Publicity Spotlight: Dayna Ghiraldi-Travers (Big Picture Media)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the final Publicity Spotlight of the week. Today’s post is a big one, so you may want to bookmark this site in case you’re forced to take a break for whatever reason. 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.

No matter what area of the industry we choose to cover in any given post, the main goal of this blog is to inform and inspire the next generation of music industry professionals. We feel the best way to learn about what it takes to make it in the music business is from those currently active in the industry, and no matter who you ask they will all tell you about the importance of networking and believing in yourself. Whether you want to tour the world or work in publicity, building a strong reputation within the industry is key to finding employment down the line. To do this you need to not only work well with others, but you also need to believe that you are capable of reaching your goals. If you do not believe in your ability to make it, how can you expect anyone else to?

There was a time in my life when I didn’t believe in myself. I had started a music review blog for the purpose of getting my name out while still in college, but at the time knew very little about marketing or whether anyone in the industry would ever take me seriously as a writer. When a chance to attend SXSW rolled around a year after launch, I cautiously jumped at the opportunity in hopes of figuring out if the industry would accept me, and just two days into my stay I encountered a woman who would change my life forever.

Standing at my fifth or sixth ‘party’ of the week, I was approached by Big Picture Media founder Dayna Ghiraldi-Travers. She told me she was excited to meet me and was glad I had decided to come to Texas. As the afternoon went on, she proceeded to introduce me to people, including a future coworker by the name of Josh Hammond, and made comments about how my writing had impressed her. I can’t remember how I felt in that moment exactly, but I know ever since that day I have felt like a part of the wild and widespread global community of music professionals. She accepted me and I, in turn, have done my best to do the same with each aspiring professional I have crossed paths with ever since.

When we initially decided to turn the focus of this blog towards professionals working in areas other than blogging, Dayna was at the top of my list. She’s not only one of the kindest individuals in music, but she’s also one of the hardest working people walking the planet. Her dedication to this business inspires me often, and after reading about her journey in entertainment I think she just might inspire you too.

You can learn about Dayna Ghiraldi-Travers and her efforts with Big Picture Media in the interview below. If you would like to learn more we highly recommend following BPM on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

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(Left To Right: Becky Sahm, Dayna Ghiraldi, Rachel Miller, Erika Clark and Amber Crisci. )

H: For the record, please tell us your name, job title, and the company you run:

D: For the record, my name is Dayna Ghiraldi-Travers and I am the creator Big Picture Media! Woo!

H: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Before we dive into the now I would like to take a few minutes and look at your history with music. When you think of formative moments in your life with music/art, what comes to mind?

D: Great question. As far as I can think back, music is there. I have this great memory of being in my best friend Dawn’s basement at a party filled with probably 25 other 13 year olds harkening back to a year called 1993. I continuously would make the entire party stop to listen to this harmony on Green Day’s Kerplunk album during the song Christie Road. At the time, I thought it was normal to just do things like that and I didnt think anything of it, but really, that was me doing PR. I would make people listen to music I loved and would help them connect with it on any level. it was the greatest moment. It made me so happy to help people discover new music and have it mean something to them. I don’t even know back then if I knew what all the lyrics meant, but I know how it made me feel and it was physical. Music just has an effect on me that is tangible and I get addicted to it.

Art to me are the creations my brother makes with his paintbrush on canvas. I received zero of that talent and my stick figure drawings have really knobby knees. While talking about my brother, I can credit him for taking me to my first real concert. We saw Green Day at Nassau Coliseum when I was 14 when they were touring for Dookie. When the lights went out, I convinced him we should rush the pit from our seats and hop the hockey gate and get in. I did it without hesitation and cleared it. He got caught by guards and begged to follow me. They allowed him. Fast forward 30 minutes later and I am in front of the stage. I got kicked in the face from a crowd surfer and they broke my glasses. Then I got heatstroke and was lifted to the guards who took me aside. #BestNightEver.

I always attribute my original love for music to my parents. Music was always playing in our house. My Dad went to Woodstock and my Mom saw The Beatles at Shea Stadium. That is so super cool. My sister and I also have very similar taste in music so that has always been a very strong bond we share. Plus we love to dance to some of that Hip Hop!

Another super cool personal fact, I went on a date when I was 22 years old to see Thrice and The Used play on tour. That guy who took me on that date is now my husband and the General Manager of Big Picture Media 11 years later! The fact that I got to work with Thrice and get to work with The Used are two of the greatest moments in my career. Both bands love when we tell them that story!

H: Was music something that was always present in your life, or did you have to seek it out as you grew older?

D: I think my love for music changed as I got older. I remember seeing LIT at Irving Plaza with Good Charlotte when I was 15 and watching the older people walk fast back and forth. They would be backstage or up in VIP. I wondered to myself, how do they get these jobs!? What is this that they do? I knew I wasn’t a performer but was meant to help in some way and PR just came natural to me. I am social and really good at organizing and am a people pleaser! It’s the perfect fit!

H: What was the first album you purchased with your own money (and what format was it)?

D: I wanna say Green Day Kerplunk on CD!

H: Without thinking about it for more than a few seconds, what is your favorite album of all time (at the moment, at least)?

D: AHH! Um…This is the hardest question so far. Maybe The Used’s In Love and Death or Rise Against’s Siren Song of the Counter Culture. I hate this question James!

H: Okay, let’s talk life in the business. You attended college in Long Island. Did you study publicity in school?

D: Indeed I did! I went to CW Post on Long Island and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations!

H: Can you pinpoint any events or moments in life that guided you toward a career in PR? What initially sparked your interest?

D: Total honesty here…I was signed up to go to begin school for Marketing. The math curriculum was INTENSE. I hate math. Someone said, you should try PR, they don’t have any math classes and you would be great at it. And that is truthfully how I discovered PR.

H: What was your first gig in the entertainment industry (unpaid work counts), and how did you go about finding it?

D: My first quasi gig was interning in the College Program for Walt Disney World. I spent two summers in Orlando working for The Mouse and went to Disney University to take classes while I was there. I got my Mousters in Entertainment Management and my Ducktorate in Business Management. (This is a real thing).

From there, I interned at Island Records. I was a big fan of Thrice and they were on that label at the time so I got an internship in the A&R department. From there, I took an internship at Nettwerk Management and chose that company because Brand New and Sum 41 were on the roster. Fun fact: I once made Jessie Lacey’s birthday gift. I spent the entire day burning CD’s for him. Not sure what they ever did with them, but I thought that was so cool!

H: You were in college just as the social media boom was beginning to take effect. What can you tell us about your process for networking and/or ‘getting your name out there’ when you were first starting out in the industry?

D: I did all my networking in the beginning face to face. When I first moved to NYC after college, I was out every night. At shows, at events, shaking hands, making friends. I don’t really rely on social media for my personal life even today. For Big Picture Media it means everything, and all my efforts go into that.

H: You started Big Picture Media just two years after graduating from college. What lead you to step out on your own?

D: I think it was desire, courage and me wanting to have my own voice and share those qualities with a staff of my own. I also credit my Dad for giving me innate talent to succeed in owning a business the way he did and my husband for supporting my crazy wild ideas.

H: Who was the first client you had on the BPM roster, and where did you discover them?

D: I would have to go back through OLD laptops to find out the first first one, but it was either City and Colour, Thrice, Circa Survive, The Receiving End of Sirens or To Write Love on Her Arms, the non-profit organization! They discovered me!

H: The company’s name is quite fitting. Are there any stories behind the name?

D: I loved that the acronym was BPM, Beats Per Minute but ultimately I decided on Big Picture Media because I wanted something with a broad scope so we could branch out into film, fashion, philanthropy, events, literary and more!

H: BPM has grown quite a bit in recent years, even as competition in the publicity market has increased. To what do you attribute your continued success?

D: I think it is because I have zero ego. I am not out to impress anyone. I just want to work hard and do right by our clients and be respected for my work ethic. Hearing someone tell me they think I am a hard worker is the best compliment someone can give me. I also attribute it to my incredibly talented staff of publicists and marketing gurus, of which more than half of them started out as interns many many years ago. They have stuck with me through all the growth and they have all grown as well. Teaching them everything I know and watching them grow into their own PR geniuses has helped us expand our roster into genres of music and into companies I never dreamed we’d be working on. I love you Rachel, Amber, Becky, Erika, Lisa, Natalie, Stefanee and Shoshie!

I still think we are growing and learning everyday. Their is always a lesson to be learned and always a way to improve upon ourselves. We work as a team and no one ever feels as if they are alone. Someone at BPM is always there to lend a hand to each other. I do my best to keep the work environment light, upbeat and filled with smiles. But when it needs to, we get down to the nitty gritty and always pull through.

H: One of the many goals we have with this blog is to reach those who are currently considering a career in the music industry. What advice would you offer to the aspiring publicity professional?

D: Make sure PR is right for you and something you are truly passionate about because the hours are long and even after a 12 hour day at your desk, you are expected to go to a show and set up press, mingle with the band, management and other industry people. Be organized, polite and professional. I know it sounds cliche, but never mix business with pleasure. That is how your reputation will be damaged and it is all about gaining the respect of your peers. It is a small industry when you break it down and everyone knows everyone. If you want to be a voice for your favorite band and do that by growing with them step by step, then maybe PR is right for you! I do think it is a good idea to explore a variety of jobs in the field if you are unsure.

H: Speaking of future professional, there will no doubt be some who read this and take an interest in the efforts of BPM. Do you offer any internship opportunities? If so, how should people go about applying to join the team?

D: Yes! We LOVE our interns! We have interns in NYC, Philly and Beverly Hills and are always looking for talented college students to help us day to day with both our PR and Online Marketing divisions! They can email me at Dayna@BigPictureMediaOnline.com.

H: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see artists make when attempting to market themselves in today’s market? Can you offer any pointers to our DIY friends without giving away any BPM trade secrets?

D: Of course, and I would be more than happy to! Get a publicist! Just kidding… I am a big planner and that is something we see sometimes where bands email us and have NO plan. You need vision. You need a strategy and it needs to be concise and cohesive. Press photos should be in the similar style to the cover art which should compliment the website and your voice on social media and music videos. Don’t rush a release. Pick a date and work backwards. What do you need to accomplish to get what you want? Be ready to work. Nothing is going to fall in your lap and no one is going to discover you if you aren’t putting yourself out there. If you don’t have the funds to pay for a professional team, dedicate a full work week to doing online research and stay organized and try to find a dedicated fan or family member who you can delegate some work to. The band should always divide tasks so it is an even split. Be as authentic as you can. It is possible to work a full time job, be in a band and play shows. I did it, except mine was going to school full time, interning full time 2 hours away from where I lived, and working 30 hours a week. Life takes dedication and continue to find your daily inspiration!

H: Big Picture has used Haulix as promotional distribution platform for a number of releases in recent years. What do you like about the service?

D: Funny…I am using Haulix right now to listen to the new Taking Back Sunday record they are releasing in the next few months. Big Picture Media is working on it and let’s just take a moment to acknowledge how happy this makes me….OK!!! Man this album is good. Sorry to tease, but whoa. You know its good just by the overall tone of this interview.

I love Haulix and the ability to track who listened, what songs stood out to them and it is so user friendly!

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

D: I wish that their was more opportunity for those incredibly talented bands who are just on the break to get that mainstream success they deserve. The room at the top is crowded and small and sometimes I just wanna cram them in there. Some of them deserver it more than the others who are already taking up all that room!

H: You have come a long way from day one at BPM. What career goals do you have at this point in life, and how (if at all) have they changed from when you first started int he industry?

D: Thank you! Well, for starters I live in Los Angeles now. One of my first goals in life was to move to New York City to work as a professional and I did that, for 8 years. I never ever thought I was someone who could leave NYC and I also never thought we would have staff in three cities, two of which I am not in! That alone shows the growth in me professionally. When I started out, I did everything. I didnt know how to delegate and it was mostly because I didnt want to. Now with a staff behind me who have been with me for 4+ years, I trust them with my life and more so in 2013 than any other year.

I am excited in 2014 to watch how we continue to transform. We have a lot of truly incredible projects coming up like MP45 Records, Songboard, all the events for The Village Voice, SpecScout, Hopeless Records, To Write Love on Her Arms, the first feature film we produced called OLD 37 in post production and we just heard that 14 of our clients have all been accepted to officially play SXSW!

We are going on the 2nd year having the Online Marketing arm of the company and I am excited to expand that area of the company.

H: Okay, I think that covers just about everything. Before I let you go, would you care to share any final thoughts with our readers?

D: We did sure cover a lot! That was a great interview, thank you James! If anyone is curious how James and I know each other…he was one of those people who I met back in 2007 (is that correct James?) and saw an immense amount of talent in. He was just a kid and I think James could vouch for this, but I never treated him that way. I always knew the young ones would eventually grow up and rule the world. That is how we treat even the smallest tumblr request to the late night tv bookings. Everyone gets the same amount of attention and they always get a response from us.

Thanks so much for reading if you made it this far!

Keep in touch with us, we have a lot of greatness coming this year: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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.