Office Hours

3 People Moving Music Forward

In the ever-evolving music industry, three people are doing it differently: Ryan Schrieber, Natalie Miano, and Shaad D'Souza.

Ryan Schreiber, founder of Pitchfork, photographed by Sean Robertson.


In partnership with The Malin, Office Hours is a column that explores all the facets of our new work world.

In the music industry, the roles of those behind the scenes are often as impactful as the artists themselves. From managers propelling their artists to the critics shaping how we view the music to the publicists making sure it’s in front of our faces. In the grand world of the music and media industry, there are three particular people who are reshaping the way we discover, consume, and interact with music.

Ryan Schreiber, the Pitchfork founder turned music manager, leverages his editorial insights and deep understanding of music trends to help artists find new opportunities. Natalie Miano, a music publicist representing the most exciting rising musicians, known for her ability to spot emerging trends, helping artists gain visibility in a crowded marketplace. And Shaad D’Souza, who brings a fun and engaging approach to music criticism, offering readers a refreshing perspective on the latest tracks and artists, both popular and unexpected. Together, these three are shaping the future of music, influencing both the industry and the listening experience.

Ryan Schreiber

Founder of Pitchfork, Founder of xtra/credit management

Ryan Schreiber founded the online music magazine Pitchfork in 1996, where he held roles as Editor-in-Chief and CEO until 2019. Under his direction, Pitchfork emerged as a leading authority in music journalism, establishing high standards for the industry and playing a pivotal role in the careers of countless artists and writers.

Now Ryan leads xtra/credit mgmt, a boutique artist management agency. His roster includes Jagjaguwar's psych-folk artist Anastasia Coope and Los Angeles DJ/producer Allie Teilz. He also curates the weekly new music playlist, What’s Good. Ryan is working on a memoir detailing the ascent of Pitchfork and the indie music scene, titled "Weird Era," set to be published by MCD x FSG.

Describe a day in the life! What are your work habits? How do you stay motivated throughout the day?

I work from home, so my mornings start with coffee, chores, and music. I’m still compulsive about listening to whatever new music just dropped, and it’s the thing that keeps me going, so a little bit of background energy is always dedicated to my weekly "What’s Good" playlist.

Beyond that, an ideal workday starts with checking messages, addressing anything urgent, and day-planning. It’s essential for me to stay focused on my own daily goals because going with the flow of email, texts, and other outreach can easily start to run my life if I let it. I’ll often challenge myself to complete a set of tasks on a timer, which has a way of gamifying even really mundane things.

You started Pitchfork, which has had it's recent, erm, shifts. What have you noticed about how music media operates today compared to when you first launched?

Music media has clearly changed for the better in a lot of ways: more perspectives are represented, the canon is evolving, and coverage of the business has caught up to other industries. On the other hand, it’s also moved toward the middle in terms of coverage in a way that is less interesting to me. Things are less personality-driven and less provocative now, which I’m sure is a plus for some readers, but it’s a bit less fun to me personally.

That said, it’s been fascinating to see music criticism reach younger audiences through mediums like TikTok and YouTube, and cool to see more independent voices on the newsletter circuit. Great music writing is alive and well, even if the business models that traditionally supported it are not. There’s a ton of potential waiting to be realized in music editorial around some of these newer models. I think music writing, in particular, is on the cusp of a major renaissance.

Could you describe your transition away from music media to music management? What carries over? What's different?

I’m still engaged in music media at a high level, but a few friends of mine have made the leap to management over the years, and that kind of planted the seed for me. For now, I’m just working with a couple of artists: the psych-folk singer/songwriter Anastasia Coope, whose new album is coming out May 31 on Jagjaguwar, and L.A. house artist Teilz, who just released her first single. Management is a natural extension of my passion for championing artists. A lot of the work is coaching, connecting people, and building a great team, which I love. I’m a very social person, and writing and editing can feel a bit isolating at times. Shifting gears between projects helps me squeeze more productivity into my days and avoid burnout.

If you had to give one piece of advice to someone starting out in the music industry, what would you say?

Whether you’re starting out as a musician or a journalist, it’s essential to stand out. Have a unique voice and an original perspective that will resonate with your audience, even if that audience is a niche one. It doesn’t necessarily need to be profound or heavy— you have to have fun with it, too— but bring something to the world that is yours alone. Also, lean into your craft. Always push and challenge yourself to top the last thing you made. And make sure this is the driving force of your life. There are many easier and more comfortable ways to make a living, but if you channel your energy in the right ways, few of them will be more fulfilling.

Natalie Miano

National Publicist at Motor Mouth Media

Natalie Miano has been a music publicist for about seven years in New York. Over the course of her career, she has worked for Captured Tracks, 4AD, Terrorbird, and now Motormouthmedia. Currently, she is working with Snow Strippers, Suzy Clue, Fievel is Glauque, Lucy, Anastasia Coope, Malice K, Liam Benzvi, May Rio, Melody English, YHWH Nailgun, and more.

Describe a day in the life! What are your work habits? How do you stay motivated throughout the day?

Every day is different, but that’s what I love about it. A lot of emails, meetings, shoots, shows, etc. My favorites are the ones where I spend the day making sure everyone’s projects are moving along and then get to go to shows with all my friends at night.

The music industry and music media are rapidly evolving. What have you noticed about working in music PR today compared to a few years ago?

My first boss told me, “Being a publicist is like being a drug addict.” I thought it was a joke, but wow, he wasn't wrong. The highs are really high, and you're constantly searching for that next hit. Roughly 100,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify and Apple Music every day so the market is really saturated right now. Despite that, we are looking for the same thing publicists always have: an artist that stands out. There are plenty of things to critique about music media and PR, but I truly believe good music journalism and PR help separate a career artist from the opps. I feel funny talking about PR in such a serious way, like “graphic design is my passion” vibes, but unfortunately, I do love it.

How do you stay ahead of trends and shifts in audience preferences? How do you navigate an ever-evolving media landscape?

It's impossible not to worry about it, but in my true publicist form, I try to spin it around with total optimism. I try to trust my instincts about what gets me excited and follow them. I’ve been inspired by the site Nina, whose vision I really align with. I think Margeaux Labat is another great example of someone who works alongside contemporary shifts in music in an optimistic and inspiring way. Instead of being disgruntled by change we should probably try to champion new avenues that are working.

What does success mean to you, and how do you reach it? What does success mean for music PR?

What success means to one artist can be completely different from another. Ultimately my piece of the puzzle is to make sure the artist is being represented in the way they want to be and conveying that message to the right people. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of developing projects and it’s so rewarding for me to start from the ground up.

If you had to give one piece of advice to someone starting out in the music industry, what would you say?

See as much live music as you can. There is a real music community in New York, I’ve made amazing friends within it. A piece of your brain has to be missing if you want to work in this weird, wild industry. I lost that piece a long time ago and I love it. Some of the best artists in the world are here right now and I’m so grateful to be surrounded by them and their teams.

Shaad D’Souza

Shaad D'Souza is a freelance music writer based in London. He has written for Vulture, Frieze, Billboard, Paper, The Face, and the New York Times, among others, and has been an editor at The Guardian, Vice, and The Fader. He recently wrote about Margeaux Labat for Byline.

Describe a day in the life! What are your work habits? How do you stay motivated throughout the day?

I try to wake up at 6 or 7 and work from a cafe, but most of the time, my work day starts closer to 8. I don’t really work well in the afternoons or evenings, so I try to get a lot done in in the morning — like if I can finish something by 10 am and another piece by 12 or 1, that’s basically a full workday for me. If I’m really busy, I’ll try to work through to like 5 or 6, but that hardly ever happens — I work quite fast, but once I’m tapped out for the day, I’m basically tapped out, and whatever I write afterward will be garbage. If I am working in the afternoon, I like to work from a pub over a beer, which is actually a habit I’m trying to kick, because it basically means you’re like, drinking so so much. But sometimes, you do feel less self-conscious in terms of what you’re writing after a beer! If I’ve done a good amount of work in the morning, I like to go shopping in the afternoons, like either to a bunch of good secondhand record stores near my apartment or clothes shopping in Soho, or go to the movies.

How do you decide what a compelling profile is? What excites you about subjects?

I really, really like to interview people who already have established narratives but who clearly are just, like, bullshitting their way through press. Jack Antonoff, for example, clearly had a lot of lines that he relied on, and I thought it would be fun to see what happened if I tried to ask around the stock answers he gives a lot of the time. Sometimes that doesn’t work – like, a lot of pop stars are such pros that they can’t really be broken, especially if you only have an hour with them on Zoom or whatever. I also find, a lot of the time, that a lot of these people just haven’t been asked certain questions – like, I thought it was kind of funny that nobody had asked Billy Porter about writing a Baldwin biopic despite kind of having opposite politics to Baldwin, and as soon as I asked he basically spoke uninterrupted for 10 minutes about how little he knew about James Baldwin. I think it’s also really fun to interview people like Billy Porter or Jack Antonoff, who maybe seem a little dorky or uncool. Approaching a subject with a healthy amount of skepticism can yield great stuff!

I also like people who are totally unselfconscious in what they have to say — it’s really fun interviewing people like Charli XCX, Azealia Banks, M.I.A., because they really don’t give a shit what people think about their opinions, and they have really strong convictions too. Wishy-washy subjects can be super boring, and it’s really enjoyable just to sit back and have someone tell you a bunch of honest opinions that maybe some celebrities would be too scared to air publicly.

How do you stay ahead of trends and shifts in audience preferences? How do you navigate an ever-evolving media landscape?

In some ways, I’m kind of fortunate that I started writing when media was basically already in its grave – like, the only way I know how to work is within a pretty broken and wretched system. You can’t really mourn something that you never experienced or knew anything about, if that makes sense. But more broadly, I don’t really really think about changing trends in media too much – I tend to focus on my own work and just hope that it cuts through. I’ve also found that if your reportage and criticism is unique and well-conceived, editors and readers will almost always be interested. A few years ago I decided to stop “thinking about my career” and self-promo and that kind of thing — I got rid of my public twitter, basically — and my career kind of got really good after that, I guess because I was focussing on actually working instead of tweeting about “the state of music journalism” or whatever.

What does success mean to you, and how do you reach it? What does success mean for music criticism?

I love money and having some amount of it, or like enough to buy nice clothes or whatever, very honestly feels like success to me! But on a less flippant level, sparking conversation and helping people understand pop (or whatever it might be) on a level they haven't previously thought about is really exciting and fun and rewarding to me. If you can help someone re-evaluate something they didn't quite understand before, that's, like, the ultimate success, which is a cliche but it’s true. If I think back to what criticism meant to me as an idiot teenager, the stuff that stuck with me was always the stuff that made me totally rethink how I saw the world — casual but sharply-written pieces by writers like Lindsay Zoladz and Corban Goble, who were "blogging" about "stupid stuff" but actually secretly setting the tone for how people thought about Miley and Taylor and Future and Julia Holter and like, literally every important musician.

If you had to give one piece of advice to someone starting out their writing career, what would you say?

The main one is: make sure your copy is unimpeachably clean. It’s way more annoying for an editor to have to clean up stupid grammatical mistakes than it is for them to tease out an idea to its fullest extent. You’d be surprised how many writers genuinely can’t string a sentence together to save their life — so being able to write really clearly and in a way that doesn’t require a lot of messy work kind of does give you an edge. Aside from that, pitch and write as much as you can, don't get dejected when your pitches aren’t accepted. And teach yourself stuff that will make you seem more professional! I learned everything I know from googling "how to pitch" and reading every single thing published on all the great criticism/reporting outlets etc etc. I think it's better to force yourself to become good than to assume taking traditional pathways will lead to success, if that makes sense.

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