While Catherine Haridy cut her teeth in the recorded music industry, working as one of just a few female A&R managers at at both Warner Music and Festival Mushroom Records in the late ’90s to early noughties, she’s best known for her work with some of the biggest names in Australian music.
Her achievements for the likes of Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, Bob Evans, Adalita, Tigertown and producer Anna Laverty has seen Haridy act as the conduit for a few of the country’s greatest artist collaborations, including Kylie Minogue and Jimmy Little’s cover of The Triffid’s Bury Me Deep In Love.
To celebrate Haridy’s contribution to both the recorded and management sectors of the music industry, she’s our September Manager of the Month. We chatted to Haridy about her big career lessons, the difficulties she’s faced, and the advice she wishes she’d had when she started managing Eskimo Joe.
Looking back, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over your career so far?
I’ve learnt how important it is to be resilient and flexible. It’s crucial to seize worthwhile opportunities while treating everyone respectfully and ethically. Knowing how to succeed and fail graciously, while never assuming anything.
The ability to communicate clearly with any stakeholder in an artists sphere is also absolutely key. Sometimes that requires repeating information multiple times and re-clarifying, but it’s worth it to have the piece of mind that everyone’s on the same page.
What learnings from your time as an A&R Manager at Warner do you still use today?
A&R was of the most rewarding yet gruelling jobs I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. I learnt a lot about working with creative people and particularly common challenges they face, which stood me in good stead for music management.
As an entrepreneur, did you face difficulties operating within a corporation before starting your own company?
I never really fancied myself as an entrepreneur, it wasn’t something I consciously set out to become, but when I moved into Management and started my own business, I was ultimate lead in that direction.
It was great being a part of a big team at both FMR (Festival Mushroom Records) and Warner, and having people to talk through ideas with; workshop things. It was also amazing having a reliable pay check! So I’d say the real difficulty was the reverse for me, becoming an “entrepreneur” was a difficult transition when moving from the support and stability of the big label job.
One day you’re in a big office with lots of internal support, and the next working from a small desk at home on your own without guidance for a starting point. It was a real leap into the unknown and a test of resilience.
You’re the linchpin at your firm and in your family; do you think the local music industry is a supportive place for parents?
The music industry at large has a lot of evolving to do when it comes to accepting that women, both artists and professionals, can have families and continue working effectively and efficiently. For me, this is one of the most under-explored issues within the gender equity and diversity conversation.
If you could, what advice would you give your 2006 self, who had just left Warner Music to manage Eskimo Joe?
I would definitely have told myself to be a lot more ballsy in my approach to business, and to have the strength of my convictions to trust and back my decisions. Again, to seize the opportunities and maximise them, while not being afraid to ask for help or guidance from others who are more experienced.
What do you wish you knew already when you started Catherine Haridy Management?
I wish I’d had a crystal ball and could’ve predicted the technological changes that music consumption would encounter. Also, a basic understanding of running a small business.
What the best career blunder you’ve ever made?
I’ve made some good decisions and some bad. If anything, the bad decision-making has been much more formative as it’s given me the tools to be able to pre-emptively put in place for any consequent occasions.
Working with something as ethereal and emotionally driven as music (and the creators behind it), means not only experiencing the elation of being a facilitator for it, but the difficulties: constant problem solving and crisis relief, which can be unrelenting.