ll really have an idea or word in mind but not know how to write about it, and I’ll bring it to my co-writers and say, “Yo, I’m really feeling this, so we need to figure it out.” The whole process is so dynamic, so there’s not one singular process or way of creating a song.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

OL: Oh goodness, there are so many things! I feel like I had an upper hand in a lot of ways since I spent time in L.A., but you have to remember that everyone has their own agenda, and you have to kill them with kindness! There are a lot of egos, and especially being female in male-dominated world, you have to remember that you have to do what’s right for you.

There are a lot of frustrations, and you just have to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sometimes, at the end of the day, you have to block everything out and remember that you’re an artist and you’re just trying to get your message out there.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

OL: I think one of my biggest mistakes when I got to Nashville was that I didn’t really know how to successfully “network” with people. Where is that line drawn between professional contact and friend? I was working with many people who were a lot older than I was (I had just turned 22 when I first headed out there), so I wasn’t sure what was right or what was weird!

You really have to read people and know who’s a friend and who’s just a professional relationship. I think I’ve had to learn the fine line between business and friendships. Nashville is also much more of a “friendly friend” town [than other places], so I’ve made a conscious decision to adjust and treat people more like friends. Everybody wants that personal connection.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

OL: Know that a thick skin is required! You can’t let the little things get you down [in the music industry]. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned. It’s always about the bigger picture.

I’m also really happy I went to college because I got to try so many things. I got to try screenwriting, I got to try film, I got to try acting. I think you need to know for sure and your heart needs to be fully present to know what you want.

This business is really hard, and for me, there’s no other back-up plan. There will be a million no’s because you get a yes, and once you get little successes, that’s when it starts to really pay off. There’s a lot more work than there is payoff.

You just have to come into the whole process saying, “This is all I want to do as an artist.” If you know what your message is as an artist, we need that!

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