We're excited to have Artist and Merch Manager, Charlotte Mai Jacobsen all the way from Denmark joining us today. Charlotte is a highly talented individual with an impressive track record in the rock and metal industry dating back to the young age of 14. Working with names such as Mother Mother, Manowar, Yungblud, and Copenhell just to name a few. Her dedication to crafting memorable merchandise experiences while prioritizing and highlighting the importance of mental health is truly inspiring. We look forward to learning from her expertise and gaining a deeper understanding of the merch world. Without further ado, jump in with us.
Hey Charlotte, thank you so much for taking the time and joining us for a Merchandiser Spotlight feature. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little bit more about how you got into the game and what you guys do at Noir Noise Management?
I work as a freelance Merchandiser and music business consultant, also do VIP and SoMe mgt from time to time. I somehow ended up in live music around the age of 14. I organized events within Hardcore, Punk, and Metal with my friends at a local venue/youth house. Did all sorts of jobs before I knew what they were. Moved on to do a BA in Music Business and a MA in entrepreneurship in London. After covid, I decided it was time to go back to life, and that's how I ended up doing merch for a living.
Can you talk about the importance of building strong relationships with bands, management, and the rest of the tour crew for successful merchandise operations?
The music industry is heavily based on having a broad network, putting myself out there, was not something that came naturally to me, I'm an introvert but the alternative music scene was welcoming, I felt safe and that's how I learned to network. No matter the job you do, creating relationships with music professionals is important. But it's also important you stay true to yourself, your values, and your boundaries. My motto is, to be kind, lead by example, and accept not everyone is gonna be a fit.
It’s evident that mental health is at the top of your priority list, and we love seeing more and more people in the industry becoming more vocal about the importance of mental health. Do you mind telling us a little bit more about how your passion for this sprouted and do you think the industry is moving in the right direction or is there still a lot to be learned about this topic?
I've struggled with my mental health since I was a kid, I spend most of my teenage years hanging on to dear life and for that reason, it naturally became a priory of mine, offering to listen, talk, or give hugs when I see that my peers are struggling. Someone in catering, a tour manager, a known artist, I don't care, I will walk up to them, to let them know I see them, and if they need anything I'm a companion. The music industry has been terrible in supporting mental health issues, especially roadies. Though in recent years mental health has been on everyone's lips, unfortunately, there's often a long way from spoken to action.
We need to accept Mental Health initiatives cost money and the money will be well spent, potentially saving lives. This is why I'm a mental health first aider and have various courses in mental health, addiction, and recovery.
Can you discuss your experience working with international tours and how you navigate cultural and logistical differences in merchandise operations?
I'm very lucky to have worked with international artists since I was a teen, therefore I got a hang of cultural differences early on. Though I still encounter situations that can be difficult to navigate, for example, I'm a 6 ft tall Scandinavian, so no matter my kindness and compassion, I can come off as quite intimidating. I don't shy away from speaking my truth and that has gotten me in trouble at times. As mentioned above values and boundaries are important but have a history of being neglected within the industry. Speak your truth and be open to others. The logistical side of things have changed drastically over the years, Brexit, and new laws for import and exports across countries. Depending on the tour, I talk to my peers, I ask questions in various music forums, and there's always one or more who has the newest updates.
Can you share your thoughts on the current state of the music merchandise industry and any upcoming trends you see on the horizon?
After the pandemic, we have across the board seen a drop in merch sales and inflation due to the war affecting people's spending. The trend I'm seeing is not new, it's old school, the importance of tribes. People have enough tour shirts, they want something different or they want the merch item to have a special meaning, a message. I think we are at a time where we need to think out of the box, be more creative with merch, and yet not overdo it. I always tell artists to look at what Pearl Jam does, they have nailed the merch game for decades, and it's truly inspiring.
We all know that life on the road can be hectic and stressful, what steps do you put in place to stay on top of your health while being out on tours?
I make sure I eat a healthy diet, and I pack various supplements as well. Some roadies go to the pub, I go to the health store, and make sure there are ginger shots and other healthier alternatives on the bus for all of us. I travel with a yoga mat and fitness bands, and I lift a lot of heavy boxes, so I do get a good workout in almost every day.
Therefore it's important to remember to stretch. I go to bed as early as possible, I rarely hang out on the bus until 3 am. Most importantly I have the privilege of a little more free time as a merchandiser, so I plan that in cities where we are close to open water swimming, I GO cause it does not only benefit me physically/mentally it gives me more clarity. If swimming is not possible, I'll find a space where I can be alone for 20min to do breath work, or go for a walk. Don't be afraid to ask for mental health breaks during the day, you'll set an example and people will follow. When I forget to do this or time has been limited I don't perform my best and feel awful. Discipline is the key to taking care of myself on tour