Charese Fruge Talks To Kyley Scarlet
This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on July 13, 2021
Kyley Scarlet is a music geek. The newly hired Director of Marketing for Amigo Records (under the Prescription Songs umbrella) says she has always had a passion for music. “I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where my dad was always playing piano and singing every night. I grew up begging to go to concerts and you may or may not have found me with a Brittney Spears style microphone around my head singing to Beyonce in my living room constantly. However, I never thought you could have a JOB in music.”
In her current role, Kyley says, “Essentially my job is to help make our artists’ stories come to life. What does this mean? My title covers everything from marketing for the roster, which includes creating and executing marketing strategies/campaigns, working hand in hand with our amazing Director of Digital to execute social media plans, and overseeing the day-to-day for our artists alongside our internal team, artists’ management, and PR teams” says Scarlet. “I also work with the artists to build their brand – whether that be planning photo shoots/music video shoots, developing brand partnerships, or helping create their story through different activations or cross-promotional opportunities.”
How did Kyley get into the business? Well, like I said earlier, she was always a music geek, but she never actually thought you could get a JOB in music. “I am going to apologize for the long story about HOW I got into the business – because it’s quite the ‘everything happens for a reason,’ mixed with a ton of leaps into the unknown,” she says. “I hit a moment after college where I had no idea what I wanted to do so I took a leap of faith – quit my job and decided to work temp job assignments to see if there was anything that might catch my eye. I signed up for a temp agency and my first “assignment” was at Extreme Music in Santa Monica. It was supposed to be a two week assignment that then turned into 7 months. I absolutely loved it and it was then that I learned that you can WORK in music.
Within the same campus – there was a company, Mirrored Media which was an experiential marketing agency that worked mostly with musical talent. I had met some of their team members, including their CEO Justin Lefkovitch and really admired how closely they were working with the talent and creating experiences for fans. I was lucky enough to be brought onto the team as the EA for the CEO and to work with the production team,” says Scarlet. “I will never forget the day that I knew I needed to work directly with artists – we were doing a pop-up merch shop for Kascade in LA prior to his show at the LA Convention Center. I met his manager, Stephanie La Fera (now head of WME’s Electronic Division), and spoke to her for about 30 minutes about what she did, her journey, and why she was doing it. And it was in that moment I knew I wanted her job.
Fast forward three months later and I met Ben Singer, Andy Grammer’s manager – an artist, who at the time, I had gone to see a million times, so needless to say, I was a nervous mess during the interview,” says Scarlet. “However, Singer decided to take a chance on me and hired me as his assistant. I was able to work with Singer and Grammer for the last 5 years and I wouldn’t change that experience for the world. They allowed me to jump in face-first into any project to learn, fall, and get back up. Working with that team taught me so much about management, marketing, A&R and myself. It’s an experience that led to my current situation, and now I have the amazing opportunity to work at Amigo Records as the Director of Marketing!
Once I learned that you could have a career in music, I knew I had to do it because music has been there for me so many moments in my life – it’s been there when I was going through tough times, it’s been there when I needed something to jump around to when I was fully ecstatic, and it’s been there when I just needed to feel connected to something. I knew that I wanted to be a part of bringing just THAT to people,” Scarlet added.
Kyley’s career path has taken her on some amazing journeys so far. “One of the most exciting moments would be the release of Andy Grammer’s album, ‘Naiive,” she says. “The morning that it came out Andy and I were up at 4 AM heading to The Today Show for him to perform the title track, ‘Naïve.’ It was just him and his guitar in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza with hundreds of people around him singing. It was just one of those beautiful moments where I was reminded that music can really make a difference and create change.
One of the other most exciting things I have experienced was actually winning an Emmy for Musical Direction for a campaign that I worked on with Grammer and the V Foundation,” says Scarlet. “One of the songs that we had released was entitled ‘Don’t Give Up on Me’ and was used in a V Foundation campaign raising awareness for cancer research. The outpouring of messages we received from that commercial campaign was absolutely incredible and I still have some of them saved and read them from time to time.
Finally, and honestly probably my favorite thing I have been able to do is connecting fans together to not only Andy as an artist but one another. One of the fun things that I decided to do was start a community text thread for Andy’s fans. Andy, in turn, was able to actually text his fans back himself and build this relationship with them,” she says. “And then…. from this we decided to start doing donut runs in each city (Andy loves donuts) and inviting fans to come and get donuts and meet Andy. Being able to be at these runs, seeing Andy connect with his fans and his fans connect and become friends with one another is still in my top favorite memories.”
Kyley describes one of her biggest challenges over the years as having to deal with people saying NO. “They may have been saying no because they may not have wanted to deal with it, they may have been saying no because it’s never been done before, or they may have been saying no because that’s the easiest answer,” she says. “One of the greatest things I’ve learned that has become one of my personal mantras is ‘navigating the no’s.’ Just because one door closes –doesn’t mean there isn’t another one waiting to be opened. THINK ESCAPE ROOM MENTALITY. Every time I am faced with a challenge – I map out every other avenue, no matter how insane it sounds. No matter what – you’ll find your way out,” says Scarlet. “Resilience is a must. One of my favorite quotes is ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’ You are only going to be as strong as your will to strive. You must believe in and be willing to work hard to make it all come true.”
Kyley is an incredible source of advice for women wanting to get into the music business these days:
- Take every meeting – and meet as MANY people as possible. You never know who is going to be one of your best partners in the future. Honestly, I started cold messaging people on LinkedIn just to get coffee dates to get any foot in the door. Don’t be shy!
- Study the people you look up to – watch interviews, read articles, learn what their trajectory was and make it your own.
- Read, read, read. I have Google alerts set for any artist, topic, etc. I want to learn about and send myself articles to read during the workday DAILY.
- Every mistake is a learning lesson. Don’t be hard on yourself when you fall – that just means you were meant to learn something on the way back up.
- Finally, always remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place.”
The question that keeps Kyley up at night is “Have I achieved ‘enough’ by this point in my life? Especially being a woman. There are a ton of societal pressures of having a family and a husband. And I’ll be honest I only have my fur baby,” she says. “But what I’ve learned – especially through the pandemic, is that it is enough. Everyone has their own timeline and yes I still grapple with when will x, y, or z happen at 11 pm on a Tuesday – but I’m constantly trying to teach myself to calm those thoughts.”
Kyley’s recipe for balance? “My family and friends are the ones that bring me balance. They are the ones that bring me out of my head and into the present,” says Scarlet. “Also, I am a crazy dog mom and a foodie – so you will often find me and my dog Skye at a new restaurant, food truck, or hole in the wall mom and pop shop on the weekends.”
With her new position, we have a lot to look forward to from Kyley. “Amigo Records has a lot of exciting projects coming up on the horizon!” She says. “Needless to say, I am so excited to be a part of the Amigo Records / Prescription family. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the amazing Prescription employees over the last couple of years and was honored to be asked to be a part of this team. The one thing that I love the most and am so looking forward to,” she adds, “Is helping these artists tell their stories and show the world who they are. Amigo Records believes in every single one of their artists and what stories they want to tell, which is utterly inspiring and is what makes me so motivated and excited to be on this team.”
Photo Credit: Sierra Kemp