We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month”.
Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women who serve as role models and should be celebrated.
This month we are shining a spotlight on Cassie Petrey and Jade Driver, co-founders/owners of digital marketing, publicity, and management company Crowd Surf. “Crowd Surf is an artist marketing and management company that is focused on problem-solving and helping our clients accomplish their goals,” they tell us. “Our company is all about helping talent solve their problems, at first it was digital because nobody knew how to deal with digital, but over time we’ve evolved into so many different services and solving different problems, creating solutions that were realistic and in line with what our clients needed.”
Driver, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia was introduced to music at an early age, her parents would play music that was “clean” she explains, like The Monkees, The Partridge Family, and The Beatles. She laughs when explaining that she loved The Chipmunks, they were the first boyband that she became a big fan of. As she got older and her tastes evolved, she started listening to Debbie Gibson, New Kids On the Block and eventually, the Backstreet Boys. “I went to my guidance counselor in high school and told her I want to work for the Backstreet Boys and she told me that wasn’t possible but I told her I would figure it out, it took me a long time but I did,” she proudly states. She started running fan street teams from her bedroom, participating in show choir and eventually ended up at Middle Tennessee State University where she met Cassie Petrey.
Petrey, from Louisville, Kentucky wasn’t exposed to music until she was eleven or twelve years old. After her softball team in high school won the championship they all went to see the Backstreet Boys in concert and it’s safe to say from there she became a superfan. She worked at local radio stations, ran message boards and fansites, promoted local shows and even worked at management firms or local record labels. After a family member mentioned that she could major in music business, she became obsessed with the idea and applied to and got into Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Unfortunately, the reality of finances kicked in, and Petrey made the decision to go to the University of Lousiville instead. On her drive to the school for orientation, she pulled over, started to cry and realized that wasn’t the right decision for her. “I drove home and in the mail, that day had come to my house a letter about MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) and it was a school I hadn’t even heard of at that point,” Petrey explains. “I changed where I was going to school and moved to Nashville to follow that path and that journey, and I am really grateful for that piece of mail if I didn’t get that I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Talking about fate and the universe leading you in the right direction, Driver and Petrey lived in the same dorm at college and after a trip to get tacos, a shared love for singing Backstreet Boys deep tracks, and a Wyoming cowboy love interest, they decided to become friends and eventually partners in business. While completing their degrees at MTSU, Driver was working for Radio Disney and Petrey was a Warner Music College Rep where she had the brilliant yet unheard of idea, to run MySpace pages for a living.
Social media and the general notion of artists having a social fan base and digital marketing was still super new at the time, but Petrey and Driver almost saw the future when creating their business. “The initial motivation for the company was, how do we get free tickets and hang out with boy bands,” Driver laughs. “We learned a lot being fans but then also trying to work for them, there was never a point where we said we wanted to start a business, we just sort of did it.”
Their first official retainer was with Capitol Nashville where they helped set up and run MySpace pages for artists such as Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan, Eric Church and more. Helping the record labels and the artists understand the social space, they were able to continue their little company and move on to pop acts such as Britney Spears and eventually, end up managing AJ McLean from Backstreet Boys, for sure a full circle moment for both women.
Now 12 years after officially starting their business they have a team of 50+ that work in conjunction via four offices nationwide (LA, Nashville, NYC) and they continue to evolve to help connect artists with their fans, managing artist’s careers, graphic design, video production and however they can artist’s help achieve their goals.
When we discuss what advice they have for people who are looking to fulfill either an entrepreneurial dream or just be in the music business, the two women actually explained their podcast, ‘How I Got Backstage’ where they feature influencers, artists, and executives, that join them to discuss the ins and outs of music industry. “Each guest develops their story, each story is so different, to get into the music or entertainment industry, there is no right or wrong path, it’s all different, it depends on your story and how much you want it and how much you want to work for it,” they tell us.
They also tell us two great pieces of advice. “Do what you do and always ask”.
“Doing what you do, me and Cassie are good examples of that because before entering the workforce we were fangirls, being able to take that passion and understand that we were not just fans but consumers,” they explain. “There were plenty of other people just like us, people who we could also turn into consumers, and taking that understanding of why we were purchasing things and making a company out of it, we continue to be fans and we utilize that in our understanding. Studying your own habits led us into this company essentially.”
“My boss at Radio Disney told me if you don’t ask you’re not going to get it but if you do ask, you might,” Driver tells us. “I was asking for tickets to Nick Carter’s concert and because I asked, I met and interviewed him, and in 2003 it was a huge deal and it proved to me that I could do things, I could meet and work with people that I admire and that was a big catalyst for me in understanding something that looked impossible and making it possible.”
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