Updated: Aug 2, 2021
At the time I had been living in Australia for two years. My first year in Sydney was a seesaw of emotions. I was ending a romantic relationship, starting in a new country from scratch, and improving a second language all while trying to leave everything behind without any regrets. After all, it was what I had wanted to do all my life, to live in an English-speaking country.
Before embarking on my Australian adventure, I worked as an international promotion coordinator and tour manager for Corporacion Marmaz, an independent record label in Colombia. I was linked with the company for 7 years, and enjoyed a relationship of friendship, respect and admiration for my boss and mentor Marcelo Mazzini, an incredibly kind Uruguayan. I greatly admire his sagacity in generating business within this wonderful music industry.
My life revolved around tours throughout different countries – Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and the United States were on my list. Luxury hotels, tour buses, live shows, media promotions, coordinating agendas, solving problems on the fly. In our downtime we enjoyed the wonderful locales we visited - strolling around, taking photos and buying little souvenirs to bring home to Mum.
But let's get back to Australia. After a few months of being dazzled by Sydney and the excitement of living in a new country, at that moment when the experience becomes your new life routine, it dawned on me the profound twist that I had given to my life – I was now a student, starting from scratch at the bottom of the ladder again, without any connections in the music industry.
And it was there, that my inner hunger began to burn and I summoned the strength and determination to begin again in the industry I loved. I began my journey with a meticulous search for contacts. I began to study and understand how the Australian music industry works - how big it was, what was being played on the radio, along with everything else. There was a spark inside of me that didn’t go unnoticed.
For my birthday that year, I received tickets from my Australian brother-in-law to attend the Australian Music Week, the second most important music and networking festival in Australia. What an exciting gift!! But also, what a great challenge. I had to participate in, and arrive to, the event all on my own. However, which was preferable? Going through the fear and challenge of experiencing something completely new and unknown alone? Or staying in bed wondering how it would have been?
It was an incredible experience, after months without doing anything in the industry I was full of life again, I met people from other countries; I learned not only about the industry in Australia, but also the important connection that exists between the Commonwealth countries at the cultural and musical level. I felt proud of myself, a Latina, the only one that year participating in such an incredible event.
There were 4 days of conferences, concerts and networking opportunities. While I learned a lot I was also reminded of the strength of my own knowledge and experience in the music industry. When it was over, I had to return to my student-like routine but with a renewed confidence and I promised myself that I would return to the conference the following year, not just as an attendee, but as an industry speaker. And Guess what? I did it!
A year later, I was part of the delegation of speakers for the AMW 2017, offering a conference about the Latin markets, because if anyone knew how to promote and market music in different Latin countries it was me. I spent around 8 months preparing my presentation; first researching, updating myself on current statistics of the music business in different countries, and then translating it into English. I worked hard to memorize everything, even taking private English classes, so that I could successfully carry out my long-awaited conference.
The day finally arrived! As always, my amazing sister Daniela accompanied me for support. My nerves were on edge, and I tried to think that it was nothing. I told myself, come on Sylvia, relax it is a simple conference ... but then I thought... it must be in perfect English ... for experts ... professionals in the industry 😣. You can imagine how I felt!
We arrived at the room where my conference was to take place, and in the next room was Chris Jagger, the brother of Mick Jagger!! There I was, the only Latina in the room again, trying to make a place for myself in the Australian music industry. The presentation was prepared and ready to go, but to our dismay, the projector decided to stop working. After a few moments of sheer panic, the event manager thankfully managed to help us solve the problem. Phew!
The conference was held in a room that resembled a cinema, complete with a small projection cubicle, where Daniela was stationed to show the slides for my presentation. Of course, it was sound proof so she clearly could not hear me, and therefore, did not know when to change the slides. I had to use hand signals, much to the amusement of my audience, so that Daniela could understand and follow the thread of the talk.
When the conference was over, I felt like the happiest woman in the world. What a great relief it was to have fulfilled my commitment to the festival, which I had thought about cancelling many times out of fear. Above all else, I had fulfilled something within myself by finishing a task that I’d dedicated months to. I was filled with a sense of accomplishment by witnessing how, little by little, I was securing my place in the music industry of a new country.
I met many important people in the industry, including festival owners, artists, musicians, and managers, and once again I came to understand that everything in life is about overcoming fears, making sacrifices and working hard.