From Music Publicist To Web Developer

Kara Luton
Mar 3, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo credit: Carl Heyerdahl

I first found out about public relations from watching MTV’s The City. Lauren Conrad was working in fashion PR and it looked so glamorous. It sounds silly, but that made me (and probably a million other girls) want to go into public relations too. At the time, I was also learning French so I had my eyes set on eventually getting into international PR, although looking back, I had no idea what that really entailed.

PR is a very competitive field. There aren’t many jobs and even fewer fresh-out-of-college assistant jobs so I knew I had to begin interning as soon as possible. Naturally, being at Belmont University in the heart of Nashville, Tenn., there were several music publicity internships and slowly my interest in international PR faded and I set my eyes on being in the music industry. I landed my first internship the summer after my freshman year and continued interning through my senior year. All of that hard work paid off when two months after graduating I landed a job as a publicity assistant at a digital marketing firm in town.

You’re probably asking yourself what exactly does a music publicist do? Think of us as the middleman between artists, who are our clients, and members of the press. Our job is to communicate to the media when a client does something newsworthy in an effort to secure placements in publications across print, digital and other platforms. We also would field interview requests for journalists determining what would and wouldn’t be a good fit for our artist. Have you ever noticed those people running around award show red carpets in the background in all black? Those are most likely publicists going up to the next journalist in line to gauge their interest in interviewing their client. The job requires a lot of creativity and networking and I loved it.

About a year and a half after I became an assistant I was promoted to be a publicist. I had already been running day-to-day publicity on my own for several clients and was excited I finally had the title to match. My days consisted of sending pitches to journalists, meetings with clients, running to client shows and even a few red carpets thrown in there. It was everything I had dreamed of, but something was off. I found myself getting more and more stressed about landing placements for clients. I knew I needed something with a better work life balance and something where I felt more mentally challenged each day.

One day at home, I stumbled upon Codecademy and began their HTML and CSS courses. I absolutely loved it. I yearned for the feeling of finally fixing an error and found myself coding for hours after work. I had been thinking of transitioning out of PR for a while and realized that this could be a viable option. I finished high school online since I was doing ballet full-time in NYC (that’s another story) and knew that I thrived better in a school environment. I began searching online and found The Iron Yard — a three month coding bootcamp. I needed as much information about working as a developer as possible before fully committing to not only quitting my job and losing my steady paycheck, but going back to school. To begin researching TIY, I reached out to a former graduate to set up a coffee meeting in addition to discussing the industry with my cousin who worked in DevOps. Those meetings confirmed development was everything I was looking for and I officially enrolled in TIY’s front end development course.

My last day of working as a music publicist was on Fri., September 23rd, 2016 and I began class at TIY on Mon., September 26th. I remember sitting in class on that Monday morning internally freaking out because I had just quit the job I had worked towards for all of college and was beginning something I had absolutely no background in. Looking back, I am so glad I took that leap of faith. Changing careers is the best thing that happened to me. I feel challenged at work everyday and I’m constantly learning new things.

Life is too short to work at a shitty job. Are you thinking about changing careers to work in tech? Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Kara Luton

Written by

Front end developer + former music publicist. Retired ballerina. Nashville @hiretechladies city organizer.

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