Some years ago a man by the name of Michael reached out to review a record. That’s not out of the ordinary, what was though was the type of record. The cover looked familiar. Any fan of New Found Glory could recognize the play on Sticks and Stones it had, and upon reading the email until the end – Michael and his then fiance had made a record that was to be their wedding favor. Cute idea aside, I knew of the groom but wanted to learn more about the bride. As the co-owner of TDR Records, it was important to hear what Ashley Hollins thought of everything from her wedding favor to working day in and out with her spouse to what she does to help the label every day as she’s been there two years short of a decade now.
Kendra: We connected after your husband sent over your wedding favor for review. Which for those wondering, huh? Your favor was an EP that was possibly the best thing – ever. Do you still have people commenting on that who attended the wedding?
Ashley Hollins: Absolutely! Anytime someone brings up my wedding, we always end up talking about the vinyl. The artwork included pictures of Michael and I from our first seven years of dating. Our family and friends really enjoyed that as well!
Kendra: Did you inspire other friends to take a musical approach to their weddings after that?
Ashley: I don’t know if we inspired anyone to really add a strong musical element — but our wedding included lots of personal touches, like the vinyl, that gave them a peek into our life. A lot of people shared they really enjoyed that aspect of our wedding — and some have even asked us to share some of the personalized things we did with them. Just to share a few with you: we made a hand-painted mailbox as our card holder— think of the Disney movie Up (I love that movie, my dad-who passed away when I was seven-was a mail carrier for years, and Michael loves the distribution element of his job), our table names were songs that we love — and part of the centerpieces included lyrics to the song of the table name, we made personalized programs that included our Instagram handles and fun facts about each of us! We put a lot of effort into making our wedding a celebration of our relationship — and sharing it with our guests was a lot of fun!
Kendra: Speaking of music…was there a particular band, song, or concert that not only sparked
your interest in music, but made you want to work in the industry?
Ashley: Unlike Michael, I really enjoy a lot of different music genres and artist — Michael tends to stick with his pop punk roots. Growing up, I listened to a lot of 60’s music with my dad — I’m a huge fan of the “Golden Oldies!” Anytime I hear a classic old school song I can’t help but smile and think of my dad while singing along. As far as getting involved with the music industry though, I got really excited about being a part of the TDR team when I started to really get to know the bands on a personal level. Not only did their talent excite me, but every single guy in all of the bands is extremely personable, kindhearted, and driven. Seeing their passion for what they were doing made me passionate about doing what I could to help make them successful.
Kendra: On a typical day, what are you doing on the TDR team?
Ashley: I don’t think there is a typical day with TDR — haha! I guess you could say that I’m the voice of reason for TDR — Michael normally has these huge ideas and I help scale them down, or break them into smaller parts to get us where we want to be. I play a big part in the social media accounts and marketing posts – I write/edit/comment/like/hit send (sometimes Michael can be hesitant to commit!) on most of the posts we make. Additionally, I love helping with artwork and merch designs.
Fun fact, I changed Michael’s idea for the “Love is Love!” shirt that we recently put out — he originally had a busy design with different colored records all over the place but I thought a cleaner, more uniform look would help elevate the message we were trying to share. The shirt was a huge success and helped us raise a lot of money for the families of the victims of the very tragic Orlando Pulse shooting.
Kendra: Working with a spouse can take a toll. How do you and Michael manage not to drive one another insane after spending a day at work together and then heading home?
Ashley: Michael and I both tend to take our work home with us — we’re both very passionate about what we do and it actually helps us empathize with one another when we have a big project to work on. We definitely have nights where we try to put our phones and computers away though and make sure we have time for each other — making sure we commit to that a few times a week is important!
Kendra: When it comes to all the facets of the music industry, would you say a couple working together at a label has the most stress on them, or is there another position in the business that you think would be harder?
Ashley: I think running the label with Michael definitely has its ups and downs, but we stick together and make sure that every decision we make is one that we both feel comfortable making. I think knowing that we have each other’s backs is very important and helps us takes risks we might not feel comfortable taking alone.
As for a position in the industry that puts the most stress on a relationship? I’ve seen a lot of friendships and relationships go sour with artists — it’s not always the glam and the glory it looks like. People evolve overtime and so does music — when you have several people involved with key decisions and you don’t see eye to eye, it puts a lot of stress on the relationship and can lead to broken relationships. Some days are diamonds…
Kendra: When it comes to TDR, is there anything on the horizon we should be keeping an eye out for that you’re personally excited for?
Ashley: TDR will be rewinding time for a new release soon — that’s all I can say!
Kendra: We talked a bit about working with your spouse, so if you had to make a mixtape someone could give to theirs when they had a bad day at work – what five songs would have to be on it?
“Break Stuff” – Limp Bizkit
“Under The Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Points Of Authority/99 Problems/One Step” – Jay Z & Linkin Park
“Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” – Monica
“I Know A Place” – Petula Clark