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Top music exec explains how she's thrived in a struggling music industry

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

If you want to succeed throughout your career, you have to be able to evolve and take creative risks. Marcie Allen, music executive and founder of MAC Presents, is an expert at pivoting her career and carving her own path, and has thrived in the music industry for more than two decades.

Through her company MAC Presents, Allen creates corporate sponsorships between brands and musicians, forging powerful—and lucrative—deals. In the last 10 years, music sponsorships have grown from a $550 million business to a $1.5 billion business, something Allen has helped develop with her clients and partnerships. She forged partnerships with Billy Joel and Citi for his Madison Square Garden Tour, and recently launched a partnership with the clothing brand Hollister and rapper Khalid.

When it comes to finding the perfect pairing between business and music, Allen says she looks at both sides as a brand partnership, as opposed to a transaction.

“An artist is a brand, so when we sit down with an artist who is launching a tour or an album, we figure out who they have brand affinity to and then we build a story from that,” she says.

Then, it’s about bringing that story to life, through social media and PR campaigns.

“Ninety-five percent of the deal is bringing that partnership to life, so we have to figure out what they really want to achieve,” she says.

Bridging this gap between business and art is something Allen saw lacking in her industry, so she jumped on it herself.

I realized there was no one that was solely focused on being the bridge between the music industry and corporate America,” Allen says.  “I said I’m going to focus on what I do best, which is connecting artists and brands.”

Allen has been in the music business since college, when she was offered the director of marketing role with Live Nation. Her previous aspirations of becoming a history teacher or volleyball coach quickly changed gears.

“The music industry is in my blood,” Allen says. “I was at a summer internship with Live Nation and they offered me the director of marketing when I was 21. At that moment, the history teacher and volleyball coach went out the window.”

Now, Allen is a powerhouse, and one of a select group of female executives who have carved a name for themselves in a competitive industry.

“Yes, we have a long way to go, and a long way to grow,” she says of other women in the music industry. “But we all support one another—if one of us lands a big client or wins an award, we help lift each other up.”

For Allen, she’s able to constantly find new ways to reinvent the music industry, and herself. Allen says her focus and drive come from not being afraid to fail.

“What’s the worst thing that can happen—you have to pick yourself up and find something else,” she says. “That really gives me the ease to be able to juggle all the things that I do.”

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This story was originally published on November 9, 2018.