Career Spotlight: PR Founder, Emily Tan

Today’s Career Spotlight features insights from publicist, press agent, media relations professional, communications specialist, Emily Tan, head of boutique PR agency, EMILY TAN Media Relations based in New York City.  Emily Tan represents: Armin van Buuren, Armada Music, Aly & Fila, Andrew Rayel, Cevin Fisher, Dash Berlin and others, and previously represented Ferry Corsten, Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue) & DJ Aero, Pioneer DJ (Art Mix Project) and many others. Tan has been a press agent now for nearly 25 years.

If you are looking to work in music, there are employment opportunities available in our Job Seekers section.

Armin van Buuren and crew (plus Andrea from Hakkasan) at EDC Vegas helipad EDM Jobs

Emily Tan w/ Armin van Buuren and crew (plus Andrea Frey from Hakkasan) at EDC Vegas helipad. Photocredit: Tom Donoghue.

When did you realize that you wanted a career in the music industry? 

Towards the end of my 11-year career as a publicist in the fashion and beauty industries. I realized I started caring more about the DJ and after party than about the actual runway show…which I also had to produce.

How did you work your way up to the position you currently have?

Just that: by working. Long and hard. Nothing deters me. There’s a saying by, I believe, Bill Gates (but don’t quote me on that) that after a person’s spent 10,000 hours working at something, that’s when you become great at it. Those 10,000 hours can be spread out over however many months, years, decades (etc.), but once you hit the 10,000 hour mark, you become truly great. Of course there are exceptions to this rule (i.e. professional athletes, but only because the human body reaches a peak and then starts to degrade over time). I calculated it and I’d hit my 10,000 hour mark a while ago. Also, I’ve gotten to the point where I am really, really good at time-management. Time-management is one of the keys to efficiency. I’ve been called affectionately and alternately, “a beast” and someone with “ruthless efficiency” who works “to deadly effect,” and more than one big-name DJ client has affectionately referred to me as his “pit bull”. Time is the most precious asset you have and it’s finite, so if you can master time-management, you are already ahead of the game.

Emily Tan EDM Job

Emily Tan w/ Andrew Rayel at Miami press dinner Photo credit: Doug van Sant

What does your position entail? 

A publicist/press agent/media relations professional/ communications specialist. The primary goal is “to service the media,” and by doing so, I am serving my clients. Many publicists these days don’t understand the concept of “servicing the media.”

What is your favorite aspect of your job? 

Working with the best and brightest artists and professionals in my chosen field! There are so many “favorite aspects” that I can’t really choose one.

With former client Tommy Lee

Emily Tan w/ former client Tommy Lee

Least favorite aspect? 

Occasional sleep-deprivation. But it’s always expected (i.e. in relation to specific
dates/festivals/events/tours) and I always bounce back. Even during the toughest weeks where I’m sleeping 2 or 3 hours-per-night and working every waking moment, I still “wake up” and do my yoga, stretches, push-ups and squats in the hotel room before setting out for the day…this keeps me sane. You have to be healthy to keep this pace. I also don’t smoke cigarettes or anything of any kind and never have, and I generally try to eat healthy all the time, traveling or not. I’m a freak about health and dietary nutrition (not “dieting,” but “diet” insofar as “what you ingest”), so don’t get me started!

WIth longtime client Ferry Corsten

Emily Tan w/ longtime client Ferry Corsten

Is there anything you do for work on a daily basis others might be surprised about?

I go to the gym for 1.5 to 2-hours/day about five or six days a week when I’m home in New York City. I workout hardcore and I’m drenched in sweat after each workout session. Then I take the stairs back up after each workout. I never bring my phone or laptop to the gym; when I’m in the gym, it’s non-stop exercise and this keeps me sane. I’ve actually solved lots of daily “problems” during workouts so that when I’m done, I have a list of three or four people I need to email or call immediately when I get back to my desk. The gym is really productive in helping me clear my mind. Sometimes you just have to step away from the computer and all electronic devices in order to think. That said, I still work very long days and nights. I’m happiest when I’m busiest!

With Z-Trip and a friend

Emily Tan w/ Z-Trip and friend

How do you feel working in the music industry differs from other industries?

That’s a very general question. Would be better if you could pick another industry and I’d compare it. There are passionate people working in the music industry who would still choose to do this even if they won the lottery, but you could say that about many other professions, as well. One aspect of working in the music industry, besides being surrounded by talented, passionate, hard-working people, is its inherently global nature. This is especially true about electronic dance music; it’s truly global. Another aspect of working in the music industry is that it’s a 24/7 career. There are no holidays or off switches as far as I’m concerned.

Is working in the music industry as cut-throat and  challenging as many people make it out to be? 

Depends on whom you ask.

Emily Tan EDM Jobs

Emily Tan w/ Carmen van der Werf of Armada Music on Armin van Buuren’s tourbus/Ultrafest 2015. Photocredit: Roger Semaan.”

Do you have any advice for those trying to find a career
path in the music realm?

Strive for excellence. Do what you love. Don’t care about what others think/say/gossip about you. If you fall down, get up again. To steal from Nike: “Just Do It!”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Visit my LinkedIn profile for an overview of my 25 years in communications:

A Big thank you to Emily Tan for taking the time to share her EDMJob with us in this Career Spotlight. If you’re interested in working in Electronic Music see our Company Directory for opportunities.