NYCS Woman of the Month: Olivia Hanceri

Our first Woman of the Month for 2019 is Olivia Hanceri, Director of Public Relations for SMACK, a unique company based out of Nashville.  More on SMACK later but first, in our recent interview, Hanceri told us about her non-conventional journey to Music City and the musical influences in her life.

Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, she was not raised on country music or whatever music was popular at the time, rather she grew up listening to classical music.  “I could tell you any classical composer but as far as things that were on the radio, I don’t remember that being influential in my life,” she explains. Her father played the cello, her mother owned a dance studio and she played piano competitively, that being her entry point into music.  She immersed herself in the classical world until she reached college. She double majored at the University of Alabama in political science and public relations and originally thought she would go into lobbying in DC.

“In a series of random events I got connected with Ebie McFarland and interned for her and fell in love with her company,” Hanceri explains.  “I landed a job right out of college with her and worked with her for four years.” She worked as a day to day publicist in Nashville, eventually learning to love the country music scene, specifically the songwriters who were behind the curtain. During her four years with Essential Broadcast Media (EBMediaPR) she assisted on some of the larger accounts but recalls two major moments that were very special to her. One working with Old Dominion from the very early days, eventually seeing them get signed to Sony and release two albums and then more recently, watching Caitlyn Smith’s career blossom in a format that isn’t country.

She also worked closely with Walker Hayes, Shane McAnally, and other songwriters, “I kept being drawn to songwriters as clients, the common thread was SMACKSongs and that’s what is interesting, they were all a part of SMACK so at Ebie’s I learned first hand about publishing and songwriting, it was a world within a world and that to me is where the real magic happens. I was fortunate enough to transition from EBMediaPR to SMACK,” she tells us.

Now she works with a roster of fourteen songwriters and within that roster, four of them are artists as well as songwriters, Kylie Morgan, Walker Hayes, one of our Swag Spotlight’s Renee Blair and one of our 2019 Artists to Watch, Teddy Robb. Along with handling media relations for the individual songwriters, she is also responsible for PR for the company itself, strategizing for awards and recognition.  “We are unique because we have a publishing arm, a management arm, an artist development arm and a production arm,” she explains. The work with their roster in different capacities, allowing Hanceri’s day to day to evolve and change. “It’s been fun to lean into marketing or lean into merchandise, if it has to do with your brand, I am fortunate enough to touch it,” she tells us. “We all get to shift and figure out what is needed so my days never look the same.”

SMACK not only has some of the biggest writers in the industry, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne but they also have a band of new writers, each raising the bar to write and create incredible songs. She explains two things she is most excited about working on currently are Shane McAnally’s new show Songland which was just greenlit for season one on NBC as well as helping to launch artist Kylie Morgan‘s career.

As a passion project, Hanceri also manages ‘Girls of Nashville’, a seasonal showcase that highlights female songwriters who are looking to make a positive change in the community. “There is something really fulfilling about nights like that, where you get to walk away with such a full heart,” she says of the event.

As we close out our conversation, Hanceri gives advice to any young women just starting out, looking to find their dream job. “Lean in to working as hard as you can, as soon as you get out of college or in your early twenties, that first season of life as a young adult should really be about being ambitious and excited and hungry,” she offers. She also says that getting to Nashville and having boots on the ground to show what you can do in person is half the battle of landing a job in the music industry. Looking ahead, Hanceri is excited to see the evolution of SMACK who received SESAC Writer of the Year,  SESAC Song of the Year, Publisher of the Year, ASCAP Song of the Year, and several BMI Radio Airplay Awards in 2018. Keep up with Olivia on Instagram.


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