Erica Danielle Garcia: Digital Editorial Manager at Amplify Her Voice
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
Hi Wavelength Collective! Thank you so much for having me. I’m so honored you reached out! My name is Erica Danielle Garcia, and I am a music journalist from Los Angeles, CA. I’m currently Digital Editorial Manager at Amplify Her Voice where I interview and cover women, non-binary, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC artists of all genres, and work with an amazing team of writers who do the same. I’m also Music Editor at Returner Magazine where I cover behind-the-scenes stories on rising artists.
How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I’ve always loved music and I’ve always loved writing. I studied English Literature and how to use language in college, but it wasn’t until my senior year when I started an entertainment blog where I would write my thoughts and feelings about songs, music, and shows I went to. It was a really personal blog where I would just talk about how music helped me, healed me, and inspired me, and because of that I didn’t think it was magazine material, but eventually, that blog led to me writing about music in really introspective and personal ways for various digital music magazines. I’ve been doing that for the past five years now.
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”?
I knew that I was never gonna be a performer or a singer or a musician, so even though I loved music, I kept trying to figure out other, safer things I could do with my life. I tried to pursue things like teaching, and even as a journalist, covering topics that weren’t entertainment related, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t really passionate about anything but music. No matter what I did, I kept going back to it. If I was getting paid to write about hard news during the day, at night, I would sit in my room and just write about music in my free time anyway. When I saw other journalists employed by magazines and even publicists who get to talk about the music they love, convince other people to listen to it, and share it with the world, I realized that I wanted to do that too. I wanted to just talk about everything I loved forever.
How did you get started with Amplify Her Voice?
During 2020, I had the whole existential, career, and identity crisis like everyone else did, and I found myself realizing that I really wanted to be more conscious with my journalism coverage. Growing up, I listened to rock, pop-punk, alt-pop, indie, and even country music, and I loved it all, but it wasn’t until later on that I realized that I was never really reflected in those genres or in mainstream music media at all. I could relate to and love a lot of those songs, but I never saw myself in those atmospheres, so I decided that I could use my writing to highlight diverse artists that I know are out there and give them that space.
I found Amplify Her Voice on Instagram and really admired the way they were highlighting the lack of gender and diversity equality so consciously through their media. I reached out to Kristina London who is Amplify Her Voice’s Founder, Director, and Fearless Leader, and it turns out that they needed a writer to create more editorial content. I’ve been with Amplify Her Voice for almost two years now, and I’m so grateful I found an organization whose overall mission for change in the music industry aligned with what I wanted to do with my writing. Amplify Her Voice made space for me and my writing, and through my journalism, I hope that I can extend that space to other WOC storytellers too.
You just started Returner Magazine, what made you want to start your own magazine?
Yes! We are a digital music publication still on the rise, but I wanted to create a space where I could talk to music professionals and artists about their individual stories. Sometimes artists will put out a song and let it speak for itself, but I really believe that most of the time, there’s a deeper meaning behind a song, and understanding where the artist comes from as a person all adds up to their art. Our main focus is, “The story behind the song. The truth behind the artist,” because getting to know an artists’ story can be a deeper way that fans can connect to who they’re listening to, and as someone who understands what it was like to be a fangirl who wanted to understand the artists she loved, I hope that through my interviews, conversations, and content I can play a small part in connecting fans to their favorite artists in that way. I also wanted to give other aspiring music writers a chance to gain first-hand experience in digital journalism, and the opportunity to cover the artists they believe in and identify with.
How would you breakdown your life as a music journalist? What’s an “average” day in the industry like for you?
My days are usually filled with research, writing, and a lot of emails. I’m usually prepping for an interview, writing out questions, then getting on Zoom. After that I transcribe interviews and then write my articles. I’ll also pitch artists to see if they’d like to be featured on our sites, or I’ll work directly with publicists, managers, PR teams, and record labels to set up interviews for artists. On New Music Fridays or any release day really, I’ll get up extra early just to get a head start on writing so that we can share articles in a timely way. So tons of writing, and tons of coffee. Writing is a lonely job. A lot of it is sitting at a desk, typing for hours, so it can be sort of isolating work. You do your research alone, you do your writing alone, but when I do interviews or when I post an article and it gets shared, those are the moments that I feel I can connect with people.
How do you find people to interview/write about? Do you have a favorite platform to connect with people?
Sometimes artists and publicists will pitch me directly new music to listen to, but when looking for artists to pitch to from my end, I usually find them through Instagram because I feel that it’s often easy to get to know an artist as a person through there. I also love browsing the rising playlists on Spotify from genres that I love and hearing about who people are listening to on TikTok since music travels fast there.
Are there any skills/lessons you wish you knew before stepping into the industry?
There were so many technical things I didn’t know before I started in journalism including SEO, different formats of writing, and things like that, but one major thing for me is that I had never actually interviewed anyone before I booked my first artist interview. It was over the phone, and I didn’t know how to speak or segue or do follow-up questions, but those were all things that I learned along the way. I’m lucky that I’ve had so many chances to do interviews over and over again so that I could finally get comfortable with making interviews more of a conversation and less of a question-and-answer type meeting.
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
I struggle with imposter syndrome pretty severely, multiple times a day. During the preparation phase, the few minutes right before conducting an interview, and immediately after publication of almost anything I put up, I definitely have doubts about my experience most days. I’ve faced a lot of job rejection within the journalism field, and especially in music, because I think it’s just a really competitive space. I struggle with feeling not as credible or relevant as other writers at other publications, but the thing is, I choose to write for organizations like Amplify Her Voice on purpose because I know their mission aligns with mine. At Returner Magazine, I also know that I get to take control of my own writing, and I don’t have to worry about anyone else twisting my words into something they’re not. I know I have full control to write about and represent artists, music, and art that I really care about so at the end of the day, I just try to remember how much I value that freedom and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
What is the best part of your job? Why?
It’s helping an artist or fan feel validated. Having someone say thoughtful things about your work is validating. It’s like when your parents say you’re good at something, you feel like they’re saying that because they’re you’re parents, but when someone else is publishing articles online saying they love their music or relate to your story, that can make people feel good about the art they’re making or the artist they’re supporting. On the other end of that, when artists and fans repost or share one of my articles, I feel validated and grateful too because it makes me happy to know that for someone somewhere, a deeper dive into that artist’s story was worth telling, and I played the tiniest role in helping share that.
You’ve been a music journalist for 5 years, how has your role changed since you first started?
For me, personally, I don’t think it’s changed too much. I’ve always worked pretty independently because I would freelance for magazines and work from home which I still do now. I will say that the pandemic did change the way a lot of people do interviews because it used to be either via phone or email, but with everyone using Zoom the past few years, that’s changed, and I really love how most artists prefer to talk to someone on camera over Zoom because it makes doing interviews a little more personable.
Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry?
I haven’t had the honor of connecting with a mentor in music or journalism quite yet, but my parents were the people who took me to concerts and shows at a really young age, showing me how powerful connection through music can be, and I feel like that’s informed a lot of my identity and what I do now, so I would say that my parents and their support of me have actually guided me a lot in my writing career.
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry, in general, and then specifically in the editorial/music journalist world?
The one thing I would share is just to make sure you’re passionate about writing and telling stories, even if they’re not your own. Music journalism can a lot of times be thankless work and full of multiple, daily rejections, but there are more moments of connection that exist in between all that where people find your work and it can mean the world to them. So if that’s enough to keep you wanting to be a writer, then create opportunities for yourself. Of course, it’s great to be a part of a magazine and to learn from other writers and editors, but starting out, you don’t have to. The great thing about writing, especially on the internet, is that you have the freedom to get started however you want to. Maybe start a blog. Read other music blogs and magazines. Follow journalists whose work you love and learn from them and their music tastes. Watch interviews on YouTube to perfect your conversational skills too. At the end of the day, it’s as easy as talking and writing about everything you love, and you have complete control over getting started.
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 pitched several publications that claim to be progressive with article ideas involving takes on music through feminist lenses, and I would get email rejections back saying that my pitches didn’t really fit their publications. I’ll never really know if I was turned down because of my gender or if my ideas truly just didn’t fit in with their coverage, but it’s common to get rejection in journalism, and when that happens, I just take my ideas somewhere else, to outlets I know will value them. If my pitch got rejected by a publication, then it probably wasn’t the right home for my writing anyway. I also take comfort in the fact that I get to speak with so many incredible, women artists who tell me stories of their own struggles as women in music and how they love working with entirely women-led creative teams changing the music industry – It motivates me to know that I’m not the only one.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that I am still writing about artists I love!
What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?
It might take a little more than the next few years, but I would really love to see the gender pay gap amongst music professionals disappear.
What are you most proud of?
The Amplify Her Voice team.
Who is your dream artist or person to work with?
In this life or the next, I would love to cross paths with Joni Mitchell somehow.
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love watching Marvel movies, reading, going to the beach, playing with dogs that aren’t mine, and visiting new coffee shops I’ve never been to before.
Who is your all-time favorite artist(s)?
Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, Gang of Youths, Paramore!
What is something you can't live without?
Maybe live entertainment. I had a tough time during quarantine not being able to connect to music with other like-minded people in that setting so I always love having a concert or show to look forward to.
Go-to Karaoke song?
I can’t decide between Love Story by Taylor Swift or Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac.
Tea or coffee?
I need coffee!
First concert you went to?
I saw Paul McCartney at seven years old and it changed my life.
Lastly, what saying do you live by?
I need to write from a place of love. Lin-Manuel Miranda once said, “You can use any source of fuel to power your craft. Rage is a fuel source. Joy is a fuel source. Anger is a fuel source. Love is a fuel source. I find that love burns slower and longer. I can't write a musical on rage. I can write three angry tweets on rage, but I can't sustain that energy. I need to write from a place of love.” I try to remember that every time I sit down to write an article.