Laura Bock is a force in Cincinnati. Not only does she work for MEMI (Music & Event Management, Inc.), but she is also in one of the best local bands in Cincinnati, Young Heirlooms.
We were honored to sit down with Laura as a woman behind – and within the music in Cincinnati!
Tell us about your position at MEMI. What lead you to a career in music and events management?
I would say the theme closest to my professional arc is a chameleon or shapeshifter of sorts! I’m usually figuring out my place by adapting to the specific needs of the organization rather than conforming to the restraints of a job title, and my position with MEMI is no different! I help with digital marketing and strategy, contract and calendar administration, and serve as a project manager of sorts for festivals like Cincy-Cinco and Midpoint Music Festival, to put it succinctly!
I know it’s cliché, but I’m one of those “music is in my blood” types (eye roll, yes, I know.) I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that valued the arts and the role of the artist in society, so I ran with it and continued to grow in those values. I got a bachelor’s degree in music (jazz performance) from the University of Memphis and from there, headed to Chicago to get a master’s degree in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management at Columbia College. Chicago’s vibrant scene really opened my eyes to what a fulfilling career in the industry could be, and the experiences I had there kept me on my toes and cemented the importance of flexibility into my work ethic. I worked in music licensing, managed aspects of a music and film festival, did marketing consulting for a few artists, and performed with some extremely talented musicians, to name some highlights! Actually, I first met Kelly Fine and Chris Robinson (of Young Heirlooms) there – I shared a show with them, which led to sharing several shows because of the inimitable talent of those two. The rest is history, here I am, helping to capture and create some of the energy of Cincinnati’s mighty music scene.
As a woman behind the music in Cincinnati, do you feel that your gender has ever hindered your path? Do you feel that you have to work harder to get your voice heard?
I don’t think it has anything to do with Cincinnati, but there are undoubtedly certain obstacles that women face that men do not in a professional context. The wage gap being perhaps the most publicized, but there’s also a ton of inherent pressure on women to be nice and polite and non-threatening, while those attributes aren’t necessarily expected from men in similar roles. It would be cool for everyone to be on the same level and feel confident voicing our ideas and opinions, make a fair wage, and use the same amount of exclamation points and smiley faces in our emails. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff here; feminists these days get a bad rap as teeth-gnashing, he-woman, man-haters according to those who don’t know any better, but it’s truly about equality and empowerment. I don’t feel like I, specifically, have to work harder to be heard because I’m truly as stubborn as all get out, but I also can’t tell if I feel that way because I’ve been conditioned to not realize the problem.
As a women both behind the scenes and on stage with your band Young Heirlooms, do you feel that your day career gives you a certain perspective for working with the band?
Haha, probably a warped perspective! With MEMI, we work with some seriously iconic artists, so seeing the numbers and reading the contracts and prepping the shows makes comparison to a fledgling band like ours somewhat overwhelming. In all seriousness, I think I’ve gained a new understanding and appreciation of the notion that a successful artist or band is 50% great art, and 50% acute business savvy. It’s that other teeny tiny percentage somewhere in there that seems more mysterious- that invisible, zeitgeist-related, magical factor. We’ll know it when we find it.
What women in music (or behind the music) do you admire?
Oh man, how to narrow down the list. I admire any woman who makes the choice to put her art on display for the judgement and critique of the public. It takes serious balls to bear your soul in a song, only to hear a comment that your outfit on stage definitely wasn’t right for your body type… Hello? Did you miss the part where I was talking about the crushing weight of my dreams? Let’s talk about that weight. Sigh. I think that there’s something in every woman worthy of admiration, we just need to work on allowing and encouraging women to find and be themselves.
What do you want people to take away with them when they think of you?
I want people to attend concerts (definitely Young Heirlooms and definitely others), hear music, share music, and love music again. I want everyone far and wide to chew on the idea that robust arts indicate robust culture, so let’s judge less harshly and keep an open mind.
March is Women’s History Month, in celebration, CincyMusic.com will be featuring important women behind the music scene in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is the home of so many amazing women within the music industry. These women include; an activist, a Director of Marketing, Music Editor, musicians, and many more!
Stay tuned to CincyMusic.com for our Features on these talented women this month!