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  • Writer's pictureCheyenne M

Abigail Courtland: Founder of heirwaves

Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?   Hey there! I’m Abigail and I am the founder and editor of heirwaves: the next wave of music. I currently live in New York and I’m originally from a small beach town at the end of Long Island.

How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?  One of my first ever concerts was a charity concert at my school that I got selected to be a student rep at. I’ll never forget watching in awe as  James Taylor performed while I was standing next to none other than Sir Paul McCartney… I was 13, and I credit that moment with my falling in love with music. That same summer, I met an up and coming pop artist through friends, and I was asked to join her Street Team - which I did for about 4 years, eventually running her media team. We would promote her on Twitter (pre-Instagram days), and just spread the word about her music - and back then I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I loved that not only was I helping her as an artist, but that I was helping people connect with music that meant something to them. And that’s where it all started about 10 years ago! You run heirwaves, can you tell me more about it? How did that start? I launched heirwaves as a small music blog from my bedroom when I was 17. Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I knew I loved music, I loved writing, and I wanted to create something that made a positive impact in some way. If I could connect just one artist with one person who loved their song, or was inspired by their story… then that was all that mattered.  Needless to say, there were a lot of obstacles in getting started… like, a LOT. I re-branded as heirwaves in 2018, and that’s when it really came to life. heirwaves gives both unknown artists, and established artists a platform to represent themselves openly and authentically, while highlighting contemporary issues and influential voices - and I’d like to think we’re still just getting started ;)  With music blogging, you get to talk to some awesome artists + are constantly listening to music. Who are you listening to a lot right now?  Right now I’m all about these phenomenal female artists that are absolutely dominating… Julia Michaels, Maren Morris, Lennon Stella, FLETCHER, and Sasha Sloan. There are a few bands I have on repeat as well... LANY, Nightly, Pale Waves, and lovelytheband. When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”? Honestly? I think I’ve had that moment every single day since I got my first taste of the industry. I knew it from day one, and while it has definitely had it’s ups and downs… there’s nothing more euphoric than helping someone inspire others through their story and art.  Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?  It’s really, really easy to get burned out. The music industry is exhausting! I hit a point a few months ago where I was truly worn out and asking myself if the blog was even worth it… but then I interviewed this artist in Brooklyn, and something about our conversation woke me up and reminded me just how powerful music is. It came full circle when I got an email from him afterwards, saying that our conversation helped give him a deeper understanding of album he was making. That was it for me. You have to find those magical moments that bring you back to why you began. No matter how burned out you feel, reminding yourself why you started is great motivation to keep going. It's exhausting - but it’s also incredible!  What is the best part of your job? Why?  Just being around music all the time… there are so many stories behind these songs that connect us all by making us feel anything and everything. Finding those connections, and sharing them, has the power to make a real impact.  Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry? I am continuously inspired by everyone around me in this industry, there is so much we can all learn from each other. I have built a few really strong relationships that I am so grateful for, but the artists that I get to work with every day inspire me to no end.  What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry? Create your own opportunities, and fight for them. When I was just starting out, all I heard was “no.” I mean, left and right. Every email went unanswered… it was really hard not to get discouraged early on. I learned that perseverance is key in that area - and I knew that if I wanted to make this happen, I needed to work 10 times harder than everyone else just to even be considered. After all those “No’s” - that first “Yes” was the most satisfying moment.  Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position? I’ve never outright been shut down for being a woman, but on my side of things, I get to talk to so many artists who are blatantly being pushed around for being a woman, every single day… I don’t think people realize how bad it really is, but they are starting too. And the women are supporting each other to rise now and to combat the inequality - take the new country supergroup The Highwomen with Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires, for example - formed just for that reason. It's a support system of strong females that encourages collaboration over competition... We’re all stronger together in this industry.  What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)? Honestly, what I do is my hobby. As the end of the day, I built heirwaves as something I was passionate about… so I dedicate all my free time to it because I so deeply believe in the vision. In any free time I do have, I find myself reading. I read to educate myself as much as possible as a writer. I think that’s why heirwaves is so unique, because I am never going to ask a question that you could Google the answer to - so I read to make sure that what I’m writing is not like anything else out there. But also, if I am going to write about these social issue and prevalent topics within art and music, I need to be informed. So reading and writing for sure!  Who is your all-time favorite artist? Jason Isbell

What is something you can't live without? Music. Go-to Karaoke song? Hah! Depending on my mood? “Free Fallin’” - Tom Petty, “Before He Cheats” - Carrie Underwood, or “I Want It That Way” - The Backstreet Boys.

Tea or Coffee? Coffee. Immense amounts of coffee.

Celeb crush? John Mayer First concert you went to? James Taylor What’s something that you always have on you? My phone, sadly. Who is your dream artist or band to work with? I would love to work with The 1975. I think they are doing some truly extraordinary things with their music, but they are also using their platform to start a conversation on prevalent social topics... their most recent track was a spoke word piece by 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg. It would be incredible to have a conversation with them. What does a typical day at work look like for you? I think a day in this industry is typically atypical. It’s always changing, you never really know what’s going to be thrown your way - but if I can zero out my inbox by the end of the day it’s a good one in my book. Where do you see yourself in five years? I would love to have the site built up to be recognized as a notable niche for music evolution and inspiration… and ideally, I’d like to have opened our own studio that serves a safe creative space for artists to come and share their stories, and sing their songs. What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years? Two things: First, equal radio play and opportunity for female artists is an extremely prominent issue that I hope to see addressed - the ratio of male to female air time is entirely atrocious. Second: I dream of seeing more artists using their platforms in a positive way to make a real impact - something as simple as how Ariana Grande partnered with Headcount to register voters at her shows, or how Maren Morris sold reusable straws at hers. In times of chaos music unites people, and if that music was standing up for someone or something significant - imagine the powerful impact it could have. Lastly, what saying do you live by? Not a saying, but a song title: “Be Here Now.” 



Follow heirwaves here.

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