The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Hal Leonard Publicity Manager, Lori Hagopian
It takes a certain skill set to head the public relations department of a renowned corporation like music publishing company Hal Leonard – and Lori Hagopian, Hal Leonard Publicity Manager, certainly has the chops.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Hagopian is a proud Milwaukeean who’s been with the company for 23 years. She was one of the lucky people to secure a job there straight out of college, and climbed up the ranks to where she is now after starting off at the CEO’s secretary.
Now, she focuses on the company’s corporate communications and on spreading the word about their new products.
Learn more about Hal Leonard at www.halleonard.com.
WiMN: Have you always held the publicity manager role?
LH: I started at Hal Leonard as CEO Keith Mardak’s secretary – way back when they were still called that! It was a fascinating introduction to the industry. I then moved over to the advertising department and eventually headed that up for a time, before switching focus to PR.
WiMN: What are your primary duties as the publicity manager for Hal Leonard?
LH: I focus on corporate communications, spreading the word about our new products and deals. I write a lot, which makes this old English & Spanish major happy! I’ve made many associates-turned-friends among magazine editors, bloggers, manufacturers and fellow publishers. I also handle internal communications and community outreach.
WiMN: What is your musical background?
LH: I’ve been surrounded by expert musicians, arrangers and transcribers for more than two decades, and I’m embarrassed to admit that the extent of my musical ability is playing middle C on a piano, and about three chords on guitar – badly. I make up for my lack of playing ability in my deep love for listening to music and seeing bands; I’m a passionate fan.
I’m also atoning by fostering music-making for the fun of it in my kids. I adore that my 8-year-old daughter will sit down at the piano and play some songs, then improvise her own. My 7-year-old son has a real knack for drumming. They have a band with some friends, and have killed it at quite a few gigs. We always say it’s never too late to learn an instrument; I just may prove to be the poster child for that adage.
WiMN: Tell us about a mentor or role model who helped shape your career (male or female).
LH: Working closely with Keith Mardak in the beginning was very eye-opening as to how the music industry works and who runs it. He risked a lot in the early days to grow Hal Leonard, and created quite an empire through good ideas, hard work and passion. He’s been influential in my career.
WiMN: What has been one of the most memorable projects you’ve been a part of at Hal Leonard?
LH: Boy, it’s hard to narrow it down to one! I’m really proud of everything our company does on the music education front, especially publishing for kids just beginning to study music. We have the #1 methods for band, orchestra, choir, piano and guitar. It’s rewarding to be involved with promoting books written to light a spark.
A cool experience was being involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs, getting the Hal Leonard Young Musicians Program off the ground. What started locally became a national program, but it’s still very grassroots, trying to reach out to one kid at a time.
WiMN: What are some changes you’d like to see in the music industry?
LH: I’d like to see more partnerships with social and recreational organizations outside of the industry. Ninety percent of our population doesn’t play music but wants to. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a Scouting badge for learning to read music? Or if playing an instrument were as natural a rite of passage as learning to ride a bike? We’d have a happier society if music were afforded the importance it deserves, and people took time to play and appreciate it.
WiMN: Tell us about products that Hal Leonard offers that cater specifically to women.
LH: We recently published Guitar for Girls, which is a great method book by Ali Handel for acoustic or electric players. It teaches using hit-songs by leading female artists, and includes quotes and words of encouragement. It’s been very successful.
We publish folios in all levels showcasing music from the biggest pop artists, which have in recent years been women. We also have many voice publications compiled specifically for females: our Pro Vocal Women’s Editions sing-alongs, and all the Low Voice publications for singers and actors. But really, any music book can be for any person.
WiMN: What advice would you give to young women looking to successfully navigate a corporate M.I. environment?
LH: The music industry tends to be an old-school guys’ club, but don’t be intimated by that. Find something you love to do and immerse yourself in it. Act professionally if you want to be treated professionally. Bright ideas and hard work trump all biases. All industries have some outdated habits, but the music industry rewards anyone that brings something valuable to the table. I’m pleased to see women in leading roles in the music business.
WiMN: Favorite song(s) to play air guitar to?
LH: I love the Pixies and The Replacements. Maybe “Here Comes Your Man” and “Here Comes a Regular.” We could also throw in “Here Comes the Sun,” because it fits the pattern, and who doesn’t like The Beatles?! I’m a total sucker for a sweet, well-written song.
WiMN: Anything else you’d like to add?
LH: I feel fortunate to love my job, and proud to work in our industry. So much science backs the fact that music is vital and beneficial in so many ways. On a more personal note, I met my husband at Hal Leonard, and 20 years later, we’re both still there, making beautiful music together.