Julia and I [Jennifer] often get comments that we look alike, sound alike, and say similar things. I always say that it is like people and their pets – after enough time together, their identities start to merge.
I’m not sure which of us is the human or the pet here (probably depends on the day?), but I’m honestly not too surprised. After all, Julia and I have known each other since middle school. Since we went through the depths of teenage awkwardness (and I mean awkward!) together, each of us can truly appreciate how much the other has grown, and every day we feel fortunate to be not just friends but business partners and colleagues as well.
Not only was our friendship born back in the early 2000s, but our individual realizations that our personal and professional futures would have to involve the arts. That was the time when our feelings toward music and the arts grew from mild curiosity to full-blown, relentless passion. We were very fortunate to have the support of teachers who constantly inspired and challenged us to grow, musically and personally. Confession: the first time, and one of the very few times, I’ve uttered, let alone thought the words “this is the happiest day of my life!” was when I was accepted into my high school’s audition-only chamber choir (I also won’t pretend that those feelings didn’t return when I was accepted to sing with my college and grad school choir.) Julia and I bonded in choir, and went on to do other musical collaborations.
We stayed close in college, despite studying on opposite ends of the country – Julia at Tufts while I was at Stanford. As graduation approached we decided that we wanted to work together afterwards, and somehow work in the arts. In December 2008, Julia received a notification that the first round application for the Tufts Business Plan Competition was 3 weeks away. We scrambled to get something together and submitted.
We ended up winning second prize in the competition, which was shocking to us, since neither of us had thought a day about business or entrepreneurship before that moment. It was the boost of confidence we needed to commit to making iCadenza into something real.
After several idea pivots, set-backs, and questioning what we were doing, we come upon a direction that hit close to him for us – helping musicians with career preparation. We saw how our peers received excellent artistic training in school but felt clueless about what to do next, aside from applying to grad school. And, it wasn’t just a matter of skills, but of confidence and mindset. This issue was highlighted a few years ago when we held our first social media workshop, taught by some great industry experts. While all the participants claimed to have gotten a lot from the workshop, we were struck by how no one put their new skills into practice. Why? Because even if they technically knew how to promote themselves, they didn’t know what to say, or how to get over their fundamental discomfort with self-promotion. Basically, they still didn’t want to promote themselves.
This realization shifted the direction of our work in a major way, as we began reflecting on our own mindsets and thought patterns, questioning whether our thinking was conducive toward our goals – just as we saw so clearly how discouraging mindsets hampered the music careers of our friends and clients. As hardworking, driven young women accustomed to competitive environments, Julia and I realized that the only mindset we knew was “Do better! Work harder!”, sometimes in much less kind terms. I certainly had never questioned the impact of the messages I’d been using toward myself, let alone thought about the nature of my inner monologue at all. Back then, I didn’t realize the message in my was flexible and could be optimized for the productivity and results I wanted to see in my life. As Julia and I deepened our awareness of our own mindsets and behaviors, we learned how to explore and address these issues with our consulting clients in effective ways.
In the fall of 2010, we decided to start a second company, Cadenza Artists, after a number of our clients and friends asked if we would consider managing their careers. Artist management was new and unfamiliar territory for us but we took on the challenge, eager to have a greater hand in the future of artists whose talent we believed in so strongly. Three years later, we’ve made great strides and have a growing roster of classical, jazz, and world artists in both music and dance.
As we’ve learned over the years, we do our best work as managers when artists come to us with momentum in their careers resulting from their own hard work pounding the pavement. This is the type of work that can’t be outsourced or delegated – the Art of Self-Management. Only from that point would a boutique management firm, or even a major one, be interested and willing to take on an artist, especially one who has not won major competitions or garnered other signaling accolades. We think any artist with dedication, drive, and self-awareness can build an active performance career that may be desirable to a manager (if you still want one!), which is why we’ve used our experiences from the other side of the table to inform our work at iCadenza – if you put these tools to use, you WILL see results in your career.
Julia and I still work very closely together, even though our interests and paths have diverged slightly – she is the driving, wonder-woman force behind Cadenza Artists, shaping our roster, managing our team, and strategizing about the development of each artist, while my interests are focused on career development with students and artists through consulting, our Career Development Bootcamp and other online programming, and a course I’ll be teaching in the Stanford University Department of Music this Winter, Art Is My Occupation: Professional Skills for Creatives.
We feel so blessed to have a work environment that is constantly challenging, inspiring, filled with a team, clients, artists, and other partners that we love working with. Working at iCadenza and Cadenza Artists has helped me figure out my definition of professional fulfillment – being constantly challenged to grow and seeing the results of our hard work in the success of our clients.
We hope you’ll check out our offerings and reach out to us to become a part of the iCadenza community. We’d love to have you!