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Her Music Club: Meet Zoe Gillespie, Director of Brand Partnerships at Capitol Records

Zoe Gillespie is the Director of Brand Partnerships for Capitol Music Group in Hollywood, California. She has worked on campaigns for major artists such as Katy Perry, Troye Sivan, BANKS and Lewis Capaldi, and brands including MAC Cosmetics, Marriott, Honda, Disney and Harley-Davidson.

We caught up with Zoe to learn about her start in the industry as an intern at Capitol Records, her top advice for aspiring music executives, some of her recent brand collaborations, and more!

Talk to us a little about you + your journey. How did you start your journey in music?

Music has always been such an important part of my life. I grew up in a very musical household, played an instrument, and loved going to concerts with family and friends.

In high school, I promoted for an underage club and in college I interned at Capitol Records. I stayed in touch with my Capitol boss and kept her updated on my career developments since being her intern. When I graduated, there was an opening there that I jumped at. I’ve been at Capitol ever since (almost six years) and have had the honor of working in three different departments.

What have been your favorite brand collaborations so far?

One that I’m most proud of is working with Troye Sivan on MAC Cosmetics’ 25th anniversary of their Viva Glam line that benefits their AIDS Fund.

"The opportunity to work with a great young artist on our label who stands for so many important things and a brand I’ve loved for years is why I do what I do. That feeling is unparalleled."

How do you go about partnering brands with artists?

There isn’t one strategy or formula to partner brands and artists, but the most important component is to establish an organic relationship or purpose in partnering. This purpose can be as simple as the brand and artist already being fans of each other or simply have launches that can align powerfully together. We take pride in having really honest conversations with artists about their brand goals and aspirations, which can help guide our outreach. On the flip side, we get inbound requests daily from brands and agencies looking to work with talent.

People say this all the time, and it’s true: this industry is so relationship-based; it’s who you know as well as the reputation you’ve established. Do you and your artists collaborate well? Do you have innovative ideas that help the brand develop their story? Can brands and artists trust you? There’s nothing more gratifying than partnering with a brand and building such a strong relationship that you’re already working on campaign #2 before #1 even launch

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your day-to-day?

My favorite part of my day is working with our awesome Brand Partnerships & Sync Licensing team here at Capitol. We’re a tight knit group who truly look out for each other and have a passion for winning together. Simply put, we love bringing our artists fruitful opportunities and furthering their career through strategic partnerships.

The least favorite part of my day is probably that it rarely turns off.

"This business is a living, breathing one which is to say that situations need addressing at any given moment. It’s a constant people-pleasing machine and ultimately you have to remember that while you’re taking care of everyone else, only you will take care of yourself."

What made you realize you wanted to be in Brand Partnerships?

I had been working in digital marketing for a few years and while I was passionate about the work I was doing, I was ready to apply those skill sets to another facet of the industry. I received advice from a few individuals that I trust with my career who saw potential in me that I didn’t at the time. With the support of them and a personal leap of faith, I joined the Brand

Partnerships team.

Ultimately I wanted to expand my network, contribute funds and strategy to artist campaigns and have the autonomy to work with external partners. In the end it was a no-brainer decision and I am so grateful for the advice and support I have received along the way.

Is there data you can share to show how brand partnerships have helped break a song or artist?