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Exploring Life & Business with Jennifer Orr of Defendu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Orr.

Hi Jennifer, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
After years of student radio, touring, booking, and promoting bands I wanted to utilize all my experience and work with bands helping them with marketing and management.

I started Defendu a music management, marketing and label, with the idea that musicians could focus on the art while I helped them with the business. I want to fast-track them to playing shows to getting them on the road and on people’s playlists sooner than later.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I would say the most challenging part is location.

Even when I was only doing the booking, being in a smaller city like Boise takes a great amount of investment, time, and money, to tour to gain recognition outside of Idaho. This can make or break a band in one or even a couple of tours. I started with a handful of bands at the beginning that was talented but they ultimately broke up after weighing out the investment over time.

Now, representing musicians on the management side across different parts of the country including Nashville. In the early day when I met musicians from larger metropolitan areas, they want to collaborate with me, affirming what I’m doing as an independent in the music business. It’s encouraging to them that there is a representation for them outside of corporate. And most ask why I don’t relocate to an area to be more connected with other industry people.

My answer to that is that is usually people go to places that are overpopulated with people doing the same thing. By not having much music business representation in Idaho, I got to help, informally, a lot of bands from the beginning stages of their development. This means a lot to me as it’s part of my contribution to the creative culture in my community.

I travel all over the country going to studios helping out with project management, merchandising, touring and marketing. I’ve never made the location an excuse to not get involved in music instead I’ve made it more of a reason to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m just a plane ride away and I love to travel.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Defendu is a management and marketing service for creatives. Established to support artists in taking the business out of their work so they can focus on their art.

Female founded management and marketing to represent musicians in all aspects of the music business. I also wanted there to be more representation for females and support female musicians for their work without being subjected to compromising themselves for marketing.

Building a relationship with the musician(s) is important and for those looking for representation, I would encourage them to identify people that whom they want to develop a serious relationship. There are going to be a lot of hard times and emotional times but having someone who can be in the corner that you trust is key.

Music is about relationships and with the uncertainty of the music journey ahead the people you share this with are a big part of your experience. The least you can plan for on this journey is to embrace each day and enjoy who you are doing it with.

There are a lot of available services for artists that can be offered and I would advise musicians to do what they can do they understand the work behind it. I think it’s important for artists to know the work that goes into behind the scenes from booking, social media, merchandising, and being the main point of contact. When you have someone that ends up helping you with these things there is more appreciation and understanding of the time that goes into it.

Currently, I manage a few musicians at this time from Nashville, Idaho and Nebraska. I’m always looking for the next project I would like to put on the label or offer a merchandising deal. Although I’m working directly with a few I still want to keep my eyes out for the next incredible artist that needs a little direction. I’m in it for the music and how I can help get the music heard.

Merchandising is my specialty and I have a background in fashion design; I’d like to continue to invest in more musicians across the U.S. that I don’t manage and invest in helping them with merchandising. I want to help musicians get their music out there and I don’t want to limit the number of people I can help so outside of who I’m managing. Merchandising for musicians is the art component for me and usually an area that many need to the most support in when getting started. I’m open to talk to touring bands that would like support specifically in this area.

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
There is still great value in DIY in the beginning for artists. I think it’s good for artists to have goals and take on more of the responsibility in the beginning so they can understand what’s happening behind the scenes as well as the time put in. If they have goals set with little achievements over time such as increased guarantees, getting hotels and playing festivals this helps them see the growth. There is a lot of investment involved in all aspects from the artists and management. The relationship you have with the people you work with is the most important and is the most rewarding part of the journey.

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