UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Working for one of the world’s leading entertainment companies is an opportunity many dream of, but that dream has come true for Tara Bendler, an alumna of Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.
The 2015 graduate is currently leading an exciting career in live audio marketing at Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service provider. While it was undoubtedly an impressive step in her career, live audio marketing wasn’t the career path Bendler originally anticipated.
âI started my career in HR in the entertainment industry because I had a bachelor’s degree in industrial relations,â said the Paterno Fellows Program alumna.
But after two years, Bendler began to reassess her goals and passions and finally dared to make the unconventional switch from human resources to creative marketing.
“I don’t think you will find too many people who share a passion for employment law and music marketing, but I just happen to be me,” she said. âI realized that I was very creative and wanted to help improve the ecosystem for artists to connect with fans, tell their stories and make a living from their art. … At the end of the day, I thought about my long-term career goals and knew I had to go this way. “
Today, Bendler is making important advances in the live audio space, driving on and off platform content marketing for Spotify Greenroom that enables users to host or participate in a live, virtual audio environment.
âThis includes the planning, implementation and optimization of marketing initiatives in collaboration with external media agencies and creative partners for live audio experiences in music and sports,â she said. âI’m responsible for developing the content marketing strategy around our live audio marketing efforts, generating insights to inform future opportunities, and working cross-functionally with stakeholders to ensure campaigns are successful. “
Live audio in this format is relatively new to the entertainment industry and is growing and evolving every day.
“It’s exciting because there is enormous potential and an enormous opportunity to be a disruptor in this area,” said Bendler. “There is a lot of testing and learning, and no day is the same.”
Before joining Spotify, Bendler worked for Sony Music Entertainment, where she initially entered the field of creative music marketing. During her six years at Sony, Bendler had the opportunity to lead and develop marketing campaigns for artists such as Kesha, Lil Tjay, Khalid, Madison Beer, Quinn XCII, Calvin Harris, Lil Nas X and more.
Bendler is also currently the global digital strategy chairman for Women in Music, a non-profit advocating the advancement, education and empowerment of women in the music industry around the world.
âMy job at Women in Music is to develop the organization’s digital media strategy and lead a team that implements our social media efforts,â she said. “What’s really cool is that I’m part of a global team and that gives me the opportunity to strengthen the efforts of chapters and communities of women around the world.”
Women in Music is at the intersection of two of Bendler’s greatest passions: music and giving back.
âI always wanted to grow into a platform where I could reach down and pull others up with me. … There are a lot of incredible people out there who really deserve a chance to be successful in this industry but may not have the resources or connections they need, “she said. âIt has been my personal mantra throughout my career; I want to empower, support and encourage other women – especially young ones. “
With countless roles in marketing, Bendler has still found a number of ways to put their knowledge of labor relations and working relationships to the test.
“Even though I’ve switched to the creative side of the industry, I still use my HR and industrial relations background for many other things in my daily life and career,” she said, noting her previous efforts in starting and managing various mentoring Programs and panels for Women in Music and Sony Music U.
“One of the most rewarding – if challenging – parts of my role at Sony Music has been leading and mentoring a team of college graduates, many of whom have helped find full-time jobs in the music industry,” said Bendler.
According to Bendler, embodying the qualities of commitment, empathy, and patience has been invaluable throughout her career.
“From day one, I’ve always worked very hard and made sure that I always learn something in every conversation, whether I was speaking to an intern or a CEO,” she said. “I constantly strive to be someone who leads with empathy, friendliness and openness – understanding that a good idea can come from anywhere was very important for my career development.”
With seven years of experience in music and entertainment, Bendler attributes her rapidly growing success to her undergraduate training and extracurricular experience.
“The great thing about my liberal arts education was that it taught me a lot of crucial ‘soft’ skills – critical thinking, decision-making, communication – that apply to many different industries,” she said. “That was very helpful for me as a career changer, especially since my background in the field of industrial relations essentially taught me the basics of work.”
Bendler was heavily involved on campus as a student, serving as executive director of Movin ‘On, Penn State’s annual student-organized music festival, and executive director of the Penn State Class Gift Campaign. She was also a Lions ambassador and a member of the Student Conduct Board.
âPenn State was everything to me. I really see it as a launch pad for all of my success, âshe said.
For those who work in the entertainment industry or want to make a difference, Bendler emphasized the importance of not only networking, but also making real connections with their peers and classmates.
âNetworking is great, but don’t forget to build authentic, real relationships with the people around you,â she said. âThe reality is, with these people, you will grow throughout your industry and career. Make these connections now so that you can rely on them later. “
Finally, Bendler encouraged the students to âget involved with things that give somethingâ. [them] Meaning.”
âI knew I love music, so I took part in Movin ‘On. I loved philanthropy so I helped out with Class Gift. I really felt the power of the community and alumni in Penn State, so I became a Lions ambassador, âshe said. “There are endless possibilities here that your passions can be fulfilled, so get involved in things and participate in services that are really important to you.”