By Leslie Buttonow

Many people have a day job they enjoy, with separate personal hobbies in their spare time. Lyz Scott is someone who has been able to incorporate her personal interests into rewarding employment opportunities – from managing and photographing bands and festivals, to corporate event planning and building lifestyle brands.

Currently, Scott is the event and merchandise planner at D’Addario, a leading manufacturer of gear, accessories and branded merchandise for guitarists, percussionists, and orchestral and woodwind players. She manages all of their consumer educator events, music competitions, and the company’s presence at music festivals, while also overseeing their merchandise business unit, and the lifestyle brand they’re building to complement their world-famous accessories.

She recently recounted for us her journey to get where she’s at now, and described how to successfully mesh one’s interests, career aspirations and personal growth.

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The WiMN:  Let’s talk about what led you to a career in the music products industry. Tell us a little about your previous background booking tours and shooting photography, and how that experience helped you transition into your current role planning a wider variety of events?

LS: Music has been a part of me since I was a baby. I grew up hearing my mom playing the guitar and singing. Before I could walk, I probably knew every Beatles song out there. Around 11 or 12 years old, I started skateboarding, and I discovered grunge and then the punk scene.

It excited me, it understood me, and there was a community to it. Even in the ‘90s, it was a culture that celebrated diversity. Somewhere in my 20’s, I was managing large scale events for Twinlab and doing some PR work for up-and-coming bands. A friend approached me and asked If I would help manage his band…the rest was history.

From there, I started helping local bands by booking and managing tours for smaller acts. A year later, I started a company called Candy Apple Red Productions and helped create a subculture amongst the NY rock and punk scene. I was booking showcases in venues all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, which led to reoccurring shows at Public Assembly, Party XPO, Matchless and The Trash Bar.

I have always been creative and loved art, especially photography. Candy Apple Red created an opportunity to meld all my passions together.  It provided a space where music could happen, creating a culture of people and music I love, and I photographed it so that people will know this all happened when I am gone. I became a photographer out of passion and necessity. I wanted the world to know what was going on at these shows. And the best way I knew how was through video and photography.

Around 2011, I began volunteering with Make Music New York and The ABC No Rio [a NYC-based arts organization] to organize an event called Punk Island. It’s a free, yearly, all-ages music festival with over 100 bands and seven stages. Musicians and volunteers solely run this event, and they fundraise to make it happen.

During this time, I found a home and a residency at the Trash Bar and became a part of The Grand Victory Team.  In June of 2015, The Trash Bar closed their doors, and The Grand Victory followed in July 2016. This broke me.

I decided to take a break from music and started working in apparel & merchandise. Then my husband and I decided we wanted to foster children and be closer to my family. So, we left Brooklyn and bought a house on Long Island, which is what led me to D’Addario.

D’Addario has been a fantastic career and life experience. They are family-oriented, home to all the brands I love, and they’re about eight minutes from our house. It was a no brainer.

The WiMN:  For those who have never planned any events, what are some desirable skills and personality traits for rolling out successful events?

LS: You need to roll with the punches, love people, stay calm under pressure, and have lots and lots of patience. Organization and communication are also essential – you have to be able to work well cross-functionally and be prepared for anything. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen with different visions and it’s your job to take all those visions and make sure it is all served up within budget and on time.

The WiMN: You’re now overseeing your company’s online merchandise shop. What are some of your responsibilities in that area?

LS: We are in the process of creating a lifestyle brand that reflects and amplifies the integrity of our products and artists. My responsibilities include developing and sourcing the products that reflect the brands while working with creative and Marcom to manage the online appearance.

The goal is to create a baseline of products to offer and supplement that with premium launches that will have a limited run. These items will be offered on our site to our Player’s Circle community and the fans of the brands. We are looking to grow this opportunity by promoting the merchandise with our customers and partners.

The WiMN: Unlike some other companies who only feature men, I noticed women modeling the clothing on your merch site as well. What are some other things D’Addario does to make playing music more inclusive or inviting for women, whether hobbyists or pros?

LS:  Funny you mention that. The people modeling our merchandise aren’t even models; they are current/former employees of D’Addario.  In fact, we had a photoshoot right after NAMM to add new apparel items to the merch section, and those will go live in early March. We believe in showcasing real people and embracing the diversity that creates such an exciting brand.

Another initiative is our company’s leadership program. Two female colleagues – Kristen McKeon and Liz Benoit Crew – partnered up with our Steering Committee to create a mentorship program between employees and executives.

There is also the D’Addario Foundation’s Music Education for Girls Initiative. The foundation partnered up with Guitar Center two years ago, and they raise money for International Women’s Day. Funding for this initiative goes to music education programs around the country that provide young women with opportunities to make music, and it also provides scholarships to the young women in our Long Island lesson program.

Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, the director of the D’Addario Foundation, was also just honored with the champion award at the 2020 She Rocks Awards in Anaheim.

The WiMN: Speaking of playing music, how’s it going teaching yourself to play drums? I imagine working at a drum accessories company keeps you motivated!  

LS: I started with D’Addario back in May of 2017, and almost everyone I work with is extremely talented and plays not one, but multiple instruments. Selfishly, I wanted to join the conversation! So, after almost two decades of working with musicians…I did!

About a year ago, I bought a beater kit from a friend. I had another friend show me a few things, but I mostly jam out in my basement to my headphones. I am absolutely terrible, but I’m in love.

Learning how to play drums has changed the way I look and listen to music. I spent my whole life listening for that riff or that lyric that fueled me. Now, I’m listening for the rhythm, working through beats in my head, and trying to figure out where the change comes in.

WiMN: Anything new coming up at D’Addario that you’re working on and would like to share? (not sure if you can mention any upcoming plans yet for the lifestyle brand you had shared with me?)

LS: One of the best parts of working at D’Addario is the ingenuity; we are always working on new innovations. In September of 2019, we launched our XT strings; they combine high carbon steel cores with extended coating on every string in the set.  The coating is virtually undetectable. D’Addario Woodwinds launched VENN at NAMM, which is a synthetic reed that combines the stability and longevity of a synthetic reed with the sound and feel of natural cane. We have some other exciting new products lined up that I can’t disclose just yet, so stay tuned for more!

The WiMN: What are some parting words of wisdom you have for anyone looking to get into event planning as a career?

LS: Ha ha, don’t do it! All kidding aside, if you love people and planning, do it! The best part of planning events is the people you work with, the plan you execute, and watching the whole transformation come to life.