One of the perks of my job at Encore is finding all sorts of interesting people forging fascinating new paths in the music world. I recently interviewed Fiona Zwieb, who has crafted a unique career as a musician’s virtual assistant.
Fiona’s job covers almost every imaginable aspect of the music industry, from planning the logistics of a nationwide tour to designing a landing page to optimising a Spotify profile.
In this interview, Fiona tells us all about her unusual and cutting-edge business.
What inspired you to create your business?
During my graduate studies at NYU’s Music Business Program, I interned with an independent artist to help with his social media. Upon graduation, he offered me the position as his personal and executive assistant.
On the job, I learned about almost every aspect of being a full time independent artist – recording, label, public relations, social media, touring, logistics, management and so much more.
I loved being able to make this artist’s life run smoother and easier so that he could focus on his talent. I also saw how difficult it is for an independent artist to handle all these branches of their career while trying to fulfil their dreams.
I wanted more artists to have access to this support, so I began researching and soon found the world of Virtual Assistants. I saw that many executives used VAs as a source of support that doesn’t carry the same costs as hiring someone full-time or in person.
When I saw that no one was doing this for musicians specifically, I knew I had found my niche. Because of my background (I have played violin since I was 5) and education in the music industry, musicians connect with me. They want to work with someone who knows what it’s like to be on the road for a month, record an album, and who understands the unique challenges of the music industry.
What are the most common frustrations of the musicians you work with?
My clients just want to make music – whether it be touring or songwriting or recording. The business side of being a successful musician takes just as much energy and passion, so with a good support team in place, they are able to focus on their music.
Which technologies do you find particularly helpful?
I use Asana daily to organise my deadlines and tasks. I’m a big fan of filters to keep my Gmail from going haywire, and Follow Up Then is really great tool to remind you to follow up on an email you sent. It’s my best-kept secret at remembering to follow up!
You must be one of the only virtual assistants who specialise in musicians! Do you know if there are many others doing what you do?
I really don’t think so! I know there are lots of consultants, business coaches and the like, but I haven’t found another person who calls themselves a virtual assistant to musicians.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The music industry is not easy to work in. There are rules to follow and standards that don’t work with everyone, and there are false hopes sold at every corner, which can get confusing and frustrating.
In the end, you just have to do your research, follow your gut, and make sure the decisions you make fall in line with your goals. You are going to be disappointed at some point that your efforts or your plans didn’t get the results you were looking for, but I believe you can only learn from your experiences.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I’ve always been a fan of the musician who has the guts to spill their soul on stage or belt out a chorus in the studio. I admire so much musicians’ ability to put themselves out there and share part of themselves in their music. I have so much respect for my clients, so simply being able to make their day easier is very rewarding. Oh, and being able to hear their music before everyone else!
Fiona Zwieb is a professional virtual assistant to musicians around the world. She takes their daily struggles and busywork off of their plates so they can focus their energy and time on their music.
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