How They Got There: Cassie Petrey & Jade Driver, Co-Founders of Crowd Surf

Names: Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver

Ages: 32 and 36

Job Titles & Descriptions: Co-Founders and Co-Owners of Crowd Surf

Colleges & Majors: Both Music Business majors at Middle Tennessee State University 

Website: www.crowdsurf.net / yourdigital.team

Twitter Handles: @cassiepetrey / @folieajade

Instagram Handles: @cassiepetrey / @folieajade

If we could turn following our favorite bands and musicians into a career, we would all jump at the chance. Getting paid to scream out all the lyrics to songs you've known by heart for years? Sign us all up, please. Being the ultimate fangirl is often unfairly labeled as a preteen hobby, but many "fangirls" are turning their so-called hobby into a legitimate career path. The same passion that these young women have for their favorite artists creates the same passion needed to succeed in the music business. Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver, co-founders of marketing, publicity, and management company Crowd Surf and hosts of the podcast How I Got Backstage, are perfect examples of passionate fans-turned-CEO's. 

Petrey and Driver take us through their experiences as young college students striving to succeed in the competitive music industry, the most surreal moments of their career (hint: it has to do with the Backstreet Boys), and the importance of putting your best foot forward. Petrey and Driver stress that a good attitude and a willingness to push yourself will always help you reach your goals. If you're interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of your favorite celebrities, Petrey and Driver illustrate how you can turn that passion into a viable career. 

Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Cassie Petrey: Definitely is no such thing as a typical day... which is the best part of what we do. You never get bored. The one thing that is important is to make sure that you prioritize what needs to get done that day, and make sure that either you or somebody on your team has the time to get it done. The essence of our job is helping artists and entertainers...and that comes in many shapes and sizes.

Jade Driver: Definitely never a typical day! If I’m in the office, I usually spend most of my time talking with staff about their projects and upcoming marketing initiatives. The staff spends a lot of time working together in office collaborating on their projects. When I’m not in office, I may be on site at a photo, digital content or video shoot guiding the brand development and working with our creative team on creating assets throughout these shoots. I also often end up at a lot of press visits alongside our clients at magazines, social media partners, red carpets, etc. Sometimes I even find myself living on a bus for weeks at a time working with our clients to create content and consult on their brand.

HC: What is the best part of your job?

CP:  That I get to move the dial in some capacity every day. I see the results of what I do...I feel like I matter. I had those experiences at other places I worked at before, but not nearly as often as I do now. It makes the hustle worth it.

JD: I started my career working at record labels. While there were many things I loved about labels, what I found frustrating was watching passionate and talented artists get shelved, meaning, they’d get signed, record some music, then politics or a more successful artist would get in the way of them releasing their music and it’d end up “on the shelf” never to be commercially released. This frustrated me to no end, so when we started Crowd Surf, we really took the time to take developing artists under our wing and gave them a chance to make a living wage off of their art or gave them the opportunity to get their own label’s attention around the successful initiatives we were executing.

Cassie Petrey / Photo Credit Mika Krstic

 

HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

CP: My first entry-level job was being a Warner Music Group "College Rep," which I actually secured while I was in high school, even though they normally don't give that job to people until their third or fourth year in college. I was able to lock in that job because I volunteered at a local label and management firm, plus I was a street team member for a lot of artists. All that stuff looked great on my resume and showed Warner that I was serious about my career in the music business.

JD: It’s no secret that I thrive on pop music! When I was 19, I landed my first job at Radio Disney in Richmond, Virginia, and became Jammin’ Jade. I used to basically stalk the RD Fun Squad around town. I wanted to be a part of it so bad and eventually, I made friends and got to be a part of the team for 5 years. I had the opportunity to host local events, school parties, hand out product samples at baseball games and eventually got to work first hand with pop stars as they came to town. It was the absolute best learning experience I could have asked for!

HC: What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

CP: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” - Albert Einstein. 

JD: Always ask. In 2003, when the Backstreet Boys were arguably the biggest pop act in the world, I was working for minimum wage and really wanted to purchase tickets to see Nick Carter’s solo show in Philadelphia, but simply couldn’t afford it. So, I decided to ask for tickets. I was shaking and so scared of being told no. The fear of failing was real and my supervisor saw this so she told me, “If you want something, just ask. If you don’t ask you’re definitely not going to get what you want, but if you do ask, you just might get it.” I asked. Not only did I get a pair of tix, but I got to interview him...which meant MEETING a Backstreet Boy! Always. Ask!

HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

CP: We tried to do everything ourselves—including the accounting.  It's important to understand how everything works, but you can't be a COMPANY if you do everything yourself. Doing everything yourself makes you an independent contractor.

JD: I’ve made so many mistakes. How could I not? I was a kid with no money starting a business with another kid with no money. Everything was trial and error in the beginning. However, the most prevalent mistake I made, which has become a constant work in progress is realizing that everyone I hire isn’t me...and that’s the beauty in it! We all have different skills, different communication styles, and different life goals. The key is to learn how to puzzle piece all of these qualities together into one dynamic team. If everyone had the same skills and goals, we wouldn’t achieve nearly as much as we do with our diverse staff!

HC: What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

CP: Getting to be with the Backstreet Boys when they received their star on the Walk of Fame. They were my first concert, the first band I loved...and to go from that when I was 11 to being on the team when they got their star was a truly unreal moment.

JD: There have luckily been so many of these! However, one that sticks out in my mind is having my name listed in the Backstreet Boys’ Vegas residency production credits. I also remember buying my first tour book at a Debbie Gibson concert—my first concert—when I was 8. I read every word front to back until I had it memorized. I knew who her dancers were, her stylists, her band, management, etc., and all of those people seemed so important to me. Being able to “be” one of those people now is quite surreal!

Jade Driver / Photo Credit Ford Fairchild

HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

CP: The music industry is not an easy industry to work in, so I look for all the indicators to show that they really WANT IT. I look for multiple jobs, internships, and volunteer stints in music-related areas, and an understanding that there's a lot of people who will take your job if you don't work hard to keep it.

JD: Drive! If you want to reach a goal or succeed, you need the drive to do it. I think skills can be taught to compliment passion, but not the other way around.

HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

CP: Be helpful, and GOOGLE IT before asking a question. You want to take things off the plate of the people you're working for, not add things to it. If you can truly be helpful, there will always be a job for you.

JD: Do what you do. Nobody thought I could work for the Backstreet Boys, but I do. I made a career out of being a fangirl and figured out how to get paid for it! Whatever you do naturally, that makes you feel like the purest version of yourself—do that thing! Do it until you’re so good at it that people are at a disadvantage if they don’t hire you!

HC: What's the one thing that has stood out to you the most in a resume?

CP: Sticking with jobs for a long period of time. The millennial generation often has a "grass is greener" mentality about their jobs, and hop around to new jobs quickly searching for an idealized situation that often doesn't exist. If somebody is sticking with any job or hobby for a long period of time, I really see that as a valuable quality now more than ever.

JD: College experience. I don’t care if you graduated or barely passed, but I do want to see that someone took on internships, worked at events in the industry, joined and participated in clubs and volunteered within the music community. That shows drive. That catches my eye.