Q&A: Alexa Shouneyia of Billboard

Alexa Shouneyia is the social media coordinator and a contributing writer for Billboard. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Advertising and Public Relations from Grand Valley State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Music Business at NYU Steinhardt. Lover of the Detroit Red Wings, Sunday bottomless brunch, and all things music. She can probably rap “Rap God” faster than you.

What are the most important tasks at your job? 

Remembering to eat during a busy news day. Just kidding. It’s important to stay on top of things that are going on in the industry, whether it’s a show, new release or trend on social media. We work really hard to brainstorm new and creative ways to have a voice. With news breaking all the time, we also make sure to strategically prioritize things when we’re scheduling posts to make sure our audience gets the most important/relevant news first.

How did you land your job?

I started as an intern over the summer and I immediately fell in love with the job, the people, the company, everything. I gave it my all every day and I was fortunate enough to accept the full-time position in the middle of my internship.

Have you always wanted to work in the music industry? 

Definitely, I’ve always been in love with music. I’ve written lyrics most of my life and have always been fascinated by the power of a song or a live show. During my senior year at Grand Valley, it was time for me to think about what I really wanted to do as a career. I applied to all five music business master’s programs in the country and knew NYU was the right place for me. I completely followed my heart.

What have been some recent job perks? 

Every day, our director of artist relations, Joe Kelley, books a ton of awesome talent to come in and play for the office. Sometimes they’re more established artists like Common or JoJo, and other times they’re new signings. We live stream most of the performances and usually see one-to-three per day. It’s pretty awesome to be invited to a bunch of shows and events around the city as well. For example, my colleague and I got to hang out with our then-cover stars Rae Sremmurd at a New York Fashion Week event.

What are some things people don’t understand about jobs in the music industry?

A lot of my friends who aren’t in the industry think it’s just a big party all the time. Don’t get me wrong, it is a ton of fun, but it’s also work. I get to go to concerts all the time, but most of my time there is spent coordinating with publicists, taking notes on the show, posting social content or searching for the ever-fleeting wifi connection to post.

How did you get into social media as a career?

I have 834 to thank for that. I had never really had experience with social media outside of posting (dope) song lyrics as my Facebook status before I started my PR internship. 834 taught me the importance of social strategy, scheduling posts and keeping track of metrics. That’s the first place that I really discovered the impact that social has on a company or brand.

How do you keep your cool when an inevitable troll gets all up in your feed?

I used to get sucked into the black hole that is the comments section. And as you can imagine, with such a huge music publication, there’s always someone (or two people or 10,000) who think we report too much or too little on an artist or genre. I’ve very recently learned to just accept the fact that not every person is going to be thrilled about every post and that’s OK.

How do you stay on top of industry news? 

Luckily, working at Billboard makes it quite easy. Every article that we post to the website comes directly to a social platform we use called SocialFlow, so I see every article that gets published to the website. Since most of my day is spent on social sites, I also regularly check other publications to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Since I’m still in graduate school, we talk a lot about what’s going on the industry and I’m able to learn from my classmates’ perspectives as well. It’s a very supportive network and there’s awesome synergy between my job and classes.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself through your career?

Through working and going to school full-time, I feel like I’ve really learned the art of balancing, being able to adapt and how important those two things are, especially working in music and journalism, two fields that are constantly evolving. More than anything, I’ve learned what an amazing feeling it is to be exhausted from doing what you love all day.

What’s been the most surreal moment for you since you’ve been at Billboard? 

For as long as I can remember, I would sit on the couch and watch the MTV VMAs and think about how surreal it would be to sit in that audience one day. This year, that moment happened for me when I worked the red carpet and then attended the show at Madison Square Garden. It was a dream.

Who are you currently listening to? 

I’m really into Frank Ocean’s album Blonde right now, but there has been a ton of new music released this year that I can’t get enough of. Beyonce’s album was a goldmine, The Head and the Heart released a new project, Banks, Chance The Rapper, Kings of Leon, Tegan and Sara, Westvale Florence + The Machine, Adele, Kendrick Lamar (this is what happens when you ask a music lover what they’re listening to – it never ends). Oh, and new stuff from The Weeknd, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys is on the way. It has been an eventful 2016 and I don’t mind at all. If you need a playlist, come my way.

Where can people find you on Twitter? 

Follow all of the awesomeness @ashouneyia.

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