Successful Business Woman Rebecca De La Torre
Sylvia:Hi Rebecca. How are you today? Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to interview with me. Please tell us about yourself and your business?
Rebecca: Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me! My name is Rebecca De La Torre and I’m a singer-songwriter, pianist, and recording artist based in Phoenix, Arizona, and I’m thrilled to release my first LP album Incognito on May 15. I also own and manage a production company and recording studio in Tempe, Arizona called TopKat Music, where a lot of my composing and recording takes place. I was flown out to Nashville, Tennessee to record Incognito at RCA Studio A, but pretty much all the tracks were first laid out in my studio.
Alongside my recording career, I’m also writing children songs, theme songs for videos, and piano scores for advertising agencies. I just love performing, so any chance I get, I’m performing for high-end events, concerts, and top venues.
You’d think that coming from a former career as a Senior Level Computer Programming Engineer would have made me quite introverted, but, as you can see, there’s a part of me that needs to be in front of people singing, playing my own music, and touching people’s lives through my creative expression.
Sylvia: Congratulations on your upcoming album. Now that’s very interesting; from programming to singer-songwriter… quite a change! Phoenix huh? I was born there… many years ago! I haven’t visited in such a long time. What does success mean to you?
Rebecca: Success means making a living as a musician for the rest of my days. You know who else said something like that? Dave Chappelle. He said to his dad, “Well, you’re a teacher. If I can make a teacher’s salary doing comedy, I think that’s better than being a teacher.” He got so big that everyone knows who he is. His goal was to just do what he does. That’s what being successful means to me. So right now, I’m successful. Will I be more successful? That would be great. The more I do my own music and the less I have to do other people’s music to entertain, the more successful I would consider myself.
Sylvia: How do you create work-life balance?
Rebecca: Well, I could easily say that I work 70+ hours a week. But because I love what I do, it often doesn’t feel like work. Having said that, I do have to remember to slow down and take a day off every once in a while, where I step away from my computer and let my voice and my piano hands rest.
So what do I do on my free time to feel more balanced? Well, I love to cook. I’m a member of the CSA, the Community Supported Agriculture in Tempe, and we get veggies once a week. I love having to figure out how to cook what we get. I love to experiment with new recipes.
I also love taking my belly dancing classes, and I lift weights and work out a lot. I like to be active in general, so I also run and hike. I think being outdoors and being active helps me find my center again.
Sylvia: I like that, experimenting with recipes. Probably fun to taste vegetables cooked various ways. What steps are necessary for a woman entrepreneur who wants to move her business to the next level?
Rebecca: If you really believe you have talent and you have the experience and the skills to make a living as an artist, then keep getting better at those skills and expand them. If all you can do is your art, you’re going to constantly depend on other people to fill in the gaps. The more you understand about yourself, the more powerful you will be. I’m just talking from my heart.
Sylvia: It is important to give back. In what way do you give back to your community?
Rebecca: Supporting the arts within my community is extremely important to me and very close to my heart. I held a concert last September where I donated 50% of all my ticket sales to Jazz in AZ, a non-profit community arts organization that encourages the local performance and appreciation of Jazz music throughout Arizona. We raised a few hundred dollars to help them put on concerts and educate people about a style of music that I love so much. Jazz in AZ is a huge proponent of jazz education in Phoenix, and I wanted to help them continue to promote and support Jazz artists of this and the coming generations. Charitable giving is also an important facet of my production company Topkat Music. We regularly make donations to charities such as World Vision and provide funds to other deserving musicians who need the financial support to create their art.
Sylvia: What challenges and opportunities do you see in the present economic environment?
Rebecca: I think more than ever, art and music are the way we enrich our lives. Especially when we’re struggling, don’t we love looking at beautiful paintings or sculptures or listening to good music? Doesn’t it make life more interesting? My biggest hope is that my art somehow enriches the lives of those people who listen to my music. Regardless of a down or up economy, all I know is I have to keep doing what I do. I have to find those people that will benefit from my music.
Sylvia: How do you promote/market your business?
Rebecca: I’m pretty savvy when it comes to online marketing and promotion of my music and my brand. I have a great website (www.RebeccaDeLaTorre.com), and all the necessary social media profiles that a musician needs to be seen and heard by people who want to hire me to play and sing. Those profiles include a Facebook Page, Twitter, a YouTube Channel, as well as Wedding Wire and GigSalad. Finally, I sent out regular email updates to my list of fans and followers. These are all great platforms for me to reach out and let everyone know about upcoming performances and special events.
Sylvia: What books and resources would you recommend to other women in business?
Rebecca: “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port is one of my top favorite business books. It talks about doing your business with absolute integrity, being accountable, and following through with what you say you’re going to do. It’s really helped put my own business practices in perspective, and I feel it’s a huge reason I’m so successful today.
Sylvia: I’ve never heard of that book, I must check it out. What advice do you have for women who are just starting out?
Rebecca: First and foremost, don’t every give up. But at the same time, you need to be realistic. There are too many people that have this overly glamorous idea of being a musician or wanting to be famous. If your goal is to be famous, well, good luck, that’s fine. Basically if you can do anything besides being an artist, and anything to be happy, please do that. Do yourself a favor. But if you can’t, then do it. Then commit to it, and put your all into it, into being an artist, because it’s hard and sucks sometimes. The highs are high and the lows are so low – sometimes. Just like anything, it’s got its ups and downs. It’s not steady. It’s hard to get a job as an artist and have steady income – even steady gigs dry up. So it’s challenging.
Sylvia: How do you stay connected in mind body and spirit?
Rebecca: My philosophy on life is Christian based, and I firmly believe we are here to serve other people. When I’m playing at that restaurant and people aren’t paying attention, maybe they are enjoying the background in their conversations and I’m adding to the ambiance and in that way they are being served. Some people you grab their attention and they get sucked in. They’re able to unwind from their day and enjoy something that they can connect to. May be they feel the lyrics or they connect to the song or they just enjoy my singing. In that way, I’m ministering to them. And that’s the way I see my music. It is like a ministry. Regardless of what your religion is. It’s a way that I serve and give back to people. It’s just a service for my fellow human beings.
Sylvia: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, it’s important to help others. That is why I promote the work of authors and business owners. What is your favorite quote to live by?
Rebecca: This quote is on my Facebook Page:
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arenas; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievements; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory.” Theodore Roosevelt
This says to me, “Don’t give up.” I had a great career as an engineer. Then it occurred to me: I’ve got to do this or I’m not ever going to be able to do it. I could remain a cold soul, staying comfortably in my little engineering field instead of actually going out there and giving it a go. Or I can go out there and really do it. And that’s what this means to me.
When I first read this quote, I thought, “Oh my God. That’s it. That is the story of my life, or I want it to be the story of my life. I want to have at least given it my all. I’ll never give up.
I’m not saying that everyone who is in engineering is a cold soul… that sounds too judgmental. I was actually jealous of the people who were happy as engineers, because they could make a good living and be happy enjoying what they do. That wasn’t me… Engineering is a great and important field. It’s the right fit for some people, but it just wasn’t the right fit for me.
Sylvia: Beautiful quote, so powerful! Share with us two industry or general business related tips that could help other women business owners.
Rebecca: First, you need to be able to know about webpages and actually running a business. Because it is a business. Any kind of art form that you’re trying to promote and actually earn money from, you need to look at it as a business. It needs to be run that way, and you need to be organized.
Second, if you can’t understand these things, you need to get people that are willing to work with you in some kind of an arrangement that you can agree on to help supplement these skills. Not everybody is a “jack of all trades.” You need to expand your knowledge and your understanding of things as much as you can, especially with modern technology. If you don’t have modern technology, unless you got somebody holding your hand or a whole shit ton of money, you’re going to need to do more yourself.
Sylvia: Amazing! Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with our members and subscribers. Please share your contact information.
Rebecca: It has been an absolute pleasure! Thank you.
- Website: www.RebeccaDeLaTorre.com
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/topkittykat
- YouTube: www.youtube.com/TopKittyKat
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/RebeccaDeLaTorreMusic
- LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/RebeccaDeLaTorre