NYU student-athlete Marisa Bella is not waiting until she graduates to put her Music Theory and Composition degree to work.
In addition to balancing her studies and softball, she is gaining valuable work experience as a College and Lifestyle Marketing Representative for Universal Music Group, interning at Def Jam Recordings, and working for her father's radio promotions company, Citiboy Entertainment.
Citiboy Entertainment works independently with major labels (Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, Sony Red, Warner Bros., Republic Records). "My sister and I have expanded it into an artist management company," Bella said. "Hopefully by the time I graduate, it will become its own record label. That's my goal."
Her father Manny has been in the music business for 35 years, including stints as Senior Vice President of Urban Music at Atlantic Records and General Manager of Motown Records before starting Citiboy in January 2001.
L: Marisa, father Manny, and sister Christina Bella; R: Manny with Stevie Wonder
"Music has always been my passion, having grown up being involved in the music industry, "Bella stated. "I have always looked up to my parents, who are both immigrants and self-made, and showed me that anything was possible. My dad's legacy in the music industry has made me want to follow in his footsteps."
The work for Bella is a combination of talent scouting and promotion. "I look for talent by going to live shows, networking, and searching social media," she remarked. "Then I 'brand' through social media platforms and by scheduling photoshoots, video shoots, studio time, interviews, and shows. I work the radio side by pushing a single for each artist, trying to get their song played on the radio through mine and my family's personal relationships."
She just signed three artists to Citiboy Entertainment: Kahleo from Oakland, Luv Child from Pittsburgh, and Mutari from Toronto.
L: Christina Bella, Kahleo, Marisa; R: Marisa with Def Jam artist August Alsina
Bella, who played three sports while earning earning honor roll recognition all four years of high school, played on the NYU basketball team her first year. She returned to athletics as a member of the Violets' softball program when it played its first varsity season in 2014-15, playing in all 36 games, predominantly as an outfielder and leading the team in steals. "I played softball all throughout high school and genuinely loved the sport," she said. "When NYU created a team, I was so excited to play again." Bella played in 32 contests, starting 24, as NYU finished 26-15 and captured the ECAC Metro/Upstate Softball Championship title last season.
"I balance my academics and athletics before anything career related," Bella commented. "I've learned that being a student-athlete is incredibly difficult, but utilizing NYU's Academic Affairs Office's resources truly helps. Finishing school with good grades comes before anything I try to do for my career."
"I think playing softball gives me a healthy outlet to all of my responsibilities," Bella remarked. "My coaches have helped me through any struggles I've encountered academically and I think that being a part of this program has improved my academics. Coach (Now-Allah) James has always been understanding and supportive of my busy schedule, but also has always challenged me to reach my full potential as an athlete and as a person."
"She works hard on and off the field," James said. "She puts in extra hours on the practice field, but also with her books. Her work ethic is great. I couldn’t see our program getting to where it is without her."
Bella is already looking forward to next season. "I am excited to be a leader to my teammates that I've gotten so close to," she said. "I hope to be a role model to them this year. I respect all of them - they are amazing athletes and amazing friends."
"She is a pleasure to have as part of the program and especially as one of the student-athletes on the inaugural team," James added.
In her Def Jam position, she helps get urban artists' (Rihanna, Kanye West, Desiigner, Pusha T, and Big Sean for example) singles on the radio, trying to push those songs into the top-5 in the nation. Rihanna’s “Needed Me” began a run at #1 on the Mediabase urban airplay chart the week of June 26-July 2 when her “ANTI” single earned 4,573 spins that week, sending “Needed Me” from #2 to #1 on the chart.
Bella is part of a national network of college represetatives charged with maximizing awareness of priority and developing artists among the 18-to-24-year-old demographic. The team of 80 reps (25 urban, 55 all genre-focused) in 50 markets, provide services that include content creation, college media outreach, artist and repertoire (A&R) scouting, event marketing, experiential activations, tour marketing, digital marketing, and campus & lifestyle visibility and awareness. This team not only delivers a best-in-class marketing approach to these services, but is also a future talent pool for every division within Universal Music Group (UMG).
"My job is very fulfilling. I feel very close to the artists that we market and it's a great opportunity for us because we learn so much about the industry overall," Bella said. "Our bosses give us so much insight and are so available and personable. All of the reps are so smart and so accomplished and I feel so lucky to work amongst such driven college students. When we all meet up for our meetings and events or even just conference calls, we all are so close and can't wait to work on whatever is next. I feel as though this job has given me an advantage when it comes to working in the music business. There is much that I've learned in the past year that I would never have been able to learn on my own and I get to learn all of this before I graduate. On top of that, working in Manhattan, this job offers so many opportunities and interesting events."
Universal Marketing Representatives at UMG office during NYC meetings Oct. 15-17, 2015
"I would love to be an inspiration for young women in the industry." Bella added. "I hope that women entrepreneurs stay motivated. I want to prove that women working independently can be just as prominent and essential to the industry as men. Managing two male artists and working in urban music can be tough, but both Kahleo and Mutari are so respectful."
Working in a male-dominated genre has its challenges, but Bella is confident she can make an impact. "Females are becoming more and more dominant in hip hop culture by using their music as a platform," she said. "I hope to lead Luv Child in that direction. She is a representation of strength and has overcome so much adversity. As my best friend and my artist, her message is so strong and important. I am truly inspired by my artists."