Indulging in the “Power of Personal Identity in the Music Industry” at SXSW 2022

Indulging in the “Power of Personal Identity in the Music Industry” at SXSW 2022

Of the multitudes of sessions we could have attended at 2:30 on a Thursday during SXSW, we chose this one. Why? Well, with a description asking questions like: But what about our personal identity and our own long-term goals? Aren’t we more than just the companies we tag in our Instagram bios and the artists we work for? Is it even possible to separate our panelists from their music business identities?

We knew this was the session for us.

And so did, apparently, everyone else. This was a PACKED room of folks in the industry, industry-adjacent, and even students who are considering “what’s next?” The panel was made up of 4 folks who have worked in multiple roles throughout the music industry. Maria Gironias (Reddit), Sydney Lopes (Spotify), Brandon Holman (UnitedMasters), and Nick Maiale ( All of the panelists have had realizations (whether forced through layoffs, or on their own through self-reflection) that their personhood does not = their job. This goes hand-in-hand, however, with the realization that many times it’s the job title that gets you the calls, the invitations, and the clout within the industry.

If you choose this industry, then it is yours – Maria

A couple of the panelists recalled being removed from their position, and hearing crickets instead of responses/outreach from people they thought were their friends in the industry.

FOMO became a large part of the conversation at this point, because – with the detachment of a job title from your name – people stop calling, inviting you to industry events and collaborative projects. This is because there is a perceived notion that you can no longer do things for them because you are no longer [insert position here] at [insert company here].

It’s the type of “contacts-solely-for-personal-gain” nonsense that has kept me out of traditional networking spaces for the majority of my adult life. I don’t have time for that nonsense – and no one else should be making time for it either.

But, with a creative industry that has been built upon/with titles and clout, it was very refreshing to listen to these folks talk about their experiences, lessons learned, and even air their grievances. As Maria indicated, you need to allow yourself joy and reprieve from your work as well. “Eating three meals a day,” she listed as one of her big MUSTS. “Making sure I call my parents more. Not skipping out on that meal with a friend.” It was a very down-to-earth conversation, and by the end – even in a crowded room – I felt like it was a chat between friends. Myself included.

Some lessons straight from the panelists’ mouths:

“Your network is your net worth” is garbage. – Nick

Just because you have a lot of [followers, likes, etc], doesn’t mean you can get people in the room – Sydney 

I AM meditation you stop identifying with your name and gender and all the things around you. I AM. you are relinquishing stories and programming. You are something so much more powerful than any of these boxes. (Deepak Chopra) – Brandon

You are not a shitty artist if you don’t have a billboard in Times Square. – Brandon

Your career is nonlinear and just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t great – Maria 

i love my dad garnered rave reviews + awards at sxsw 2022… and it’s easy to see why

i love my dad garnered rave reviews + awards at sxsw 2022… and it’s easy to see why

I didn’t read the synopsis first.

And I’m glad I didn’t. While I do not suggest going in blind to every movie or television series, this one is one to make an exception for. So, if you’d prefer to be surprised and haven’t yet seen I Love My Dad, stop reading and twiddle your thumbs until there is a wider release.

First of all, this film got rave reviews and awards from SXSW. It brought home the Narrative Feature Competition jury prize AND audience choice award, so the crowds went wild for it. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a wide release in the coming months. If you’ve seen it – or like some spoilers like my mom does – come sit a moment!

I Love My Dad is based on a true story about a dad who catfishes his son in order to have a closer relationship with him. Yes, it’s as oddball/creepy/sweet as it sounds. And it feels just as oddball/creepy/sweet throughout the entirety of the movie, because the actors bring a really nuanced and realistic script and story to life.

But, of course they do! With the writer-director, James Morosini, also starring in the film (alongside Patton Oswalt, who plays his father), the “based on a true story” hits extremely close to home — as it is based on HIS true story! While this fact does make the viewer empathic toward Morosini – especially during a handful of crucial points in the movie – you can’t help but be grateful for what transpired in his life, because it makes for incredible material for his art.

Don’t worry. It’s not sexual or scary, this picture they paint of an estranged-ish father rekindling his father-son relationship with the son he fathered. You will laugh. You might cry. You can watch it, comfortably, with your parents OR your kids. And Oswalt’s performance? *chef’s kiss*

But, as relatable and quick as it is, it’s also cringey pretty consistently throughout. Just like real life. Only, you’ll be glad it’s based on James Morosini’s true story instead of your own.

We’ll report back on updated release information when it becomes available!

sxsw 2021 set a higher expectation for diversity. now what?

sxsw 2021 set a higher expectation for diversity. now what?

“Ah, another virtual event that I will RSVP to and not at ALL want to attend most of,” I thought, as the first electronic communications regarding SXSW 2021 came through to my device.

And, as we got closer to the start date, I thought more and more about the piles of work and other obligations that I could not take a vacation from in order to attend – like I would in a non-pandemic year where I would be physically changing locations and turning on my out-of-office messages.

But, of all the virtual events I’ve attended – and chosen not to attend – during the COVID-19 pandemic, this one was by far the most beneficial for me to attend.

And, it’s not because there were speakers/talent who looked/were like me (a white, cishet, straight female), but because there were speakers/talent who looked


Sure, there were some missteps. Namely:

1.     Mark Cuban – not only is he the whitest dude, but he offers no additional perspective he hasn’t already spewed across all digital/media channels
2.     MOST of the speakers were pre-recorded – so, couldn’t you pre-screen some of the talks to ensure that those catchy titles that were submitted in the panel picker process actually lived up to their name? (i.e. – anything that started with “How To” should have been some sort of how to…not just “I am so successful, here is how I am so successful”. See: Every white man – including Mark Cuban).
3.     Allowing ANY talks with a white man – or a group of white men – by himself. Panels, groups discussions, or fireside chats with all types of people that include a white man? SURE! But our lives have been so saturated with mediocre white dudes on a podium talking down to us for LITERALLY OUR ENTIRE LIVES that we just don’t need one more talk by a solo white guy. 

And, I’m not saying that was all that was there – but, constructive criticism is important. We’ve all got to keep organizers on their toes. Because, yes, there were plenty of talks that were out-of-the-box and from traditionally marginalized speakers. There were tracks on cannabis and living outside of the gender binary and women in [insert career here]. This was, in fact, the event with the widest array of representation I have attended yet.

AND it can’t stop here. 

This can’t be the “diversity year” – one and done. 
I hope this year’s SXSW sets the tone for pushing boundaries and innovating and leading the charge in representation across ALL events, multimedia, etc.
I hope it continues into the next in-person conference – and I am not left sitting in a cold conference room staring 10 feet up at a million Seth Rogens all week. (As delightful as one Seth Rogen can be). 

I am delighted that I “left” SXSW having heard about subjects that move me from the people who are on the ground, doing the work. 
Feeling full. 
Feeling rejuvenated. 
Feeling hopeful about things to come.

I didn’t leave thinking: so what?
I left thinking: what now?

cancelled plans w/ cat call (6/24/2020)

cancelled plans w/ cat call (6/24/2020)

On June 24th, Imperfect Fifth hosted our first official variety show with the indelible Cat Call. An idea sparked by Cat Call founder Brittany Brave, we were more than happen to collaborate it into existence with a badass lineup of incredible female voices. We started the evening with some awkward banter from Imperfect Fifth’s Meredith Schneider, followed by a bangin’ comedy set from Brittany Brave. Jillian Riscoe, Kamber, Jessie Hyde, and Lauren LoGrasso followed, with a night of compliments and good feelings all-around. But, truly, we were there for the talent. And not a single beautiful human disappointed.

Keep your eyes on the scroll for everyone’s tip jars. Remember, we’re all out of work to one degree or another right now, so every little bit helps. Feel free to donate to the Imperfect Fifth Tip Jar, and leave a note for which writer/intern/performer you’d like to support. Enjoy the entertainment, and remember to be kind to yourself and others!

P.S. Please take a moment to adore Brittany Brave, who is the object of our featured photo.

Sponsored by EZVisibility.

imperfect Fifth + do good co. | year 2 bash

imperfect Fifth + do good co. | year 2 bash

The end of October brought with it more than just a weather cool-down. As we started to bundle up for the winter ahead, we took time to pause on a breezy Autumn evening to celebrate the last 2 years of accomplishments with Imperfect Fifth. We were lucky enough to partner with Do Good Co., an incredible company on 38th Street in Kansas City, MO, who was also celebrating their 2nd birthday that evening. Together, we brought in vendors (Sugar Buffet KC, Scorpio Rising Botanicals, Crystal Ramirez Jewelry) and unique shopping opportunities with an evening of music and fun. Guitarist James Schneider opened the evening, followed by the talents of Danza Special and Fathers. We captured some photographs, caught up with friends, and were able to celebrate some incredible people locally, to boost our change globally.

Check our merch shop all week for discounts! Sales end at midnight, 11.11!

**photos by Erin P.S. Zimmerman, Elizabeth Schneider, and Meredith Schneider

judah & the lion @ starlight theater

judah & the lion @ starlight theater

Judah & the Lion…what can I say? They are a band that I have seen multiple times, and that I will probably continue to see. My first encounter, admittedly, was a personal tour with the guys around the Kansas City Zoo as they were just gaining traction with “Take It All Back”, and they were such a joy to speak with and to capture (with the lions, no less!). They put on such an undeniably powerful, upbeat, and fun show, and consistently! Everywhere from a packed old theater to an intimate set in a bar, they know how to make you FEEL with their lyrics AND music.

Th latest venue when they passed through Kansas City on August 10th? The gorgeous outdoor stage at Starlight Theater. (Yup. Home to bats and big ass fans.) Aside from the wicked humidity that evening, I think it was my favorite show from them yet, which is a tall order! It truly felt like I was invited to a party as one of the band’s closest friends as I witnessed their talent beneath the summertime sky. 

Prior to releasing their album Pep Talks in May, I don’t think I would have felt like they were speaking directly to me. But the lyrics are made up of stories that are trauma-informed and emotional, like the band has cracked themselves open to being completely honest and transparent to anyone that will listen. Their Nashville-infused folk-pop mixed with some clearly Blink 182-style beats – well informed influence, as they’ve been covering a Blink favorite on this tour – this whole concert felt like a nod to early 2000s teen flick house parties (you know, with the live punk band playing in the backyard by the pool a la “Scotty Doesn’t Know”?).

Judah and The Lion’s energy is undeniable. The dropping of a curtain makes me want to listen more. And share more and connect more with other humans. And it had a greater impact on me as I listened Saturday night.

They opened with “Pep Talk” (the first song on their new album of the same name) as the last glow of the evening sun disappeared over the horizon and brought the heat as the weather cooled (to a chill 76 degrees). They played their entire new album and mixed in some fan favorites along the way – including a Blink 182 cover! And, even though I love the new stuff, my ears perked up and my tail started wagging when “Suit and Jacket” started up a few songs in.

They sing. They dance. They play the banjo. They tell enveloping stories while running around the stage and tiring you out just watching them. But, most of all, they inspire you to live in the moment, dance like no one is watching, and remind you that you are never alone.

I attended the Judah & the Lion concert by myself on Saturday night. But, as I walked to my car during the encore of “Take It All Back”, I realized I was really in my own backyard, connecting through song and movement with 5,000 of mine and the band’s closest friends.

Kansas City setlist:
1. Pep Talk
2. Quarter-Life Crisis
3. Over My Head
4. i’m ok.
5. Conversations
6. Suit and Jacket
7. Reputation
8. All the Small Things (blink‐182 cover)
9. Queen Songs / human.
10. Don’t Mess With My Mama
11. 7000x
12. GoofBallerz
13. Going to Mars
15. Rich Kids
16. Dance With Ya
17. pictures
18. Family / Best Is Yet to Come
19. sportz
20. Alright (frick it!)
21. Why Did You Run?
22. Take It All Back

Keep up with Judah & The Lion here.

princess @ bonnaroo 2019

princess @ bonnaroo 2019

Bonnaroo 2019 was our favorite lineup so far. And we aren’t kidding about that. When you think about the comedy and energy integrated into different aspects of the event, it’s almost overwhelming. Take, for example, the incredible duo Princess. Comprised of Maya Rudolph — Yes, that Maya Rudolph! — and jazz vocalist Gretchen Lieberum, they have taken the time to perfect a stage presence worthy of PRINCE himself. Because they are a Prince cover band, and have been since 2011. (Yes, they have been acknowledged and approved by the man himself.) Their performance was the last we enjoyed at Bonnaroo this year, and it was one of the highlights. As the first lines of “Let’s Go Crazy” opened the show, Rudolph and Lieberum’s stoic glances around the crowd brought us so much joy, we actually started crying. (Yes. Both iF reps in attendance started crying from different areas of the crowd. Everything is fine. We have been validated. It was incredible.)

Keep up with Princess here.