Canadian Music Trade - December/ January 2018 - Page 18

FACES Taylor Murray By Andrew King A short while ago, Taylor Murray was returning a rental to her local Long & McQuade store. Within the few minutes she was waiting in line, she witnessed two separate customers ahead of her giggling at a par- ticular product: a pack of Freshly Picked guitar picks featuring different nose designs. (Get it? Freshly Picked Noses?) That made her smile pretty wide, not because of the pun itself, but because she’s the one who came up with it, and who worked to get that product featured so prominently in Canada’s largest chain of MI retailers. Murray is the founder, owner, and “solopreneur” of FUNctional Accessories, an MI distribution firm with a line card that caters to young music makers and their families. The company was actually born of a pair of her own ideas: the aforementioned Freshly Picked guitar picks, which have grown from featuring different fruits and flowers to a host of silly and pun-based designs, and the one that started it all: Acouskins decorative and protective acoustic guitar covers. “Acouskins was an idea I had as a kid and later used as a project for a class I was taking in college,” Murray explains. After graduation, she launched a website with the approach of “build it and they will come” – a bit naïve, she now admits. “That helped me realize how much I still had to learn about marketing.” Plan B was to hit the road the following summer and visit music stores throughout Ontario. “After visiting a few dozen shops, I noticed the ones that were thriving were those with music education programs, and more importantly, with youth engaged in music,” she shares. “I saw an opportunity to bridge the gap from lessons to retail with fun, family-friendly products, and after intro- ducing Freshly Picked guitar picks and coloured Strings by Aurora, we became FUNctional Accessories.” The focus on family is one that comes naturally, as Murray credits her own with her very encouraging and musical up- bringing. Born in Oshawa, ON to “a bass-playing accountant and not-so-musically-inclined EMS worker,” Murray says she and her siblings spent a lot of time with their grandparents because of her parents’ demanding schedules. Her grandfather played guitar and sang for them virtually all day, every day. “Dinnertime, bath time, TV time – those were all music time, which was always fun,” she recalls. Borrowing her grandfather’s fondness for bluegrass, she’d constantly come up with songs about anything and everything. Though she spent more time playing sports than music during her childhood, at 18, she rediscovered her fondness for guitar and ukulele and started bringing more of her lyrics to life through song. “I’ve always dreamt of hearing one of my songs on the radio – or at least on a grocery store playlist or something,” she chuckles. “But I never wanted to compromise the emotional outlet by turning my music into work; I had to make sure it would always be fun.” Now, she’s straddling that balance quite nicely. She and her partner recently relocated to Toronto and perform together as Tay Sera – a quirky folk-pop duo. The pair spent part of the summer touring the east coast, visiting music stores to push FUNctional Accessories offerings by day and performing shows wherever they could by night. In the office, while she wears many different hats, her days are typically focused around three key areas: outreach to potential new dealers or distributors, designing new pick packs, and building the company’s online presence. “I may be a millennial, but I’m an old man at heart,” Murray ad- mits. “I’m much more comfortable having a face-to-face conversa- tion than trying to connect with an audience online.” Keeping pace with the evolution of digital marketing is an ongoing challenge, though she recognizes its importance as the owner of a burgeon- ing business in the MI industry. She particularly enjoys the creative side of her job – “and the fact that I get to put food on the table with puns,” she offers, noting she’s looking forward to designing more pick packs for 2018. She’s also looking forward to attending her first Summer NAMM Show in Nashville, hopefully opening up some new opportunities for the company. Of course, there’s also the joy that comes with sharing such an important aspect of her life and identity with other people. “Music has always been a fun outlet for me, and has helped me combat stress, [Y]K[\\[ۈ[[Y\[x&[H\H]X[H[]H[Y Y\x&\[][H[[^HY][YBY\[]\[]\X\[]] HY[[[Y HZH[S[ۘ[X\ܚY\[] 'B[][\HY]܋Z[PYYو[YX[]\XYKNSQPSUTPQ