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On July 20 at GRAMMY Camp LA 2017, students had the opportunity to discuss the music business with industry professionals who are on the Los Angeles Recording Academy Chapter Board. I shared lunch with Qiana Conley, who has had various careers in the industry. Growing up, Conley knew she wanted to be around music and entertainment, so she went to the University of Southern California, where she received a degree in business and minored in music industry. Out of college, she got her start as an A&R assistant at Epic Records then moved up to A&R promotions at the label. Conley then went to work in publishing for eight years. She has worked internationally in Barcelona, the UK, and Japan. Currently, she has been working in film on a documentary about the group TLC, and is also running a development company called Cue the Creatives.
Conley has a great appreciation for music, and despite being a poet as a child, has always viewed herself as being on the executive side of the industry. She recalled a class in college where the end goal was to produce a concert. She called herself the “pack leader” of the group, and enjoyed every moment of producing a live event. This event had a large impact in Conley’s life where she decided, “I don’t want to be a songwriter, I want to create big music moments, which I guess in a way I am still doing through film.”
Having roots in A&R, Conley knows a few things about good music. She took the time to ask each of us what artists we were listening to. Not only was she impressed by some of the answers, but she was thrilled, too. After each student named his or her favorite singers she said, “You guys are giving me so much hope right now.” Our taste in music made her hopeful for the future: that people will continue to buy good music and support talented artists.
An average day for Conley working in A&R was spent constantly listening to music. She would try to match artists to songs, set up sessions, and take meetings with writers and producers. She was constantly on the hunt for new talent, especially when she got to work for America’s Got Talent. Now as a music supervisor and filmmaker, Conley spends her days negotiating contracts in music and matching music to scenes.
As her time on the Los Angeles Recording Academy Chapter Board comes to a close, it is clear that Conley has made a large impact on the Board and has soaked up an amazing amount of experience. Conley is very appreciative of the Recording Academy for their programs like GRAMMY Camp and MusiCares.
She called the Academy “The forefront of all that is true and real about the music business, both from talent and those who support it.” Conley has had an amazing career this far, and I am so thankful I was able to speak with her at GRAMMY Camp.
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