On The Record With Karly
In on the record, we speak with members of the Precious Sound community about their music truths, precious mementos, and more.
In today’s On The Record, we sit down with Karly Wilhelm. We discuss all about her past life as an artist manager who is now working with a well-known label services and distribution company in growth and strategy. We dive into her 7+ years of experience working in media and artist marketing partnerships - from emerging artists to Multi-Grammy award winning pop stars.
Precious Sound: What did music mean to you growing up?
Karly Wilhelm: I’ve learned that I had a unique relationship with music growing up. I’ve always been greatly impacted by the music in every aspect of my life — whether it’s the soundtrack in a movie, the song playing in a restaurant or retail store, an album I put on in my car… I’m always listening and it can completely alter my mood. In high school, I remember hearing a song play in a movie theatre lobby on a “date” and taking it as a sign that I shouldn’t go on a second date. I really thought it was “normal” to be this hyperaware to music in every walk of life, but I guess for most people it’s not. Now, I usually refer to music as a “main character” in my life - I couldn’t live without it.
Young Karly starting her equestrian career
PS: You were a competitive equestrian growing up and through your early twenties, what learnings from sport helped you succeed in music?
KW: My love for horses is actually very similar to my love for music, mainly in that it simply just makes me feel good. I am also the type of person who has to do everything at 100%, or not at all. Growing up, in order to be able to afford participating in the equestrian sport at an “elite” level, I worked at the stable from the age of 13-14 as a “working student”. I would exercise other people’s horses, clean tack, muck stalls, “train” the young horses--aka be a crash test dummy, and sometimes even run errands for the trainers and owners. It taught me a level of dedication, resilience, and personal responsibility that I think has been helpful working in the music industry. We’re often faced with a lot of hurdles in music--be it budget, timing, or other unpredictable logistics--and learning dedication through sports has helped me stay focused and driven. Also, I think traveling around for equestrian competitions from the age of 13 made life "on the road" as a manager a lot easier of an adjustment.
PS: What's an album, song, or piece of music that evokes a precious memory for you?
KW: Oh man there are so many, growing up in southern California. My parent’s used to listen to the radio in the car, and every Sunday, I believe, on KLOS there was a program called “Breakfast with the Beatles”. I’m pretty sure it’s syndicated around the world now, but I have an extremely vivid memory of listening to “Blackbird” while driving down the highway in the back of my dad’s car and I’m brought back to that moment every time I hear the song. I don’t even remember where we were going and I don’t know why that song or that moment stuck out, but it’s the one and it always makes me feel warm. Now that I work in the industry, love sharing my music “experiences” with my parents in different ways!
PS: What most excited you about Precious Sound’s silver, gold, and platinum records?
KW: I think the re-popularization of physical mediums, in general, is really exciting because it brings back a tactile relationship to music listening. Upping the game with precious metal records brings this to a whole other level. I think it allows artists the opportunity to create “precious”--pun intended--materials/merchandise for their most dedicated fans, and gives fans a new way to celebrate their favorite artists and records.
Karly's signed copy of The 1975's debut album
PS: Do you own a record that makes you particularly proud?
KW: At my first “industry job” in MTV's music supervision department in the early 2010s, I was considered the millennial tastemaker in the department. There was a “boy band” from London that I was OBSESSED with and everyone else thought was “just a phase”, so when the label rep had some swag to share, she gave it to me… It’s a signed vinyl from The 1975’s debut, self-titled, record… they are still one of my all time favorite bands of this generation, and it’s still probably the #1 prized record in my collection.
PS: What song or artist would you like to see (and hear) on a gold record?
KW: I’m going to stay consistent with my memory and say “Blackbird” by The Beatles.
PS: You have launched various campaigns and partnerships, what is essential to launching strong collaborations in the music space?
KW: This topic is something I am EXTREMELY passionate about… the most important ingredient in a campaign or partnership is authenticity and transparency. Fans are SO smart and they can smell BS a million miles away. If something feels forced or like a “money grab”, they know! and therefore it’s going to flop. Even for an emerging artist who might not have a super established personal brand yet, it’s going to be more difficult to build a dedicated fanbase if you’re not your true authentic self 10000% of the time. That doesn’t mean you have to 10000% know who you are and commit to that character from the start-I think fans will allow for growth and change as long as you’re staying honest with them.
Karly on the set of a photoshoot for BabyJake
PS: We are always curious to hear how music professionals interact with music in their free time. Even among our prior On The Record guests, we have seen everything from only listening to podcasts and audio books outside of work to attending a different festival or concert every weekend. What’s your personal relationship to music these days?
KW: This is an extremely timely question for me right now because I’ve been having a lot of conversations with friends about how our music consumption styles have changed (for the better) in that we’ve gone back to “old ways” — listening to albums. I really think a lot of the streaming service playlist curation has become overridden by industry relationship priorities and viral nonsense. I’m much more likely to listen to an “old fave” or one of the few modern albums I’ve really come to love. This year’s standout has been Ryan Beatty’s Calico.