Startup Stories: Tamara Hansson

Tamara Hansson moved to NYC to complete a program in musical theatre and decided to stay. Her next show is on December 3rd at Foot Gear NYC – 435 125th Street. Read on to hear about how she has developed her brand as a singer/songwriter in the Big Apple.

Tell us about you and your business in the music industry? Please provide some background about when you moved to the USA and your career trajectory.
I moved to the states in June 2011 – 6 years now, I still can’t believe it’s been that long! I’ve always worked in music, as a singer, composer, voice coach, and various roles in the music industry. When I left Australia in 2010 to go to the UK, I was saying goodbye to over 60 voice students in Brisbane between 3 schools, and I just wanted to pursue something for myself for a change. Teaching people is humbling and you’re giving a lot of yourself to that kind of work. I needed to step back and work out what I actually wanted.

Originally I moved to New York to take on a course I’d received a scholarship for – musical theatre. It was a real time of growth and development, and completely out of my comfort zone. I did a year solid of training in Musical Theatre and decided to stay in New York and pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. A lot of time earlier on in NYC was spent perfecting my craft and writing loads of songs, playing small shows and building a following, all while working jobs to stay afloat. Over the last few years, I’ve built more of a fan base, and in spring, completed a 40-date tour of the USA. Next year I’ll be releasing an EP, and doing an Australian tour, another US tour, and looking to expand out to the UK – I played a show in London over the summer – and to Europe.

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’
I love this question, and I guess every time you level up personally or professionally you have that moment.

I think back to some of my first performances in New York – actually my very first performance, I was asked to sing at a showcase with another Australian girl from Queensland. We had a blast, our names were in the program and I was so chuffed with myself. I was really proud at that point. I thought to myself, “Even if I go back to Australia, I can say I’m international now”. Haha, what a dag!

What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business?
I’m a very driven person, and when things don’t happen immediately, it’s hard to stay focused. You really have to be dogged, and persistent, and keep trying/throwing stuff at a wall until something sticks.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
Social media has been a huge tool for me to connect directly with fans of my music, and for them to find me too. I never really had strengths in PR or marketing when I first started out, and have now got a small team who can handle things like that – but when I’m out on the road, fans usually connect with me on Instagram, or Twitter, and keep in touch regularly with whatever is going on. I was able to campaign to be a verified artist on Spotify via social media, we gave out merch prize packs on the road for people who signed up to the mailing list, all of it was done via social media. We tell tour stories while we’re on the road and fans can connect with that.

They also use it to tag me in photos of them wearing the merch, or fan art they’ve drawn, so it’s really nice to be able to connect directly with those people.

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Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
Yeah, for sure, it takes a village, no one does it on their own. I have a business coach, as well as several others who I’ve met via gigs, or events, or through friends in the music industry. There are a few of them but they might not know they’ve become a mentor figure for me. Relationships are everything. I value them very much and am so appreciative of those who’ve welcomed me in, and shared their stories. I’ve learnt so much from listening to others who’ve come before me, it’s so great to have that, and have those deeper relationships.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business in NYC?
Ask for help, listen to everyone around you and be humble. There’s no tall-poppy squashing here so dream big – go hard or go home. This city is not for the feint hearted.

Any advice for people moving to NYC?
I could write a book on my experiences, and I probably will one day. I moved here during my 20s and it was a real time of growth and discovery for me. Being out of Australian culture, leaving a job and an industry I had been in since I was a kid was hard. You have to start again, but I didn’t really realize that until maybe 6 months into being here. Surprise! Being able to find myself in a city where you’re a nobody is incredibly humbling and gratifying. I was able to really reflect after leaving Australia, take stock of my personal life and what I wanted to create for myself here in NYC.

As a music professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?
There is so much more opportunity for work in New York, and musicians are really valued. Also, you can build a business here due to the sheer density – if you have something people want, it’s easy to package it up.

You’ve just returned from a tour, what are the pros and cons of touring in the US?
Pros – there are waaaay more cities to play, even the smallest towns can have a banging music scene and you can really connect and build a fan base that is all over. It’s also a bit of a novelty for American people to meet Australians. Not going to lie, this worked in my favor for sure! Haha!

Cons – You’re in another country, and you have to drive a big fat beautiful astro van on the other side of the road – that basically sums it up! Hahaha!

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
I think Australian people in general do really well in business here because of our outlook and because we’re pretty easy going, approachable, and relaxed. That’s something that I’ve carried with me. Especially being on the road as so many things can go wrong and if you don’t have a flexible attitude, it can make life really hard. So staying light and taking each thing as it comes is always sage advice, especially living overseas.

What is next for your business?
I’m currently writing and demo-ing my next 6 track EP called “33” to be released next year on Feb 17th in New York (Save the date!!). I’ll be following it up with an Australian tour in April, and a US tour through May/June.

Here’s the video for my song ‘Your Bones’.

Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?
I have a current sale on merch at TamaraHansson.com and you can use the code INSTATAM to get 25% off hoodies, tshirts, tote bags etc.

What are the best way for AWNY members to get in touch or communicate with you? (eg, email, website, social media links)
I’m always tweeting @TamaraHansson and ‘gramming @TamaraHansson

Website: www.TamaraHansson.com

And like my page on facebook: facebook.com/tamarahanssonofficial

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Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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