We'd like to introduce to your founder of artist management company, VH Management, Tori Hamersky. Read about her all below and see how she is taking industry by storm at such a young age!
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
Hi! My name is Victoria and I'm from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! I currently am the founder and artist manager at VH Management group based out of Philly! I also am a Music Business student at the University of the arts, where I spend most of my time not managing being the content manager at Total Access Pass and volunteering at my local Live Nation venues as a part of their ambassador program!
How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
Since middle school, I knew I wanted to do something in the arts, and at the time my hobby was going to concerts. I really got my start in 2017 when I began to dedicate all my time to learning everything I could about the music business! I made a LinkedIn and connected with so many local music industry workers in Philly and asked all the questions I could. I created my passion project then too! It's called Rare Reality Music Festival, which benefits children with rare diseases and disorders like the ones I battle with, this project is something I hope to develop later on in my career, but long story short, this also gave me tons more ambition to make a name for myself in the industry. I knew growing up in stan culture that some artists were not treated right and that I wanted to help be that change while also shining a light on underrepresented groups in the industry, and so VH MGMT was born!
You started your own business at 18 – any tips for young entrepreneurs?
My tip is to do whatever you put your mind to! For example, I'm in college, so regardless of my company I still need internship credit! The past few months I've been rejected from major internships because "I'm doing too much' or "I have too much experience". This really got me down thinking that I may have to downplay my qualifications or experience just to be accepted, I realized that I need to work even harder to become my own boss full time one day. My advice for young adults like me, is to never settle for that no, work hard and tirelessly until you get that one yes that will forever change your career! Some words that stick with are 1, from my mom "you can do whatever you put your mind to" and 2, from my high school theatre teacher "you never know, just try it". So in essence, find your passion and never give up no matter what people have to say!!!
How do you deal with being one of the youngest people in the room? Do you find yourself
being self-conscious about that?
Right now I'd say yes and no. In the local Philly music scene, definitely not! I'm treated as equal to peers who are in their 30's! I've always been the kid with older friends, being sick growing up I gained a large level of maturity at a very young age. My joke to people is that I'm closer to my friend's parents then I am my friends, haha. Thinking about the future, it frightens me possibly being in a boardroom or at a label and not being taken seriously enough. The last thing I want is for my age to define my credibility and qualifications. In high school, while battling my sickness, I chose to focus on school and my career 100%. I had friends, but I never hung out with them. I've never been to a high school or college party, I didn't go to prom etc. Not that any of those things are bad, I sometimes wish I had a more normal teenage experience, but I chose music and In some ways, I believe my career chooses me. Therefore, I rarely ever tell anyone my age in fear of not being given equal opportunities, so if you're young, find your passion and become educated on it and GO FOR IT!!
When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific
moment where you were like “Oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”?
There have been so many moments!! But the first time I would say is when I went to a concert and got tapped on the shoulder and said "Hey you manage the band right" and for some reason that just solidified my career for me in so many ways! Its cool to wear a blazer and be professional, I absolutely love my job and that I can listen to music all day!
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
Having a chronic illness can definitely set back a lot of things. The thing I struggle with the most is masking, that is when I say I'm ok but in reality, I'm in so much pain. Working in music is a very time consuming and hands-on job, and I would never trade it for the world. I feel like I struggle to be honest with my peers, supervisors, etc. I have a deep internal feeling that if I say I'm disabled that they will believe I'm not qualified when I am 100%. I hope maybe the narrative will change surrounding all types of illnesses in the music industry. Music industry professionals need to feel they are in a safe place to express their issues with others. I'm getting better every day by sharing with friends that I'm sick and begging them to just treat me like a normal human.
What is the best part of your job? Why?
My favorite part is getting to learn more every day! It can be a new book or article I found, or even making a new connection and getting to learn about professionals who came before me. This is my favorite part because learning helps me become a better manager for my acts, being a good manager is everything. I chose to grow with my acts, meaning that we learn together and grow together.
Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry?
I would say 1 million percent my artist management professor, Steve Cirino, and MBET director, Michael Johnson are the two biggest mentors in my career. I'm only a sophomore and in the time that they've taught me, they have left such a significant mark on me as a person and my career. I choose them because, even knowing of my illnesses I am not treated differently at all, and honestly that is all I ever wanted. Another honorable mention would be Madi Florence from Universal Music Group & Tiffany Pham from Total Access pass they both are such badasses and are definitely people I consult regularly and I just appreciate them a bunch!
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?
Defy the odds. Never let anyone bring you down. Get educated in your field. Rise above the stereotypes. and most importantly always be yourself and never let anyone change you or your passion!
Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when putting yourself into that position?
Oh absolutely!!!! My favorite story is, I was sending out some booking emails for my clients, and the man who replied loved the band and says "hey great stuff, they would fit amazing on our bill. Quick question, does the band have representation or a manager? Our firm doesn't do booking inquiries through interns..." I was confused and maybe thought he didn't see my email signature that said VICTORIA HAMERSKY. FOUNDER & ARTIST MANAGER @ VH MGMT. So, I professionally said that I was the manager sorry for any confusion, he replied and said word for word "well, in that case, I can not do business with you, if you have proper management for the band you can give me a call" I was beyond confused and upset that he seemingly didn't think I was fitted to be their manager... In those situations, I stay professional because if you choose to treat women as inferior you need to check your morals. I'm a huge believer in karma, and I never wish bad on anyone but I heard through the grapevine this man did this to other women and now he seemingly doesn't work for the agency anymore. My tip to women just takes it with a grain of salt, we will get our time to shine and make sure to show up those who doubted our capabilities. This situation really made me an even better manager that's for sure.
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)?
I'm super into concert photography! it's so fun to run around in the pit and shoot for some of my favorite acts! Honestly, all my hobbies have to do with music and art! I'm also very very passionate about rare disease education and research, Music education, & using music therapy as a healing tool for many. I hope to turn those passions into projects as I grow in my career and begin to gain so I can shine a light on these issues that I hold close to my heart.
With everything going on we have to ask, how have you shifted your work-life balance due
SO much. I work shows in Philly through live nation and I get invited to shows for the press as well. I'm sad all these amazing opportunities are gone, but I have no doubt that after COVID life may go back to normal for the entertainment industry. I went from working shows and working 24/7 for my artists, to canceling tour opportunities and huge events for my acts. I really am dedicating quarantine to working on my health and educating myself to be an even better manager when we all can get back to work full time. Being a manager, work never stops quarantine or not, for VH MGMT we are spending this time growing socials and helping grow our artist's brands.
Who is your all-time favorite artist?
This is a question that is so hard to answer ugh, I have so many. I'm really going to say One Direction, they shaped me into the person I am today, growing up with them really showed me so much. They are one of the reasons why I wanted to work in music, I'm forever grateful for them as a band and how many people they have touched with their music! #1dforever haha
What is something you can't live without? Music and my mom for sure. Music is my medicine and has gotten me through my worst days, the disorder I have causes me to be in pain daily, having had this for 10 years I literally would be nowhere in life or my career without music and my mom. My mom is absolutely my best friend, and honestly, we come as a package deal haha, and all my friends love her too haha. Go-to Karaoke song? Any Beatles song!!! I grew up on Beatles rock band, I'm the master at Beatles karaoke!!!! Tea or Coffee? The hardest question ever. Is it bad the all I drink is Tea, Coffee, and water?? Oops Celeb crush? Zayn Malik :))))))) Been my favorite person ever since 2011 <3 The first concert you went to? High School Musical the concert haha What’s something that you always have on you? I am the mom friend so therefore I get called a momager to my artists haha. So my purse is filled with ibuprofen, mints, portable chargers, basically, anything you need I'll probably have in my purse haha. One super special thing to me is my evil eye necklace that I never take off, I'm a very superstitious person so I believe that it can warn off all the evil that comes my way. Who is your dream artist or band to work with? I know as a manager these acts are so far from ever being a reality for me, but in terms of one day having Rare Reality come to life the band I would love to work with is the 1975! Even interviewing them or something, just working with them in any aspect would be a dream come true. They have inspired me so much, getting to live your life with the 1975 soundtrack in the background is truly the best thing ever. I even had a dream I met matty at a show and we became friends... universe make it happen, I'm manifesting! What does a typical day at work look like for you? I wake up and usually get my dunkin ( I can't live without it), spend a few hours on my email working on press, marketing, playlisting, etc. Then I spend some time doing interviews and emails for Total Access Pass. Usually, I spam text and email my acts with our daily agendas and questions haha. After that I head back to my computer to do some business calls or emails, listen to some demos and new music from my acts then I make some notes and usually do some wrap-up emails and head to bed! Now we're back in school, so you can add zoom classes, homework, and internships on top of that. Coffee indeed is my bestie Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to be on tour with my acts and have VH MGMT be recognized on a higher level for bringing a safe environment for our artists to grow and flourish their careers even more. My goal is to hopefully one day be on the Forbes 30 under 30 list & Billboard women in music list, that may be a stretch but I'm going to work so hard for it. What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years? My dream is to see the industry become more inclusive for women, POC's, LGBTQ+, Non-Binary, and disabled persons. I hope to maybe see some more protective of younger artists in the industry, we need to protect the younger vulnerable generation of artists who may not understand the binding aspects of music and recording contracts What are you most proud of? I'm proud that I'm still here and fighting. Fighting the pain, fighting the stereotypes, and fighting for the voiceless and fighting for my artists. I'm proud of the woman I've become and I wouldn't be here without the support of my friends and family! Lastly, what saying do you live by?
I know it all but I don't know enough. This is a song lyric by Alessia Cara that I am getting tattooed on. It means the world to me and I live by this always. I'm a female in music, I am an educated woman and I want to be confident, but to be confident you have to be ready to always learn more and educate yourself to become a better person and for me a better music industry professional. There is something new to learn every day, never ever stop learning <3