Spotlight: Siria Contreras, Music Forward Marketing Manager

Siria is a creative and innovative marketer with a passion for the arts and empowering the next generation. She just joined the Music Forward team in December and her experience and passion align perfectly to help raise awareness of the great work our organization is doing nationwide!

Siria grew up in Bakersfield, California, and began her career at Variety. Since then, she has been key in leading marketing initiatives for NBC, CBS, and AT&T/DIRECTV managing content strategy, live streaming, experiential, branding, and campaign launches for #1 shows and specials such as GRAMMYs®, TONYs®, Kennedy Center Honors, The Late and Late Late Shows (Stephen Colbert & James Corden), Big Bang Theory, and more.

In addition to her extensive career, Siria spends her spare time working as a founding member of music non-profit Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls L.A. and the Nourish Foundation, listening to all kinds of music, and coming up with solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

We caught up with Siria to learn more about her pathway in entertainment and the social sector:

1. How did you get started in your field?

I went to school for fashion initially but quickly switched over to marketing, and ended up being recruited by Variety after graduating. After my role with Variety, I stayed in entertainment because I loved the fast-paced nature of it.

In college, I was active with internships, community, and the arts (I volunteered for nonprofits, put on fashion shows for a cause, produced music and art shows, etc.). Variety was looking for someone that could easily fall into their fast-paced environment and saw that I was someone proactive and self-starting.  I recall that I started working with them right at the kick-off of an awards season that year which is typically their busiest time of year so I became well-versed with the entertainment industry quite quickly.   

I would encourage college students to do the same, try to do things that will set you apart but that are authentic.  Find the qualities that are needed for the type of role you are seeking and try to find ways to gain more experience whether it’s paid or volunteer work, both will help you, in the long run, to stand out.  Oftentimes, you can create your own opportunities nowadays.

2. What do you love most about your role (so far)?

In late 2018, I made a general resolution that I would try to only work on things that I care about and am passionate about. Music Forward is the perfect hybrid of the entertainment industry that I love, and the social justice focus and inclusivity-minded approach that nonprofit organizations bring to the world, which is rare.

I love that this organization helps provide access and opportunity in the music industry to youth from underserved communities. The work that we do here has real, tangible impact and will lead to the change that we want to see in the industry by opening up more opportunities for people from all backgrounds. While we’re a small team, the mission-driven approach of passionate, caring, and capable individuals creates a sense of family, which I think is something that we project out into the world.

3. Can you recall a memory that inspired you to fill the role you’re in now?

While creative and innovative, I’ve also considered myself to be a problem solver. In high school, there was an unsafe intersection near my school that I felt nobody was paying close enough attention to; every day there seemed to be at least one accident at this same location. I had just helped start our high school newspaper, so I wrote an article about the intersection to draw more attention to the problem and further investigate the source of the issue. A parent happened to see it and long-story-short, I ended up getting to work with a city council member, attend city council meetings, and eventually got a traffic light installed.

That experience taught me early on the impact that one person can have– what you do makes a difference, big or small. I’m lucky enough to have never felt limited in what I can do thanks to my encouraging family, and I’ve learned to always be resourceful, persevere, and to focus on solutions instead of problems.

4. What advice do you have for the younger generation?

Throughout my career, I’ve tried to stick to a path that not only allows me to grow, but that also fits my natural talents. We don’t always have the luxury of doing what we want to do 100 percent of the time, but I have been able to be selective about the roles that I take on while remaining true to what makes me happy (which is being creative and making a difference). I’m very aware of my strengths and personal passions – so I try to make decisions based on both. With every opportunity, I consider what value I can bring and how I can grow as a professional. I think it’s really important to know yourself and be in tune with what you are good at as well as what you love, because if you’re passionate about something then you’re willing to put more effort towards that and more likely to succeed.

5. What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you want to be?

1. Perseverance: Don’t give up if you are pursuing something you feel you’re meant to do. It’s not always easy. Rest assured that everyone is facing a challenge of their own and that no one has it all figured out – if you can remind yourself of that, it can help when you feel like giving up. Like with every craft, you have to keep at it.

2. Stay curious: This is likely the best advice I can give anyone.  Never stop learning – it doesn’t have to be from a classroom at school. Learn from people that are doing what you want to do. If you don’t know how to do something, look it up or reach out for help, teach yourself.  We live in a time where we have so much access to information.  Whatever you’re seeking, it’s out there and you’d be surprised at the number of people who will actually make time to help you.

3. Surround yourself with the right people that will foster your growth: Having a supportive community is important to help you to keep going, but also to expand your connections and your reach.  The larger your network is, the more you increase your chances.  Don’t forget to pay it forward in your career and remember to help others.

4. Have fun: We can get so focused trying to reach our goals – remember to practice self-care and take time for yourself. Do things that you enjoy doing (in fact, that’s sometimes where inspiration comes to you.). For me it’s road trips/traveling, reading books, writing, being creative, and of course music!

6. What is your favorite memory involving music?

Music was always playing when I was growing up, and I love all kinds of music.  From jazz to blues to hip hop, punk rock, classic rock, pop, folk, and country.  I actually grew up on country music, but have always listened to everything. We always had instruments around our house, like drums, a keyboard, and guitars.

Years ago, I also used to put on different music nights here in LA called KorK and Club Audio. Groups of like-minded music enthusiasts and artists would show up every week to watch local bands play. No other local music shows really had audiences like us at the time — what started with 25 people getting together every month turned into 100 people coming together each week. Once we got attention from the press, the weekly numbers grew to 200, then 300, then 500 and at times over 800-1,000 people coming together all night for years.  It grew so much that larger touring acts wanted to play our shows.

That’s when I truly realized how much music brings people of all backgrounds together. Ultimately, someone made a documentary on it so it’s now preserved forever.

7. How Does Music Move You?

Music moves me to create and to feel. Music is such a powerful universal tool – no matter what you’re going through and what’s going on in the world, especially in times like these, it’s a unifier that enhances the good and helps with the bad.   

Music has a way of helping put words or sound to things that you’re feeling that you may not know how to express at the time. It Inspires many, like me, to create art, literary works, cinema, and everyday actions.  It can help drive the most powerful change. There are very few things that can resonate with a person so directly than the power of a good song. No matter what mood I’m in there is always a song that can fit it — as long as there are humans out there feeling emotions, there will be music.


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