McGlone takes center stage with start-up

When Christine Baaten McGlone ’06 was 11 years old, she auditioned for and won the title role of Mabel in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, “Pirates of Penzance,” a vocally demanding part for someone even twice that age.

She surprised herself and those around her when her voice filled the big theater, carrying the role and commanding the audience.

“This was a moment of challenge and excitement for me,” wrote McGlone — who now goes by the stage name Christine Olivier — on her website, christineolivier.com. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘Yes, I can do this!’ I will never forget studying my part and feeling the absolute thrill when that curtain went up for the first time. Even at this young age, I had already acquired a respect and love for the musical and performing arts, a feeling that has never left me.”

It took McGlone awhile to turn that early affection into a full-time career, however. After graduating from Hanover with a double major in communication and sociology, she took a job in sales for the food manufacturing giant Nestlé USA. McGlone learned quickly that a corporate career wasn’t for her.

“I wanted to do something that I really believed in,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I realized quickly that I was building skill sets that I didn’t care about. More experience (at Nestlé) wouldn’t help me get where I want to go.”

Instead, she moved to Los Angeles with her future husband, Ryan ’06, to learn as much as she could about the music business with the goal of starting her own music management firm. Part of the reason was her desire to see her brother — who currently performs under the name Nico Adams (nicoadams.com) — become a successful artist. McGlone believed wholeheartedly in his talent.

“Nico is such a great songwriter,” she said. “I wanted to help him make it.”

She started off by working as an assistant to a music producer for more than a year, which allowed her to build a network of her own while learning the basics in one of the industry’s most demanding markets. Not long afterward, she officially opened the doors to GraceNote Management.

A lot of hard work — generally around 80 hours a week — has fueled her company’s growth. Within two years, McGlone has hired two employees and built a stable of more than 250 artists under her representation whom she books at special events and in clubs in southern California.

It’s also meant knocking on a lot of doors. McGlone has sought appointments with 150 different companies looking for one to sponsor her brother. While she gets more people to say yes than no, she’s developed an appropriate coping strategy.

“You have to remember the vision and why you’re doing it. (The business) is 98 percent rejection and 2 percent success. If you ask someone and they say no, you’re just in the same place that you were before you asked.”

Helping her brother build his career has inspired McGlone to develop her own fan base. Her first eponymous album is a collection of tunes influenced by pop divas Madonna and Blondie, along with the bands ABBA, No Doubt and Fleetwood Mac.

In addition to performing at local clubs and other venues — McGlone will perform at a women’s conference in September where Oprah Winfrey will give the keynote address —she’s just released her first video and is in pre-production for another, all while continuing to manage her business.

McGlone believes networking, continuing education and changes in technology, such as social media, websites and affordable recording software, can help an artist develop a niche market and a long-term career.

What’s the biggest lesson McGlone has learned so far?

“Managing expectations,” she said. “Good things take time. We definitely know the long term of what we want to accomplish (and) all the steps are connected.”

Skipping or trying to advance too quickly can backfire. According to McGlone, television shows like “American Idol” may give an artist a taste of celebrity, but they don’t necessarily provide staying power.

“It’s one second of fame, but that’s not a career,” she said. “You need to build loyalty so you have a foundation. (People don’t have) loyalty to an act they saw (once) for three minutes.”

Though she acknowledges that at 28, age isn’t on her side in a youth-obsessed industry, McGlone believes having a long-range view is key.

“(That perspective) is what’s going to allow the company to stay and be my livelihood for the rest of my life. It says a lot that in this economy we’re still up and running.”