In this edition of my blog series feature Behind the Art, meet Brie Greenberg, the woman behind Metallica. Handling such a mega-force as Metallica is surely a demanding and daunting job, but Brie seems to manage it all with grace and vigor. It’s so refreshing to feature another kind soul who loves her job.
Behind the Art: Brie Greenberg
Metallica Artist Liaison. Follow Brie online.
What prompted you to pursue the business side of music? How did you happen into it?
I had a few music industry internships in college (Music Week Magazine, KISS 108 FM), which led me to realize that I wanted to pursue a career in the business side of music. Straight out of college I set my sights on working at a record label, and ended up working in the marketing department of Atlantic Records. From there I jumped around from label to label over the next 10 years, and then moved over to the artist management side.
Your title is Artist Liaison. Explain that to us—what all does your job entail?
I’m the main contact to get info to and from the band. My office is at the band’s headquarters, and I travel with them, so I pretty much always have access to them. I make sure they know what’s going on at all times and help keep them on track.
Who all is on your roster?
I currently work only for the band Metallica.
Who’s the first artist that got you started? What’s the story behind that?
At Esther Creative Group I was the day-to-day manager for several artists, but I spent the majority of my time working with Lou Reed. I was heavily involved in all aspects of Lou’s career, which included touring with him and accompanying him to all of his events and appearances. From that experience, and through the guidance of my boss, Tom Sarig, I learned tons about artist management, artist relations, and touring. That role really prepared me for my current role with Metallica.
As a woman in a male-dominant business, what gender-based obstacles have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
I was told by a former boss that I was “too nice” to get very far in the industry. I highly doubt men are told things like that. I wasn’t about to change my personality to get ahead, but I have had to work extra hard to prove myself and to get people to take me seriously.
I relate to that 100%! And please, don’t ever change.
Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d “made it” as a music industry professional?
Not really, but I do get a little rush of excitement every time I’m standing on the side of the stage as the band begins to play, and I realize how lucky I am to have a job that I love so much.
Whether for business or just for pleasure, what makes you want to research an artist that’s unfamiliar to you?
I’m always discovering new artists that I like. When I hear a song that catches my ear, I immediately try to track down who it is and check out the rest of their stuff. And I always love going to live shows.
Where do you live and why?
I moved from New York to the Bay Area for my current job, and I recently moved from San Francisco to Marin to be closer to the office.
What is your morning routine?
Coffee, gym, coffee, breakfast, then I delve into email. Maybe some more coffee.
What constitutes a productive day at work for you?
I make a lot of lists, so crossing things off the lists helps me feel productive. But I also feel satisfaction when I have prepared the band well for an event, photo shoot, or interview.
Is there anything unusual about your workspace? What do you keep on your desk? What’s the view from there?
I have a lot of framed gig posters on my wall, and oddly most of the artwork features skulls. I have a hand-painted pottery skull on my desk that I got in Mexico. There are no windows in my office, so not much of a view.
Do you have a peculiar habit?
It’s been pointed out to me that I quote/rap Beastie Boys lyrics (too) often.
Please recommend three songs (any genre, any artist) and tell us why you like them.
Radio—Rancid. This is my personal anthem.
Escape Velocity—Chemical Brothers. Just a really good (12-minute) song to rock out to.
All My Friends—LCD Soundsystem. This song makes me appreciate my friends.
As I’m also an author, I’d love for you to recommend three books and tell us why you like them.
I love reading memoirs. David Sedaris, Jeannette Walls, and Augusten Burroughs are some of my favorite authors in that genre.
Do you have an industry friend who helps and inspires you?
I stay close to all my industry friends, and I find my female peers to be particularly supportive and inspiring.
Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one(s), and for how long have you played?
Do you have any superstitions?
What phrase do you over-use?
“I’ll take care of it.”
Do you have a funny story related to your job, whether it be during planning, at a show, on tour, or at a meet-and-greet with one of your artists?
I have lots. But an endearing memory of Lou Reed is when he insisted on buying us neck pillows before a long flight . . . so we’re traveling together for days, walking around with matching neck pillows—his in the shape of a teddy bear, and mine a bright pink pig.
What is something about yourself that is essentially unknown and maybe even surprising?
I can say the alphabet backwards.
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
Follow your passion, and find a manager who you trust. And then follow her advice!
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the business side of music?
Make sure you have a thick skin and don’t take anything personally.
Atlantic Records, Augusten Burroughs, Beastie Boys, Chemical Brothers, David Sedaris, Esther Creative Group, Jeannette Walls, KISS 108 FM, LCD Soundsystem, Lou Reed, Metallica, Music Week Magazine, Rancid, Tom Sarig