Creating a higher ground for artists
Simone Amelia Jordan talks about her new project, Higher Ground Consulting, fostering POC talent.
Simone Amelia Jordan is a veteran entertainment journalist, host and consultant who recently founded Higher Ground Consulting Agency, Australia's first media training and personal branding service focusing on First Nations and culturally diverse artists. She’s worked across print, radio, TV and digital arms of media in entertainment and news and has been an active mentor for young women since the beginning of her career.
You’ve done many different things throughout your career - what are some of the highlights you can share with us? My favourite highlight is the fact I’ve been able to do so many things, which absolutely stems from my unshakeable inability to focus solely on one project (laughs). A true gift and curse, I tell you. My mother constantly loves to remind me of my second-grade report card, where my teacher wrote something like: “Simone is a highly intelligent student, who will find it hard to succeed in life as she can’t concentrate and apply herself.” Take that, Sister Helen Anne!
Seriously, though, a special highlight is pitching a national, on-sale Hip-Hop/R&B title to a major magazine publisher, and have them say yes, when I was fresh out of university. This was in 2003, when Australia’s music scene was passionate but paled in comparison to the size and support it enjoys nowadays. I was an ethnic girl in my early 20s, raised by a single mother in Inner West Sydney; an area whose racial and economic makeup was completely different back then. I couldn’t believe the publishers, Derwent Howard, were keen to take a chance on my pipe dream -- they even rejected a more established editor’s pitch in favour of mine. Thanks to their support, I went from editorial assistant to founder/editor overnight. I began to teach myself the ropes: creating a layout, negotiating with potential advertisers, putting photo shoots together, sitting in board meetings. My graphic designer and I would literally sleep overnight in the office, under our desks during deadlines. It was the craziest, most intense training I could have asked for, and it perfectly matched my hyperactivity. I guess that’s how I’ve approached my career ever since.
"Challenges within the local music industry start from the top, like they do with most major industries. We need to see more diverse faces in executive teams and on boards." - Simone Amelia Jordan
What prompted you to start Higher Ground Consulting Agency? I started my business to work with First Nations and culturally diverse young talent who remind me of myself back in the day: eager, hungry, and passionate to leave their unique mark on this world. I want to provide much-needed professional development for our current wellspring of emerging creatives. The creative juices are certainly flowing here in Australia, and I’m available to mentor our newest stars as their careers evolve. I spent a decade living and working in New York City, where I was fortunate enough to surround myself with elite-level professionals in music. I’m excited to share any knowledge and know-how I have with the next generation. Not only have I been there, done that, I come from where they come from, too.
What do you see as being some of the challenges within the music industry? Challenges within the local music industry start from the top, like they do with most major industries. We need to see more diverse faces in executive teams and on boards, which will ultimately happen. The global pandemic has changed showbiz forever, too. There have been so many technological and social shifts - it’s survival of the fittest! The vast majority of artists barely make any money, long-term record deals are basically a thing of the past, and if you can’t continuously book live shows for income, you’re in trouble. You need to be a visual artist more than ever due to social media, and people’s attention spans are horrific. My advice to new acts? Building your fanbase should be your number one priority. Everything else stems from that.
Having started your own business in the past, what do you think you’ve done differently? How have you applied learnings from your past experiences? I think a big one is to always be open to criticism. Sometimes we’re so passionate, and have such strong belief in ourselves, we can become closed off to really helpful advice from others. And that’s when things start to fall apart. Another important thing is to be very clear on what you can and can’t deliver, right from the beginning Finally, what’s meant for you is meant for you -- don’t worry about anyone else.
Can you share some of your plans for Higher Ground Consulting Agency? Oh man, where do I start! I’m re-introducing myself to the Australian music industry as a thought leader, especially with Hip-Hop and R&B more popular than ever here. I want to continue fostering relationships between my contacts here and overseas. I’ve created a personal branding and media training course called #GetInTheGame for emerging artists and creatives, which I’m excited to evolve into different formats. I’m blessed with a small, growing roster of clients I truly believe in. I also consult for community organisations like Media Diversity Australia and Deadly Connections, where I get to give back in a significant way. I feel truly blessed when looking towards the future.🔥