For today’s interview, we chat with a man of many hats, The Young Astronaut’s Creative Executive Bo Liebman. Liebman also a music blogger at The Indy Review, artist, and screenwriter, shows the intersection of the music industry and entertainment. He originally started out in film and television finding a home in a great role at The Young Astronauts.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Bo! Thanks for taking the time out and doing this. So how have you been lately?
BO LIEBMAN: My pleasure Brittney! I’ve been good – thankfully busy despite the pandemic, both with work and a number of side projects.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: My next question is one I have been asking most of the creatives in this series. Why do you love music?
BO LIEBMAN: There are of course many reasons – it makes me feel good, it creates a soundtrack to my life that makes ordinary moments stand out. It brings people together, it moves me (both emotionally and can get me dancing). But one thing I find that I love about music is that there is always something new to discover. It’s a never ending well of mystery and intrigue. Whether it’s being the first person to stumble upon a new band, or discovering a long lost obscure artist, it’s one of those things in life that I can just dive into and lose myself in for hours.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can talk a bit on your backstory and how you got started in the music industry? Was it something you always wanted to do?
BO LIEBMAN: It’s funny because I don’t usually consider myself in the “music industry”. My background is more in film/television. I wanted to be a screenwriter for many years, and still write, but took jobs as an assistant and development executive until I landed my current role as a Creative Executive with The Young Astronauts. At TYA, music is a big part of what we do, taking on creative director roles with artists, doing everything from their videos and photography to their websites and merch design, but we also work with brands, TV, film and tech start-ups, so we sort of walk-in many worlds.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Your main job is with the creative company The Young Astronauts? Can talk some about your work there? What has been some of your most rewarding work you’ve done there?
BO LIEBMAN: As a CE at The Young Astronauts, I handle a lot of our in-house writing, whether it’s copy or treatments, or full scripts for commercials, television or film. I also do a lot of general creative ideation, handle a lot of project management, some producing, and even some deck building. Everyone in the company is insanely talented and we all wear a number of hats, but it allows us to be nimble and create some amazing content. The first day I started with the company, I was tasked with developing some treatment ideas to pitch for Vance Joy‘s video for “Saturday Sun“. Aside from directing a no-budget music video for the band Lucero back in the day (“What Are You Willing to Lose“), I had never worked on a big-budget, professional music video before. I came up with five or so ideas, and thankfully my boss responded to one of them. We fleshed it out and sent in the pitch, and were awarded the video. So within the first three months on the job, I was on set as we directed a music video for a major artist I liked based on an idea I had come up with. Seeing ideas go from the page to the screen is always really rewarding, and thankfully I’ve had a number of great opportunities to do this with the Astros.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in the music industry in any capacity?
BO LIEBMAN: I feel like my advice would vary depending on what part of the industry they want to get into, but I would certainly say know the industry. Read Billboard.com, HitsDailyDouble, etc and learn about all the different facets of the industry. And if you’re an artist especially, know how to develop your brand, your sound, and how to protect yourself both legally and as a business.
(cont.) Oh, and know how to TikTok. That’s apparently what everyone has to know right now, haha.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You also run and write a music blog, The Indy Review. What made you want to start that blog?
BO LIEBMAN: I actually didn’t start the blog! Back in college, my friends Jerrod and Cesar started it, and knowing I was also a big music lover, they invited me to start writing for it. This was in the early 2000s, so there wasn’t much social media to spread the word, and one by one, we all sort of fell away from it. I think I was the last person posting anything on the site, and it sort of died. Cut to 2017, and finding myself with extra time on my hands and a desire to share music with the world, I revived the site. I’ve always loved discovering new music, and helping friends find new music they love. When I convert someone into a fan of a song or band, to the point where they are buying the music or going to the shows, it feels like a victory, and I wanted to take that to the next level with The Indy Review. Taking what I had learned in the previous years, I really wanted to make sure The Indy Review found an identity, with a cohesiveness to the content and mission. Jerrod and Cesar came back on board for a bit, and while they’ve had to take a step back, I’ve recruited new contributors over the last few years.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How have you been staying inspired as a creative during quarantine? Or is something you’re trying to it worry about so much?
BO LIEBMAN: While there have been ups and downs, I feel in general I’ve kept myself creative throughout. At the beginning, I was playing guitar a lot, learning a lot of songs just for fun. And of course started baking like everyone else. I draw and paint a lot (@Boriginality on FB/IG), and launched a shirt brand based around my artwork called DinoPunk (@DinoPunkWear on FB/IG). More recently I finished a draft of a new comedy pilot and have been taking a life drawing class. And of course, I’ve kept The Indy Review going. I’m someone who definitely needs creative outlets – I can only binge Netflix for so long!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How does the future of the music industry look to you post COVID-19?
BO LIEBMAN: God I hope it’s good! I miss live music so much, and I know I’m not alone in that, so hopefully we can get back to having safe live music again soon. I think this last year has been a harsh test for many artists, forcing them to think outside the box and find creative ways to survive. I think those artists who have made it through will be coming into the post-Covid world with a new batch of skills and talents which they can utilize to further monetize their careers and reach new fans. Livestream concerts will stick around and become an additional income source for artists and companies like Live Nation and AEG, but they will never replace the real live music experience.
(cont.) The last year has also really put the spotlight on the streaming services and the current pay inequity that leaves artists getting the smallest piece of the pie. For there to be a real future for the industry, all the parties making the money (the labels and the streaming services) need to come together and work out a way to make sure the artists are paid a living wage in the streaming age, because if they can’t do that, there are going to be fewer and fewer people out there able to financially survive long enough to even record their first EP. It’s the same thing the entertainment industry has had to face with how poorly assistants were being paid. If someone can’t earn a living wage when they are just starting off in the industry, they won’t be able to last long enough to grow, learn and make it to the next level.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is the single piece of pop culture that has kept you sane during quarantine?
BO LIEBMAN: I’m not sure there was a single piece – music is a constant in my life. Along with always keeping up with new music, I also started a project on my personal Spotify account, making Top Songs list for every year going all the way back to 1954. It was a fun project that got me listening to lots of older music and discovering (and re-discovering) songs.
(cont.) Netflix has also helped. I watched all of THE WEST WING (which I’ve decided should be classified as Fantasy) and am on season 15 of SUPERNATURAL now.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And… the last question, Is there anything that I might have missed?
BO LIEBMAN: You missed the plugs, haha! Follow The Indy Review on Spotify, Twitter and Facebook. One of these days I will figure out how to use TikTok well since that is currently one of the most influential forces in music right now (we have one – @TheIndyReview).
Also, listen to The Replacements. That’s a universal message to everyone.
Next week and our first interview in May. We ‘Get to Know’ Concert Photographer & founder of SHOWGRAPHERS Charlotte aka CHUX ON TOUR.