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Meet Danielle Leonard of Topshelf Records in South Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Leonard.

Danielle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Originally hailing from the Atlanta area, I started my “journey” into the music industry while I was working on my photography BFA at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. I spent my sophomore-senior year curating, organizing, and hosting over 100 shows at my house venue (The Bomb Shelter, which I ran with my roommate Henry McGehee), as well as an array of other venues around town.

Working with bands became almost like an addiction, I spent all my time outside of classes/homework immersing myself into my local music scene. Joining up with a few more friends, Bomb Shelter Records began. It was fairly short-lived, as it was born in my senior year and I had plans to move post-graduation, but we were thrilled to be working hand in hand with local bands we loved to get their music out to the world in a physical form.

I also had previously done an internship with LA-based label & management company, Sargent House – so I applied some of what I had learned there into my own project. After I graduated with my degree, I went on to work at Topshelf Records which is currently based here in San Diego. I finally had the opportunity to collaborate with bands I had been listening to for years, and a label which I had always admired.

After 2 years, I am still working at Topshelf as the digital content manager – doing a lot of things in the realm of marketing, digital setup, social media, and more. I do a podcast/live session channel on the side with my boyfriend, Michael Kelly (all episodes and videos can be found on our FB – which we plan to kick back into high gear soon, possibly going a slightly different direction but still involving bands.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are definitely always challenges! While I was in college, it was often difficult to figure out how to balance school and hosting shows – I would get overwhelmed at times, but I feel like when you really care about something, you figure out how to make it work.

It was also hard and frankly kind of scary moving to a totally new city (San Diego) where I didn’t know anyone and had never personally met anyone at the company that I was about to work for. Everything turned out to be okay and that is kind of the beauty of taking risks I guess.

Topshelf Records – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I work for Topshelf Records! We are an independent label based here in San Diego, releasing music from a wide variety of artists. I personally work as the digital content manager. I create marketing plans, set up releases digitally, post on our social media accounts, take part in content creation, and keep our website up-to-date. There is a lot that I’m proud of when it comes to Topshelf. First of all, I know for a fact that we all genuinely care about our bands and the music we release. It isn’t about money, but rather about sharing music that we love with the world.

I also love the diversity of our roster, both sonically and our musicians. We have bands from all over the world, many female artists, and genres ranging from jazz-inspired indie rock to instrumental math-rock with time signatures all across the board. I feel we are unique from some larger businesses because we are such a small operation which allows us to get very hands-on with our releases, closely collaborating with our artists and the rest of our tight-knit team to create content that we all can be excited about.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Oh, man that’s a hard question. I think I would feel personally successful if I was able to keep working in a field which I am so passionate about while maintaining a positive outlook on the industry/not getting “jaded”. I want to keep my love for music and working with artists while having it be my career and living a comfortable life.

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