Blogger Spotlight: Jenn Stookey (Highlight Magazine)

Hello and welcome to the final spotlight column of the week. We have covered some brilliant minds in recent days, and it should go without saying the same applies to the person featured in today’s article. If you have a journalist or site you would like to recommend for a future installment of this column, or if you have any questions regarding the blog and/or our services, please email and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

No great music site gets to be the apple of the industry’s eye without having a solid team of dedicated contributors, and for Highlight Magazine there is perhaps no better team player than Jenn Stookey. From setting up all online features for the zine, to instructing the digital marketing team, advising news posters, and contributing to the physical publication, there is almost no aspect of Highlight Magazine that Jenn is not directly involved in each and every week. Her free time is very limited, but in recent weeks we were able to track her down and learn how she manages to keep everything under control while still pursuing her college education. You can learn everything you need to know about her journey in the paragraphs below.

If you want to stay up-to-date with everything Jenn is working on, be sure you bookmark and frequent Highlight Magazine. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: For the record, state your name, job title, and the publication(s) you work with:

JS: My name is Jenn Stookey and I’m the managing editor with Highlight Magazine.

H: When you think of your earliest memories with music, what comes to mind first?

JS: Musicals definitely. I was apart of them from kindergarden and up and my family would always take trips to see the traveling Broadway shows as well as listen to the soundtracks all the time. So weird, but I loved it!

H: Do you remember the first album you purchased with your own money? Do you still own it today?

JS: I honestly can’t remember which one I bought with my own money! It was probably a Hilary Duff CD. She was my idol growing up and is still someone I look up to.

H: Everyone finds their own way into the music business. What first inspired you to look at career possibilities within the entertainment industry?

JS: Vans Warped Tour 2009. I had wanted to be a physical therapist before that but that day changed my whole outlook on the music industry. I remember thinking, if something as simple as music could bring hundreds and thousands of people together for the same reason and actually change lives and get fans through hard times in their life, why not be apart of it?

H: I believe you’re still in school. If so, where do you attend and what are you currently studying?

JS: I am currently at Belmont University studying Music Business. I’m technically getting my business degree but most of the classes are geared towards the industry.

H: Some people choose to skip college in hopes of diving right into the work force of the music business. What lead you to continuing your education past high school?

JS: My parents definitely. And I think I’m one of those people who if I didn’t go to college, I would regret it later.

H: You currently reside in Nashville, but you’re originally from the state of Illinois. What opportunities, if any, did you have in your hometown to pursue your interest in music?

JS: My senior year of high school I really wanted to be a DJ at a local alternative station but they only way to do that was take a college broadcasting course. So second semester I took the course and was a DJ for a year and a half! It was a pretty sweet deal.

H: Onto your work with Highlight Magazine. When did you first join the team, and what can you tell us about the application process?

JS: I joined the team in May of 2012. It was a weird beginning actually. I was at a William Beckett concert at Schubas in Chicago and our editor-in-chief, Ashley Osborn, was at the same show. We followed each other on Instagram and noticed we were both there so she wanted to talk before the show was over. I had never had a real conversation with her before this night, but we met outside and talked about anything and everything. It was very cool. She started talking about Highlight and I had said I had always wanted to be a writer for it but I thought she already had everyone she needed. Right then she offered me the position to be Online Editor and I couldn’t pass it up! So I became apart of the team and we built up our online presence from there!

H: There are a number of great music in existence, so what drove you to apply at Highlight?

JS: I knew Ashley from the internet, as everyone knows everyone these days, and I knew she was driven and extremely talented. I wanted to be apart of something I believed in and I definitely believed that the magazine would succeed, which is why I was interested.

H: The competition for traffic on music blogs has never been as fierce as it is right now. What is it about the content offered by Highlight that you feel sets your efforts apart from everyone else?

JS: We don’t like to focus on the petty stuff. Our mission is to focus on the genuine people in the industry and to focus on positivity. We aren’t going to bash artists and we aren’t going to interview them about rumors or drug and alcohol addiction. We want to present others in a positive light and fill in our readers on how their favorite artist overcomes struggles, not the struggle itself. Not many publications do that anymore, but I think it’s important and shows a side of the industry not many still believe in.

H: For your position, what does a normal week of work for Highlight Magazine entail?

JS: It’s pretty busy. I probably spend at the least two or three hours a day, even on the weekends, constantly reading emails. I set up all of our online features, instruct our digital marketing team and our news posters, as well as sometimes helping with content for the physical issue. I kind of do a little bit of everything.

H: If you could offer one piece of advice to bands hoping to be featured on Highlight in the future, what would it be?

JS: Don’t contact us via Facebook. We are all about being professional, and email is the way to go. Make sure your email holds proper grammar and a formal email structure as well. Just be professional about it because if it seems like the they haven’t taken the time and effort to make themselves look good, then I’m not going to want to take my time and effort deciding whether they would be a good fit.

H: Like many bloggers, you make little-to-no income for your efforts. Why continue doing it?

JS: Yeah, I make zero income haha. I do it because it’s made me learn so much about the industry from the inside. It has taught me how to time manage extremely well and I’ve made so many connections. Plus our team rules and I love giving upcoming writers and bands a chance to get noticed. I came into this position knowing how to do absolutely nothing. It was all trial and error, and still is.

H: If you had to choose, what has been your greatest accomplishment as an industry professional thus far in life?

JS: With Highlight, I would say getting to the point where industry professionals recognize me and trust me. I think trust is huge on the business side of the industry and it can be hard to climb back up if you have a bad reputation.

H: When it comes to receiving music for review/feature consideration, which distribution platform(s) do you prefer and why?

JS: Anything that is easy to stream. I’d like to think I’m tech savy, but I’m not as much as I should be. SoundCloud or via Dropbox are normally my favorite.

H: At this point in life, what is your ultimate career goal?

JS: I’ve been asked this so much lately. I have no idea what career I want. I’m leaning towards management but honestly, as long as I’m somewhere where I love the work I do and I can help musicians be discovered, or be part of the reason they get out on stage every night and inspire their fans, then that’s good enough for me.

H: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about the music industry?

JS: I don’t know about the biggest misconception, but I know back home people don’t really know what the “music industry” means. I feel that just a general lack of knowledge about what it is creates all of these rumors and stories from people who don’t understand what it is. There are so many components that go into the business and each interact with each other. There’s no way that the industry could be where it is today if we all didn’t have a part.

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

JS: How judgmental and greedy people are. We’re all in it for one reason, because we initially loved music so much we wanted to be surrounded by it. However, once someone reaches a certain point in their career I feel like they have a tendency to forget about that. The music doesn’t judge and it’s not greedy and neither should professionals.

H: Before we let you go, do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share with our rears?

JS: If you want to be in the industry, it’s going to take some work but it’s definitely not impossible. I see time and time again people say they’re going to make it but they sit inside all day and don’t get out there. Surprisingly, there are more opportunities out there than one might think and people WILL help. You just have to make it a priority if it’s something that you really want. Create your own luck and pave your own future! If no one else believes in you, then know that I will!

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.