Balancing the Grind with Jacob Moore, Founder & General Manager of Pigeons & Planes

Jacob Moore is the founder and general manager of Pigeons & Planes, a music discovery platform he started in 2008, which is now a part of Complex Networks.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I studied finance and marketing in college, but I never liked school and was never a great student. I was always obsessed with music but had no idea how to get into the industry, so I started a music blog called Pigeons & Planes at the end of 2008.

I ran it independently for a few years, then partnered with Complex Networks in 2011. I’ve been working on P&P with them ever since, and we’ve expanded beyond editorial content into all kinds of new areas in the music space, including video production, live events, and merch.

My current title is GM of Pigeons & Planes. We’ve got big plans for the brand in 2021 and beyond.

Outside of P&P I co-founded a record label called No Matter that focuses on artist development and works with a small, select group of artists that I really believe in. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Most days I start by catching up on emails I missed overnight and then connecting with the core team, figuring out who’s working on what and prioritizing things for the day since we’ve always got a bunch of different things going on at once.

After that, I’ll look over the content schedule, edit features or watch down videos that are going live soon, update playlists, and help to map out social media content. 

Pigeons & Planes has always been a small team so we work closely with a lot of others in different departments at Complex: sales, business development, video, strategy, etc.

Normally I’ll have at least a few meetings about different ongoing plans, whether it’s potential brand partnerships, upcoming events, or bigger projects within Complex like ComplexLand coming in December. 

Between internal meetings I’m usually answering emails, doing calls, or having meetings with people outside of the P&P world. We’re constantly talking to artists, brands, record labels, managers, and music companies about different ways we can work together.

The one thing I still try to do every day is set aside an hour or so to listen to music submissions. So much of the music we hear comes from people within the music industry, but we still take pride in discovering music first, and direct submissions from artists are the best sources for that.

Normally that comes at the end of the day, after work hours, but I still love that part of the day after all these years.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes, since COVID hit we’ve all been remote, and I think we’ve adapted to that well. Most of our work is done through the internet anyway, so it wasn’t a huge adjustment, but I do miss the energy of creative meetings. I’ve gotten used to Zoom meetings, but it’s not the same.

I think the biggest downside to remote work is that I have a hard time turning off and stepping away from work. I live in New York City, so for months I was barely going outside and the barrier between personal life and work life got very blurry.

I love the work that I do so it’s easy to get sucked into it for entire days at a time. My routine is pretty non-stop, and even when I’m not “working,” I’m usually checking in on social media to see what’s happening in the music world or listening to new stuff.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I’m still figuring it out. At this stage in my life and career, I’m pretty happy to be working non-stop. The people I work with are some of my best friends, and music has always been my passion so to be able to have that at the center of my work life is something I don’t take it for granted.

My job also allows for a lot of creativity and I get a lot of satisfaction from that. If I go too long without thinking about new ideas and projects I go crazy. 

I know some people stress the importance of completely unplugging and taking days or weeks off from working at all, and that sounds nice in theory but I can’t imagine doing it myself.

I’ve worked other jobs where balance was all about getting the job done so I could live my completely separate personal life, but now my personal life and work life are so intertwined. I’m not sure if that’s healthy, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. 

I think the biggest thing I do to achieve some balance is getting into nature. I can’t do it very often because I live in the city, but I love to go upstate or out into the country or the mountains. I love being in the woods and being around animals, not being surrounded by other people. The energy in New York City is so chaotic, so I appreciate nature even more now.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I stopped staying up really late at night as often, but I kind of miss that. Being at home all day every day, it’s harder to keep my energy up so I try to get more sleep. It’s difficult because I’m naturally a night person and I do a lot of my best work and feel most creative late at night.

I used to stay up past 2 a.m. at least a few nights a week, and in the past year I do that a lot less. I noticed that even though I’m not at all a morning person, I’m training myself to be more productive first thing in the morning.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I wish this question was about music! I honestly don’t read many books or newsletters or listen to many podcasts. I’m so focused on music. When I’m not listening to music I’m usually reading about it or writing about it. I’d like to recommend the Pigeons & Planes newsletter though.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I’m pretty big into all Reese’s products. I’m terrible with non-essential technology so I don’t use too many gadgets or apps.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Probably Rick Rubin. He seems laid back and creative, but also productive and successful on his own terms. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can reach that level without conforming, anyone who can move the way they want to but still be taken seriously.

I’ve always felt very different from most people I come across in the music industry—I’m kind of a weird person, so I love seeing that you don’t have to be a super corporate, fast-talking, cutthroat industry executive to win.

Early on in my career, I got to meet some of the execs I looked up to and I remember thinking, “Shit, this is what I need to act like to be successful in this industry?” I could just never do it.

I’ve realized over the years that there are plenty of other kinds of successful people in music and media, but a lot of them keep to themselves or are more cautious about the people they bring around.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Based on my answers here, I think most people have probably gathered by now that I’m not the best person to be giving advice about work-life balance. I remember working at a terrible office job that I hated when I was younger, and back then I had to think a lot more about how to balance work and life, because those two things were so separate. 

I’ve been really lucky to have a couple of jobs that I love—the one I have now, and working as a counselor at a camp for children with special needs. I felt so fulfilled by both of those jobs that it never felt like I had to escape work or figure out ways to disconnect from my work mentality. 

I know that not everyone can love their job, but if you’re in a job you hate, I’d recommend trying to work toward a position that you enjoy. Sometimes that comes from the work itself, sometimes it comes from the people you’re working with, and sometimes it comes from feeling like you’re doing something for the better good. Even if you don’t get that out of your job, I think that’s really important to aim for. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.