We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzanne Torrison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suzanne, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Unlike most entrepreneurs, I am averse to taking big risks. I waited until I was financially set in life before I had the courage to quit my corporate job and start to work in an entirely new industry, that being the music industry..
I’d always known that I didn’t fit in and loathed working a ‘corporate’ job in the fashion industry, but I fully embrace it, let it destroy me, and then had to pick up the pieces in order to learn that it was the wrong path to take.
The risk of leaving the fashion industry was a big move for me. I left behind decades of business relationships, successful product launches, decades of learning graphic computer programs and industry knowledge to jump into an industry where I had only scratched the surface.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been working with my daughter, the Indie-Pop singer-songwriter Emmrose, for nearly three years. She started writing and performing her own pop songs at age 13, Almost immediately she had a few people take interest in producing and co-writing with her, so I wanted to use what I learned from my career in fashion and apply it to her music.
I spent 20 years in fashion and experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows, and I mean really low lows. Seeing my designs in major retailers, fashion magazines, being on tv presenting my own designs for a label I created on my own were memorable accomplishments, They were some highs for sure, but having to give up the ownership of a fashion label I created, my own trademark I paid for in a threat of a lawsuit was devastating and sent me spiraling into a pretty deep depression. That was the lowest of the lows. Here is the brief story-
Back in 2011 I came up with a brand and logo for my own fashion label and the showroom I worked at and their factory partner loved the entire concept They started to sample, ship and sell the line that I created, but when they found out that the head of sales never told them I owned the intellectual property, they threatened to sue me for ownership. I knew they were serious and that they had the financial power to bury me. I also knew that if I left the firm, that the look of the label would change, or even become worthless. The factory opened up stand alone stores in Asia with my designs and the name I handed over ownership of under pressure. Within two years was closed and ended, but the anxiety and damage had been done. I lost everything because of key mistakes that I had made.
The head of sales and the factory owner ended up suing one another and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, partly over the brand and the money it generated.
For years this plagued me. I had so much anger inside me because I realized all of the mistakes I had made. I didn’t invest in the right lawyer, didn’t have careful contracts drawn up, difficult conversations about ownership weren’t written and recorded, and I didn’t have the right people surrounding and working alongside me.
I now realize I depended on my immediate family and their belief in me, which is probably one of the worst mistakes anyone can make. I thought you should ask family members for their advice or we’re supposed to look to them for their approval. This was one of the most devastating lessons I learned and need to help artists work through. No one will believe in you like you do. No one knows what you can and cannot achieve except you. My family was always scared and unable to comprehend the idea of creating something on their own and selling it, and there is nothing wrong with that..
But for me, I have wanted nothing but to bring beautiful and creative things into the world, work with creative people, nurture them, give them the advice and encouragement they need, and music was just a natural for me to promote since it is so much like a fashion item.
The idea of promoting Emmrose and her music was something that intrigued me. I started to send music relentlessly to reviewers, music curators, industry insiders and advertisers, and because of my understanding brands and fashion, I was able to separate the artist from the actual person. I now understood the power of ownership and the importance of doing all of the upfront legal work.
Emmrose started releasing music when she was 15, and released her EP Hopeless Romantics at age 16 with one of the songs nearing 500k streams, which is for a completely unknown artist quite an achievement. Other career highlights included being signed to a sync licensing company, hitting 1 million streams on Spotify, playing a show at the Little Island Amphitheater in New York City, shooting a music video with her distributor OneRPM, and amassing quite a loyal following of international fans, all before she turned 18, and just about all during the COVID pandemic.
We did all of this by choosing our partners carefully, working with them exclusively and with full transparency. We have our producer, Mike Abiuso at Behind the Curtains Media as our partner in every step of the way as all of the music that Emmrose releases include Mike Abiuso. Emm and Mike will co-write, collaborate on numerous songs, and with his expertise he is the arranger, audio engineer, instrumentalist, producer all in one. We keep the Emmrose team as small as possible and keep the communication lines completely open at all times.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In a perfect, COVID free world, Emmrose and I would take our best friend to Paris!
We have been separated from friends there that we would love to spend time with, and we would also spend time in the Paris headquarters of the music company sponsoring her next music release season called Groover.
We would enjoy sightseeing with our friends and new colleagues, eat in bistros recommended by the locals, and do some shopping in the Marais district. On some days we could arrange to drop in to see some recording studios, do some interviews and enjoy or participate in small performances at some songwriter showcases recommended by our friends and colleagues at Groover Music..
Later in the week we would travel to San Tropez where we would visit an artist friend of ours who performs regular shows there, and enjoy enjoy sightseeing with her in that amazing seaside resort town for two days.
Learning about history is a hobby for Emm, so we would also go to the Louvre for a day and spend at least one day outside the city visiting Versailles!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Michael Abiuso, audio producer and owner of Behind the Curtains Media
Linkedin: Emmrose Music
Emma Torrison, Suzanne Torrison