Jessica Vaughn is the Head of Sync at Venice Music, and President of Head Bitch Music, where she writes custom music for brands and puts out between 5 and 20 releases each week on their label imprint. Since joining Venice Music in 2021, Jessica has built their entire sync department from the ground up, increased their catalog from 300 titles to nearly 5000, and has landed placements in Super Bowl LVII, NFL, ESPN, The CW, Netflix, Hulu, CBS, MTV, Vh1, BET, Disney+, Peacock, Fujifilm, Comcast, PBS, New Balance, Xbox, Fortnite, NBA 2K, and more.
Tell us about how you got your start in the music industry, and how it lead to the work you do today.
I started off in the music industry as an artist and songwriter at a young age. When I was 16, I was signed to Crush Management and then at 19 I was signed to Interscope and Sony/ATV as a songwriter. Growing up in New Jersey and not coming from a musical family, I always felt the way out of my town and into happiness was to become a famous artist, but I learned pretty quickly that that wasn’t a thought out plan.
While I got to do amazing things and tour with amazing artists, I discovered a glaring lack of agency as a young woman and artist in the industry. I had many times been the only woman on the road and in the studio. After some horrible experiences on tour and with my management, I was disenchanted and decided to leave that part of the industry. I pivoted and started to work as a songwriter exclusively. I wrote for myself, for artists, for TV/Film, brands, and got heavily into curating custom music.
As I continued to work I had realized that many of the women around me didn’t work for other people, they worked for themselves, and once I connected the dots, I started my own company, Head Bitch Music in 2018, which has since expanded to offer a myriad of services to clients including full-service music production (studio time, production, mixing, and mastering), digital distribution, music licensing, publishing services, custom music, and more.
That being said, I knew the only way to change the industry was to participate in it, so In 2019, I was hired by Heavy Hitters Music Group to work in their sync department. In my first year I increased their revenue by 107%, and in 3 years went from Manager to VP of Sync and Creative. In 2021, I was hired by my current company, Venice Music as Head of Sync to build their sync department from the ground up.
Is there a success story or career milestone that you are most proud of?
I’m really proud of the work I’ve been able to do at Venice Music. I set up all protocols from the ground up, I put together informational webinars, office hours for artists and songwriters, and more. In less than a year and a half of being there, I’ve increased sales by 500%. I’m so grateful that Venice has allowed me to really support the songwriters and artists we work with and prevent them from being gate-kept like many are at other companies.
Outside of your work in music, do you have any other hobbies/ particular areas of expertise/interest etc.?
I live my life by the mantra “What Would Buffy Do” and rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least twice a year because I refuse to leave the 90s. In addition to that, identifying as queer myself, I am a passionate supporter of LGBTQIA+ rights. I also raise awareness around rare diseases, including my own idiopathic condylar resorption, and others that are underfunded and not supported by health insurance companies. As a sexual assault survivor myself, I’m a California Certified Counselor Advocate for Sexual Assault and Domestic Abuse Survivors where I heal myself while helping heal others.
Are there any projects you’re working on or company updates that you’re most excited about?
We’ve been keeping our heads down and working non-stop at HBM. We just finished up a project for Hasbro, Paramount, Boxine, and will be gearing up for more exciting custom work. My husband who runs our label imprint side has been aggressively releasing 10-20 releases a week. I don’t know how he does it, but I am incredibly proud of our small but mighty team that puts our artists first.
Words of wisdom?
You don’t have to be nice, but you should always be kind. It’s never the wrong decision to be yourself.