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Oh The Places You Go: Band Manager Edition

A Sit Down with Brooke Muller

The question, “What does it mean to be creative?” is not an easy question to answer, let alone ask yourself that. 

Brooke Muller, a creative who balances a nine to six and a six to indefinitely, and more, as the manager of a rising band here in New York City, Wilmah, brings inspiration to many other creatives in the music industry, tackling the balancing of passion and work in a heavily male-oriented industry, and she does it with such grace.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Muller to discuss her journey from the start of loving music to working in it, what it's like to manage a band, her challenges with the music industry, and the concept of creativity. 

(This interview was conducted in person and has been edited for clarity.)

When would you say your love for music began, whether that's like live music or just music in general?

For as long as I can remember. You can watch the home videos of me when I'm three years old, and you can't understand a word I'm saying, but I'm singing Cheeseburger in Paradise or Pop by NSYNC. I was the biggest NSYNC fan at four years old. There's a video of me from my fourth Christmas when you can see me opening up an NSYNC backpack and pretending to faint. Being a fan was something that's always been with me from an early age. 

I always say my first iPod was when I was in elementary school. My dad loaded most of it, so I was like the only fifth grader listening to songs like U2 and Love Shack by the B-52s, Jackson Brown, and Squeeze, and I feel like that opened my eyes up to the world of music. But then, with that, I had all the radio Disney hits playing in the car, and then, I think, the next stage of that evolution was when I was 16 and stumbled upon a little unknown band called One Direction, and that changed my whole world. I've never known a love like that up until that point, and that's when I started my first fan accounts, which always sound so funny, but they're the whole reason I am where I am now. 

I would sit on Instagram and Twitter and make connections with people all around the world or states away, or I'd come into the city for a concert and meet up with them. It was the first time that I felt like other people felt as deeply passionate about music as I did, besides my dad, but he wasn't, you know, talking and tweeting about One Direction at the time. I just saw that there was this whole world out there that I could be a part of. Growing up I thought I couldn't be a part of music because I didn't have the musical talent, but connecting with these people and supporting these bands taught me that there's a whole other side to music, which helped to grow my fan passion. 

With that, I started a blog in high school called The Underground Studio, where I was reaching out to local musicians, interviewing them, and trying to share their stories. Then when I got to college, I was the VP of Marketing for the student-run record label and worked with a band there called The Trips, my first band, and that's when I saw that artist management and working with artists directly was what I wanted to do. Not so much management, but being a part of an artist's team, I wanted to have that personal connection with them. I did that throughout college and then when I graduated I just kept embedding myself in the New York music scene. 

Those are kind of like the big pinpoints of my life where they just kept building and growing on each other, and when I look back, it tells this holistic story of where I started and where I am. 

When you talk about the struggles of trying to be creative when you're not the one creating the art, it makes me question: how do you define creativity and being creative?

That's a great question because I didn't consider myself creative for a long time. 

When I graduated college, I was working in healthcare marketing and talking about pharmaceutical drugs, and I felt like any creative spark that I had was just zapped out of me. What I discovered  is that creativity is innate in everyone; you just have to find the right thing to bring it back out. For me, that was finding these smaller bands who are working hard and trying to make something for themselves. I found that being a part of their worlds and getting to know them and the people who love them brought my creativity and spark back to me because suddenly that's all I wanted to talk about. Finding new ways to spark that with other people was helpful. 

I'm thinking about what I do mostly with Wilmah, which is that understanding people's communication styles is a part of creativity nobody talks about because not every person is going to receive information the same way or be inspired the same way. A lot of the creativity of what I do comes from understanding how people receive information and finding ways to connect with it. I'm not creating a product, I'm forming/ being creative in my connections, which I think is interesting. 

Not all of us are musicians; a lot of us are managers, journalists, or photographers. Because of the work you do, you surround yourself with a lot of musicians. Do you ever find it difficult to find other managers or connect with other people, especially women in the industry? 

It is the thing that I crave the most. I kind of just broke my way into this on my own, and I've been very fortunate with the people that I've met so far, but there has to be more, and there have to be, especially more women that I can meet. 

I went to a cool manager meet-up a couple of months ago, and there were some inspiring women there, but I'm craving people in their 20s who are also trying to do this because I think it's so important to learn from those older than me, but I love to have some peers who are doing the same thing I do. So it's something that I'm hoping to find more of this year and make more connections. 

In what ways do you feel supported, and what does that mean for you? Because the band you work for, you love very deeply. So how does that support translate? 

I always say that I am so fortunate to work with the people that I do. Matt and Will of Wilmah are some of the greatest guys I've met, and I've known them for a long time now. From the very beginning, I've always felt very supported by them and always respected as a woman, but never looked at as just a woman, which I think is great. I feel very valued, and I think I bring a unique fangirl opinion to what we do; they're the type of guys who appreciate that, and they don't diminish, especially since fangirls often get diminished. 

I'm very lucky to be working with them. Although sometimes I say that I mother them, which I've had a complicated relationship with because that's not the role I want to take on. I always say to them that as long as I feel respected, I'm happy to help them out, support them, and do things for them. Once that respect goes away, so does my support in that sense, but we've come nowhere near that yet, and I don't imagine us doing that. So I'm happy to make sure they eat, make sure that they have water when they're hungover at a photo shoot, and be that supportive figure for them because I also just think that's part of being a manager. That's a rambling answer, but... 

No, I think that makes complete sense because I think managers sometimes have to parent and act as guides. There is a business aspect to managing, but taking care of the band is important. 

I think that's part of my nature, though. I'm an older sister; I'm the eldest daughter. I think that's just who I am, and I was thinking about this the other day. It's nice to be in a role where I can put those innate skills to use and help other people through it, and just tap into what I naturally act like anyway. So I think it makes a lot of sense that I've ended up in the position that I have. 

Could you tell the readers: who is this band you work for, and what your role is? 

I am the day-to-day manager for a New York-based indie pop band called Wilmah. Wilmah is Matt Connolly and Will O'Connor. They've been best friends their entire lives. They're from Buffalo, New York, and they are here now in Brooklyn. They've been making music for years, and it's very upbeat pop. It’s music that you want to dance along to, but when you listen to the lyrics, there's a real level of depth that I don't think people necessarily get the first time that they hear it, but it makes for a really exciting and complex listening experience. 

How did you meet them and start working for them? 

I met them when I went to a Sofar Sound show in the fall of 2022, and the last act that came up was this guy, who came up to me and said something like, “All I've had today is a cigarette and a Heineken,” and I was like, “Here we go." Then they proceeded to play one of the best live sets I've ever heard in my life. I had tears in my eyes after the last song, and then I left and said, “Who is that?” and looked them up the next day, shot them a message on Instagram, just started connecting online, and started going to a bunch of their shows.

I accidentally showed up too early for a show, and they were like, “What are you doing here? We don't go on for three hours,” and I was like, "That's so awkward.” But then they invited me to come play Jenga with them in the basement of the venue, and that's where the friendship sort of blossomed. Then, when I left that show, I went home and said, I have to be a part of this. I felt this burning sensation, like in my gut, that if I didn't try something more here, it was going to be a missed opportunity. So I went home and put together a 15-slide pitch deck saying, “Here's everything I can do for you from a social media perspective,” emailed it to them, sent them a DM to check their email, and they were like, “Yep, we need all the help we can get.” 

Then in January 2023, I started working with them more as a social media consultant and strategist, and then naturally evolved into taking on more of the PR and publicity work. Then, in September of last year, their manager called me and said, “You're doing everything a day-to-day manager does. Let's just put you on the management team,” and I said, “Why not?”

Ever since then, I've been the day-to-day manager, which means a lot of everything. It mostly consists of helping your senior manager with anything he's doing, whether that's booking shows or making sure the day of the show runs well. Lead a lot of the marketing and PR efforts, such as working on social media, contacting the press, setting up interviews, photoshoots, live reviews of shows, working on the website, and writing bios. Generally, just being there. 

I want to talk about the moment when you were like, “this is it.” You see a lot of bands, but what was it about Wilmah and their performance that made you say, “I want to be a part of this?”

I've asked myself that question so many times. I wish there were words to describe it, but all I can go back to is that burning gut feeling I've had. I've only ever had it two other times in my life. 

The first was when I was applying to college. I only wanted to go to one school, and I felt that burning sensation about it, and it ended up being the best place I could have possibly been. The second was when I moved to New York, and I just felt like that was something I wanted my whole life, and when that came true, I had that same burning sensation. I just really trusted my gut that if this had only happened two other times before and it ended up being for something or someplace that changed my life deeply for the better, I needed to listen to that feeling. 

I could go on and talk about, you know, they have great lyrics, their music is fun, and they are great live, but that's the same for a lot of bands, but with Wilmah specifically, I just knew this is what I'd been looking for. I had been waiting for years to find my way into the music industry. It wasn't working at a label; it wasn't working at a corporate music job; it was waiting for the right opportunity. So when I get that feeling that I can't put this aside, I have to try and do something about it and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. 

How do you think your love for them as a fan translates into the work that you put in for them? 

I remember when I started doing this, my dad said something to me: “Don't say to yourself, ‘I have to do this’ instead say ‘I get to do this,’” and I think about that a lot when it's, you know, 10 o'clock on a Wednesday, and I just worked for nine hours and have to write a press release for the new song coming out or I need to respond to a bunch of emails, it never feels like work. This is the fuel that keeps me going through the mundane of life. I care about these boys, and I believe in this music so deeply that it's been a year and a half now, and every day still feels like an honor to be a part of it. I just tap into that feeling to drive through everything I do, and I feel so deeply fortunate that my favorite bands have become some of my good friends and are the people that I work with daily, and I never take that for granted. 

Do you want to talk about what it is like to balance a nine-to-five and this at the same time? And what do you do outside of your music job? 

The goal is, you know, that Wilmah becomes the biggest band in the world, and I get to do this full-time, but until then, the realities of living in New York are very relevant. Meaning from nine to six, five days a week, I work at an advertising agency, working in social media strategy. I'm very fortunate with the place where I work. They're very supportive, and it's a great place to be. I just feel such a spark from all the work that I do with Wilmah that carries over into everything else that I do. I use that passion to fuel me through the corporate work days. I'm very supported, such as today I sent a message today to my friends at work to come to the show on Friday, and they said that they would, which is exciting. It is a great place to be in the meantime, but the goal is to tour the world with the biggest band in it. 

You started off working with Wilmah as a social media manager and then went into PR and then management. Did you think you'd end up managing, or was that always the goal for you? 

No, I never thought that I would have a manager title. I have always wanted to be a publicist. Ever since I was a teenager, my goal has always been to be a music publicist. I went to school for PR and advertising, intending to always use that in the music industry. Once I started doing publicity work for Wilmah, I was like, “That's great, this is it.” But when I got the opportunity to join the management team, I said, “Why not? If I have this great opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can right now, why not take it?” And I was already doing it without knowing it, just by the happenstance of being so close with the Wilmah guys and doing so much for them already. But it was something that I never saw for myself. I always say it works out well with Wilmah because it just did. 

I don't know if management is something that I would consider more widely. I think PR and social media are really where my love is, especially with this because I come from such a fan background that being close to social and PR feels like the closest you can be to the fans and building that fan connection. That's what lights me up in this whole music world. That is probably where I see myself going more in the future. But to have this experience at 26 and see what it's like to manage a band and everything that goes along with that is so valuable, and I'm very grateful for it.

You've had the chance to work with other bands, such as helping out with PR and social media, and you've even been asked if you'd manage another band. So I ask, do you see yourself working this closely with another band? Or do you just feel like you're just going to continuously help other bands when you can? 

Yeah, I never want to close the door anywhere completely. I think I'm way too young and way too new to all of this to have a strong answer either way. I think for me, it comes down to who I'm working with and how deeply I believe in them. I think the level to which I believe in Matt and Will and the music they're making as Wilmah is deeper than I've ever felt for anyone else before, and I think that's why being able to be a part of everything that goes on as a manager works so well. 

I need to have that really deep, passionate connection, but depending on the level of that, I think that would determine how closely I would work with them because it takes a lot of time, so right now I'm focused mostly on working with Wilmah and bringing them to the next level, but I'm always open to opportunity. 

Consulting more from a social and PR side is where I see more of this going. My dream is to one day have my own little agency where I get to work with a lot of different artists and musicians from a social and PR consulting perspective, that's the big, long-term goal. Right now the goal is to work with musicians from a social and PR standpoint on a larger scale.

Did you see yourself working this closely with a band, or did you see yourself working from a more outside standpoint? 

Being this hands-on is one of my favorite parts of it. 

My job in college was through an office that helped set up a lot of the events, a lot of the cultural events, and speakers and musicians that came to campus. Half my job was sitting in an office working on promotional material, and half of it was being at events and interacting with people, helping sell merchandise, collecting tickets, and ushering people to their seats. Those were always the days that I felt most alive in that job having that human connection. I'm such an extrovert and just thrive on connecting with others in person. I think that's why this role works so nicely because I get to be with the guys a lot, and being at shows and meeting people at venues and going out to meet other bands and other artist teams is where my natural skill set just tends to thrive anyway, so I love the hands-on aspect of it.

When I was working for Spotify, I was working on an account called Notable, which was like the songwriting and producing arm of Spotify, and I was helping them with a lot of their social media and community management. Sometimes we would reach out to artist teams to see if we could do a social collaboration post with them, and every time the artist team would respond, I would get this thought of, “I want to be the one on the artist team, like responding.” I've never been super drawn to the corporate side of things. I've always been drawn to the more personal side of things. 

What is your favorite part about what you do with Wilmah

I get to hear demos early because I am a fan. My favorite band is Wilmah. Getting to hear a song in its beginning stages, watching it evolve into a final recording, hearing it live, and then seeing other people start singing is just the craziest experience. Other than that, definitely the live shows. I think Wilmah puts on an incredible live show, and they've cultivated a very connected community where the people who come come because they love Wilmah and they love supporting them. I've been able to make so many good friends through that, which is exciting. It's nice to be surrounded by people. who love something as deeply as I do because I didn't have that much growing up. That's been a really special thing that working with Wilmah has brought me. Every time I get a text from Matt and it's a new demo, it makes my entire day.

Do you have any pieces of advice for anyone, whether it's people in the industry, women in the industry, or young people in the industry?

Trust your gut, which sounds cliche, but I think it's important to check in with yourself and figure out how you feel when you're around certain people.

I don’t think I'd be able to do what I do if I were surrounded by people who didn't feel supported and respected. When I'm around the Wilmah crew or some of my friends that I work with, I feel a sense of calm and excitement, and I think that's important because who you're around dictates a lot of what you do, the places you go, and the energy that you spend. Make sure that you're spending the right energy on the right people and places.

I always say things aren't going to come to you. You have to make them happen, especially in an industry like this. How many people want to work in music? You can't just sit back and wait for it to happen. You have to find the right opportunities for yourself and then put your head down and drive as hard as you can into those moments to make them happen for yourself. I think you'll surprise yourself with what you find in that.

Who inspires you, whether that's musically or your career, or whether that's just a motto you live by? What inspires you? 

My dad. My dad has been an inspiration my entire life in the sense that he has a creative spark that I've recognized as I've gotten older that I also have. In the sense that he dreams big, can always see what things could be, and works to make them a reality. 

Growing up in Connecticut, he and I had a pact that if there was a show I wanted to go to, I would buy the tickets and he would drive me there. I spent my teenage years driving into New York with my dad to see incredible live music, and he would get just as invested as I would. We would listen to it on the way in and out, and we would talk about the songs, the bands, and the artists. 

Through what I do with Wilmah, he was the one who proofread my entire pitch deck; he worked on it with me. He’s been my soundboard to bounce ideas off of. Sometimes I'll brainstorm with him because he has such a good head, both in reality and in what I think is key for doing this, in the vision and the dream of the possibility of the future.

He surprised me at the last Wilmah show, which was a really special moment. I teared up a little bit because we spent so many years growing up saying, “This is what I want to do. One day, I'm not going to have to drive out of the city. I'll just walk from the show back to my apartment.” As a team, we'd stand at those shows and look around and be like, “Who do you think the managers are? Who do you think the label executives are?” And he'd be like, “Go talk to them." He always encouraged me to talk to the artists and talk to people around me, so for him to show up at a show of a band that I work with felt like a crazy full-circle moment. He stood in the back of that show, and he sang along to every word, and he was cheering just as loud as I was. That was a really special moment. I feel very fortunate to have had him by my side throughout all this. 

Does your dad have a background in this? 

Yes, my dad's been an avid music fan his entire life. I think a lot of my discography comes from him. 

In high school, he had to write a poem for English class, which he forgot to do, so he got up and recited the lyrics to a song by a band called Oingo Boingo, and he always told the story that music is poetry. His brother was in a band, meaning he was always surrounded by music growing up, and he's just been a deep appreciator of it. He's the one who introduced me to the Foo Fighters mini-series, Sonic Highways, that they did back in the day. I always say that is what made me see music differently, and I see it not so much as something passive that you listen to but something that you can be a part of. I credit him for that.

Spitfire questions now. Favorite Wilmah song? 

Don't ask me this; this is the hardest one. Of the released music, it changes every day, but I'm going to say that Crazy for Your Crazy was my top song on my album last year. I listened to it 229 times, which is a little wild but there's a lot of really great unreleased music that is coming soon. 

The best show you've ever been to? 

The best show I've ever been to was with a band called The Dip at Bowery Ballroom, and it was special because The Dip had been my favorite band for a while.

I was supposed to see them right before the pandemic happened, so the show had been canceled and rescheduled about three different times. To finally be there was special. One of my best friends who lives in North Carolina had flown up that weekend to see them because we shared a mutual love of that favorite band, so to be there with him and my other best friend, who's my roommate here, seeing a band that we love at an iconic New York venue after we hadn't seen live music for so many months, is to this day one of the most special moments of my life. 

If you could only listen to one album, one song, or one artist for the rest of your life and could not listen to anything else, what would it be? 

Shout out to my girl, Taylor. Taylor Swift has been my older sister since I was 10 years old. I have listened to every album since the day it dropped. I love her music, but I never had an older sibling, and she sort of feels like my older sibling, who's been with me from 10 to 26. As she's grown up, I've been able to grow up alongside her. Her discography has something for every emotion and every feeling, and when I don't know how I'm feeling, I just scroll through her Spotify and find it, and then I'm able to explain my own emotions back to me.

If there is one musical artist that you could recommend everyone listen to at some point in their life, what would that one be? 


Well, my favorite song of all time is this song called Kidnap Me by the band Cruisr, who isn't around anymore, but it's been my favorite song for the last decade, and I anticipate it will be my favorite song for the next decade. It's just a feel-good, upbeat, indie pop representation of everything I love about music-type songs. I would recommend everyone put that on their playlist. 

Go follow Brooke Muller on her socials

Check out the band she manages, Wilmah.  

Interviewed and Photographed by Veronica Anaya

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