Blogger Spotlight: Jacklyn Krol (Stage Right Secrets)

Hello and welcome to the final Blogger Spotlight of the week. We have featured some big names thus far in 2014, but today we’re turning our focus back to the young professionals who will one day guide the future of the industry.  If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

We are constantly on the lookout for new blogs and creative minds to feature on the site, and every so often we find one that truly catches us off guard. Jacklyn Krol, the mastermind behind Stage Right Secrets, is one such individual. She initially spent her life dreaming of a career in gymnastics, but after a series of events revealed that was not the path for her she found a new world of excitement waiting to be discovered in music. That interest eventually lead her to start her own site, and in the interview below she describes what it really takes to make a name for yourself in the modern music industry.

I’m always amazed by the variety of paths people take to find their way into the music industry, and the story of Jacklyn Krol is no exception. She started writing and covering artists simply because it was what interested her at the time, and in the many months since those initial efforts she has seen her hobby blossom into a promising young career. It’s far too early to know where life will take her next, but I am confident we will be hearing much more from her in the years to come.

If you would like to stay updated on everything Jacklyn Krol is currently working on, I highly recommend following Stage Right Secrets on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: For the record, please state your name, job title, and the publications you’re going to discuss:

J: Hi. I’m Jacklyn Krol, Editor in Chief and Founder of Stage Right Secrets.

H: We like to dive into these features by learning a bit about your history with music. When you think of formative moments in your life with music, what comes to mind?

J: My parents played everything from Andrea Bocelli to Def Leppard to Shania Twain. I couldn’t tell you one genre of music my parents didn’t play; it really helped me dive into all kinds of music, because it was constantly playing around the house.

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

J: For most people my age it was probably Brittney Spears or a boy band, but I’m pretty sure mine was Celine Dion.

H: Almost everyone with even the slightest interest in writing has a blog these days, but taking the next step and attempting to build a new digital community is something else entirely. What lead you to step out on your own with a brand new digital music hub?

J: When I started this I had no idea that there were other blogs run by teens and other young people, and so many different kinds of media outlets out there. I was clueless as to how to create a website and maintain it – all I knew was that my dreams of being a gymnast were crushed and I wanted to do something with my time. Hearing other people’s opinions and interpretations of music and lyrics was interesting to me. I thought I could create a simple blog to appease my own curiosity, but it took off and I really wanted to get into the music industry so this was the perfect first step.

H: Did you write for any other sites before stepping out on your own? If so, who?

J: I had no blog experience at all; I was an editor for my high school’s yearbook for four years, which did give me something to build on as far as creativity, writing, and editing.

H: You are the founder of Stage Right Secrets. What is the story behind the name?

J: I had no sleep one night and I was trying to think of what to name it. I thought about a worker or stage hand on the side stage, so I originally thought Stage Right _____. I had “productions” at first, but I found out that was already a company, and somehow I landed on Secrets.

H: How would you categorize the type of coverage offered by SRS?

J: We try to be as unique as possible; most of our interview questions are from the fans. We started a series “A Day In The Life” where we follow around a band for a day, which some other websites do but we try to make it real, as is, with no glamorization. We don’t cover a specific music genre, so our reviews, photography, interviews, and features cover a wide range of artists, from all different points of views and styles.

H: There are a number of sites covering the same areas of music. What is it about the content offered by SRS writers that separates your site from the competition?

J: Our staff is literally made up of friends I’ve met from the music scene; I have them in France, Boston, Chicago, Vegas, etc. I think the fact that we’re all over and covering some up and coming bands as well as foreign bands makes it a little eclectic. We try our hardest to get the fans closer to their favorite artist or entertainer. At the end of the day we’re just fans that want to give other fans the opportunity to feel like they went to that concert they were dying to see and couldn’t attend.

H: You launched in late 2011. When did you begin bringing on new writers?

J: Originally we started out as just two people; then it became just me for a few months. I was a full time college student, cheerleader, and involved in other activities and clubs. Soon my mom saw me doing so much and asked me if I had friends that could be a part of it. Sure enough, during the summer of 2012 I found a great group of people who I trust that do a great job covering the music and the bands.

H: Getting people in the industry to take your efforts seriously is often the first obstacle many bloggers encounter. Who was the first label/pr team you worked with, and how did you go about contacting them?

J: Our very first interviews were with Cassadee Pope and Hit The Lights. I wanted to stress to the PR teams that we want the artist’s fans to be involved in the interview, and the fact that we cover no specific music genre means we are able to bring in a wide range of followers and potential new listeners. At first I didn’t think anyone would take us seriously with a just a Flip camera – but it took off! One artist’s manager, who’s a big executive in country music, was really impressed that we put together good and original questions for an interview with only seven minutes to put it together and prepare. We’ve been really fortunate to work with incredible teams; I don’t think we’ve had a bad experience with anyone.

H: Speaking of contributors, what do you look for when recruiting new members to the SRS team?

J: We look for a passion for music, the drive to succeed, and honesty – people who genuinely want to work in the industry for the right reasons. We just had our first intern applications and we had 58 people apply!

H: You make it clear on your contact page that you have a passion for helping new talent get discovered. Where do you turn when hoping to find new music?

J: Luckily we have friends all over the world with different music tastes; and often they send us what they’re listening to. We try to go to a lot of local shows, check out the opening acts, and all of our press releases we get in our inbox.

H: I’ve noticed there are very few ads on SRS. How do you monetize your efforts and in what ways, if any, do you plan to expand advertising moving forward?

J: We actually don’t make money to cover the up keep of the website yet. We hope to move forward with some ads to be able to cover that in the future.

H: When it comes to marketing SRS, what has worked best? Worst?

J: Social media and getting into a certain band’s fan base. T. Mills retweeted our tweet about interviewing him; we then had over 7,000 tweets with questions for him. My phone didn’t stop flashing and beeping at me for days. Relying on your current followers is certainly important, but we’re always looking for ways to grow.

H: You review albums from every genre on the site. When it comes to receiving material for review consideration, which distribution services do you prefer and why?

J: Haulix! I came across it a while ago and it was the easiest thing with all of the information we needed there, the album stream, and download. I love the simplicity and reliability of Haulix.

H: Album leaks are as prevalent now as ever, and a lot of people point the blame at people sending records to smaller blogs without knowing the people behind them. What steps do you take to ensure music received ahead of release stays under wraps?

J: We never have and never will publish any music prior to its release date. The first step is again our staff – people who will play by the rules. Then we usually have myself and one or two writers go over the music to review; if I download the music I mark it in a protected folder in a safe computer and have the staff do the same.

H: What is your ultimate goal with SRS, and how (if at all) has that changed since launch?

J: Going into this, I didn’t have a specific goal. I wanted to give fans answers to their questions, just like I wanted answers to mine. I would love to see coverage of more bands and concerts, and update everything with better graphics, editing, videography, etc.

We actually have “followers”, which is so unexpected! We’ve had people come up and ask us “are you from SRS?” It is great knowing our work is appreciated.

H: Do you have any specific career goals for yourself?

J: I want to stay in the music industry, although I’m not sure in exactly what capacity; I never expected to be on camera. I do publicity for artists (most who I’ve meet through SRS) and I’ve done various jobs on different legs of tours. I really just want to keep myself involved and try every job possible in the industry to understand how it all works together, and go from there.

H: Before we let you go, what can you tell us about your plans for 2014?

J: We plan on expanding with our new interns and to go into the entertainment side more. We’ll be having a ton of contests as well. We hope to bring new features and fun into the new year, and to be even more interactive with our followers, who are the reason we exist in the first place. A big thank you to them, and to all the bands who let us work with them!

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.