Humans of TMA is a content series that showcases the diverse, interesting, and creative people that make up The Marketing Arm.
Let’s get to know Susan…
Can you describe what your role is at TMA and what that entails? I’m a music supervisor, which is kind of all-encompassing as far as helping find songs and artists for branding, as well as negotiating deals for brands to use music in their initiatives. But really, most of the time my job is to problem-solve, which I love to do.
What led you to this career/industry? I started playing piano when I was four and have always wanted to be in and around music for as long as I can remember. As far as my career, it kind of found me. If you told me 20 years ago that I’d be doing what I am now, I wouldn’t have believed you.
What’s the coolest or your favorite thing you’ve worked on? Way too many to even remember all of them. My favorite part of this job is being able to work with artists and writers since we speak the same language. There are lots of faves…one of them was working with The Decemberists to re-record New Order’s song “Ceremony” for an Absolut spot. Sadly, the spot never made it to air.
Where do you find inspiration? Hands down anywhere in nature, whether it’s in the woods, on an uncrowded beach, or just looking at the sky – cool cloud formations, the sunset – there’s a purity and unique beauty to all of it, and it doesn’t need to be “fixed” because it’s already perfect. I also find great inspiration in seeing or talking to someone who is passionate about something, because that passion and enthusiasm inspires me!
What’s your hobby or passion project outside of TMA? To be honest, I haven’t really been passionate about anything as much as I was when I studied karate and dance. They’re both really hard on your body, and so after a few surgeries they’re both kind of a no-no now. I’ll take any suggestions anyone wants to give me. Seriously.
What three words would your closest friends use to describe you? Kooky, loyal, and “weird but in a good way.”
What has been your favorite cultural moment of the last few years? I think as a human race and as a country, we are on a better path than we were before. There are so many cultural moments about to be had and I’m probably as excited about what is about to happen as anything that has happened the last few years.
How do you bring your full self into your work? What unique perspectives do you bring? I am self-aware enough to know that if I don’t bring my full self into everything I do, the results are never great. My career is not an easy one and I’ve worked through many challenges over the years, both personally and professionally. As a result, I have lots of knowledge and experience, so when I see someone making a bad decision, or just have something useful to add, I say something. Sometimes it’s received well, other times not, but remaining quiet is not helpful to anyone, including me, and I see speaking up as a personal responsibility. Sharing viewpoints shows care and investment, and I hope that my co-workers and clients appreciate that about me. I’m also a huge believer in levity and try to insert it whenever possible; we work in a tough industry, but it’s also fun. Music can lift a mood and help connect people, just like humor, and I love to laugh and love to see others laugh too.
What causes are you supportive of and why? If I could boil it down, in a nutshell I’d say I’m very pro-people. Since I was little, I’ve always wanted the world to be fair and just, and I’m not sure it ever will be, but I can at least help and defend the people in my little world.
What is your guilty pleasure? I kind of hate to admit this but now that I work at home for the most part, I usually have those afternoon TV judge shows on in the background. Why I find them fascinating I do not know, but when I miss them, I get super-annoyed.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about you? I have an involuntary “weird magnet.” It goes on and off without me having any control over it, and so I never really know what’s coming next as I walk around New York City. Essentially, what this means is I tend to attract weird strangers at random. People used to not believe it until they were with me and got to experience it firsthand. Unless you have one of your own, you probably won’t understand what I’m talking about. But for those who do, please let’s share stories!!
What’s the best advice you were ever given? I know I’ve gotten tons of great advice over the years but the only thing I can think of right now is my mom telling me how important it was to wash and moisturize my face every night, and so I’ve been doing since I was 18.
What are you watching? Loki, newest season of A Handmaid’s Tale, Umbrella Academy, Staged, Ted Lasso, Pennyworth, Broadchurch, On My Block, The Irregulars, Godfather of Harlem.
What are you reading? The Bible. Yes, for real. And tons of articles in the trades.
What are you listening to? Lots of stuff…as far as music, Rina Sawayama, Joe Wong, Laura Mvula, and as far as podcasts, Throughline, Stuff You Should Know, The Daily, All Songs Considered, TED Radio Hour.
Who are you following? My friends and family.
What are you ignoring? Negativity! It’s SO unproductive!
Susan Schwartz | VP, Music Supervision & Licensing | New York City Office
Susan has been working at TMA/Platinum Rye for 14 years. Her music industry career started in song production when ProTools didn’t yet exist and she will proudly tell you she learned to edit reel-to-reel tapes with a piece of chalk and a razor blade. She put in time in Y&R NY’s music production department and then spent many years at the publishing behemoth that is Sony Music Publishing. From there she went back to the agency world guiding Platinum Rye’s growing music supervision and licensing division that merged four years ago with TMA, and today Susan helps run TMA’s industry-leading Music Department.