There is NO doubt in the world that singer-songwriter Alex Vickery is destined for greatness. She is an incredibly talented musician who resides in Los Angeles and continues to balance life between being an entrepreneur and creative. If the name has yet to ring a bell, here’s one way to get familiar with her story. Industry News Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Vickery about who she is, what it means to have a music career, running point on ‘The Box LA,’ and how she’s making time for it all.
For those who may not know who Alex Vickery is. Introduce yourself and what you’re currently up to?
I’m a singer-songwriter-producer and classically trained multi-instrumentalist from Australia, now living in LA and signed to Sony Music. I also have an all-female music and entrepreneurial network called The Box, co-founded with my partner Kate Morgan. We do music and brand showcases, in-studio songwriting camps and just generally try to help create opportunities for female creatives.
Before moving to LA to pursue music, I was working full-time in the media/communications industry in Australia. I have a degree in journalism so I was a beauty editor for a while, and then spent a few years doing PR, marketing, events and sponsorships for global lifestyle, fashion and beauty brands like Westfield Retail Group and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Needless to say – this experience really came in handy when getting The Box up and running – so everything happens for a reason!
I’m also working on an app, and a series of e-learning books.
That’s dope! How does Alex Vickery plan to take over the world?
Through music! Music has an incredible ability to infiltrate people’s daily lives, experiences, milestones and memories and it has the power to influence. A song can help you understand someone else’s perspective or teach you something about your own. A song can help heal, it can inspire you to forgive, pick up the phone and call someone, OR cut off a toxic relationship. Sometimes music helps us process our feelings in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to — even by talking to someone. It can help us feel more connected to the world – so it’s is an amazing way to take over the world. I think generally, the best way to take over the world is in service to others; when what you’re doing is fulfilling a need, and you have a ‘why’ that is bigger than yourself.
When did you first realize that it was time for you to pursue a career in the music? Has it always been something you knew you always wanted to do, or did you fall into it?
Music has always been the biggest part of my life. As a kid I was a total classical music nerd. Life was violin concertos and music exams – I actually have an A.Mus.A on violin so I’m qualified to teach, and I did for a while, as a side-hustle.
I also played classical piano and sang in a girl group – we traveled Europe and Asia in high school performing. But when it came time to choose colleges I was overcome with this desire to have a ‘sensible job.’
Basically, I was operating out of fear. I was too scared to throw myself headfirst into an industry that you’re ‘most unlikely to succeed’ in.
So I got sidetracked with a journalism degree (I still majored in Popular Music) and it took me being in my mid-twenties to have my ‘aha’ moment about pursuing music full-time, at which point I had to make everything happen really quickly. I quit my job, came to LA and went into total hustle-mode; spending all my savings on flights, Airbnbs, immigration attorneys and visas…dealing with shady managers and going from being comfortable and successful in Australia, to sleeping on couches in LA.
In that sense I definitely didn’t ‘fall into it’ – I had to make it happen! Even though I started a little later, I’m so grateful for the way my journey has played out – every single thing I’ve done has armed and prepared me for what I’m doing now.
Tell us about ‘The Box’ and why it’s such an important part of your journey? How can our readers support this venture?
The Box is a collaborative community for women, where music’s rising stars connect
with entrepreneurial founders and creators.
We host showcases for performers, creatives and brands, so usually we have 5 performers on stage, and then 5 female-centric experiential brand pop-ups around the room (mani stations, flower crown workshops, fashion installations etc) for guests to
We invite a whole lot of industry executives, label people, Spotify people, other creatives and just let everyone mingle and make discoveries.
It’s been incredible to see some of the collabs, deals, sponsorships, brand ambassadorships, strategic partnerships and real checks that have been cut to female
creatives, that have evolved out of The Box. We are really still in our infancy, we’ve had a handful of events, and we’re still building our digital platform, but we have already partnered with Alicia Keys’ She Is The Music organization, The GRAMMYs, ASCAP, Gibson Guitars, Musicians Institute, Golden Road Brewery, NCLA Beauty, Beauty by Dr. Kay Durairaj and more.
We’ve had some amazing artists like Project Runway all-star and fashion designer to Lady Gaga and Bebe Rexha, Candice Cuoco, plus on stage we’ve had TeaMarr, who was Issa Rae’s first signee to her new label on Atlantic, and multi-platinum singers like SAYGRACE and Maggie Lindemann.
In October, we held our first all-female writing camp, in partnership with She Is The
Music and Musicians Institute. We had a different featured female artist each day who came in and spoke to our girls about what they’re working on, and then we broke off into groups and wrote. We also ran a student competition and had 1 female MI student in each room as a mentee songwriter/producer alongside Grammy winners and pros. In true The Box form, we had some amazing female founders come and create pampering in-studio experiences, so we had FLYBROW come do our brows, and CBD massages from Pink Honey Collective.
Self-care for women in the industry is so important!
Readers can support by following our IG: @welcometothebox to keep up to date with
what we have going on, and by buying a ticket to our next event, which will be in Feb/March 2020!
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@ellimoore is an artist, songwriter and one half of female production duo @lyreofficial – here she is tracking vocals at the #TheBoxLA x @sheisthemusic writing camp at @mihollywood – side note: these florals from @artsdistrictflorals are everything!
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How do you balance life as a creative, event coordinator (The Box LA), while having a social life? Do you have time for it all?
Time management is everything. Being organized and maximizing hours in the day is a
Not over-committing, being aware of your own limitations and protecting your sanity are also important.
I self-manage, so I look after my own schedule/calendar. The month leading up to a Box event, I will scale my writing sessions down to 2 a week, because the event prep workload is intense. During that time, unless Beyonce calls me and wants to work, it’s probably a ‘no.’ I definitely felt in 2019 that my social life took a hit, but that’s fine. It’s hustle season! I have incredible friends who understand, and they’re also busy building their own empires, so we all just get it. I’m lucky to work with some of my best friends in the studio on a weekly basis, so it feels like we’re socializing (especially when wine is involved, which is often).
My boyfriend is my business partner (and the founder) on another endeavor, an app called Flute Drinks, and we live together, so I definitely see enough of him. And I founded The Box with one of my best friends and UMPG songwriting superstar Kate Morgan, who used to be my housemate, and who I’m also collaborating with on a series of e-learning books. They say don’t mix business with pleasure, but that’s literally why we’re in the music industry; to make a living doing what we love.
I have to check in with myself regularly and make sure the balance is right. Am I feeling
creatively starved? Book a studio day. Is my admin getting behind? Take a day off from
everything else and register my songs, do splits, pay bills, respond to emails. Am I
feeling under-challenged? Throw myself into something scary. Am I exhausted?
Take some time for self-care.
Speaking about balancing, has the life between creating music and producing events ever correlated better than you expected? If so. How? What’s your favorite part of it.
It fits together beautifully. Kate and I both performed our own sets at our first The Box event in 2018, so we utilized our own platform in that way. We have met amazing collaborators at our events, and then gone into the studio together later, or had someone we met do our artwork, we’ve made great corporate relationships we didn’t have before…we are benefitting from this just as much as anyone else!
What’s one quote you live by that pushes you to be the best you can be?
You have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyonce.
ABOUT YOUR MUSIC
What are clients usually trying to achieve by hiring you as their songwriter / producer?
I work on SoundBetter as a ‘songwriter for hire,’ and vocal producer. Some clients are just looking to level up their work with some song revisions or feedback, some are looking to end up with a polished, market-ready product, and some are looking to collaborate with a professional that they may not otherwise have access to, so their work is more credible on every level.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the near future, who are your top three choices?
Nija, Charli XCX, Beyonce.
As a woman in entertainment, how do you manage to stay motivated when it’s obvious that the industry is male dominated?
That’s what does motivate me. When you’re the underdog, it puts a fire in your belly. I am passionate about creating opportunities and connection for women in the industry, because we are stronger together. It’s about sharing knowledge and helping other women avoid the same pitfalls you fell into. The ‘boys club’ industry of old has taught us to compete with one another and that it’s ‘every woman for herself.’ They’re not ready for what happens when we collaborate and compare notes instead. And it’s happening – it feels like we’re in a season of change in this department, which is really refreshing.
We still have a long way to go, though.
Now that there is an obvious shift, what your thoughts on women and their
representation? Is there a huge gender gap?
We are seeing some progress. 50% of GRAMMY nominees for 2020 are female.
Women have been dominating the charts. Organizations like She Is the Music are
helping galvanize female musicians and obviously we’re trying to do our part at The Box.
Female songwriters are killing it (although we always have been) and there are some amazing female producers cutting through. Production/engineering has always been SO male dominated, even more so than the executive side of music, and this feels like the biggest hurdle to overcome: getting more girls into production. There are some amazing female producers, like NovaWav, Lyre, TokiMonsta, Nija, Wondagurl, but we need more!
The girls at the top are so in demand as well. They’re being pulled in so many different directions, because a) they’re so talented and amazing b) there’s only a handful at that level and c) it’s very social conscious and ‘trendy’ to work with women right now, and a great corporate look for labels and big companies. So, it’s wonderful, but I do worry about burnout, output and I worry about really talented writers who are not yet at the A-list level, being able to find female producers of a comparable standard to collab with.
When organizing our last all-female camp, we had plenty of artists and songwriters, but it was kind of stressful finding enough female producers to cover all the rooms. We were asking all the major publishers and it was like, one here, one there…that’s a microcosm of the bigger picture. We just don’t have enough. And the powers that be aren’t investing what they should be into their development.
You wouldn’t have that problem organizing a co-ed camp. So – if you’re a female producer with crazy skills and you’re being slept on, please reach out to The Box, we want to know you! The gender pay gap in general is beyond a joke at this point. We hear the 70c to a $1 statistic a lot, which is generally what you hear white women complaining about. But when you break it down and get intersectional with it, it’s truly shocking. To every $1 made by white men in America, Asian women make $0.89, white women make $0.79, black women make $0.63, and Latina women make $0.53.
Nobody, including men, should be okay with this.
What do you want your songs to mean other people?
I would love if my songs made people feel less alone, more connected to their feelings,
empowered, inspired and energized.
It’s so amazing that you host private songwriting session for those interested in pushing their pen and taking it a step further. Are you ever faced with creative blocks when it comes to writing new content? If so how do you get around them? If not, share three tips that a singer, songwriter or producer may use to overcome their own.
I love doing my one-on-one songcraft masterclasses – I do them in tiers so there’s something for everybody, from beginner, intermediate and advanced. I cover everything from songcraft basics to tips for collaboration, to how to pitch songs, and I do them remotely so all you need is a laptop and a video call app.
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I am offering private songwriting coaching to a handful of students per month, starting May. Lessons will be done remotely over Skype, FT, WhatsApp etc – so you can be anywhere in the world! – Beginners: Delve into song structure, lyrics and melody, the art of collaboration & more. Intermediate: Learn industry secrets & techniques to level up from good to great. Advanced: Have your songs workshopped & fine-tuned in live feedback sessions & work on the perfect pitch – Email or DM for more info & share with any friends or fam who want to get serious about songwriting or a career in music! Love Alex x
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Honestly, creative blocks don’t happen that often, because I try not to burn myself out in the studio and I always re-fill my creativity cup. I don’t do 2-a-days. I understand the importance of getting to your 10,000 hours, but I think managers and labels can put a lot of pressure on you to be in every room, twice a day, every day.
I think that’s because songwriters don’t get paid properly for our work, so there’s this sense that you have to take 1000 shots in the dark to sink one remotely lucrative basket, which can often be true. We need to change the way this is set up. If we were compensated fairly (and where applicable, up front, like a producer) songwriters wouldn’t feel so much pressure to be everywhere at once, and I think we would have less creative burnout. We’re not robots, we’re human beings. We can’t always churn out truly emotional, genius work on command, and when it happens – it feels amazing, but it does take a lot out of us. To try to do that multiple times in a day can be energetically and spiritually draining – and it’s also probably going to compromise the quality of your output.
I would rather turn in 3 great songs a week that get placed, than 14 average ones that don’t.
When it comes to content, sometimes I freak out that every single idea has already been done. But the thing is, it hasn’t been done by you; you have your own unique tone and perspective to bring to the topic and somebody needs to hear it!
I generally try to keep 5 potential titles in my notes section at all times, so I’m not walking into a session with nothing to offer when that inevitable question comes up; “So what are we going to write about today?” These titles usually come out of a conversation with a friend, a dream, a movie. I keep my receptors open and I’m constantly searching for inspiration, or at least ready to receive it. I try to put myself in situations where inspiration is likely to strike. Meditation is one of these. Unconscious writing is another.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when working with new clients / artists?
Conversation – most great song ideas come out of talking to them about their lives and
sharing stories. Most of my sessions start with a mini-therapy session.
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Wrote ‘Let Me Live’ w/ my bestie @fallonfallon 😍& then angelic @katlynnsimone performed it on @empirefox last night. Let Me Live is also available now as a single on Spotify, Apple Music etc. . Prod by @kosine5internz / engineered by @mitch_kenny / empire music manager @foxatfox ✨
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I’ve worked on EMPIRE for the past 2 seasons. I have 8 songs on this final season of the show; 3 have aired and the rest are still to come.
I love watching every week to see how they pull it together visually! It’s been an amazing experience working on the show. I began working on music for FOX shows when a song I did years ago with SAYGRACE and Kosine of Da Internz got placed on STAR on FOX, and from there I developed some great relationships on the FOX team, including Nicole Fox, who is the original music manager on EMPIRE. Most of the songs I do for EMPIRE I am lucky enough to write with my besties Fallon and Felisha King, identical twins from girl group Cherish, and amazing singers, songwriters and producers.
We’ve collaborated with producers like Harv, Ayo & Keyz and Harmony Samuels on songs for EMPIRE – we’re a well-oiled machine at this point, and we have a great time doing it!
What tips can you share for those looking to expand and truly get their music out there?
For artists, songwriters AND producers; collaborate with people who have more reach and industry credibility than you do. Not only will this help get your music out there, it will probably ensure it’s the best music it can be, and make you better at your craft in
general. SoundBetter is a great resource to find people to work with if your industry
rolodex is a little light.
Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and DIY. Get onto Tunecore or DistroKid and put your stuff out! No-one is going to hear it if it stays on your laptop! SubmitHub is a great service that shares your music with bloggers and playlisters. Kobalt has a distribution arm for independent artists that is really worth looking at, because you retain your masters and they can do it on a song by song basis, so you’re not necessarily locked in to anything long term.
As annoying as it is to say, because I hate that it has become a pre-requisite – building a social following helps. If for nothing else, you have a built-in audience ready to listen to your music. Publishing deals and record deals obviously help to an extent, especially in the short-term financially – but today’s deals are very different to the way they were.
Expect to do a lot of the ground work yourself, and know that no one is necessarily going to go out of their way to create opportunities that will help you recoup that nice advance you just got. A lot of times nowadays, it’s like; ‘here’s a chunk of money, good luck.’ Invest in your own career and save a little money if you’re serious about getting your music out there. You’ll need it to pay for musicians, mixers, distribution platforms, digital advertising, attending music networking events etc. Never be ashamed of a side hustle! Just don’t let it overtake your objective of getting your music out there.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More music! More empowering and connecting female creatives, more knowledge sharing. More entrepreneurial endeavors.
How can people stay in contact with you?
You can also find me on LinkedIn for strategic/corporate partnerships and serious shop-talk, and SoundBetter, if you’re a music creator who is interested in working with me!