Michael Sherman works as the Director of Business Development for Feature.fm, a music tech and marketing firm based in New York.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve always been keenly interested in the intersection of music and technology, so it was inevitable that my career would also follow this path. Prior to my present day role, I oversaw strategic partnerships for key industry players including ticketing company Eventbrite and distributor United Masters.
As a consultant recovering artist manager, I have also been lucky to work directly with countless artists such as TV on the Radio, The Postelles, The Kooks, Atlas Genius, and Lissie, to oversee end-to-end marketing campaigns.
Today, I serve as the Director of Business Development with Feature.fm, one of the most innovative marketing companies in music, used by labels and artists alike. My current role at Feature.fm touches on all aspects of my past experience. Understanding the power of a mutually beneficial business partnership as well as having first hand experience managing artist marketing campaigns has been key.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Working in business development is an all encompassing role. At its core, you’re responsible for helping to grow a company, which means nurturing relations is a key part of my job. And as COVID has driven more relationships to exist online instead of in-person, the concept of working hours is more flexible than ever.
So depending on my meeting schedule, I’ll either wake up, pour a large coffee, do some stretching/yoga and get right to work; and sometimes that can go late into the night. But ideally, I’ll have time to go for a morning surf before jumping into the work day and wrap up around sundown. Regardless, I find it’s very necessary and helpful to move my body and/or steady my mind before starting the day.
Once the day is underway, It’s typically back jumping between back to back Google Hangouts, Zooms, and/or Microsoft team meetings with current or prospective clients. Scattered between calls I’ll usually interface with other team members on action items that may arise from my meetings or across initiatives where my assistance is requested. But typically I will block out my calendar by external, internal and project based work.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes – it certainly does. I am lucky enough to have the flexibility to work from wherever I am; so long as there’s a decent internet connection… So that allows me to work from my home office most days, while simultaneously staying flexible enough to stack in person meetings on certain days of the week (LA Traffic…)
Typically days when I have my in person meetings will be followed by dinner and/or a concert – so I strive for a nice balance of solo working time which allows for more of an introverted experience without sacrificing bursts of social interaction and extroverted excitement.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
At the risk of sounding cliche throughout this entire answer, achieving work life balance is an ongoing process rather than a destination. But in this day and age, it’s perhaps a misnomer of sorts.
Demands at work ebb and flow, while life continues to happen in the background. I try to approach balancing the two with a sense of flexibility whilst keeping my priorities in mind. By ensuring I have downtime to do the things that light me up, like getting into nature with my girlfriend and dog, surfing and spending time with friends.
So in short, the two go hand in hand and it’s less about a balance in my opinion, and more about establishing a life worth working towards and work worth living for. Do what you love and the balance is a consequence.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
No new habits or routines to speak of; but I have started playing tennis after work periodically. I haven’t played in years and while I’m no better than I was many years ago, I find it super enjoyable to play with a friend or hit a ball against the wall. It’s very meditative. Ideally I’d play at least once a week – so perhaps this is a new routine I can aspire towards…!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I recently finished Sellout by Dan Ozzi; it was absolutely a great read and perfectly captures the zeitgeist of perseverance, punk rock and profit.
Sadly I feel like my podcast rotation is a bit generic, but tried and true nonetheless; How I Built This, On Being, Planet Money always get the job done, I usually have a Wondry murder mysery in the mix as well. I also dig the ‘Future of What’ Podcast.
I’ve always been a fan of Cheri Hu’s writing and her newsletter Water & Music along with Dan Runcie’s Trapital. To complete the music Trifecta – the Lefsetz Letter is usually in my inbox to come back to at some point as well.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
At the risk of stating the obvious – my iPhone is sadly something I can’t live without. It is the operating system for my life – whether it’s calling family, responding to work email, doing “research” on TikTok, or checking the Surf Report – it’s always by my side.
But on my phone and beyond – the applications and productions I’ve found most undeniably useful are Slack, Trello, DISCO, Baremetrics, Hubspot, Salesforce and more recently – voice notes have been in heavy use.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
That’s a tough question, and at the risk of sounding generalist – I’d like to learn more about the work life balance of all of my peers, colleagues and/or competitors.
I feel like if it were a topic spoken about proactively as opposed to reactively, we may be able to strike a better balance between work and life in the US.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
As I mentioned before, work life balance is a process, not a destination. You won’t always feel like you’ve mastered it, but so long as it’s a key consideration as you evaluate your priorities and make decisions on a daily basis, you’ll strike a balance that should feel on a daily basis and also in the grand scheme of things.
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